Two years ago, I sold a novel but had no idea what was going to happen next--fame, fortune, an appearance on Letterman? In order to prepare myself, I started messing around online in order to learn what authors did after stage one of the publication processes. Did they throw themselves a year long party? Did they have to wear disguises when they went to bookstores to keep their fans from hounding them? As it turned out, the biggest lesson I learned was that I was a pretty naïve little writer.
A friend of a friend of a friend of mine who I went to for help suggested I join a group called The Class of 2K9, which actually started as the Class of 2K7. There is also a fabulous class of 2K8 and the new one, originally enough, is called the Class of 2k10. 2K10’s membership includes people who are potentially as clueless as me about what they have gotten themselves into, but through trial, error, some joking around, and division of labor, they, like we 2K9ers, are bound to make discoveries and learn how to handle the ins and outs of debut authorship. They will probably wind up as friends, too, and in this industry, and the busy life you need to stay afloat, that’s a real plus.
I think self-promoting stinks. The best thing about group marketing is that it doesn’t feel emotionally selfish. But my most personal reason for appreciating my 2K9 membership is that in 2004, when I was 39 years old, I lost 50% of my hearing. Silence is great for the writing process and I still enjoy yapping (loudly) with family and close friends, yet it is much much much harder than it was to connect with new people and make business relationships (even with hearing aids). In order to schmooze or even hang out with coworkers gossiping by the water cooler, I need to shout, a lot, and sometimes that is just embarrassing.
I feel especially connected to my 2K9 classmates because of how much they extended themselves electronically, for how close we became even without needing to verbally interact, for the opportunities like bookstore readings they created that I would have had difficulty securing on my own.
“Hello Mr. Bookstore owner, I would like to set up a reading.”
“What do you write?”
“I can’t do it tonight.”
“What?!” (You get the drift.)
When our 2K9 year ended, I think each of us felt gratitude for how often someone else stepped in to do the small things we felt personally challenged by—solving technical problems, leading charges, speaking with librarians, distributing swag.
At the end of 2009, we were teary about the end of our year together and unhappy about losing the mutual support. Someone suggested we start a new blog and keep on posting since we were still writing each other anyway about new projects, contracts, industry things we were discovering that we wanted to share. We still have all our personal challenges which may or may not be part of the bigger story too. To be honest, this second year of published authorship already feels like almost as big a mystery as the first.
For example, maybe I missed something along the way. What was it authors are supposed to wear on Oprah? The gold tube top or the silver spangles? Does the gold tube top make me look fat?