So you’ve sold your first novel. Was it everything you thought it would be?
|I expect flowers.|
I had expectations. I had them when I finished my first book, then my second. When I got an agent. When the book she signed me on didn’t make it into the world. As I watched by BFF writers go through similar processes with a variety of results, from success to disappointment and even, most commonly, a mixture of those two.
My expectations regarding publication changed along the journey. Not necessarily for the better or worse, but certainly for the more realistic. I grew to understand what could go right, what was important compared to what I’d once thought was important. Published in the “right” season? Less important. Great editor? Very important (and I got so, so very lucky with my amazing editor).
My expectations for myself changed, too. Oh, it was always, ultimately, my goal to be published, to see my name on bookstore shelves. But the hows and whys of writing changed for me. I dreamed more at one point about having a Big Book, then that faded and I cared much, much more about writing what was true to me in a way that conveyed my ideas about craft. Through it all, I became more humble, more grateful, harder working and, I think, a better writer. As my expectations changed, they also shrunk. The successes I have now feel bigger, more earth shattering, I think, than they would have even two years ago. Expecting less means I have more room for joy when great things do happen.
Our journeys in publishing vary so greatly that it’s completely impossible to nail down a universal experience. I love knowing this because it means I’m not going to compare myself to other authors out there on a personal level. I’m neither going to gloat, nor am I going to feel lesser than. Knowing this also means that I can’t say everything there is to say about this topic, so I’ve enlisted the help of some of my fellow 2013 debut kidlit authors from The Lucky 13s to chime in on the topic. Here’s what these friends had to say about their first book expectations.
April Tucholke, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA:
Well, I tried hard not to think about all of it--if someone would buy my ms, and who it would be, and how it would feel to hold my book in my hand one day, and what people would think of the words I'd written. That seemed so...dangerous.Rachele Alpine, CANARY
My expectation of my first book sale was the moment when I would be able to take something I love (writing) and have someone else believe enough in my book that they would want to help me put it out there into the world. I always pictured selling my book and celebrating in the fact that people would be reading it, talking about it, and (hopefully!) loving it.Ryan Graudin, LUMINANCE HOUR
Before I sold my book, I think I was really too afraid to think about what my expectations might be. Because I was fearful it would never actually happen. Like most dreamy-eyed aspiring authors, I tempted thoughts of six figure advances and insta-fame. But that was more fantasizing than actual expectations.Lydia Kang, CONTROL
I honestly thought my first sub would takes several weeks or months. I thought I'd have a few R&R's and that I'd maybe get lucky and sell during a second round of submissions. I never, ever considered that my book would go on a pre-empt with Dial within the first month. That was a wonderful shock.CJ Flood, INFINITE SKY
I was very good at protecting myself from having too many expectations about my book sale. I hardly ever allowed myself to think about it, and just focused on working on the book and getting it finished. When I did think of it, I thought about it in extremes: wild success or total failure.Justina Ireland, VENGEANCE BOUND
I thought there would be a parade in my honor, with unicorns and cherubs and glitter and a sash around my chest the said "PUBLISHED AUTHOR." It would be proof that I had finally MADE IT and the BIG THINGS were about to happen. I would get to quit my day job and live a life of authorly leisure, reclining on a lanai while my pool boy brought me fruity drinks and I hashed out my next bestseller. Okay, not exactly that, but pretty close.Elsie Chapman, DUALED
When I first sold, I actually didn't have any expectations. I really tried not to think about it, or even go there much of the time. In all honesty, I wasn't even aware that the Y/MGA writing community was such a huge thing, or a thing at all. I didn't have a twitter, I didn't blog, I just kind of kept my head down and wrote. So now, as things happen, each step is just really exciting, and I'm still learning as I go. It's an phenomenal thing, getting published!
Join us next Tuesday as the follow-up, First Book Realities, posts.
~ Kristin Halbrook