Friday, December 16, 2016

The Joy of A First Book

Author Randal Eldon Greene

The joy of having a first book published is not like the joy of a first story appearing in print. With that first story, being published was joy and validation itself.

Then came the second, third, and fourth story. All in the same year. With each acceptance letter, surety in the ability to write fiction grew. Each publication was a joyful event, but they were not firsts and did not have quite the joy of that first published work.

A first book must be a lot like opening your first gallery, playing your first lead in a major theater production, or hearing the overture of your first opera being performed for an audience. Yet the joy of a first book is simply not as great as that first little story in that obscure (and now defunct) magazine.


Descriptions of Heaven by Randal Eldon Greene
Because it’s a release. Publishing the book was not easy. Sure, there was a rush of emotion when hearing that the publisher accepted the book. But that announcement opened up a box of work requiring both skills and time not needed before that acceptance letter. The novel-in-progress was set aside in order to work on this debut. A backlog of short story ideas accumulated. Looking back, the memories are not pleasant: emails and more emails, disagreements about the best uses of advance release copies, and those three weeks the manuscript was untouched because looking at the editor’s notes became unbearable. The whole process became unbearable.

Unbearable until it wasn’t. There was an emergence from the fog of being overwhelmed, followed by a new stride, a jog in the sunshine of action. Last minute edits. Running boldly past terrifying doubts. ARCs out in the mail. A desire to move—just move—on with the process.

Then the reviews started coming in. Finally, something positive. An okay review. A glowing review. A little award sticker saying IndieReader Approved. Interviews with bloggers and newspapers. Giveaways blasted across the infoscapes of the Web. This is what it was all about. Validation: all those spotlights illuminating the authorial ego.

But still, there’s more to do. A whole list of places to contact, more people and companies to send copies to. That’s okay. Doesn’t matter. This thing is a process. A published book didn’t just happen with the click of a button, a wave of a wand. Like any baby, it took time to grow. And it still needs nurturing, even after it’s gotten its driver’s license and hit the road.

The joy of a first book isn’t the joy of that first published story. The joy of a first book does not come from seeing the fiction in print. The joy comes from letting it go out into the world. Relief to see it gone. A desire to see it—someday—totally out of the mind, like that first story, finally retiring comfortably as another important entry in the oeuvre.

Find Randal Eldon Greene (author of Descriptions of Heaven) at

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