Happy birthday! It’s been a ride, hasn’t it?
Two years ago today, I went to our local bookstore to try to find you, and I couldn’t. I left disappointed, but telling myself that of course not all books got onto all shelves, and not all books got there on their pub day.
I later learned you were on the New In Paperback table at the very back of the store, with a bunch of books that were not all paperback originals (which you were). But you were sitting next to Joe Abercrombie, and that was pretty fabulous.
Do you remember the reading we did up in Vermont? Oh, that was fun. And terrifying. And lovely, because so many people came up to say hello. I even sold some copies there. We did in Philadelphia, too, remember? At a con that wasn’t even book-focused! We sat with that lovely woman who wrote the historical fantasy (she sold copies, too), and had a nice chat with the bookseller about the nuts and bolts of their end of the business.
I remember the edits I did, before you were published. The biggest reason I wanted to trade publish was to have a professional editor, and it was wonderful. To have someone see you for what you were, but also see the things I’d missed, the places I could make you better–that was tremendous. Getting edits in the mail was always terrifying, but I always felt so good after reading them.
There are things I’d change about you now. I suspect most writers would say that about their books. I’d be crisper about some of the character descriptions, and I’d probably change some names. But on the whole, you remain what I needed you to be: a solid foundation for everything I still want to do with your characters.
There are decisions I’d make differently for you. Oh, so many. All the things I’d handle differently if I could go back. Like That Blog Post. I know authors are told never to respond to reviews–but since she hadn’t read you, it wouldn’t have been a review I was responding to, would it? I should have stood up for you, for my work, for my vision. (In truth, I expected someone to correct at least the factual errors in that post, but that’s still no excuse.) I let you down, and I’m sorry about that. It may have changed absolutely nothing, but you deserved to have me fight for you.
And that was just one thing. There were others. The last two years have been very different than I thought they’d be for either of us.
But everything good that’s happened? That’s down to you.
You’ve reached people. People have enjoyed you, bonded with you. People have seen in you what I’ve put there; they’ve seen in you parts of themselves. Readers have seen exactly what I wanted you to be, and more. I’m grateful for them, too, and overjoyed that they would give some of their time to read you at all.
Once, a long time ago, you belonged only to me. In a sense, you still do, and you always will. I built you, and revised you, and edited you–not alone, never alone, not even from the very beginning. But I chose what to say, what to change, and you became what I wanted you to be.
And no one, no matter how hard they try, will ever take that from me.