It took me five years from the moment I started writing to sell my first book. It was five years full of first drafts, final drafts, dreams, and doubts. But in those moments where I would let my mind wander and wonder — my daydreaming moments — I thought about what my life might be like if I did ever sell a novel.
I envisioned things such as seeing my name on the cover, signing the title page for a reader, and finding the book on Amazon or nestled in a bookstore somewhere in the Fiction section between Q and S.
And then those things came true. I sold a novel. I watched the novel become a book I could hold in my hand. I read reviews of my work. I signed the title page at book readings. I found copies of my book in libraries and book stores.
But what I never imagined was that people would Instagram the book as it sat on their shelves, or in their laps, or on their Kindles.
There is something incredibly cool about seeing your book in the hands of a stranger a world away from you; something utterly fascinating about what books surround yours on a reader’s shelf. And there is something deliriously joyful about seeing streams of people that care enough about your work to take a picture.
When you write a novel, you hope that someone out there will love it the way you love it, that they will read it the way you wrote it, that they will understand it and take something from it. But that all seems theoretical. Conceptual. Something that happens when you’re not there.
The images people share on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs make it real. They take something abstract and make it tangible. I can see, in plain images, some of the houses my book has found a home in. And I feel instantly connected to my readers. More connected than I ever imagined of all those nights I dreamed about being a published author.
I thought that once my book was published, it would be as if I’d sent it off in a hot air balloon never to be heard from again. And I was okay with that. I thought that letting go of the book was how you let it reach its readers.
But I have been surprised, and overjoyed, to learn that readers will send your book back to you. They will show you that they brought it to the beach. They will highlight and screencap their favorite lines. They will take a picture of the chair they are sitting in as they crack the spine, the tea they are drinking as they turn the pages, or the shelf it rests on when they are done.
I spent so much time thinking about all of the exciting moments that might happen in my life because my book would reach readers. But I have found that the greatest moments of my career have been when my readers have reached me.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist living in Los Angeles.
Her first novel, Forever, Interrupted, is out now. Her second novel, After I Do, comes out July 1st. Please tweet and instagram her @tjenkinsreid.
US only Giveaway! I have three copies of Forever Interrupted, so if you are in the US please leave a comment with your email address!