Baby Author Me

Baby Author Me, Writer Interviews

Lessons for Baby Author Me — Meg Eden

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Today I’m thrilled to welcome Meg Eden to the hot seat! She is the author of the novel “Post-High School Reality Quest” (2017), and the forthcoming poetry collection “Drowning in the Floating World” (2020). Welcome, Meg!

I’ve asked Meg to look back and give her Baby Author Self some advice on the publishing and writing process. What does she wish she knew? What would she tell to authors who are just starting out? Over to you, Meg. Oh…and can you even handle how cute this childhood pic of Meg is? I can’t!

Book Promo and Writing After the “First Book”:

It’s easy to get tangled up in book promo, to excitedly send out queries and fall down the research rabbit hole of what kind of new events or activities might be possible. But remember to focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. So much of book promo is throwing yourself out there and hoping for the best. There is only so much you can really do. After you’ve done your part, all you can do is wait, and check in if you don’t hear back within a reasonable amount of time.  Instead of constantly refreshing your email or checking social media every five minutes, focus on the next draft. Restrict admin work like book promo to specific days. Set timers. Set writing goals, and write.

Social Media:

Social media is over-rated. Stop comparing your life to all your Instagram friends. You don’t know the story behind the photos. Just because so-and-so is a NYT bestseller doesn’t mean they didn’t go through years of struggle to get there. Everyone’s writing journey is different. Trying to say you’re “failing” at this writing gig compared to so-and-so is like comparing apples and oranges. You both have important stories to tell. Again, see the “writing after the first book” point. Don’t linger on what you can’t control. Focus on what you can, aka, writing.

Also, get your husband to set up social media locks. It’ll do wonders for your mental health.

Friends / Family:

Even though you have some awesome people supporting your work, they have lives outside of your book. Just because you don’t see them every time you do or post something doesn’t mean they don’t care. You have the hyper-focus and memory of a goldfish, and sometimes lose sight of all the support in the chaos of debuting. Do whatever you need to to remind yourself how many people have your back and have helped you get where you are today. Maybe start working on that acknowledgements page. Once you start writing out how everyone’s supported you, it can help get everything into perspective.

Announcements and Algorithms:

Social media algorithms mean people don’t always know what you’re doing. Don’t assume that just because people are following you that they hear about everything that you’re posting. Proof of this: your cousin just messaged me maybe a month ago, saying he had no idea your book was out and he was going to get it immediately. That’s 2 years after debuting. So don’t get mopey if only 20 of your Facebook friends like a thing or Aunt Leslie never likes any of your book posts. Stop caring about how many likes you get, anyway. It’s not going to make your book a better book.

If you want to make sure someone specific knows about a thing, do it the old fashioned way. Call them. Get tea with them. Send them a personalized email or message. Put a letter in their mailbox. Send a carrier pigeon. People are much more likely to respond—not to mention radiate positivity and encouragement—when you take the time to personally reach out.


Stop looking for worth in positive reinforcement from friends, family, readers, people in the industry, likes, sales, shares, what have you. Your worth is not reliant on the product you create. Your worth is not reliant on the feedback you receive from said product. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a writer, and you have important stories to tell. Don’t let any of the book pub business make you lose sight of what really matters.

Book Sales and Money:

Remember that whole “what you can’t control” point? You can’t control book sales. Don’t go to an event expecting to sell x amount of books. Many events will end in zero sales. That does not mean you fail as a writer. Take what you experience from events and learn from it. Re-strategize.

Don’t expect money from any of this. What were you thinking, expecting money from this? Do it for the words. Do it because you couldn’t not do it. If you get money from this whole gig, great. But don’t put the pressure on your craft to demand money from it. It’s not fair to your stories or characters. You cannot guarantee money from this. Get your money from another avenue, so you can focus on the craft.


Find someone who gets your work. Who’s willing to work with you to make the best possible book. Who makes time for you. Don’t rush into a relationship, because if they don’t love it (and if they don’t know what they’re doing) they’re not going to get books sold. Do your research. Be picky. You deserve to be picky. If it means you have to be in the query trenches, so be it.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. The worst they can do is say no. You might be surprised at the answer you get.

Keep writing in the trenches. Persist.

Bookstore Events: 

Barnes & Noble author signings are (largely) over-rated. They do not bring crowds of people in. Sorry, B&N, but it’s true. Do one B&N signing so you can get a picture that shows that your book is in B&N and fulfill your childhood dreams of being an Author with a capital A. But maybe leave it at that.

Do bookstore events to build relationships with bookstores and booksellers and the local community. Don’t do too many and instead focus on getting people in the door to those couple of events. Collaborate with other authors to host joint events. Be creative. Bookstores are counting on you bringing folks in, so if you schedule like, ten bookstore events, you’re going to have trouble bringing in enough people to justify the time and effort that goes into said events.


Don’t look at Goodreads.

Also, everyone’s a critic.

Pin your crappy reviews to a piñata and give it a good whack.

Then go back and write.

Writer Friends:

Hold to them dearly. There are some things your non-writer friends are just not going to get. That’s OK. Get to know your writing community. Serve other writers. Gush about their books. These folks will be some of your biggest advocates, and most encouraging friends during the rough writing and pub business times.


So you know how you think you’re done with that current manuscript of yours? Ha! Guess what? It’s still on submission because it needed to be rewritten about ten more times. But guess what? It’s way better because of it (plus, I ended up finding about three more novels hidden inside of it!). Sure, it’s taken about three years of serious work, and it still may take more. Who knows. But don’t settle for a mediocre manuscript. Challenge it and dig deeper. Challenge and examine yourself. There is no shame in taking the time to make the best book you can.

Wowee, what amazing advice!!! Thanks so much for stopping by, Meg! If you found this advice helpful, why not let Meg know in the comments 🙂

Meg Eden‘s work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO and CV2. She teaches creative writing at Anne Arundel Community College and the MA program at Southern New Hampshire University. She is the author of five poetry chapbooks, the novel “Post-High School Reality Quest” (2017), and the forthcoming poetry collection “Drowning in the Floating World” (2020). Find her online at or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal.

Baby Author Me, Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Lessons for Baby Author Me — S.A. Larsen

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S.A. Larsen aka Sheri, welcome to the blog! First things first, enjoy a complimentary coffee on the house. Now sit back…close your eyes and…step inside the Baby Author Me Time Machine.

Ooh . . . it’s more spacious in here than I would have thought, and this chair is so comfy.

We’re heading all the way back to the day after you sold your first book. Remember the joy, the celebrations with friends, the cake? Oh, so much cake. If only you had known the trials and tribulations to come.

Yes! I remember all the joy (and, honestly shock) after I found out I’d sold a book. But I’ll skip the cake. Just the frosting, please.

Now imagine that you could sit down with Baby Author You and offer her some sage advice. What do you wish you would have known? What would you have absolutely avoided? What did you spend weeks worrying about that ended up being no big deal?

The wee Baby Authors of the world need your words of wisdom. So let’s dive in!

Over to you, Sheri…

Sheri_2yrs_oldOkay, look young scribe, this writing gig is going to be tough. Not that you thought it was going to be easy; you didn’t. But it will take lots of honing the craft through repeated writing sessions and classes, blogging to meet like-minded writers, and tons of reading. All that will eat up loads of time. And when you decide to do all this, you’ll be raising four kids spanning a range of ten years, helping to care for ailing parents (one with multiple sclerosis), and joining your husband in running a family business. Oh yeah, and you’ll need to breath, too.

Plus, writing stories is not just about writing. It’s about bookmarks and book covers, line edits and royalties. Let’s not even talk about all the conferences and signings you’ll need to keep up with. Unfortunately, you’ll miss most of those – partly because of life responsibilities, partly because of where you live. This will become a great concern for you, not being able to physically mingle with those like you. Don’t sweat what you can’t control. Move on and write.

Trust me, the bustle and pressure of writing every day (and all that comes with it) will get to you. Remember you want this because you love it. Find you can’t remember why you loved it? Look at all you’ve accomplished to that point and be grateful. All will be restored.

The first three valuable lessons you’ll quickly learn about writing:

  1. Writing is a solitary endeavor; you’ll get lonely.
  2. You CAN’T do it alone if you want to grow in the craft and in the publishing world, which sounds like it contradicts #1, but it doesn’t.
  3. Most family members and friends won’t understand what you do.

Thus, one of your favorite areas of writing will be Critique Groups. You will have many; some will fade as career paths change or grow, while others you’ll remain forever friends with. Writing buds rock! They get you and are always there with encouragement to keep you writing. Be confident enough to nurture these relationships. No price tag could label their value. And the cool thing is that you get to help them in return.

Motley Education - Full Cover with Text-1

Speaking about help, Agents and Editors are hard-working people who can help you, too. When you begin writing, other than having your story out in the wild, you’ll want nothing more than to sign with an agent. You’ll feel you need the guidance, which will be true. But guess what? After two years of submitting to agents, you toss that idea, submit to publishers on your own, and receive multiple offers on your first manuscript. This is what gets you an agent. And it will be totally cool . . . while it lasts. Sadly, eighteen months after you sign with your agent you will make the choice to end that relationship. Too much to go into here, but just know that you did nothing wrong. It just wasn’t a good fit. Don’t wallow and let your mojo for writing fade. *Spoiler Alert* – Because that’s exactly what you’ll do. Trust me. It’s super hard to climb back up the mountain of exuberant passion for writing. You will start climbing. R-e-a-l-l-y slowly, but you will.

A Side Note: when family and friends ask how your writing is going, be honest. Tell them about how raising four kids takes ALL your time, that writing until 2:00 AM is tough and you often fall asleep and end up with keyboard markings all over your face. Share the business side of selling books, what you really make on one book sold. After you begin to let them see your writing world through reality, they will become much kinder with their questions and support. They simply are unaware of the facts of writing and publishing professionally, as were you before you dove into the industry. So, chin up!

And you do lift that chin, especially during School Author Visits. Seeing how you live up in the sticks (North-NORTHeast LOL), in-person school visits will be hard for you. Way too much travel with your family responsibilities. BUT you will find your niche in cyber school visits. You’ll begin doing them alone and you’ll visit with young readers in India, England, and the States. Your favorite will be students from Scotland because they couldn’t contain their excitement on meeting you. Yes, you. These visits will feed you the writing fuel you’ll need. Soon, you’ll team up with an incredibly talented group of middle grade authors who love writing spooky stories like you. Your cyber school visits together will be so much fun! You will learn lots about them, yourself, and that all the sacrifices you make to write your stories matters. Young readers do read your books. They are encouraged and excited by your stories. A few even tell you that you’ve inspired them to write. You will need to rely on these sweet truths often.

My biggest advice to you would be to remember that you matter, too. You began telling stories to your children when they were babies, up at all hours rocking or feeding them. And in the SUV, while driving to this youth hockey game or that one. Writing is your comfort, your inspiration, your therapy to bask in life’s joys and work through its angst. Life will happen. You will experience happiness, but also a lot of loss and pain. Don’t shut out these emotions. Embrace and use them to strengthen your stories, to take your characters to emotional depths that readers can’t resist. Be brave and trust that you are good enough to do this. You are not perfect. You never will be. But you are worth it.

S.A. Larsen Author image 1-1S.A. Larsen is the award-winning author of MOTLEY EDUCATION, a fantasy adventure for middle grade readers, and MARKED BEAUTY, her young adult fantasy-romance. She loves to explore imaginary passageways to hidden worlds with all sorts of creepy creatures. When she’s not chasing her characters around a cemetery or antagonizing them with the wonders of young love, she can be found in the land of lobsters and snowy winters with her husband and four children, Sadie the German Shepherd, and a trio of kittens. Visit her cyber home at

Baby Author Me, Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Lessons for Baby Author Me — Robin Kirk

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Today I’m thrilled to welcome Robin Kirk to the ‘Baby Author Me’ hot seat. Robin is the author of numerous books, including The Bond, first in the Pentaklon trilogy (Blue Crow Books 2018), More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs and America’s War in Colombia (PublicAffairs) and The Monkey’s Paw: New Chronicles from Peru (University of Massachusetts Press). She coedits the The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University) and is an editor of Duke University Press’s World Readers series.

Welcome, Robin! As regular readers will know, the BABY AUTHOR ME series gives authors the chance to look back in time and give some much-needed advice to their ‘Baby Author’ selves. Today Robin will be focusing on the dreaded…launch party! Take it away, Robin:

ROBIN: I was the kind of kid—say between 6 and a gazillion years old—who would immediately hide when the doorbell rang. I vividly remember a group of lovely carolers arriving at my childhood house and me cowering in the basement, as if they’d specifically come to render me as their Christmas goose.

Parties were and are excruciating. I can speak in public, but only after several apprentice-ship years and never when the topic is me. If the topic is some injustice or a fascinating piece of research I want to share, I am all in.

Just not when I am the center of attention.

So middle school-1
Can you guess which one is Robin?

I would loathe a surprise birthday party (not that anyone has ever dared schedule one) because I know exactly what would happen. My face would set in a rictus of appreciation and hilarity, and I would wonder if all of those people gathered for fun realized what an un-fun person I am. Would my closely guarded un-fun-ness be put on excruciating display? Had they come to this place by mistake, for another, more worthy person?

I bring all of these feelings to book launches. For days, I experience a low, thrumming dread. Most recently, when The Bond launch had to be cancelled because of weather, I was secretly elated. I know this is the author’s job or duty or responsibility. I’m all for all the rest of marketing—interviews, social media, whatever—but me as the center of attention?

I’d rather be launched out of a cannon.

But a dear friend, who noticed the pallor and the sweats as I prepared for the rescheduled release of The Bond, helped me think about the book signing in another way. Writing a book is hard. Really hard. Exceptionally, devastatingly, wrenchingly hard. And that’s not even including publication. If you publish a book, an honest-to-Betsy book, you have kind of won a personal Powerball.

Not that this pays, but you know what I mean.

Allow your friends to celebrate. Not you, mind you. This astonishing achievement. You’ve written that glorious thing, A BOOK. The book is the centerpiece, not you.

COVER-the BOND-300ppi-1

The Bond launch was winding down when two teens approached to ask me about one of the characters. I was taken aback. A voice in my head whispered, “How on earth do they know about 12?” 12 is my mutant battledog, a combination of Iorek from The Golden Compass, The Incredible Journey animals, and every bad pet I’ve ever cared for (not a few). Then I realized: they’d read my story. They’d liked my story. In some way, I’d managed to conjure 12 from computer clicks and countless cups of coffee. 12 was real now. She’s escaped my hard drive and was pacing around in the heads of these teens, scaring the bejeesus out of them.

It was lovely. It was the best. Not because of me, mind you. But because I’d made something, a character and a story, that is now a part of other people’s lives.

I’m still trepidatious about launches. But I’m also a little eager. I’m craving that sparkle in the eyes of a young reader. I’m craving the little scare I hope they get, and a little of the adventure, and a lot of hope. That’s what’s the center of attention at a book launch: hope, the hope that’s in books and the hope that’s in the readers, especially the young ones, who love them.

KIM: Thanks so much for stopping by, Robin! I’m feeling better about my next book launch already 🙂 Phew!

To find out more about Robin Kirk, visit her online at, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.