Monday, November 5, 2012
By Erin Cashman
I began my writing career in elementary school, always jotting down stories and poems. It has always been my dream to be an author, but my father encouraged me to go to law school, so that I could support myself. I took his advice, and stopped writing anything except legal briefs and memos for several years. And then one night I had the strangest dream about a family of vampires. I just had to write it down. I finished it a year later, and sent it off to agents and publishers, certain I would realize my dream and become an author. Boy was I wrong. After Twilight, romance vampire stories were in demand, not middle-grade adventure ones. And then I wrote another middle grade adventure novel, about a long lost Irish treasure. This one would certainly be published, I thought. Wrong again. And then I wrote The Exceptionals. I sent it out to only ten people; pretty certain it would not be published. A few weeks later I had an agent and a publisher, both from those ten letters! So after years of writing, and two novels behind me, I was finally going to be a published author. Third time was a charm! I was elated.
Two years and several drafts later, my novel was finally finished. April 1, 2012 was the publication date. (The fact that it was April Fools Day should have been a warning!) In December I received my advanced reader copy in the mail. And then I realized I better get on facebook (I know, about a year later than I should have!) and create a website. I contacted bloggers and offered an advanced reader copy of The Exceptionals for their giveaways. I scheduled a pre-publication blog tour, and had a strategy in place -- for the next two months I was going to do everything within my power to get The Exceptionals as much pre-release publicity as I could. Soon The Exceptionals was available online for pre-order, and all of my friends did just that. This was really happening!
Bursting with excitement, I painstakingly planned my release day. A fabulous independent bookstore offered to host a release party on April 1. A friend offered to make hawk shaped cookies (after Ferana, an important character from the book). Following that would be a nice dinner with my family. It was going to a perfect day. On February 1, I was at work doing some legal research when I received about a dozen emails from friends and family. Their copy of the The Exceptionals had shipped! That just couldn’t be, I thought, it won’t be available until April 1. I had two months to get ready for the release, two months I needed to help promote the book!
Frantic, I emailed the only other author I had ever been in contact with, Julie Wu, who had already been very generous with her time and advice. She quickly emailed her author group – Book Pregnant – on my behalf. Had anyone heard of this? No. The next day my agent called and delivered the news: nothing could be done. The book was now available.
What did I do? I cried and felt so sorry for myself. But the next day I woke up and thought, Right now I am officially a published author. It may not have happened how I had planned, but I had realized my dream, and I should be thrilled. For years and years I worked hard, on three different novels, and I was so fortunate to finally be published. And then I met Julie for lunch, and she invited me to join Book Pregnant. I did, and immediately I was flooded with congratulations and well wishes on my release. It’s hard to believe it was only nine months ago, because the authors of book pregnant have become very important to me. It’s such a supportive community. We share each other’s successes, but more importantly, the disappointments.
Authors don’t control very much. They don’t pick their release date, they certainly can’t control what reviewers write, or what readers think. Often, authors don’t have control over their covers – sometimes even their titles! They work tirelessly on their manuscripts, edit again and again, and then, if they are very lucky, one day hold their published book in their hands. And then it’s up to everyone else to decide if it’s good or bad, worth reading or not. As exhilarating as it is to see your book in print, it’s scary, too. First time authors often have many questions (me more than most!), some highs and plenty of lows. Having others to ask questions to, go to for advice, vent – and know that no matter what, they are always in your corner, has been a blessing.
So in retrospect, I am glad that I debuted two months early. If I hadn’t, I probably would not be in Book Pregnant. I may have lost out on some pre-publicity buzz, but what I gained is far more important.