“Um…hello…my name is Vicki Essex and I’m a Superromance author.”
It’s still weird to say that. Not only because I’m still getting used to addressing myself by my pen name, but also because six months ago, I never would have thought I’d be able to use those hallowed words.
Superromance author. I share that designation with the likes of Tara Taylor Quinn, Brenda Novak, Molly O’Keefe, Roz Denny Fox, Lenora Worth…
And as I list these talented bestselling authors, my heart rate triples and I break out in a sweat.
Who the heck am I to be among such esteemed writers? I’m just a kid, or so I keep telling myself (my bones tell me otherwise on rainy days). I eat cereal in my pajamas on Saturday mornings and spend hours playing video games in the afternoons. I still have stuffed animals in my bedroom. I own silly socks and sillier hats. Surely real serious authors don’t spend as much time as I do reading comic books and watching cartoons?
After I uncurl myself from fetal position, I take a deep breath and take stock of the past six months. I am an author, like it or love it, and I have the contract, flat butt and gray hairs to prove it.
The day I got the Call, I didn’t realize how my world would change. I had to commit to my pen name, set up a website, start using all those lessons I learned from marketing and promotion workshops to pull my "brand identity" together. I had to set up accounts for Twitter and Facebook, reorganize my blog…it was one thing after another, and as I rush headlong toward my debut release date (Her Son’s Hero will be out mid-July 2011) I find myself just barely keeping my head above water.
When my name started popping up on sites like Goodreads and Amazon—big, blank pages just waiting for those first reviews—I retreated back into my cave of fear.
What had I gotten myself into?
I’m a wallflower by nature. At my RWA chapter meetings, I’m usually the one in the back hoping someone—or no one—notices I’m there. I can’t even look people in the eye most of the time. Now I’m this other person—this author among greats—and I feel a little like a sparrow among songbirds.
I was putting myself out there in a way I never had before. Only when I realized these other authors did the same thing with each new release, I felt a bit more relaxed.
Because every time they put out a new book, they face rejection, edits, more edits, defeat and victory in many little forms. They have to run the gamut of self-promotion, read those first few reviews with bated breath, laugh and cry and celebrate. I’m sure there are a few stiff drinks thrown in between.
Above all else, I realize this: all these wonderful, dedicated, talented published authors are probably just human. I bet some of them own silly hats, too.
If I can remember that, I bet I could make friends.
So, here I am, stepping out and meekly waving hello. Help me make some new friends! How do you enter a new social situation? What are your tactics for networking and meeting people? Do you go for the cold introduction? Inveigle yourself among a small group and share a joke? Do a magic trick? What are your friendly pickup lines?