Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG - Book Baby Blues

This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post for June.
For more information about the group, see the bottom of this post.


Alex's awesome co-hosts for June are:
C. Lee McKenzie, Tracy Jo, Melanie Schulz, 
and LG Keltner!

Please stop by their blogs and say thank you.



I'm going to drop the happy social media face and get real in this post (that's what IWSG is all about, right?), so let me pause to give an important caveat. I am beyond grateful for all the writer friends who helped me launch my book and posted promo for me. Don't let anything I say in this post make you feel unappreciated.


Most of you probably know I published my debut novel on May 12th.  I experienced something after release day that I haven't heard other writers talk about... which is strange. If something is common to author life, we typically get an earful by the time we've been involved in the writing world for a while.


The phenomenon I want to put up for discussion today is what I term the book baby blues. You know—a period of depression similar to what new moms have after the birth of a child. I experienced this rather profoundly in the days following my debut release. I'm not talking regular writing ups and downs. This was something more.


I went into to the final publishing push overworked and freaked out and stressed, but—even with all the craziness—I truly enjoyed the thrill of release day. I was burning up my laptop from the wee morning hours of May 12th until late into the night. No joke! It was all I could do to keep up with Facbook, the blogosphere, and Twitter. Just as I'd been told to expect, I was queen for a day.


And then the next day, I wasn't.


As I mentioned in my How I Found The Write Path post, I came down from that high and landed in a post-pub rubble of dwindling comments and back-to-zero sales. There I was, alone at my desk in the silence. My book was finally out in the world, but the world didn't seem to care.


Now I don't want to sound all diva selfish or pity party like. I'm not hungry for fame or attention, and I went into this knowing I wouldn't be the next New York Times bestselling author. I had set my mind for months, if not years, of hard work, writing more books and building a name and a backlist before I might have any real success. And yet, this day-after-debut slump still hit me like a truckload of hardback returns.


Some major sh*t went down in my personal life during the weeks before and after my book's release, but I don't think that was the sole reason for the low mood. My husband (of nineteen mostly happy years) and I separated about six weeks before P-day, but we reconciled three weeks later, and I was more stressed over the whole thing than depressed. Then my uncle died May 15th. I was upset over that, for sure; but his death was sudden, and I was already feeling depressed before it.


I mean, let's face it. A debut novel release is not some minor event that we spend a few days or weeks getting excited about. I worked hard for over TWO YEARS, writing Come Back and getting it polished for publication. Then I spent weeks setting up guest posts and release announcements. All of which resulted in 14 books sold. ...14. On every other day surrounding release day, sales were in the single digits.


Thanks to a last-minute ad changing the course of things for my book and me, I've pulled out of my slump. But, every morning when the sales graph goes back to baseline, I still get an aching twinge in my chest, even though I have faith that near-vertical line will lift up by the end of the day.
 


And what if I hadn't been so lucky?  
Would I be in such sullen state that I couldn't even write?

Have you ever had book baby blues, or is it just me?

To tweet about this post, click here.




IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a monthly bloghop that offers a safe haven for writers to express their feelings and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It's also a venue for offering support, both in the form of comments and positive posts. Writers of all kinds are welcome. 

We 'meet' the first Wednesday of every month. If you're interested in learning more, click on the link above. And don't be intimidated by the size of the group. We're not expected to visit everyone on the list

52 comments:

  1. I remember my first release day and the let down afterward. And checking a zillion times a day the ranks on Amazon. The truth is there's also a billion different books out there that people are reading and buying, and mine is an unknown piece of literature. I'm a bad promoter and then personal life gets in the way...With that said about myself, Melissa, I am so impressed with your promoting and marketing and your book was and is doing phenomenal!! I was telling my friends all about it and how well you're doing.
    I can tell you not to bother with checking the ranking system on Amazon which is so screwy, but I still check. I can't preach one thing and do another. My books are heading into outer space. You learn with the first book the second will feel totally different, you'll be more prepared and know what to expect!

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  2. I experienced a similar feeling after the release of my first book. It was fireworks and party balloons for a day or so and then - crickets. It's very frustrating.
    The thing I took away from that release is to just keep writing and looking forward to the next book, and the book after that.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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  3. There is just so much a writer has to go through to get their book out into the world, that I’m not surprised there's a postpub down time. Add to that, family problems, and life in general, and wow, it's scary for me to even think about and I don't even have a book anywhere near finished. But you what? You are not easily defeated. I admire that about you, your persistence and perseverance. You and I met during Rachel's Writers' Platform-Building Campaign and just look how far you've come! You can be proud of your accomplishments. Give your book some time, see how things stand at your 6 month mark and 1 yr. And then just think how much easier this process will be for the second book. HUGS and hang in there. :)

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  4. I haven't had a book release yet, so no, I haven't experienced those blues. The closest I've come is when I get a sudden rise in the number of people who stop by my blog, which gets me all jazzed up, then get a little down as the numbers dwindle away again.

    Just remember you're in this for the long haul. Cheers.

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  5. That didn't sound unappreciative at all. Sounded very honest. I feel so bad that personal problems had to be added to an already stressful time. Stephanie Faris and I were just yacking about this the other day. We'd all love a meteoric rise to the top, but the truth is, it's a slow climb, but if we stick with it and keep trudging, we will make it, because we love writing. Your launch was so very impressive. Your hard work was obvious and I don't have a single doubt that you will keep
    the momentum and do great things.

    Hugs Melissa. I know exactly what you're feeling. It's tough, but you're not allowed to quit!

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  6. That didn't sound unappreciative at all. Sounded very honest. I feel so bad that personal problems had to be added to an already stressful time. Stephanie Faris and I were just yacking about this the other day. We'd all love a meteoric rise to the top, but the truth is, it's a slow climb, but if we stick with it and keep trudging, we will make it, because we love writing. Your launch was so very impressive. Your hard work was obvious and I don't have a single doubt that you will keep
    the momentum and do great things.

    Hugs Melissa. I know exactly what you're feeling. It's tough, but you're not allowed to quit!

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  7. UGHHHH. I do NOT blame you for feeling depressed, and I can only imagine that it's really, REALLY common. You work so hard for so long - and then it's over. Boom. Done. It happens to new moms, as you said, and it happens to actors when a show closes (boy do I remember that post-show depression well), and probably in many other places, too.

    I really do appreciate your honesty in this post, Melissa. I think it will only help other writers who are struggling with the same thing. It's one thing to know it's going to be a long, hard, slow haul; it's another to actually LIVE it.

    Don't give up. You WILL get there.

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  8. Sorry to hear you've been having a tough time. I've been through all the emotional after-effects of publishing a book, and I think the best thing you can do is to concentrate on writing the next book and try not to obsess over sales too much. Easier said than done, I know! :)

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  9. I agree with you that it's strange there wasn't much written about book baby blues. So I'm sure you'll find this a little amusing - I just read another post about book baby blues, today. Weird. Maybe it will be the next major writing topic, which i think would be great. I missed your 'Path' story. I'll have to read it.

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  10. Melissa, I experienced a similar feeling when I released my novel but the takeaway is this: you wrote a book that people like. Discoverability is hard for newbie authors but it's all about the next book and then the next. By then you'll have built up your fan base and they'll be eating up everything you write. So don't worry for now (easier said than done, right?). Just write.

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  11. Writing puts a lot of stress on our personal lives. That I know from experience. As to the sales, I never look. It's enough for me to have finished a project. I just can't put myself through a wringer by seeing that Amazon ranking.

    Your Baby Book Blues is a perfect way to describe the post pub experience.

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  12. I suspect that a lot of people experience that same thing, but it's hard to talk about. But I so appreciate your honestly and by the comments I see it is common.

    I'm sorry so much stuff hit the fan just prior to the release.

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  13. I do know how you feel, Melissa. I had people in my real life, non-writers who don't get it, that I kind of wanted to shake and say, "I published a novel! Do you not get that this is a big deal!" Lol. (See, I can laugh about it now.) ;-)
    I'm also sorry about all the other struggles you've had lately. Hopefully that bluesy feeling will go away soon. Perhaps as you get lost in a new story. :) Writing is the best thing to regain that excitement, for me anyway.

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  14. I do know how you feel, Melissa. I had people in my real life, non-writers who don't get it, that I kind of wanted to shake and say, "I published a novel! Do you not get that this is a big deal!" Lol. (See, I can laugh about it now.) ;-)
    I'm also sorry about all the other struggles you've had lately. Hopefully that bluesy feeling will go away soon. Perhaps as you get lost in a new story. :) Writing is the best thing to regain that excitement, for me anyway.

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  15. I understand about having baby book blues. I went through the same thing, but mine was with my first two children's books. I worked hard on those, and the books had a number of reviews, but sales was lagging a bit behind. And I got sick at that time, too.

    I guess, we all have our lows. Sorry to hear about your uncle. My condolences.

    Perhaps, the next few weeks will pick up. Take care, Melissa. Virtual *HUGS*!

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  16. I can definitely relate to this and have actually been struggling with it for most of this year. Another writer and I actually talked about it and she called it her own version of post-partum depression.

    I'm sorry for the loss of your uncle and for your personal issues, I know that kind of stress and grief makes all of these feelings much worse. Take care and I hope you are feeling better as the summer progresses.

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  17. I haven't experienced the book baby blues, but I know other writers who have and imagine that I will, too, when I get my book out.

    Hang in there. I'm sure there will be an upswing soon.

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  18. I'm sorry you've had such a rough time with personal matters and with the passing of your uncle. Hugs for that alone. It's not easy.

    Book Baby Blues? I like the name, it should become a "thing." I think this is a raw honest post that will be appreciated by all who have experienced it. I think I was on a high for a while after release day. Not due to sales or blog tours (which was 3 weeks long—I crashed in bed right after for almost a whole weekend lol), but because I was just so happy that I set out to publish a novel and I did. The accomplishment high followed me around.

    The Book Baby Blues hit me about a month later, though. Suddenly you realize it's all old news and what do you do now? Apart from writing, I did feel a bit sad. And that's okay. Thank you for this post!!!

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  19. Yes I can relate. There's so much expectation built up even though most of us try to remind ourselves not to expect too much. But after all the work and build-up there is a letdown.

    I am sorry to hear about your uncle and your personal matters. That's a lot to handle on top of every day life, let alone such a monumental accomplishment.

    Best of luck with everything.

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  20. It makes sense that you've felt this way, added to all the family/life stresses you've had to contend with. I'm sorry, Melissa. I appreciate you're sharing it. I expect I would/will feel exactly the same. I didn't expect much of my poetry book sales, but I'm still disappointed that, 18 months after the fact, sales haven't reached the three digits. All I can offer is virtual hugs and a recommendation to indulge in your favorite chocolate.

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  21. I'm sorry!
    I usually hit that right after the first week or two, when the blog tour ends. I've learned to either keep the momentum going or dive into a new writing project right away.
    It does happen to all of us.

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  22. I haven't ever published a book but I suspect this is fairly normal. Anytime we put our hearts and souls into something there is a bit of a let down when all the anticipation is gone. There will be ups and downs but hang in there. Sorry about the life stress. It's really hard to deal with everything at once.

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  23. That's why I don't like to look at the sales and certainly not every day. I'm not in this for that. The best way to market your first book is to write your next one. That's been what I've been doing.

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  24. Melissa, I'm really sorry for all your marital strain - but I'm glad y'all are recommitting to make your marriage work. Good luck.

    Here's the challenge for us writerly types, I think: being queens/kings in our own hearts, minds, and souls. If that's so, nothing else (really) matters. FWIW, you're a queen in my heart, sister. :-) ❤

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  25. I think what you're feeling makes perfect sense. It seems to me that writing - and publishing and marketing, etc - is all about highs and lows. We've just got learn to ride them out, learn a few things, and have some fun along the way. Easier said than done, I know. Sigh.

    Hang in there!

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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  26. Thanks for this honest post. I think it will help a lot of people not feel so alone in their struggles.
    I'm sorry for the loss of your uncle, and all the stress in your personal life at such a critical time.
    I haven't even finished my first novel yet, but I did have really severe post-postpartum depression after the birth of my second, so that part I can relate to.
    I guess my advice is to keep moving forward, keep writing, and keep being honest. You see from the comments that you are not alone in your feelings, not are you alone at all. You've got us all behind you rooting you on. Be kind to yourself.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

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  27. I think you're in good company, although not many of us will admit it. Thanks for being so candid, it helps when the rest of us are going through it.

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  28. Awww. Sorry to hear about the slump and hard times. If it helps any, I would've bought your book post-release day, if I hadn't bought it on release day.

    You amaze me. You're organized, knowledgeable, and I kind of picture you as the one shouting orders when chaos breaks out.

    You're awesome. I hope the blues lift from you soon, and brighten up your skies instead.

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  29. Everyone gets book baby blues. Ignore sales. Write your next book. That's the only thing you can do--OH, and read the good reviews. Seriously. Your sales will pick up as you put more works out there and really build a following. =)

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  30. This is an experience I haven't had the honor (notice 'honor') to have yet, but you're right, authors talk about it. I'd say not to look at those sales graphs very often and dive into a new story. :) Isn't that the advice us authors always get - Dive into the next rollercoaster ride? Hang in there!

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  31. That's a lot to process in such a short time frame. Part of what you're experiencing sounds very familiar. I fell hard a few weeks after my first book came out. I think we all expect more with the first book. There isn't much you can do at this time, Melissa, except know that it will pass. There may be that initial excitement as it was with the first. But as you know, there are so many other "firsts". You're in the right place. I'm glad you shared.

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  32. I so can see how that would happen. Such a high and then nothing. It reminds me of after a wedding. Great post and love your honesty.

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  33. Gosh, what a hard time surrounding your book launch, like it wasn't stressful enough. I wish I knew the secret to selling millions of books overnight. I'd be sure to share it with you.

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  34. Wonderful post. I know exactly what you're talking about. Post-release depression. Makes for an emotional roller coaster.

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  35. I've read about other writers experiencing something similar, and it seems you've had a tumultuous month as well. I wouldn't underestimate the effect those other real world events have had on you!
    (Hugs!)
    Maybe, instead of checking those sales figures (which are largely out of your control--it's like trying to make it rain by staring at the clouds)you could try to connect with what you love about writing. Not necessarily another big project right away, because that might feel defeating to tackle right after something that feels disappointing to you (which it shouldn't be--publishing a novel is a momentous achievement!) but maybe just a scene or two in another story? Or spend some time exploring a possible sequel, or a short story just for you ...

    I'm sending you and your Muse virtual chocolate and roses. You deserve them for all your hard work. :)

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  36. It does happen. Sort of like coming off an adrenaline rush. You're all geared up to fight for your life ... then it's over. There's nothing. It's difficult settling back into the normal flow of things.

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  37. Sorry that you're experiencing that. From what I read it is pretty common among authors, so I assume it is one more phase in the whole publishing process. Once I read the best you can do is get into a new project so you don't develop an obsession to just check how the other book is doing and feel bad if sales are not what you expect. So get your muses working again. If it helps any, I send you huge dragon hugs!

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  38. Gah. >_< I've never had a release day, but I can imagine how that must feel, for it to seem like you've put all this work into something and hardly anyone knows it's there or wants to read it. But you're right, it's about building up a readership over several books. I hope you're able to reach that point, and that your sales graph continues to climb as you write and publish more.

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  39. I feel fortunate to have sold as many books as I did both times, but many family members and friends pay no attention to the books, and that's what depresses me. But how does that saying go . . . A man is never a profit in his own town? Anyway, don't focus on the sales. If you could have any job in the world, would this be it? If so, then plug away and forget about the sales for now. Many writers have to get 5 books out before they see any real sales coming in :-)

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  40. Sorry Melissa,

    I can honestly say I haven't. ONLY because I have not yet released a book. So I know this will happen to me and to EVERYONE else who is having a book published.

    Don't despair. I guess this is another phase of our journey. You've done such a fantastic job marketing and PUBLISHING your book. Take pride in knowing that YOU ALONE have accomplished this. Yes, we've all helped in our own ways, but it was YOU behind the driving force and YOU with the talent, ambition, and motivation to get us there.

    Thanks for spotlighting yet another phase of this bumpy journey....

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  41. Thanks for your honesty. I have not released by book baby into the world, but verbalized many of my fears! But, as I read on another blog today, everything big started with baby steps. I'm inspired by the fact that you got it finished and published, I can't seem to make it past that baby step :/

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  42. Wow, thank you for sharing this! I know you've helped so many writers by sharing this experience. I think the important thing is that you're continuing forward, and keeping on. You got this!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)

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  43. I imagine it must be a feeling of an anticlimax really. After all that excitement and months (years) of build up, it's like... now what? Is this it? I think it's important to see that this is just the beginning though. Not the beginning of your career as a writer, but as an author with something to proudly show for yourself. It's a precious thing. Now, the important thing is to keep going, keep writing. That's what keeps me sane and balanced, especially with what's happened in my life recently. Hang in there!

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  44. I have definitely been there.

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  45. Melissa, you are not alone. Before I wrote and published my children's book, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I tried to prepare myself as much as possible for the release in terms of social media and all of my hard work paid off... for the first few weeks. And then, after those weeks were up, I hit a slump and never really recovered. I still work Twitter, Facebook, and my networking of parenting blog to the best of my ability but it just doesn't seem to help. Promos, giveaways... I have tried everything. BUT with time comes wisdom. I've learned to do less social media and more networking with real people like booksellers, teachers and librarians. Word of mouth has been the key so I try to focus on what helps and most importantly, my writing, and not so much tweeting, facebook posting, etc. I wish you the best of luck with your book!!

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  46. Oh, wow, so sorry you had such a rough time! and yup, had he same experience with my debut novel... now I don't look at my sales/rank anymore, I just keep plowing forward with book 2! focus on the next book, the more books you have out the more visible you are and sales will keep getting better! (((hugs)))

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  47. Mmmm, things I have to look forward to...

    Hope the positivity returns and that the book does well. Every single digit counts! Sending well-wishes your way.

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  48. Oh boy, chica. You have been through a lot! I'm offering this as not only a writer who understands, but a friend as well. Yes, at this point, we're cyber friends, but you and I have an advantage. We live close. IF you ever, and I stress ever, need a pal, a lunch buddy, a punching bag (verbally!), anything. I'll hop in the car and can be there in about an hours time. Really. All you gotta do is ask. :)

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  49. I can only imagine what you're going through but you got your book out there. This is only the beginning for you. Sorry to hear about the tough times you're going through in RL. Hang in there! Hugs!

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  50. I see this as an eye opener, a gift for hope-to-publish writers. I think that by the time we're ready to dive head first, we understand and even expect the reality of what everyone says lies ahead, but there is that single thread of hope that just maybe... When that thread stretches too far--or-breaks--we're going to come crashing down. Falling down can hurt, even with knee pads and helmets. I appreciate your honesty here. I do wish the release had happened during less personally turbulent times though.

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  51. Melissa,

    It's not as if we don't have enough life-crap piling on us each day, but add the insecurities of putting our own flesh-and-blood out there for the world's acceptance (because that's what our darlings are) and it's no wonder writers are so neurotic.

    I'm sorry to hear about issues with hubby, but glad to see they've been rectified. There are so many (temporary) sacrifices we must make, and it takes a real special person to understand.

    As confident as I may come across at times, I'm still a nervous wreck anytime ANY of my work is out there for scrutiny. I just submitted a 4K short and have been telling myself for days how much I suck...how much it sucked...and what was I possibly thinking when considering a career in this industry. Then a friend of mine told me to suck it up. We're writers. We write, we submit, we do our best, then we let it go and write some more.

    Melissa, I've read your work...you have nothing to fear (but fear itself). You have a wonderful grasp on the craft. Sometimes, I think it's truly hit-or-miss.

    That's one of the reasons I'm really going to pursue traditional (or hybrid) publishing. I'm afraid I won't be able to promote my work effectively if I do it on my own; that I won't reach the right people, the right demo.

    Never give up! Much love and hugs.

    - Mike

    (oh, and congrats to Natasha on her baby's first birthday)

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