Oh, Jealousy

In my last post, I got pretty real about dealing with edits for my second book, Seeking Unseen. This time, I’m gonna get real again–about jealousy.

This past Saturday I spoke about short story writing at a local writers group. It went well. REALLY well. The writers who attended were attentive and asked great questions, and all of them came up and told me how impressed they were with my talk. At the risk of sounding conceited, I have to say, I thought I did a dang good job myself. I knew my material, I was calm and relaxed (the nervousness melted away almost the moment I started talking), I spoke smoothly, had answers for everyone’s questions, and everyone got my jokes ;). Oh, and the group asked me to come back and speak again, as well as recommending I give the same speech at another group’s meeting.

The meeting ended with me feeling like I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. Writing, and helping other people with writing. I only sold three books, but that wasn’t the point of the meeting. I knew it was unlikely that many in the group would be into my genre, so three sales was pretty good as far as I’m concerned!

We went to lunch following the meeting and had a great time as well. While at the restaurant, one of the group members told me she was going back to Barnes & Noble (where the meeting had been) to say hi to an author doing a signing that afternoon–an author she had interviewed on her blog, who is now a NYT bestseller in YA fantasy/paranormal. She asked if I’d like to go with her and meet the author.

Duh. Yes! I’m always interested in seeing what other authors do at gatherings and signings. Unfortunately we missed her speaking part, and got there while she was signing books.


A room full of teenagers, all staring at the author like deer caught in headlights. Star-struck.

My gut twisted. Part of it was kind of feeling sick at the idea of this person being nearly worshiped. She’s human after all! The fans present were all-out gushing. I thought how weird it must feel to have people act like that over you. The group members who had commended me on my speech were professional and enthusiastic, but not swoony. I felt supported and appreciated, but not fawned over.

On the other hand, my gut also twisted from what I can only name as jealousy. This room full of teens had never heard of Finding Angel, and with me being with a small press it’s unlikely that any of them will any time soon. I certainly won’t be invited to B&N for a signing for a long, long time. Watching this author sign three books per person, to my three books total suddenly made my successful talk feel far less so.

I know this author didn’t start off at that level. She wasn’t selling books hand-over fist from day one. And not everyone loves her, as evidenced by the negative reviews she’s gotten. (Yep, I read them, and only them–no positive ones….I am so bad.) I also read the first pages on Amazon and found issues that I was in the midst of trying to rid my manuscript of. Ya’ll all know how frustrating that is, don’t you? Being slammed on something in your writing, only to find the very same no-no in a NYT bestseller. Sigh.

In the end, I just decided I have to let it go. Someday, I WILL be doing signings at B&N. Someday, I WILL have fans coming through my line to buy my whole trilogy at once, maybe two or three sets because they plan to give them as gifts. I’m not sure why this author gets to experience that so much sooner than I will, but feeling jealous was doing me no good. I quit reading her bad reviews, quit looking for things to dig on, and reminded myself that God has a plan for my writing. I know that in the end I’ll be able to see how that plan was perfect for me. In the mean time, I’m ignoring the jealousy and focusing on making Seeking Unseen the best book it can be.

(But you still won’t catch me reading that author’s good reviews :P.)

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Categories: Random Stuff | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Oh, Jealousy

  1. Caprice Hokstad

    You still have optimism and that’s a great thing. I hope you’re right about those WILLs. So proud of you for doing a speaking gig and counting it a success when you didn’t sell a lot of books. I don’t think I could do that.

    • Kat Heckenbach

      Thanks, Caprice :). I hope I’m right about those WILLs too….

      And my goal with this gig was to practice public speaking, and that’s all I was expecting out of it. I would have LOVED to sell more books. But I knew going in–as I’ve been an attendee at this group in the past many times–that no authors who’ve ever spoken their sell many, if any, books.

      • Caprice Hokstad

        I guess I still cannot seem to fathom speaking as anything but pure terrifying torture. In my mind, they’d have to PAY me in some way to overcome just the fact I had to put myself through it. I’d probably take that “only sold three books” as a welcome excuse to NEVER, EVER EVER have to speak in front of people ever again. I mean, I’m freaking out just thinking about going to B&N when there is a crowd that’s directed at someone else. I’d be, “Whoa, it’s crowded, let’s forget it.” About the only crowd-related scenario I could fathom not being distraught over would be if I was sitting at a table (shield) with an orderly line formed for me to autograph. But even that would be a compromise. I’d MUCH rather sell books on B&N.com or Amazon than in person!

        • Kat Heckenbach

          Comfort in public speaking has been a long time coming for me. And I’m still doing pretty small groups. I’d love to be able to sell more online, but I’m realizing that in-person is a valuable resource for me. And I’m a teacher by nature, so I look at it that way. I’m just leading a class in a way. Even when it’s about me and my personal writing I try to approach it like that.

          I’m not sure how many people were at that author’s signing, since we came toward the end, but there weren’t hordes. It was just the starstruck look in the fans’ eyes that got me, and that they were buying stacks of books.

  2. Kat,

    Hang in there, and don’t let that successful author make you feel inadequate or less successful. ((HUGS))

    • Kat Heckenbach

      Thanks, Krysti! :) The hugs are appreciated! I’m definitely hanging in there. Plenty of room for more successful authors out there, so I totally wish her the best of luck.

  3. I’m with you Kat. My husband and I had a good talk the other day about Fame vs Impact. Do I want fame? Or do I want my book to impact people? My flesh craves the fame (yes, I’m bad too), but my heart wants impact, even if it only impacts a handful of people. Fame lasts a couple seconds, impact will last a lifetime :)

    • Kat Heckenbach

      Morgan, that is so true. “Impact” is a great way of putting it! I want my book discussed, pondered, not just gushed over because it’s a hot trend. I’d much rather be Madeline L’Engle than Stephenie Meyer!

      • Caprice Hokstad

        You can be L’Engle. I’ll be Rowling, okay? I don’t think I want fame, really. I would not hesitate to use a pen name (and in fact, if I can be said to have any degree of “fame” at all, then I have much more under my pen name than under my real one). What I want is readers. I’d rather have 100 people actually READ my books and truly enjoy them than have 500 people buy it and never read it (or possibly worse: start and never finish). However, selling 500 to people who don’t read is still better than not selling any at all. Earning some piddly royalties is the consolation prize for not being J.K. Rowling.

        • Kat Heckenbach

          I think “readers” are more important than “buyers” too. Not saying I don’t want to sell gobs–of course I do!–but I’d rather have books that stand the test of time, like L’Engle’s. I’d rather have kids 50 years from now still reading my books than have a bazillion read them now and forget them as soon as the next trend comes along. Vampires are out? Bye, bye Twilight. But Harry Potter will be read for ages to come, and so will A Wrinkle in Time.

          • Caprice Hokstad

            I suppose I could “suffer” being a Steph Meyer, **IF** that fame/attention then transferred to the books I actually cared about. What I mean is, if I could somehow guess the next fad (HA, I wish), even though I didn’t really feel it was a book of my heart, I would not be above taking advantage of such an opportunity if it meant that AFTER the fad was over, I had gained a “platform” so I could get back to the ‘real’ writing. It’s this pesky platform thing that drives me insane.

  4. You do realize that you just announced that you are a member of the human race? We’ve all been down that road at some time or other. I need to read your book.

    • Kat Heckenbach

      Yep, Susan! I am human :). But I’ve found that so many writers are afraid of admitting jealousy. It feels petty, and we know it comes from a place we don’t like looking at. But it’s part of the journey for all of us!

  5. Ralene Burke

    Great post, Kat. I can see how/why that twinge strikes us at those opportune moments. It’s hard to see someone enjoying something we’re striving for. I’m glad you’re staying positive and know that you WILL get there.

    • Kat Heckenbach

      Thanks, Ralene! I found it odd–although probably oughtn’t have–that it hit right when I was feeling really good about the speaking gig. It made me think, though.

  6. Oh wow. As soon as you mentioned you were going to the other author’s book signing, my heart sank. That’s never a good thing. Then I kept reading and I felt so sorry for you. I totally understand the envy. How many books has this author written, though? If you keep on writing, you’ll develop a fanbase. It just takes time.

    • Kat Heckenbach

      You know, Kessie, I honestly go to these things so I can see how successful authors handle speaking engagements and signings–to learn. The last one was much easier, since the target audience was younger than mine, the author older than me, and she’s got a lot of books under her belt. But this one was harder because the audience is essentially the same as mine, the author is younger than me (I think), and this is her first book series. Yes, she’s already got three books out, compared to my one. And I do agree, it’s about getting more out there in order to get a fan base. Knowing my second book is on the horizon does help.

  7. P.A.Baines

    I’m with Caprice on the whole public speaking lark. I’ve taught some pretty big aerobics classes in my day, but don’t ask me to give a speech (shudder). Of course, it doesn’t help that I’ve got a voice that could send a charging bull to sleep at forty paces :-). I’m told my voice is “relaxing”, but I know they’re just being kind. In my last job they sent me on a course to fix it. I got full marks for energy and entertainment value (my favorite diversion strategy) but they just couldn’t fix the voice. I suspect they fell asleep.

    Kat, you realize that, a few years down the line, you could be the one evoking jealous feelings from a newly published author as you sign truck-loads of books for adoring fans?

    • Kat Heckenbach

      A relaxing voice…one that puts people to sleep…in this day and age of sleeping disorders, you could really capitalize on that, Paul ;).

      Actually, yes, I did think about that–that I could one day be the reason for someone else’s jealousy. It’s a very strange thought. And I hope I will *remember* what it’s like and act accordingly! Maybe that’s why I’m going through this. Maybe God wants me to experience the long haul and the jealousy that goes with it, so when I’m on the other side of that table I am able to be an encouragement to aspiring authors rather than a discouragement.

    • “’m told my voice is “relaxing”, but I know they’re just being kind. In my last job they sent me on a course to fix it.”

      lol. too funny.

  8. “And not everyone loves her, as evidenced by the negative reviews she’s gotten. (Yep, I read them, and only them–no positive ones….I am so bad.)”

    This is funny because it’s exactly what I would do.

    I have an aversion to the thought of being fawned over because I know I will never live up to peoples’ expectations. So, while I’d love for people to love my work, I’m not sure how I feel about public adoration.

    But yes, I catch myself in jealousy all the time in this writing gig. “My writings is just as good or better than his/hers, why they published and I’m not.” “Why have they gotten awards, and I haven’t.” yada yada. But looking back now, I see I wasn’t mature enough for early success. I was a bit full of myself.

    • Kat Heckenbach

      I can relate to the idea of not being mature enough for early success. I’m truly seeing much of this as God working on me to get me ready–because I was SO not when I started writing. Full of myself, maybe. Definitely not ready to handle the work, the rejection, and the expectations of others. It’s come bit by bit, and i know I have a ways to go still!

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