Clones and Dysfunctional Divas

I need a personal assistant. Or a clone. A highly efficient clone.

The enormity of everything I have to do — from finalizing the book trailer video, to overseeing Escape from Beckyville through the printing pipeline to marketing and promoting the book — is taking a toll on me. Not that I’m veering into Martyrville. I definitely signed up for this, and I’m looking forward to all the challenges that go along with being a self-published author. It’s just that some days, four hands would work much better than two.

The day after I handed in my letter of resignation at the day job I have held for the past eight years, two things happened: the galleys for Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage arrived in the morning mail, and the post cards I ordered to promote the book were ready to be picked up from the printers. I was thrilled at the news. The arrival of the proofs the day after I solidified in writing my leap from full-time employee to full-time hustler was more confirmation that I was on the right path.

But then something horrible happened.

I’m dealing directly with a printing company as opposed to signing up with a vanity press to have more autonomy over my book. I’ve worked with a vanity publisher in the past, and they are wonderful about handling everything from designing the cover artwork to printing, to  distribution of your book at online retailers. Since I’m forgoing that route with Beckyville, I’m serving as my own vanity press. Well, everything was going great with the printer, and my proofs were delivered to me in a timely manner and awaiting my approval. But since this is me — and not a highly efficient clone — and I’ve been feeling disorganized and super stressed lately, I accidentally uploaded to the printer’s submission system an earlier file that had not been revised. So the galleys delivered to my doorstep waiting for my sign off were, in fact, based on an unedited version of the book.

Only me.

This major mistake stung all the more because I hired a copy editor and took great pains to ensure that my short story collection was error free, or as close to error-free as possible. I’m well aware of the stigma attached to self-published books — that these tomes are often grammatically incorrect and laden with more mangled words than a fifth grade spelling bee. To rectify this huge faux pas, I knew I could do nothing less than upload the correct version of the file, which would push back the date of my book launch. But the date the books were expected to arrive — July 8 — was important, because I had assembled an all-woman street team to hit the bricks with me, go door-to-door at beauty salons and black book stores to get the word out about Escape from Beckyville. I’m sensitive to the fact that my friends have lives and are taking time out of their busy schedules to help with my project, and I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. I couldn’t stop beating myself up over a mistake that could have been avoided with a little more diligence.

Live and learn.

The same day that I realized my mistake, I uploaded the correct file and kept it moving. At least I had a carton of error-free post cards to hand out to spread the word about my book. What I’m learning along this journey is that I can’t fall apart over everything that doesn’t go as planned, or else I’m defeating the purpose of quitting my job and following my dreams. Resigning was about freedom; not bondage, which is what it feels like I’m falling into by obsessing over every detail. As hard as it is, I have to praise myself for the things that I do right.

The good news is that, after the printer received my edited file, I was able to view a soft version of the manuscript online, as opposed to having another hard copy of the galleys mailed to me. So it looks like I’m still going to make my July 8 launch date after all. A Nicole clone would have never made such a careless blunder. But I think the world is better served by an error-prone dysfunctional diva than a soulless facsimile.

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