When my first book came out, some years ago, it was like someone dropped a pebble in Lake Michigan. My friends and acquaintances were thrilled, so locally, there were ripples. The larger world barely noticed.
My second book, the first Simon & Elizabeth mystery, got more attention: good reviews from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, LIBRARY JOURNAL, BOOKLIST, etc.
The third book also got good reviews, and people (very few, but still) started saying, "I've heard of you" when I went to book events.
Now that the second Simon & Elizabeth mystery is set to appear, buzz is good, and reviewers write in terms of not just a good book, but a good series. And THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY just made the top three finalists in EPIC's competition for best mystery of the year.
So what does that mean?
For one thing, it's scary. Other writers have told me that a successful book puts pressure on an author: the next one has to be just as good, maybe better, to satisfy fans. I feel that pressure too.
On the other hand, it's rewarding. Good writers work really hard to make their books as exciting, correct, engaging, and believable as they can, and it's great when someone recognizes that. It isn't the prizes, not really. We all know that no book is the BEST of any given year. There are a lot of good books released every year, every month. What's great is having someone acknowledge that I worked really hard and was successful in creating something readers enjoy. And it isn't really that one book; it's all the writing done up to that point. In a way, that first book is as responsible for my current success as any of those in between, because getting a publication contract was the first step, the one that let me think, "Maybe I really can do this." The next few books establish a person as more than a one-book wonder, and if that person is lucky, the day comes when someone says, "This book is pretty darned good. We might consider giving it an award."
So it's great to be recognized. But as any real writer will tell you, we'd be doing this anyway. For those who love writing, recognition is gravy on the meat of story-telling, a nice addition, but not the meal.