A Moment in the Spotlight

by Brett Battles


Two years ago almost to the day I was chomping at the bit because my debut novel was within a week of coming out. As I near the release of the paperback of my second novel, THE DECEIVED (out next Tuesday!…makes a wonderful gift!), and the release of the hard cover of my latest novel, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL (out July 8th…also makes a great gift! – for those of you in the UK, this book is entitled THE UNWANTED and will be out July 2nd!), I started thinking about what my old friend and new Murderati blogger, Steven Schwartz, is going though in these next few months leading up to his debut release date.

The excitement, the nervousness, the feeling like the day will never get here. I’m sure all of that is starting to take hold of him. It’ll build up, and build up all the way to that release date to the point he’ll almost burst. If he’s like me and a lot of other novelist I know, he’ll see that date as this awesome stone marker on the timeline of his life. And it is. But the actual pub date will more likely come in quietly than with a roar.

Unlike when a movie opens, or a TV show debuts on the tube, a book launch is gradual. There is no public notification that something big has happened. No mass rush to the theater (or in our case, the bookstore) to get a view of your story. Most people probably won’t even buy your book on the first day it’s out. And if you go out to do some drop-in signings (that’s visiting bookstores just to sign stock), you’ll find that more than one doesn’t even have your book out on the shelves yet. Hell, I went to one place nearly a week after my pub date, and they hadn’t even unpacked my novel yet.

Still, there is nothing like that first pub date. And I’m so excited for Steve as he goes through his.

None of that is to say that subsequent publication days are not exciting. They are. They all are.

With SHADOW OF BETRAYAL coming out soon, I’m once again thrilled. I can’t wait until it comes out, and I hear what people think. There are things in this story that set up things in the next book, and in books three or four down the line. And, yet, like always, it stands alone so that new readers don’t have to read the first two Quinn books to know what’s going on.

But unlike when my debut came out, I also now feel other things.

I’m concerned about (in no particular order): how the fans of the Quinn series will react to the new story, the state of publishing, how well will the new book sell, a new contract that’s still a year away, what do I need to do to extend my reader base, writing a new stand alone or series so that I can up the amount of output I have each year, writing a new Quinn novel, not loosing track of all the ideas that keep jetting through my mind, the future of publishing, the future of publishing, the future of publishing…

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Most other authors I’ve talked to have the same reoccurring thoughts and concerns. Our own Tess has often blogged both here and at her own blog about her worries each time a new book comes out.

By saying all this, I’m not trying to belittle the struggle all writers go through to try to get published. I’ve been there for sure. And I know I’m lucky to be where I am now.

What I’m really saying is that I envy Steve in the fact that he’s living in the moment of his debut year. It’s a great time, and Steve, you should cherish it all! But in even so, I kind of like being where I’m at now. As much as the future scares me, it also excites me. There are so many possibilities, so many potential opportunities. In a way, it’s like reading a good book, you really don’t know where things are going to go, but you can’t help turning the page.

For all of you who are still chasing that first pub deal, I hope for you the best so that you, too, can experience that rush that comes with your first book release. And when it comes time for your subsequent releases, you’ll know what I mean about the other stuff.

If all has gone as planned, I’m back home now…but just barely. So if I don’t answer comments right away, it could mean I’m still asleep, or just…well…loopy. (No cheap shots, Rob!) Still, would love to hear your thoughts.

10 thoughts on “A Moment in the Spotlight

  1. James Scott Bell

    Brett, your post brought back memories of my own breaking into print. I didn’t get an advance for that first one, and I was just thrilled to be published. And my kids were thrilled when I made enough money to buy a spa for the backyard. They’d get in and splash around and say, "This is dad’s book." So I’ll be looking forward to seeing what Stephen has to say as his career progresses.

    And for your own, because a) you have the best thriller author name ever; and b) I enjoyed the time we signed books together at Men of Mystery.

  2. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Brettster –
    I agree with James, you do have the best thriller name in the world. I should have bought the domain name "Brett Battles" the moment I met you back in college.
    Well, you’ve added another level of zany anticipation to my impatient clock-staring. I am sooo insanely eager to see that pub date approach. I am glued to "New York time," always aware when I wake up in the morning that three hours have already passed in the world of publishing, that within those three hours my agent or editor or the reviewers of Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus have been focusing solely on finding success for my book. I’m stuck in some weird fantasy world caught between reality and daydream.
    At the same time, I’m supposed to turn my second book into my editor by mid-August, which is a full month BEFORE my pub date. And I’m a long way from finishing that book. And I have a demanding day job, a family, and a house foreclosing around me–I’ve become a walking zombie. After every eight-hour shift at the day job I spend another eight hours writing at the cafe. I just had to throw out my last ninety pages and spend a week reworking the outline. It’s maddening.
    So I’m lost in this yin/yang blur of total excitement and absolute dread.
    I am happy for you and your success, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you at your upcoming launch party in July. I’m just following the path you’ve laid out, my friend.
    Still, I can’t wait to see the gross sales for my book after its opening weekend! Oh, wait…wrong industry.

  3. Louise Ure

    I cherish the memory of the anticipation of my first pub date. Looking for reviews or comments (before I learned how to do a Google Alert), confirming signing dates at bookstores, glorying in the first glimpse of the cover. And then … finally, finally … the day I saw my book in a front window display!

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    "So I’m lost in this yin/yang blur of total excitement and absolute dread."

    That pretty much describes the author life, doesn’t it? Three years into this I see no sign of that going away.

  5. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Brett

    Best of luck with the launch of THE DECEIVED, and THE UNWANTED/S.O.B. – although now I’ve written that, it seems a somewhat less than complimentary way to refer to your new baby ;-]

    My first book coming out is acid-etched into my brain, after I tentatively rang the PR woman at my (ex) publisher a few weeks before the launch date, and asked, acquiver with excitement, "Um, is there anything you want me to do, at all?"

    "Oh no," she said breezily. "Nobody’s going to buy it."

    Talk about gutted. I think I may have those words chiselled on my tombstone …

    Best wishes to you, too, Stephen, in your debut year ;-]

  6. Brett Battles

    As predicted, a little on the jet lagged side today. It was a fantastic trip, and I can’t believe how quickly it went! Thanks James, Steve, Alex, Louise, Zoë, and Rob for the comments…and forgive me for being a little too fuzzy brained to answer more specifically to each of your comments. (Steve, shoot me an email and I’ll give you the Google alert lowdown.)

  7. Allison Brennan

    Stephen, you don’t want to know. It’s a curse . . . but go to google, log in (or register) and you, too, can set up an alert to let you know whenever someone mentions you in cyberspace . . .

    Brett, I totally understand. I sometimes will I were a debut author again, holding my FIRST book, seeing my FIRST book on the shelf at the store. There is something magical and dreamy about the debut, even though you’re scared shitless every minute . . . well, that certainly doesn’t change. I think I’m far more nervous and fearful now than I was in my year of ignorance.

    Though every once in awhile I get that headrush. Like when my son was on amazon looking up the release date of a video game he wants and he typed in my name and called me and showed me all my books . . . and I said, "Yes, I know." And he goes, "Aren’t you excited? You’re on amazon! Don’t you think that’s cool?" Well, his enthusiasm was catching. It IS cool.

  8. Steve in Germany

    Welcome back Brett. Your novels keep getting better and better. As I mentioned. I do plan on watching Quinn on the big screen someday.


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