The Five Emotional Stages of Publishing A Book

emotional stages of publishing

You’ve finished writing your book! Well, hold on tight because you’re on a wild roller coaster, and while that ride takes you to remarkable highs, it plummets to lows you never imagined. Welcome to the emotional stages of publishing a book.

You’ve edited your book so many times you can recite it by heart. You’re almost sick of it, but not really, because what’s coming next is what you’ve dreamed of for months, even years. Publication!

Self-publishing, hybrid publishing, traditional publishing… it doesn’t matter which. They all excite writers. You’ve weathered all that research, writing, rewriting, rewriting again, editing, and more editing. This book is a miracle, a pinnacle! You’re beside yourself with joy!

Well, honey, hold on tight because the ride isn’t over. You’ve just paid your ticket for the emotional roller coaster of your life, and while that ride takes you to remarkable highs, it likewise plummets to lows you never imagined.

Prepare yourself. Here it comes. Step in and belt up.

Stage One: Excitement

You cannot believe you finally finished writing a book. You cannot wait to see that cover on Amazon, and the dream has your adrenaline pumping and heart aflutter. And your name listed as an author? Wow. It took an incredible amount of work to reach this point, and you couldn’t be prouder. Of course, you are. It takes remarkable focus and dedication to write a book. Your beta readers, maybe the editor you hired, all think the story is remarkable. Hugs all around.

Stage Two: Trepidation

Which way do you publish? What if you make the wrong choice? Gracious, you never realized a book needed formatting so how the heck are you supposed to know how to do it? Or tell if someone else did it right — or wrong? There are so many decisions, from eBook to paperback, book size, cover graphics, even paper color. You’d consider querying agents, but you hear they barely read one percent of the queries they receive. That doesn’t even count the odds of landing a traditional press. And how does this hybrid combination of the two work?

Dang it. You didn’t bank on this when that story took root in your head, and you can’t sleep for fear of making a wrong move. So much for all that earlier excitement. You’re now paralyzed with fear and afraid to take the first step into publishing.

Stage Three: Frustration

You finally stepped into the fray, and you’re so sick of this book! How many more times do you have to reread and restudy the darn thing? How many books, blogs, videos, and podcasts are there, and how many should you listen to about doing it right? If you had the money, you’d pay someone to just take it off your hands and email you when it’s done. You just want someone to tell you where to go to sign books, for goodness sake. Honestly, people ought to be making a killing doing this sort of thing. You’d almost mortgage your house to dump it on someone who actually likes doing this stuff.

Stage Four: Exhilaration

Well, you trudged through the muck and managed to get the book published. Isn’t that baby in your hands the most wonderful thing you ever saw? Like holding a newborn for the first time, only you have to admit your book just might be prettier than ninety percent of the infants you’ve held. All those ideas, late night writing, editing. The cursing, the tears, the self-pats on the back when a sentence came together just so. What started as a simple concept has come to fruition, with your name on the cover.

Who said you couldn’t write a book? Take that, naysayers. Proof positive right here in these boxes . . . and on Amazon for the world to see. Can’t wipe the stupid smile off your face, huh?

And down comes the roller coaster.

Stage Five: What the heck do you do with your book now?

So, being on Amazon doesn’t mean the book sells. Crap. Now what? Scouting around online, searching for answers, you learn words like platform, branding, niche, and marketing. How do the books get into bookstores? Who’d have thought that part was tricky? Books – bookstores – duh!

Or maybe you already researched those words and did your homework, but now that you’re physically having to ask for reviews, maintain social media, scout for appearances, and coax libraries, bookstores, and book clubs to consider you, it’s not what you expected. It’s hard!

This is not what you signed up for. You’re a writer, not a salesperson. Back comes the anxiety. Back comes the frustration. And there isn’t one place with all the answers.

Hey, it’s okay. There isn’t one way to sell a book. No two authors follow the same path of book promotion and sales. Take some time, there’s no rush, and study what other authors have done. You don’t have to do it all. Instead, select the methods and avenues that suit your personality, genre, and pocketbook.

Of course, do the basics, like have a solid website designed and participate in at least two social media platforms. Make sure your free Amazon Author Central page is populated thoroughly. After that, it’s whatever you want to do.

Do you love to speak? Then join speakers’ bureaus and knock it out of the park.

Do you love schools? There’s no end to those in terms of libraries, PTAs, presentations, and even grant residencies to get paid to teach (and include book sales).

Want to focus on libraries? Each state has a list. Start making the rounds.

Love the sensory fun of fairs, markets, exhibitions, expositions, and shows? Create signage and a display and contact counties, states, and conference centers, asking for the schedules.

Too shy to stand in front of people? Then pitch blogs and ask to be a guest online.

Housebound? There’s Skype, but don’t rule out podcasts. They’re hot now, and what a way to establish a fresh brand.

Don’t become an emotional wreck over publishing because you aren’t sure how to pull it off. While the world is rife with how-to material, the over-abundance can drive you nuts. Instead, think of your likes, what makes you happy, and design a promotional journey that suits you, appeases you, maybe even makes you enjoy the process well enough to write another book!

That’s how you turn this emotional roller coaster into one smooth ride. By being true to yourself and finding the path that makes you happiest.


stages of publishing Newberry Sin CoverC. Hope Clark’s newest release is Newberry Sin, the fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries, set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder.

Hybrid Author Game 


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  1. Thank you! I have been pressured by a friend “to do this, do that.” You gave me permission to do it my way. This is my first book at age 70, now….gotta learn to pod cast.

  2. Totally get all of this!

    My newest book, a republication of an older title, is almost ready for Amazon, and there’ve been so many adjustments in the cover, the publishing logo (I’m starting my own imprint), the layout and the rest, I’m ready for the booby hatch!

    Add to this a little stress because I have to move in 3 weeks and have not yet signed a lease for a new place or packed anything–but I tell myself I’ll get through this and be ready to rock’n roll very soon!

    Thanks for the excellent advice!

  3. WOW!!!!! You’ve hit the “Emotional” nail on the HEAD!!! And I continue to crank out manuscript after manuscript only to conclude, I don’t know which venue to publish them.

  4. I appreciate this information and confirmation. I have lupus and published FIGHTING LUPUS BATTLES – Hope for a Cure in 2015 via the Hilton Publishing Company of Munster, IN. This book consists of true stories that were written by eighteen lupus patients, our relatives, and two of my doctors. The stories describe the struggles, losses, and victories experienced by us and were written to inspire, encourage, and increase awareness.
    I’m now in the process of writing a sequel with updates from the first book, stories written by new patients, and a section on lupus research. I was stuck until I read your article. I think I can now move forward by being myself – doing what I want and within my own timeline. Maybe this will be two books, instead of one.

  5. This was a funny and very realistic insight into that crazy roller coaster! Thanks for writing it for those who are still in Stage 1. I hope they take it to heart and realize we are all in the amusement park together!


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