Today is November 6, which means that exactly six months from now, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN will be released. Finally, people will be able to wander into a store and buy it (I hope). Or at the very least, it’ll be available with just one click of a mouse. It will be out there, in the world, no longer belonging to just me.
The question I get most often is “Aren’t you excited?” And I guess the answer to that question is yes? Maybe? I suppose? But the truth of it is that the reality of being a debut author is pretty opposite of what I thought it would be.
Over the past few years, before I sold my own debut, I watched friends go through the debut process. And I’m sure I drove them crazy with my “OMG, isn’t this all so exciting? Aren’t you excited? You must live in an excitementland filled with puppies and kittens and magical, exciting rainbows!” And I could never really understand their “Yes, it is exciting . . . but . . .” answers.
I understand now.
Don’t get me wrong. There are parts of the debut process that are downright thrilling. Fed Ex delivering a marked-up-with-red-pen copy of THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN from my editor left me shaking for days. When a cover comp arrived in my inbox, I kept it up on the screen and stared at it until my eyes went dry. And, of course, becoming a real-live published author means the Legitimacy Fairy visits you at night and sprinkles you with pixie dust. You’ll wake up with offers to do awesome things like mentor for agent-getting contests you used to enter. Or you’ll find an email from a Kind of a Big Deal author sitting in your inbox. And when these things happen, it’s amazing. AMAZING.
(There’s always a but.)
The Pressure Fairy comes calling after the Legitimacy Fairy has left. And the Pressure Fairy doesn’t bring pixie dust. She brings rocks and knives and nunchucks. And she will whisper in your ear things like, “If your book doesn’t perform, your career is over.” Or “Critics are going to hate you.” Or, even worse, “Critics are going to ignore you.” The Pressure Fairy will fill your mind with images of book signings where no one comes, Amazon sales rankings languishing in the millions,* an average Goodreads rating of 1.8.
(*This does not mean you sell millions of books. It means millions of other authors have sold more books than you have.)
The Pressure Fairy is hard to fight, but I’m finding my methods. The Yoga Fairy and the Red Wine Fairy help a little bit, and the friendships and support I’ve found in other 2014 debut authors helps a lot.
And at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that this is my dream. I’m living my dream. It’s not going to perfect; it’s going to be messy. But that’s life, right? Good and bad, thrilling and terrifying, this experience is exactly as it should be. So mostly I just have to tell myself to quit it with the incessant navel gazing and enjoy the ride. Or try to enjoy it, at least.