The Ten Ways Your Life Will Change After You Publish Your First Book (Or So I’m Told)

1. You will look in the bathroom mirror on the morning of your book’s publication and see a face staring back; a real face, not the mass of flesh and flaws that had confronted you every morning before. You won’t dare touch it for fear it will evaporate.

2. You will change your e-mail signature from “Writer” to “Published Author!” You will consider adding a smiley face, but will decide against this.

3. Your mother will start to bring you up, unprompted, in conversation at her weekly dinner gatherings with friends. She will however consistently pluralize an element of your book title that is singular: for example “The Lone Pine Tree” will become “The Lone Pine Trees,” or “The Isolated Tale of My Companionless Descent into Solo Performance” will become “The Isolated Tale of Our Companionless Descent into Solo Performance.” This will always be an improvement on your original title.

4. Your shipment of personal copies will never arrive. Your publisher will not be able to track their fate, nor replace them. A week will pass and you will wander into the animal shelter at a nearby strip mall and find a dog cage lined with the urine-soaked pages of your book. Your eyes will meet the eyes of the miniature schnauzer that resides in your shredded work. You’ll think: this is fate. But the adoption center won’t approve your application because you can’t claim any substantial income.

5. One of the three people who blurbed your book will lose all memory of you or your book’s existence. When they encounter the unfamiliar tome on an acquaintance’s shelf, their own words and name will appear as a haunting blur. They will be happier for this.

6. A student in the one freshman comp class that you teach will turn in a paper about your book. The paper will completely misinterpret your intentions, and point out many problematic elements that make your work irrelevant to contemporary readers. You will consult the real face reflected in your bathroom mirror, and in doing so you will gain the confidence to laugh at yourself, at this situation. Your post about it on social media will be your most popular ever. The likes and favorites will dwarf your book sales. You will give the student an A-minus.

7. The guy who used to sit on your head every lunch break in the middle school courtyard will come across your book in a library and say to his wife that you were “buds.” His wife will not hear him say this. They are having problems. As she walks away he will remember the feeling of your head against his butt cheeks.

8. You will pay out-of-pocket to fly across the country for a reading. There will only be one person in attendance, but this person will shower you with praise as you quietly sign their copy. They will let you know how much the book meant to them, how it spoke to something deep in their chest that they never knew was waiting to be jostled awake, and they will touch your hand and express a desire to take you home if it weren’t for the three more readings they promised to attend that night, by similarly inspiring authors, and aren’t you attending? And why not, and something about literary citizenship, and their face will fall at your claims of exhaustion, and as they approach the exit to the bookstore you will see them swap out your signed copy for an unsigned one on the shelf.

9. Your father will call you for the first time in two years to say congratulations. You will ask if he wants to meet up for a coffee and discuss the book. He will say he hasn’t read it yet, has a big stack, but that it’s somewhere in there. After seven months you will check your father’s blog, where he keeps an updated reading list. He will have given your book two out of five stars and a comment that the book is “of interest if you like the author’s other work.”

10. A few weeks later an interviewer, via e-mail, will ask you what you’re working on next, and you will dash from your laptop to the bathroom and find that you never had a mirror in there in the first place.

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