“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!”


Thank the Admins!

As we near the end of 2016, we’d like to take the opportunity to Thank the Admins! For over two years, a core group of sixteen authors have been the tireless engine behind: ARC tours, Sweet Sixteen logo & web design, Facebook posts, Twitter love and so much more. To thank these incredible authors for their extra time and effort, we’ll be featuring a handful of administrators each month in a Thank the Admins post. We hope you’ll take a moment to extend your gratitude and give these peeps a virtual high five.

Kathy MacMillan

Kathy MacMillan (SWORD AND VERSE)Kathy MacMillanYour role as admin: Kathy was the founder of The Sweet Sixteens! *Huge shout-out to Kathy!* She coordinated EVERYTHING, including wrangling admins! The Sweet Sixteens wouldn’t be The Sweet Sixteens without the phenomenal amount of effort, time and caring that Kathy MacMillan has devoted to this debut group.

What’s up next:  An as-yet-untitled companion novel to Kathy’s YA fantasy debut Sword and Verse, scheduled to be published January 2018. Kathy’s fans are already drooling for this one!!

Thing you learned in your debut year: “Everyone will have different expectations of you and your book, and there is nothing you can do about that.  All you can do is focus on telling the story you need to tell.”


Victoria J. Coe

Victoria J Coe (FENWAY AND HATTIE)Victoria J Coe

30075003Your role as admin: Victoria formatted and posted all of the Meet the Author features. She’s been incredible about getting to know each and every Sixteener and making them feel welcome, both virtually and (for the lucky ones) throughout her book travels.

What’s up next:  Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang, the sequel to Victoria’s MG debut Fenway and Hattie, will be published on January 24, 2017. Victoria is currently revising a third Fenway and Hattie book that will be released in Winter 2018. More Fenway and Hattie means more smiles!!!

Thing you learned in your debut year: “This year has been life-changing! I’ve learned so much I can hardly get my thoughts together. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is I’m so glad I got to go through this journey with the Sweet Sixteens. To be part of this community of talented writers and outstanding human beings has been an honor.”

Marisa Reichardt

UnderwaterMarisa Reichardt

Your role as admin: Marisa posted all of the Fearless Fifteener interviews and kept our Sweet Sixteen Facebook page populated, along with help from MG author Laura Shoavn. Did you have your book news posted to Facebook this year? Throw a thanks Marisa’s way!

What’s up next:  Marisa is looking forward to foreign publications of her contemporary YA debut Underwater in 2017, as well as its paperback release. Today, she’s busy at work on another standalone contemporary YA novel. We can’t wait!!

Thing you learned in your debut year: “I can’t live without Shannon M. Parker.”


Brooks Benjamin

MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS cover for JenBrooks Benjamin NewYour role as admin: Brooks is our YouTube guru and tweets for The Sweet Sixteens account, sharing great news across both platforms.

What’s up next:  Brooks is hopping around to different states for conferences and festivals promoting My Seventh Life and Tights. In between events, he’s writing and has a couple of MG manuscripts on sub right now! Yay for more Brooks Benjamin stories to come!

Thing you learned in your debut year: “Things get seriously busy after your book comes out. This isn’t a bad thing, just surprising. But I’ve also learned that I the other Sweet Sixteeners are wonderful to rely on when you feel overwhelmed. They’re going through the same thing and they always let you know they’re there for you.”

The Sweet Sixteens at the American Library Association Annual Conference

annual-pod-2016Many of our members will be on hand at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference this weekend on Orlando, FL!  Here’s where to find them:

Saturday, June 25

11:00 AM

  • Bridget Hodder will be signing THE RAT PRINCE at the Macmillan Kids Booth (#2118)

2:00 PM:

  • Tobie Easton will be signing EMERGE at the IPG Booth (#2165)
  • Stephanie Garber will be signing CARAVAL at the Macmillan Kids Booth (#2115)

2:30 PM:

  • C. M. Surrisi will be signing THE MAYPOP KIDNAPPING at the Lerner Booth.

3:00 PM

  • Tara Sim (TIMEKEEPER) will be participating in the Author Speed Dating Event (location TBA)
  • Brooks Benjamin (MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS), Dana Elmendorf (SOUTH OF SUNSHINE),Melissa Gorzelanczyk (ARROWS),  and Erin L. Schneider (SUMMER OF SLOANE) will be participating in an author panel and signing at the nearby Winterpark Library.  Click here for more information.

5:30 PM:

  • Destiny Soria (IRON CAST) will be participating in the YALSA Happy Hour (The Pub, Pointe Orlando Complex).


Sunday, June 26

9:00 AM:

  • Destiny Soria (IRON CAST) will be participating in the YALSA Coffee Klatch (OC convention ctr, Rm W107).

10:00 AM:

  • Elizabeth Briggs will be signing FUTURE SHOCK at the Albert Whitman Booth (#2045)
  • Dana Elmendorf will be signing SOUTH OF SUNSHINE at the Albert Whitman Booth (#2045)

12:00 PM:

  • Jennie K. Brown will be signing POPPY MAYBERRY, THE MONDAY at the IPG Booth (#2165)
  • Panel: “Kiss & Tell: MG & YA Authors Talk Cuddling to Kissing to Oh My!” at the Pop Top Stage.  Featuring: Brooks Benjamin (MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS), Elizabeth Briggs (FUTURE SHOCK), Dana Elmendorf (SOUTH OF SUNSHINE), Melissa Gorzelanczyk (ARROWS),  Erin L. Schneider (SUMMER OF SLOANE), Tara Sim (TIMEKEEPER), Erin Summerill (EVER THE HUNTED).

1:00 PM

  • Destiny Soria will be signing IRON CAST at the Abram Booth (#1226)

2:00 PM:

  • Tara Sim will be signing TIMEKEEPER at the Sky Pony Booth (#2236)
  • J. Keller Ford will be signing IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING at the IPG Booth (#2165)
  • Erin L. Schneider will be signing SUMMER OF SLOANE at the Disney/Hyperion Booth (1350)


Printable Release Calendar for April!

Here’s our handy printable release calendar to help you keep track of all the sweet April debuts coming at you soon!

Click here for the April 2016 calendar in .pdf format


Thanks to our printable calendar team: Sarah Alexander,  Jenn Nguyen, Dee Romito, Shari Schwarz, Kathy MacMillan, Randi Pink and Ava Jae!











The Debut Club: An interview with Ronni Arno, author of RUBY REINVENTED

Sweet Sixteener Brooks Benjamin recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Ronni Arno about her debut contemporary MG novel, RUBY REINVENTED (November 3, 2015 from Simon and Schuster/Aladdin).

About the Author: 

Ronni Arno

Ronni Arno writes middle grade and young adult novels, because she thinks kids are cool, and so are the books they read. Ronni lives on the coast of Maine with her husband, two daughters, and a dog named Hazel. Her debut, RUBY REINVENTED, publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin on November 3, 2015. Her next book publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin in Summer 2016. When she’s not writing, Ronni stalks her kids for story ideas, kayaks, and eats chocolate… but not usually at the same time. 

Find Ronni on her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.



Ruby Reinvented cover design

When twelve-year-old Ruby learns that her supposed BFFs are only friends with her because her of her famous parents, she finds a place as far from fake and phony Hollywood as she can get: a Maine boarding school. In her panic to distance herself from her star-studded folks, Ruby tells her new friends that she’s an orphan. She feels awful lying to her weird but wonderful roommate Summer (the first real friend Ruby has ever had), but not awful enough. In fact, now that nobody’s comparing her to her perfect parents, Ruby can finally let her own talents as a dress designer take center stage. But when Ruby finds herself connecting with a boy who really did lose his parents, she’s torn between who she is and who she’s pretending to be. And with Parent’s Weekend approaching, she must find a way to keep her secret… without losing her new best friend, the trust of her first crush, and the chance to shine as the designer of her own fashion show.

RUBY REINVENTED is available from: Amazon, Powells, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. 

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Top Sixteen: Author Nightmares


1. SOMETHING’S MISSING: the launch is planned, the cover is fantastic, the publisher is all ready to go….except you completely and totally forgot to write the book!

2. You’re all set for the launch date, and the morning of you wake up and realize…IT WAS ALL A DREAM. You haven’t sold your book and there are three rejections waiting in your email box.

3. You’ve been anxiously awaiting the day for months, and finally it’s here. You open up your box of ARCs only to find that the publisher has put in not your professional author photo, but an image they found of you by Google image searching your name . . . and it’s from your crazy antics in college.

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