Being a debut author requires that one sacrifice a great deal—of one’s dignity. In my adult life, I have never done as much squealing and dancing around and high fiving as I have in the past year. Nobody warns you about this, but if there’s ever a time in life when it ought to be Officially OK to comport yourself like sugared-up six-year-old at the Ultimate Birthday Party, the debut year is it.
When you’re pursuing publication, you labor in a vineyard of determination bordered by self-doubt. What if nobody likes my book? What if my book isn’t worthy of being liked? What if everybody I pitch gives me the same “it doesn’t sound like I’d be a good fit for your work,” response? Will anybody EVER like my book?
And then along comes an editor who sees not just some good things about your writing, but enough good things in the right places that he or she pays money for the privilege of taking a commercial risk on your work. This affirmation has you dancing around in the kitchen and stopping in the middle of the produce section to look at your cell phone just to see your editor’s number on the screen.
I haven’t been so giddy since I got my first horse as a kid, and I was no more dignified when the covers started showing up in my email queue either. More squealing, more dancing.
Then you’re told to find some Big Names to give you quotes for the book cover, and it starts all over again: What if nobody likes my book…?
But those Big Names are invariably encouraging even when they’re too busy to drop what they’re doing and read your whole book. They’re full of congratulations and good wishes, and you start dancing around your kitchen just because they returned your email.
Then—cue the ominous music—copy editing gets a hold of your baby, and you’re tempted to go back into the fetal crouch: What if…? Except nobody on the whole entire earth did as much to raise the quality and historical accuracy of my writing as did my copy editor. If I knew this anonymous angel’s name, I would not part with it for fear somebody would make off with her (or him). The acquiring editor, the coordinating editor, the production folks, the publicist, the art department… they have all rallied around this book and whether they know it or not, it feels like they are rallying around me or at least around my writing.
This is lovely. Writing is such a solitary labor, crit groups and DH’s notwithstanding, that to feel like my book has become “our book,” is just… I’m supposed to be good with words, but words aren’t always adequate. It’s wonderful.
There will be times later when I might not feel like being a debut is such a treat, but from where I’m sitting now, it’s wonderful. May the same blessing befall all those who seek it, and may they pull their kitchen shades down now, lest they be caught dancing around and squealing and high-fiving with no dignity whatsoever.
Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies to give to 2 lucky winners!