The Debut Jitters

Sarah M. Chenby Sarah M. Chen

My first book, CLEANING UP FINN, is finally out in the world and I’m both excited and terrified.

20160517_180722It’s an odd mixture of “Wheeeeee! My book is out!” to “AAAAARGH, my book is out and what if everyone hates it?”

I’ve been published before so you’d think I’d be used to this. I was thrilled when my first work was published in 2007. It was a short story entitled “Dough Boy” and it was part of a collection in LITTLE SISTERS, VOLUME 1.

LittleSistersImageIt was a big deal for me. I even went on a book tour with four other local authors who were in the anthology with me, a few of us this being our first published story. We signed at local independent bookstores, had a fantastic launch party, and even had a signing at Barnes & Noble. We felt like real legitimate writers!

The LITTLE SISTERS launch party at Mystery & Imagination in 2007

But publishing short stories in anthologies with many other writers is apparently a different feeling than publishing a book with just your name on the cover. It’s like the excitement and joy I experienced with publishing my first short story times a hundred.

So far, the response for my debut has been tremendously positive and supportive. It’s been out for exactly a week and I’ve been walking on air since then. I’ve also been feeling anxious. Like whenever I see a post on FB or Twitter of a writer I admire holding up my book or saying they received their copy and can’t wait to read it, I want to scream “Yes!” and then panic strikes and I want to snatch the book out of their hands and say, wait a second, let me provide you with a disclaimer. My book has this in it or that in it. Or don’t expect this out of my book. I have to remind myself to calm down and just let them read it, and maybe I’ll hear feedback and maybe I won’t. It’s all part of the journey.

20160520_171451_001I’ve already received some sales figures from my publishers at All Due Respect Books and so far, it’s encouraging. What’s not encouraging is seeing that someone has already refunded their copy. Seriously? Who does that? Did they read it and think, ugh, that was so awful, I need my $2.99 or my $8 back? My friend told me that sometimes you purchase something by mistake and then immediately you refund it. So it could have been that. At least that’s what I tell myself.

But you know what? Who cares! Not everyone is going to like my book. That doesn’t mean I’m a terrible writer or that I wrote a bad book. We all have different tastes and there are plenty of books that other people loved and I didn’t. It’s like the saying goes, “You can’t please everybody.”

Even my mom read my book. Okay, she read the free sample chapters on Amazon. I didn’t expect her to like my book, let alone actually read it. It’s got a lot of cursing and sex and characters who don’t play nice with others. She didn’t say whether she liked it or not and I didn’t ask. But she’s telling all her friends to buy it so that’s a good sign.

Although come to think of it, maybe now I know who’s responsible for that refund.


20160517_180901_001CLEANING UP FINN is available now with All Due Respect Books as an e-book or print.

Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. Her crime fiction short stories have been accepted for publication online and in various anthologies, including All Due Respect, Plan B, Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, Out of the Gutter, Betty Fedora, and Dead Guns Press. Cleaning Up Finn is her first book and available now with All Due Respect Books.



30 thoughts on “The Debut Jitters

  1. You did a good job taking us on your emotional journey after getting your book out! I could identify with all those feelings, and the roller coaster journey of emotions. I’m sure you will do fine, have a negative review maybe, but remember, that person may be having a bad day if that happens, or just a different take on things. We can’t all like the same thing. Otherwise there wouldn’t be conflicts to write about! May you and your readers be blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Neva. I really appreciate your comment and it makes me feel better just reading it! Yes, a negative review will probably happen and when it does, I will remember what you said. 🙂


  2. Sarah,
    Good luck with the launch of your first book. It’s a great read and most people will love it. Some may not be that there’s problem because it’s a good book.
    I’m wondering if you will experience the same feeling when you put your second book out. Will the fear and exhilaration be there or will all that lessen?

    Oh, sorry about returning that book. I thought from the title, CLEANING UP FINN it was about washing appendages of sharks. My bad.

    Good luck on your wild ride,
    – Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Washing shark appendages is in the sequel. And if I had to guess, I’d say the second book won’t feel exactly the same. Thanks for reading, Stephen!


  3. Congratulations, Sarah! It’s an amazing feeling. If you’re like thousands of other authors those doubts will continue but just suppress them. You’ve got it spot on that readers are all different and like different things – some will love the writing and others won’t. The ‘returns’ thing is a deeply worrying trend and some readers now want all of their reading to be FREE – never acknowledging that it takes huge effort and expense to publish a book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I don’t get that mentality that us artists, writers, etc. shouldn’t be rewarded for our hard work. And how some people don’t think piracy is a big deal either. Thanks for the comment and support, Nancy!


  4. Good post Sarah. It is hard for all of us, I think, to publish a new book. It’s a mixture of “Yay, it’s finished,” to “I hope someone likes it.” You have explained the “jitters” and it’s easy to understand. But don’t worry. Your book will leap off the shelves and soon you’ll wonder why you ever worried about it. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sure hope so. I tend to worry about pretty much everything and then wonder later why I was so worried so I guess this is no different. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Linda!


  5. Sarah, I’m positively thrilled for you. It is an emotional roller coaster, but the ride is so worth it. As for the refunds, there are just some folks out there who don’t get it, who think it’s okay to return even if you’ve read it. (I have an acquaintance who will purchase clothes, wear them with the tags hidden, then return them after the event.)
    Here’s to a great run and even more success with future books. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s funny, I had friends in high school who did the tag/return scheme. I worked at a bookstore where we refused to accept returns, only exchanges, which I think is smart. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, Doris!


  6. I, too, congratulate you, Sarah! I well remember my first book, published 9 years ago now, and my first Barnes and Noble signing (had one more after that then no more, even with a traditional publisher!) There’s no feeling in the world quite like a book in hand, that “baby” that you made, and seeing people in a bookstore or at an event buying it. I have four signings this month as the new Chicken Soup book comes out, and though that’s an anthology, I’ll also have my own books on hand, too — one never knows if some other book on my table will capture a reader’s attention. I, too, have had Kindle books “returned,” and it makes no sense to me either, but oh, well — “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Keep smiling, and all good wishes sent to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gayle! It is exciting to have my first “baby” out there and I keep reminding myself to just enjoy the ride. You only have your first one once. I think it’s a good idea to bring your other books to a signing because as you say, you never know what else someone may want to read. Good luck on your signings and I appreciate your kind words and support!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations! I’m excited for you. I hope it does really well. I remember my first book debut. I was so excited I thought I might throw up. But, like you, I was afraid no one would like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joe! Yes, I think every writer with a brand new first debut must go through the same thing which is comforting. There are times when I felt like I was going to throw up too!


  8. It is a wonderful feeling to get your first book and to see other’s enjoying it. I am still thrilled every time I get published, even in anthologies. You’ll do great. Keep up the energy. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations, Sarah. I understand why you have the jitters, but I imagine the excitement outweighs them. It has never occurred to me to return a book. And in my experience, mothers can tolerate much more than we think they can.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations and good luck. Once you have a few reviews under your belt your anxiety will subside and you can truly enjoy your accomplishment. No not everyone that reads it will love it, but they read it, they took in what you had to say and they have an opinion on it that means you made them think about you and your work.

    Liked by 1 person

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