Never heard of it? I’m using my blogging debut on this site to declare today, April 4, 2006, an unofficial holiday. Unofficial because you have to go through all sorts of legal mumbo-jumbo and expense to declare an official holiday. Besides, in the greater scheme of things, Gertie Day will mean little to most people. To me, it’s the first day in the rest of my life as a published author. Today, TALK GERTIE TO ME, my debut novel, is on store shelves from Petaluma to Paramus. (Actually, many stores wound up shelving it last week, but today is the official release date according to my publisher.)
To be honest, there were times when I thought I’d never see this day. I wrote for ten years before I made a sale. Throughout those ten years, I had lots of positive feedback, won contests, landed an agent, but was never offered a contract, even when editors told me to my face how much they loved my books. I’m probably about to show my age here, but remember the character in Li’l Abner, the one with the black cloud that constantly hung over his head? That was me. Especially when I’d receive rejection letters that praised my writing, my story, my characters, etc. but would end with, “...but ultimately I didn’t fall in love with the book, and for that reason, I must pass on it.” Honestly, my agent never asked any of these editors to MARRY my books, just buy them!
But now I can walk into Borders or Barnes & Noble or many other bookstores, stand in front of a shelf of books, and see MY book. MY baby with its bright pink cover and dancing title, its heart-shaped Manhattan skyline snow globe, its wonderful author quote from Melissa Senate, and MY NAME in big, bold letters. And after a decade-long gestation period, the feeling is numbing, humbling, and surreal. To be honest, I still can’t believe it. I have proof -- a signed contract, a cashed advance check, author copies that arrived at my door a few weeks ago, TALK GERTIE TO ME on bookstore shelves. And it still feels like I’m standing on the outside, watching all of this happen to someone else. Or like it’s all a dream that I’ll wake up from at any moment.
I don’t know if other authors have ever felt this way. I’ve never heard anyone speak to this issue. Maybe I’m just weird. What I do know, though, is that I’ve become a poster person (I think it would be stretching it a bit to say poster ‘child’) for many as yet unpublished authors. There are some authors who write a book, secure an agent, and get offered a mega-bucks contract all within the course of a few months. Then there are the rest of us, the majority of us. If after ten years, I can walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelves, the same can happen for many others. So the moral of my story, albeit trite, is DON’T EVER GIVE UP!