The road to publication is filled with “firsts” for authors – so many that we sometimes forget that we”re pulling others through the looking glass with us.
Case in point: my mother.
I owe my lifelong love of books and writing in no small part to my mother’s influence. She read to me. She taught me to read. She bought me books and paper and crayons and listened to me read my (likely nonsensical) whimsies over the years. She encouraged and supported me – and she financed a trip to an early writers’ conference (over a decade ago) that set me on the final stage of the road to publication.
She’s walked the road with me every step of the way.
When I discovered (via Twitter*) that my debut novel, Claws of the Cat, was available for pre-order on Amazon, I emailed my mother to let her know. (I’d have called, but it was late and I didn’t want to wake her.) Five minutes later the telephone rang. Mom was not only up, but reading her email when the message dropped into her inbox. She’d followed the link and called to congratulate me on this new milestone.
She also wanted me to help her learn how to order the book.
Amazon … meet my mother. Mom, meet Amazon.
We walked through the process together on the telephone – setting up her account, entering payment information and, finally, buying the book. (She even emailed me her confirmation – so I have what’s likely to be the very first sale record for Claws of the Cat.) She could have waited to buy one at the independent bookstore near her home – and in fact she intends to order several additional copies that way. But she wanted to learn to work Amazon because, in her words, “I want to be first.”
Which makes a lovely and parallel sense. She was the first to encourage my dual addictions to books and writing. She was the first to read the completed-but-terrible fantasy novel I wrote in High School. She wasn’t the first to read Claws of the Cat – but only because I didn’t want her to be disappointed if this wasn’t the novel that secured me the publishing contract and success we both wanted me to achieve.
And now she’s the first to buy it.
Early on in this crazy process my agent, Sandra Bond, gave me some very good advice. “Enjoy these moments,” she said. Enjoy every one. The road to publication is a journey filled with firsts – and that road begins far sooner than most of us realize except in retrospect.
Enjoy every milestone, even if it’s something small, like finishing a chapter – or helping your mother discover the Amazon.
* I was sitting at home, reading a book, when the fantastic @TezMillerOz tweeted “Susan Spann’s CLAWS OF THE CAT (16th July 2013) is now available for US pre-order” and the link. She made my night! And no, I didn’t know before that.