On Tuesday (Or Sunday, if you ask Amazon……..) my first book came out.
A year or so ago, I listened to an interview with Tom Lennon (from The Odd Couple). The interviewer asked how it felt to have “made it” in his career. Lennon said something about having worked so long and hard that he’d built up sort of an armor. Not that it’s No Big Deal to have finally achieved success, but that it had been so long in coming it’s just a bit anticlimactic.
I feel this way, too. Muddy Waters is my third completed novel. It took about 18 months between initally querying agents to getting published. Before that, I queried the first two books for three years or so with varying degrees of success but no contract.
Writing your first book isn’t like winning the lottery. You’re not poor at 8:00 p.m. and filthy rich at 8:01. You don’t go from not-published to published overnight.
Is it like a marathon? Maybe. If you have tiny victories at random intervals and then by the time you cross the finish line, you’ve been running so long it’s all you’ve ever known and it’s just another day in your life, and then there’s still a 10K to run when you’re done with the 26.2 miles.
There were so many little milestones I celebrated but at no point did it feel like NOW THIS PART IS DONE. There was the email from the acquisitions editor asking for the whole manuscript. There was another email asking for revisions. There was a call extending a contract. There was the cover design, the Amazon listing, the news that Audible would offer it as an audio book. There were a couple of meh reviews.
So when the book was actually alive and in the wild, it didn’t FEEL different, except that I have been anxious to the nth degree for about a week.* I don’t know what I expected but I don’t think this is it.
I’ve just been stressing over whether I’m doing the right thing with promotion? Is there something else I should do? Did I invite enough people to the launch party? Did I invite TOO MANY people to the launch party?
This is not to say that I’m not thrilled this has finally happened. But I get something now that I didn’t get before. I get the pressure we feel after putting something out there. I get why some authors write a book or two in the promised trilogy and then vanish. I’ve made a promise to the readers, to the publisher, to myself. And what if I can’t fulfill those promises? What if I do The Wrong Thing and the book tanks and everything sucks and my grand plan for the series is sucked into the hole?
I wish I was happier about it. I wish I was more at ease. I wish I felt less stress that my book is finally a reality. I wish I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering when I will sit down to finish the second book, or terrified that I’ve missed some awesome opportunity.
*It does not help that I also lost my job last month, and as I haven’t had a single interview, my shoulders creep ever-closer to my ears.