The One Looking Back

So! To those that celebrate it, did you have a nice Christmas? I'm still at home in Arizona, but I'll be leaving on the 5th for ALA Midwinter. I won't be back in NYC until the 12th! Good thing I got out before the the blizzard... though, honestly, it sounds like it would have been SO MUCH FUN to wander around in the snow with the city mostly shut down. I have my fingers crossed I'm going to miss most of the not-so-fun aspects of snow in the city--namely, the gross slush that melts into pools of freezing cold, dirty water on the street corners. (They're always deeper than they look!) It hasn't been all fun and sunshine here, though. It was pretty cold today (in the 30s and 40s) and the people here are just not equipped to deal with that... mentally, or clothing-wise. I know I've been pretty quiet here on the blog recently. In the process of changing jobs and trying to finish/revise BLACK IS THE COLOR, I've been trying to keep a low profile. Keep my head down and type, type, type in what free time I dug up. One of my resolutions is to blog at least twice a week next year (and also exercise. And maybe stop guzzling so much Mountain Dew. And to try to stop saying bad things about the following: cats, New York City, GLEE, and the color taupe.) So, um, watch for that, I guess?

Since it's the 31st and a Friday and I'm supposedly to be all ~reflective~ about the year and I have approximately fifteen minutes before I get to go nom nom nom my Pei Wei dinner, I thought I'd do a Friday Five: Special Edition.

Namely, five things I learned in my debut year.

1. Book bloggers are awesome. I feel that this one speaks for itself, but I can't even tell you how wonderful it's been to meet and befriend you all. I don't know if you realize this, but you tend to be the bright, dazzling stars (yes, you DO dazzle us) in what often be a dark, angst journey to publication. So high-fives all around and keep fighting the good fight!! Brilliant, the whole lot of you!

2. TO STAY OFF GOODREADS. Oh, 209809 people have added my book? OOOHHH? I have a new review? OMG, SOMEONE GAVE ME ONE STAR! But, OMG!!! ANOTHER FIVE STAR REVIEW. WHY DID THIS REVIEWER ONLY GIVE ME FOUR STARS IF SHE WROTE SUCH A NICE REVIEW?! SWEET JESUS IN THE MANGER, TWO STARS?

Basically, Goodreads is where happiness goes to die. 2011 and 2012 debut authors, if there's one piece of advice I could give you, it would be to stop reading your reviews before you start. Honestly, not a whole lot of good will come of it. You get a good review, and it's like crack. You need another hit. And another. And another. I know authors are like Tinkerbell and generally need applause to survive, but it's a slippery slope. Just remember that you are never as good as your best reviews, but you are certainly NEVER as horrible as your worst ones.

3. People have no idea how the publishing industry actually works. They don't understand advances in royalties, agents, how few books get on the NYT list, how many books a year are published--really, they don't. It's such a strange little world, and yet I'm still surprised when I have to explain that it's normal for a book to be published in hardcover one year and paperback the next.

4. There is such a thing as over-promotion. In some cases, it's just as bad as under-promotion, because it's a huge turn-off. There's no need to retweet every single review you get, send out ten thousand GoodReads invites, or mass invite your Facebook friends to Become a Fan of your book. If you're at all curious, the things I felt helped buzz around BRIGHTLY WOVEN were: ARC tours, printing bookmarks, blog contests, showing my face on twitter now and then, and actually taking the time to get to know bloggers. The rest was luck and circumstance, to be honest.

5. Understanding that everyone has different journeys, and each of those trips have different emotional baggage. I felt like I wasted a lot of energy on jealousy this year--I was jealous of the people who didn't have to work full-time jobs, jealous of huge advances, jealous of marketing plans, jealous of editor/author relationships, you name it. And not just my own personal feelings of jealousy or inadequacy, but everyone else's, too. Dealing with the people who could not put a lid on bragging (and those who, apparently, just do not realize how they come off sounding) and those who were upset and frustrated by publishing things that were completely out of their control. In the end, I think that played a big role in me cutting back the time I spent online. I'm not on twitter nearly as much and I barely blog when you compare Now Me to Me Two Years Ago. I really just needed to disconnect if I was ever going to be in the right mental state to write a good book again. Because that's what's important to me now, not how many people are talking about my book on Twitter.

Debut year took me on a rocky, wild ride of super-highs and crushing lows, but it taught me a lot about myself and what my actual goals are. I know what kind of author I want to be now, and it's a very different one than I thought I wanted to be in 2009.

Happy New Year to you and yours! May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows.