By: Joelle Charbonneau
The last couple of days have been a bit surreal. On Friday, the trailer my publisher created for THE TESTING was revealed on EW.com. Um…wow! (Entertainment Weekly? I mean, that’s just…yikes. I don’t even have words to describe how stunned I was to learn that was happening. In addition to the trailer, the website, thetestingtrilogy.com went live and the e-book prequel has been released. I’ve also had bracelets that say THE TESTING delivered to my door as well as a glimpse of all sorts of other cool stuff the PR and Marketing teams are planning for the release on June 4th.
To say I am delighted is an understatement. To say I am scared is even more of one.
Every book that publishes brings worry and angst. Will readers like the book? Will they hate it? Will anyone ever want to read anything by me again? This Tuesday, END ME A TENOR (Glee Club Mystery #2) will hit bookstore selves and I am gnawing my fingernails off as I wait to hear if readers once again connect with my heroine Paige and her colorful supporting cast.
But those nerves don’t compare to the ones that I feel when I think about The Testing launch.
I am scared.
I love my publisher. I love this trilogy of books. I did my utmost to write the best stories I could and am so fortunate that my editor and everyone at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt believe in this series with such incredible passion. It is an author’s dream.
But as wonderful as it is, I am scared.
Getting a book published was my first dream as a writer. I wanted to see my name on a book. I wanted to see that book on the shelf of a store or in a library or even more exciting in the hands of a reader sitting on a park bench somewhere. My second goal as an author was to make a moderate career out of it. Maybe be able to publish two books a year. To make a financial contribution to our family with my writing and maybe…just maybe hang around as a midlist author for a while.
My expectations as an author weren’t huge. I wanted them to be realistic. And in many ways they were one important thing –safe.
Each time a book is read by a reader, authors put a piece of themselves on the line. And in the age of social media and blogs where everyone says anything they feel, authors (whether they want to or not) are forced to see and face the reaction of those readers. The more notice a book gets, the more push by the publisher and buzz it receives the more vocal readers are. And people often forget that their words can bring the highest of highs with their praise or feel like attacks and bring an author down low.
With the release of the trailer of The Testing, I have gotten a small glimpse of what might be coming. The first comment on EW.com was someone who was angry that the author quote on the cover said readers of Hunger Games would like it. On facebook, I watched my friends post the link to the trailer only to have their friends say that I had clearly ripped off other books and that I probably didn’t deserve to be published.
And the ride is just beginning.
I don’t want anyone to think this post is about wanting sympathy or pats on the back or even a hug. (Although I like hugs. I wouldn’t turn one down!) I am the luckiest girl ever to have this opportunity and to have the full weight of a publishing team behind me. No, this isn’t about feeling sad or unhappy or wanting people to be nice to me. (Again…I like when people are nice, but I can take my licks like anyone else and get up to fight again.) This is a post I needed to write because I have now seen several sides of publishing and am continuing to learn how to deal with the aspects I have seen.
As authors, we often talk about the choices we need to make for our careers. We discuss whether we want to self-publish, traditionally publish, have an agent, control every aspect of our book or search for channels to aid us in publication. People discuss how to find readers and promote their titles. There are lots of discussions about monetary compensation for authors. How much should a book cost? How much should an author hope to make? How much should authors spend on promotion? What are the best books for editing? What is the best method to improving our craft?
But something I have realized more and more as the release of The Testing grows closer is that as authors we often forget to talk about the emotional cost that comes with publishing a book. It’s natural for us to want people to like the work we have done. Clearly, we did or we wouldn’t have written the story. But while we want people to like what we have written, there will always be those who do not. Some will love what we have created. Others will attack it from every side. And the higher and bigger the release, the more those attacks will come.
So while an author needs to improve their craft and learn the business, one of the most important things perhaps an author can do is develop a very thick skin and the ability to turn off Google Alerts. Ego is often a dirty word, but an author needs one every time a book is released. Rejection is hard at any point in a career. If this is going to be your career…if this is going to really be mine for the long haul…building armor against the naysayers is perhaps the most important thing that can be done.
I loved writing The Testing. I love my publisher for believing in it. I loved watching the trailer…it’s pretty darn cool. And in the months ahead, I will prepare myself for this interesting and incredibly fortunate turn that my career has taken. The book could succeed. The book could fail. But I will grow the armor I need to appreciate every moment of the ride.
And if I’m really, really lucky, there will be readers who will enjoy it with me.