Thursday, September 27, 2012

Renee, RELIC, Ridiculously Happy Over Here

This is a picture of the very first internet-friends-turned-real friends I ever made (Note to self: NEVER cut your hair that short again, Natalie. Ever.). The tall one in the middle? That's Renee, and I'm SO EXCITED to finally be able to tell you that she sold her awesome magic western, RELIC! The book is crazy awesome, guys. Picture True Grit with magical elements. YES. I know. You should be drooling.

Renee is not only a great writer, but she has been one of my closest friends since we met over four years ago now. We were all bright-eyed and naive back then, and after several Philosophical Journeys we may be a touch jaded but still as close as ever. I'm not sure how I got so lucky in the friend department, but it's pretty much the only thing I have incredible luck in.

I feel so blessed to have had Renee cheering me on all this time, and now it's my turn to do the happy dances and shouting from the rooftops and all that good stuff. YAY RENEE! YAY RELIC! Bragging for your friends is WAY better than talking about yourself.

So please go over and congratulate Renee! She deserves lots of comments for having to put up with me all these years.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

5 Easy Things You Can Do To Support Debut Authors

So TRANSPARENT is roughly 8 months away from debuting, which is actually starting to sound close seeing as I had a total of 25 months to wait when I sold. Suffice it to say, debuting has weighed heavily on my mind recently. Even crushingly at times.

I've always loved supporting debut authors—it might not seem like it, but your support is HUGE for authors just starting out. Especially for a mid-list title like mine and many, many others, every sale, every mention, every shelf matters.

Today I want to share 5 simple things you can do if you want to support a debut author you particularly love, in order of cheapest/easiest to most expensive/hardest (not that hard though).

1. Tell Your Friends
Yes, it's that simple. If you have been following a debut, or just read a debut author's book and loved it—tell people! One of the hardest things for debut authors is that they don't have an automatic audience. They can't rely on repeat fans or really anyone taking a chance on them (It's slightly easier for well-placed lead title debuts, but still not easy). They have to hope that someone will pick up their book, love it, and then start talking about it.

2. Request At Your Local Library
Librarians are hugely influential within the reading community, but there are lots of books to buy and a limited budget. The more a librarian hears requests for a book, the more they'll consider getting it on their shelves. For a debut, every shelf means a lot. Visibility is the biggest obstacle. Librarians are a huge help in getting new books to the people who might love them.

3. Request At Your Local Bookstore
It's the same principle as the library—visibility is a debut's best friend. If people are asking for a book, stores are happy to provide. And if a few people start asking for a title, they might even start stocking it more consistently. Shelf space at a bookstore is not a given for every author, and it's becoming more and more common for mid-list authors—even ones published with the big publishers—to be overlooked by brick and mortar stores.

4. Pre-Order
Publishers look at pre-order sales. If they are good, on track, or behind expectations. It impacts their view of the book and their likelihood to push the title. Having good pre-orders could help your favorite debut continue their career. Besides, pre-ordering often costs less than buying at a store or after debut.

5. Buy Debut Novels Within The First Three Months
Did you know that most novels only get about a quarter of a year to sell in a bookstore? If a store doesn't sell a novel like it expects to, they won't re-order. That book may not be on the shelf ever again. And even more difficult for a debut author—that first book not selling fast enough could mean that their future books will not make it to the store at all. It sounds sad, but that is a reality a lot of writers face everyday.

And those are my five easy things that can really help a debut author out! Of course, these things also help all authors, and most of them don't cost you anything. If you have other suggestions, please leave them in comments:)

Monday, September 17, 2012

On Privacy, The Internet, & Being Safe

I used to think that putting some personal stuff online wasn't a big deal. It's not like I was important enough for people to stalk or anything. And I'm not saying I am now, but things have been slowly changing over the six years since I started this blog.

Truth is, I recently found some things online about me that were, let's say, vaguely stalkerish. Not to the point where I was totally freaked out, but it put me on high alert. Like, "Oh, so there are people in the world who actually have the time to read my entire blog archive. I had no idea. Interesting."

I've recently had to ask myself a new question: Do I want people to be able to have that window into my life, into who I used to be and how I got where I'm at now?

When I first started this blog, I used to post a lot of silly things, or personal things. I talked a lot about my books and research, about my family and friends. Back then, I think it was okay. I had very few readers and nothing really to worry about. Things have changed lately. And please, don't take this as me saying I'm SUPER famous or anything like that, because I'm so not. But selling a book has garnered a certain amount a visibility, and I imagine that'll increase a little once the book is actually out. What used to be okay for me to talk about is shifting, whether I want it to or not.

When I was querying and on sub, I used to think a lot of writers got "too good for us little people" when they sold their books, because they started to close off online and were just too busy to interact like they used to. But as I've been going through the debut thing myself, I've discovered that "closing off" is for very different reasons than I imagined. Mainly, for safety purposes.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard about the agent who was attacked by someone she rejected last week (via Nathan Bransford). That is an extreme but sobering reality. I truly believe that the majority of writers are very nice people, but it's a case of a few troubling sorts ruining it for the rest.

The truth is, I've had a few unsettling, this-person-is-kind-of-invading-my-privacy moments already. I've had people approach my husband asking him to read their novels and recommend them to me, for example. I've had uncomfortable comments on my blog along the lines of "Why am I not your husband?"

What I experience on a smaller scale must be really difficult for writers who are even more visible. I have heard some stories that make me pretty scared to be doing this whole author gig.

So with all that in mind, I would just encourage everyone to be safe. Here are some ways you can do that if you feel the need:

• If you have Blogger, it's really easy to revert your older posts to drafts, if you now deem them maybe too exposing (something I've been doing a lot of lately). No deletion necessary, so you can keep them for yourself if you want.

• Never talk about where you are going—talk about where you've been.

• Don't use the location pins. (I seriously don't get the location pins.)

• If you want to advertise an event, advertise it. There's no reason to say that you will be there even if you are going.

• Consider the personal pictures you post online, and if there is any way for people to locate or contact you based on them.

Be safe out there, guys. I wish we didn't have to think about this stuff, but we do.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Sketch

It's been a long while since I posted a sketch, mostly because my scanner is dead and now Photoshop Elements is not working on my new-to-me MacBook Air. I can't find the disk to reinstall. Wah. So I took a picture of this sketch, which means the quality is rotten, but oh well.

I've recently been doubting my writing and, well, everything pretty much, but it was nice to pull out the sketchpad today and do something other than editing. Sonnie is a character from one of my WIPs, and I think drawing her today has made me a little more excited about her story.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yay Lynne!

I really have to give a huge shout out to my friend Lynne Matson, who sold her debut novel NIL! I have been dying to have that public, because I'm so very excited for her. Lynne and I met through the All 4 Alabama auction—she forked out a lot of money to have me crit her novel, and it was such a great pleasure to work with her. And the book is awesome! Lynne is just a top notch person in general, and I'm so glad a publisher saw in NIL what I did.