Author Guest Post: Joy Preble
So here’s the truth about my year as a debut author. If it wasn’t for the internet, I don’t know where I’d be. Or rather, I do know. I’d be nowhere near as sane as I am. Possibly this is not saying much. The whole idea- to- shelf journey can take a toll on a person. My hair dresser can certainly vouch for that each time I keep asking her to add a few more highlights. But if there’s one thing I really do know for sure, it’s that the internet has been my lifeline.
About a year ago, I joined forces with twenty other debut authors. We call ourselves the Class of 2k9, following after our predecessors, the Classes of 2k7 and 2k8. And here’s the cool thing. Although most of us have now met face to face at one event or another, we began as strangers on line. The thread that joined us was that we were all first time children’s authors with books coming out from major publishers and we all knew that we needed help figuring this thing called publication out. Beyond that, we had no idea what we might or might not have in common. Were we married? Single? Straight? Gay? Where did we live? What did we like to do? What were our books about? Honestly, we had no idea. And I think because of that, or maybe because of the crazy competitive nature of this business (although let me interject here that children’s authors are in general some of the most generous spirited folks I’ve ever met), there were a few initial bumps early on. We argued a little. Sometimes about important stuff. Sometimes not. Some people left. Others took their place. We were talking on line and getting group publicity set up and feeling our way through this huge thing we’d never done before. Some of us were with large publishers. Some – like me – with smaller ones. No one knew what to expect – either of the process or of each other. And like everything on line – you had to go a bit on faith that this voice on the page was an honest reflection of the person who went with it.
And along the way, something miraculous happened. The twenty one of us that stuck became friends. And if you’ve never made friends on line, you might not believe that, but it’s true. Real friends, as close in many ways through our cyber chat as though we were actually seeing each other each day.
Now it’s time for the last quarter of our debut year. For the most part without seeing each other (and with great joy when we do) we have maintained a crucial presence in each other’s lives and yes, success and definitely sanity. There’s such a brutal learning curve in publishing. Okay, I guess that’s true for lots of jobs. But I’ve felt here more than anywhere else. Just the balancing act alone – juggling family, day job, writing, revisions, publicity, and most of all the transition from private citizen to much more public person. Without my online community, I would be lost. (For that matter, I’d be lost without my other online communities as well. Verla Kay’s Blueboards were invaluable to me just starting out. Networking on Facebook helps me get the word out. I’m even tweeting with greater regularity and yes – despite the fact that Publicist Paul had to nudge me into the Twitterverse, and by nudge, I mean swift kick to the hind end – enjoying that, too. I mean let’s face it – it’s not like I can sit at the lunch table in the teacher’s lounge and say, “Hey, do Amazon rankings really mean anything? Can anyone demystify them for me?” or “How many author copies are you getting?” Because honestly, all anyone ever responds with there, even if they’re my very best friends, is something along the lines of, “So. Do you think you’ll be the next JK Rowling?” Which, while supportive, sort of, is not particularly helpful.
Internet? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Thanks Joy for that great guest post! You can check out Joy’s debut novel Dreaming Anastasia on September 1, 2009!