Before I start talking about me, it is my pleasure to announce our BIG WINNERS!!! From last week’s release week party drawings!
Okay, enough about you. I’m here today to talk about ME. Some of you may recall my last post, in which I reflected on being in a moment where nothing was happening. Editing was done, but reviews, publicity, etc. had not yet started.
The silence of the “waiting for a review” time was shattered two weeks ago by notice of my first official review–A Kirkus starred review! Fortunately, my editor emailed the news to me with the heading “Starred Review.” Had the subject line read “Kirkus review,” I would probably still be trying to get the nerve up to open the email.
Getting a Kirkus star on my first review was overwhelming. I switched between relief and excitement about twenty times in five minutes. A year ago, another writer said to me, “I’m hoping for good reviews, because without them I don’t think my book will sell.” This innocent statement was a dose of poison that’s been running through my veins ever since, and especially as we draw closer to review time. So this first review seemed to say to me, “You’re gonna be okay, Jeannie! You’re gonna live!”
The second cool thing about the Kirkus Star, is that when it was announced via the EMLA facebook page, the response from friends and fellow EMLA clients (which is basically a redundant phrase) was overwhelming. I felt like I had just won Olympic Gold with all the congratulations and reposts pouring in.
Then last week, my industrious S&S publicist got rolling. I was contacted by some bookstore owners interested in signings, including one in Albuquerque. (NOTE: States out here in the West are big. Albuquerque is in the next state over from Colorado, but it’s still a long way away. Not sure my publicist knew this.) I’m also being scheduled for an interview in the Denver Post, and a gig at a major trade show.
And just to put a cherry on top, last week I visited with a bookstore owner who tells me she has already nominated the book for an award!
Now if, like me, you are the sort of person who is susceptible to Delusions of Grandeur, this is likely to trigger fantasies of moving to Graceland. Not that I’m writing my speech for the Newbery Medal or anything.
Ahem. Anyway, what I mean is, this last couple of weeks have been pretty amazing. I believe in celebrating everything I can in this process, because Lord knows, there has been plenty of pain and frustration in getting here. So, I admit, I’ve been a little bit bragy. A little bit WOO HOO! LOOK AT ME!!! as all this has been happening.
So, let’s go for full disclosure, shall we? Last week, I also got my first mediocre review. I visited two bookstores that were uninterested in hosting me for a signing or in stocking my book, even though it’s set right here in my home state. And of course, the best cutting-me-down-to-size moments: sharing my Kirkus star with non-writers, who have consistently replied with a confused look and a statement like, “Oh. Um. That’s great. What’s Kirkus?”
Now if, like me, you are the sort of person who is susceptible to falling into The Pit of Despair and Self Loathing, where the voices clamor, “I knew you sucked! I told you you would trip at the finish line!” you may find yourself fantasizing about moving to Antarctica so you don’t have to face the inevitable public humiliation.
So what is my point, you ask? Simply this. It is easy, with all this happening, to get sucked into All About Me mode. I love to celebrate the highs, and embarrassingly enough, I kinda love to wallow in the lows, too. But really, none of these moments are as big or significant as they can seem.
And I’ve come to one other realization as I’ve watched people I don’t know adding my book to their Goodreads “to-read” stack:
Really, it’s not about me at all. None of it is.
It’s about Katerina and her sisters. It’s about a “magic” fish, a coal camp, an effort to overcome hardship.
And more than that, it’s about readers, some who will love my book and some who won’t. Some who will be moved and touched, some who will be bored to tears. Some who will be forced to read it by their wicked teachers, some who will read it three or four times because it’s a cozy warm blanket they want to wrap up in over and over. And because I firmly believe there are books out there for every reader, and not everyone likes the same thing, that’s all okay.
So yes, READERS OF THE WORLD, celebrate! Because it’s all about you. You are the people who humble me. Whom I thank. Whom I am grateful for. To you I offer all my hard work, in the hopes it is a gift from which you can grow, as I believe all books should be.