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?
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!
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