I’ve been a published author for over six months now. Still a baby at this, but I have learned a few things since selling my book, even more since it’s release.
One big one? This is a tough business. You may go from the ultimate high to a low, low, low, sometimes over the course of a week or a day. Some scenerios I’ve witnessed, experienced, heard rumored, or simply made up, all starring YOU.
+Your book that sold for six figures only sells a handful of copies, and your little-book-that-could takes the world by storm.
+You sell a book, work on it with an editor for months, and then have that contract canceled when your editor gets fired/moves/decides the manuscript doesn’t work
+You have strange math dreams at night, all centered around The Amazon Ranking Equation.
+You get five offers from agents to represent your hot story, and then never sell the book
+You receive emails from anonymous authors, asking you for advice/tips/an "in", and often assume that YOU are their salvation, that YOU can get them published if you were just nice enough to read their entire manuscript and edit it. For free. While you’re on deadline.
+Bad reviews, good reviews, no reviews. People will write and say your book is meaningless dribble. You’ll think they’re crazy. Others will write and say it’s brilliant. They are crazy too.
+Your cover (which you had no control over) looks like your editor’s third grader designed it with crayons and clip art. Amazon reviews say "Great book! Too bad the cover sucked". Or, the cover Gods created The Ultimate Cover, and reviews read "Great cover! Too bad the book sucked."
+Hollywood WANTS your story. Agents, producers, directors, actors are all stumbling to attach to your book. On Monday. On Tuesday, you are old news.
+You worry that you are tweeting and blogging and facebooking into a dark void, that all your social networking and marketing efforts are for naught, that librarians are using your precious advanced reader copies as spare toilet paper.
+The editorial process for your first book is so rigourous, you start to wonder if you can ever write another one, and spend months, maybe even years, paralyzed at the thought of writing something else.
+Your publisher doesn’t buy your next book. Neither does another publisher.
+You’re about to go on submission, when you check recent sales, only to discover that book JUST LIKE YOURS sold. Yesterday.
+Your writing friends will be more successful, more charming, more clever, more renowned. Or worse, that smug, Look! At! How! Wonderful! I! Am! bestseller will continue to write more bestsellers, until her smug threatens to take over the world.
The Angst list, my friends, goes on forever. I have seen authors, once full of optimism and sparkle, grow bitter and jaded. And often, it’s understandable that they do. I’ve cried and squeeled with many author friends during this process. Nothing can prepare you for what it’s like to be an author, because every single journey is wholly unique.
So where am I? Still dancing on a publishing rainbow? Yes. And no. But mostly… yes.
That’s not to say I haven’t had disappointments. If you’d asked me when I first sold where I thought I would be, I don’t know if HERE would be my guess. But I still count myself lucky, because for all the dark days, the perks are still exceedingly perkalicious. The perks that I call GloMo’s (short for Glorious Moments). GloMo’s are often unexpected, and can leave you shining for days. They’re the bright spots that aspiring writers dream about as they are rejected again and again. They are gifts, lovingly folded in our writer’s hope chests, and I cherish every one.
And this week, I want to share a couple of my personal GloMo’s with you…
On Friday, I was out running errand and impulsively took my girls to our local Barnes and Noble. I’ve finally figured out bookstore trips with my girls–I let them get one activity book/journal/Dora Crapalog IF I can help them pick out a picture book/early chapter book I know they’ll enjoy. I also like to wave to my book, which is heavily stocked at a couple of stores around me. This in and of itself is a GloMo, especially since my book is no longer a New Release in most stores. I’d just happily purchased my girls’ books when I noticed a display at the front of the store–Christmas books for children in need. Any book could be donated, but they had a couple on display for specific kids. And sandwiched between Rick Riodarn and a paranormal YA was the very pink PRINCESS FOR HIRE.
Honestly? Seeing it on display like that made my stomach flip. A little girl wanted my book. LIke, of any book in that store, she wanted mine. Or maybe a seller had decided she wanted mine. I don’t know. Either way, PRINCESS FOR HIRE would her Christmas present. One of few, I’m sure.
So I bought my own book. I asked the employee if I could personally sign it to the girl (Taylor, which is also my maiden name. Somehow, made the Glo Mo even cooler!). The employee was suprised, didn’t know what the rules were, but said, "Well, I’m sure it’ll make her day. Go for it." I scrawled an inscription with my pink sharpie and walked out of the store swinging my bags.
Logically, I realize many girls have read my book, and might even get it for a Christmas gift (and don’t you think Princess for Hire MAKES A GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT?). But that unexpected experience warmed me up as I attacked Princess For Hire THREE this weekend. It lingered in my mind as I figured out my marketing plan for SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD.
Because take away all the angst, all the sparkles, all the business and there is this…
I wrote that book, and someone, somewhere, will read it.
6 months out, and that’s still a marvel to me.