This weekend is the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to get a 5-minute “Author Spotlight” on a Toledo local news station (I zoomed in from Indiana). My graphic memoir The Keeper, has been out for 6 months now, and I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride in terms of talking about it to different audiences: creative writers, comics-folks, athletes, sports and Title IX historians, women’s organizations, kids at local schools, and even newscasters. Between book events and keeping up with my job as a professor, one of the last things on my mind has been the question the newscaster asked:
I know this is a common and fun question, and it’s exciting to talk about what’s next. I felt like I was breaking some sort of rule by insisting that continuing to talk about my current book is in fact the NEXT thing I’m working on. “The Women’s World Cup is this summer,” I told her, “I want to get it in the hands of those fans.”
As I answered, I could also feel myself intentionally wanting to push back on a trend I’ve seen in publishing: that a book that is six-months-old is already considered over the hill. All the energy is focused on FORTHCOMING TITLES, on COVER REVEALS, on PREORDERS.
I’ve been in indie publishing for long enough to know it doesn’t have to be this way. Books and authors can build momentum and find audiences over time. The Keeper is my first book published by one of the Big Five (Avery Books is an imprint of Penguin Random House). On the one hand, this means there’s more pressure about things like sales, which is not something I am inclined to think much about. (Or at least not in the money sense. I’m lucky that my job as a professor pays the bills, so I think more in terms of helping my book that I poured so much into find readers.) On the other hand, it means that my book is stocked in bookstores and libraries far beyond the reach of my prior books, finding readers I could never find on my own.
It seems silly to me to move on to the next book when I’m starting to get some momentum with one.
All of that said, I DO have a story I was working on before it got leapfrogged by The Keeper, and it also felt Midwestern-rude not to answer the newscaster’s question, so I told her:
I haven’t mentioned that project in a long time, and I felt rusty talking about it. But I have to admit, it’s fun to be reminded of it. I’ve done a LOT of drawing, writing, and research on it that I’ve just started revisiting. Here’s a little sampler:
I don’t actually know if this will be my next book. I’ve got other ideas brewing too. But despite my frustration with our obsession with WHAT’S NEXT, seeing the light at the end of the semester’s tunnel on this Titanic anniversary does get me a little excited to get back to work on it. While I keep trying to share The Keeper.
I have always been fascinated by the sinking of the Titanic... have definitely watched way too many documentaries, etc. This looks great, it'll be cool to see it when you are able to work on it (which I feel deeply, I never seem to have time for my personal work).
Great post! And this:
"As I answered, I could also feel myself intentionally wanting to push back on a trend I’ve seen in publishing: that a book that is six-months-old is already considered over the hill. All the energy is focused on FORTHCOMING TITLES, on COVER REVEALS, on PREORDERS."