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by Abigail Van Buren

Newly Published Author Shies Away From Glare of Limelight

DEAR ABBY: I have recently enjoyed the success of having my first book published. However, this achievement has begun to change my life in ways I hadn't expected.

I am a somewhat shy and reflective person by nature, preferring to live quietly rather than being in the spotlight. Having the freedom to spend time with my family and to enjoy the little things in life is more important to me than success. However, since my book's debut, I have felt myself pulled into a different sort of world.

I am meeting more "important" people than I can remember, and I am struggling to keep up. My inbox is inundated with questions, appointments and invitations. I am expected at speaking events and signings that don't feel entirely authentic. I know I would be an idiot not to embrace these opportunities, but I am becoming more and more uncomfortable and stressed. Maybe this just isn't me.

How can I be who I am without feeling like a disappointment to those who believe in me? -- NOT WHAT I EXPECTED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR NOT: For your own sake, it is important that you stop being so self-critical. There is more to being a successful author than just writing. You are among the lucky few who has been published, and you now have a responsibility to yourself and to your publisher to promote your work and do public relations.

This is a window of opportunity that won't last indefinitely, and it's important that you recognize that fact. In case no one has mentioned it, every business involves relationships. Meeting people of all kinds will prove valuable to you in the future -- long after the hoopla of this book has died down.

Stop saying this isn't you because it IS you. And if your schedule is too stressful, cut it back a little.