Careful what you wish for

By Joe Moore

When your first book was published, was the experience everything you dreamed it would be? For me, it was quite different than what I expected. In 2005, when I first walked into a national chain bookstore and saw my brand new novel on the new release table, it was a bananarush. I was proud. I felt like I was on top of the world. I couldn’t wait to see customers gather it up in their arms and rush home to read it. Then I stood back and watched as shoppers picked up my book, glanced at the back cover copy, and put it down with no more interest than in choosing one banana over another at the supermarket.

Didn’t they realize that book cost me 3 years of my life? How could they pass judgment on it within 5 seconds?

Reality set in. Not everyone will want to read my book. Not everyone will like it if they do read it. And I found out rather fast that once a book is published, the real work begins.

Today, I’m about to start (with co-author, Lynn Sholes) my eighth novel. My books have won awards, become bestsellers, and been published in many languages. And yet, every day I face the reality that the true test of my success or failure is what the customer does when they stand over that literary produce bin and pick what they think is the ripest banana. It’s about as scary as it can get.

As a full-time writer, I have the best job in the world. I would not trade it for anything. But a word to anyone dreaming of publishing their first book: be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

So when your first book came out, was it everything you dreamed of? And if you’re still working at getting that first banana out there, what are you dreaming it will be like?


Coming this spring: THE SHIELD by Sholes & Moore
Einstein got it wrong!

22 thoughts on “Careful what you wish for

  1. The moment I remember from my first book was walking through the stacks of new books at the downtown library, and finding my book on the shelf! Wow! I didn’t even know they had a copy. A musician friend said I must have felt as he did when he heard one of his songs on the radio for the first time.

  2. A Bother of Bodies is due out in June. I may have already mentioned this. It’s a mantra that keeps running through my head.

    I try to keep busy with the second one, and learning how to promote, but it’s inescapable. Released in June. Forgotten by July. Argh.

    Never mind. Head down, keep writing.

  3. I’m dreaming that, even if I have to keep teaching and writing and pulling out what hair I have left, that I might make enough that my wife can leave teaching if she wants. I think it would lower her stress level by 90% or more. Being a teacher in NC right now is…well, let’s just say there are a lot of reasons that a shitload of veteran teachers are going out of state or leaving the profession entirely.

  4. I am on the cusp. The next 90 days will tell me if I have a chance at trad pub or going indie.

    Of course, everyone wants the hit. I always say that if you can’t imagine yourself standing on the medal platform, then you need to get off the ice.

    Really? I hope to start generating a trickle of income and add to that with more trickles until it is something that is more than they occasional pizza or Happy Meal.

    Ask me again in about 90 days . . .


  5. A few weeks after I self-published my first book I was cycling home and I realized that I’d earned £75 that day from my novel.

    That was a nice moment.

  6. Joe, I’m really enjoying editing THE SHIELD! What a riveting story! Readers are going to love it! Waiting in eager anticipation for the third section from you and Lynn! 🙂

  7. The best moment was the first fan letter. It was pre-internet so it was handwritten from an elderly lady in Maine. I still have it. She wrote every year, every book, after that until she died two years ago. I miss her.

  8. I have yet to experience the feeling, but hope to in late September of this year.

    In the meantime, I’m developing a business plan, and working on the next book.

    Frankly, I’m scared to death that no one is going to pick up this banana, even though it’s a fine banana (even if I do say so myself, but others are saying it, too). How does it get discovered? Who, other than I/me, is going to “talk it up?” I hate promotion, especially self-promotion, even though I believe in the “product.” I will do it because it must be done, and I’ll do the best I can at it, but that doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy most of it. Grrr!

    • Sheryl, you have the right outlook on this process. If you don’t ring your own bell, no one else will. Just remember that self-promotion is pretty much the same whether you indie publish or go the traditional route. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  9. I’m closing in on my first one, too. I want to have a bell installed that will ring upon every sale. I’d sit there on the edge of my seat staring at the thing all day long.

  10. It was mostly everything I dreamed of.***

    Best thing that happened to me yet though was last Friday. My wife and I were looking at RVs, considering getting one to do some travelling, making it my writer’s cottage on wheels.
    As we were looking we ran into our son’s swim coach and his wife. The coach introduced us to his wife and when she heard my name her jaw dropped and eyes got wide.

    “Basil Sands,” she said to her husband, staring at me, “You mean…”

    “Yes, honey,” he replied. “That one.”

    She went on to explain she’d listened to all of my novels in audiobook format, a couple of them twice, and couldn’t wait to see what happened to Kharzai next.

    That made my day.

    *** While I will say that my first release was most of what I dreamed of, since it did not include the pig, the wombat, or the moose and when it hit the digital shelves I was not suddenly able to fly on my own power. Therefore I must admit it was not everything I dreamed it would be.

    …but it still wasn’t bad.

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