Tag Archives: debut author

Countdown to Launch

jugglerIt’s 169 days until LOST BOYS is let loose to find it’s way in the world and into children’s hands. I recently got to meet my team at Henry Holt and confirmed what I’d been feeling over the last approximately 380 days we’ve been working together – I am lucky to be in their hands. Let me tell you people – there is nothing like walking through hall after hall of shiny bookcases filled with pretty children’s books and knowing yours is going to be there soon.

It’s been approximately 660 days since that champagne cloud of a day when the book sold, so you can imagine Launch Day brings equal parts elation and abject dread. I’m a juggler struggling to keep a large bowling pin, an apple and a chain saw in the air. Are we all done with edits? How will the book be viewed in this political climate? When shall I start the ARC tour? Is the website done? Have I thanked my new followers on Twitter? Am I getting new followers on Twitter? Have I booked my launch? And OMG – is the laundry done?

And in among that avalanche of questions is maybe the most crucial one. How is that work in progress – the next book? On this bright Monday morning I’m feeling good. I’ve finally jettisoned all those characters and scenes that weren’t serving my story and the path forward is clear. But Oh Lordy! Finding the headspace to give it the attention it deserves is not easy. That pure writing time is precious and dear and so different from the twirling tornado that is my everyday. So my friends, thank you for listening as I pledge to carve out time in the eye of my storm and hold in my sights an empty space on that shiny bookcase.

Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry darceyhighresHolt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and daughter, some fish, and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and dances.

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Debut Author To-Do List  

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.)

Breathe-Part 1
Anxiety is a constant. I don’t know what reviewers are going to say. I don’t know how book breathesales 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 partywriters. 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.

Breathe-Part 2
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.

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IMG_0107a 5 x 7Lindsey 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.

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Filed under Advice, Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anxiety, Celebrations

Promotion Post-Mortem

THE WICKED AND THE JUST came out two weeks ago tomorrow.  I was planning to post about how I went about promoting it, what exactly I did, what worked and what didn’t. . .

. . . until I realized I didn’t really know what worked and what didn’t.  Sure, I did a bunch of interviews and guest posts.  I held a giveaway (which ends tomorrow, if you’re interested).  I went on a blog tour and my fabulous agency siblings threw me a weeklong party.

But I have no way of quantifying outcomes.  I can’t know which of the specific promotional things I did resulted (or will result) in people buying the book.  I won’t have any concrete sales numbers for months, and things like Amazon rank are an arbitrary measure that only tells you one thing, and not the thing I’m interested in.

So this isn’t a post about all the ways you can do promotion.  Plenty of really smart people can tell you that.

What I found most interesting about the promotion I did for W/J was how it changed my sense of control over the whole debut process.

I have a wonderful publicist at Harcourt.  She is diligent, tireless, and a joy to work with, but 98% of what she does on my behalf happens in a black box.  Publishers tend to hold these cards close to the vest and I’m okay with that.  I fed her information about what I was doing, but it went into the black box and I have no idea what became of it.

Internal decisions about W/J like catalog placement, ARC distribution, outreach, sales backing – those got made at such a stratospheric level that I had (and still have) only an intellectual understanding of those outcomes.  There was no way I could do anything about those.

But what I could do was buy 500 postcards, write messages by hand, and mail them to every public library and indie bookstore in my state.  What I could do was band together with other local kidlit writers and arrange book tours.  What I could do was get on Twitter and just chat with bloggers, librarians and readers about anything from cats to kids to the weather.

There’s already a lot of letting go during the debut process.  Promotion is one way a writer can get back some sense of control, that you’re actually steering this little boat and not drifting with the tide.*  That sense of authority builds confidence, and confidence will let you relax a little.  And when you relax, even a little, it’ll be that much easier to enjoy the whole crazymaking ride.

* This is not to say you should go overboard and do too much.  Just enough to wrestle back control of the tiller.  I will now retire this metaphor, as it’s getting tiresome.

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