Friday, January 29, 2016

So now the book is finished so you just sit back and chill, right? Yeah, not even close, dude....

I apologize for not blogging in so long. Lately, my life has been a little crazy, but in all the best ways. I think one of the biggest misconceptions an aspiring writer has is that they will write the book, an agent will represent it and sell it, an editor will acquire it and help mold it and sculpt it and take it to the next level, and then, after the final round of edits, the author simply dives in to work on the next book and awaits the initial book's release, all the while fielding movie offers from Hollywood. After all, it's been through several rounds of edits and copy edits and it's finished, so what more could possibly need to be done?

So much more.

In fact, now the next phase of the job begins, and it's almost as much work as writing the book itself.

I was pretty excited that my publisher assigned me an in-house publicist, and I am lucky to work with a team who is so enthusiastic about my book and is willing to do whatever they can to channel awareness to its upcoming release. They are the people who coordinate distributing ARCs to bloggers, librarians, reviewers and media outlets. They bring that ARC to industry trade shows and events and try and generate word of mouth. They tweet about the book on social media and retweet links to positive reviews and shout-outs and what-not. They create a marketing plan for the book, organize a blog tour and reach out on my behalf in the hopes that across the various forms of media and social media, people will want to learn more about me and MY KIND OF CRAZY.

So what comes next? I'll tell you.

The first exciting step is the cover reveal, which your publisher may arrange or you may seek out a source yourself. Generally whomever hosts this will also want a bio, an excerpt of up to 500 words and maybe a few questions. No problem! You can fire those off AND get four loads of laundry done, get the dishes out of the sink, play a few levels of Candy Crush Saga, update your Facebook status (#amwriting!) AND get down some word count on the new book. This is easy. And fun!

Then, after the cover reveal and coupled with the efforts of your diligent in-house publicists, you will suddenly find yourself easing on to the radar of bloggers and librarians. If you are fortunate, they will start to contact you wanting to interview you or write a guest post on topics ranging from behind the scenes trivia about the book to playlists to 15 Things You Didn't Know About Me. Often their questions can be similar to another blogger's, but you don't want to give the exact same answer because who wants to read the exact same interview over and over? So now you're putting thought and creativity into these, trying to differentiate each one out of respect to the person taking the time to feature you because how awesome is that??!

If you're smart, you will have teamed up with other fellow authors who share your debut year and will be working to help promote each others' books. This often involves an ARC tour where you read as many of the books from your fellow debuts as you can and then write about them on social media to help spread the word. It's wonderful and it creates amazing friendships and great support, but it too takes time, as you will need to now make time in your schedule for reading all their books. Sometimes you may have two or three that show up in a week, and you need to turn them around pretty fast.

And then you start thinking about swag. People love swag, and writers bring this with them when they go to signings or participate on panels. It's also great for giveaways and pre-order incentives, so now you've got to put on your thinking cap and start coming up with fun stuff to create: bookmarks, bracelets, postcards, buttons, the possibilities are endless. You find yourself spending time on line comparing prices, talking with other writers about what they used, trying to come up with something original that screams what your book is about in a fun way. Note: the dishes have now not been done in a couple of days. This is a good point to get up, stretch, get them done and throw in a load of laundry.

Now it's time to think about appearances, because nothing compares with the ability to have face-time with readers and librarians and anyone who might be interested in your book. If you moderate a panel, you respectfully need to make sure you've read all the books by the people on your panel so you can speak thoughtfully to them about their work and ask pointed questions. Add that on to the evening to-do list and start buying food you can turn quickly into something that passes for dinner. Crock pots and Trader Joes will be your new best friends. You schedule a book launch (make sure you order enough swag!) (and where to have that? Better research that too) and then you look into local conferences and book festivals that feature young adult authors and reach out and see if they might be interested in having you come participate. (By the time you finish this, you should probably throw in another laundry load because that first one has been sitting in the machine for a couple of days and smells funky. Actually, maybe you should just wash that load again.)

Meanwhile, every time you sit down to work on the new book, there's another email, another piece of something to sign off on, and for the love of all things literary, GET OFF GOODREADS!

As the release date gets closer, the momentum does not let up, and that's a GREAT thing because it means more people are interested in reading about your book. And at the same time, it's all sort of daunting. The marketing and promotion side makes you feel a bit like a used car salesman, because you're a person who does not feel comfortable on stage in the spotlight. You are much more comfortable backstage, if not hiding under the stage, and suddenly you've got to learn about things like public speaking and pitching yourself for panels and all sorts of things that are uncharted territory.

But guess what? Nobody can sell your book better than you. And yes, it's a lot of work, but it's super rewarding, because how cool is that that people actually want to read your book? And that even though you aren't supposed to go on Goodreads, you've seen people compare the writing to John Green (OMG!!) and fangirl about your characters. That's the good stuff, and worth all the energy and effort, even if you have one inch gray roots and you could get a square meal off your kitchen floor.

Then the book comes out, and there will be another wave of more of the same, all the while still plugging away writing the next book. And then the cycle begins all over again. And you stop and remember that nothing worth having comes without hard work, and so you push through. And when you feel like you can't adult another minute, you talk to your writer friends who have been there and assure you this is all normal, YOU are normal, and that they've been there, done that and have that t-shirt too. And then you laugh about what a crazy business publishing is while washing that laundry load for the third time because you actually forgot to dry it again that second time and think to yourself how cool is it that you get to spend your days making up stories and feel blessed for this amazing ride.

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