Links Galore

Lots of cool links for today:

A Primer for a YA Author in Her Debut Year

This time last year, I was gearing up for my year as a debut author. The Chance You Won’t Return came out in April, and 2014 has been the most amazing, scary, exciting, stressful, awesome year ever. For all the debut authors gearing up for their debut years in 2015 and beyond, I’ve put together a list of things that will probably happen around their book launch:

You will hold your ARC for the first time and realize that your book is actually going to be out in the world.

You will think, “This book is so great. Surely it will win all the awards.”

You will think, “This is the worst book ever and no one should ever see it.”

You will make bookmarks/postcards/bracelets/magnets/buttons and wonder if you really need bookmarks/postcards/bracelets/magnets/buttons.

You will connect with other debut authors and bond over the stress and awesomeness of writing and marketing and life.

You will sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Youtube, etc. You will maybe only use one or two of those platforms regularly.

You will get a great review that shows your book really connected with a reader.

You will get an awful review by someone who didn’t get the book at all.

You will get an awful review that makes thoughtful criticisms. You’ll think, “Yeah, that’s fair.”

You will look at your Goodreads/Amazon/etc. reviews way more often than you tell people you do.

You will go into a bookstore and see your book on the shelves with all of your friends’ books. You will not believe your book is actually on a shelf for readers you don’t even know to find.

You will go into a bookstore and your book and your friends’ books will not be there.

You will do readings and panels and lots of people will come to see you.

You will do readings and panels and only one or two people will come to see you, and those one or two people will be people you already know.

You will read your fellow debut authors’ books and think “Oh my gosh, maybe someone I know is going to win the Printz/Morris/Newbery/etc.” You will be so proud of your friends for their talent and hard work.

You will read bad reviews for your fellow debut authors’ books and think “Are you kidding me, that was the best book ever!” and get even more incensed than when you read bad reviews for your own book.

You will sign your book for the first time.

Your friends will share pictures of your book at bookstores, in libraries, on their bookshelves.

People will ask, “When are you going on your book tour?”

People will ask, “So, how’s the book selling?” You will resist the urge to ask about their salary.

You will worry about how your book is selling.

You will worry about being on lists or being named for awards or getting starred reviews. You will see friends get named to lists or awards or starred reviews and wonder if there’s something you’re doing wrong. (There’s not.)

You will Google yourself. A lot.

You will see that people you’ve never met before are reading your book.

You will introduce yourself as a writer, and when people ask what you’ve written, you can finally tell them the title and say it’s now available at their favorite bookseller’s.

You will stress out about your follow-up book and wonder if you should give up writing for something less stressful, like juggling flaming swords.

You will write your follow-up book (and the one after that and the one after that) because no matter what happens, this is way better than any other job.

You will meet some of the greatest people in the world and wonder how you ever lived without them.

Sometimes you will have to remind yourself that, no matter what, you have a book in the world. You made it. And no matter how the rest of your career goes, no one can ever take that away from you.

But really, you will know that this is only the beginning.

Happy 2015 and beyond, writers!

The Season of Giving

The other day I was talking to my mom about the YA/children’s book community, and I mentioned how pretty much everyone I’ve met–from fellow writers to librarians to editors to readers–is awesome. People don’t tend to be snobby or petty or dismissive. Instead, the large majority of people I’ve met are warm and friendly and inclusive and generous. Maybe that’s because we’re writing for an audience that’s often not taken seriously and our work requires a little more sensitivity. Maybe that’s because other people in the literary world are easy to dismiss our work so we have to band together even more. Maybe that’s because we’ve found that it’s better to be supportive of each other than to knock each other down.

It’s especially evident online, where people will retweet friends’ exciting news or take a picture of a friend’s book in a bookstore. We read each other’s work and recommend it to our reading community. We share ideas for marketing, let each other vent, and remind each other that we’re not alone on this wild writing journey. It’s overall a very giving community, and one I’m so glad to be a part of.

I love cheering for my fellow writers. From best-selling authors to debut writers to writers who are still drafting their first novel, I love sharing my enthusiasm for their work and encouraging them and sharing writerly experiences with them.

I am, however, way less giving toward myself. If a writer friend is going through a hard time, I’d be quick to tell them, “It’s okay, take care of yourself, you don’t have to do all the work right now, the story will wait for you.” When it comes to myself, I’m way more likely to say “Dude, why can’t you get it together and finish the damn draft already? And why isn’t it perfect, it has to be perfect!” If a friend has exciting news to share, I will tweet and blog and Facebook all about it. Sharing my own exciting news feels weird and awkward and conceited. I think my friends are so smart and talented, but if someone asks me about writing, I say “Oh, well, this is just what works for me, what do I know?”

Sometimes it’s easier to be generous for others than it is to be generous for yourself. This quote by Marcia Hutchinson is about body image, but I think it totally applies to how we treat ourselves in general:

“If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, you’d have no friends left at all.”

Writing and publishing are hard and stressful and it’s easy to put pressure on yourself, especially about things you can’t control. But at the end of the day, you can’t write your best book if you’re not taking care of yourself. You’re a priority, too.

In this season of giving, let’s commit to talking to ourselves more like we talk to our friends. To supporting ourselves and taking care of ourselves and reminding ourselves that challenges are a part of life. To being enthusiastic for ourselves and our work. To being just as giving and kind and generous to yourself as you are to those around you.

Links Galore

Lots of good links:

Got It Covered: Favorite 2014 YA Book Covers

The other day I came across the Best Book Covers of 2014, as listed by New York Times. My reaction:

The covers themselves are fine, but as a collection of the ‘best of,’ they’re all too minimal for my taste, and seem to run toward one idea of aesthetics. So I wondered what covers would be on my ‘best of’ list for 2014. I got into a great conversation on Twitter about what YA covers of 2014 people loved, and thought I’d share a few of my picks here. Some of these I’ve read and loved and some of these I haven’t gotten the chance to read yet, but their covers are so appealing I just had to include them.

  • Bleed Like Me by Chrisa Desir
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • Pointe by Brandy Colbert
  • Far From You by Tess Sharpe
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
  • Beware the Wild by Natalie Parker
  • The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
  • Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
  • Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Some of these covers, like Bleed Like Me or The Half Life of Molly Pierce or Stitching Snow are striking just upon first look. Others, like Breakfast Served Anytime or We Were Liars or Far From You are gorgeous when you first see them, but become even more meaningful once you’ve finished the book. And some just appeal to me for my own aesthetic preferences, like Isla and the Happily Ever After and Blue Lily, Lily Blue (love those blue-green tones).

And, of course, I have a very special place in my heart for The Chance You Won’t Return‘s cover.

Chance_HJ_comp copyTotally biased, of course, but I think Candlewick did a great job with with one.

In case you need even more great YA covers, check out this list from Buzzfeed–special thanks to Liz Maguire!

I know we’re not supposed to judge books based on their covers, but what are some of your favorite YA covers of 2014?

Links Galore

Lots of links for your perusal: