Friday, November 14, 2008

Yeah Baby, Book Three!

So at long last, I have some great news! This is from today's Publishers Marketplace. I'll be back Monday to discuss how this deal happened, how they are "branding me" as a writer, and why it represented part of the long-term strategy that my agent and I foresaw for my career. Happy weekend! (And no, I haven't written it yet...)

Pub Lunch:
NYT bestselling author of Time of My Life Allison Winn Scotch's THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF MY LIFE, in which a perfectly content thirty-something woman is given the unwelcome ability to see into the future of everyone's life but her own, and discovers that her marriage to her high school boyfriend might be rockier than she anticipated, that her dreams might be smaller than she realized, and that her happiness is in no way guaranteed unless she finds a way to steer fate back into her own hands, to Sarah Knight at Shaye Areheart Books, in a significant deal, by Elisabeth Weed at Weed Literary (world).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And in Hindsight...

Hey guys, today, I'm over at Writer Unboxed talking about the things I've learned since publishing book #2.

Check it out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who's On Your Team?

So, I was hoping to have some great news to report today, but while I wait for the green light to make that announcement, I wanted to chat a bit about building "your team" as a writer. Alas, I truly hate that term, "your team," "my team," because it sounds like the phrasing of a snooty Hollywood actor, but I'm using it regardless because it is simply the best way to sum up the people who support me (or you) when it comes to my book's success.

I've said here before that a successful book - or career - is not due to the author alone. In fact, there are so, so many people who guide a book to the top, or your career to the top, and I think it's absolutely critical to open up a discussion about these many ways, I really believe that your success as a writer is largely due to whom you choose to surround yourself with.

This starts at the very beginning. Even if you don't have an agent. Even before that. This starts with the writers you choose to associate with. Are they supportive of you? Do they cheerlead you if you land an assignment and they don't? Will you do the same for them? If you're in a critique group, do you really feel like you're getting valuable advice? Does the criticism help you become a stronger writer? All of these questions are worth considering. I've made it a point to befriend writers whose success I am absolutely so overwhelmingly happy for and who are unequivocally supportive of me in return. This has, undoubtedly, helped buoy me when times haven't been as great as they are now.

When it comes to landing an agent, please, please, please don't a) settle for someone who doesn't have your best interest/highest career aspirations in mind or b) give up because the search isn't easy. I'll elaborate more on the agent-author relationship (at least MY agent-author relationship) when I have my news to announce, but this is another place where I think authors can really screw themselves. We're so desperate to have "an agent," that we forget that ultimately, it's not a privilege to have representation. What I mean by that is that the agent-author relationship should be a two-way street. It should be as much a privilege for them to rep you as it is for you to have them. I cannot impart to you how helpful my agent has been for me, and thus, obviously, my career. She had a long-term objective for me from the get-go. She asked me to trust her, and I did, and I just cannot tell you (though I will in a few days, hopefully!) what a difference this has made for me.

And finally, if you land a book deal, various people will be assigned to work with (not for) you. Again, this is a reciprocal relationship. Let's be honest. Not every author is thrilled with their publisher. Not every author lands at their top choice of imprints. Ideally, your agent does his or her very best and places you where you're well-matched. But regardless, it's your responsibility to help things run smoothly. Be involved. Be interactive. Don't be afraid to go to them and say, "Hey, what else can I do here?" Even if there's nothing else to be done, folks on "your team," all of whom I promise you are totally overworked, will appreciate it and go that extra step for you. Be professional. Be kind. Be thankful. They will do the same in return, and your book will benefit from it.

It's funny: we think of writing as such a solitary entity, but when I think about it, it is anything but. Sure, I work by myself, but I'm hardly alone. I'm surrounded by so, so many good people that even if I hadn't been "successful," in the purest definition of success, I hardly think I could have failed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And My Skin is Getting Thicker

One of the toughest things about writing a book and putting it out into the world is being totally defenseless to the reviews that come your way. I know, I know, should I really complain? I've been blessed with this great review coverage and so much good fortune with Time of My Life, but I'm telling ya, sometimes, it's TOUGH to put a book out there. You read these reviews (all authors read them, let's be honest), and even though you know that they're not direct reviews of YOU, personally, sometimes, it can be tough to make that distinction.

I got a very lovely review in a prominent newspaper this weekend. Let me be clear that it was lovely, and I am very appreciative of it. But the reviewer pointed out a very small mistake in the book (she is only the second person to notice it - at least notice it directly to me...and when the first person alerted me to it, I immediately asked my editor to amend it in the reprints), and as a result of this mistake, this reviewer called me "careless."

Weeeeellllll, that did not sit so well with me. NOT because her criticism wasn't valid: look, it was a teeny, tiny mistake but it was a mistake never the less, and I'll own up to that (even though, to be honest, I didn't even realize I had the incorrect information until this first person pointed it out to me, and it was so small that the copious copy editors and various other editors never noticed it either). But careless? Me? Really? Anyone who knows me knows that I am the opposite of careless (at least when it comes to my work): I am so freakin' anal that I'm sure I drive the folks I work with nuts.

But. Here's the thing. I can't defend myself. I can't write this reviewer a letter and say, "Hey, I'm sorry about that. It wasn't carelessness, it was something I truly wasn't aware of. Oh, and by the way, if you're going to critique me for a mistake, can you get the details of the book right in your review too? Shouldn't we be held to the same standard?" Nope, no can do. So I will be called careless in a huge review, and you know what? As a writer who put herself out in the public domain, I have to be okay with that. As my husband said to me when I was stewing over the comment yesterday morning, "Make your skin thicker."

And he's right. There's no other option. I've said this countless times on this blog, but I thought this example made it worth repeating. This is never, ever an easy job - even after you've landed the book deal and seen your name in figurative lights and gotten emails from people who will read any last thing you write, even if it's a poem on a piece of toilet paper. You put yourself out there, and you have to, HAVE TO, know that in doing so, you are eventually going to be called things that you wish you weren't. Such is life as a published writer. I have no beef with this reviewer. In fact, I'm appreciative of the lovely review she gave ToML, right up until her "careless" comment. (Though, of course, I wish she hadn't said it!) Really, this was just a reminder that this job is not for those with a weak stomach...the criticism never ends. Never. And that's okay. You just have to know this from the get-go...and thus, that's why I'm passing it on to you. Let my spilled blood at least count for something. :)

Anyone else out there gotten a review that really stung? Or a rejection? How do you steel yourself against them?