Didn’t See That Coming: My Debut Year’s “OMG” Moments

For about thirty years, I hoped that I would write and publish a book. And then it happened. Thirty years is a long time to anticipate something, and yet, the year has been full of surprises. There were a lot of things that I was anxious about from the outset, but there were many that I never expected. I’ve had loads of “OMG” moments — both good and bad. Here are just a few things I didn’t see coming:

  1. I did not anticipate having a book come out the same year that a sexist, racist, homophobic, incompetent, mean-spirited, science-hostile narcissist would be elected president. So I didn’t know that mixed in with the happiness I feel in having a book published, I would spend much of 2017 feeling sick, upset, and furious. I didn’t expect that every time I tweeted or posted something about my book, I would feel bad about myself for not focusing on more important, urgent, political matters. I market my book anyway. I post book pictures and tweet reviews, in spite of the self-loathing; this is a business, not a hobby after all. But who knew that I would feel like my priorities are screwed up every time I push aside the voice in my head that says, “This is SO trivial compared to what’s going on in our country!” My Twitter is half “Yay, books” and half “We’re all going to die,” so at least I’m in step with the crowd I’m following. I try to keep a some balance: Protest. Promote. Repeat.
  2. I did not know that my family would be so relentlessly, enthusiastically, wildly supportive. I knew I had a fabulous family, but I didn’t know that my husband and sons, sisters and father would be so committed to helping my book succeed. That they would spend so much time, energy, and money buying books, sharing posts, buying more books, spreading the word, encouraging me, throwing parties, taking pictures, posting reviews, getting cookies made, inviting me to stay with them on book tour, organizing readings, buying even more books, giving me a launch outfit, flying to events, and being consistently awesome and helpful. They must be exhausted, having gone ALL OUT for this launch, and I appreciate it more than I can say. And my in-law relatives? They must have bought over a hundred copies – Thank you, all!!! xoxo
  3. I didn’t know my friends would be so outrageously nice about my book coming out or that I would reconnect with friends I’d completely lost track of over the years. I have been amazed at the support I’ve gotten from old friends who are over-the-top lovely and from even older friends I haven’t seen in years. For example, reuniting with friends from Dallas, from boarding school, and from college has been a totally unexpected, happy surprise.
  4. I didn’t know I would become a full-fledged book marketer and event-planner. But I tweet, post, and share event info like a pro (not really, but I’m getting there, thanks in part to Canva), and I learned how to throw a hell of a launch party. Got wine? Oh yeah.
  5. I didn’t know that Emily Bestler Books would be so fantastic to work with. As one example (of many, many, many), they let me make a SMALL ADMISSIONS book trailer. I edited a scene I wrote for the original play, asked some talented friends (Albert and Miles Aeed and M. Elizabeth Lee) to act in it, and Simon and Schuster took care of the rest! Thank you, Emily!

6. I didn’t know I would make so many author/bookish friends this year: A total BONUS and perk of this new job. Writers and book folk are awesome, funny, insecure, smart, generous, lovely people. I wouldn’t trade my #WWOWW for anything!

7. I didn’t know I would finish another book in the midst of the political chaos, party-planning, and social media hoopla. It’s called LIMELIGHT and it will be out in 2018.

My debut year hasn’t been exactly what I expected it would be, but life never is. As Nora Ephron said, “It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you.” Absolutely.

P.S.  My middle son turned 20 today. Not book related, I know, but OMG.

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Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

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