Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

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How a writer feels when her first book is released

The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer, I’ll admit.

I can’t tell you how all writers feel. I can just tell you how I do.

Today is the day my very first published book will be released. I now have things that I’ve dreamed of having since I was in grade school–a publisher, an editor, and (hopefully) an audience.

It’s surreal.

Even though today is the day The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leaveย is officially for sale, people have been reviewing it for over a month, mostly thanks to my publisher, who distributed those handy advance copies. Here’s my early impressions of what it’s like to go from unpublished to published.

It’s an oddย feeling to know strangers are reading your work

Not friends. Not family. Or well-meaning beta readers. Even when you send your work to critique groups, you know most of the critics. You usually know exactly how tough they’re going to be.

Not so reviewers. You don’t know if someone is going to be in a bad mood when they pick up your book, or hate the fact that you have a publishing deal and they don’t. Maybe they’ll just hate the topic of your novel, or the level of violence, or the fact that your antagonist is a cursed stuffed panda, because they have a soft spot for stuffed pandas. It’s not something you can prepare for.

I’ve found that old adage, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” is the most you can do. But I admit I still flinch whenever I see a new review on Goodreads–that’s the “preparing for the worst” part of me.

People will be wonderful, but not always the ones you expect

In addition to my writers’ group, my boyfriend, and my closest friends, the people who have been the most supportive–and incredibly, unbelievably so–have been the friends I’ve made online. One woman reviewed my book and gave me feedback on two other manuscripts, simply because we hit it off on Facebook. Another has worked her butt off helping me make connections in the industry and get reviews, and I’m still not sure why, beyond the fact that she’s a fabulous person. The amazing family that is Samhain Horror has astounded me with their constant support and encouragement–these are all writers who hadn’t heard of me just a few months ago (a few weeks, in some cases).

But others, including people I’ve been in writers’ groups with, friends, and former co-workers, haven’t managed so much as a, “That’s nice.” I’d heard the same from other authors, and all I can advise is not to expect anything from anyone, as difficult as that might be sometimes. That way you won’t be disappointed. At the very least, focus on the ones who support you and forget about the ones who couldn’t be bothered. It’s human nature to focus on the negative, but it won’t do you any favours.

It’s a little anticlimactic…and a bit of a relief

My book is on the market today, but pre-orders have been available for over a month, so it feels like there’s already been a lot of watching sales numbers and doing interviews and writing guest posts and soliciting reviews. Now that the big day is finally here, I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t feel any different from the days before it. But part of that’s my fault–I didn’t plan a launch-day celebration.

My advice? Plan something special, even if it’s a simple lunch with a friend. You only have your first publishing experience once.

It opens doors

This book has already accomplished two amazing things for me–I was able to write a post for Chuck Wendig’sย Terrible Mindsย blog (swoon!) and I was welcomed into an amazing community of horror writers.

I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I do know that I’m ready to unleash this bear upon the world. To everyone who pre-ordered a copy, wrote a review, invited me on their blog, and otherwise encouraged and cheered me on, thank you so much.

A writer is nothing without her friends

That one almost goes without saying.

 

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

35 Comments

  1. Wow! that is awesome! congrats on publication day, amazing what you said about the people who help are the ones unexpected, so true, in many walks of life too, I guess that’s how we humans operate O-O and OMG! some people can really hate the book because they love stuffed pandas. As for opening doors that is a part I hope to be lucky at when I publish something in the future. This post is loads of wisdom, all the good luck in life, and please keep that bear away from me I have enough troubles in my life already.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Haneen! Well, I made up the part about people hating my book because they love stuffed pandas, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens.

      I’m glad you found some insight worth remembering in this post, and don’t worry…Edgar is safely confined within the pages of my book–or is he? (Insert evil laugh here.)

      Reply
  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy for you and wish you all the best…good reviews, lost of sales, and tons of support. If you want to do a guest post on my blog, email me. I have every Friday in July open. You can check the “Be My Guest” tab at the top of my blog to see what I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Chrys, and congrats on your two big launches as well! This is a huge launch week for so many authors.

      I would love to be a guest on your blog! That would mean a lot to me, especially since I’ve been reading it for so long. I’ll be in touch.

      Reply
      • Great! I am looking forward to hearing from you. ๐Ÿ˜€

        Reply
  3. Congratulations!!!

    As someone who doesn’t celebrate accomplishments nearly enough, I am asking you to PLEASE do something to mark this occasion and thoroughly enjoy it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Madeline! Yeah, it’s kind of sad. I’m home alone with the kitties today…I don’t really know what I should do to celebrate, but I definitely should have planned better.

      I am going out for dinner on Thursday. Does that count?

      Reply
  4. I am absolutely thrilled for you! You have put in so many hours and words to make this dream come true. *hugs* *champagne* I picked up my copy and look forward to dozens more books from you.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Elle! I couldn’t have done it without you. You have been an amazing friend, both in writing and in life.

      Reply
  5. I always knew this day would come for you–but that doesn’t keep it from being the most exciting, wonderful, super cool and thrilling news. Cheers to your talent, your huge work ethic, your amazing attitude–and the many more launch days of your future!

    p.s. It’s not too late to plan something special to celebrate. I think you need launch day sushi!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Ev, and thanks for being my friend through it all. A lot has changed since we first met on iVillage.

      Hmm…launch-day sushi sounds like a great idea.

      Reply
  6. Holli, I am so very, very happy for you. And very proud for you, too. Congratulations again.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Jan! I’m so glad we’ve managed to stay friends all these years. Your support and encouragement has meant so much to me.

      Now we just need to work on you. You know Samhain has a romance line, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Reply
  7. This is an exhilarating day for you! That and one with a pinch of terror, too. I understand. The thing is it never becomes easier. Would you like to be featured in my Hats Off Corner May 11? I have that spot open. My blog could use a dash of suspense.

    Reply
    • JH

      I would love to, Lee! Thanks so much for the kind offer. I’m very happy I discovered you during the A to Z.

      Today is very surreal. I feel a bit weepy…not sure why.

      Reply
  8. Congratulations! I didn’t know your book was coming out today. That’s awesome.
    Most of my co-workers don’t really know or acknowledge that I have four books out. You just have to be prepared for a lack of support in some areas.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, that’s for sure, Alex. The one that has hurt the most is a friend I was in several writing groups with, but oh well. Onwards and upwards!

      And thanks very much for the kind words and for starting the IWSG. That group has helped me so much. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  9. Hooray hooray hooray. I’m so happy for you Holli. Congratulations. This was an interesting post as well. I love reading about the ups and downs that writers go through at each stage of the process. It will be interesting to see where you are a year from now with all these new relationships forming. Good luck on getting a set of reader FANs. (Won’t that be cool?)

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, it would be amazing. So far, all I’ve heard from are reviewers and reviewer-friends. It will be interesting if I start actually hearing from bookworms who pick up my Bear.

      Thanks for all the kind words and the support, Bonnie…through the A to Z Challenge and beyond. I’m very glad I met you at SiWC!

      Reply
  10. Great post! I can’t wait to experience this myself. Congratulations. I’m so happy for you and looking forward you reading it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Tee! I hope you like it.

      And keep pushing…it will happen. God knows this was a LONG time coming for me.

      Reply
  11. This sums it up perfectly. I think because so many of our online friends are fellow writers, only we truly understand what an accomplishment it is. My real-world friends were impressed, but I don’t think they really understood it. Maybe they thought it was easy to get published? I don’t know.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the part about a launch party. I thought it had to be in a bookstore and involve big crowds, but it doesn’t. You can have a launch party in your own home, a restaurant…wherever. It’s important to think of it as a celebration, not a book signing. Book signings bring even more pressure! We celebrated by going to dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with my parents. Only time in my life I’ll pay $250 for dinner! (That was just for mine and my husband’s, by the way.)

    Reply
    • JH

      Wow, that’s awesome, Stephanie! You deserved every bite–I hope it was a memorable dinner.

      As it turns out, I’m now going for dinner tonight and just received some gorgeous flowers! With that and all the love online, it does feel like a special day after all.

      I think online writing friends do understand the excitement more than most, but I’ve also met the most awesome people in the world online…people like you. Thanks for commenting! <3

      Reply
  12. I couldn’t be happier for you, Holli. You deserve all good things that come your way, and on your next release, you can have a huge launch party. ๐Ÿ˜€ I know there are even bigger and better things coming your way.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Dawn, and thank you for all your amazing support and encouragement! I feel so lucky we met.

      I really hope you’re right!

      Reply
  13. Congrats on your book.
    I have to say pre-order does kill the excitement a bit. Not much though. The people who bought it early will now finally get to read it. So that’s exciting and scary.

    Reply
    • JH

      So right on both counts, Patricia! Thanks for commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  14. Holli – I’m so very very happy for you! You are always so thoughtful in your comments even to complete strangers, that karma owes you some seriously good fans!

    GO celebrate!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Hannelene! I try to do everything I can to bring some happiness into other people’s days. As a blogger and a writer, I know how difficult it can be to go without comments or feedback.

      I really appreciate your kind words!

      Reply
  15. Congratulations! It’s a beautiful thing, living your dream.

    Reply
    • JH

      What a beautiful comment, Samantha. I wish I could frame it.

      Reply
  16. Woohoo! Congratulations! I’m so happy and excited for you and wish you the absolute best success for you and your book. Treat yourself to something nice and enjoy the moment. You only publish your first book once. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Sara! I ended up going out for dinner and getting TWO bouquets of flowers. It was a good day. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  17. I don’t know how I missed this post yesterday, probably because I was too busy reading the book! You’re probably tired of hearing me say this but I am so happy for you and you did an excellent job. I look forward to many more titles in my J.H.Moncrieff collection!

    Reply
    • JH

      I’ll never get tired of hearing that, Frank! Thanks so much for reading and for leaving me such a great review. I really appreciate your friendship and support.

      Reply

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