Stages 2, or, That Part When Things Get Kinda Nuts

Well, ok, even published authors should avoid THIS kind of extreme.

Well, ok, even published authors should avoid going to THIS kind of extreme.

Lisa Schulman gave a very crisp, accurate breakdown of the 8 stages of a writing career up till the actual book deal. I’m going to be far less sensible and concrete about it by jumping ahead to later stages, like so:

Stage 9: That Stage When You Realize It’s Become a Lot Harder to Divide Things Clearly Into a Linear Sequence of Stages

The editorial process is a ginormous thing, of course, and it goes on for a loooooong while, but it’s also pretty clearly defined – editorial letter, line edits, more line edits, first pass pages, second pass pages, galley proofing, more galley proofing, etc. What’s on my mind is really the stuff that happens outside of and after the editorial process, and from my currently brain-dead perspective it seems like it all happens AT THE SAME FLIPPING TIME, AAAGH! So I’m going to boldly redefine Lisa’s stage structure.

Concurrent Stage 9A: Losing the “Don’t Be a Needy Twit or You’ll Never Get a Piece of the Action” Attitude

This was (and still is) a little hard. I’m pretty good at internalizing advice – perhaps a little too good at it – and I readily took in all the prevailing wisdom about not being entitled, demanding, or presumptive during stages 1-8. Didn’t want to blow my chances, you know?

But it’s all different now! I CAN ASK FOR STUFF! For example, I’m gonna print up one nifty little giveaway item for use at my launch party, and I actually asked if Scholastic would be willing to chip in on the expense. The nerve, you say! Money-grubbing punk! I understand, don’t worry – when you say “money-grubbing punk,” what you mean is SCHOLASTIC AUTHOR.

The thing is, I’m no longer yearning desperately to just get my foot in the door, and as a result I don’t have to worry about asking for stuff that I shouldn’t be asking for. At this point, it’s better for me to ask MORE questions and make MORE requests, about which I cannot lie – it’s awesome.

Concurrent Stage 9B: Booking and Attending Events Where You’re Gonna Do More than Just Hang Out and Drink

Psssst…I’m actually not much of a drinker. One’s pretty much my limit these days. However, I did just go to the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, and lo and behold, I did a signing! It was craaaaazy, dude. Big lines of people, galleys of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES in a pile, wonderful Scholastic people like Roz Hilden showing me the ropes, hanging out with my beloved editor Arthur Levine…I loved it.

It definitely required a different mindset to sign books than it does to GET them signed, though. For the first time, I was at a big industry event as a working author, which meant interacting with people in a much more focused, wide-awake manner than I usually have at those things. I tried to be as gracious as I could be (a ceiling of debatable height) and to show as much gratitude as I genuinely felt (quite a lot, actually).

ALA was just the start, of course. October is when the fecal matter really hits the primitive air-circulation device, with five gen-yoo-wine author events packed together in close proximity. Mercy. Which brings me to my final stage…

Concurrent Stage 9C: Realizing that the Lazy Days of Spending Four Years Writing Your Manuscript Without All the “I’m Getting Published” Stuff Are Over

Just to provide a spot of clarity here: there’s a prevailing bit of wisdom that pre-published writers should cherish their ability to luxuriate in the writing process when it’s still free of contractually imposed deadlines and whatnot. I do think there’s merit to that idea, but I personally didn’t feel that way in my pre-published days – it felt like an eternally long slog, with no clue as to the finish line’s whereabouts. The new pressures and demands of published authorhood are very, very welcome, because they’re part of the fabulous grab-bag of publication.

It IS still an adjustment, though, and not a small one, because while I did a lot of research and networking in my non-pubbed, unagented days, I didn’t do anything like what I’m doing now, which includes event planning, online promotion, signings, talking with my publicist, talking with my regional sales rep, researching a new book, writing the book that I’m researching…it does feel rather like a piano’s been dropped on my head. A good piano, don’t get me wrong! A happy, sparkly piano carved out of ethically harvested baby unicorn horns!

There are more of these concurrent steps, of course – I haven’t even touched the question of reviews – but you get the picture. The stages, they get all bollixed up and mixed together! Chaos descends! It starts raining frogs! Wouldn’t that be messed up, if it started raining frogs?

Err, sorry, got distracted there – I just want to say one more thing before I go. I particularly like Lisa’s description of stage 8, because it contains a bit of advice that I think is relevant during every one of my so-called “concurrent” stages.

Celebrate. Celebrate EVERYTHING. There are so many things worth celebrating, so many moments to enjoy to the fullest, so much satisfaction and wonder and pure, high-octane joy to be had! Don’t let ANY of it slip through your fingers if you can help it.




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20 responses to “Stages 2, or, That Part When Things Get Kinda Nuts

  1. Oh Mike, you always make me laugh while you’re making a beautiful point. Enjoy the sparkly piano!


  2. The perfect extension to Lisa’s post, Mike! I hope baby unicorn horns are soft, or that you’re at least wearing a helmut made of, say, indestructium. 😉 (For those who haven’t yet heard of this indestructible material, you’ll want to pre-order your copy of Mike’s book now.) Thanks for the reminder to celebrate! Off to get myself some gelato…


    • Mike Jung

      AN INDESTRUCTIUM QUOTE! Natalie, you’re awesome. Not just for bringing up indestructium, of course, but it contributes. 🙂


  3. I love it that you’re having such a ball, Mike!


  4. I had a goofy smile plastered on my face as I read this. So true and so wonderful!


  5. L.B. Schulman

    I am so happy you continued the stages. It makes the whole thing feel so much more clear. I think many of us feel alone, wondering if what we are going through is normal. It all is! It’s just a career with a lot of work…and even more fun.


  6. Love this! (When am I meeting you? Oakland? SCBWI – LA?) At any rate, I totally get this how-can-I-do-it-all feeling which is paired with the gratitude-I’m-not-complaining stance. It’s a little like bicycling in a parade, keeping one hand on the handlebars while everyone is waving at you!


  7. Indestructium, hmmmm. Will you be giving out little vials of same as swag?


  8. “October is when the fecal matter really hits the primitive air-circulation device”

    Gosh, that Mike Jung sure knows how to turn a phrase. 🙂

    Can’t wait to read GGSI!


  9. readatouille

    Just read Lisa’s post, and then stumbled on this one. It’s so great to hear about your success story. ENJOY Stage 9 and beyond!


  10. Loved this, Mike!~ Sounds like you are a fantastic promoter–and having a blast at it which is so, so important. 🙂


  11. Just wanted to say congratulations, and wonderful post!


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