STATUS: Back in my office in Denver. And what will I miss most from New York City and the Upper West Side? The Magnolia Bakery. ‘Nacking on some cupcakes.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.
Here is an author who really understands what I was trying to get at with the Dancing With The Stars entry of last week.
So often writers see a first novel get published, have lots of success, and just assume that was the first manuscript the author had done. I’m sorry to say it, folks, but it really isn’t so. Yes, a first PUBLISHED novel might have a lot of success but a lot of writers forget about all those drafts hidden under the bed.
And Kristina knows the value of this. She has at least two fully completed novels stashed away—never to see the light of day. Because that’s what it took for her to write a really phenomenal debut called REAL LIFE & LIARS, which hits shelves today. Congrats Kris!
Kristin asked me to blog about something educational for her readers. This is a pretty smart crowd, and Kristin has done so much to educate all of you about query letter etiquette and so many other important topics, I’m not sure what I can add. So I decided the most useful thing I could do is share what this process has taught me that I didn’t know before.
Write the story that grips you and won’t let go. I didn’t think about the market when I wrote REAL LIFE & LIARS. I’d been writing something else that was supposed to sell, and I was hating it. So I finally decided to instead write exactly the kind of book I like to read, so at least I would have fun, even if no one wanted to publish it.
Someone wanted it. Several someones. It sold at auction. Even the rejections were lovely.
This time around, I produced a heartfelt and genuine manuscript, and I’m convinced that came through on the page.
Blurbs matter. I’ve gotten lots of lovely quotes from many generous and talented authors who were kind enough to take time away from their own careers to read my book. And several times in recent weeks, people have remarked with pleased amazement that I have so many quotes “for a new author.” I don’t know if it affects readers browsing in a bookstore (we could debate that for ages, and in fact it has been debated elsewhere) but I know that reviewers and booksellers have been impressed, and that can only help. One might ask how I landed these blurbs. The short answer is that I asked politely. See next paragraph.
Connections matter. First, networking with other writers kept me sane. I’m hardly a loner by nature, and if not for my support system of fellow writers, by now I would be huddled in a corner, curled around a whiskey bottle. But the business aspect came after the socializing and the friendly support, and this is key. This was no calculated, manipulative attempt at butt-kissing. In fact, many of these connections were in place long before LIARS ever came to be. Thanks to the Internet, networking is easier than ever. Twitter, Facebook, Backspace, various RWA chapters and other genre associations… Our group blog for debut authors, The Debutante Ball, emerged out of connections like these. You don’t have to live in New York to be part of a writer scene anymore. Just talk to people about books and writing, and connections will naturally form.
The coolest things don’t sound sexy at all, like Target and Costco. I got a few minutes recently to chat with Jen Lancaster (BITTER IS THE NEW BLACK, SUCH A PRETTY FAT, PRETTY IN PLAID) at the Printers Row Lit Fest. That bolded statement is a paraphrase of something she said when I told her my book was going to be in Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s warehouse stores this summer, and it’s a Target “Breakout” pick starting in August. This is a big deal for a new author, to have my book in front of so many eyeballs, in so many places, all around the country. For non-writers – and myself, a year ago – it’s hard to grasp why that’s cool. But it absolutely is!
I’m sure many more such lessons are coming. (Is it tacky to sign a book in blue ink? Do I have to write my whole name or is it OK to scribble “Kristina”?)
That’s the other thing I’ve learned. There’s always more to know!