Tara Lazar Says Farewell and Shares All the Things She Learned: The Good, The Bad and The Sparkly

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

hurdlesThings I Learned During my Debut Process:

  1. Landing an agent and selling your debut book isn’t THE hurdle. It’s THE FIRST hurdle.
  2. Not being in Barnes & Noble does make a difference in your book’s success, no matter how many well-meaning people try to assure you otherwise.
  3. Being in Barnes & Noble does not guarantee your book’s success.
  4. You will read reviews of your book that will leave you scratching your head, wondering if it’s really YOUR book the reviewer read.
  5. Just because you have thousands of social media followers doesn’t mean they’ll actually buy your book.
  6. Just because you publish a book with Simon & Schuster doesn’t mean people who schedule author appearances will want you. You’re still just small potatoes. Think fingerling instead of Idaho.
  7. You’ll check your Amazon ranking more often than you care to admit and you’ll cringe every time it goes over 100,000.

OK, maybe all that is a little too depressing. But c’mon guys, this stuff is HARD. This is not an easy business. I knew this when I was trying to break in, but somehow I thought once I did break in, everything afterwards would be a breeze—a warm, tropical breeze with notes of pineapple and coconut. WRONG. There’s no pool-boy fluttering a giant leaf fan. Subsequent books have taken MONTHS to sell…and one took AN ENTIRE YEAR! And I have more in the works that are likewise taking months. And there were even more books that didn’t sell at all. Phhht. Dead in the water. And no pool-boy to fish them out!

But let’s look on the bright side. I’m an AUTHOR now! Woo!

Yes, that was a sincere “woo!” Let’s try it again: WOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo……………! (Those periods are really tiny o’s.)

Things I Loved During my Debut Process:

  1. monstoresmallcoverAll the terribly exciting moments along the journey—seeing my characters for the first time, witnessing the progress of the dummies, revealing the cover, hearing the satisfying KA-THUNK of the author copies box hit the front porch, signing my very first book for a complete stranger.
  2. Holding MY BOOK in MY HANDS.
  3. Making incredible friends—my editor and art director, my illustrator, the imprint staff, fellow debut authors, booksellers, librarians and fans.
  4. Gaining a lot of publishing business wisdom.
  5. People sending me photos of the book spotted in the wild, face-out at bookstores.
  6. Receiving my first pieces of fan mail.

But the most important one is:

  • Seeing kids interact with my book and the joy it brings them.
littlejosbooks

Kids drawing MONSTORE monsters at Little Jo’s Books in Katonah, NY

princetonbookfestivalAnd there’s things I’m going to love that haven’t even happened yet! This weekend I’ll be at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival and the weekend after, The Baltimore Book Festival. I’ve been going to the Princeton festival for years and can’t believe I will be there signing books! Me!

And Baltimore! I’ll be on a stage! On a panel! And people will want to hear what I have to say! BUT WHY?!

After all, I’m still just Tara, wife of Alan for the past 14 years (today’s my anniversary! OMG! I almost forgot!), mother of two girls who find me terribly embarrassing, and neighbor who you’ll find scootering her kids to school while wearing ninja jammies. (That explains the embarrassment.) I’m still the same person I was before the book contract. I haven’t transformed into a sophisticated, radiant being. I lose socks in the laundry, forget to RSVP to birthday parties, and schlep to the grocery store with yesterday’s makeup smeared under my eyes. There are holes in my couches, too much junk piled in my garage and questionable looks when I drop off my kids wearing ninja jammies for the third day in a row.

But how cool that I can be my same dorky self and share my dorkiness with children through my books! Hopefully I’ll gain fans who will want every one of my releases and will never know me as un-radiant. To them, I sparkle.

And so I leave you with this: it’s a wild journey, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. The dream was to sell one book, and that dream came true, so a new dream has replaced it. That dream is bigger, brighter and more daring. Will it come true? I dunno. Stay tuned.

And remember, be sparkly!

Fare-thee-well and have fun stormin’ the castle,
Tara

Princess Bride-Tara Lazar

P.S. It’s not farewell forever, just at Emu’s. You can still follow me and my jammies at taralazar.com.

P.P.S. Photoshopping by the talented illustrator Kayla Skogh. Thanks, Kayla!

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70 Comments

Filed under Farewell, Updates on our Books!

70 responses to “Tara Lazar Says Farewell and Shares All the Things She Learned: The Good, The Bad and The Sparkly

  1. Looking forward to seeing you in Princeton this weekend. Great ending picture. I love Princess Bride.

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  2. HUMPERDINCK! HUMPERDINCK! HUMPERDINCK! 😉 (I don’t know if I’m spelling it right… But The Princess Bride IS my favorite movie! 😀 ) Good job, keep on being a ninja (they wear jammies, right?), and I can’t wait to read your next book!!! 😀

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  3. Tara, thanks for sharing your experiences! It’s great to know that being published hasn’t changed who you are, maybe just where you’re sitting (or standing) at a conference! 😉 I’m sharing your post with Paul Czajak, who posted about the work of launching a new book on Writers’ Rumpus a couple of weeks ago. http://writersrumpus.com/2013/09/03/now-the-real-work-begins/comment-page-1/#comment-248

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  4. TARA! I can’t tell you how helpful this all is. You’ve been such a beacon of reason during my entire writing process thus far. Please keep being beacony (beaconish?).

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  5. Tara, thank you for your thoughtful, entertaining posts, and for THE MONSTORE! I look forward to hearing about your continuing, sparkly adventures. Go get ’em! 🙂

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  6. Your honesty has always been so powerful and helpful. It is tempting to think that once you sell a book (or even get an agent) that the hard part is over when of course it isn’t. It’s encouraging to hear honest stories about struggles and endurance and setbacks because I feel less alone. Thank you for so bravely sharing your journey. Best of luck and keep us posted!

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  7. Jill M. Farrer

    Hi Tara,

    It is a wild ride, but worth it. All alone at your desk, you have created
    something unique and wonderful. That’s the best reward. The incredible feeling when the words flow and you can laugh. You have a sparkling imagination.All the rest is icing on the cake. Sales, smales. The children to whom you have spread the magic, have been given a new world. Their laughter will encourage you to continue.
    I do hope the book does sell better; it may take time.

    Your student, Jill Farrer

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  8. Joshua McCune

    Wonderful, wonderful post, Tara. Thank you for sharing all this. I’d say shine bright out there, but you’re already doing that. So go kick some more ass.

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  9. Here’s to bigger, brighter, sparklier dreams!
    Wonderful posts Tara.

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  10. I love this post, Tara. Can’t wait to meet you this weekend.

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  11. Reblogged this on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) and commented:

    A very honest post about my debut experience and, sadly, my last for EMU’s Debuts. Please follow my fellow debut friends on their incredible journeys!

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  12. As Josh would say, “Nailed it!” Awesome post that truly captures the good, the bad, and the Monster-y!

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  13. Tara – You’ll always be my “sparkliest” kidlit friend. No goodbyes. See you back on your blog.
    Jean

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  14. The ninja jammied always have an inner sparkle. Shine on, you crazy scooter ninja.

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  15. May THE MONSTORE have a great Halloween season! What a lovely photoshop finish to your time here on Emu’s Debuts!

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  16. I love this post. Being a first time author is so awesome. Being a second time author – elusive…. Congratulations on your success – now and future.

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  17. Wonderful post! I always find your posts so fun and, yes, sparkly. You will always sparkle in my fan book! (And, thanks for grounding us in reality. This is a tough business — but a wonderful one too.)

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  18. what a great goodbye Tara, and I looove the Princess Bride;) I think your last paragraphs really sum up how we all feel, or hope to feel, and why we keep coming back to the gauntlet of children’s publishing. btw Happy Anniversary! here’s to more sparkle all around.

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  19. Boo Stad

    Sincere best wishes for your future ‘successes’ Tara and, maybe more ‘radical’ night attire?
    I’ve enjoyed your post immensely, the tips, the tip-offs, the encouragement and unfailing humour through a multiverse of trying situations, so I simply say, thank you.
    I’d write more, but I think you need time…to wash those P.J’s.
    Good luck.
    Boo Stad

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  20. Love the ninja jammies. Wish your kids went to my kids’ school 🙂 Congrats on getting through your debut, and good luck with the books to come!

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  21. Hi Tara: Great post. Great book. Don’t disappear entirely!

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  22. This is a wonderful take on the ups, the downs, and the sparkly moments of the debut journey. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. Too funny pic, Tara! Happy Anniversary!! Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of publication. I’m bookmarking this one.

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  24. I love your honesty- you’re a good and funny soul. Congrats to you! (And Happy Anniversary!) 😀

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  25. Tara, I love your honesty. I love how you pinned down all the feelings associated with this crazy world of being an author. I hope to sign books with you somewhere someday.

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  26. Stop replying online and go get ready for a big anniversary celebration. You are one of the sparkliest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I can’t come to NJ this weekend but told my friend Debbie Dadey (she is also signing at the event) to stop over and say hi.

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  27. I spotted The Monstore prominently displayed on the Halloween books table in the kid’s section of Barnes & Noble this past week. Woot! Woot! Pretty cool!

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  28. Tara, good for you! Your post is so important–because landing the agent and the publisher are, indeed, parts of a much larger journey that’s going to be filled with ups and downs. Wonderful to know you’re farther along on the journey and that you’re coming up with new dreams — as it always should be! I hope to see you at the Princeton Book Festival on Saturday!

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  29. Thanks for sharing, Tara. Happy Anniversary.

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  30. Always loved your posts. Not a bad look to go out on either….. 😉
    All the best!

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  31. Thank you for your honesty — we all need to be realistic! But, you have an amazing book, I bought two copies through B&N! Your “Farewell” sure was dramatic and got a lot of attention — I had to read your column! You do have engagements and another book deal — here’s to better days ahead! And, Happy Anniversary — ninja jammies and all. There is a book in tha too!

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  32. Congrats on your success and wishes for many more. I’ll stop by and see you in Princeton on Saturday–not sure if you remember–we met at NJSCBWI conference–I was the first person you checked in!:)

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  33. Wonderful post, Tara!!! Thanks for sharing the things you learned and the the things you loved!
    Now I have these tidbits to file away
    small potatoes and no pool boy…
    but…
    a sincere WOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo……………! and encouragement to be sparkly!
    Nice tidbits!!!

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  34. Such a great post, Tara. Thank you, as always, for your humor, your honesty, and your enthusiasm! My children love our copy of the Monstore. It’s a pleasure to read it with them. I’m still dreaming for myself of that moment. To know that families come together to gasp and giggle. I can’t wait to read what’s next from you.

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  35. Wow, I can’t believe I’m about to be the only Tara around here. 😦 Thanks for your honesty in this and all of your posts, and best of luck going forward, Tara L! I can’t wait to read the other books you have in the pipeline.

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  36. You scared me…I thought u were leaving your agent or something! Thanks for sharing your experiences and insight for all of us! Looking forward to PiBoIdMo with you!

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  37. NO POOL BOY? Why didn’t someone tell me that before!!!!!
    All kidding aside, thanks, Tara, for your straightforward, off the cuff reveal. You are inspiring, courageous and talented…all the best to you in the future.:)

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  38. Tara, what a splendid post–both the tough and the terrific parts of being an author eloquently stated. Have a splendid time in Baltimore and Princeton. Happy Anniversary!

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  39. You nailed it, Sparkle. It doesn’t change. Much. But that’s how it is with everything about life, isn’t it? We thought colors would be more vivid, every sound much sweeter, every breath more fresh and live. But the world doesn’t stop for a book. Kids get sick. Telemarketers still call. So do ninja jammies… Thank goodness!

    Always fun to hear your special blend of whimsy and wisdom. Congratulations on all the good stuff coming your way!

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  40. Tara, your journey has truly been enlightening and inspiring. I truly loved seeing THE MONSTORE finally on the round Halloween display at my Barnes 🙂 Here’s hoping sales with pick up speed! I think next time I’m there I’ll sprinkle a bit of sparkly fairy dust over the display 😉

    Meanwhile, enjoy Saturday! I had EVERY intention of being there this year to see everyone and get my book signed, but it’s not lookin’ good 😦 I’m SO disappointed! Enjoy it, though 😀

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  41. Congrats on all your success! Your reflections are good, intimidating, and exciting all at once 🙂

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  42. Tara,
    I’ve been receiving your e-mail posts since Feb. I delight in your witty writing style and have found your blogs real and informative. Oh, that some of us were so clever. You’ve at least got a foot in the door, and i commend you for that! Good luck and just keep on.

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  43. Congratulations on Monstore. That is one terrific picture book. I am waiting for the next book, wondering what else you have up those talented sleeves! Good luck in the future. Tara, you always have a place to review your books at KLR and I wait with baited breathe (if that’s correct), for your next Hit.

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  44. A few Important takeaways: 1. I’m sure all the other mom’s are jealous of your ninja jammies. 2. 14 years! Woah, Momma!! Congratulations to you and your hubs. 3. Fingerlings are a delectable potato. Smaller than the almighty Idaho but far better. 🙂 4. I’m pretty sure The Monstore is just the first of many greats to come!

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  45. Loved this! I’m late reading it, but … Loved It!

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