As you may have seen on Twitter and Instagram, my editor sent me an early ARC of FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS! But it came later than it was supposed to, so I had to live vicariously through my agent and the Philomel Books team first:
But come it did, and I got to hold my book in my hands for the very first time!
What an amazing, surreal experience! You can probably tell from my proud, beaming face that it was one of the happiest moments of my life so far! I could not stop looking at the ARC. It felt like holding someone else’s book… until I flipped through and recognized the words as ones I typed!
One year ago, ELEGY had failed on sub and I was still revising FOTL. I didn’t have anything but hope and Tamar’s confidence in me, and now I have more than I ever dared ask for. To say I am grateful is a complete understatement. I am especially thankful to all of you who have preordered, reached out to share your excitement, and/or took the time to read my excerpt. (The entirety of Chapter One is now available on Amazon, by the way!) I hope with all my heart that you’ll enjoy the book when it comes out!
I should be getting a few more ARCs in early April. Expect giveaways! I’m offering a signed ARC (U.S. only this time) on Twitter right now, so if you are interested, click here to check it out. Otherwise, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads, and also subscribe by email because a couple of surprise giveaways may pop up anywhere at any time…
Last week, I pitched an idea on Twitter about starting the hashtag #FOTLFriday. I’m thinking about doing a monthly Twitter event where you ask me questions about FOTL, writing, or life in general, we chat about fairy tales and bad-ass ladies, and/or I share lines from the ARC! Many of you liked the idea (THANK YOU!), so the first #FOTLFriday event will be Friday, March 31, at 8pm EST. The lovely Mish from Chasing Faerytales will be my first guest host, so make sure you follow her on Twitter.
Ooh, and I got my very first “fan art” for FOTL, courtesy of Kat Cho (LOLOLOLOL). This is Samuel L. Jackson, who has HAD it with these #*%$!@ snakes on these #*%$!@ book covers:
Now, let’s get down to business!
Today’s blog post addresses a question I often get from both agented and unagented writers: “What is your advice for someone who is prepping for a book deal in the near future?”
I’ve come up with a list of eight ways to mentally, emotionally, and professionally prepare yourself for that happy day:
(1) Find your writing groove NOW. Are you a morning or night writer? Do you write best at home or in a coffee shop? Does an outline help or hinder you? Do you work well with word count goals, and if so, do you prefer daily, weekly, or monthly targets? Streamline your process, find out your most efficient working conditions, and get to know your preferences, because once you sign a contract, this will be key to being productive and meeting deadlines. Of course, processes evolve over time, but it’s good to know the basics of how you work best.
(2) Embrace all parts of the writing process. A lot of writers either love drafting and hate revising, or vice versa. I’ve always preferred drafting, myself! But when you’re a professional writer, you will have to do A LOT of both, so you might as well learn to accept it all now. You don’t have to love it – I certainly don’t love revising and how messy it gets, but I DO love the clean, polished draft I get when I’m all done.
(3) Build your community. Find friends to share your journey with you. It’s a huge help if a few of them are at the same stage (or a little beyond), because believe me, you’ll need people to commiserate with! Getting a book deal is a wonderful, joyful accomplishment, but it launches you into a different world and it’s nice to have buddies you can ask, “Did this happen to you, too? How did you deal with this?”
(4) Don’t get attached to a title or a cover concept. Your title will change if your publisher believes that’s what’s best for your book. Come up with some alternate titles just in case! Also, authors do NOT get to choose what their cover looks like. You might be invited to give your opinion, but the entire concept (images, fonts, colors, etc.) and the final decision always rests with the publisher. Some of you asked whether I came up with the cover for FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS… now you know!
(5) Hope, don’t expect. You’re probably familiar with this if you’ve been querying! It is impossible not to compare yourself to others, and it never ends. Maybe another writer got a ritzy international tour and you didn’t, or they were on a panel and you weren’t invited to the conference, or someone sold movie rights to Hollywood and you didn’t. There is something to compare at every level, if that’s the way you think, but you’re setting yourself up for a LOT of heartache.
THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION.
Plus, you just can’t bank on things like film rights and foreign rights. Expectation is like saying, “This thing that is 100% out of my control HAS to happen.” No, grasshopper. Reframe your thinking: “I HOPE this thing that is 100% out of my control happens, but no matter what, I’ll focus on writing the best book I can.” That’s literally the only thing about publishing that is in your power.
(6) Save your pennies now. Open a savings account if you don’t have one and keep your day job if you can! Then when you get a book deal, put aside a nice fat chunk of that advance check (what’s left after taxes, anyway *sobs forever*). No matter the size of your advance, you’ll most likely need a little cash for swag/self-promotion, travel, etc. Not to mention eat and pay for electricity so you can plug in your laptop!
(7) Prepare to transition. I have found it seriously weird, crossing the line between aspiring author and public figure. I’ve been part of this community for ten years, during which I interacted with a LOT of people and enjoyed it! But now, with more demands on my time and greater visibility, online interaction has become a bit draining.
The author-reader barrier is painfully thin because of social media. Sometimes, you come across certain individuals who don’t understand boundaries and think they own you and are entitled to your time, your words, and your attention. It’s just not conducive to good writing or mental health to always be within easy reach via DM or tweet.
Setting boundaries for communication is an important and necessary part of author life. I am still teaching myself that it is okay not to respond to every single message. It is okay not to auto-follow (yep, learned that lesson in January, as you guys know), and it is okay to mute or unfollow someone if I need to, without justifying or explaining myself. See this Pub Crawl podcast for some excellent insight on this topic. And to go along with this…
(8) Accept that you will not be liked by everyone. I’m nice. I make friends easily and I’m well-liked everywhere I go. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to be universally liked, especially when you’re a public figure. This has been hard for me to accept. I’m still coming to terms with it.
See, people are going to hate you for things you can’t control: because you’re young, because they wanted you to be a different ethnicity, because you got a big book deal, because you have the agent they want, because you wrote a unicorn novel and they had a traumatic childhood experience involving unicorns.
If they hate your book (or the mere idea of your book), they might judge you for that. They don’t have to know YOU, the person. They just don’t like you. You. Cannot. Control. This. And it is okay! You the private person are separate from you the public-facing author… KEEP THE IDENTITIES SEPARATE. (Telling myself this at the same time)
That about sums it up! And as always, what I post on my blog is from my experience only. Publishing is unique to each person, so these items come from my perspective. Still, I hope this is helpful to some of you!
Next Friday, you may want to visit the Pub Crawl blog because I am interviewing someone very special: none other than my awesome editor, Brian Geffen of Philomel Books. Brian is going to give some insight into the book acquisitions process as well as how he became an editor, so definitely come check that out if you’re interested!