Thursday, September 5, 2013

5 Things I Learned As A Debut Author

by Mindy McGinnis

NOT A DROP TO DRINK hasn't hit the shelves yet, but I've already learned so much in 2013. As I'm about to be catapulted into the world of the published, I wanted to share what I've experienced so far - and maybe you''ll get an update after the Dark Days tour! Because I'm sure a debut will emerge from a national tour much, much wiser. Or possibly just exhausted.

1) Writing a book is a lonely endeavor. Publishing it takes a team. From your cover art to the author photo to the QR code that the marketing folks put on your dust jacket, there are more people involved in your book than you can imagine. Some of them you'll share emails with on an almost daily basis - especially as debut week looms - but there are also some whose names you may never know. It's a team, a huge team. It's your face on the jacket, but someone else made sure it was formatted properly.

2) People outside of publishing are going to ask you if your book is done yet... a month before debut. I've written a more extensive post on this subject over on the Book Pregnant blog, if you're interested. You can't expect people outside of the industry to understand how slowly this colossus moves. "Yes, it's finished,"  you want to say. "It's been finished for two years. I forget what happens in it." Don't say that. Or rather, just say the first part. Then smile.

3) Everyone else you know has written a book. Or wants to write a book. Or has an idea for a book. And they want to talk to you about it. Again, smiling is your best response. Don't blow anybody off - remember how you felt when you were just putting pen to paper, and how much guts it probably took for them to even tell you about their book. Point them in the right direction as far as helpful websites and writers forums, but don't start holding hands and baby-stepping them. It's not your job.

4) We're all big dorks here. And that's the best part about this whole book thing. I'm not even released yet and I've already rubbed elbows with some major names - and they were super cool people. Even when you're face to face with the coolest of the cool, remember that they love books. So you've got something in common.

5) Freaking out is for the weak. Yes, I am leaving for a national tour in two weeks. Yes, I just got my edit letter for my 2014 release and it needs to be back to the editor before tour time. Yes, I need to dive into the research for the 2015 release. Yes, I have three interviews that need answering in my inbox. Yes, I need to shoot a vlog tomorrow. (This is all true, FYI) And what exactly is freaking out going to accomplish? My version of freaking out is to eat a doughnut and complain to my crit partner. That's empty calories and wasted time. Focus. THEN DO IT.
Mindy McGinnis is a YA author and librarian. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, is a post-apocalyptic survival tale set in a world where freshwater is almost non-existent, available from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins September 24, 2013. She blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire and contributes to the group blogs Book PregnantFriday the ThirteenersFrom the Write AngleThe Class of 2k13The Lucky 13s & The League of Extraordinary Writers. You can also find her on TwitterTumblr & Facebook.


Debra McKellan said...

#2 Is very annoying when you tell people you write. I'm patient on the outside, but on the inside, I'm exploding.

JennaQuentin said...

Congratulations! I loved your point on people asking if it's finally, finally done. Lots of my friends have quite asking. Obviously I'm better at giving birth to babies than books ;) or maybe that's just 'cause at some point nature takes over to get babies published. Thanks for the points.

Stephsco said...

I've been following your blog a long time (in blog years) and am happy your book debut is so close!

The other day my mom asked "did you get a book deal yet?" As if that's something I wouldn't immediately call her and tell her about. haha. People are weird.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Deb - Smile. Smile and nod.

Jenna - Yep. There's always this imagined timeline that people who have no idea what the creative process is like foist upon you.

Steph - THANK YOU!! And I totally think you should play it cool when you DO get a book deal. Kind of like, "Oh hey guess what happened... last week?"

GranTurismo Driver said...

Nice post, great blog, following :)

Good Luck :)