Sunday, December 1, 2013

Confessions of a New Author

Tell me I'm not alone on this. Not long after my son (my first child) was born, there came a day when I was just simply overwhelmed by the realization that my life had changed forever. It wasn't that I was depressed about that; I was certainly happy with him, but there was a part of me that was a little shell-shocked by the change.

It's been nearly three weeks since His Promise True hit the world, and while the impact is not as momentous as the birth of my son, there has still been a bit of a learning curve for this "being a published author" thing. So, in true writer fashion, my natural inclination is to try to process everything by writing it down. Here are a few observations from these first weeks.

1) I didn't realize how much business was involved. That sounds really naive, and yeah, I was really naive. I mean, I knew publishing is a business, but I didn't understand what that meant, things like applying to be recognized as a business by the state so I can pay sales tax, or getting one of those little readers that attach to a cell phone so people can use credit cards to pay for the books. Thank goodness for Nancy Dane, who is shepherding me through the maze. Honestly, at one point, I was so overwhelmed by the "business" end that I was asking myself, "If you knew then what you know now, would you still publish the book?" (Of course the answer is "Of course".......)

2) People don't seem to care whether the book is self-published; they treat me like a "real" author. The thing that has most freaked me out about this whole experience so far is that people want me to sign their books. I'm not really very good at that yet -- I mean, I can write my name (ha!), but I'm having a real struggle coming up with something clever/appropriate to put with my name. There are a couple of inscriptions I've put so far that I would just as soon were written in disappearing ink!

3) Social media is an awesome way to get a message out. I've not been really aggressive in pitching the book. My approach has, for the most part, been to post a few notices on Facebook. But what amazes me is seeing a comment posted by some friend of one of my friends, someone I don't even know, who is talking about the book. Networking is the name of the game, and social media makes it so much easier.

4) The scariest thing is the Great Silence. Several people on Facebook have sent me messages or comments that say something like, "I'm halfway through, and I love it!" (which is wonderful to hear). Then I don't hear anything else, which makes me nervous that the second half failed to uphold the love. The reasonable side of me points out that people just get busy and move on to something else, and that I shouldn't read anything in to the silence. Still, as one friend (who has also self-published a book) said, "I don't think people realize how much a writer needs feedback." It makes me appreciate even more the little fan letter that came in the mail one day, which said, "John David comes across as a fine man, but since money is so scarce, I wish he wouldn't waste it on drinking." And I'm grateful to the lady at church who catches me after services and tells me the specific part she's reading right now and what it makes her think of from her own life. This experience has made me determined to write a review or leave some kind of comment for everything I read from now on.

5) Having one "Book Baby" has made me eager to make another. I'd been in something of a slump with my writing for quite a long time. But the energy generated by the process of getting this first book out and by knowing people are reading it has brought me out of that slump. This week I started writing new sections of the second book, and it's been coming to me rather naturally. I can see the end of the first draft (though I'm still not entirely sure how it will end). I guess putting that line at the back of His Promise True that the follow-up story was "Coming in 2014" was a great motivator! I always did seem to work better with a deadline--part of my journalism training, I guess.

Anyway, I've learned a lot in the past three weeks, and there have been some genuinely thrilling life moments, like finding out one of my favorite authors was reading the book (I still squeal internally when I think about that!) and seeing the book on the shelf of the local Hastings store (the picture with this post, which has kind of a funny story). 

This will probably be the last post about the book on this blog. I've set up a separate blog for my publishing business at if you'd like to read more about the historical background for the book, as well as book-related news. My plan is to try to maintain both blogs; wish me luck!


Chip Butter said...

Your saying that you are not entirely sure how "it" will turn out reminds me of something the great Louis L'amour said. When working at his typewriter, his young daughter asked, "Dad, why are you typing so fast?" He replied, "So I can find out how this story turns out!"

I am anxious to see how your next one turns out too!

lil red hen said...

I have news for you from yesterday: apparently one of your biggest fans bought books for two other ladies at church. When I went in and was talking with one of them, there was your book, with her Bible!

Ephemera said...

I think this post is a wonderful way to describe your exciting journey into the world of "famous authors!" I certainly love the book, and like Chip Butter, I'm anxious to read the next one!

Ann Turnbull said...

As mine was one of the "halfway through, and loving it" responses I felt I must reassure you that I did love the second half too!! But a lot has been happening to us since I wrote that, and I just haven't had any time. But I will get back to you - I promise!

Augustina Peach said...

Ann, I know people have things to do other than reassure me they liked the book, ha ha. I'm a little ashamed of myself for being so "needy" about feedback. But at least I'm not checking sales records and rankings every day! :)

Chip Butter, I love the Louis L'amour quote!