On January 20, 2020, I launched Talisman, my very first book. I was so nervous and excited and clueless about launching that book, but I’ve been working all my life for that moment—and it was every bit as anti-climactic as all the experts say it will be.
Yes, my best friend was the best friend in the entire universe—she sent me a stunning bouquet of red roses and carnations with a beautifully encouraging note. Yes, CruiserMan and my other best friend (and her hubs and daughter), took me out for dinner. Yes, I received kudos from family, friends, acquaintances on Instagram, and all of that felt marvelous.
But the experience of actually putting the book out into the world?
A week following the official launch, I discovered my book prominently displayed in my local book store, which gave me all kinds of squishy, lovely feels. Of course, I had to be a nerd and take photos of that stack of books waiting there for readers to discover. I also had to take a pic of Talisman displayed in the window of Legends Book Store.
But there was something missing.
From my reading, I knew to expect a flat feeling when I released years of work out into the world, but I didn’t truly expect to experience that feeling. Once I got over squeeing at the idea of launching a book, I went ahead and felt exactly what the experts predicted—not much of anything at all. After I gave it some thought, I discovered what I needed in order for the book to become real to me was feedback from readers.
Most authors have a love/hate relationship with reviews. I had no relationship at. Enter K.J. Gillenwater. I met Kristen when she shared my table at a book fair during the Winter Gathering at the Park County Library. As we chatted between book sales, she told me about NetGalley. What an incredible tip. I took her advice to put Talisman on the site, and suddenly, the reviews started coming in like magic. What a terrifying experience to ask others to critique your work in public. Yet, reviews are necessary if an author is going to convince people to read her book. Actually, the reviewers have that power, and that’s the terrifying part because I have to sit back and let people have their opinions. And I have to honor those opinions.
(P.S.: K.J. Gillenwater’s latest book, Aurora’s Gold, is currently available. I’ll be posting my review as soon as I finish reading the book.)
Now that I’m receiving feedback, I’m having all the feels. So far, the reviews have been positive, averaging four stars, which is pretty dang awesome for a debut, I think. I’m surprised, humbled, and grateful for those reviews—what the reviewers had to say even more than the ratings themselves because they’ve given me direction for how to grow.
However, the review feedback creates a dilemma: there are some aspects of Talisman that didn’t resonate with some readers. That’s to be expected; we each have our own taste after all. But because of the way I decided to roll out the series, Book Two, Warrior, dropped today for preorders. That means I didn’t have a chance to give myself the sophomore book jitters, but it also means some of the criticisms readers had for the first book might not be addressed in the second one. Yet, I’ve learned something new from this new thing (number 32 for the year so far, because yes, I keep a list—you should too if you’re trying to do 30 new things). What I’ve learned is that I need to put Warrior on NetGalley ASAP in order to let ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) readers have a chance to review it before it goes live on March 20, 2020. Asking for those advanced reviews will be another kind of terrifying because those reviewers will have even more power over the success of the book than reviewers have had for Talisman.
In the end, the experience of gathering reviews, even after the launch, has been rewarding. The reviews have made Talisman real, given me encouragement and direction, and told me the stories I like to tell myself are stories other people enjoy too. Knowing that I’ve intrigued or entertained people with my tale creates warm squishy feels and makes me so happy that I kept pushing to make my dream a reality.
What are you pushing yourself to do? Leave a comment.
Yours in taking a risk (or thirty),
Tam DeRudder Jackson
=Love is worth the risk.=
P.P.P.S.: My next blog post will be about my first solo book signing. This coming Saturday, 2/22/2020 at Legends Book Store in Cody, Wyoming—in case you happen to be in the neighborhood and want to stop by to say hi.