Amazon lists my publication date as April 29, which is weird because we uploaded the thing around noon on April 30. And then it didn't have a photo or a description for a day or so. (Oddly enough, getting sales without a book cover or description of the book is kind of difficult.) The first time someone bought my book was May 1. So today is the three-month anniversary of my first official book sale.
It's also the first day in my life that I've ever received actual payment for something I wrote.
(I'm sorry, Mrs. Kluck, but I'm not counting that $25 I won for the forced entry into the VFW "Why I'm Proud to be an American" citywide essay contest, which you masqueraded as a graded assignment in 7th grade History. Because of the cash, I would have forgiven you immediately, had I not been required to come to the podium and read the entire thing aloud in front of a few hundred people.)
I've learned a lot on this first leg of the journey. For instance, having a Facebook page has been great, but I don't care for Twitter. (Both can be distracting and time-sucking -- not good for someone who sits at a computer to work. I generally have them both off and closed.) I've discovered that I love interacting with book bloggers and readers, and with other authors -- as long as this latter interaction is all about emotional support and the exchange of what-works-and-what-doesn't ideas.
Three months ago, I couldn't call myself an author. I definitely still have a problem with doing so, because somewhere in my head sits the traditional mindset -- that going through an agent and a publication house is the only way to "be" an author. A few years ago, this was true. Now, it isn't. It's called a marketplace. Readers will buy what looks interesting to them, and what looks worth the price charged. I'm happy that they're learning to hit the "sample" button on their Kindles before buying. I'm happy that they backcheck reviews to make sure they're legit. I honestly don't want anyone to buy my book who'll dislike it.
Everyone is different, so every writer is going to feel like a "real author" at a different point in the game. For some, it's the moment they put words to paper or screen. For others, it has to do with representation or a certain number of sales. It might even have to do with a certain dollar amount of income -- maybe even that point where the writer can write full-time and make a living doing so.
Personally, I'm just waiting for the moment when it all feels real.
I'm getting there.