Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lowered Expectations

OK, I never thought Mahu was going to be a best-seller, or set the world on fire. I hoped it would find an audience, and that readers would like the book.

But I did hope for more than I got, so I'm learning to lower my expectations.

The first person I met who'd read Mahu, outside of my close friends, told me that she was a reader for Insight Out Books, that she'd loved the book and recommended it. So I kept waiting to hear from Haworth, and scanning the Insight Out catalogs that came in. I finally accepted that they had just chosen not to include Mahu in their offerings.

I was hoping to get a couple of decent reviews. Certainly I'd love the New York Times, but I knew that it could only happen by a fluke. I did think I was more realistic in getting a couple of reviews in mainstream publications, particularly my hometown newspapers.

Didn't happen. I greatly appreciate the reviews that Mahu got, which were generally quite positive, but they came from GLBT publications and websites in places like Connecticut and Minnesota. I didn't get into any of the big magazines like Out or The Advocate, and I didn't get into any newspapers in big cities.

The biggest disappointment was not making the top five finalists for a Lammy award. I thought I knew most of my competition and I was sure Mahu would stack up against them. But I didn't make it. Several people told me they thought Mahu belonged there, and that it was a symptom of how biased and/or out of touch the judges were.

I was hoping to get invited somewhere-- to speak at a conference or workshop, or visit a college. Hasn't happened yet-- but it might still, though I'm not expecting anything.

So I'm trying to be grateful for what I've gotten. Some positive reviews. Good word-of-mouth feedback. The chance to sit on a couple of panels at mystery conferences. Sales that look like they will top the publisher's expectations (though my royalties haven't yet paid back the money I've spent promoting, and probably never will.)

I've had a book published by a reputable publisher, and it opened doors for the sequel to come out in Spring 2007 (from Alyson Books) and for me to edit a collection of essays, Paws & Reflect, about gay men and their dogs. That will also be out from Alyson, in November, 2006. I now have a new agent, and I've met a lot of great writers online and through my travels.

I think any new author doesn't really know what to expect, and we should all be grateful for whatever comes out way. Now that I've gotten over my initial disappointments, I think I can be.

No comments: