I’m a list maker. Not plain old lists. I tab my lists and then on Sundays, I cull from the tabbed lists and create a more immediate to-do for the week. I know. A little obsessive but it works for me. Here are some things I recently checked off the debut to do list and stuff I learned as a result.
Overhaul The Website
Website work can be daunting. Why? Because your website is your home on the web. It is where people will come to check you out. You want it to be the best representation of you. What started an existential quandary turned out to be a fun creative process but there were a few hurdles I had to clear to get there.
My first hurdle was bending to the web designer’s will and follow her way of working. This meant we had no phone contact. I couldn’t involve her in my angst or wondering about the website. I couldn’t woo her with my sweet voice and get her to counsel me through my website angst. I had to get clear about what I wanted so that I could communicate it to her via email and drop box.
Eventually, I stopped whining about this restriction and got focused on what I wanted: Simplicity, clarity and super functionality. Yes, I wanted my site to look fabulous but here’s what was most important in the end. The workability of the site. I researched a lot of author sites and function trumped form. I wanted an easy-to-use site. I gave my web designer several links of sites that accomplished that goal.
As for the look of the site, it kind of matches my home, which does not have a lot of overstuffed armchairs or ornate furniture. I like a spare design. I don’t like a lot of clutter. I didn’t want gobs of information on each page. People are barraged these days. When they are going to a site, they know what they want. So I kept it lean and I tucked a lot of info into links which visitors could click on if they want more stuff. (Hmmm, the closets and cabinets in my home are a bit overstuffed. Hmmm.)
Anxiety is a constant. I don’t know what reviewers are going to say. I don’t know how book sales will be. I can’t predict the future (Darn it). When a good review comes in, be glad and humble and share it with your world. If a bad (or unexcerptable) review comes in, let it go. Put it in the rearview mirror. Don’t give it energy. Try not to think about them. Practice mental Tai Chi. Not everyone will like your book. (Really. It’s true. Even J.K. Rowling had detractors.) It’s okay. Let it go. Breathe.
Plan The Launch
Because this is my YA debut, I definitely wanted to do a book launch at my local independent bookstore. I wanted to celebrate with my family of friends and fellow writers. But how big? How much hoopla? What kind of snacks and drinks? What sort of presentation? It started to get very big in my head. No, really. Very big. (Think famous people living in Austin.) And as it got bigger, I got smaller and more overwhelmed. I took a step back in my head and asked this question: Why are people coming? Answer: To celebrate me and the launch of EVIDENCE. When I had that answer, I knew I couldn’t hide behind the bigness of an event. I wanted to create an event where I could show up and thank the people who were there and introduce them to the book. I want to create an event that is as authentically true to myself as possible. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Get Printed Materials Ready
Once I had the book cover and website design, the printed materials pretty much fell into place. All my writer pals say that I need a boatload of bookmarks. Actually two boatloads. And to leave a space for signing my name. Apparently that’s important. What about postcards? I asked. Not so much. I chose to do a few because I wanted an easy way to send thank you notes. I also revamped my business cards because mine were way out of date. For those, I keyed off the font and color of my website for consistency.
Write The Next Book, The Next Blog Post, The Next Email
When the anxiety of the debut process really starts to wage war on my psyche, sitting down to write is the best medicine. Even with all the hobgoblins and insecurities and wonderings that writing can visit upon me, the tap-tap-tap of my keyboard means I am going forward and that I am doing something in the face of all the stuff that I can’t control.
Because I cannot predict the future, anxiety—the natural state of being on the edge of the unknown—is a constant. Breathe. Try to be curious about what the day will bring. Go outside. Notice the present moment. Deeply. Inhale it. The future will come. Try to let it unfold instead of bracing against it. Kiss your life. You are a debut author.
Lindsey Lane’s debut young adult novel THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS UNSEEN will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers on September 16 2014. Her picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion, 2003) is now available as an app on iTunes. You can follow Lindsey on Facebook or find her at her website or on twitter @lindseyauthor.