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Giving Birth--Becoming a Published Author

The process of writing a book and seeing it through to publication is similar to giving birth to a baby. Of course the analogy isn't perfect, but the emotions we experience during pregnancy and labor are often very close to what we feel as we're writing our books and trying to find an agent/editor.

We spend months watching our books take shape and grow to completion. Then once they're ready, we travail through the agonizing process of getting an agent and/or editor.

Finally the moment arrives that we've dreamed about, the moment we've agonized over and waited for. Our baby is born. We're offered a book contract.

Our screams of pain turn into cries of joy. Tears of ecstasy streak our cheeks. We share the excitement with friends and family, and spread the news to anyone willing to listen. We bask in the glow of knowing how far we've come, how hard we've worked, and how much we've accomplished. We celebrate and we can't stop smiling.

Until the baby cries. . . and we fumble and think to ourselves now what?

Now a new journey lies before us. We've become an author.

Some days we're thrilled and we're confident we've birthed a world-changer. Our book will be like none other. As we venture for the first time into authorhood, we have such high (and slightly unrealistic) expectations.

Other days we're filled with self-doubt and wonder what made us ever believe we could start down the road into authorhood. We question if we really have what it takes. Fear grabs hold of us. What if we fail? What if no one likes our baby? What if people say horrible things about the precious life we've birthed?

And we're overwhelmed by new author inexperience. We scramble to see how other authors have handled the challenges. We may have birthed our baby, but now we have to raise them and a whole new set of issues await us--editing, marketing, deadlines, and heaven only knows what else.

Would we do it again? Would we put ourselves through all the pain, work, and heartache one more time? All it takes is our newborn's tiny hand to grip one of our calloused fingers and our heart swells with a love so profound it defies life itself. We know then, with certainty, we'd do it all over again. And again. And maybe again.

I like to think of the possibility that my children could grow up to make a difference in this world. And I like to believe the stories I've birthed could perhaps one day change lives for the better too. Maybe my children won't be the next Abraham Lincoln or Mother Teresa. And maybe my books won't be another Pilgrim's Progress or Uncle Tom's Cabin. But I dream that through my children and my books I can leave a legacy in some way.

What are your dreams for your books? And once you're published will you want to do it again?

42 comments:

  1. I hope they'll have a little life to them....that my series will be something people return to in libraries, even after they're out of print.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  2. My dream is to create memorable characters that stay with a person long after they've closed the book. It's difficult to say what will happen once I'm published, but I hope to do it again and again. Great series this week, Jody!

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  3. My dream is the same as yours - that my books would make a difference - an aternal difference. That my books would draw readers closer to God.

    Would I do it again? Heck yeah! :)

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  4. It is such a rollercoaster of emotions you go through.
    But--just like child birth--you forget how hard it was after all the pats on the back you get when the book is done and out there, so of course you do it all over again. LOL!

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  5. Thrilled, confident, self-doubt, overwhelmed - you've captured the emotions well, much like having a baby (or being the father of one :). Do it again? Absolutely. Any book written well can make a difference, even if in only a few lives. And that is enough to make the book successful, I think. God asks us to be faithful with our gifts and resources, not successful. We can work for success, but ultimately he grants it. If one of our gifts is writing, then we must write, (and promote) and leave the rest to God.
    wb

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  6. Jody,
    Getting the contract should be the pinnacle of the success story, but (to use another metaphor) the author is now just starting a long trek up the mountain. There's can be frustration ahead, because the publishing industry moves so slowly. Nine months from contract to publication could be considered rapid in some instances.

    And one of the challenges unpublished authors don't think about is writing that second book and getting it accepted, a process that should be ongoing while awaiting completion of the gestation period for number one.

    Would I do it again? Undoubtedly. But, like having a child, there are periods of disappointment along with the good times. It's best to be prepared for them.

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  7. I've stopped writing to get published at this point. I mean over all that is what I WANT. But right now I'm writing for me. I am determined to make a good story.

    But I would do it over and over and over and over. I adore writing. I'll probably never stop!

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  8. I couldn't stop it I tried. I've tried. These posts are great Jody. Hopeful and thoughtful at the same time. Nice balance.

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  9. I hope readers will laugh wen they read the books, and I hope to introduce them to ideas they never would have considered before.

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  10. Yeah, you do it again by the grace of that post-birth amnesia syndrome that allows you to forget all the pain when you hold that little bundle in your arms. Or it might just be me...the nut who had three babies in 36 months plus 2 stepkidlets. :)

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  11. I would definitely do it again! :-)
    And I hope my kids make a difference. I'm not sure if my stories will, but I do hope they give someone a few hours of escape. :-)

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  12. I loved this analogy. Like children, I've found my books to be unique from one another. I think, if I'm honest one dream is to cradle my book in my hands as I did my children thanking God for the inspiration. For readers, my dream is that my books speak truth and shed new light on certain topics.

    BTW: I'm diggin' that super comments award--too cute. Congratulations!
    ~ Wendy

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  13. I wrote my memoir because I hoped I could take the pain I experienced in my life and transform it somehow so that it would help others. That's why I write. I don't think I'll ever stop--at least I hope not. Writing makes me happy! Marketing, however, does not.
    Karen

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  14. This has been a great analogy this week! I've really appreciated it.

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  15. Hey, Jody!

    I'd like to do it once first! Life has taught me that everything that was hardfought was worth it--definitely worth it enough to do it again. Right now I'm trying to prepare for the career as a writer and not just the publication of my first book.... to use another analogy, it's like preparing for the marriage instead of just the wedding.

    This series was awesome!

    Have a great weekend!

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  16. You captured the new mom/new author life perfectly! I don't dream of becoming the next Pulitzer prize winner, but I do dream of becoming one of Steeple Hill's multi-published authors.

    Have a terrific weekend!

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  17. I hope to share with the world the adventure of living a life of service. If I can make people laugh along the way, I will be thrilled!

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  18. Would I have more kids? Absolutely not, unless they're in the form of books. I plan on having many of those children.

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelablle.blogspot.com

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  19. Jody, this has been particularly timely for me. I'm deep into edits on two different books and feeling a bit overwhelmed. There are so many highs and lows that come in this business, before, during, and after publication.

    I asked myself this week why I was doing this. I asked my husband why I was doing this.

    We both came up with the same answer: Because I'm a writer.

    :)

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  20. I would love to be published. But while a viable pregnancy is a sure sign a baby's coming, writing a novel is not a sure sign of publication. Writing involves all the pain and labor of pregnancy...and may result in an empty womb at the end. :(

    Sorry to be a downer, Jody. I so dearly love to write and aim for publication. But I think the writer who longs for publication must accept that there will be lots of work and uncertainty...and the writer may still end up with no published "baby". It's tough, but those are the odds.

    The question is, is writing still worth it? It is to me, for the things I've learned about God, the world and myself, and for the friends I've made. When it becomes no longer worth the pain, then I will stop.

    God bless you all today, and I hope your writing dreams come true. :)

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  21. First of all, I can't wait to give birth! :) I hope my books can make a difference.

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  22. Hmmm, what does it mean that I want to write more books but probably don't want to have more children?

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  23. As much as we long for the delivery, that's when the real work starts. Middle of the night feedings, countless diaper changes, lugging baby stuff everywhere you go. Also known as marketing, promotion, speaking, signings, trying to be creative with more marketing, etc.

    Would I do it again knowing all the work involved? Gladly.

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  24. Candee kind of hit on what I was thinking. If publication is like childbirth, then most will gladly do it again. Because the joy at the end supersedes the memories of the pain, which only continue to dull over time. It's always worth it!

    So I dream of being a multi-published author whose stories entertain and encourage.

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  25. My dream is that each of my books will change even one heart or mind to love or know God more accurately.

    And to make enough money on their sales that I never have to clean my own house again! Yes!

    I would do it again, in spite of all the barfies and poops. It's worth it. But I would pray more ahead of time, to prepare my heart for the journey.

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  26. I thought I was prepared for motherhood, but I was in for many surprises. I expect it will be the same when I sell. I can read of others' experiences and do all I can to prepare for the day I receive The Call, but some things have to be learned through experience. I look forward to those lessons.

    I may be the mother of an only child by choice, but I definitely don't want to be a one-book wonder as an author. :)

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  27. As one who is now facing the task of marketing, I’ve often found myself feeling overwhelmed. There are a lot of things I never thought about as I was writing the first several drafts. :)
    Another friend who just recently entered the book market has told me she feels the exact same way…
    But we wouldn’t go backwards for anything.
    …You’re just a wealth of analogies. ;)
    Btw, I wanted to tell you that I’m running a contest through my blog. :) The official link is: www.emilyannbenedictcontest.blogspot.com
    If you get a chance, check it out. It’s a good contest for book lovers. ;)

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  28. My dreams for my books are similar to yours -- to offer something to the world that will change lives. If not all lives, then a few at least. Same with my kids. As far as whether I'll keep doing this, I've gotten a deep enough taste of the business to be uncertain. Two books published, and at least two more either close or brewing. But I can't see much beyond that. And I think that's okay. One book at a time works. :) Regardless of how many "babies" I birth, they'll always be a special and proud part of my life. I do think I'll always be writing in one form or another, though, just like a mother continues to nurture, even though she doesn't have babies forever.

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  29. I want to have created something entertaining, moving, something that speaks to people out there. I definitely want to try at publishing again and again. It's something in me that's meant to stay, not be experienced once and then left to remember.

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  30. WOW!!! I am LOVING these comments today!! You are all so awesome at continuing this birthing analogy! Your comments have been so encouraging! KEEP IT UP!!! :)

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  31. Great Blog! I feel the same way. I'm writing a book. I am looking forward to the blessing of having deadlines. Being a procrastinator, I have to daily push myself to ignore the call of the remote control, another unread book, or the gathering dust mites. I hope to someday feel the excitement of saying, "Yes! I am represented! Yes! A publisher wants my book." A writer friend of mine likes to tell me all about her different colored post it notes from her editor and the agony of trying to discipher hers and their notes among the chaos.

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  32. "But I dream that through my children and my books I can leave a legacy in some way." LOVE IT!! I want my "babies" to make an impact, just like everyone else! Great posts, Jody! Have a great weekend!

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  33. I sure hope I don't treat authorhood like I did motherhood, lol, I stopped at one cause it was too hard!!

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  34. If getting a book published is like giving birth, I'd do it again. (Not that I've done it once, but you know.) Because just like pregnancy and birth, we do it because the end is worth the means. And we forget. ;-)

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  35. Only with publishing we get to give birth over and over and over again. I guess, not being a mother, publishing might be the closest I ever get to the feeling of giving birth, assuming my book finds a publisher someday!

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  36. Great series, Jody! What's next? Parenting?

    I dream that my book makes people think and not just accept anything that comes down the pike. Another book? Absolutely.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  37. I hope people enjoy what I write and can't wait for my next book to come out or at least like it enough to give me another try:)

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  38. My book has quite literally grown up with my baby. She was only 6 months old when my book idea was conceived. It is amazing how much growth you find in yourself, both by having a child, and by writing a book.

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  39. I hope to write books that make people happy and provide an escape. That's all. I hope to one day have the problem of wondering whether I can do it a second time around.

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  40. Unfortunately, or fortunately, my idea for a kids book is an 8 part series so I will have to do it again. Hopefully, it will all go according to God's plan. :O)

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  41. The frail thread of failure runs through my mind (much without permission) quite often. I would risk great humiliation to write my christian YA. My intentions are pure but I'm not perfect.

    I've pondered this very thing lately.

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  42. There is something special about the first time you are pregnant. And I am guessing something equally special about the first time you are published. Even the process of writing that first book is unlikely to be the same again. ANd yes yes yes, I will do it all again! :)

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