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.
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?