A banner four days
Hello all! Marrying In came out on Tuesday! I’m still a little emotional about it! Thank you so much to everyone who has purchased it so far. Yesterday, to treat myself, I got a manicure with gel polish that matched the color. I then spent about forty-five minutes trying (and failing) to make a greenscreen TikTok about said nail color. (I did manage to make this one, though—pretty proud of it.)
Most of the process of publication has felt, for various reasons, mortifying. I’ve had to really fight with myself about it; I’ve constantly had to remind myself that this is something I wanted to do, that no one is making me self-publish this, that I could have easily put it up anonymously as an original work on AO3 and moved on with my life. There is a non-zero number of brain weasels providing mean running commentary on the hypothetical reaction I might receive to the book, with commentary ranging from “You’re a terrible writer” to “ten years in publishing and this is all you managed to come up with? This is what all the fuss was about?” It feels audacious, to think of myself as a writer and also have the gall to actually charge money for my work.
I’ve had to sit with these feelings to work through them. I came to realize this group of brain weasels is trying to protect me—trying to keep me from disappointment or embarrassment. I’d rather deal with disappointment or embarrassment as they come, however, because sitting in fear of them all the time is terrible. Not only do disappointment and embarrassment fade, but also, that kind of anticipatory fear lasts much longer! So: yes, my book might be a bit cringe, but I love it, and so far SEVENTY-ONE of you have cared enough to purchase it! 71!!! That’s so many!
You might be looking at that and thinking “Udden, you’re crazy, that’s… so few people.” And no, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not enough sales to let me quit my job or anything like that. But it’s a place to start, and something to be proud of.
I have been reading a lot of Eve Babitz recently. Her breezy style (and short chapters) make for excellent train reading on my jaunts to and from the Upper East Side, and in one chapter from the collection Black Swans she talks about a relationship she had with another writer, Walter. One night they went to the Château Marmont and had a fight, after which Eve went home alone and mailed off a story to a literary magazine: “I got home, thank God, at 6:45 and decided the thing to do was to be a black swan myself. Stick to my own kind—freakish, beautiful outsiders. Become art, not decoration—which was what Walter wanted, decoration.” The piece is accepted, which enrages Walter and drives him to break all her glassware, but Eve is excited. “I had never known in my life what it felt like to be considered an ‘honor’ for anyone…Maybe they weren’t the philistines I branded them. Maybe they were right, those art directors, who always told me, ‘You should be a writer.’”
All along this strange journey I keep coming back to something Amanda, one of my dear friends, told me. When I told her that I was going to write, that I was in fact working on a book, she accepted this as non-news. “I knew it,” she said. “I knew when I met you that you were a writer. I could just tell.” When she met me I was an agent, working for her then-agent, and I said so, but she said it didn’t matter. “You are a writer,” she said. And it turns out she was right.
WHAT I’M READING
Eve Babitz led me to Barbara Pym, a very different writer. It feels reductive to say that Barbara Pym wrote novels about midcentury British spinsters, though that’s largely what she wrote about. She and Babitz are both terrifically funny in their different ways, and I picked up Excellent Women because I was reminded of it by this line in Black Swans: “What Larry wanted me to do wasn’t to write for his literary magazine but type other people’s (his) short stories. It was a situation out of Barbara Pym—men wanting women to type. Except the women in her books could type, whereas whenever I tried to type anything people got mad.” I’ve finished Excellent Women and have moved on to No Fond Return of Love, and both have been absolutely delightful.
Next Tuesday 4/18 at 7pm ET I’ll be doing an Instagram Live with Rebecca Heyman, where we’ll be reading the first chapter of Marrying In, talking about the process of self-publishing, and giving away a free digital copy to one viewer! Please join us if you can!
I had a request from a reader (Hi Caren!) to do a breakdown of the costs of self-publishing the book. Right now that number is about $550, which includes the cost of the cover and Vellum (the program that I used to lay out the book for ereaders.) I think I’ll wait and do a more detailed breakdown of the costs when we’re a little further along, since I may do some paid advertising here in a bit.
I’m available to hire for freelance editing services on Reedsy. You can find me on social media on Twitter, Instagram, and now TikTok.
THIS WEEK IN HOCKEY
Both the Capitals AND the Penguins are out of playoff contention, which means we’ll have a Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin-less offseason for the first time in absolute ages. All I have to say is: please, God, anyone but Tampa Bay.