The Awful Truth by Deb Tiffany

bookcoverI was going to write the standard letter to my younger self (quit trying to lose ten pounds, learn to say no, don’t date the bad boyfriend, etc.), but then I thought what would be really useful for this blog would be a letter to my starry-eyed, fresh-faced, debut self about the truth of being published. So here it goes:

The week your novel comes out, everyone you ever knew will get in touch with you. This will be fun, but also exhausting, and after a short time of this, you will become paranoid that even the neighbors are looking at you funny when you run out to pick up your mail, especially when they tell you they have your book.

You will embarrass yourself by wildly flipping through magazines in the supermarket aisle to read reviews of your own book, but you will at least have the grace to restrain from holding the page out so everyone in line can see and loudly proclaiming, “LOOK! I WROTE THIS!”

Quit trying to lose ten pounds before your first reading.

Just because a review insinuates that your book should rush up the bestseller lists does not mean it will. In fact, you will have to learn to quantify your success differently. Being on a list, while totally gratifying and good for your career, should not be your end goal in putting out a novel. If you start to believe this, you are hosed.

It will be difficult to sell a first, literary novel in hardback in the worst recession in fifty years, especially when said novel is about a giantess who murders people with herbal concoctions.

Your second book will be a challenge to write, so get started now. Somehow, you will have totally forgotten how to write a novel, in spite of the fact that you just edited, copy-edited, released, and promoted one.

By the time you’re almost finished writing the second book, your house will still be as messy as it was when you finished Book One, and, oddly, no one in the family will seem to care.

Eventually, you will come to a kind of grace about the whole process. You will receive many, wonderful emails from readers, and you will realize that, yes, you HAVE built an audience, and you will feel proud. You’ll figure out that success isn’t an overnight endeavor, and that getting to write stories and have them published is a blessing and a dream come true. Everything else is icing.

So, Debut Self, I hope you remember all of this as you get ready to start the whole, crazy carnival ride over again with your second novel. Good luck, work hard, and, remember, it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game!

8 Replies to “The Awful Truth by Deb Tiffany”

  1. My favorite line: “You are hosed.” So I can give up trying to clean my house now? What a relief! Because I’m a terrible cleaner. Too easy to get distracted by the “ping” of a new email.

    Seriously, great post and good advice. It’s easy to get sucked into the “list” mentality (my book isn’t even out yet and I’m thinking about it!) but that takes away from the triumph of having written a freaking book!

  2. Sarah,
    Well congratulations on writing a book! You really do have to learn to separate the circus of publication from the act of writing. I think everyone has her own way of doing it, and it can take a little while to figure it out. But good luck!

  3. Great letter, Tiffany, and one I’m sure the 2010 debut authors out there (or, experienced authors for that matter!) would find terribly useful.

    I’m just starting to get nice e-mails from readers, and wow. THAT is worth it. For sure.

  4. Oh, now THERE’S a choice letter–my letter to pre-pub me! For that I would probably have also included some lottery numbers.

    Funny post–and so true! Also strange is how some of the people you most expect to have read your book haven’t actually done so.

  5. Katie, I know! Some of my friends haven’t read it, for whatever reasons, but that’s okay. I’m not friends with them for that! What’s weird, though, is when people you don’t expect, like your hairdresser, or your priest, have read your book….That always throws me.

    And Kris, isn’t it great to receive those messages?

  6. Tiffany, I was in a LOT of bookshops in England, and in every one of them I saw your book. At one point, I pointed, and said, loudly, “Hey, I know this author.”

    I do hope people were listening to me!

    Anyway, thought you’d like to know you’re on display across the pond.

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