Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I Learned in 2014

Per usual, I'm hesitant to give any kind of writing advice or truths about publishing because I think all of our journeys are different, and frankly, as I sit here in the same pajama pants I wore most of yesterday, I'm hardly a shining example of "how to get it right". That being said, I'm two books in now and I did discover a few noteworthy things this year that hopefully will help some of you.

1. It turns out everyone is a writer. Seriously. Everyone. I'm at my block party or the grocery store or the kids' winter fest and people tell me about the book they've published or the one they're going to write or this big idea they have. And the way my brain processes this is usually in three steps. First: YES! AWESOME! Everyone should be a writer because it's awesome and I want all the people to come to this party. Second: For the love of cheese, I hope you're not in this for the money because that way will only lead to frustration. Third: Oh God, please don't ask me to help you because I don't have the first clue what I'm doing. 

2. It turns out everyone is working their ass off. So you know how you wish someone would email you back? Or that they'd provide you with this stuff you no doubt deserve? Or that they'd send you that one thing they said they'd get to you by last week? Well, the reason that's not happening is they're working their asses off. I'm quite lucky that I get to see publishing from both sides of the desk because patience is hardly my strong suit, so when I say people are working their asses off, I'm not lying. Writers, editors, agents, publicists. Every damn day is a fire drill of some kind. If you're not being attended to, it's probably because you're a smaller fire behind a giant blaze. (Note: this doesn't mean you should allow yourself to be treated badly and ignored for 6 months, but I trust you know the difference here.)

3. It turns out that people in the publishing community are really for you. You will be absolutely astounded at the number of people in the publishing community who want you to kick ass and sell a million books and have all your dreams come true. And they are generally a hundred kinds of awesome about trying to make that happen. They don't owe you shit but they do it anyway because they're good people. So be gracious and thankful and buy their books and love them back. And if they can't always help you sell all your books because they've got shit of their own to deal with, continue to love them and buy their books and be gracious because that's what friends do. 

4. It turns out that writing is hard sometimes. I failed NaNo this year. I wrote 100k that will never see the light of day. I started and stopped about six books. It wasn't the easiest year in writing. That happens. I kept writing anyway because I love it enough to know that it'll come back to me. I also kept writing because of all the great encouraging things people said to me. I seriously love the writing community. (See #3).    

5. It turns out you don't have to do or be all the things. I talked about this over at PubHub, but really it is worth repeating: do not spend time doing a bunch of things you don't love to sell your books. Yes, you're going to have to do some promo. And sadly that promo cannot just be a Lenny Kravitz Pinterest board (though I highly recommend everyone have one of those as a happy place on the Internet). But promo that you sort of hate doing comes across as promo that you sort of hate doing. So I think it's worth figuring out what promo you like and focusing on that. And if you hate all promo, then you can at least be funny about it. My "Teen Vogue lists BLEED LIKE ME as a great YA book to read over the holidays because there's nothing that says Merry Christmas like self-mutilation and co-dependent relationships" FB post got way more likes and comments than my "Hooray my book is on sale" release day post. Of course, my friends may just like my twisted sense of humor, so there's that.

6. It turns out readers are awesome. By far my favorite part about this year is the number of readers who reached out to me to tell me that my dark and gritty books were the best things they read this year. THIS NEVER GETS OLD. Teen readers in particular are effusive and awesome and basically everything I ever wanted out of this writing gig. I don't have the first clue how they found me, but I love, love, love that they have. 

So that's what I got. In preparing for this blog, I also re-read last year's post which I think is still totally valid, particularly the part about having other things in your life. I don't have another book coming out until January of 2016, which means that 2015 will be a year of learning and stumbling and falling and trying all sorts of different things and I cannot wait. As ever, my life is so full and rich because of all the love and support from this community. Thank you, friends!

Happy New Year!


Elodie said...

It really never gets old to hear from readers :) I wish you and your family a wonderful 2015 lots of memories to cherish! <3

Matthew MacNish said...

Happy New Year, Christa.

Jolene Perry said...

This is awesome. You're awesome. But you already knew I thought that ;-)

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TOM said...

Happy new year to you. Your observations are so correct. You are right that everyone is a writer and it just takes a incident to explore it. Thanks for sharing this with us. Now it's time to avail airport chauffeur service for more information.