Since my first novel came out back in December, my perception of the life of a published author has been about the only thing to change. The vast distance between my expectations and the reality makes me wonder what else I believe to be true that’s just wrong. I suspect quite a lot.
Some things we learn through experience, in school, or from reading up on the subject. I probably have a lot of that wrong too. But I was referring to perceptions and assumptions about things I have no reason to know much about that may or may not be based on good information. Many of these I’ll go to my grave believing. Strike misperceptions about the life of a published author from that list. Now I know better.
Especially after believing I couldn’t for so long, writing a novel was a huge accomplishment. That Dreamspinner Press liked Until Thanksgiving enough to publish it put me on Cloud Nine, and kept me there for months. The release went much better than I ever thought possible. I never expected to show up on any best sellers list, and was shocked for my book to have been the best selling paperback for a while and that the ebook stayed in the top 25 for weeks on my publisher’s web site.
No, no, they can’t take that away from me.
Crossing the great divide between aspiring writer and published author was a huge accomplishment. But having made the jump, I now see peaks beyond the mountaintop I’d been trying to reach that weren’t visible from the other side. Success, it seems, is a relative thing. James Patterson or John Grisham would be hugely disappointed had their latest novels done only as well as mine.
More than anything else, the experience has been humbling. Putting a book on the market, with or without a publisher, is like tweeting — or blogging. A few people will read it, and a few more will notice you wrote something. But the rest of the world doesn’t much notice. Finding one hundred interested followers/readers is a big challenge that grows exponentially with each additional digit. Reaching hundreds is huge. Thousands would be nice. A million just seems totally unrealistic and out of reach.
Consider that as I write this post, Until Thanksgiving is #214,977 (Kindle edition) and #2,848,028 (paperback) on Amazon. I didn’t know this information was so readily available until a few weeks after the release, and at that time, the Kindle edition was in the 5000s. It stayed in the 10,000s for a while, and has moved steadily downward. The paperback was in the six-digit range before dropping slowly through the one millions and into the two millions.
I suspect this explains the absence of paparazzi, messages from media outlets for interviews, requests for appearances on talk shows and at bookstores, and calls from Hollywood about movie rights. Other than the occasional email message from friends, I haven’t received any fan mail. There are only four “official” reviews that I know about: one bad, one so-so, and two that were pretty good (here and here).
Yeah, I know. Somebody call me a wah-mbulance.
My descent from Cloud Nine has been gradual. I’m back on the ground now. The thrill of having my first novel published is behind me. Now onto my second novel, After Christmas Eve. The revised manuscript is ready to go, and I think, besides being more of a romance than the original, is much improved. I’m optimistic, and this time around, know what to expect.
I’ll keep you posted.