Last week I didn’t touch my book. I didn’t pick it up. I didn’t read it. I didn’t change a sentence.
It was weird.
I worked on my manuscript every day, non-stop, for 9 months. Now I’m letting it sit. “Let it marinate for a while,” one of my friends suggested last week. It was a reasonable suggestion, so I did.
Of course, I am the one that is marinating. The longer the book sits, and the more I think about the feedback I’ve received thus far, the more questions I develop: Is the book too political? Is it too biting? Is it mean? Do I come across as an annoying whiner? Am I going to piss people off? Is the writing good? Is the ending sufficient? Do I resolve the different themes effectively? Will I reach the millions of people who’ve suffered from this recession? Can the book start a national conversation about the effects of the financial crisis?
As difficult as it is, I am sitting still, simply collecting these questions. I am not consulting my book just yet, because I believe I need some distance from it. When the time is just right, I’ll dig that book out and begin to work again, answering each question.
So what am I doing now? I’m beginning my research on how to find an agent. Last week I had great fun at Barnes & Noble, perusing the aisles of the bookstore, imagining where my book might be shelved. I thought of this exercise as marketing research, an idea I got from reading Michael Larsen’s book, How to Write a Book Proposal. I wanted to see which books might be complementary, which competitors, how I could position my book as new and different. Could it be shelved in Business? Biography? Social Sciences? Current Affairs? Accounting and Economics? Cultural Studies? Religion? I spent hours at the store, just imagining, positioning my finished book in my mind. I left with a far better understanding of the market for my book. I also see the competition more clearly, and how I can differentiate my work.
I’ve started to turn from focusing solely on the craft of writing, to the art of selling a finished product. Yes. This is scary because it is new. But it’s making me positively giddy.