Truth be told, they still are.
But what surprised me most?
Some of those things that didn't surprise me include getting professional help (snicker again, and no I don't mean psychiatric help) from your publisher/editor and others at the publishing house. It can be the folks you meet at signings, other authors, booksellers, cover artists and their artwork, reviewers, fans, supportive friends who tell everyone how awesome you are, bloggers, your local library employees.
Some of those things that DID surprise me are: being ignored by the professionals at your publisher/editor and others at the publishing house. It can be the folks you meet at signings who just want to tell you about their fantastic unpublished novel thereby hogging your table time even though they aren't really interested in your subject matter or genre let alone buying an actual book from you, other authors who won't give you the time of day, rude booksellers (even when you're there to do a pre-arranged signing/talk), cover artists who didn't bother to read a description of characters in your novel, reviewers who hate your story, fans who don't speak their mind when someone puts down your work, jealous friends who stop talking to you over stupid shit, bloggers who seem to promote everyone else, your local library employees who don't seem to think that letting you talk to local kids about the writing business is any kind of a good idea. **many of these are NOT pertinent to me (I have liked my editors and covers, most of my reviews have been positive, and in my experience smaller bookstores have had classier interaction with authors, etc.) but I've heard so many author horror stories over the last few years...
Bottom line is, being published isn't some golden hall pass. (Insert xylophone trill and angelic voices here.) You still have shit to deal with and endless random complications and things not going exactly how you'd prefer them to like you would with any other job. You still have to roll the dice and deal with the portion of the public in general that you come in contact with. Think of it like working retail during an unending holiday season. If you've ever worked retail in the last months of the year, join me in the eyerolling and groaning now.
Sidenote: I think the zombie apocalypse will actually start with cashiers/associates who've been accosted by Black Friday crowds and then endured a month of general customer snobbery that included them touching/handling the merchandise waaaay too much which will a.) need refolded/put back where it truly goes, and b.) likely infect said cashier with some horrible form of influenza which will cause them to miss work, reduce pay, and ultimately cause a stress-related chemical breakdown in the brain which will cause them to need to ingest the minds of the public-at-large, digest those minds, thereby turning them into the stuff the cashier thought they were in the first place.
You're still with me after that sarcasm-laden rant?
Aw, shucks! Thanks!
If anything, getting your first published credit is such a gauntlet because you have to prove yourself up to the challenge of what comes after. (It is not set up this way by the industry, it just IS a tough business to break into. All that YOU go through to achieve the dream proves to YOU that YOU really want this and that YOU can learn from rejection and criticism and not be crushed by either.)
Points in case:
* Unattended signings are ego-killers.
* Trying to tackle the myriad outlets to maximize free exposure and then vying for a spot amid the sea of other very talented and eager authors all while writing your next novel and living your life is not for feint of heart.
* Realizing that your new release has just come out at the same time as 50+ other nifty-sounding books with great covers in your same genre can make some people lose sleep, hair, car keys, or even their sanity.
This business chews people up and spits them out fast. Some people sell one or two books and you never hear from them again. Some of the big names have used several psuedonyms as they made their determined upward climb--that also surprised me.
If this writing roller coaster is for you,
nothing will stop you.
If it isn't, this ride has exits all over the place,
and you'll find them when you need them.