It’s been a little over two weeks since my debut novel, Bits & Pieces, entered the world as a REAL book, rather than just one stored on my computer or resting in big piles of paper around my house. This is truly a life-long dream come true. My emotions have been on a roller-coaster since my release so I wanted to do a blog post about some of the feelings swarming around in my mind and about my plans for what’s next.
The strongest emotion I’ve had every day since my release is gratitude. I am so thankful for every person who has purchased my book. It’s hard for me to believe that people actually want to read about this imaginary person and scenario that I created in my mind. I appreciate every word of encouragement, each positive review and every single person that has reached out to me to offer support or congratulations. I find myself smiling at random times throughout the day when I think of some of the kind things readers have said about my book.
I’m also feeling a bit overwhelmed, to be honest. Marketing is way outside of my comfort zone and it is a lot of work! I would love to be able to get my book into some local libraries and some bookstores (because I love bookstores and would much rather they get some business than all of it going to Amazon). I would love to see it in stores throughout the country but have decided to start with Ohio. I found an awesome website, Indie Bookstore Finder, and it turns out there are about 40 Indie bookstores within a 2 hour radius of me. I’ve made a spreadsheet and started reaching out to see how we can partner together. Everyone I’ve talked to so far has been so kind and supportive. Out of the calls I’ve made thus far, I have three more author events/book signings set up and 3 stores will carry my book at least in a small quantity. The most heart-warming of these calls was to Little Professor’s Bookstore in Athens, Ohio. Ohio University is my alma mater and I used to shop in Little Professor’s eons ago. The manager there, without hesitation, agreed to order two copies of my book to start with and to have me come in the spring for an author event. Melt my heart!
Also, I’m working with a voice actor who is recording Bits & Pieces for Audible. Hopefully it will be there by the second week in January. I am so excited about the woman I’m working with because she will truly bring Tessa’s character and story to life — she is amazing at her work. She has also done audio book recordings for two of my all-time favorite authors, Anne Lamott and Wally Lamb.
When it comes to marketing, my philosophy for at least this first year is to say yes to everything I’m asked to do to promote myself or my book. This includes author interviews, events, podcasts, video interviews, etc. I am so thankful to everyone who has offered to feature me on their blogs or websites — what an honor!
In addition to marketing, I’m trying to stay involved and active with social media platforms and working on my 3rd book, which is slow-going. I’m about half-way through the first draft and this is the hardest time I’ve had with writing. Usually the first draft pours out of me but that’s not happening with this book. Perhaps it’s because my attention is divided right now or because of the heavy subject matter of the book, which makes it emotionally draining to write.
My second book is scheduled to be released in mid-2019 which means soon I will be working on edits on it as well. So, basically, I need an assistant or an IV drip of coffee. I think all of this would be a bit overwhelming for a “normal” person but for someone with a chronic illness, it’s especially difficult. I have such limited energy every single day and constantly feel like I’m juggling way more things than my body can handle. Even though this is all “good” stress, my body still rebels against it. For the past two days, I’ve had zero energy and a lot of pain so I’ve gotten very little accomplished (which then adds guilt into the pile of stress). I was supposed to do a podcast today but had to reschedule. That’s truly the worst part of this illness for me — having to bail on commitments sometimes.
I have an author events scheduled in December, January and March so far with more to come in the spring. I look forward to these so that I can interact with readers face-to-face. Most writers are introverted and dread these types of events but I love people! One of the hardest parts of quitting my job because of my illness is missing the daily interaction with people so I’m really looking forward to some people time.
There’s also a bit of fear still about what some people will think of the book. I know it’s not for everyone and gets a bit dark. I know that eventually I will get a review that rips me and my book to shreds because every single author does. I’m trying to toughen myself up a bit in preparation for that review that’s sure to come.
Even given everything above, I feel so blessed. Blessed by the people in my life that have stood by me through thick and thin. Blessed by all of the new friends I’ve made in the Writer’s Community on Twitter. Blessed that I am able to hold my lifelong dream in my hands after twelve long years of working towards it. Blessed that my publisher believed in me and Tessa’s story. Blessed by every single person who takes the time to read the words I’ve written.
Thank you for the part you play in my journey! I appreciate it more than words can say.