Celebrating and Reflecting on the (Weird) Launch of ‘ParentShift’

Some of you know the story about how I co-founded this company shortly after I finished my first book, Relax, It’s Just God. It was cool because I was able to use the book as a guinea pig of sorts. In those early days I didn’t know what I was doing (I don’t feel like I know much more now, to be honest, but that can’t really be true — I mean, rationally speaking), and it was okay because I wasn’t toying with someone else’s life’s work or childhood dream.

Linda Hatfield, Ty Hatfield and me

Linda Hatfield, Ty Hatfield and me

Then, we published the book, the book did well, and we were off to the races. We’d already identified our next two authors, and were taking submissions to find more. I figured I’d retire the author thing and take up the publishing torch full-time.

But then, just two years into the business venture, I got this damn bee in my bonnet to write another book. Did I mention that was not supposed to be the plan? Yeah, it wasn’t. But… yada yada yada… I spent a good part of the next three years writing ParentShift with parenting gurus Linda and Ty Hatfield. (If you’re interested in the yada yada, you can check out the blog I wrote earlier today over at wendythomasrussell.com, or better yet, buy the book — which tells the longer story.)

Now, as personally fulfilling as it’s been — and as proud that I am of the finished product — and as glad I am that my amazing co-authors agreed to publish the book through Brown Paper Press — I would very much like to NEVER DO THIS AGAIN. It’s just too difficult wearing the cap of publisher and author at the same time. It’s confusing and stressful and has frankly done a number of my psyche the last several months.

Am I making this call to this person in my role as publisher or as author?

IMG_5722.JPG

Would I make this decision if I were just the publisher? Or am I biased by my investment in the project?

Is this a publisher cost or an author cost?

In a way, it’s been good. It’s brought clarity to the process of book marketing. The publisher-author relationship in general could easily be likened to rowing a canoe. The publisher rows one side; the author rows the other. It takes the enormous efforts of both parties to get where you want to go. As hard as it’s been to try to be on both sides of the boat at once, I do have a clearer picture of what makes sense for the publisher to handle and what makes sense for the author to handle going forward.

But, man, that realization has come at a cost.

Of course it’s not just the book launch that has triggered my anxiety; it’s the loss of my dad — whose lack of presence looms large. He was one of my biggest supporters, and I miss him immensely in this process, and every day.

As I said on this blog a few months ago, for a long time, I was facing dual deadlines — my book deadline and my father’s real-life, cancer-imposed deadline. I said goodby to my dad in October, essentially releasing him back into the universe. And, in a way, I’m doing the same thing for my book today: releasing it into the universe. Although, to be fair, it’s far more like watching a child go off to college than it is watching a father die. After today, I suspect the book will take on a life of its own. It will be liked by some and not others. It will contend with the judgment of the real world, have its imperfections held up to the light, and either succeed or fail on its own merits.

Whatever happens, I’ll continue to love it.

But I think it might be my last. Two is a fine number, and I think I might be ready to let others do the book-writing. For as long as this press lives — and I hope it lives for a long, long time — I need to be able to focus on my side of the boat. It’s a great view over here, but I’ve got to be able to relax enough to take it in.

So, yeah, a weird launch. Exciting and energizing and fulfilling and wonderful in so many ways — but exhausting and bewildering and almost too much to take in, as well.

A little like parenthood, you might say.

A lot like parenthood, you might say.