by Susan McBride
Yeah, it starts early. Like, long before your book hits the shelves in any brick-and-mortar stores. When it's available for pre-order online, only usually your cover art's not even up yet and there's no description. Just your title and your name, and a lonely box that says, "Cover Unavailable."
Even if you've got another book to write that's supposed to be keeping you busy, you're thinking about it. You can't help it. People keep sending you things, like copy edits, galleys to proof, and other stuff involved in the production process that always requires your immediate attention. Although you try to put it out of your head, they won't let you. It's like pine needles from your Christmas tree. You think you've got them all swept up and yet, when you vacuum in July, there they are.
You can run but you can't hide. You can fight, but it's a lost cause. You can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, shake off the dust, and get right back up on that horse...well, you know what I'm getting at. It's called the My-New-Book's-Coming-Out-Jitters. And there are obvious symptoms, and I'll describe a few in case you think you've got jitter fever coming on.
For starters, you can't help looking at your online numbers. I know, I know. You've told yourself you wouldn't do that any more. But it's a new book, one you've poured your heart into. Surely someone's ordered it by now? So you take a peek, certain you'll be amazed by the digits. And, yes...yes, you definitely are. Because isn't it not a good thing to be at one million? Should you call your mom and ask her to order? Should you pretend you didn't see?
Then there are the bad dreams. Nightmares to be specific. You're at a writer's conference and one of your best friends approaches, telling you she's talked with your publisher and your new book only has a 2% sell-through. That, for sure, is a very bad thing. You wake up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath. Then you look at the calendar and realize the book hasn't come out yet. You're safe. For now.
You start Googling, looking for early reviews. Only you keep coming across ad copy for the book that isn't your favorite. It's everywhere. Along with your old bio that you wrote specifically for the last book that had to do with things this new book has nothing to do with. Do you: (a) panic and whine to anyone who will listen (always my first choice); (b) suck it up and ignore it; or, (c) stop spending so much time online looking at stuff that makes you crazy and FOCUS ON THE BOOK THAT'S DUE IN A FEW MONTHS. Hmm, now that's a tough choice.
I'm not sure this disease appears in any medical textbook or if it's acknowledged by the CDC. Still, it exists. And the most frightening thing about it: there's no cure. None that I'm aware of anyway. Sure, some authors say a couple drinks ease the pain. But as Maggie knows, I'm no drinker. Others suggest a long vacation, but I've got two deadlines this year. So that's a no-go. A lobotomy could be the answer only, yeah, I think I'd miss those two deadlines for sure if I went that route.
Did I mention that Little Black Dress is out two months from today? (Well, it's officially a September 1 book, but it releases on August 23.) So I expect my jitter fever to go sky high in the ensuing weeks. You might want to keep your distance. I've heard it's not catching but you can never be too sure.