Wednesday, September 26, 2012

One Year Post Release - What I Learned

Here we are exactly one year after the release of my debut novel, With a Name Like Love.  Looking back over these past twelve months, I am amazed at what I have learned and wanted to share my top three "what I learned" items.
First: People are amazingly gracious.  Who knew librarians and kiddos and grandparents and teachers actually wrote letters to authors?   And what a treat it has been.  I have received the best cards and notes this year and each one brightened my day and is so special.
In addition to mail, people invited me into their homes either in person or via skype for bookclubs. Wowza, was that fun!  Check out what one extremely gracious book group made for me:

For Real!!!  A quilt that represents the novel!  There's the church of Binder, the frogs in the Rutger's marsh, a quote from Camille ("Hope has to do with the heart") and Susanna's platter that she sold for Jimmy.  I cried when they gave this to me.  How could you not?  Thank you Marnie Spencer's Book Babes -- you guys are amazing.   But a quilt wasn't necessary to make me feel welcome and so many really great people have made me feel welcome.
Second:   I think it was worth it to hire a publicist in the beginning.  This bit of advice is really for my writing pals out there.  You see, when you're a new author, you tend not to get the huge promotional push of the more established guys and yet every book deserves attention.  I appreciated everything my publisher did for this novel - sincerely.  Still, I think it was smart to hire my own publicist to help create some buzz around launch.  I went with the ladies at Blue Slip Media.  They specialize in children's lit and have all the contacts to set up blog tours, reviews, get post cards and bookmarks going ... it was such a relief to have them in my corner and I'd spend their (reasonable) fee in a heartbeat if I had to do it over.
Third:  I am not my book.  And really, it's not about me.  Love or lump my novel, it doesn't change who I am as a person or a writer.  The story is its own.  Holding on to this perspective has allowed me to relax and enjoy this journey a little bit more.
Fourth:  I am so glad I didn't give up!  Okay, so I know I said three things, but I couldn't leave this one out.  For all the times this story was rejected ... for all the times my earlier work was rejected ... for all the times I wondered if I could really have a book published on a national level -- I am so glad I didn't quit.  Dreams take time.  But here's the thing, If you keep trying and learning and believing, they will come true. 
It is a great and glorious thing.


paige said...

That quilt is amazing. I think when I see it in person, I will be even more impressed! Thank you for that #4 comment. No, I'm not writing a book, but I have some other projects that seem almost impossible at times.

Heidi Willis said...

Congratulations on your anniversary! I, too, am amazed at the generosity of readers. Makes me think I should write more authors and tell them how much I love their books. :)

And publicists... yeah. I will definitely consider that one on my next book. Getting the word out is infinitely harder than you expect.

I look forward to many more books by you!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Tess, I adore this quilt. Think of all the hours of love, planning, and work that went into it. What a treasure!

Barbara Watson said...

What a wonderful thing to look back on and take stock of. I especially love the "it's not about me."

Laurel Garver said...

Wow, that quilt is the most amazing testament to loving a book I've ever seen. I agree with Barbara, the "it's not about me" is helpful to remember. Some will love or hate or just ignore my work, but it is its own entity.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow! That is a beautiful quilt. Fan cool is that!

I'm glad you didn't give up. :)

Marcia said...

This quilt is amazing. And thank you for each of these points. I'm going to keep in mind what you said about the publicist.