Monday, July 23, 2012

Being in the Inside Crowd

A couple of recent happenings have made me realize that, after seven months of living in the small resort town of Breckenridge, I now feel like a local, part of the "inside crowd." And, being an author who has traditionally published multiple books, I realized I'm feeling the same way about the publishing industry.

(View of Breckenridge, looking west toward the ski area, by Neil Groundwater.)

(View of Breckenridge, looking east, by Neil Groundwater.)

Back to Breckenridge. The first happening that made me feel I belonged was when my Midnight Ink editor asked me if I wanted to add a Dedication to the trade paperback/ebook edition of To Hell in a Handbasket. The book will be re-released in November and it is set in Breckenridge. I decided to dedicate it this way: "To Breckenridge, my new home town, for welcoming my husband and me with open arms." The second happening was a typical day of errands, where I ran into a local friend at the Recreation Center, then into another at the dentist's office, and finally a third at the Post Office. (The USPS doesn't deliver mail to individual homes and businesses here, so everyone has to get a Post Office box and pick up their mail.)

Then I drove the few blocks home, snaking my way between jaywalking tourists, and it hit me. Yup, unlike them, I'm a local! I'll still be here when their summer vacations are over, and I'll still be here when the skiers' winter vacations are over. I vote here, I get my hair cut and my teeth cleaned here, I pick up my CSA organic vegetables at a nearby house each week, and I belong to a local book club, hiking group, and the Friends of the Summit County Library (and the librarians know me as the "local mystery author").

Similarly, I feel comfortable now in the publishing world. Before I was published, I felt like a tourist, peeking into bookstore windows, saying to myself that someday my own title would be on display. And now, I often find my books on bookstores and library shelves. When I go to mystery fan conventions, I feel comfortable talking to other authors as an equal. I am recognized and respected as an author by readers. When I contact or am contacted by booksellers or librarians to schedule events, I know that they can easily research me on the Internet and find out that I am an established mystery author with four books out and two in the works for 2013. I'm a "local" in the publishing industry, part of the inside crowd.

It's taken me a LOT longer to get that feeling in the publishing world, though, than it took me in Breckenridge! For many, many years as an aspiring author, I longed to become part of that inside crowd. Once I started publishing books, though, I was so busy writing, editing, and promoting, that I didn't realize that I HAD gradually become an insider. It wasn't until I had the similar experience of getting assimilated into a new home town that I realized the parallel.

For other writers, published and unpublished, what are your experiences in feeling like you are a part of the inside crowd in the publishing industry--or not? For readers, have you had similar transitions where you gradually became part of the inside crowd? What kind of crowd? What did you do to become an insider?


Mario Acevedo said...

I still feel like an outsider. Maybe I should move to Breckenridge! Nice post.

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Bonnie said...

Nice post! Of course, you're such a nice person any community would be happy to welcome you and Neil. :-)

Peg Herring said...

Beth, you and I have sort of led parallel lives in publishing, I think. And you're spot on as far as waking up and thinking, "Yes, I really am one of them!" It's a happy feeling, yeah?

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

After ten years back in Cheyenne, Wyo. I feel totally at home and like a true insider, especially since I attended some grade school and junior high school here. As far as writing, I feel much more accepted and successful than ever, but it's taken quite a while to get there. Strangely enough, I'm invited to more library events up in Newcastle, Wyo. than I am in my hometown, as they tend to gravitate to the local authors Craig Johnson, C.J. Box, Amanda Cabot and Joanne Kennedy. But I'm trying to get more name recognition by attending various events. Either way, it's all good!

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for your comments, Mario, Bonnie, Peg and Cindy, and thanks for the compliment, Bonnie <>! Peg, yes, we're following a very similar publishing path. And Cindy, yes, it's funny how folks in your hometown are less impressed by you than folks who live a little further away.

Larkin said...

That's an interesting take on the feeling of belonging. I love it when writers draw parallels, because sometimes the parallels resonate so deeply.

Love the photos--looks as if you've picked a lovely new hometown.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Larkin! And I love the photographer. ;-) He does take some great pics!

G.M. Malliet said...

Lovely, lovely, the post and the photos both.