The Thrill of It All: The Moment You Realize
You Are An Author
By Brian Hill and Dee Power
For every author, this moment only happens once in a lifetime,
but it’s a moment you never forget: The first time you walk
into a bookstore and see your book on the shelves. Maybe you just
stand there and look at the book sitting there. Maybe you pick the
book up to make sure this moment isn’t all a dream.
You might be thinking: “Seeing my book here today is a miracle.”
It is, but this same miracle happens to thousands of “new”
authors every year, so don’t let yourself get chills when
you reflect on all the ways you could have failed, fallen by the
wayside and be ignored by the marketplace. You didn’t. You’ve
arrived. Three cheers for you!
And then the joy of this victory starts to sink in. As you gaze
at YOUR BOOK with YOUR NAME on it sitting there, waiting to be picked
up you realize that someone you’ve never met, and probably
never will meet, will have the chance to learn from, or be entertained
by, something you wrote. In a best case scenario, thousands of people
will be able to. It’s a heady experience to contemplate for
the first time. You have grasped a fundamental principle of the
business you are now in: You become an author when a stranger pays
cash money for your book.
Maybe before you started writing you dreamed about this happening.
But now, it could. And you feel the surge of hopeful adrenaline,
and the excitement of unrealistic expectations. Until this fairly
frightening thought hits you: “My book looks so small, sitting
there. Unless you were looking for it, you’d hardly notice
Then your mind begins to be taken over by panic: “Look at
all those thousands of books in the store! How is my little book
going to compete against all of those? I’m only a few feet
away from the shelf full of Stephen King’s books. How can
I possibly go up against him? Everybody knows Stephen King, and
apart from a few close friends and relatives, nobody knows me.”
This is when you have to employ whatever relaxation techniques
you know. Take a deep breath. You’ve just reached Stage Two
in an author’s life, when you realize getting your book published
in only a fraction of the battle (even though getting this far may
have completely worn out your nerves and storehouse of optimism).
A long and treacherous road awaits, where you have to figure out
how to inspire the busy, easily distracted, even jaded and sometimes
numbed, consumer of information to make a trip to the store specifically
to buy your book. Hoping someone will wander through the store and
pick it up is a nice thing to wish for. But it doesn’t generally
pay the rent (unless you have a teeny, tiny apartment). No, you
have to figure out how to communicate the virtues of your book in
the mass information marketplace: print media, radio, TV, the Internet.
Hopefully, by the time your book hits the shelves you already have
your comprehensive marketing plan in place and are actively promoting
your book. You better be.
You have to make this book a success, or it may be the last opportunity
you have to attract a publisher. The remainder bins of the publishing
houses are littered with the works of talented first time authors
whose books didn’t go anywhere. You have one shot, or at best
two, to make your mark.
But let’s not let all these sobering considerations ruin
the joy of the moment. Perhaps your dream of becoming an author
started in this very bookstore, perhaps it was years earlier the
dream took shape. In any case, your relationship to the bookstore,
and every other one you visit for the rest of your life, has changed.
You are different from the other individuals browsing the shelves,
thumbing through magazines, or sipping their café latte.
You possess elevated status. You have contributed to the body of
human knowledge that has been accumulating down the centuries. It
is very possible that after you are gone someone will pick up your
book from a dusty library shelf and the words will seem as new and
alive to this reader as when they first sprang into your mind all
those years ago. You live on through the words you have set down
on paper, for others to enjoy, forever.
Immortality is kinda nice.
And even if you are firmly grounded in the present day challenge
of how to make your book a success, never forget the achievement
represented by that day in the bookstore. You have earned a title
no one can ever take away from you: Published Author.
Dee Power is the co-author with Brian Hill of The Making
of a Bestseller: Sucess Stories From Authors and the Editors,
Agents and Booksellers Behind Them, BusinessPlan-Basics,
Attracting Capital From Angels, Inside Secrets To Venture
Capital and the novel, Over Time .
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