The books arrived three days ago, cartons and cartons and cartons of Way Opens, and I almost didn’t panic.
Backstory: When, about a year ago, I decided to self-publish, that decision seemed completely in line with the whole “leading” idea, i.e., trying to be faithful to what Spirit seemed to be asking of me. If I believed in what I was doing, why should I wait for some publishing company to fall in love with Way Opens? Why not actually invest in this project? (Maybe I’ll say more about this decision some other time.)
Happily, luckily, fortuitously, Warwick House Publishers, a self-publishing company, is located right in Lynchburg, Virginia, where much of Way Opens takes place. So for the past year, working closely with Warwick’s incomparable Joyce Maddox, I’ve been focused on getting this book into shape: seemingly-endless copy editing (I think Joyce combed the manuscript five times!), securing permissions from poets, making decisions about layout, getting the cover designed, etc., etc. Engrossing and endless details, thousands of them.
And, I have to say, for the most part it’s been an enormously satisfying process. Like getting to decide that the chapter notes immediately follow their respective chapter. Joyce, who is strictly Chicago Manual of Style, tried to talk me out of it. But I felt that this book is telling the story of a long, long (yet absolutely fascinating, of course) process and that readers need to be able to follow along.
And how many authors get to have a say about their book cover? How many authors are actually thrilled with their book cover? I did; I am. Totally.
So, to wrap up this backstory, this enormously satisfying process suddenly became terrifying when, about a month ago, Joyce e-mailed that the printer wanted to know where to ship the books.
As my homeless students would say when they suddenly made some connection: “Oh, yeah, huh?” Doing my “homework,” writing several drafts, getting the manuscript the way I wanted; all that was leading up to, not “my book,” but books! In cartons. Lots of them. Coming to my house! Yikes.
So in the past month I have been doing everything I know to get the word out about Way Opens. (The “Doing It Yourself: Promoting Your Own Book or Project on a Tight Budget” workshop at this year’s Women, Action & the Media conference was hugely helpful!)I’ve had lots of help: My sister, Deborah Wild, for example, up-to-her-ears busy with her consultant biz, designed the one-sheet. And dear, patient Nathan, who has so gently taught technophobic moi how to navigate the website world.
“I have nine-hundred books in my library,” Thoreau said, according to my friend Bob Irwin. “Seven-hundred of them I wrote myself.”
So, yeah, while the cartons stacked on top of each other in the upstairs hallway is a little daunting, shall we say, I am cheered by an e-mail I received from someone who’d been forwarded an e-mail from someone who’d. . . This many-times-over-forwarded e-mail, I suspect, is the one I sent out in a moment of utter panic a couple of weeks ago, to just about everyone I know, telling them about Way Opens. “This book sounds GREAT,” a total stranger wrote me this morning.
Way opens, right?