Tag Archives: community

It Only Takes One (Not Really)

It only takes one. From the moment I began writing in earnest, this was the mantra I heard. It only takes one agent who loves your work, the reasoning went. Or, it only takes one editor who wants to buy your story. I heard it at conferences, in critique groups, and at almost every gathering of pre-published writers. I even repeated it, to myself and to others.

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As a mantra, it was supposed to instill hope, to inspire perseverance, to infuse me with faith. And it did. But as I look back at my journey to publication, I realize that the thing about this mantra is that it’s not completely true. To say that it only takes one person to turn a manuscript into a published book is to discount all those who helped me along the way. To even get my manuscript submission-ready took many people: critique partners, mentors, and conference faculty. After I began submitting the manuscript, the rejections I received were painful but necessary and helpful in their own ways. Aided by my agent, The Nian Monster was acquired by Albert Whitman, and then a whole team of people stepped in to breathe life into my book with beautiful illustrations and a physical form. All along the way, I relied on the support of my family and the encouragement of my friends. And I don’t want to forget the publicists, marketers, bloggers, and educators who created resources and are helping to get my book into the hands of readers. Every one of these people deserve credit. It doesn’t only take one; it takes a village to create a book.

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For those just starting out on the road to publication, find your community. Reach out to other writers, get involved in a critique group, go to conferences, start leaving comments on writing blogs, join another writer’s “village” and support their endeavors. Writing may be solitary, but making a book is not. And helping other writers doesn’t detract from your own publishing efforts — it enhances them.

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Having moved from Boston to Denver right before my book released, I fretted that I’d left my community behind just when I needed them most. But thanks to EMLA, I found friends waiting for me in my new hometown who welcomed me and made sure people actually attended my launch party. (Yay! And whew!) And thanks to social media, my book village goes with me wherever I am. I’ve been awed and gratified and slightly surprised by the people who have rallied around me and The Nian Monster. From old friends to brand-new friends to friends that I hadn’t been in touch with since 6th grade — thank you for being part of my village and for sharing the journey with me! I love my book, but the journey itself really has been the true reward.

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Giveaway Winner! Thank you to all who left comments during my book launch week. The lucky winner of a copy of The Nian Monster is Jen Petro Roy! Jen, please email your address to me at andreaATandreaywangDOTcom. Congrats!


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Andrea Wang’s debut picture book, The Nian Monster (Albert Whitman & Co., December 2016), is a Chinese New Year folktale retelling set in modern-day Shanghai. She has also written seven nonfiction books for the educational market and is working on a middle grade novel. Andrea is a former environmental consultant and now writes full-time. She recently moved from the Boston area to Denver, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and a dog that will do anything for food. That pretty much describes her family, too.

You can find Andrea online at http://www.andreaywang.com, on Twitter under @AndreaYWang, and on Instagram as @andreawhywang.

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Filed under Farewell, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

Debut Out

sound of music

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night.
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight.*
                                                             -Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rogers

Dearest Emu’s and beyond…

When Adi “Appleblossom Catbiscuits” Rule contacted me about joining Emu’s Debuts shortly after I had my first book contract as an EMLA client (Sigh. Faint. Swoon.), I was thrilled (Yay! A new tribe of writers) and overwhelmed (What? A whole new listserv? A whole new onslaught of communication? On top of revisions and copy edits and promotion and, and, and…Oy!). Yeah… at times, it was a lot (Singing opera to my computer?!?!) but joining you mob of birds was one of the best things I ever did.

Now it’s time to leave.

Damnit. I don’t want to leave. I didn’t think I would have to except well, really, after your debut has debuted, you have stepped into a new reality. Simply, you are no longer preparing for the debut, you are promoting that book and writing the next one. It’s time to go.

Before I do, a couple of thoughts:

I went to lunch with a friend of mine recently. He was recounting how much the music business has changed. “It used to be that labels would sign artists with the idea that those artists develop their craft over time and the labels would be there to support them. Now artists are signed and if their product isn’t a hit, well, you know the story.”

I could see the similarities with our business. Many editors have become agents because they want to be in the business of helping a writer grow their career. Publishing is changing and no one really knows how or where it will go. It’s crazy making but it’s going to be okay. Writers, like musicians, have a community. We stick together. We help each other. We cheer and support and tell one another it’s going to be okay. Because it will. No matter what happens. This crazy world will always want storytellers. Whether we publish traditionally or paint on walls or self publish or drip blood from our veins. The world wants stories because stories lift us out of our lives. They make us laugh and cry and think and sigh. They make our lives better.community

So everyday, think about your community: other writers, readers, editors, agents and do what you can to weave us together. Gratitude, praise, cheering, thoughtful comments. (That’s how I will stay connected to you birds now.) It all matters. Because no matter how fast this world moves or how much the sands of publishing shift beneath us, we are storytellers, weavers of words and worlds and we are responsible for how our community grows.

Which leads me to my next bit of wisdom. It’s not really mine. It comes from my agent Erin Murphy. A year ago, I was totally stressing about promotion: How do I do it? Should I hire someone to help me? What do I do first, second, third? She said: “Write the next book.” What? But. But. But. Aren’t I supposed to…?

write bookWrite the next book. If your readers like your book, they will want to read the next one. Your publisher wants you to write the next book because it will sell the first one. You need to write the next book and the one after that because that’s who you are now: an author. A published storyteller. A world builder. Write the next book and the one after that so you can keep growing.

What about promotion you wonder? Well, it’s definitely a job you have now because you have this book and you do want to do things to get it in the hands of readers and generate interest. But it’s a balancing act. Here’s what I do: I respond to everything that comes in. Awards. Speaking engagements. School visits. But I’m careful about how much I have to go out and generate. You don’t want to spend a whole lot of time, energy and resources (i.e. your writing capital) promoting. For instance, If you’ve been invited to a book festival in a city, great. Go. Then spend some energy putting together a school visit in that city. Make it make sense. But if the promotion is taking too much time away from writing, then you are out of balance.

Yeah, so that’s it. I’ve cleared off my desk. I’m out the debut door. But I’m right down the hallway. In a room with a whole bunch of other authors. I’m saving you a spot.

XO,

L2

*A word about song lyrics. Trying to get the rights to use them in your novels is soul-sucking process. Avoid it at all cost: http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2013/03/so-you-want-to-use-song-lyrics-in-your.html

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Filed under Farewell, Thankfulness

On Joy, and Sorrow, and the Tears that Bind Them

On Monday, Tara talked about watching readers react to her book. There is a great deal of joy in having our work read. It is exciting, and a little scary, to know that our books will touch people’s lives. That maybe the words we put on the page will leave readers a little different from who they were before they read the book. The knowledge that my art would remain hidden and untouched if I didn’t seek publication is what drove me to work toward this goal, so of course, reaching readers has been the prize my eye has been on for years.

But as I write this, my last blog post as an unpublished author, I find myself thinking less about those who will become part of this journey in the coming months and years, and more about the people who have been with me along the way, and those who no longer are.

When I joined the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, it was with a selfish goal of getting published. It was a move I made for my career and my writing. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Erin Murphy, but I admit I had dollar signs in my eyes as I signed the contract.

There’s nothing as supportive of a community of EMUs. Even if some of us are chickens. L to R: J. Anderson Coats, Mike Jung, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, L.B. Schulman, Cynthia Levinson, and Jeannie Mobley.

I had no idea of the community that would become mine. Of the friends and colleagues, peers and mentors that would become a part of my life because of my agency. It is not only a community that gives writing support, but lends a hand to each other when times are rough, whether it is a flooded house, a death in the family, a sick child, a financial crisis. It includes people who cook plum dumplings and blueberry pies for a person,  because they can (Thanks again, Tara and Tam!) It is a community that laughs together, cries together, eats chocolate together, and sometimes even forms bands and sings together.

Gwen used this as her online avatar. The sketch came originally from Ruth McNally Barshaw, who drew Gwen at an EMLA retreat in 2010.

This community lost one of its cherished members a month ago, when Gwen McIntosh passed away. If you didn’t know Gwen, go back through our blog and you will find her icon there, “liking” almost every post that we have posted, and commenting on many as well. That’s the kind of person Gwen was–supportive, warm, funny. Not one to let you get too full of yourself, but also one to make sure every moment was celebrated! In short, even though Gwen hadn’t met many of us in person, she was a true friend none the less.

Gwen’s death was a surprise to all of us. She hadn’t been sick. She wasn’t elderly. She had plans, dreams, and goals for the future. Among those unfinished dreams, was the dream to publish a novel. Even as she held that dream in her heart, she cheered for those of us who were achieving it.

And so, as I move closer to the publication of my first book, a book about dreams and wishes, and hopes that can be either crushed or fulfilled, I find myself reflecting less on where I am going, and more on where I have been. Life deals us so many things, both glorious and heartbreaking.  If I cry when my book is released, it will be out of joy for those brought to me by this journey, and grief for those I have lost along the way. Out of gratitude for what I have accomplished, and sorrow for what others have not. Out of acknowledgement of how simultaneously momentous and insignificant the moment really is, in the grand scheme of life.

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Filed under Celebrations, Colleagues, Writing and Life