My memoir SPINNING: Choreography for Coming Home is one year old this week and here’s my advice to anyone who thinks to herself, “I really want to publish a book.”
Self-publishing was the best thing I’ve ever done for my writer-self.
Of course it wasn’t easy. And yes, it was a big investment (which is a euphemism for “cost a lot of money.”) But two years ago, in the summer of 2016, I realized that I could either spend two years looking for the best-fit agent and the best-fit publishing house who’d be willing to take a chance on this work plus then another two years putting the book together—
or I could do it myself.
The scariest part was owning my work, standing behind every decision. Asking my mother and stepdad (an author of several books) to copyedit my work. Bringing on a team to help me make the book a reality. Saying “Yes, I did this.”
There’s a lot of security in the act of staying hidden—a work that is constantly revised, a manuscript that stays on your hard drive and never faces an audience. But it’s not really security. It’s just fear. And after awhile, this fear makes you shrink.
My launch date was my mother’s 75th birthday and I might have postponed publication if I hadn’t felt like doing so was somehow letting her down. As a result, the date was etched in stone.
Maybe it was the dancer in me who needed a dress rehearsal before opening night. My soft launch took place at my brother’s home, a private party for family and writer friends. My mother and stepdad Elroy Bode (who wrote the cover blurb) made a special trip up from Texas to attend.
Many of you know that my mother 75th birthday party was overshadowed by a much more solemn affair: a memorial for the sudden passing of my stepdad, just two weeks after we’d all gathered in my brother’s living room.
So while this week marks the one year of my book’s birthday, it’s also the one-year anniversary of my stepdad’s passing. A reflection on the shock, grief, and family bonding is the subject of another post. Today I just want to say:
Don’t make your fears stronger by giving them power over you.
Do it. Do it now. Not because life is short but because your life deserves to be full.
And now for the victory lap:
The last twelve months have brought four bookstore readings, three living-room launch parties, two café appearances, and one book festival. SPINNING was chosen for Stories on Stage Davis, designated a semi-finalist for Publisher’s Weekly’s BookLife prize, and was the featured Writer of the Week with Memoirs with Melissa.
Fans gave copies of the book to notable people as varied as Ron Stallworth (aka The Black Klansman) and Senator Timothy Kane. The medical director of the boys’ NICU bought fifty copies for colleagues in the field of neonatology and compassionate care. Moxie Road donated another thirty copies to benefit school auctions, writing residencies, and selected hospital professionals from California to Connecticut.
What’s on tap for the rest of 2018? For starters there’s Lit Crawl Seattle, Lit Crawl San Francisco, and a new cover from MW Designs, courtesy of Publisher’s Weekly and BookLife. And that’s just in October!
Don’t have your copy? Get it here!