So often, we gauge the passing of a year by the calendar, a birthday, or a wedding anniversary. Today, I want to mark a different kind of anniversary. One year ago today, I wrote a reflection post on my recent move to New Haven, Connecticut (I’d lived there eight days at the time). In it, I shared my initial impressions of the city, my concerns about living in a new place, and my hopes for the year to come. Now, I’d like to look back and share what wisdom I’ve gleaned for others.
When it comes to New Haven itself, I’ll be brief. My first post talked about the beautiful architecture, the (seemingly) tasty restaurants, and the various tourist attractions. They’re all still there, and all still great. I also mentioned the potential new friendships Daniel (my husband) and I had started growing, and I’m happy to report that they are strong and thriving. The drivers are still idiots. And most importantly, Thomas still loves his life as Supreme Ruler of the Apartment (see below).
A few new things? The divide between the Yale elite and the homeless is shocking and heartbreaking. The amount of street harassment I’ve faced is alarming (my formal apologies to any urban women I ever doubted on the issue). But there’s also a new ice cream shop that has the best farm-made ice cream I’ve ever tasted. So, you win some, you lose some, I guess. No city is perfect.
My biggest concern moving to New Haven was that I would lose my sense of self, that my identity would be pared down to “Daniel’s wife” and nothing else. Hey, Past Kate: We’re so much more than that. Yes, to some Yale acquaintances I’m just “Daniel’s wife.” But, to those same people, I’m very often “Daniel’s wife, the wine expert” (because expert is easier to grasp than copywriter). What else? I’m Thomas’s mother, a loyal friend to many new people, a budding wine enthusiast, a small business owner, and yes, an independent author.
A year ago, I was putting the finishing touches on The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1). I was thrilled about (and terrified of) what my indie publishing journey might bring. Now, I’m pretty much in the exact same place with The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2). Only this time, I’m thrilled for a new reason (the first novel I wrote wasn’t a fluke!) and scared for new reasons too (what if everyone who liked book one hates the sequel?!).
I want to take a minute to reach out to all the aspiring or small-time authors out there. While I hope beyond hope that you get the coveted “lucky break” and reach instant bestsellerdom, chances are, you won’t. And that’s okay. Everyone’s journey is different, and you can only do the best you have with the resources available to you. But, if you’re sitting at your computer, considering hitting PUBLISH on that first novel, here are just a few things that could happen to you in one small year, based on my experiences:
- Meet dozens of new author friends and readers
- Earn your first (of many!) five-star review
- Earn your first (hopefully not of many) one-star review
- Sign a book for a new fan
- Have your book nominated for an award (more info to come)
- Have your book selected for a monthly subscription box (more info to come)
- Earn a few hundred dollars from book sales
- See your book in a library or bookstore
- Participate in online events
- Have someone say, “Oh, right. You’re the author!”
- Have your book taught in a university class
- See your book proudly displayed on your parents’ coffee table
- Write your next book
Maybe some of these will happen to you. Maybe you’ll reach even greater heights. But if one year ago you’d told me all this (and more!) would happen to me, I would have laughed in your face. It just goes to show, you never know what can happen in a year.
Stay focused on your goals. Work those extra hours. And most importantly, keep writing.
Aspiring authors: what is one goal you have for your first year of publication? Published authors: what is one awesome thing that happened within your first year of publication? Share your experiences in the comments.