If someone you care about just wrote a book….

I have never been comfortable sounding my own horn, so my first two books slipped into the world with minimal fanfare. But for my third book, I have a list of a hundred rooftops from which I plan to shout, because it took many years and tears to write (and rewrite), and I want my characters to find the people who will love their story like I do.

For that and other reasons, I considered launching the book with an actual, in-person event. The problem was that when I mentioned the idea of throwing a party to a couple of people close to me, they said, “What for?” Of course, I thought it would be a fun way to thank everyone who has encouraged me and to introduce them to my new story at the same time. However, that question clarified something I hadn’t realized: Writing a book isn’t considered a life event. After all, it’s not like I had a baby or got married or bought a house or lived another decade.

No, I didn’t do any of those things. Because seven years ago, I read that if you really want to be a writer, you have to do it to the exclusion of all else. So, while my friends were getting married, I was reading reference material; when they were buying houses, I was building my platform; and when they were having kids, I was birthing stories. Of course, I can’t claim that my entire life course has been about writing, and not every book is necessarily a monumental sacrifice and achievement. However, all writers do have to make choices to write when they could be doing something else. So I say heck, if your creation has taken longer than nine months from conception to birth, you deserve a shower, too.

In a perfect world, an author wouldn’t have to throw her own party: she’d have a maid of publishing honor who would invite the guests and buy the ice cream and decorate the living room. But in reality, sometimes the people in an indie writer’s life don’t quite understand the avocation. I suspect some of you know what I mean. Maybe you’re reserved like me and just don’t know how to tell your loved ones that writing a book is a big freakin’ deal. If so, then I have prepared for you the following form letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

Someone you care about just published a book. This is not a wedding announcement or an invitation to a baby shower, a house-warming party, or a birthday celebration; but it is every bit as momentous. Because this accomplishment required searching for the right story, getting to know the characters and committing to them, crying over obstacles but laboring through, then sending a creation into the world–with more than a little apprehension and a twinge of postpartum blues.

Maybe you don’t intend to read the book–it costs too much, or it’s not your thing, or you won’t know what to say–or maybe you read it and think that baby is ugly. Don’t worry; just ooh and aah about the birth. If your friend marries a guy you don’t like, at the wedding you can still shake the groom’s hand and smile at the bride and let the happy couple have their day.

Because in the end, it’s all about this: Someone you care about just achieved a personal goal that once was only a pipe dream. So for crying out loud, bake a cake.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

A Fellow Writer

 

P.S. Flowers are a nice alternative, and so is a hug.

Author: Krista Tibbs

Krista Tibbs studied neuroscience at MIT. She once had a job that involved transplanting pig cells into live human brains. She had another job that gave her clearance to the White House. Her books, The Neurology of Angels and Reflections and Tails, are mostly not about those things. Learn more about Krista from her blog, and her Amazon author page.

25 thoughts on “If someone you care about just wrote a book….”

  1. Krista,
    Very interesting article and it prompted a memory.
    When I was in my twenties living in a new housing development; having a first child was a big event for the neighborhood. We hung banners welcoming the new mother home. We were friends, and we wanted to acknowledge this life event.
    As you put it – giving birth takes nine months. Giving birth to a novel takes much more time.
    There’s the morning sickness over what was wrong with yesterday’s new content. I could go on, but I think it best not to.
    My point is this – you shouldn’t have to wave your flag over your accomplishment…your friends should do this.
    I have some friends who say they are going to write their own novel. I will be one of the first to acknowledge their accomplishment as I can appreciate the effort involved. Actually writing isn’t the hardest part…getting known is.
    One of the reasons I keep writing is the support I get from old friends and new ones.
    I think our friends at Indies Unlimited give us the ability to hang our banners.
    Thanks for taking the time to express your feelings.

  2. Publishing a book *is* a big freakin’ deal, Krista. Maybe we should start a registry for newly published authors. 🙂 Good luck with the send-off for your third!

      1. I agree with what Lynne said. Publishing a well-written, polished, and beautifully covered book is exhausting.
        Good luck. Sharing this to my facebook page. 🙂

  3. Absolutely agree, Krista. And it can be almost soul destroying when no one you care about ‘gets it’. Have that party and shout from those rooftops. maybe if the noise is loud enough some of them will see it for what it is – a great big deal.

    1. You are so right; the noise so far has drawn in the excitement of some people I haven’t known in years, who “get it” more than even those who know me well. It’s a crazy thing, this book stuff.

  4. How true! It’s amazing that, surprisingly, notwithstanding the fact that I have done extremely well without them, some very close friends didn’t buy my book, and none of my four children have read it to the end. Thank goodness I’m not depending on them, and am happily bathing in the accolades from everyone else! I write non fiction, but am tempted to adapt your letter and seize the moment. Thank you.

    1. I think family and close friends of writers would be an interesting psychological study. I’ll sign up your four children and my brother. =)

  5. Well said, Krista. Why shouldn’t we celebrate.

    I’m not very good at blowing my own horn either and worry that if I threw a party the invitees would think they had to buy a book. Unfortunately most of my friends and family are not readers (I don’t know how that has happened!) so it makes me feel rather uncomfortable with the idea. Your invitation could prove to be the perfect solution.

    1. I know what you mean. It would be nice if they bought the book, but sometimes you just want to share the celebration, especially with the friends and family who aren’t readers. )Or not readers of what you write!)

  6. I love the concept Krista but I’d be too self-conscious to try it. 🙁 I’ve only just ‘come out’ as a writer to real world friends and family, but I know full well they won’t read my book because none of them actually like science fiction. Plus there’s that ‘SHE wrote a book? But….’ element. -sigh-

    1. After I wrote this post, I decided to send a personal note to everyone I went to school with or worked with in the past and am connected to online. I was also self-conscious and really nervous about it for a lot of reasons, but I have been so surprised by the response! Some people I hardly knew ended up buying the book, and others who will never read the book still wrote to say they appreciated that I shared the news. And I ended up having a few great conversations with folks just on a personal level, which was rewarding in and of itself. All this to say — you never know about people!

  7. Bravo, Krista, with you one hundred percent. Their are friends and family who still haven’t read any of my books: don’t read books, afraid to read mine in case they are asked for an opinion and may not have anything nice to say, whatever the reason it’s pretty pathetic. The friends and family who did read are full of praise and constantly tell me they can’t understand why I’m not a best selling author but when I suggest that, ‘perhaps they might write a few words to that affect on Amazon’, “Oh I couldn’t do that, I’m not a writer…” Blah blah blah… and most of these are people who spill their guts on Facebook on a daily basis!!

    Excellent post, Krista.

      1. It’s interesting what you say, because there’s such complexity behind deciding to read a book and then knowing what to say about it, if anything, especially when you know the person. I have to admit I struggle with that myself, as a reader. So maybe that’s even more reason to provide an opportunity for people to freely celebrate the accomplishment separate from the content. Seems counter-intuitive, but you make me think…

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