“I Wish I’d Known…”: Advice for Debut Authors, Part 5

Here’s the final installment in our series where members of the Sweet Sixteens share what they’ve learned in their debut year.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4

Sarah Ahiers, author of Assassin’s Heart and Thief’s Cunning

Sarah Ahiers   Assassins Heart   thief's cunning

Find her online at sarahahiers.com

“I wish I’d known that even though everyone says you shouldn’t read reviews, I shouldn’t really read reviews. But it also seems to be a lesson everyone needs to learn on their own.

Also, that writing book 2 will be the hardest thing ever, even though I had written books before, and after, I’d sold Assassin’s Heart. It didn’t matter. It was still really hard, just like for countless other debut authors before me. They were right all along.”

 

Laura Shovan, author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

Laura Shovan   Laura Shovan (THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY)

Find her online at laurashovan.com

“I wish I’d known that the middle grade “slow burn” was a real thing. My book came out in April. The first six weeks after launch were a roller-coaster. The book did well, but sales and readership really started taking off when the school year began. Teachers, librarians, and parents are still finding my book, talking about it, and sharing it with young readers.”

 

Cynthia Reeg, author of From the Grave

cynthia reeg   from-the-grave-monster-trilogy-1

Find her online at www.cynthiareeg.com

“I wish I’d known that publishing a first novel is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. That it is a marathon of edits and promotion and self-doubt and exhilaration. I feel extremely lucky to have joined with The Sweet Sixteens to weather the storms and to celebrate the highs. I’d encourage debut authors to find peer support in their writing community. It will make the adventure much easier and enjoyable!”

 

Lisa A. Koosis, author of Resurrecting Sunshine

Lisa A. Koosis   resurrectingsunshine

Find her online at www.lisakoosis.com

“I wish I’d known that as amazing as my debut year would be, it would also be terrifying, that there would be times when everything would be outside my comfort zone. I wish I’d known that I’d have moments when I’d want to make the whole thing just stop…and that it’s normal to feel that way, that it will eventually pass. I wish I’d known to trust myself more, that when it came time, I would find it in me to do what needed to be done (like speaking in front of people!). So trust yourself…and enjoy the ride!”

 

Harriet Reuter Hapgood, author of The Square Root of Summer

Harriet Reuter Hapgood   square root of summer

Find her online at harrietreuterhapgood.com

“I wish I’d known that I really was invited to the party! My first panels and green rooms and events were a crash-course in imposter syndrome. The thing is, I deserved to be there. I might not know everything (joke, I know everything), but I knew how to write get an agent, write a YA book, sell it – which qualified me to answer questions about YA, publishing, craft. I did all the things, but I wish I’d done so with way less anxiety and beta-blockers and self-doubt, and much more razzmatazz and balloons.”

 

 

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“I Wish I’d Known…”: Advice for Debut Authors, Part 4

More Members of the Sweet Sixteens share what they’ve learned in their debut year.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

 

Heather Smith Meloche, author of Ripple

Heather Smith Meloche    RIPPLE

Find her online at www.heathersmithmeloche.com

“I wish I’d known how out of my comfort zone I’d be having to promote my own work. Me as a salesperson is like: “You don’t want it? O.K. Cool.” But that doesn’t fly in this biz. And while I can tout my peers’ accomplishments all day, it’s awkward to ask for reviews or find a trillion flashy ways to publicize my book. But timidity won’t sell for you, so prepare to scream, shout, stand battalion-ready behind your novel, then fire it into the crowd. Even if it means withdrawing under a blanket with tea in hand after to recuperate!”

 

Kathleen Burkinshaw, author of The Last Cherry Blossom

Kathleen Burkinshaw   Last Cherry Blossom_cover (1) (1) (2)

Find her online at www.kathleenburkinshaw.com

“I wish I’d known that there are specific proposal submission deadlines for state school library, reading conferences, and various book festivals. I would have submitted proposals prior to my publishing date. One source for book festivals is www.bookreporter.com/book-festivals.  Also, look up your state and neighboring states’ school library, local city library, and reading conferences.”

 

S.A. Larsen, author of Motley Education

S.A. Larsen   motleyedhighres

Find her online at salarsenbooks.com

“I wish I’d known that the rigors of post-release sucking any solid story words from my head to write the second book is actually normal. Publishing your first book, entrusting your baby to the minds and hearts of readers is exhausting and scary. But it is also brave. Be gentle with your post-release self. ”

 

Stephanie Scott, author of Alterations

Stephanie Scott   steph scott alterations cover

Find her online at http://www.stephaniescott.net/

“I wish I’d known that as much as you prepare for publication, there will be changes out of your control–and that’s okay. There’s no one, single publishing experience. Share your ups and downs with other debut writers and be there for each other.”

 

 

 

“I Wish I’d Known…”: Advice for Debut Authors, Part 3

Members of the Sweet Sixteens share what they’ve learned in their debut year.

Read Part 1.

Read Part 2.

Brooks Benjamin, author of My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights

Brooks Benjamin New   MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS cover for Jen

Find him online at www.BrooksBenjamin.com

“I wish I’d known that every author out there has days where he or she struggles with writing. Whether it’s rejections from editors, a seemingly unfillable plot hole, or days where the words just don’t want to come out and play. Every author struggles at times. It doesn’t get easier the more we write, but we do tend to find more creative ways to deal with it. So, struggle on, dear writer, and remember: every bump in your road just makes the journey that much more interesting of a success story when you get to tell it to someone else.”

 

Erica M. Chapman, author of the Teach Me to Forget

Erica M. Chapman   Teach me to Forget_BG cvr.indd

Find her online at ericamchapman.com

“I wish I’d known that… everything was going to be okay. Even if your book only helps one person feel happy or more included, or special, that one person is worth it all. There’s so much you don’t have control over, concentrate on what you do. Lean on your debut friends they know how it feels. If [insert promo idea] fails, learn from it. It may feel weird to promote yourself so much (it does to me) but remember, your readers care about who you are; stay creative and be yourself, and you’ll be okay. Enjoy each moment because you have accomplished what so many won’t. ”

 

Shari Schwarz, author of Treasure at Lure Lake

shari-schwartz   Treasure at Lure Lake

Find her online at www.sharischwarz.com

“I wish I’d known that all of the things I feared or worried about when my book released are things that we all fear and worry about. We’re all in this together!”

 

Claire Fayers, author of The Voyage to Magical North and Journey to Dragon Island

Claire Fayers   Voyage to the Magical North   journey to dragon island _finalcover

Find her online at clairefayers.com

“I wish I’d known that there would be long periods with very little happening followed by weeks of frantic activity. I wish I’d made better use of the quiet times to get ahead on the next book, plan school visits, design a website and publicity materials, and all the others things I suddenly found I needed to do. I wish I’d made a to-do list of all this right at the start. And I wish I’d known that the next book is much harder to write, and this is quite normal and not a sign of catastrophic failure!”

 

Kali Wallace, author of Shallow Graves, The Memory Trees, and City of Islands

Kali Wallace   Shallow Graves

Find her online at http://www.kaliwallace.com/

“I wish I’d known that all of the things that feel so fraught leading up to release stop mattering so much afterward. I stopped obsessing over reviews, rankings, and social media buzz, because at a certain point it became clear that so little of all that stuff is within my control. I figured out the only thing I could truly control was the next book–and the next one, and the one after that. That would have been nice to know ahead of time, but I suspect figuring it out is part of the new author process!”

 

“I Wish I’d Known…”: Advice for Debut Authors, Part 2

Members of the Sweet Sixteens share what they’ve learned in their debut year.

Read Part 1.

Kristy Acevedo, author of Consider and Contribute

Kristy Acevedo   Kristy Acevedo Consider   contribute

Find her online at kristyacevedo.com

“I wish I had known how exhausting and amazing publishing my debut book would be. Since I teach high school full-time, I wasn’t prepared for how much additional time would be spent on things like editing, marketing, and emailing. I learned how crucial it is how to manage my personal time to de-stress and enjoy the journey. Also, the relationships I made with other writers were absolutely essential in surviving the rough times.”

 

Melanie Conklin, author of Counting Thyme

Melanie_conklin   COUNTING THYME

Find her online at www.melanieconklin.com

“I wish I’d known that the writing community is so supportive of debut authors. Do not be shy about reaching out to established authors as you figure out the ropes of being an author. You’re not alone, even though it may feel like it at times. Publishing is a team sport!”

 

Christian McKay Heidicker, author of Cure for the Common Universe

Christian McKay Heidicker    Cure for the Common Universe

Find him online at www.cmheidicker.com

“I wish I’d known to start working on your next project as soon as possible. The day after that final draft is turned in. There are rough waters ahead. No matter how successful you are. There will be bad reviews. There will be repetitive questions. Having another arrow in your quiver is the best way to distract yourself. If you get a bad review, fine. You’ve got something different on the way. If you get bogged down describing your book for the 217th time, you’ll still have a spark in your eye. Something more exciting is on the way.”

 

Robin Reul, author of My Kind of Crazy

Robin Reul   mY KIND OF CRAZY

Find her online at www.robinreul.com

“I wish I’d known that marketing my book was like a full-time job all by itself, especially while trying to simultaneously write my next one. You can’t solely rely on your publisher to promote your book and getting the word out in person and on social media via interviews, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be extremely time consuming and costly. It’s helpful to focus on outlets that will get you the largest exposure and to be discerning with your energies so you don’t lose your ability to focus on your writing!”

 

Robin Yardi, author of The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez

Robin Yardi   WAR

Find her online at robinyardi.com

“I wish I’d known that I wouldn’t know what I wish I had known. That after a book with good reviews and awards I would still feel like a beginner. That writing the second book would feel as hard as the first, but that it wouldn’t matter, because I’d do it anyway. Write that next hard book. Writers are like crazy marathon runners. Not the one and done kind, but the kind that run a race or two every year for the rest of our lives. While our intellectual tendons creak and our emotional toes turn black, we keep writing.”

 

“I Wish I’d Known…”: Advice for Debut Authors, Part 1

Members of the Sweet Sixteens share what they’ve learned in their debut year.

Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl From Everywhere

Heidi Helig   Heidi Heilig (THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE)

Find her online at www.heidiheilig.com

“I wish I’d known that it’s not like this forever. Moving from ‘writer’ to ‘author’ was a big change for me, and I thought the excitement, drama, pressure, and responsibilities that move brought were a permanent change. But though life is certainly a bit more stressful (and a bit more fun) post publication, a lot of the pressure has lifted because the newness of everything has faded. I’ve learned what’s important, what I can skip, what works for me, and what I just can’t do. So if debuting has you in a tizzy, enjoy the ride knowing that eventually you will find equilibrium again.”

 

Ava Jae, author of the Beyond the Red trilogy

Ava Jae  Beyond the Red

Find her online at http://avajae.blogspot.com/

“I wish I’d known how quick it all feels! When you’re launching a book and in the thick of everything that leads up to it, it feels like a mountain of work and feelings and stress. But it’s pretty amazing how quickly your launch date arrives—and then becomes a memory. Make sure you take time to enjoy every step of the way; it won’t be long before you blink and neck-deep in preparation for your next book. :)”

 

Mike Grosso, author of I Am Drums

Mike Grosso Author Headshot cropped  I-AM-DRUMS-R4

Find him online at http://mikegrossoauthor.com

“I wish I’d known that it’s perfectly normal to be afraid of being a debut author. No one knows what to expect the first time through this wild ride, and the voices in your head telling you you’re screwing this all up are your fears and anxieties lying to you. You have a book. It’s real. You did good, dude.”

 

Jenn Bishop, author of The Distance to Home and 14 Hollow Road

Jenn Barnes   THE DISTANCE TO HOME   14 Hollow Road

Find her online at http://www.jennbishop.com

“I wish I’d known that I’d spend so much time in the post office! (Mailing ARCs, bookmarks, etc.) I could’ve written a whole new book with all the time spent waiting in line. (Note to self: learn how to type more accurately on cell phone.)”