I’m Experiencing Post-Book Baby Depression and I Haven’t Even Had My Book Launch Yet

It was 2012 when I read Kim Wright’s “Living the Dream,” an essay in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers on how to beat the postpublication blues. “[G]etting what you always wanted, finally reaching that single enormous goal. It can all be a little… depressing,” writes Wright. She was referring to how the realities of becoming a published author can never quite live up to your dreams and expectations.

As the type of person who purposefully approaches life with low expectations so as to perhaps experience delightful surprise later on, I assumed I’d dodge this particular bullet. But six years later, I’ve been blindsided by my own post-book slump — and my book isn’t even out yet.


At the time I read Wright’s essay, the first iteration of my book was receiving its first rounds of perfectly lovely rejections. I didn’t know then that there would be another five years ahead of me, years in which I would lose faith in the book, get pregnant, become subsumed by new motherhood, become newly inspired, rewrite the book, find a new agent, and finally sell it.

At this point, I’ve been working on A Dirty Word for seven or eight years. With just over a month left before my publication date, what I’m feeling now isn’t the fear that publication will be a letdown. Rather, what I’m feeling is the absence of this one huge, driving force in my life. How will I fill this hole that remains? What will I work on next?

Should I return to that other book proposal I started last year, before this book sold? Is the idea strong enough? Should I go looking for another story that would allow me to really dig into a ton of research? Where do I start looking? Should I shift genres entirely, playing around with flash nonfiction, lyric essays, and horror stories, income be damned? Should I revive the Word Nerd Networking idea I was playing around with about 10 years ago? Should I go into hiding, reemerging only to teach pro bono yoga classes for non-profit health organizations or sing resistance songs with that local choir? WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG THING???


It has been a very long time since I’ve found myself without purpose. Is it any wonder that I feel slightly panicked?

I suppose all I can do is take all of these options and break them down into the tiniest of action steps, in the process seeing which excites me most.

Or maybe my next big thing isn’t on this list at all. Maybe I’ll stumble upon it as I’m anxiously flailing about.

Maybe all I can do is survive my book launch, and worry about what comes after… after.

Preorder links for my book — plus details on book events — are here. Sign up for my newsletter here. Further stalk me here and here. I’m so excited to share my book with you!

(photo by Sam Pharo)