Hug an author today! Fifty-four percent of debut authors responding to Bookseller survey said the process had a negative impact on their mental health—equally likely to feel bummed out whether they pubbed with a Big Four or an indie publisher.
One, quoted anonymously in The Bookseller’s report, said they started anti-anxiety medication during the run-up to publication day. Another described their launch as “a total wasteland.”
If you are unpublished, it’s easy to imagine that seeing your book project in actual printed-and-bound form would be more fun than simply Instagramming a wall of Post-Its with some allusion to #amwriting, but that simply isn’t the case for a majority of new authors.
Perinatal psychiatrist Pooja Lakshmin, whose Real Self-Care came out less than a month ago (read an excerpt here), also talked publicly about the emotional fallout of her launch—something she was shocked to experience as someone who counsels others about their emotional experiences—and was met with support from 2023 first-timers including Momfluenced (out April 25th) author Sara Petersen and Amanda Montei, whose Touched Out galleys recently went out.
The rollercoaster does level out, according to more seasoned writers, and the act of writing itself can be good for your happiness, argued an op-ed by David Robson in The Guardian. Can I also draw your attention to this excellent and hilarious essay on the lead-up to publication by Mary Childs.
Of course the act of writing is different from the business of publishing. Publicity can be mortifying for introverted writers—see this recent look at empty book signings—while paychecks are often disappointing. It took John Scalzi several books to go from four to seven figures (still not a rockstar?).
All writing is death! warned Foucault, more or less. Be kind to your writer friends.