Note from Nick: This is a special day. Today’s post was written by my first editor, the guy who took The Golden Crystal and made it not suck!
I recently got over an obstacle that many would-be authors never manage to conquer: I finished and published my first book.
For my entire life, I had failed to finish this particular race, but suddenly, it was done.
The feeling of accomplishment was amazing, to say the least. A goal that had seemed unreachable was finally behind me, and I was ecstatic. I looked forward to earning my first dollar in sales, thinking to myself, “I’m finally doing it – I’m finally a published author!”
But then, my book didn’t sell so much.
Most of the first sales I made were to family and friends – the same folks who had encouraged me for so long to write a book in the first place. Their kindness and patience led to some initial interest in my book, but so far it has fallen slightly short of being a runaway best-seller.
Now, I knew that the odds were against mne – I was an unknown, with very few followers, and this was my first and only published book. I knew that it wouldn’t bring in enough to allow me to retire to my own private island.
But, still, it was a little disappointing.
The project that had been rattling around in my brain for so long, that had meant so much to me, ended up not attracting much attention.
I tried to be pragmatic about it, but my wife could tell I was a little let down, so she shared a bit of wisdom with me that she read the other morning.
“Do not despise these small beginnings.”
She had been reading a verse in the Bible that described Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah who started rebuilding the second temple in Jerusalem after the Israelites had returned from captivity in Babylon. For them, rebuilding the temple in their homeland after a generation of slavery was a monumental event that would have seemed almost unbelievable – but God wanted to remind them that such an undertaking had to start somewhere – it had to have some ‘small beginning’ before it could become something great.
Don’t get me wrong – my book in no way compares to rebuilding holy places and fulfilling prophecies – but the basic principle is the same. Every great achievement has to start somewhere, and we shouldn’t diminish the significance of that first step.
In my case, the humble sales of my first book haven’t discouraged me. Instead, they serve as proof that it can actually be done, and it needs to be done again and again to build a body of work that will draw the attention of more readers.
If you’re writing or publishing your first book and the response isn’t exactly what you hoped for, let me encourage you:
Do not despise your small beginnings.
Instead, use them as the foundation for something bigger. Look at your first work not as the be-all end-all of your writing career, but as the first of many volumes in a massive collection.
Let it be the first step of a long and fruitful career.
MP MacDougall is an American author of satire, historical fiction and fantasy. You can read more of his work on his website at www.mpmacdougall.com. His first book, Jet Screamer, is available for Kindle on Amazon.