The terror behind announcing a book deal

If you had asked me when I first started my publishing journey what the most terrifying part of this whole process would be, I would have assumed it would be when your book releases. After all, what can be more terrifying than the entire world picking up the book you spent years pouring your heart and soul into, reading it and then possibly deciding they hate every page of it? That has to be the scariest part, right?

Mmm.. maybe. I have two years to find out so I’ll circle back in 2024. But until then? Actually announcing my book deal was like a “pop two Ativan” kind of terrifying.

When I saw the infamous (and let’s be honest, kinda ugly) screenshot of my book deal, I was hit with an unexpected emotion: fear. I had obviously known about my book deal, ever since November 15th when I got that Friday 5pm phone call from my agent (what I like to now refer to as my “Shabbat miracle”) but seeing it in writing was a whole different thing?

It made it real.

This book would be coming out. People would be reading it. People would see it.

Immediately I was struck with one panic. What the fuck have I done? Why did I agree to this? On a daily basis, I actively practice several ways to avoid other people and putting myself into the center of attention. I exclusively use mobile ordering when getting my coffee to limit human interaction, do 90% of my grocery shopping via curbside pick-up and immediately send all my calls to voicemail. Avoiding other human beings is a literal skillset of mine. And now I was doing the exact opposite of all of that. I was publishing a book.

When I later had the time to process my emotions (eating mac and cheese straight out of the pot), I realized that announcing my book deal would only be the first in a list of many terrifying, frightening and panic-inducing events in the publishing process. The frustrating thing about publishing, after all, is that the goal post is always moving. Whenever you think you’ve “made it”, you’re able to celebrate for a few minutes before realizing there’s yet another benchmark you need to hit. You’ve written a book? Amazing- now find an agent. Landed an agent? Cool- now go on submission. Sold your book? Nice- now did you make it onto any bestseller lists? Did your book get featured on Buzzfeed? Did you hit a 100 reviews on Goodreads yet? And my own personal benchmark: did you see your book while spontaneously traipsing through the airport on some glamorous trip somewhere exotic and warm?

It feels like the closer you get to the book being published, the bigger -and scarier- the goals start to be. And I don’t think I fully realized that until I actually sold my book and had to share that news with the world…. or at least my Twitter feed.

And while I’m scared (terrified to the point where my IBS no longer allows me to consume dairy products), I am also excited to see what the next two years will bring. I worked hard to get here, to bring the voices that lived in my head to life.

Growth, I’ve always believed, comes from discomfort. And publishing a book is about as comfortable as a pap smear in the middle of the field during Super Bowl. Like, am I ready for the world to metaphorically see me spread-eagle with a salad tosser in my hooha? No, not really. But I do want my book out in the world because I really, truly love it. And I love it because more than a book, it’s a love letter to me. It’s a story to the parts of myself that I always felt so ashamed of. The ugly, sharp and hidden pieces I kept secret from the world I’ve given to my heroine, Lucy. And only until seeing how beautiful she was, did I finally see how beautiful and strong and amazing I am.

So yeah, maybe this whole publishing thing is completely overwhelming, but it’s also an exciting and beautiful process. One that will, I am sure, make me cry, scream in frustration and eat more mac and cheese divorced-dad style but (and most importantly) one that will also help me grow even more in love with myself. All those messy, broken and ugly pieces of me, that when put together and package up neatly in a bow with a pretty book cover… might not be so messy, ugly or broken at all.

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