the two best ways to spend your book birthday

Today is the day that How Not to Fall is available (a | bn | ib | iB | gp), and I am genuinely thrilled.

I am also profoundly Feelsy, because I know not everyone will love it, and some of the people who don’t love it will take delight in explaining to the internet how much they hated it.

This is true for pretty much every book that has ever been written. I am not special; I did not write a book that people will hate so much more than any other book they’ve ever read that it will stand as a monument in their minds to bad books. I just wrote a book, a regular book, with sex in it and a cliffhanger ending and a heroine who is both a genius and says, “Dude” a lot, because that’s what college students do, even the brilliant ones. And so some people will not love it. Which is fine.

Other people will love it. They will cry in a good way. They will say nice things on Twitter. And, because I’m a person, a regular person – or not; maybe I am especially neurotic and sick – I’ll hear those nice things and feel ashamed, as if someone telling me they liked my book is the “I Try My Best” ribbon at an elementary school Field Day.

My sister, my brother, and my mother are all professional musicians, and I’m married to a guy with a fine arts degree in design. They learned to cope with public criticism of their work DECADES ago. And then there’s me. The scientist. The nerd who uses data to explain why she’s right and the other guy is wrong and LOOK HERE IS THE EVIDENCE THAT SAYS SO.

So I’m not good at receiving criticism of my creative work – not yet, anyway. Here’s hoping I have more chances to practice.

Because I have now lived through this day, I can offer these two strategies that I found effective for coping with the day a book leaves the nest and joins the great, wide world:

  1. Yardwork. Physical labor of any kind, really, but I find yardwork especially fulfilling because you can see the difference you’ve made. Housework will work too – cleaning is magnificant. “Look at that!” you can say. “I accomplished something today!”
  2. Work on your next book. Assuming you’re not totes famous and in demand for pub-day interviews and stuff, forget about the thing you finished. It’s finished. It doesn’t belong to you anymore. It’s in the world’s hands now, and they’re allowed to do whatever they want to it. So get back to work on your next thing.


Me, I printed out my entire 130,000 word manuscript and reversed the entire order of events.


Because coping.