So there I was in the bookstore, browsing just like any other reader. I happen to be near the shelf where my own book is sitting. I couldn’t help but pay attention as people drifted by, glancing around the shelf, pulling out this book or that one, any book but mine. “That one,” I say silently, mentally trying to point out my book on the shelf. “Pick up that one. There’s a cute cat on the cover. You look like a cat person. You’ll love it.” But they keep going, picking another book, and all I want to do is go home and crawl under the covers.
Now that my book is out in the world, going to the bookstore is a humbling experience. It’s not just watching people not buying my book, though that his definitely humbling. It’s because the store is filled with THOUSANDS of authors who if they were there in person, would be experiencing the scenario I just described. We’re all in this club together, all of use from Donna Tartt to the lady who wrote a picture book about a caterpillar. We put years into our books and wait for someone to notice. And it is is a humbling, amazing experience when I see my sales numbers and I realize how many people were in bookstores or online that week and out of all the books in the world they could have bought, they bought mine.
There are many amazing experiences as a writer. It’s thrilling any time a book blogger or reviewer writes about how much they love my book. When foreign editors send me my book cover in other languages, I get a little giddy. When I talk to my editor or my agent, I feel so supported. All of this is good, and I’m so grateful for all of it, because in between is a lot of self doubt and hiding under the covers.
But let me tell you what else keeps me out from under the covers…readers. Recently, I’ve been talking to a lot of them about The Moment of Everything, and it’s such a joy! It’s one thing to talk to a bunch of potential readers at a book event, but it’s quite another to talk to people who have actually read the book. In book club meetings, online chats, or just running into someone at a restaurant (it’s happened), I can talk about the scenes that made me cry over and over again in revision or the ending or the big discovery that changes everything for my heroine. And those conversations are always like we’re talking about people we know in real life. The pure joy of talking to readers is something that inspires and encourages me.
So if you’re out there writing your novel (I’m talking to you all you NaNoWriMo people!), keep this in mind. When someone reads your book, it’s a gift. Something that flowed out of your creativity is now a part of them, and you are forever connected. Think of all the books you’ve read and how they’ve affected you. Then think about your book meaning something to someone out there. It’s definitely worth slipping out of the covers for.