A Year of Change of Heart: What I’ve LearnedPosted on June 9th, 2011 3 comments
Currently reading: THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot (adult book club selection)
It has been an amazing year since my debut novel, Change of Heart, was published. I’ve learned so much this year and thought I’d share some of those things.
1. Book signings are much more fun if done with other authors. As a debut author, my signings are sometimes “lightly attended.” If you have a buddy with you, you don’t feel as lonely.
2. Facebook is not the enemy. I was a very reluctant Facebooker. And while there may be people who overshare and sometimes the bounds of privacy are broken, it’s been a great way to connect with people. I still haven’t found the way to make Twitter work for me, though I do pop over there on occasion and join the conversation, but Facebook has been surprisingly fun. Please come over to FB and say hi. (I can call it FB now because we’re really good friends!)
3. AMTRAK is awesome! I took the train to ALA in DC in June, to the Baltimore Book Festival in September and to the Rochester Teen Book Festival in May. I could have driven to any of these places, but the train is so much easier–and with no one around to interrupt me, it’s like a writer’s retreat on wheels.
4. There is no right way to balance promotion and writing. Even the more seasoned authors I have met say they haven’t quite figured it out. The best thing you can do, I guess, is just try to allocate time for each.
5. Speaking of seasoned authors–YA and Children’s Authors are a fabulously generous and welcoming bunch. Starting with the giant “welcome to the YA sisterhood” I got when I met Laurie Halse Anderson at a BEA signing last year to hanging out with some terrific, prolific people at the Rochester Teen Book Festival last month, everyone has been so welcoming. You hear horror stories of how competitive adult authors can be and I’ve found nothing but camaraderie and respect in the YA world.
6. Barnes and Noble will pull your book after 3 months if the sales in an individual store aren’t what they want–but it’s not the end of the world. And no one at B&N could tell me exactly what the magic number was. Because Change of Heart was a little late in being released, it only got about 6 weeks, which is really not a lot of time. That said, after my initial panic, I realized there are a lot of things about being published that you can’t control and Change of Heart still lives on at Amazon, B&N.com, some indies, etc.
7. Never underestimate the value of the hometown crowd. That includes having 300 people at my book launch at the New City Library, great press coverage in the Rockland County Journal-News and New City Patch, being included in the summer reading list for Clarkstown North and South and all of the support our friends and family have given me. Plus Change of Heart is still in the Nanuet and Palisades B&Ns (see happy exception to #6).
8. Debut groups are invaluable. I was a member of both the Class of 2K10 and The Tenners. It was so great to be able to share the highs and lows of my debut year with people going through exactly what I was.
Do you notice a trend? So many of these lessons revolve around the people I’ve met. I think that’s been the nicest surprise of all. I always thought of writing as a solitary pursuit, but this year have realized how awesome it is to have met so many interesting, intelligent people and to be a part of the writing community.
Who knows what the next year will bring. I am still promoting Change of Heart, working on several other books, trying to figure out the life/work balance and have been writing a Moms Talk column for our local on-line newspaper the New City Patch. Which I guess brings me to the 9th and final lesson of the year:
9. There are never enough hours in the day, so do the best you can. And gee, if that means the dishes get done at midnight or ordering a pizza, well, so be it. No one ever died from dirty dishes or too much pizza.
Thanks to everyone who made it a great year!
Such a great list. Congrats on your one year bookiversary!
Shari! It’s been a year of so many ups and downs hasn’t it? Sometimes I think having a first book published causes more misery than happiness…and then I remember that it’s introduced me to a wonderful community, of which you are a favorite member.
Shari, meeting you and the other 2K10 authors at BEA was definitely my favorite event of the year! The mutual support among YA authors in general is amazing, but the class of 2K10 has been especially gratifying. Great blog post!
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