So, I twittered yesterday and asked for a blog topic. Louise stepped up and asked me to blog about what has changed since I’ve been published—and what hasn’t. So here goes:
*Opportunities. It’s been a pleasant surprise to see how many doors open once you have a book deal. Libraries have emailed, asking to set up a visit, I’ve gotten some freelance work, and I was recently asked to speak for a group in SoCal. (August 2010, if you’re a SoCal’er!). I’m currently submitting papers for a few local conferences and setting up school visits.
*My writing has improved. A lot. Taking a book through production has been truly eye-opening, and I’ve learned a lot from my editor, both from revisions on Prada & Prejudice and from some long phone calls on YOU WISH, my 2010 release. I’m no longer to the point where I would even consider sending a first draft to critique partners, because I’ve become increasingly aware of things I need to revise on my own first.
*The “business” side of writing. It’s weird, but I thought after you got your deal, that writing became simpler—you’re published, so that must mean you’re a good writer, and that the next deal(s) will be easier to make. The thing is, once you’re published, it’s not just about a good book, it’s about you as an author and the investment your publisher is making. There is a lot of talk about “branding” an author, and most people agree it makes sense to build an audience in one brand before branching out. Because Prada and Prejudice is high-concept, romantic, fun, that means that the best thing for me to do next is a similar book.
*The waiting never stops. Truly. Years ago it was waiting for an agent, then an editor, then revisions, then copy edits, then ARCs, then release date, then moving forward on book 2, then revisions on that book, then your cover… this business is made to either drive you insane or teach you patience.
*The envy. I’m putting this one out there in the name of honesty. Because I was honest before I was published—that the green monster would flare every time I saw someone else get published while I kept sitting there, my rejections stacking up around me. The envy continues, my friends, because now you have even more things to compare yourself to. It really can drive you mad if you constantly compare your book to someone else’s. Someone else is getting a pre-pub buzz tour, someone else is on a bestseller list, someone else just got a movie deal, someone else is on a big fancy endcap, someone else got a starred review… it’s maddening. For the most part I think I use these thoughts more as motivation to focus on the one and only thing I can control: my writing. If I write a damn good book, then the word of mouth will carry me to those places I want to go. But it doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes narrow my eyes when I see someone else jump up and down. But within thirty seconds, I can remind myself that their success has not taken away from my success. In fact, that they’ve found such success isn’t a downer—it proves that I can get there too. They did it. They can serve to inspire me, not discourage me.
*You still freak out and stress over everything: whether your writing is good enough, whether you’re about to be rejected on your next project, whether your book will fizzle and everyone is going to forget about it.