Saturday, January 18, 2014

Summit Fever

Needless to say, it has been kind of a crazy week for me. A week ago yesterday was one of the best days in a long, long time, and it kind of threw this week on its head. After talking to the publisher on Friday, I received my publishing book contract last Sunday night and returned it on Wednesday. The rest of this week involved a lot of cloud-walking and inability to focus. I've got a million things I'm thinking about with regards to what a book release involves, and am trying to work out what precedes what. I've got a great set of friends, peers, and mentors around me to help, which is nice, but it's still overwhelming.

Now, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir doesn't come out for another five months, but my immediate reaction is to get everything setup and ready in the first week.

It goes without saying that this is not a healthy approach.

It leads to sleep deprivation, as my mind refuses to shut off when I go to bed. On the couple of nights I was able to go to sleep right away, I woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. Ugh. I'm sure it will taper off as I get further along, but for the moment I need a cranial mute button.

There's business cards, and bookmark design/setup/printing, promotional posters and flyers, bookstore contacts for signings, website updates, cover art considerations, acknowledgements, dedication notes, back cover blurbs and Author recommendations, library contacts for book filings, scheduling considerations, editing, Library of Congress registration consideration, etc. 

I am acutely aware that I need a plan. Luckily I am married to a planner and she helped me to start one today. No fine details yet, but a rough list of what comes first. We determined that business cards are first. I need to be able to point people to my website, blog and to the publisher's site. Next comes the website updates, including maybe some analytic tools. Then some preliminary contacts with some of the bigger bookstores that may book way in advance. Let them know when it's coming out and try and schedule some signings. 

You see? No mute button.

Part of the issue is the relatively quick turnaround of the book. Five months may seem a long time, but when you have as much legwork to do as I do, it's really not. 

And I have to be careful not to over think things either. My thought today was I need to re-do my website altogether, make it flashier, more mobile friendly, etc. After giving it some thought, I'd rather make what is there work better. Clean it up, maybe simplify it a bit, etc. 

I've been around computing long enough to know that if you want to re-vamp a website, be prepared for a long road and a lot of angst. Furthermore, I also know the time you DON'T want to mess with your site is when the most people might be trying to access it. Right now, it isn't real glamorous, but you know what? It works. With my luck, I'd try changing templates and having it look worse.

It has also been a week of great celebration for me. On Wednesday I surprised the AllWriters' Workshop gang by bringing in champagne and cookies to celebrate my deal. It was really good to be able to thank Kathie, Michael and all the students for their help in getting me to this point. It really is a dream come true, and I'll be honest, an answer to prayer, as well. These folks were critical when I needed it, and encouraging when I needed that.

Then, last night Donna arranged a very small gathering of our close friends from Bayview and Waukesha. Some of these are friends from 15-20 years ago. We got together and laughed about things like who we would cast as each of the brothers in the movie if my book were ever to get turned into a screenplay. (Ha!) These friends are my world outside of my writing circle and I was grateful they made it a point to come and congratulate me. I love them, and would do the same for them. 

They say that mountaineers that climb Mt. Everest start to lose their rational thought near the summit and start making mistakes. That's kind of where I'm at. The air's a little thin up here, and I'm in danger of suffering from publication-hypoxia. So, I aim to start putting one foot in front of the other and start picking tasks off one at a time. Step, breathe, step. That's the healthy approach. A sniper rifle, not a shotgun. A marathon, not a sprint.

And finally, I keep reminding myself that these are all good problems to have. Problems that others would kill for. I need you all to remind me of that anytime I'm griping about any of it. Deal? Deal.

Blogging off...

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