The release of my book, and the small tour that followed,
was without a doubt a magical time. It was all so new. After years as a
struggling actor, never coming close to doing anything even slightly resembling
a promotional tour, it was surreal to be traveling around the country telling
people about this thing I’d made, this tangible object I could hold in my hand.
When I found myself one May morning in a Kentucky high
school library (whaddup, Oldham County!), watching students work on a writing
exercise that I had assigned to them,
I felt slightly out of body. By sitting in coffeeshops making up words on my
computer, I’d somehow written myself to Kentucky, where random teenagers I’d
never met were writing something down because I’d asked them to. (They rocked
that exercise, btw. Those kids are awesome.)
The whole tour had that surreal quality, mainly in a
positive way. But I was also anxious. I don’t even think I realized at the time
just how anxious I was. Book events were completely uncharted territory. I
wanted everything to go well. I wanted my book to do well. I wanted to seem
like someone who knew what he was talking about. And I was missing my wife and
then-14-month-old son. (My absence sent my wife Katie down an anxiety spiral of
her own, which you should feel free to read about here.)
anxiety was camouflaged from me, though, thanks to both my book excitement and
the necessity of staying on top of my life, focusing only on what was happening
the next day, and not on the big picture of how I was feeling.
When I got home from my last book tour event, I segued into
final rewrites for the second Denton book,
and once those were finished in late May…I suddenly had time to actually feel
how I was feeling.
was: pretty lost. And very unnerved by that.
I got back to work on my third book. I struggled a lot.
I couldn’t focus on anything.
Every time writing got uncomfortable—which was approximately
every 42.3 seconds—I went on the internet, hoping to find something, anything,
that would make me feel like a capable person. Maybe someone new had tweeted
about my book! Maybe someone new had blogged about my book! Maybe my book’s
Amazon sales ranking had gone up!
(Quick note on that: brilliant feature, Amazon. This
ranking—constantly changing throughout the day–was very obviously designed to
exploit the weaknesses of neurotic, insecure authors. Nailed it!)
Inevitably, I would not find that someone new had tweeted
about my book but instead would learn of something amazing that had happened to
some other author I follow. And yes, there is joy in others’ success, but not
quite as much when you’re mid-anxiety-spiral.
In this June interview with the great Kurt Dinan, I compared the
comedown after a book release to the comedown after one’s wedding. Or, really, any
big event you look forward to for more than a year. I’d been thinking about the
release of my debut novel since I’d sold it to Knopf almost eighteen months
earlier. So once it happened, I realized I hadn’t thought much about what would
I mean, of course what I thought
would happen is Denton would come out
and instantly hit theNY Times
Bestseller list. I guess rationally I knew that wouldn’t happen. But I still
hoped it would.
alert: my book has definitely not hit the NY Times bestseller list.
In fact, my book isn’t selling as well as my publishing
house hoped it would. (I know this because I had a phone call with my editor
and agent last week, where I learned that my book isn’t selling as well as they
hoped it would.)
As a result, the second Denton
book—which had a cool cover all set to go—is now getting a totally redesigned
cover and possibly a title change.
Denton Little’s Deathdate will get a
new cover for the paperback release, and the overall marketing/publicity
approach for both books will be reassessed.
Meaning: the second Denton book will NOT be coming out in
April 2016, as planned. There’s no new release date set but it’s looking like it’ll be
Meaning: I am bummed. Even though I get why it’s happening and I’m glad Knopf cares about the books enough to reboot their design, I am still bummed.
Meaning also: I will have lots of time to write really cool bonus
Denton material to help the wait feel
less long. Huzzah!