WordPressiversary Nostalgia

Every year, on January 6, I get a notification on WordPress that another year has passed since I first registered here. And without fail, I get all nostalgic about the reason why I joined WordPress.

It was for a class I took my final semester at the university. A class I didn’t need according to my academic advisor, but a class that I needed with all my soul according to my writerly ambitions. It was the class that changed my life possibly more than any other class I took during those four years.

I met Brandon Mull and Dan Wells and other amazing authors.

Even better, I met Jennifer Nielsen and got a signed copy of The False Prince about two days after it was released.

I listened to agents, editors, authors, illustrators, and other publishing gurus talk about their experiences in the world of books.

I pitched a book to a real live agent while I had the flu. Possibly the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done.

Above all, I realized that all those published authors out there are just people. Ordinary people who wrote books. And by golly, I’m as ordinary as any of them, which meant that it was entirely possible for me to get a book published.

And hey. I did.

Happy WordPressiversary!

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No Gold Coating

Tonight, as I was working away at my edits, it hit me hard:

When my book gets published, it’ll just be my words, naked on the page.

I don’t know what else I expected. I guess I figured that after it went through the publishing process, there would be some sort of magical gold coating on the words to make them shine brighter than normal words. Something that would set them apart from the words I used when it was just a manuscript, instead of a published book.

But there won’t be. It’ll be all the same words. All in plain black ink. Or plain black pixels, depending on your choice of reading medium.

It’s a little bit terrifying. It makes me look at my manuscript differently. It makes me understand why authors are never quite satisfied with their books, even if the rest of the world loves them. It makes me feel like I’m going to expose my guts to mob armed with pitchforks and torches.

All I can hope is that the mob sees a glint of gold hidden away inside all those plain black letters.

Book Trailers

Okay, guys. Book trailers. What?

I had never heard of book trailers until I took a publishing class in college. I still don’t entirely understand the concept. Books aren’t movies. Cover blurbs are the book equivalent to trailers. Right?

Am I just old-fashioned? Behind the times? Book trailers just don’t seem to match the medium of entertainment. It’s like smelling an apple to see how an orange will taste.

Help me out, friends. Do you watch book trailers? Do you have a trailer for your book? Do you think it’s a key part of advertising? Does anyone else out there think that the concept is a little odd?

To 100 and Beyond!

So many exciting things have been happening, and I haven’t had the time to blog about any of them!

  • I passed 100 followers last week. That was pretty cool.
  • I got a Goodreads update email—and two of my friends had added Demon’s Heart to their to-read list! Nothing like seeing your cover on a Goodreads email to make it real. Check out the Goodreads page for Demon’s Heart.
  • There is now a pre-order button for my book on my website. You can pre-order through either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
  • In book-unrelated news, I played tennis for the first time in a couple of years on Saturday. I live in a place where the courts are only dry for three months out of the year, and I missed those three months last year due to traveling and a baby. I love tennis, and it was so good to get out on the court again.
  • And finally, I’m almost done with a crafty sewing project that I started back in November. It’s been sitting on a shelf for months, and I finally pulled out my sewing machine and have been getting the last few pieces sewn on. I feel about sewing machines the way Calvin feels about his bicycle, so this is a big deal.

Happy July, everybody!

Sweet Gifts from the Sky

I’ve been traveling for the past week, so I’ve been a little quiet around the blogging universe. But yesterday, I went to meet my publishers face-to-face! It was delightful, and I loved talking to the people who are doing amazing things for my book. I am so glad to be working with a team of such wonderful people.

AND there was an unexpected surprise sitting in the lobby when we walked in: Colonel Gail Halvorsen.

The Candy Bomber.

Col. Halvorsen was a WWII pilot who dropped rations during the Berlin Airlift. Following one of his missions, Halvorsen started talking to a crowd of hungry children who were watching the enormous airplanes through the fence at the Tempelhof Airport. When the children asked if he had any candy to give them, he had only two sticks of gum; but he promised to drop more for them next time he flew over the airport.

Halvorsen collected candy rations from several of his buddies and put together three packages of candy for his next mission. As he approached Tempelhof, he wiggled his wings to let the children know it was him, and then his flight engineer threw the three packages out the flare chute with handkerchief parachutes. As he taxied past the children, they waved the handkerchiefs at him in enthusiastic thanks for the candy.

Word spread, and other pilots started donating candy and handkerchiefs for Halvorsen to drop throughout Berlin. Letters addressed to “Uncle Wiggly Wings” streamed through the post office, pleading for candy to be dropped in their area. Before long, thousands of pounds of candy were coming into Germany from the United States, and Halvorsen had to enlist other pilots to spread packages of sweet love to the children of that war-torn country. A few disappointed children wrote to say that they hadn’t been able to reach the packages before the others had cleaned them out, and Halvorsen mailed them personal packages filled with treats.

The airlift was already providing the necessities of survival. But Colonel Halvorsen saw a need beyond that of just hunger. He saw children who desperately needed some semblance of childhood pleasures. He saw something he could do that would bring a few smiles to a people whose lives had been torn down from the inside.

My friends, charity is not just giving money. Charity is filling a need that not everyone can see. Charity is looking for ways to make people smile. Charity is showing people their worth. Charity is love.

And Colonel Halvorsen had charity.

The Long Road to Publishing

The magnificent T.K. has asked about how I got from scribbling out my manuscript to finding a publisher willing to polish and publish it. I started looking into getting published during my first semester of college, after I had finished a draft of a novel that really was not very good. I was completely baffled by terms like query letters, endless acronyms (YA, MG, PB, ARC, MS, and so on), and conflicting advice from a billion writers who insisted that their way was the only way to ever be published.

Well, that scared me off pretty effectively, and I went back to my secret writing. But as I took editing classes, creative writing classes, and other wonderful classes that introduced me to authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers of all shapes and sizes, I started to realize: no two publishing journeys are the same. Some go through conferences, some through acquaintances, some through agents, some through sheer dumb luck. Some suffer through years of rejection, some are lucky enough to find a publisher that clicks right away.

With that in mind, I decided to find my own way. Conferences are great, but they were out of my budget once I graduated and couldn’t get student discounts. So I checked out the 2013 Writer’s Market from the library and made a list of all the publishers and agents that dealt with my kind of books. Writer’s Market is a fantastic resource for aspiring authors; it contains hundreds upon hundreds of publishers and agents, organized by what kinds of books they publish, and gives a quick overview of what they’re looking for. I checked out the ones on my list online, scratched a few that didn’t look like they would be a good fit for me, and started preparing submissions for the remaining ones on the list.

But you know what the funny thing is? I didn’t end up with any of them. In the process of looking for publishers, I remembered that I had looked for some publishing companies to possibly intern with while getting my editing degree, and there was this company called Cedar Fort that looked like a great place with great people. I never actually applied for an internship there, but I thought, Why not? I’ll send my manuscript to them. They liked it, and here I am with a December 9th launch date.

Like I said, everyone has their own way. For some people, agents are a better way to go. I did query one agent and planned to query more, but didn’t end up needing to. Agents are great because they are well-connected in the publishing world and have a good understanding of which publishers would be a good fit for your book. They know the ins and outs of publishing, but aren’t necessary in order to get published. If you are interested in finding an agent, AgentQuery.com is a great resource. You can learn about agents from authors who have had interactions with them and get a better feel for which agent would be a good fit for you.

In the end, I think the best advice I could give to find a publisher is to get involved. Classes, conferences, critique groups—you never know where you’ll find your link to the perfect publisher. And it’s never too early to start attending conferences and critique groups, even if you don’t think you’re ready to leap into the world of publishing. I wish I’d started with those earlier; there are a ton of wonderful people to meet who will influence and improve your writing.

Those of you who are working with a publisher or agent, how did you find your match?

The Decision

About the time I finished Demon’s Heart, I began working on another, unrelated novel. I had been researching agents and publishers and query letters and all those wonderful mysteries of the publishing world, and I wasn’t at all confident that anyone would pick my work up to be published. I also really didn’t want to field all those rejection letters that inevitably come raining down on the aspiring author. At the same time, I wasn’t convinced that self-publishing was the way to go for me for a host of reasons that I will cover in another post.

So I made myself a deal. I would put myself out there, query some agents and publishing companies, and see if I could sell Demon’s Heart. If I had not been successful by the time I had finished up my other novel, I would self-publish my second novel and see if I had any success with it. Either way, I would be published, and I could those terrible rejection letters with the firm knowledge that they would not forever close off the possibility of getting published.

Long story short, I sold my book to the fabulous Cedar Fort Publishing, and here we are. It’s been interesting to see the mix of self-published and traditionally published authors in the blogosphere. How did you decide which route to take?