Thus, I provide two lists, with advice and lifehacks for each.
When you give birth to a baby:
- 6 weeks before giving birth, start the perineal massages. It is not sexy. But it is helpful.
- Take all the hospital supplies home with you–the squeeze bottle, the cloth underpants, the pads, the chux, everything. You may need all of it. You may only need some. You won’t have time to get more. Take them all home.
- Amazon.com and Diapers.com are your friends.
- Get a flat waterproof crib sheet. That’s not for the baby just yet. Put that under you while you sleep for the lochea (there will be lochea).
- Get a headlamp for nighttime diaper changes.
- Coconut oil is your nipples’ friend. I tasted lanolin, and it was so gross I couldn’t fathom giving it to my baby–so I slathered coconut oil instead. I still have that jar.
- Dermaplast spray if you gave birth vaginally. ‘Nuff said.
- Tucks pads.
- That first bowel movement after giving birth? It’s epic. Hold on to the walls. You will be okay.
When you give birth to a book…
- Enjoy the book cover reveal. Enjoy the galleys. It’s all a thrill!
- Don’t ask anyone to help with publicity if you haven’t sent them a copy of an ARC. Send out a lot of ARCs, if you can.
- Be ready to set aside time to write articles and such to help with book publicity.
- There will be haters. Don’t let them get you down.
- Be prepared to email blurbers yourself. Email them. They may not be able to say yes. Shake that off, and keep emailing.
- Thank your blurbers. Send a card. A tiny gift. They read your damn book and then said something nice about it.
- Goodreads.com is not your friend. DO NOT RESPOND to Goodreads.com reviews. In sum, do NOT respond to ANY bad reviews of any kind, be it Goodreads or the Nytimes.
- If you have a book launch party (and you should), bring a guest book so people can sign and leave you notes. You’ll find you have very little time to have meaningful chats with each person. (This advice was gifted to me by another friend).
- Make a list of your allies–litmags and organizations and people who have genuinely supported you throughout the years. Never forget them.
- Keep friends who aren’t writers close to you. Maintain the part of your life that has nothing to do with writing.
- Have a friend you can vent to about bad reviews or the process of book publication. Someone who won’t be jealous, preferably someone who’s been through it before.
- Keep a running list of press, so that you can update your website later.
- If you will be doing radio interviews, practice speaking without saying “um, uh, like,” and other things that buy you time. It’s better to pause a second or two then say “uhhh.” I did this by recording myself speak and counting the times I said “like.” (the Southern California girl in me flows strong).
- Now’s also the time to strengthen yourself as a book reader. Mark your manuscript and reading copy up–put notes down indicating where you want to increase volume, slow, speed up, or pause.
- Prep a few lines of greetings for when you sign books. So you don’t go blank.
- Thank your publicist (if you have one). They work hard for you and your book.
- Self care, self care, self care. If you have the resources, plan a getaway for after book launch and publicity duties end. Do what you can to make sure you nurture yourself.