The Importance of Making Hope Happen
by Angie Frazier
It’s difficult to believe that it’s been over three years since I accepted an offer for my first book. I went from being an aspiring author with huge hopes and dreams to a certified, OMG-I’m-actually-getting-published (!!!) author. After a few weeks spent rolling around in my good fortune, I started to wonder:
What does one do after their dream has come true?
I had two years to wait before EVERLASTING would be published and I wanted to make the best use of that (seemingly endless) time. In retrospect, I think I did a lot of things right.
First, I almost immediately started writing the second book in my contract, which was the sequel to EVERLASTING. My goal was to complete the first draft before my revision letter and notes came in from my editor, something I was able to pull off due to the glacial pace of publishing. That way, I was able to have a full year to carefully revise before handing the sequel in to my editor.
Second, I joined The Tenners, an online community of debut 2010 YA and MG authors. This might have been the single best thing I did to get my book and my name out into the online book blogging community. To have the unwavering support and enthusiasm from fellow authors, and from readers who love books enough to devote their time and energy to review blogs was invaluable.
I saw the importance to blogging, networking online, and building relationships with other writers, but I also didn’t want to lose focus on the most important thing: Writing.
So, with a year and half to go, I wrote another book. It was a middle grade mystery and the total opposite of EVERLASTING and its sequel, THE ETERNAL SEA. Hesitantly, I showed it to my agent. He was thrilled and being the savvy agent he is, was able to sell it to Scholastic. So even though my first book hadn’t yet published, I was already on the way to building a diverse readership.
As the two-year wait started to whittle down to six months, I held ARC giveaways, contests, created bookmarks, planned a launch party and a few group signings and panels, went to New York to take part in the Teen Authors Festival—things were crazy busy and I loved every second of it.
But while I was doing a lot to get my book out there, I also was making a huge, silent, mistake. I was depending far too much on my publisher to market my book for me. That’s why I’d gone the traditional route, wasn’t it? So I wouldn’t have to push my own books; so I could spend more time writing and less time marketing.
So, while I think I did a lot of things right in preparation for my debut, I now know I made some errors. I allowed my expectations of publisher support to cancel out my own responsibility to set up a rash of book signings throughout my local area and surrounding states. The fear of no one showing up to them might have also played a role in my psyche!
It took me some time to get over the disappointment that my book wasn’t going to be marketed widely, that it wasn’t going to be shelved in Barnes & Noble, that it wasn’t going to be brought to any of the big annual book expos and conferences. For the first time in two years, I didn’t use my time wisely. Instead, I wallowed. I was in denial. I clung to hope. And I didn’t realize then (though I do now) just how many authors find themselves in that situation. I felt very much alone, when in reality, I wasn’t.
If I could do it again, I would have tried to be more proactive after the disappointments came flooding in. I would have used the contacts I’d made to set up more group signings and panel discussions. I would also have reached out to more libraries and librarians. And while book trailers are fun, I don’t think they necessarily translate into book sales or awareness unless you really know how to make them go insanely viral. Knowing my limitations, I should have scaled back on mine, or not done one at all.
So three years out of the gate I’ve learned a lot, both what to do and what not to do. Mostly, I’m just extremely grateful that my career is something that I’m passionate about. How many people can say that? My experience is just one perspective, but I hope it has some useful information for newly published or aspiring authors. My best advice is to just keep writing, because really, it’s the story that counts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Whether she’s writing for teens or middle scholars, the themes of Angie Frasier’s stories usually revolve around difficult choices, family drama, and love in all forms. The author of EVERLASTING, set in 1855 Australia, lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three daughters, their big black lab, and a pair of highly destructive cats. The sequel, THE ETERNAL SEA released in June 2011, and her first middle grade novel, THE MIDNIGHT TUNNEL: A SUZANNA SNOW MYSTERY gave Angie the chance to remember what it was like to be an eleven-year-old with big dreams. Catch her on her website or on Twitter.