Thursday, December 3, 2015

6 Ten Things Debut Author Kim Savage Would Say to Aspiring Authors

We're thrilled and excited to participate in the 2015 YA Debut Author Bash, featuring one of 2016's hot new books and authors! Take it from me, pre-publication and that all-important debut year with a traditional publisher are a HUGE learning curve where you re-examine everything you thought you knew about writing and publishing. I love being able to have authors come and share what they're learning, so I'm thrilled to have Kim share this post with us. If you're an aspiring author, sit up and pay attention. : )


Ten Things I Would Say to Aspiring Writers

by Kim Savage

I am so grateful to Adventures in YA Publishing and YA Readers America for the opportunity to say Sage Things. So here’s my early holiday gift to you. Feel free to re-gift, exchange, save it for the Yankee Swap. I won’t be offended.

In order of importance, here are the top 10 things I would say to aspiring writers, with 10 being the most important.

  1. Train for it. I could write, but not until I became a journalist could I tell a story.
  2. Use everything. We don't all have reams of titillating life experiences to cull from. Unless your dream is to unseat Sebastian Junger, the fact that you haven't personally wrestled a jackalope makes absolutely no difference. More on this in my latest Pop Goes the Reader post.
  3. Resist tropes. There is no faster way to lose a reader. Your concept can be familiar, but your characters better not be.
  4. Fall off the grid. In the realms of real life and social media. You can always hop back on, and NOTHING WILL HAVE CHANGED. Trust me.
  5. Write like no one’s watching. It might not feel like it, but the pre-published stage is special. Magical, even. When After the Woods got bumped from Fall to Winter, there was a period when no one was looking for my work, at least not yet. It was the best writing I’ve ever done.
  6. Choose your battles. Plan to fight changes that will make your book into someone else’s book, but trust in your editor for the rest. Same goes for cover art and titles. Unless you've been an editor or an art director, they have perspective that you don’t.
  7. Writing is a vocation, not a job. And it should feel like it (mostly). Writing shouldn't feel like blood-letting on the page. If that YA Contemporary is killing you, stop and write a short story, preferably with an MC who’s an alien or a turn-of-the-century indentured servant.
  8. On promotion versus actual writing: get used to being a prostitute in the morning and a nun in the afternoon, as they say. However, plan to be the prostitute on fewer days. Like, maybe twice a week. Your conscience will thank you, and so will your work.
  9. It’s okay—and awesome—to write characters and situations that will create better understanding in this world. But foremost, tell a story. And make certain it’s yours: never write to a trend.
  10. If you get grouchy when you’ve spent more than two days not writing, that’s a strong sign you were meant for this.

About the Book

After the Woods
by Kim Savage
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, 2/23/16

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she can’t seem to fully remember. Now it’s one year later, and as Julia settles into her junior year, a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving the whip-smart Julia in a stupor at awkward moments—in front of gorgeous Kellan MacDougall, for example. Julia copes by recording facts: collecting statistics about abductions, drawing diagrams of the players, and making lists.

Her best friend, Liv, was also abducted by the same man, but she managed to escape while Julia was left behind. Is Liv’s guilt over leaving Julia in the woods the reason she’s starving herself? Is hooking up with Shane Cuthbert, an addict with a volatile temper, Liv’s way of punishing herself for not having Julia’s back? As Julia struggles to make sense of her friend’s self-destructive behavior, she realizes the one person she thinks she knows best—Liv—is the person she knows least of all.

Buy the Book on  Amazon | Add to Goodreads 

About the Author:

KIM SAVAGE is a former reporter who received her Master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. She worked as a business journalist, pitching story ideas along the lines of "When Murder Kills Property Values." You get the idea. Today, Kim lives in a town north of Boston, Massachusetts, near the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Born directionally challenged, the fear of getting lost in that lovely, dark forest lives close to her skin. She and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn’t.

You can follow Kim on InstagramTumblrPinterest, and Twitter, and visit her at This is her debut novel.


  1. Sound advice, Kim. particularly like 5 and 10. thanks!

  2. Great list, Kim - and best of luck with your debut. The book looks wonderful. I put it on pre-order!

  3. Love this list, Kim, it's awesome. I always want to do #4 but my worries overcome my trust that by getting off the grid really won't matter in the long run. I need to BELIEVE!

    1. I wish I could say I was strong, but I am BIG fan of Freedom for Mac Yeah, I pimped it. PS I'm Kimberley with an "e" too. ;)

  4. Love the grouchy barometer. So true.


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