a year after the first book

i can’t believe it’s already been a year since Keeping Me Still, my first book, came out. since then, i’ve been on the radio, signed books, navigated the wilderness of social media, and done readings everywhere from jonesboro, arkansas, to boston, mass. i got pregnant with our third baby, we moved, my job went online-only, we bought a new house, my husband started a new career.

it is pretty amazing how much change can happen a year. i’m quite the different poet (and person) than i was when i wrote KMS, though i still read through it and enjoy it and remember what life was when i wrote it.

i think every writer probably has expectations of what publishing a book would be like or how their life might change. i don’t know what its like to publish a novel or memoir (or any popular genre), but i can tell you a few things i’ve learned in this past year, since publishing my first poetry book–

1.) the only people who will really care about your book are people who really care about you
since i write poetry, i didn’t have illusions of grandeur when publishing a book–i expected only a small audience–but i guess i did hope, a little bit, that there would be more Discovery with my book, more new readers outside of family, friends, etc. and maybe there are more than i know about though!

2.) you have to promote your book–but there are people willing and happy to help, if you just ask
i was surprised at how easy it was to “book” readings–most professors, local radio people, and small bookstores are more than happy to have a poet come read, even if booksales in poetry are slim. the literary community IS as wonderfully supportive as i had hoped it would be. (and the same goes for publishing–i had quite a few literary friends and acquaintances ask me to send them a poem or two for magazines they worked for–it made submitting work during that busy book-promotion time so much easier!)

3.) it’s hard to get started again
for about six (maybe nine?) months after KMS was released, i struggled with writing. working toward that “second book” felt impossible–so many possible directions to go in!–so i felt a kind of “syllabus shock” and couldn’t manage to write much at all. it wasn’t until meeting sharon olds at a reading i was (fantastically) lucky to be a part of that i found the direction for my second book (which i’m working on–45 poems written for it, so far!).

~

questions? thoughts? if you’ve published a book, what did you learn the first year?

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7 thoughts on “a year after the first book

  1. Hi! I’m visiting here from What We Learned in April.

    I’ve not written a book (yet!) but I have had years that held as much change as the year you just lived through. I’m glad all years are not like that – I think everyone needs a season of sameness to keep sane!

    Best wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m knee deep in words, writing my first book, and sometimes it all feels so overwhelming. But you’re right, the literary community is so supportive and encouraging!

    I’m working on polishing up two chapters and my intro and sending them off to an editor who has requested them, and crossing my fingers. It’s scary, but exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I self-published a memoir and can agree with you. It surprised me how difficult it was to write the book, but more surprising – perhaps because I less adept at it – has been getting the word out. It’s very time consuming with very little return on investment. But honestly, I’m so glad I wrote it and published it. The story was worth telling! Good luck with your second book. (here via Emily Freeman link up)

    Like

  4. I found on Chattingatthesky.com’s What I learned in April and glad I did. What fresh honesty about the day after happily published after. Thanks from this author aspiring to get the first book published.

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  5. I actually “finished” my book last year, but have been sitting on it. I recently decided to go ahead and self-publish as an e-book because I am just ready to share it already… (however big or small the response will be). Thanks for the insight!

    Liked by 1 person

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