Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Holly: The Highs and Lows of Publication

My debut novel, The Snowball Effect, was published nearly two months ago. I knew there would be highs and lows but it was still nothing like I imagined. Some moments fell drastically short of my most modest expectations, while other moments far exceeded anything I could have hoped for. Some days I feel like a rockstar writer, some days I feel like a total failure, and other days I'm so busy with "real" life that my writing life doesn't even cross my mind. Here are some of the highlights, good and bad.

High:
It's finally release day of your first novel! You've been waiting for this day for two years. 18 years, really, if we count from the moment you first realized you wanted to be a published author one day.

Low:
You haven't had time to take a shower, your pajamas don't match, the cat vomited in your office again, and you still have to do your day job. Release day is not quite as glamorous as you imagined.

High:
Work is over and it's time to venture out and see your book on the shelves of a real bookstore for the first time, just like you've imagined for 18 years.

Low:
Tragically, your favorite big chain doesn't have your book. You go home and check online to find it elsewhere and see a steady stream of

OUT OF STOCK
OUT OF STOCK
OUT OF STOCK

You frantically email your editor who confirms that the big chains won't be stocking your book. Let the pity party commence.

High:
PW loves your book! "Masterful." Starred review.

Low:
SLJ hates your book! "Bleak."

High:
The release party you've been dreaded actually goes well. All your family and friends show up. The bookstore sells all their copies plus some you'd stored in the trunk of your car. And you have a good hair day and look super cute in your party dress. What more could a girl ask for?

Low:
After the release party high wears off, you become convinced that if the big chains don't stock your first book, you will never sell a second book. If you don't sell a second book you won't have any money for a bigger house. If you don't have a bigger house, you can't have children. You fall into a deep depression and wonder why the big chains don't want you to have children.

High:
You realize you should probably be doing your own promotion, so you visit a local indie and nervously introduce yourself. To your surprise, they are super excited to meet you. They take your bookmarks, order your book, and have you come back to sign their stock.

Low:
You're now feeling pretty confident so you visit another, bigger indie and give them the exact same spiel. They have no clue what you're talking about. Then they guess you want to buy bookmarks so they direct you to a rack of bookmarks. So you just leave, feeling like a total loser.

High:
Your local library system finally gets your book in stock.

Low:
Now you're paranoid about visiting the library out of fear that the librarians will recognize your unique last name and get irritated that you keep turning your book face out on the shelf, or that they will judge your questionable fashion choices and gossip about you on some secret librarian message board. So you avoid the library.

High:
You start to hear from readers who love your book.

Low:
You accidentally come across reviews from people who hate your book. Okay, it wasn't much of an accident. You're actually still googling yourself from time to time even though you pretend you're not.

High:
A reader sends you a picture of your book at a library in Singapore. You cannot believe that your book is in Singapore. That's far.

Low:
Even though you'd long fantasized about visiting local bookstores on your honeymoon on the West Coast and signing their stock, you don't visit any because you're certain they won't have your book and you'll just feel like crap and depress your new husband with your foul mood.

High:
When you return from your honeymoon, you find an email from an 11-year-old girl who read your book and loved it. She says she wants to be a writer too. And you remember what it was like to be 11. You carried around a spiral notebook and wrote your first novel at age 11. You kept it on your lap during class and surreptitiously wrote in it when there was a lull in the teacher's lesson. You think about your 11-year-old self and marvel at how excited she would be to know that she gets to grow up to be YOU. She had dreams and she made them come true. And maybe all the details aren't perfect, but this is only the beginning. There are so many more highs and lows to come but you're doing exactly what you've always wanted to do with your life, and what could be better than that?

18 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Holly! I love your last "high" best. Can't wait to read your book.

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  2. Holly, I love your honesty, and although the highs and lows may be different, all authors have them. :)

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  3. This is a great post Holly! Like Lisa, I appreciate your openness. I hope to be as level headed as you when my time comes around.

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  4. I related to this so much!

    And I can't stop laughing at this:

    "You fall into a deep depression and wonder why the big chains don't want you to have children."

    GREAT post.

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  5. I love this post. And your last "high" made me tear up. Congrats on your release.

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  6. Great post. I really relate to your highs and lows. When I was having them, I didn't understand what was going on. The world felt good. The world felt non-good. Then a friend pointed out--you are probably experiencing the highs and lows related to having your first book published. I wish I'd had your blog entry to turn to back then. I ate cookies.

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  7. Great post. It helps (and not just in a misery loves company kind of way but there is that too) to hear others go through versions of the same ups and downs of the publishing experience. Thanks.

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  8. Holly -- this is an excellent post, and, coincidentally, I just finished THE SNOWBALL EFFECT a couple of days ago. I loved it! I read a ton of YA, and it's rare I come across one that doesn't give me that "haven't I read this before?" feeling. Congratulations, and may you have many more Highs!

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  9. I love this post! Especially "wonder why the big chains don't want you to have children"!!! You sound clever and self-effacing. I am going to read your book.

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  10. Congrats on the book release, Holly, and thanks for this great post!

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  11. Way to go, Holly. The highs look like they definitely outweigh the lows. :)

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  12. I can't believe the big chains don't want you to have children! I'm going to file an official complaint first thing in the morning. ;)

    Fabulous post. I smiled, I laughed, and I made pouty faces at the sad parts. Thanks for sharing, Holly.

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  13. Sweet, wonderful, inspiring post, Holly! Thanks.

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  14. I loved this, especially that last high. In the long years it's taken me to write my first novel, what's kept me going is something my daughter wrote when she was 8. (I happened upon it in her 3rd grade assignment book). She had just discovered the joys of reading.Asked by her teacher at Thanksgiving to say what she was thankful for she wrote "for the authors of books." A message for all of us writers to take to heart during those inevitable lows!

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  15. Congratulations on your publishing success. :)
    Gee, I always imagined that when/if I finally get my novel published I'd be in a high all the time. Guess that's not realistic.

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  16. And I can't stop laughing at this:

    "You fall into a deep depression and wonder why the big chains don't want you to have children."

    Me too! Good thing I've already had children.
    Your honesty has made me want to read your book.~K.D.Rausin

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  17. Thanks for the insights! It's good to know what to expect. ;D

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