This can be a big topic. I had several stages and amazing feelings when my books first sold and when I saw them on a book shelf at stores all over town and online. My first autograph.
But the one I will share with you today is when I received my first cover flats from HarperCollins. I had them sitting on my coffee table. As I stared down at them, still stunned to see them for the first time, my husband walked in on me. He picked them up and grew very quiet. You could hear a pin drop. I didn’t know what he would say or if he knew what they were (the format is not like a real book), but I didn’t want to put words in his mouth.
He finally looked at me and with tears in his eyes, he said, “My God, you’re going to be in a library.” That simple realization hadn’t dawned on me. I usually tried downplaying the events because I was in it for the long haul and wanted a writing career, but my best friend husband always knew how to draw emotions out of me. He hugged me and I finally broke down and cried–my first real celebration since I’d sold. I had put so much passion and hard work into achieving this moment and he knew it. He’d been there with me.
My advice now is to celebrate every step of the way. You’ll never get that moment back and you’ve earned it.
Please share what you felt or did when you first were published. We can all use good news stories.
You’re right that we never forget. My first thrill and sense of accomplishment came when I crossed the 10,000 word “threshold” while writing my first novel. I took a moment to let that wash over me, then went back to writing.
At 20- and 30,000, the thrill was less and the realization that I was actually writing a novel, one scene at a time (as you mentioned in your previous post).
When that first novel was out, I felt as if I’d channeled it, as if it wasn’t really from me. I celebrated, big. (grin) The next day I started the sequel. But now I knew I could do it.
My world changed that day almost five years ago, and it hasn’t been the same since.
Oops. I meant to write “the thrill that I was actually writing a novel one scene at a time [set in]….” (grin)
I love hearing about your inner confidence, Harvey. I could really relate to how you knew at 10,000 words that you were going to finish a novel. I smiled when you wrote about getting back to work as your celebration. You sound like me.
I’ve said to a number of new authors over the years–if you finish that first novel, you are an author whether you sell it or not. How many people can say they’ve written a novel? Only a very small percentage. We should find ways to recognize our accomplishments & celebrate the moments–no matter how we do it.
Thanks, Harvey. I love seeing you at the top of the comments to start the ball rolling for everyone. Have a good weekend.
Beautiful memory, Jordan. <3
When I received my first acceptance letter and contract, I glanced up from my computer, stunned. "I think I just scored a publishing deal."
In my mind, I'd envisioned marching bands, fireworks, an announcement on every radio station, block parties in my honor, the whole nine yards. Ha! It took several minutes for it to finally sink in that this was the day I'd been waiting for -- one glorious day that's forever etched in my memory.
No marching bands unless we make it happen. That’s why we need to find a way to celebrate our feats along the way-even if we’re the only one who can appreciate what it took. It’s not easy, right?
“Stunned” describes it perfectly, my fine friend.
What a beautiful story, Jordan! That’s better than the applause of 10,000 strangers.
I received an email at 10:30 on a Saturday night that my thriller, Instrument of the Devil, had been selected for publication. My husband and our good friend (a doctor who had saved my hubby’s life) were with me. After 30 years of near-misses and rave rejections, finally the dream was coming true. They were more excited than I was b/c after so many close calls, it didn’t feel real.
Finally, it became real when the first five-star review appeared on Amazon from someone I had never met. My friends had supported my writing for years but this was a total stranger who read my book and loved it. I’d reached an unknown reader and struck a chord with her. A sweet moment!
I loved that book. Congratulations, Debbie. You are the real deal, my friend.
There are days I feel like an imposter, the kid who found a sneaky way into the big circus tent. But there are other days when I trust the talent that got me noticed in the first place. Weird. Human nature.
What a validation that a third party invested in YOU…whether that means a reader buying & enjoying your book or a publisher adding your novel to their catalog.
I haven’t had the thrill yet of a novel being published, but I remember very clearly many, many years ago when my first article (a light-headed one about garage sales) was published in the KC Star’s magazine section. When I saw my name in print, I thought nothing could ever make me happier. I flew around the room on a cloud of joy. Then, while I was at a neighbor’s celebrating, a very sweet lady called the house and told my mother how much she enjoyed my story. She’d recently lost her husband and said it was the first time she’d smiled since he passed. Knowing that I had touched someone with my words, especially during such a sad time in her life…that was a feeling that surpassed everything, And there truly are no words to describe it.
Correction — that should be lighthearted (not headed) article. I didn’t get light-headed until after the phone call.
What a special story, Laurie. Thanks for sharing it. An author’s work starts with our craft but the story reaches people who complete our journey. Readers (like your phone call lady) have no idea how their efforts to reach you can mean so much. Amazing. What a kindness.
There will never be another moment like it. March 1, 1995, around 6 p.m.
I knew that my agent was shopping NATHAN’S RUN around New York, but I had read all about how long that shopping process could be. I had only had an agent for a week, so it was shocking to receive that call in my office, well after closing time while I was there alone and she called me. “HarperCollins made an offer on you book,” she said, and then she floated out a number that was easily ten times what I expected. Then she added, “So, of course I turned them down. That offer didn’t feel pre-emptive to me.”
I stood from my chair, ready to yell at her that she couldn’t do that, then she laughed and said, “They came back with . . .” That number was more than twice what I had earned cumulatively in my entire life then. I was 38. She closed with, “I hope you don’t mind that I accepted on your behalf.”
I went through multiple iterations of “Really?” and “Are you sure?”, which she found most amusing. She closed with, “You might want to call your wife. I dialed your home number first, so she’s probably hanging by the phone.
This is where it got interesting. When I called Joy to break the news, her first reaction was disbelief. “No,” she said. “You must have gotten it wrong. I mean, it’s a good book, but it’s not *that* good, is it?” I know, right? I had to arrange a conference call–which was no easy thing back with 1995 technology. I caught my agent before she left her office, then hooked her in with Joy, who went through the same iterations of “Really?” and “Are you sure?”
After that, the drive home was surreal. It doesn’t take to begin to wonder if you just imagined what had happened. I knew that my life had changed. All those bills we’d stacked up against money we’d borrowed no longer mattered. Our then 9-year-old son, Chris, could go to any college he wanted to. It’s hard to describe how difficult it is to wrap your head around stunningly good news.
When I got home, Joy met me in the garage as I pulled in. We war-whooped, hugged and went inside to dial Chris into the news. It was time to celebrate, but it was also getting late on a school night. We popped the cork on a bottle of Korbel champagne left over from New Year’s Eve, and splurged on the only snack in the pantry–cheese and peanut butter crackers.
I remember as we toasted, we talked about how we needed to drink the moment in, because nothing will ever be like this again.
What a great memory, John. It brought back memories of my first sale. It’s fun to share with family. They sure know what it took to get you there.
I remember the support I got from my close writing friends. While I got updates from my agent as an auction developed, I had no idea what I should do. Complete novice. My friends really talked me off the ledge of pulling the trigger as my agent negotiated & played chicken. Completely nerve-wracking.
You’re right about the whole experience being once in a lifetime. That first sale. Bet you never imagined that champagne would come in handy. Very special.
Wow, John, the perfect storm. Or whatever the opposite exciting thing is to “storm.”
You had that agent for only a week, which means she had the novel for only a week. The perfect novel meets the perfect agent meets the perfect publisher. Much-belated and serious congratulations to you.
Maybe “storm” is the correct analogy, complete with the perfect lightning strike. (grin)
What a great thread to keep me going today. Love the stories!!!
It never gets old to hear these stories. Thanks, Sheri.
I, too, have not yet written a novel although I have collected a huge file on what will, hopefully, become this first book.
However, I was “over the moon” when I received a call from an editor of our local newspaper, Times Union, accepting an article I wrote for the Sunday edition a few years ago. It was one of the first acceptances. Of course, I framed it:)
That’s a really good feeling, Frances. Congratulations. I hope you’ll write your book. Writing is a passion that keeps on giving.