Baby Author Me, Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Lessons for Baby Author Me — Annie Sullivan

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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?

Tiger Queen Cover

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

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.

Launch parties

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.

Touch of Gold Final Cover ImageReviews

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.

Follow Annie online at: 





Baby Author Me, Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Lessons for Baby Author Me — Barbara Lowell

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I’m excited to welcome author Barbara Lowell to the blog this week! In addition to sharing some tips for her Baby Author Self, Barbara is also revealing the cover of her new book, My Mastodon, with artwork by Antonio Marinoni, slated for publication in February 2020. Without further ado, here is the FABULOUS cover:

Sybilla cover

As a lover of bones, and book and adorable dogs, I cannot get enough of this gorgeous image! Thanks for sharing, Barbara!

Now it’s time to offer some words of wisdom to your Baby Author Self. So…

512b2rcGt7LWhat would you tell Baby Author You about your contract?

You have an agent, so you believe you’re all set – nothing to do on your part. Sorry. It’s important for you to read over your entire contract, no matter how many pages there are. Make notes on the questions you have and the areas you don’t understand. Because there will be many. It’s extremely important for you to know exactly what you will be signing. It may seem overwhelming at first, but learning to understand all that legalize is empowering and it will protect you.

The next step is to discuss your contract with your agent, over the phone or on Skype, etc. A back and forth discussion is better than one by email. When the contract negotiations by your agent are complete, read the contract again to ensure that you fully understand it.

What if you don’t have an agent? You may want to contact agents you think are a good fit and let them know that you have received an offer. They may offer representation. You may want to hire a lawyer who specializes in book contracts. You can join the Author’s Guild, submit your contract, receive advice and then negotiate the contract on your own. Or, you can find books or online resources about book contract negotiation and do the work yourself. What’s most important is that you fully understand all aspects of your contract. You will then write a letter outlining the changes you would like. These changes may or may not be accepted. But most publishers will be reasonable about not requiring that they have the exclusive right to your next work.

You have your first book contract and earned one-half of your advance. Celebrate!

51qOxDTFNiL._SX409_BO1,204,203,200_What’s next? The editorial letter. It’s another milestone in your journey as an author. Before reading it do something fun or relaxing and calming.

Then, read the entire letter, line edits, suggestions, etc. It’s probably not what you expected. You thought your manuscript just needed a bit of tweaking. And now you have lots of revision to do. And you loved your story the way it was. Put the letter away. If you need to vent, call a supportive friend – do not vent to the editor. That’s a big no-no.

The next day, take the letter out, no more complaining – get to work. Make a plan. Will you work first on line edits? Will you cut what needs cutting first? Will you rethink the sections of your manuscript that need the most work? Ask your editor if you have questions. BE NICE. Don’t be surprised if there is a tight deadline. It’s up to you to meet it.

51XRVHoPHMLWhen your revision is finished, you probably will find that the story you thought couldn’t be better is now greatly improved. That’s why there are editors. Send your revision back. Most likely, you will receive requests for more revisions. This may go on for a while – so be strong. And one day, you will receive an email saying that your manuscript is accepted and the second half of your advance is on the way (sooner or later.)

You are finally close (in a year or two or more) to the magical day when you open the box of YOUR FIRST BOOK. Hooray Baby Author You! You did it!

Barbara Lowell is the author of Sparky & Spike: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever about young Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and his dog Spike, the inspiration for famous pup Snoopy. Her books include the nonfiction early readers Daring Amelia and Alexander Hamilton, American Hero..And the forthcoming picture books My Mastodon  (2/25/2020) and Behind the Bookcase: Miep Gies, Anne Frank and the Hiding Place (2021.)  She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.) You can visit  her at and on Twitter at:

Baby Author Me, Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Lessons for Baby Author Me — Jonathan Roth

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This week, I’m excited to welcome Jonathan Roth to the blog and to celebrate the release of a brand-new, special edition of BEEP AND BOB! It features all four books in one! Wow!

Beep and Bob 4 in 1 cover

Author-Illustrator Jonathan Roth is a public elementary school art teacher who lives in Rockville, Maryland, with his wife, two kitties and three or more bicycles. Though Jonathan has never left Earth, he has met four of the astronauts who have gone to the moon. Beep and Bob (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin) is his first series. Learn more at

Now, it’s time for the main event! Are you ready, Jonathan? Let’s step inside the Baby Author Time Machine. Imagine that you could sit down with Baby Author You the day before your book sold and offer him some sage advice on the road to come. What would you have done differently? What words of wisdom are you dying to share?

Over to you, Jonathan!

Book promotion: Think of yourself as a small business and act accordingly. Go on the assumption that unless you have a lead title or special circumstances, your publisher will certainly do some things behind the scenes to help your book(s), but you won’t usually know what they are or how well they’re working. Be prepared to do as much as you’re able yourself and to use some of your advance. Be creative and work to your strengths, push yourself to try some new things and accept that you won’t be able to do everything! Plus your job is also to work on future books. No pressure!

Launch parties: Launch parties are a great way to kick things off and rally your local friends, family, students and colleagues. Prepare well. They’re going to be a blur. Be sure to give thanks to the venue and to anyone involved with your book’s journey.

Reviews: You’re going to care a lot at the outset and seek them out to read; but soon you’ll start to forget about them. Like sales, the only thing you can control is your ability to accept.

Book sales: Don’t obsess (yeah, right). And even if you do, keep in mind you won’t know your actual sales numbers, even when you get a royalty statement (they’re very complicated, and don’t reflect future returns, etc.) and anything you glean from other sources gives a very incomplete picture.

Book signings: Book signings are a fun way to connect with readers, but don’t go too out of your way unless you enjoy it. Focus on events with talks, and team up with others when you can. Attendance at libraries and bookstores can be 25+ if the event is well advertised and in a good location, but be prepared for far fewer.

School visits: School visits are the best! You get to meet tons of eager students and educators. Prepare a really good show (informative, relevant, entertaining, humorous) and tweak it constantly to make it better. Try to partner with a local indie to take care of pre or post sales. (note: I’m a teacher and am very comfortable educating and entertaining students; if talking to hundreds of boisterous kids sounds like a horror to you, it probably will be.)

Revising: You’ve revised and revised to get to this point and you’re going to have to revise and revise and revise before publication. Most of writing is rewriting, but you already know that so you’re good to go!

Critique groups: I can’t imagine doing it without a good, honest, supportive critique group. Plus the better you are at listening to others, the better your chances of making it through the submission, revising and editing processes.

Rejection: It’s a good thing you’re so very practiced at getting rejected, because even after a sale you’re going to get rejected lots more! Not just on future ideas and submissions, but by some book festivals and organizations and media outlets and more. If you can’t stomach the thought of ever more rejection, get out now!

Money (Advance, Royalties, Taxes): You’re not going to make nearly as much as you dreamed (and certainly not as much as people may assume) and you’re going to spend more than you planned. Yay for day jobs!

Final Words of Wisdom: Because you care so much, you’re going to at times feel elated and at times feel defeated. That’s just the cycle. But also because you care so much you’re going to press on no matter what. Follow your passions, you have something very valuable to offer to kids!

Love, love, love!!! Thanks so much Jonathan, and everyone go out and buy the new, super-cool edition of BEEP AND BOB!