When your book baby grows up: Life after debut – Karma Brown

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By Karma Brown

It has been an amazing, hectic, pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming kind of year since my debut, Come Away With Me, published last August.♥

When people ask how my book is going, I usually laugh and reply, “Which one?” As I write this, I’m less than two weeks away from my second book, The Choices We Make, hitting shelves, am working on revisions for my third book (July 2017), and am still doing some promotion for my debut. Life is busy, but it’s a good problem to have. When you dream of being a novelist the idea of working on three contracted books simultaneously, is, well, a dream come true.

Being a debut author has taught me many things, not the least of which is that I still have a lot to learn. Here are just a few of my personal takeaways, nearly a year in:

  • It has been a year of unbelievable “firsts”: first book signing; first time holding a finished copy of my novel in my hands, which only a couple of years before was merely a word document on my laptop; first television interview as an “author”; first royalty cheque; first author event; first 5* review; first “I loved this book!” email.
  • My writing goals continue to shift and morph and move forward, and I’m now motivated to achieve things I hadn’t considered before.
  • I learned getting an email from your editor about hitting the bestseller list will make you burst into tears, in the car, at a stoplight on your way to your daughter’s riding lesson.
  • Becoming a bestseller and seeing my name on a list alongside authors I have long admired (like Margaret Atwood, Laurence Hill, John Irving) is as spectacular as you can imagine.
  • That the book business is tough, and I am constantly grateful for my thick skin.
  • There is no time to wait for the ever elusive “muse” to show up. Getting words down every day is the best way to ensure those writing muscles don’t atrophy.
  • That even amongst all the excitement you need to tuck that first book away so you can focus on your next story, which has its own book birthday looming and requires all your attention.
  • Other authors, bloggers, and book lovers will become your greatest advocates and supporters, and you’ll wonder how you ever made it through life without them.
  • That there is nothing – nothing – better than getting emails from readers telling you how much they loved your book, how much they cried reading it, and thanking you for writing the story.
  • You learn, somewhat painfully, that reviews are not for authors – they’re for readers. And the best thing you can do is to not read them, even the glowing ones, because there’s nothing like a one-star review to kill your writing mojo.
  • Deadlines can be scary things, but also incredibly necessary as bringing a book from sold to shelf is a giant undertaking, and everyone has to do their part in good time for it to happen.
  • There are no guarantees about how your book will be received. It may sell well, it may struggle to find its footing, it may only be enjoyed by a small but passionate set of readers, it may become a mega bestseller … but that doesn’t change the book, or the effort and love you put into writing it.
  • This job comes with cool perks, like book conferences, and sitting on panels with authors you love, and reading advanced copies of books before everyone else, and having the opportunity to work in your pjs at home if you want to.
  • That in many ways – however “cool” this job is – it is still a job, with deadlines and frustrations and tough days and failures and triumphs.
  • How knowing all this, I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe to go back and not read the less-than-stellar reviews. Life is too short for that nonsense.

Karma Brown is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of Come Away With Me (Mira/HarperCollins), who spends a lot of time writing in coffee shops. When not mulling plot lines, she can be found running with her husband, coloring (outside the lines) with her daughter, and perfecting her banana bread recipe. Karma lives just outside Toronto with her family. The Choices We Make (Mira/HarperCollins) is her second novel.


1 Comment

  1. Anne

    July 29, 2016 at 6:45 am

    What a wonderful post! Yes, to so much of this. My first book is coming out next week, and I want to print this out and read it to myself as needed. Thank you for this!

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