My second book is now one week old, at least by the somewhat arbitrary release day. As I venture forth into being the author of multiple books, and not a one-off, I hope I’ve learned a few things. There are a few things I have not learned — like how to not obsess on reviews, constantly check my sales rank, or rue every real or imaginary slight. But here are the things I really have learned:
1. A publication party is a fun way to celebrate your accomplishment. It’s like a birthday party at a bookstore. Your friends will come. It’s awesome. I’m stunned to hear people say they don’t plan any kind of publication party. I think you owe it to yourself and your book.
Of course I’m not the sort to let my birthday go quietly by, either.
2. Independent bookstores are the best. As a reader, I knew it was the right thing to do — like eating local food or whatever. But now it’s personal. Because they are locally owned, they care more about local authors. I’ve also found that the proprietors to be passionate readers who love to talk about books.
3. Aspiring authors are used to the post office because they’ve been mailing manuscripts around, and that doesn”t change. Now I’m always there to mail galleys, finished books, bookmarks, signed bookplates, and thank you cards. Now this is probably the soundest advice I’ve ever given on this blog. Seal up the sides of the envelope with strapping tape! That’s very important. I’ve had many books go squirting out the sides. The recipient gets an empty, torn envelope. It’s very sad.
4. Every book is a big deal to me, but is just one more fish in a big aquarium. I didn’t realize how many published children’s book authors there really were, even in the Twin Cities. Now I know that there’s not only a lot of competition, there’s a lot of talent. I mean even besides two recent Newbery winners who live in or near Minneapolis, there are many other terrific writers for every age level. That is scary at first, but they are a supportive and friendly bunch.
5. The most unexpected benefit of getting published is getting connected to a lot of great people: booksellers, authors, readers, librarians, and other people who love children’s books.
6. Kids you don’t know really will read your book and love it. It will be in libraries and last a while, even if the book doesn’t stay on the shelf in bookstores. Every day has the magical possibility of receiving an email or letter from a child to whom your book made a difference. Obviously that’s why most of us do what we do, but it’s easy to forget when you feel stressed about all the other stuff.