Book babies – a guide to parenthood.

Book babies – a guide to parenthood.

I have often heard people refer to their book as their ‘baby’. I’ve personally never subscribed to this view as the conception, gestation and ‘birth’ of my book seemed to be a far cry from the relative pleasure of a quick tumble. The subsequent surprise that can be had from peeing on a plastic stick and discovering that new life is within you is vastly different from having a book published. But there are similarities…

There is a spark of life, an idea forms, and from one tiny sentence, a book grows. It takes months – you don’t talk about it in the beginning in case it comes to nothing, but eventually the secret is out and everyone knows. People are enthusiastic and ask you how it’s going…you get fat and happy on the potential 🙂

Then it starts moving, kicking you in the ribs, keeping you awake at night and you worry. What if something goes wrong? What if ‘having it’ hurts? Oh my god, there is only one way out of this, and it is definitely going to hurt :/ people in the know are smug, and smile at you. They have been exactly where you are now and they know what you are in for…those smiles are not indicators of collective camaraderie, they are the smiles of people who are laughing at you, not with you.

Getting the first view of your cover is akin to getting a scan. You can just about make out your book, just like you can just about make out a baby from the series of grey blobs on the print out. You are surprised, it’s not quite what you pictured and wow, what’s that weird bit sticking out there…? It isn’t quite the gender/genre you’d anticipated and it has its father’s nose, but it’s yours and you love it anyway, even though you do have to explain the strange lumpy bits to people…

Then publication/labour arrives and you think, well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Millions of people have done this, it’s easy. Then you look at your ‘baby’, out there in the great nursery that is Amazon ( and all other reputable online retailers) Its little face is just one of many in the morass of ‘babies’ that are out there. And boy, is yours UGLY compared to everyone elses! Good grief, it stands out like a sore thumb amidst all the lovely, sparkly, pink and pretty Chick-lit books. It sits there like a gargoyle amongst the suave and smooth thrillers, looking more John Prescott than John Grisham. It’s little face is the face of a book that only a mother could love, so you have a moment of fondness for the poor little thing…then you check your sales rank and the baby blues set in…

The darned thing needs feeding, you must tweet on the hour every hour! You are up all night, feeding, pacing, tweeting, posting, blogging, soothing and smoothing this demanding little creature. It has taken over your world and  must be thrust upon everyone else’s world. It’s there, screaming and yelling ‘read me, read me now!’ It won’t shut up, no matter what you do. You’ve cuddled it, loved it, changed it, burped it, rocked it and finally shut it in a room to cry itself to sleep while you sat on the stairs and swigged neat gin…

By dawn it has redeemed itself, a few other people have recognised that you do, indeed, have a cute baby – they liked it, and said so. They left a review, only a four star though, cos it ain’t that cute. But you know, sooner or later that someone is going to point out that yours is the fugliest most gross ‘book baby’ ever and should have been drowned at birth! So, you get a little protective and tweet some more. ‘Look, my book baby can do this – see?’ While all the yummy mummies snigger and point at your awkward, un-pretty progeny.

It’s big in Australia, and the Americans seem to like your baby because they are good like that and always support an underdog. You find out that someone in Outer Mongolia liked it because Novelrank told you so. It’s all good 🙂 OK, so not everyone loves your baby – it’s never going to be drunk on a train, get a dragon tattoo, fight its peers to the death or silently scream. It’s probably not going to win the egg and spoon race at infant school either but it’s yours. You made it and some people think it’s really cute and loveable. It is the pug of books, but pugs are cute –  who doesn’t love a pug, right? 😉

All joking apart, it’s a flipping good book and ugly ducklings notoriously grow into majestic swans – http://ow.ly/MsqGY

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