It’s the day I can honestly say that I am a professionally published novelist. A real science fiction author.
I can remember signing that contract like it was yesterday, wondering if the release date would ever arrive, when would I get to see the cover art, or when would the ARCs go out to interested readers and publications. Now that the big day is here, I feel I have forgotten something, or there’s another task to complete, or I neglected to meet a deadline buried somewhere in my inbox. A writer’s life isn’t filled with celebratory toasts, pats on the back, or ticker tape parades, you know.
On my debut novel’s release day, all I can think about is: what comes next?
The obvious answer is to keep writing, keep submitting. But there are other considerations now. The way people view me, and the way I view myself.
It feels great to sign a copy of my book for someone, but it’s also strange. As my pen scratches my name on the title page, I try to think of clever, meaningful things to say. My cursive is horrible, so I have to print out the message, save for my signature at the end, which, despite practice, still resembles rejected characters from a chicken alphabet. Then it hits me that I really wrote this frigging thing, and I try not to screw up my signature.
Some of my relatives now say ‘hey, I know someone famous!’, but I merely grin and shake my head. I’m not a celebrity by any stretch, but it’s nice to think that anyone would think I’m cool now. I mean, one of my nieces Googled me, so that should mean something, right? Maybe I’ll get a Wikipedia page soon—the goal of all serious novelists.
I won’t know what fellow authors think unless they read my book, but we’re all part of the same club—one in which I can hold my head high, regardless of the novel’s success.
Some people may think ‘hey, you’ve made it!’, but no—all I did was climb a hill that allows me to actually see the mountain of challenges ahead. But the important thing is…now I know that I can climb.
So really, what is next?
I’ve already written both sequels to Inherit the Stars; one is in polished form, the other was written this past August. The story was always meant to be a trilogy, though the setting itself could be expanded in a second series. I have other science fiction and fantasy novels completed that I hope to get published, and I’m gearing up to write a brand new science fiction novel this month. I’d love to pen an epic fantasy saga down the road. There’s no end to the projects I have in mind.
Plus…I have more confidence now. No one can accuse me of pursuing a ‘thankless hobby’—which writing never was to me. Since I started writing seriously, it has always been, and remains, my passion. I have succeeded where many others have failed, and I know all too well just how special any success in this business is.
Now, I have business cards to pass out. I need to schedule myself for cons. I need to book some signings. My philosophy of ‘if you don’t regard yourself as a professional, then no one else will’ is now more important than ever. The pressure doesn’t go away simply because I achieved my first success.
Yet there is still much to celebrate. If writing were always a miserable enterprise, I wouldn’t do it. I love what I do. C’mon, you can order my book from Amazon, it’s on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and it got a nice nod from Publishers Weekly! It’s got a great cover and has the thickness of an epic. Wooo! Beyond such achievements, though, is the real release this day: it is the new me, no longer crippled by self-doubt and disillusionment. It is the start of a new chapter in my life, and my career. Inherit the Stars, indeed.
So…anyway. I can’t drink too much champagne, or sing out of tune to ‘We Are the Champions’ all night long. Remember: I’ve got another book to write.