And now, a special treat…
This is the first of a series of posts from published authors I’ve invited to contribute to Storyfix, on the subject of “what I wish I knew about getting published before it happened to me.” Coming soon are authors such as Phil Margolin, Lisa Jackson, Chelsea Cain, April Henry, Deb Caletti and others.
… is the author of four delightful novels, including WHEN SHE FLEW, just published to glowing reviews. She also teaches writing workshops and is pretty much the center of attention in whatever crowd surrounds her. She was recently profiled by critic Jeff Baker in the Sunday Oregonian on the release of her new novel.
Three Things I Wish I Knew About Getting Published Before it Happened To Me
By Jennie Shortridge
1. You aren’t just writing for yourself. When my first book came out I was surprised to find I actually had readers who didn’t know me. They invested time, money, and emotion in reading what I was writing. I realized I had a responsibility to those readers, to write the best damn book I could, to get the details right, to nail the emotional truth, to give them their money’s worth. I love writing for readers, now. It keeps me honest, it keeps me learning, and it keeps me humble and grateful.
2. Writing the book is just one part of the job. And it becomes a smaller and smaller part. If you want your book to succeed, you are its best advocate in the marketplace, and you must do all you can to get it in front of all those who will help you achieve your goals: your publisher’s sales force, booksellers, librarians, book groups, and most importantly, readers. Not just any readers, but your readers. Know who they are. Go to them, whether at tradeshows, book fairs, readings, or online. Make a positive impression and create relationships. Over and over again.
3. Getting a book published doesn’t change your life. Not the way you think it will, anyway. One might imagine that getting a book published would mean you’d finally made it, that the rest of your life would be a fairy tale of New York cocktail parties and people recognizing you in airports. So far—for me—not so much.
In reality, getting a book published means you must now worry that it will sell well enough that the publisher will publish book two, then three. It means you must now write book two and three in a much shorter time frame than you ever thought possible.
People who know you may be impressed, you may receive the external validation you crave, but you won’t feel satisfied. You will want to write an even better book, that sells better, gets better reviews, stays on the shelves longer than six weeks, has great numbers on Amazon, ad infinitum.
Achieving that first goal of publication simply leads to desiring a new set of things, and you will still be yourself, sitting where you’ve always sat to write, wondering if you’ll ever get another book published. Knowing why you want to write in the first place, however, helps then you can recognize when you achieve the small but important milestones: a fan letter, four copies of your book on the local indie’s shelf, a father who carries a review in his wallet so he can show everyone he knows.
Jennie Shortridge’s fourth novel, When She Flew, was inspired by the true story of a war vet raising his young daughter in the Oregon woods. She lives and writes from the side of a steep hill in Seattle, where she is co-founder of the Seattle7Writers.org. Learn more about her books at http://jennieshortridge.com.