As of Monday, August 20, 2012, I am a published author of fiction. My book, Calling Me Home, was released by Piper Pendo in German as "Zu zweit tut das Herz nur halb so weh."
How does it feel? Well, it feels rather exciting and rather odd all at once.
It's a dream come true, absolutely.
It's almost impossible to fathom that my book is in the hands of REAL readers—not just the editors, the booksellers, the early opinion makers, who are incredibly important, of course—but everyday readers who go to jobs that have nothing to do with publishing, perhaps reading fiction on their subway commutes or listening to an audio book in their cars, or stay-at-home parents who sneak in a few pages of reading between carpools and sports practices and caring for active children or fussy babies, or retired readers who enjoy the extra free time they have now to read book after book after book, like my mother. And anyone in between.
It's odd because I am at such a distance.
This debut book release is happening about 5,000 miles away. There are no friends popping in with cell phone shots of my book on store shelves to prove it really happened. There was no party with those who supported my journey at a local bookstore or restaurant, as will happen when it releases here in the United States. On my Facebook author page, I'm not beating folks over the head with frequent links to reviews or lists or other exciting tidbits of news surrounding the release. Additionally, the German book industry, while rich and deep both in finances and tradition, doesn't seem quite so caught up in the frenzy surrounding social media and networking and everything we've come to believe is so critical to a book's success or failure here.
My foreign agent shared that I would likely hear little for a month or so. In other words, the book must succeed on the merit of the story and the pre-publication efforts of my publishing company there. Also, in Germany, new books must be sold at the same retail price everywhere for a certain amount of time—allowing small bookstores to compete with large chains or online distributors. For more than a hundred years, Germany laws governing book pricing have been different from laws governing many other products because books are considered cultural capitol. So sales in various venues, instead of being about who has the lowest price, are about customer service and booksellers getting excited about a book and "hand selling" as we call it here in the U.S. My Amazon numbers may or may not have any bearing on how the book is actually doing over there, so an author's obsessive refreshing of the page that shows the ranking is probably a waste of time. (It's probably a waste of time anywhere, ya know, but we still do it…)
I am a relational person. I love the part of being an author where I get to communicate with other readers and other authors about books. I love answering the occasional "fan" mail (not many at this point, obviously, as there isn't a U.S. book release yet!). So I've been brainstorming ways to interact with my foreign readers, at least in a limited way, even with the language barrier. I'm currently penning a letter to my German readers—in English, but a German friend has agreed to translate it for me—to post on my website and Facebook author page. I want my readers to know, whether American or from one of the foreign countries where my book will be translated, that I'm excited to learn when they are reading my book, that I appreciate the time they take out of busy lives, that I'm thrilled they've chosen mine out of all the books they could read, that I would be delighted if they want to send a note about what they think of the book, that I will do my best to read it, understand it, and reply. And so on.
For now, I want to say to my German readers who have come across this blog or the book: