Every author’s dream is to be published. To have that book they’ve spent months or years on finally in print or in eBook form, ready to be purchased by eager readers. That is the moment that every author anticipates or dreads. Will it be a hit? Will it be a flop? What will the reviews say? It can be a moment filled with mixed emotions.
Publishing my first book was harrowing. It taught me things, though, and continues to teach me all the time, even after publishing my second book. I will say that it’s incredibly exciting and rewarding as an independent author, especially.
I haven’t yet, but I imagine that I will be both excited and nervous.
I haven’t published an entire novel yet, but I do remember the first time I put something on the internet for strangers to read. It was extremely nerve-wracking. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a novel be the first thing I ever published. After years of having a blog I don’t believe I’ll be nervous. Excited though? Definitely.
In the fiction space, I’ve had two publications to date: A short story in a campus lit magazine a few years ago, and my first novella on Amazon earlier this year. Of course it was exciting to see them both times, but it also scared the hell out of me. On the one hand I’m aggressive and will promote aggressively, but at the same time I’m terribly afraid that I’m made a mistake. Nothing is ever perfect, not my writing, the production, not the promotion. So I’m always obsessing about what I missed, what I did wrong, what I could have done better. Publishing a story or a book — in my view — is just one milestone in the much larger process of becoming a writer. If I go on to publish 20 books that are well received, and I’ve got the money to have them all produced professionally, then I might stop worrying. Until then….
I’ll also share that the novella I recently published is dedicated to Vietnam Veterans, who were the soldiers who trained me both as an infantryman and a young leader and a young man when I first joined the Army. I don’t plan to write another Vietnam War story, but this one has been stuck inside me for years, and I needed to tell this story, to say thanks. So though I knew I was treading on emotional ground for some, I was taken aback at some of the letters and feedback I have gotten. For instance, one woman engaged me via a “group” on Facebook with a couple thousand followers, and included a photo of her brother’s grave maker. There were also other tributes at the gravestone to her uncle and husband. All three had died as a result of the battle I had depicted. She included a nice note thanking me for writing what I had. She talked about how much she loved and missed these three men.
When I came across it, I stopped cold. I think I stared at it for a good 20 minutes. And it took me an hour before I could figure out how to reply. I’ve gotten several such emails. Another fellow sent me photos of himself at the site of the battle in 1968, and of when he went back two years ago with his kids. There have been more such messages. If I ever doubted the power of writing before, I don’t now.
Of course, not all my writing is going to be so impactful. Most of it is just for fun. But this experience did leave me with a deeper understanding of the extent to which writing can cut deep and reach into someone’s heart. In short, I do take it all more seriously now.
I had been writing my first novel for years. More than a decade, off and on, actually. When I finally finished it – when the edits were all in, the cover was done, the proofs had arrived and all was ready to go, when I hit the “publish” button at Amazon and CreateSpace, I felt a moment of excitement and fulfillment and satisfaction that was a rare and special moment in my life.
Followed immediately by abject terror and an impending sense of horrible failure.
I’m going to answer this question twice because of the way it was worded.
The first story I ever published was a Harry Potter fan-fiction that I wrote and posted on FanFiction.net back in college. I consider this to be my first technical publication because it was a complete story that I published for other people to read. At that time I was pretty excited in a giddy way because this was the first time that perfect strangers were reading and commenting on something that I wrote. Better yet, people seemed to actually really like it, so it was a pretty major thrill and actually helped me start getting back into writing seriously.
The first time I published a novel was when I decided to take the self-publishing route and submitted my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide“, to CreateSpace.com. It started out as super-stressful because I had to figure out all the stuff that a publisher would normally handle, like formatting and cover design. When I managed to figure out all that stuff and ordered a copy to make sure it was all good my stress turned to nervous excitement. What would it look like? Had I done the formatting properly? I couldn’t wait to find out. Then my parcel finally showed up, and I could scarcely contain myself. I was so happy with it that I could have cried. It may not have looked 100% professional, but it looked like a book, like something you could actually find sitting on a shelf in Chapters or Barnes & Noble. It was properly formatted, the pages were crisp, and my Photoshop-created cover actually looked better than I’d expected it to. I was absolutely ecstatic, and within half an hour of inspecting that first print copy I had the book available for sale on CreateSpace and Amazon, soon to be followed by Kindle. And I never looked back!
When I received the acceptance email on the first short story I sold, I had to read it twice. I’d grown so used to rejections that I had to make sure I wasn’t just misreading the email before I let myself get excited. Holding my story in print was a big positive boost. Now, I have a book coming out this fall. I’m quite looking forward to holding an entire book of my own work in my hands.
I imagine fan fare, streamers, and lots and lots of confetti. I imagine posters of my cover, flyers in everyone mailbox and big paycheck in mine. That’s how imagine it. Will that be how it actually happens? I doubt it, but wouldn’t it be nice?
Amazing. My first story was published at a small e-zine, but it felt like National Geographic published it! I told everyone about it, plastered the site all over the web. I glowed for days. That year for Christmas I gave everyone small fruitcakes, in honor of my short story The Fruitcake.
Scary and exciting. I couldn’t wait for reviews to start coming in.
Kind of a relief, but kind of an annoyance that I couldn’t thereafter correct any errors. I’d pitched the book around for a while without any takers, and finally decided to just self-publish it so that I could move on with the series (and my life), but the urge to go back and edit — especially now that I’m on the fourth book and have learned so much — is always there, making me wonder if I published too soon. Granted, the first book had gone through so many years of revisions that it was a Frankenstein’s monster enough without another go, but still… Mostly though, I was happy to have it out of my hands at last.
While I haven’t published a novel yet, I have been published in a couple ways. On my official author’s blog/website, I’ve published parts of the prequel of my Ariadne series. These are free for anyone to read, but it is technically published by myself. I was a bit worried about how it would be received by people, but it’s been largely positive. That’s a bit of an ego boost!
I’ve also been published in an online travel magazine based in Singapore. I wrote weekly articles about travel in Japan, but it was also for free. I found it to be a good exercise in writing with a deadline, but ultimately moved on from it. I wasn’t particularly worried about it, as I’ve written many similar posts on my Japan blog for a few years now. It was basically more of the same with a larger potential readership.
As for when I finally publish my novel and short stories for people to buy, I’m going to be nervously checking and rechecking everything to make sure there are no mistakes. I’ll be publishing through Amazon and later Createspace, as well as other platforms. The moment it goes live, I will be nervous, I think. And I’ll be celebrating my first sale. And then my first review. And my second sale. And my first bad review. And my first paycheque. Actually, I don’t know how I’ll feel at these moments, but I’m anticipating it a lot.
How about you?
If you’ve published a book, how did you feel when it became available for purchase? If you haven’t published, but plan to, how do you think you’ll feel? Let us know in the comments below.