My New Career as an Extrovert

Today’s the official publication day of my new novel, WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKTHROUGH. If you haven’t already ordered several copies of it, then now’s the time to get a move on. (Also, even if you’ve ordered several copies, you might want to reconsider. Will five really be enough for you and all your friends? Shouldn’t you buy more, just to be safe? Yes, you probably should.)

A publication date is a strange time in the life of any writer.  You long for the day, strive for it, tell yourself you’ll die if you don’t get it.  Then it happens.  You tell yourself you should be thrilled and ecstatic, but the truth is a little more complicated.

For one thing, you’re a nervous wreck.  What if your book comes out and nobody cares?  What if nobody but members of your immediate family buy it?  What if it doesn’t get reviewed?  What if it does get reviewed and you’re misunderstood and reviled?  How are you — hypersensitive, skittish and vulnerable — going to handle mass rejection, anyway?  Shouldn’t you just leave town and change your name to something suitably literary and preferably with an umlaut?

These moods pass like thunderclouds that don’t deliver.  You realize that, now that you think of it, you have other problems.  To wit: You — the shy, cringing type who likes to be by herself and contort her face until she composes a sentence or two and bang her forehead on the table for fun and inspiration — you are now expected to become an extrovert who loves to be around other people night and day and promotes herself and her book nonstop. In other words, you are supposed to become another person, a life-of-the-party type, who would probably never want to do anything as boring as sit down and write in the first place.

Once again, you think about the possibility of hiring a stunt double. The stunt double, younger and peppier and really kind of shameless, will corner total strangers and passersby and charm them into buying multiple copies of your novel.  She will visit bookstores and thoughtfully rearrange the titles so that your novel faces outward at eye level.  She will dazzle in person and on TV and radio.  She will make everybody want to read the novel, since it’s such a funny, touching story about three generations of women sharing a small house, trying to love one another and failing and trying again, and pushing to find their way in a daunting world.

Huh.  Sounds pretty good to me.  I realize, once again, that I may not be a camera, but I am my own stunt double — since I’m the only one I can afford.

P.S. Please make lovely comments on Amazon if you like the book.

P.S.S. I’m going to take a nap.  This temporary extroversion lifestyle requires a whole lot of sleep.

(Copyright 2011 by Ruth Pennebaker)

18 comments… add one
  • Enjoy your nap. I got an email yesterday saying that the copy of your book that I pre-ordered ages ago was winging its way to my house. I cannot wait to read it.

    Congratulations, big happy dance, etc.

  • Although I write non-fiction, not novels, I know how you feel. It’s like you have to be two entirely different kinds of people. And pub dates are so weird because you feel like something exciting is happening, but there’s nothing you can see and you sure don’t see any numbers for months and months (except for that lovely Amazon ranking which goes up and down with the wind). Good luck with your book – I just pushed “order” on my Amazon cart this morning with it in there!

  • I worry about this a lot. I feel able to write a book, but promote it? A whole different set of characteristics are required. I read a review of your book online and ordered a copy. Sounds like someone will snap up the movie option in no time. Good luck with everything.

  • I can’t wait to read your book. I hope that all goes well. My husband’s book is supposed to come out this year too. He’s months away from the publication date, but still, I know it must be nerve-racking.

  • I’m roaring with recognition, since the book my friend and I wrote about Quincy Tahoma the Navajo artist, will be out in April. Good to remember to take naps. And good that you recognize the need for a doppleganger–even though you know you have to find her within yourself.

  • Merr Link

    I love the whole intergenerational content of your book and am excited for the post I’m going to be writing about it shortly 🙂

  • I like your bald honesty in discussing the myriad feelings racing through you post-publication.
    I don’t believe a true extrovert could ever conjure enough solitude to write a novel. Writing an autobiography might be more of a lure to an extrovert, but still, there is no audience during the time of actual writing.
    I like your idea of hiring a “stunt double.” What is the reverse of hiring a ghost writer– a ghost author? Write and publish a book, then hire somebody to professionally pretend to be its author. A flesh-and-blood entity as a nom de plume of sorts.

    My Kindle copy arrived this morning via Whispersync. I have ENJOYED five chapters thus far, cinematically envisioning each shift in a scene– those spaces/gaps between text lines are my fade-out/fade-in cues.

  • I can understand the emotions, but I haven’t had the pleasure of being in that position. Someday………?

  • Many congratulations! I hope you have had a jolly celebration.

    I already own your book — the first paid purchase on my brand new Christmas Kindle. Until today my Kindle only had free stuff published before 1923, such as (cough) works by the Brontes…

    I do know about needing naps; the day my novel was published I was in the hospital having just given birth to my third child. In between noticing who hadn’t noticed me I did a lot of sleeping. It was such a good excuse I never risked another.

  • Well said, Ruth.
    I was thrilled to find my copy from Amazon on my doorstep when I got home this evening. Yay!

    Congratulations even if it’s exhausting being a peppy extrovert.

  • Oh, Ruth, I’m so excited for you. Yet I can relate to what you’re feeling, even though I’ve not published a book. I’d be a wreck! All full of “what-if’s.” But I know the book will be every bit as brilliant and funny and entertaining as you are (in your extroverted-introverted way). Very excited to read it and tell my friends all about it!

  • Ruth, I’m so excited for you. Go take a nap while I download the Kindle app onto my iPad. Yours will be the first book that I read electronically. Looking forward to it.

  • Terry Buckner Link

    Came home from work (14 hour day) and your book was stuck between my glass storm door adn the front door…Yippee! can’t wait to read it!

  • Congrats, Ruth. I have little doubt your book will be as entertaining, witty, and wise as your blog posts are and that there will be much I can relate to in its pages.

    As for the extrovert stuff, you’ll be great, just remember to keep taking naps to recharge your batteries between performances, I mean appearances;)

    Off to order on Amazon now….

  • This was beautiful. And true.

  • My copy arrived today. Jerry said, “Well, have you read it?” I said, “Yes, a page.” It looks good. To be continued.

  • Congratulations on the pub date! I hope your nap helped clear the nervousness and vulnerability out of your head (for the moment, anyway) – your writing is certainly life-of-the-party writing and THAT’S what people are going to notice, believe me.

  • msue Link

    I downloaded your book (Kindle) last night, and have read nearly non-stop since, missing yoga this morning to finish it. Many congratulations for writing such an engaging story! I feel like I’ve known these women, or maybe have been these women, throughout my life. Your book gave me insight into friends facing circumstances similar to Joanie – raising a teenager, or relating to an aging parent, and for that I am grateful. Is it too much or too soon to ask for another novel? Perhaps after your nap, that is! At any rate, it is a great read, which I enjoyed thoroughly.

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