Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Freshman Fifteen. Or Whatever.

I've been thinking about how selling a book is a lot like going to college. This may be because I write YA, so of course I always think in terms of teen-like transitions. But my emotions seem to be following a freakishly similar path.

Going to college is exciting and new and fun. It's also scary and different and never just as you expect it to be. And that's true no matter what college you go to, no matter how big or small, how prestigious, whatever. In a lot of ways, it's like starting all over again.

Selling a book, it's like I went from a senior in high school to a freshman in college. I'm a newb again. I was comfortable in my old school, over about four years I worked my way "to the top," you could say. Now? So at the bottom. Not in a bad way, just in a "Whoa, so I still have a lot to learn about this publishing thing" way.

I look at the seniors and wonder how I'm ever gonna get there. They seem so cool and chill and experienced, and I feel like I'm fumbling and awkward. Even though I researched college and prepared and packed and went to orientation, it's not the same as experiencing college.

I feel like I've been sitting in a whole set of new classes—Editing For An Editor 101, Contracts 101, Self-Employment Taxes 101. I'm freaking out over my grades, wondering if my professors like me, and all that fun stuff. And then there's the whole making friends thing, learning the line between getting to know people and trying too hard, between "getting your name out there" and pummeling people with your name, between good marketing and marketing that turns people off. There are so many new rules, and I still feel like a fish out of water.

Then comes the whole emotional side. Some things are super exciting, for sure. Like when you DO make new friends or when your editor says she loves your revision. I still can't wait for the moment I get to see my cover. There are so many highs in the growing process, but that doesn't mean there aren't lows, too. I remember feeling like I wasn't anything special when I went to college and saw all these people who were SO talented and hard working and experienced. I feel that way a lot these days, too, wondering how I fit in publishing, marveling at how I even got in when there are so many people brimming with talent. I feel lucky and undeserving all at once.

In the end, I am happy that I ended up in this college, and the lessons I've learned as I approach my first year post-book deal have been rewarding and lots of work. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I can handle it as long as I focus on what matters most.

I really did gain the Freshman Fifteen again, though. So not cool.

11 comments:

  1. LOL well you're pregnant, so I think you're excused.

    "I remember feeling like I wasn't anything special when I went to college and saw all these people who were SO talented and hard working and experienced. I feel that way a lot these days, too, wondering how I fit in publishing, marveling at how I even got in when there are so many people brimming with talent. I feel lucky and undeserving all at once."

    Yup. I remember that feeling too. But then I also remember how, at the end of 4 years, I looked back and somewhere along the way, I had become one of those talented hardworking and experience people myself. :)

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  2. Love this. In this analogy, I'm the one still in middle school hoping to make it to high school soon. College still seems light years away.

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  3. This is truly lovely, and makes so much sense.

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  4. Yes. So this. YES. You totally gave my thoughts form.

    And the freshman fifteen? So hard to focus on losing that, when your focus is spent so many other places!

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  5. I'm *sure* you'll be one of those girls who comes to school prepared with everything...you know the one with the color coordinated bedspread, towels, bathroom basket, etc? That's the great benefit of having older sibs -- or in your case crit partners -- who have already figured it all out and are sure to share their experience!

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  6. I'm sure you can handle it. You think everything out so thoroughly here. But there is a learning curve. I'm nervous about it for when I get there.

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  7. This is the perfect analogy! You know what's great about college? You're only a freshman once, but you can be a Senior FOREVER.

    Actually... *looks at far distant graduation date* maybe that's not so great.

    ;) Great post.

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  8. Great analogy. You'll master these classes just as you did the ones before:)

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  9. Excellent way of putting it, Natalie!

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  10. Great post, and a perfect description of this sold-but-not-yet-on-the-shelves state. Also, it brought back memories of my own college orientation & other beginnings (not the least of which was the actual freshman 15 I gained via the dining hall). 0_o

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