I was living in Las Vegas, Nevada, getting ready for work when I received THE CALL from my New York agent. Ballantine wanted to buy my book. After years of trying, I made my first sale. That moment was one of the memorable in my life, right up there with the birth of my two children (not quite, but almost).
From that heady moment in 1997, I continued writing. I never became Danielle Steel or Norah Roberts, but I sold a lot of books and developed a following of fans who liked my work. That’s the good part. The not-so-good part was, my worries weren’t over. Was that first book just a one-time fluke? Even after publishing the second, third, fourth, etc., there was always that little doubt I would ever publish again. You never know, especially in this crazy, ever-changing world of publishing.
I also discovered being a successful author equates to lots of hard work. It’s not all that glamorous. Before I got published, I would have sold my soul for a two- or three-book contract with Signet. When it actually happened, I discovered the downside.
Everyone’s out having fun, and (sob!) there I am, chained to my computer, trying to make my deadline.
Sales and readers opinions make up the most traumatizing part of being an author. This torturous facet of writing comes in several forms. What author doesn’t check her book rankings on Amazon? The lower the ranking, the more we check. If it drops below one hundred, (Oh, the excitement!) it changes hourly, so we’re wasting half our day watching those magical numbers go up and, hopefully, down. I’ve told myself to stop checking, but I can’t. It’s like telling myself to stop after one potato chip. Cannot be done.
The Amazon Select program occasionally causes me grief. Since I sell some of my old Regencies myself, I’m constantly checking the sales figures. How many sold, how many returned! It doesn’t happen often, but when I see a mark in the “returned” column, I agonize. OMG! WHO SAW FIT TO RETURN MY BOOK AND WHY? I have no way of knowing. Best scenario: the buyer clicked the “buy” button by mistake. Worst scenario: Book was so terrible, reader wanted money back.
Reader reviews are the most traumatizing of all. I’ve received a lot of them. The good ones warm my heart. I even appreciate the not-so-good ones, too, if they’re well-written and thoughtful. But occasionally, I, or one of my writing friends, receive a nasty, stinging review full of vitriol. We writers are sensitive souls, so those awful reviews can be devastating. A friend of mine gave up writing for two years because of one, and this was for a well-written book that had received nothing but raves. Thank goodness, there aren’t many mean-spirited readers in this world. Here’s a message to those who are: If you’ve had a bad day, please don’t take it out on some poor writer who poured her heart and soul into the book you’re about to trash.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a writer. I love the thought that people are reading (and hopefully enjoying) my books, not only in the U.S.A. but around the world. It doesn’t get any better than that.