Dear Lucky 13s,
So. You're freaking out, amirite? I know I was at this time last year.
Blog tours, bookmarks, blurbs, OH MY!
It's perhaps the most exciting time of your life. Your dream is coming true. Anything could happen. Sky's the limit--starred reviews, bestseller lists, adoring letters from fans *sigh*. Conventions. Cocktails with rockstar authors. School visits. Maybe even some writing in there, somewhere.
Maybe you're wondering how you'll get it all done. You feel as though all eyes are on you... people watching your every move on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads. Will you be the next one to say the wrong thing, to blow up the internet and land on everyone's Will Not Ever Ever Read EVARRRRRRR lists? Will your book... gulp... flop? Will Barnes & Noble decide not to pick it up? Will you get another book deal?
I can't answer these questions for you.
The truth is, no one can.
Last year, about a week after Slide was released, I attended the Romantic Times convention in Chicago. I was super excited because I was finally going to meet some authors I'd only known on the internet up until then. I curled up on the couch in Cynthia Hand's hotel room and vented about all of the numbers on Amazon and how would I know if my book was performing to expectations and OMG I had to write revisions and promote my book and figure out a new book idea all at the same timelksjdflaksdjflaskdjflskdfj... I think I freaked her out a little.
So I know where you're coming from. I do. I really do.
I went through a phase where I'd click on Slide's Amazon page every hour to see if my ranking had changed. Then I'd click on other books' pages to see THEIR rankings. That way lies madness, my friends. DO NOT COMPARE. Especially on Amazon--those numbers are so volatile, just one little sale can improve your ranking by thousands, but it doesn't last. Your ranking can get worse just as fast. The best thing is to just not look, or only to look about once a week. If you enroll in the Author Central program, you can get an idea of how your sales are doing. I definitely saw a bump when I went on tour, but that's about the only promotional thing that really changed my numbers at all. After a while, I just stopped remembering to look, and I think that's for the best.
Goodreads reviews. Some people don't read them at all. I did. Compulsively. But then I realized my reaction to them had more to do with MY MOOD than what the reviewer said. If I'm in a pretty good mood, I can see a terrible review and just giggle. If I'm feeling bad already, those harsh words just intensify my feelings of insecurity. The moral of the story is: if you must read the reviews, make sure you're in a good place mentally. Even if you see a bad one, try to think, "Dude! That person READ MY BOOK! And posted about it on the INTERNET! And they're NOT MY MOM!" That's pretty cool, isn't it? If that doesn't work, crank up "TITANIUM" and work out for a while. You're bulletproof. Nothing can touch you. Well, words on the internet can't touch you, anyway.
Prepare for people to ask you about sales, to compare your book with TWILIGHT or HARRY POTTER, to ask when it's being made into a movie. Prepare for people to ask you for free copies of your book, to ask if you'll include them in the acknowledgments, to send you email addressed to other people requesting swag.
Prepare for the little girl who is too shy to come up to you at a signing but her mom tells you she's a big fan. Prepare for the letter from someone who just finished reading your book and thought it was the best thing ever. Prepare for your story to find a home in someone.
Good things will happen.
Bad things will happen.
The year will pass, and it will be everything, but nothing that you expected. You will still be you, with your cat's litter box to change and those pesky ten pounds you want to lose (well, now 20, after that last brutal revision), and bills to worry over (even if you're Stephen King, probably, though they're probably utilities for your summer home in the south of France and payments on your new Ferrari).
Enjoy 2013. It's a great year to debut, to spread your wings and fly. But if you feel a little scared, know that you're not alone and that it's not the end of the world if you falter. We are here to catch you.