I recently heard Paula McLain speak about her early years as an author, and learned that even superstars start small. McLain wrote two books of poetry, a memoir, and a contemporary novel … and then broke out with The Paris Wife, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for 77 weeks and sold 1.6 million copies.
McLain may have fame and fortune now, but listen to what she says about her very first literary event: “There were five people at bookstore. I knew three of them. That is the experience.”
Maybe the second time went better? Not really. McLain explains, “At my second launch there was only one person at the bookstore. I wanted to ask her, ‘Can I bring you coffee? Will you be my friend?'”
The takeaway? Have courage! And cultivate patience. Even a New York Times bestselling author had to struggle through the early days of building an audience.
P.S. If you’d like to read more about Paula McLain and how she writes historical fiction, here’s my article about her on The Women’s Eye.