Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Annie Sullivan to the blog. Her new YA novel, Tiger Queen, recently hit stores. Don’t you love that amazing tagline?
But Annie’s stopping by today to share some words of wisdom with her wee Baby Author Self. So let’s climb aboard the Baby Author Me Time Machine and travel back to the day after Annie sold her first book.
Over to you, Annie Sullivan. What would you tell Baby Author You about…
Book promotion is going to consume your life. In fact, you’ll probably be accused of promoting too much because your Facebook friends are tired of seeing post after post about your book and how much it helps authors to preorder. Promote anyway. Find different ways to promote. Be creative. Master free programs like Canva so you can build your own graphics and not rely on your publisher to send them.
Save some money for Instagram ads and Facebook ads. Those add up fast, but a little bit can also go a long way. Also, get on these platforms as early as possible and start building up followers.
Actually remember to enjoy the moment. Your first launch party is a bit like a wedding (at least mine was because there were 400 people there.) You won’t be able to talk to everyone, so try to prioritize the people who came a long distance, really contributed to your book’s success, or the people you rarely get to see. Also, make sure they deliver your giant book cake to the right bookstore and not the one where former Colts head coach Tony Dungy is signing. Also, remember to eat a slice of your cake. Eating is important to keep your strength up. Assign someone else you trust to take photos that day so you don’t have to worry about it.
Do not read the reviews. They will put you in a bad headspace. Put a blast out on social media that you don’t want to be tagged in reviews.
Trying to get an agent will be one of the hardest things you ever put yourself through. It can be a very dark time because it’s filled with constant rejection and feeling like you’re not good enough—that your writing is not good enough. If the first book you write doesn’t get you an agent, write another, and another, and another. Each book you write will get better. You’ll learn the industry better in that time too. You’ll learn who is a good agent and who to avoid. You’ll start to seriously think about getting the right agent instead of just any agent. Because a bad agent can kill your career and waste years of your time. But don’t be afraid to take a risk on a smaller agent who is just building their client list. They are hungry and eager to sell. Plus, you’re a priority for them.
Writing first drafts
Writing first drafts doesn’t get easier no matter how many books you’ve written. Every book is its own beast with its own problems to figure out and characters to shape. Don’t be discouraged when you hit a wall. You always hit a wall. That just means you have to go back and figure out where you went wrong. Because hitting a wall doesn’t mean you went wrong at the wall, it means you took a wrong turn way before that led you to this wall. Take a deep breath and find that wrong turn.
Revising on a deadline will be some of the most stressful, sleepless weeks of your life. You’re probably going to cry every single time you get an edit letter from your editor. Take a deep breath. Take a few days. Think about why they suggest those edits. Start to think of new possibilities. You can do this.
Friends and family
These people will save your life. When you want to quit and think your writing isn’t good enough, surround yourself with the people who will encourage you to keep going. And ignore the people who ask over and over again why you aren’t published yet.
Annie Sullivan is the author of the young adult novels A Touch of Gold (2018) and Tiger Queen (2019). She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, and received her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Butler University. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling. Her wanderlust has taken her to every continent, where she’s walked on the Great Wall of China, found four-leaf clovers in Ireland, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, and cage dived with great white sharks in South Africa.
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