So it’s been two months since I last posted here, and in those two months, I’ve had a second book come out AND hit the New York Times best seller list. Needless to say, it’s been a little, um, nuts. So what have I learned along the way? Here are a few things.
1) It doesn’t get easier. I swore to myself that I would be calmer, more collected this time around. Was I? Well, hmmm, uh, NO. I tried to be. I tried not to stress out over sales and call Ingram 100 times a day and wish that my agent were calling me four times, instead of just three times, daily, but none of this really happened. Sure, I was calmer in the sense of I knew what to expect, which is basically, nothing is ever going to be 100% as you’d like it to be when your book is released, but still, let’s level with each other: having a book come out is stressful. Period. No matter how often I tell myself that it’s not, it is. I will inevitably lose sleep and become a basketcase during the week’s leading up to a release, and the sooner I accept that, the better I’ll be to handle the anxiety.
2) A lot of a book’s success depends on luck. Authors might not want to hear this. We want to believe that we are firmly in control of our book’s destiny, but the simple truth is that some things, things that can make or break your book, will be completely out of your hands and in fate’s hands instead. (Or at least those of a really, really good publicist.) My book hit the Times’ list because, by chance, it happened to be reviewed in People and on The Today Show within days of each other. If one of these had happened during a different week, my sales would have likely been spread out rather than spiking, and I doubt I would have landed on the list. Pure luck. Plain and simple.
3) Not everything is about luck, of course. A lot of us out there like to believe that we can make our own luck, and to a certain extent, we can. I’ve spoken a lot on my blog about surrounding yourself with smart, talented, good people, and there is no doubt that my strategy of doing just that helped this book. My publicity and marketing team were tireless, tireless in the book’s promotion, and my agent has steered my career in a way that I couldn’t have without her. I think it is very, very critical to have a long-term plan for your career, and my agent and I always envisioned that this book would be bigger than my first, and that my third one would be the home run. We’ve charted out our stepping stones, intentionally moving imprints and working with the very, very best in the business because, as I always remind my blog readers, this career is not one of instant gratification. Slow and steady often wins the race, and we’ve kept that in mind – and tried not to get too greedy or anxious – along the way. Clearly, this has served to our benefit.
4) Being a best seller changes…not all that much. When I got the call that I hit the list, I started sobbing. OMG! A life-long dream come true!! So what did it mean, at least in the short-term? Well, other than a lot of congratulatory emails and some serious pride on behalf of my parents, not all that much. I imagined that they’d launch this huge advertising campaign or send me out for more readings/signings (this was actually discussed, but proved too difficult to coordinate over such a short period of time) or…I don’t know! I wasn’t really sure what to expect, only that it would be B.I.G. Well….reality check. Not really. Sure, the book is in its fifth print run and booksellers are still excited about it, but right now, that moniker of New York Times Best Selling Author hasn’t shifted the strategy for the hard cover. I know, I was surprised to learn this too. What it WILL shift, of course, is the tremendous push that the paperback will receive, and yes, the advance and push for my next book. Not instant gratification, but gratification never the less. As I said, this career is about building blocks. Each success leads to another until one day, you’re pretty high up and you look down, take in the view, and can see just how far you’ve come.