My Debut Year: The Lows

Last week I was doing a google search, collecting pictures to create a big debut year photo album when I stumbled across this one, taken for the Brooklyn Newspaper. This photo has a story: Two hours before the photographer showed up at my apartment, I had a major meltdown in the shower. I pulled myself together with the help of heavy concealer and blush, but my hands were shaking so bad I could barely hold my book steady. Seeing this photo reminded me of the day and inspired the following post. I was going to follow my fellow debut’s footsteps and talk about all the highs of my debut year. Oh believe me, I have a lot to be grateful for, I’ve had some awesome highs. But today, I want to talk about the lows. If you’re on this site trying to learn what it’s like being a debut and if you plan on becoming an author, you need to prepare for the lows so they don’t blindside you. I thought I was prepared and I was dead wrong.

I didn’t expect such horrible backlash from writing this book.
A simple google search of Allegedly and you’ll see dozens of book reviews, some praising it, others hating it. What I never expected is to be cc’ed on those reviews via twitter, facebook or some emailing the links to my personal account, as if I was made of stone and had no feelings what so ever. Imagine being in a huge concert hall, sitting on a stool in the middle of the stage, a bright spot light shinning down on you while an audience of 500 people berate you, one by one before spitting in your face. That’s how I feel at least once a week. I’ve dealt with it by gripping on to one simple truth: You can’t change the past, you can only move forward.

I didn’t expect to lose friends writing this book
In times of adversity is when people’s TRUE colors show the most. There were several times when I saw whom I thought were my friends show their selfishness and self-serving attitudes. Who simply weren’t there for me the way I had been there for them in the past. It hurts, watching people melt out of your life, but I do walk with a lighter load.

I didn’t expect to spend so much money writing this book
After meeting with my accountant this summer, I realized I spent a LARGE chunk of my advance marketing Allegedly. I justified it by claiming “you only debut once and I should come out with a bang!” But despite everything– the outside publicist, the swag, the marketing consultant, etc– Allegedly’s numbers didn’t reflect the efforts exerted. There’s really no way to predict a books success, you have to take each on a case by case basis and be at peace with knowing you did everything you could.

I didn’t expect to lose myself writing this book.
I spent the first six months of this year in a dark, dark place. On the outside, I pretended to be happy, but internally, I was a mess. I saw myself transform back to 16-year old Tiffany, dealing with depression, anxiety, chronic asthma attacks and migraines, in the midst of trying to get into college. It didn’t truly hit me how much I reverted until mid-July, when I just became weary of life itself. I finally started practicing self-care by paying attention to my needs: reading books, eating the right food, drinking more water, spending time with my family, focusing on things that bring me joy, and journaling. This November, I’ll be taking a trip to a spiritual retreat that focuses on self-love and healing. I want to walk into 2018 in a better place and be stronger than ever for my second book release.

Tune in next week, where I promise to end my debutante tenure on a super high note and what’s next! 🙂

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Tiffany D. Jackson is a TV professional by day, novelist by night, awkward black girl 24/7. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film from Howard University and her Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School University. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves with her adorable chihuahua Oscar, most likely multitasking. Her debut novel, ALLEGEDLY is due January 24th, 2017 through Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins.

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This article has 5 Comments

  1. Tiffany, I hope you know that strong reactions to any art is better than “meh.” The first time I got a bad review (ann “I threw book across the room” review, I actually laughed. Strong feelings! My guess is that at least some of the people who weren’t able to love your book were hiding from reality or were not able to process their own experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if down the road they didn’t think, “Hmm, she was right.” Be strong! And take care of yourself however you need to.

  2. Thank you Tiffany for your openness and vulnerability to express the lows. Please rest and renew and I pray nothing but the best for you. Keep on putting one foot in front of the other!

  3. Thank you for such an open and informative article!! As a book reviewer myself, I feel like our community often doesn’t always consider that authors are people and might be reading our reviews. Obviously we don’t want to pretend to love books we hate, but we can be too harsh sometimes.

    Also, I adore Allegedly – it’s one of the most deeply meaningful and well-written books I have ever read, and one of my favorites ever – so thank you for all the effort you put into it.

  4. Thanks for the honest post, Tiffany. I have many friends who have debuted in the past couple of years or will soon, and this is true, true stuff. Knowledge is power– thank you for sharing yours. The best advice I ever got about reviews was from my friend Jay, who said, “it’s about them, not about you or your book.” Once we’ve finished it and put it out there, it becomes the readers’ book to do with what they will. Our part is to get back to creating the art as best we can. Congratulations on realizing your publishing dream and having a second book on the way!

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