This week, five years ago, my debut middle grade novel The Distance to Home was published and I crossed over from being a “writer” to being an “author.” It’s been a wild ride so far, to say the least. I’m grateful to have published three more books for young readers in the years since, with some news to share about another sometime soon.
Suffice it to say that traditional publishing is not for the faint of heart. It’s a business that functions a lot less like other businesses and a lot more like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what will stick and also some of the spaghetti is gluten-free and some of it is very fine Italian pasta and some of it is made out of chickpeas, you know? (Not saying which pasta = my books but you get the picture.)
No two books are really alike and reading experiences are so subjective and the market is always changing. But . . . that’s how just it is and that’s why us authors are calloused from all that happens along the way. Or at least, that’s how I explained it to an aspiring author I talked with the other day when I popped into my local indie bookstore.
There are things I could only dream about that have happened to my books or are soon to happen (being on the front of a Scholastic book club flyer! having books selected for Junior Library Guild! being on state reading award lists! having an audiobook recorded of one of my books). As well as others I’m still waiting for and may very well never achieve (writing a NYTimes bestseller, having one of my books made into a movie or TV show, winning a Newbery). A girl can dream.
And yet, what’s mattered the most–both to me and I’d wager many other middle grade authors–is the impact of my books on readers. Knowing that my books are out in the world being read and even cherished by kids I will never meet or know? My books living lives of their own in libraries and bookstores, in people’s homes?
It’s the actual coolest. A huge honor I don’t take for granted, trust me.
All of this is to say, Happy 5th Birthday, The Distance to Home. I can now enroll you in kindergarten, but I won’t because you’re a book.