Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
Things I Learned During my Debut Process:
- Landing an agent and selling your debut book isn’t THE hurdle. It’s THE FIRST hurdle.
- Not being in Barnes & Noble does make a difference in your book’s success, no matter how many well-meaning people try to assure you otherwise.
- Being in Barnes & Noble does not guarantee your book’s success.
- You will read reviews of your book that will leave you scratching your head, wondering if it’s really YOUR book the reviewer read.
- Just because you have thousands of social media followers doesn’t mean they’ll actually buy your book.
- Just because you publish a book with Simon & Schuster doesn’t mean people who schedule author appearances will want you. You’re still just small potatoes. Think fingerling instead of Idaho.
- You’ll check your Amazon ranking more often than you care to admit and you’ll cringe every time it goes over 100,000.
OK, maybe all that is a little too depressing. But c’mon guys, this stuff is HARD. This is not an easy business. I knew this when I was trying to break in, but somehow I thought once I did break in, everything afterwards would be a breeze—a warm, tropical breeze with notes of pineapple and coconut. WRONG. There’s no pool-boy fluttering a giant leaf fan. Subsequent books have taken MONTHS to sell…and one took AN ENTIRE YEAR! And I have more in the works that are likewise taking months. And there were even more books that didn’t sell at all. Phhht. Dead in the water. And no pool-boy to fish them out!
But let’s look on the bright side. I’m an AUTHOR now! Woo!
Yes, that was a sincere “woo!” Let’s try it again: WOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo……………! (Those periods are really tiny o’s.)
Things I Loved During my Debut Process:
- All the terribly exciting moments along the journey—seeing my characters for the first time, witnessing the progress of the dummies, revealing the cover, hearing the satisfying KA-THUNK of the author copies box hit the front porch, signing my very first book for a complete stranger.
- Holding MY BOOK in MY HANDS.
- Making incredible friends—my editor and art director, my illustrator, the imprint staff, fellow debut authors, booksellers, librarians and fans.
- Gaining a lot of publishing business wisdom.
- People sending me photos of the book spotted in the wild, face-out at bookstores.
- Receiving my first pieces of fan mail.
But the most important one is:
- Seeing kids interact with my book and the joy it brings them.
And there’s things I’m going to love that haven’t even happened yet! This weekend I’ll be at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival and the weekend after, The Baltimore Book Festival. I’ve been going to the Princeton festival for years and can’t believe I will be there signing books! Me!
And Baltimore! I’ll be on a stage! On a panel! And people will want to hear what I have to say! BUT WHY?!
After all, I’m still just Tara, wife of Alan for the past 14 years (today’s my anniversary! OMG! I almost forgot!), mother of two girls who find me terribly embarrassing, and neighbor who you’ll find scootering her kids to school while wearing ninja jammies. (That explains the embarrassment.) I’m still the same person I was before the book contract. I haven’t transformed into a sophisticated, radiant being. I lose socks in the laundry, forget to RSVP to birthday parties, and schlep to the grocery store with yesterday’s makeup smeared under my eyes. There are holes in my couches, too much junk piled in my garage and questionable looks when I drop off my kids wearing ninja jammies for the third day in a row.
But how cool that I can be my same dorky self and share my dorkiness with children through my books! Hopefully I’ll gain fans who will want every one of my releases and will never know me as un-radiant. To them, I sparkle.
And so I leave you with this: it’s a wild journey, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. The dream was to sell one book, and that dream came true, so a new dream has replaced it. That dream is bigger, brighter and more daring. Will it come true? I dunno. Stay tuned.
And remember, be sparkly!
Fare-thee-well and have fun stormin’ the castle,
P.S. It’s not farewell forever, just at Emu’s. You can still follow me and my jammies at taralazar.com.
P.P.S. Photoshopping by the talented illustrator Kayla Skogh. Thanks, Kayla!