When a Debut Isn’t a Debut

FireworksWhen I started writing for children, I was surprised when the first magazine article I sold ended up not being the first article published. I still haven’t quite figured out how to handle it. Which one do I call my first? Getting someone to pay you for your writing is a huge threshold, a grand new beginning where the road unfurls before you. But seeing your name–and your words–in print for the first time is every bit as much of a thrill! Splitting the two experiences somehow seems to take something away from both of them, diminishing them somehow. After all, we expect all of our big first in life to come with earth-shaking fireworks, not a lingering sense of “So was this it? Or was it that other time?”

The first (now second) book sold in June 2012, with a scheduled release date of spring 2015. It was a finished picture-book manuscript, but I’m not an illustrator, so having great art is well worth the wait!Well, it looks like I’m going to be in the same predicament with my books: the second one to sell will be released before the first!

Then, the second (now first) book sold earlier this month, with a scheduled release date of fall 2014. It’s a young-adult nonfiction, which sold on proposal… and isn’t even written yet (eek)! I had considered putting this one away for a while (or for good), since I’d sold the picture book. I figured I should probably be focusing on those. Like Carol mentioned last week, I had my “brand” to consider, right? Well, I guess the universe spoke, because suddenly the perfect publisher wanted to take this proposal in its perfect direction, and I was overjoyed to be accepting this offer, even with the tight deadlines.

So, which one is my debut book? In some ways, neither of them is. In other ways, they both are. Please forgive me if I get confused!

In any case, both are milestones to be celebrated, and I like to be a glass-is-half-full kind of person, so I’m going to go with the theory that it’s just double the fun. How many of us get to say our first time is as exciting as the second, and vice versa?

I think this is really the only attitude you can have if you hope to survive in the traditional publishing world. You can (and should) plan your career, of course. But accept and expect that you will most likely never keep it on course. It won’t work out the way you planned, in the order you conceived, or (almost certainly) at the pace you envisioned. Be ready to roll with the punches and get back up your feet, seize the next opportunity that presents itself, and keep pushing forward in the general direction you wish to go, even though there are bound to be a multitude of detours–and fireworks–along the way.


Filed under Celebrations, Happiness, Thankfulness, Updates on our Books!, Writing and Life

14 responses to “When a Debut Isn’t a Debut

  1. I think the first one to come out probably wins the “debut” designation. But it seems unfair to your first sale, which is kind of like your first love. It has a special place in your heart.


  2. You can still have a picture book debut.


  3. Oh, I would be torn as well! Your first sale is the moment you can call yourself “author”, so I agree with Carol, it will always be special. But all your babies are loved, and each new release will offer a new experience in publishing. We can enjoy them all!


  4. Don’t think of it as first and second. Think of it as having two books under way instead of one. And that’s good no matter which one sold first or comes out first.


  5. Joshua McCune

    Heck, maybe you’ll sell a third book and beat those other two to the punch. Maybe it will be adult horror and we shall thus name you crossover queen. Screw brand recognition. Go for world domination! Fingers crossed 🙂


  6. I like how Josh is thinking! 🙂


  7. Jillian Phillips

    You can always say that you have TWO BOOKS that are being published at the same time and/OR coming out at the same time!! Now how many get that honor? (And forget about the logistics of it all.)


  8. Pingback: Obsessing about book 2 | EMU's Debuts

    • Great post, Tara! You are so right about there being an upside and a downside to every 2nd book scenario. I was in the option scenario, but then none of the other manuscripts I had ready were a good fit for my first publisher, so I ended up in the free-for-all scenario anyway. But now I’m obsessing about book 3. It doesn’t end. Or maybe I’m just neurotic. 😉


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