Oprah? Why Haven’t You Called? by Deb Eileen

Last weekend I spoke at a writing conference. The last event was a panel with all of the speakers and attendees could ask questions. Some asked me: “As a new writer (the other two authors on the panel were swanky NY Times Bestseller types) what about the publishing experience is different from what you expected?”

I answered: “I thought it would be a bigger deal.” Everyone laughed. I wasn’t trying to be funny, I hate when that happens.

I’ve dreamed about being a writer since I was small. When I stared to pursue publication I dreamed about getting “the call” and what life would be like as a “real” published writer. It has been such a central part of how I defined myself, such a major dream, that I expected when I reached it- it would somehow be a bigger deal.

When I enter bookstores trumpets do not herald my arrival. I’m still getting up and heading off to the day job. People do not stop me in public to ask me to sign their books. Publishers do not beg me to go on tours with expense accounts and access to the hotel mini bar. I don’t call up Meg Cabot, or Jodi Picolet and tease them about how we swapped places on the NY Times best seller list last week. (Heck I don’t call them at all.) Some days between juggling work, the laundry, and the need to pick up toilet paper at the store, I forget that I’m a published writer at all.

Then there is the fact that Oprah still hasn’t called. I’m starting to notice the snub.

What I’ve discovered is that being published is hard work. There are book signings where almost no one shows up and you still have to smile. You hustle for any media attention you can get. You market the heck out of your book to anyone who will listen, while trying not to sound like a huckster. You shake your fist at the heavens when there is a bad review. You worry about being a “one hit wonder” and about finding time to write your next book. You watch your Amazon numbers go up and down and fret. You wonder if other writers are having more fun than you. None of these things were a part of my dream of being published.

Would I give it up? Heck no. I can’t imagine anything else I would rather do and I’m so glad to be invited to the party at all that I’m grateful every day for the chance. Although many of the things I imagined haven’t come to pass (at least yet- feel free to call me any time Meg), some things I never dreamed have happened. I joined the Debs because it seemed like a good promotion opportunity. I didn’t expect to make friends. Having these women at my side every step of the way has been one of the best things about the publication road thus far. I can’t imagine a better group of women to take with you on a road trip. After all it isn’t all about the destination: some of the fun is getting there.

What was/is your crazy publication dream?

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Do you think you’ve got what it takes to be a Deb? Do you have a debut book coming out in 2009? Stay tuned to The Debs for more info to come!


15 Replies to “Oprah? Why Haven’t You Called? by Deb Eileen”

  1. The mantra we must remind ourselves: enjoy the ride, enjoy the ride, enjoy the ride…we are so lucky we’ve had each other to enjoy the ups & downs of it, aren’t we?

  2. Eileen – you’re a rockstar in my books. That’s gotta count for something, right?

    My crazy publishing dream? Well, to get published. I really haven’t gotten further than that. And I’d love to be a Deb, but I figure I have about three days to sell a book to make that happen.

  3. ditto what Joanne said. Thank you for your honest sharing (here and always). As the last deb to launch, I like you all are educating me the entire way.

  4. It’s funny to think that it was only maybe five years ago that, reading an issue of Writer’s Digest, I was clued in to the fact that most writers don’t get to quit their day jobs and stay home sipping coffee and writing luxuriously all day.

    I guess what I’m really hoping for is that my work speaks to teen girls on a level at which they don’t feel like they’ve been spoken to lately. I want to show girls that they don’t have to be victims, or shrinking violets, or even nice all the time, to be good people and to make meaningful connections.

    We’ll see how that goes!

  5. E-I think we kind of put it up there with the first time we have sex and unless your a dude, the first time is no fireworks and confetti!(right?) even Jodi Picoult hustled at some point. You’re awesome and genuine and funny, I have no doubt that Oprah is just biding her time.
    great post as usual R

  6. Rhianna- that made me laugh. It’s all about expectations isn’t it?

    Katie- Your book is going to be amazing- I just know it. And I think your goal of wanting to connect with the reader at that level is perfect.

    Gail- I’m so glad to share your launch with you! I was last year’s last deb- so much so I rolled into the next year. This place can’t get rid of me. : )

    Joanne- getting published isn’t a crazy dream for you- it’s reality that hasn’t happened yet.

    Jenny- Who you have with you on this ride I think is one of the most important decisions we make along the way.

  7. Eileen, not only did you dream about this as a child, you had two years of dreaming about “being published” really coming true. However, thanks to that waiting process, you managed to become the Deb of Two Seasons and that is truly special…Oprah and Meg can’t hold a candle!

  8. Since becoming published my standards of “being an author” have lowered. Now what I want is an advance, even if it only $100 bucks. How often do you get to splurge at McDonalds?

    Okay, I just want my books to reach the people who will love it. I used to dream about getting a maid, wearing pjs all day while I penned my stories for the world to read. Now I just hope my kids don’t wake up before 7 a.m. so I can get a solid hour of writing done.

    The writer’s life is sooo un-glamourous. But I wouldn’t trade it for a Big Mac.

  9. Larramie- what would the Ball do without you as our loyal reader! Thanks for all the support through two seasons at the dance.

    Ah Mel- living large with the splurge at MacDonalds! I hear you on loving the good PJ’s too. I could live in mine and I have dreams of even more posh jammies.

  10. Eileen, this was SPOT. ON. I laughed out loud at “You wonder if other writers are having more fun than you.” Also, this is SOO TRUE: “Having these women at my side every step of the way has been one of the best things about the publication road thus far.”

    The thing that surprises me most is how much self-promotion is involved. And public speaking. Here I thought it would be all just … writing!

  11. What!!??? I was under the impression that once you’re published, someone else handles the procurement of toilet paper! This troubles me greatly.

    Honestly, my biggest publication dream is to meet people who want to ask me questions about my book. I think that would be the coolest thing ever! I just love telling stories, and to create a world and all these quirky characters and then suddenly have other people investing in it, wanting to know more about it…it’s almost like it comes to life or something.

    Of course, I have no idea if this kind of thing actually happens. Someone coming to see you at a book signing or a conference because they must know where you got the idea for such-n-such, or is so-n-so a real person, etc. But in my happy little place, I tell myself that it does. :>)

  12. Eileen, you captured the oh…is that…it? perfectly. And even on those odd occasions when lots of people do show up for my readings, I can’t help but feel that it’s a one time lucky fluke and next time no one will. And that will be the true measure of how inconsequential and boring and meaningless my impassioned scribblings are.

  13. Oprah is snubbing me too. What is with that woman? Here she is missing out on two great shows. You can go first. Oh, and no we can’t be on the same show because I am expecting the whole hour to be devoted to me. I just won’t go on for one of those short segments, pleeeease. I have my pride and all.

    I really enjoyed this post because I am not a writer so I don’t get an inside view like that very often.

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