Being a debut author is oddly similar to being a beginning writer. Most of the skills you learn are new, from website creation to learning the right balance between being proactive and bothering your publisher. I found it so much easier to ride the wave with my fellow Emus sharing their own trials, tribulations, and victories. I’ve developed great friends who listen, support, and offer amazing encouragement and advice. It’s hard to believe it’s time to pass the baton to a new group of talented authors.
I have to admit, this has been a bittersweet debut experience for me.
The rollercoaster of reviews has been the hardest part. Becoming a debut author during the height of the Internet has had its challenges. Everyone who has an opinion on the book shares it, and some not so kindly. For the author, our books are our babies, and we hope that it will make a difference in our readers’ lives. Of course, we all know how mothers feel when their kids are treated unjustly. By the way, I’m not talking about all low reviews here. There have been many reviews with solid advice that has helped me grow as a writer. I’m talking about the ones that use language meant to evoke reactions among potential readers, stirring up trouble rather than offering a balanced critique to a piece of work, or that attack an author on a personal level. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to face this. But I do feel it’s become a problem in our community, one that I was not expecting and that saddens me. Fortunately, there have been many positive or constructive reviews to offset the less kind ones. The one thing I’ve taken from this part of my experience is my discovery that I’m truly committed to writing for writing’s sake. There were times, I will admit, when I considered walking away from the teen genre. Luckily, I have a work-in-progress that was so far along that I could not give up on it and live with myself. It got me through the tough times, as did all the support from my fellow debuters. Thank you!
Enough about that. Now for the best moment…My launch party! What an amazing feeling to see over a hundred smiling faces in the audience. Friends from all walks of life showed up to support me. On the drive over to the party, my daughter and I belted out songs from Queen to help me relax before the big event. When we arrived at our independent bookstore, I decided it was too much fun to stop. Book Passage, that cool place, had no problem blaring Bohemian Rhapsody through their speakers, and the audience and I had a lot of fun kicking off the launch party with complete and utter goofiness. I was proud of all the creative details that made my party unique. Instead of reading from League of Strays, I wrote a play based on a scene in the book, starring teen actors from a performing arts school. It was so much fun directing these kids and watching how they brought the pages of my book alive. I also enjoyed thanking people in person for all the time and energy they devoted to helping me realize my dream. Through the launch party process, I learned how much I enjoy speaking, and I look forward to doing more of that in the future.
Emu’s Debuts were there for me the entire way, from important advice like how to write a press release to random advice, like whether or not it was OK to get a Costco cake for my launch party instead of the more expensive bakery version. I love this group! They will always be my writing family, and though I now sign off with Emu’s, I feel like I will always be a debuter here.
On this day before Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be grateful for–Thanks for the journey, everyone, and best of luck to the new crew!