- Your editor gets laid off, your book dies. Even though you had a deal.
- Your editor gets laid off, you get a new one. Who you totally click with. Or not.
- Your editor takes a new job, takes you with them, but your book gets bumped to the following year.
- Your title changes - maybe often - because it's not that good or there are other books with the same one. Sometimes your house will pick something you don't like.
- You part with your agent.
- Your release date changes. After you've ordered bookmarks.
- You find out that buying rights to song lyrics or poems you've used in your book are ridiculously expensive and YOUR job to handle.
- You hate your cover, get your agent involved and your publisher comes up with an even better one.
- You hate your cover, get your agent involved and your publisher uses it anyway.
- You love your cover, but B&N or Borders doesn't and insists on a new one or they won't buy the book. Your cover changes.
- You love your cover, then find out another book releasing two weeks earlier is using the exact same stock photo. Your cover changes.
- You disagree with your editor's edits.
- You respond to a negative review...and wish you hadn't.
- You find out one or both of the chains have "skipped" your book, meaning it won't be stocked.
- You spend a ton of time marketing your first book. A month after publication, you wish you'd spent that time writing a second book instead.
- You sell foreign rights, then have them fall through.
- Your book disappears from bookstores three months after release (or sooner). It's still available online, but you can no longer walk in and see it.
- Your publisher rejects your second book.
- Professional reviews give away your book's ending, get posted on Amazon and there's nothing you can do about it.
Most of that list is pretty negative so I'm going to balance it out with a few positives, all of which I've also seen happen this year:
- Your debut novel is a NYT Bestseller
- You're sent on a book tour
- Your book is picked as one of Amazon's Top Ten Books of the Year
- You make enough writing to finally quit your day job
- You see your book translated into a foreign language. Or ten.
- You have lunch with someone you used to watch on TV who wants to make your book a series.
- You make Kirkus' Best Books of the Year list.
- You sell film rights to your book.
- Your book is picked for the Scholastic Book Clubs that you used to order from as a kid.
- You get a note from a total stranger telling you how much your book meant to them.
Some of the things on these lists may not actually be that atypical, but at the time, came as a surprise - pleasant or less so - to the person involved.
The reality is there are a lot of ups and downs in publishing your first book or doing pretty much anything for the first time. So much is unexpected or expectations so unrealistic that the highs can be really high and the monkey wrenches really disheartening. Tara Kelly did a blog post earier this week about how getting published isn't the key to being happy. It's a good, honest read about being a first time novelist and, while I don't agree with everything she says, I do agree with always remembering why you write and what you hoped for when you started out.
It's so easy to get caught up chasing the if only...I could get an agent/a publisher/a movie deal/make the best-seller list/sell a second book/get a six-figure advance...and lose sight of how much you've already accomplished in finishing a book and maybe even becoming part of the 1% who get published, monkey wrenches and all.