One month of Juniper, or: What’s it like to be a published author?

My book that came out a month ago was my first and nearly four years in the making. It didn’t take four years to write Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, but it did take four years to plan, write, revise, get an agent, revise, find a publisher, revise, complete a slew of publishing firsts, revise, and eventually end up in bookstores. Add on a practice book, the study of the craft, and a commitment to reading, and it’s probably been closer to five years since I decided to pursue writing fiction.

So what’s it like to finally be published?

The answer is…

Pretty much the same?

audrey hepburn quote

There are a few differences:

1. I’ve started carrying around a Sharpie. Not to be pretentious—because in regular life I sometimes encounter friends, acquaintances, etc. who’ve bought the book and would like it signed.

2. I have fans??? Most days I wake up to some kind of social notifications from readers who enjoyed the book. I don’t know if this will be the norm going forward or if it’s just because Juniper is new, but it’s lovely, moving, and really kind of astounding! I mean, I remember what a big deal it was for me the first time an author I admire even liked one of my tweets (B.J. Novak after a reading). To be on the other end of that is nothing short of magical—and has me paradoxically fangirling over my fans.

3. People who go out with me are suddenly eager to tell strangers what I do for a living and that my first book just came out. Friends and family have always been supportive of my writing, but now that there is physical proof of success out in the world, it is easier to talk about and boy, are your cheerleaders excited to share for you. Even I am more likely to admit to being a writer in public (but still don’t go out of my way to tell people).

It’s like when you eat out with a friend on a birthday and your friend (un)casually lets the waiter know what day it is.

WAITER: Oh, it’s your birthday? Happy birthday!

YOU: Hahaha, thanks. Yep, another year older. Whoop whoop.

FRIEND: IT IS HER BIRTHDAY BRING FORTH THE CAKE AND THE GLORY

There have also been many firsts in the last month. Scroll or click through the gallery to see some of my favorites as well as other highlights from the first month of publication.

To those who aren’t published yet but are working towards publication, I say: even if the world does not yet recognize what you are doing, you are Doing it. Write on.

#JuniperIRL Scavenger Hunt

Juniper IRL Bingo Card - web

Here’s a thing I don’t get to say every day: My first book came out on Tuesday!!

To celebrate the release of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, today I’m kicking off a Juniper-themed scavenger hunt that anyone can join online, or, if you happen to be in the Portland area, in person!

The hunt list (above – prints at 8.5 x 11 in) features a combination of spot-this-items and activity prompts. Here’s how the game will work:

Online (open internationally): June 3 – June 11

Play from anywhere in the world by sharing a photo of any item from the list online using the hashtag #JuniperIRL. Each social share may count as an entry for raffle prizes including copies of the book, $20 USD worth of books from the Book Depository, and a Juniper-themed prize pack featuring bath bombs, sweets, and beyond! Winners will be randomly selected on June 12 and contacted via email or direct message.

Note: If sharing a #JuniperIRL photo on Twitter, you are entered for prizes automatically. If sharing on another social platform, please copy the link to your post and paste it in the share widget (click below to go to it):

Share Widget (Rafflecopter)

PORTLAND ONLY: Sunday, June 4th

From 2:00 – 4:00pm on Sunday, June 4, Julie will be celebrating at the Brewery Blocks Starbucks downtown (1039 NW Couch; at the corner of 11th and Couch, across from Powell’s bookstore).

Show her photos of any five items from the Juniper hunt list for a small prize, which may or may not involve ice cream (there is a Ben & Jerry’s three blocks away. It may). Or just come say hi, color a postcard, and get a book signed!

I’ve had a blast putting this all together — I hope you all enjoy it!

Countdown to Debut – plus, 10 more ARCs of Juniper up for grabs!

How did we get here? In less than two months now, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index hits bookstores!

I hardly know where to begin, but I think I’ll start with some excitement: Goodreads is giving away 10 advance copies of Juniper! If you’re a Goodreads member, you can enter with the click of a button here (where it says “Enter Giveaway”) through April 27!

Goodreads Giveaway in April

Other pre-release goings on at the moment:

  • Audiobook production is starting! The producer with Listening Library recently reached out to me to let me know the voice actress they had in mind for Juniper. I listened to some samples and I absolutely love her and I cannot WAIT to hear her bring Juniper to life!
  • I have a publicist now. Just assigned from my publisher a couple weeks ago. Figuring out this business a little bit by the seat of my pants, but we already have a local radio interview scheduled??
  • I’m trying out video! A rep at Penguin asked if I’d be willing to film a short video about the book for promo purposes. I have written out a script (it’s meant to be under one minute) and I’m getting excited about actually making it!
  • I’m working on promo efforts independently, too. On the advice of former debuts I am being careful not to spread myself too thin, and am instead concentrating on projects that I find enjoyable and not more time/effort/stress than they’re worth. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Creating a Juniper coloring page/colorable postcard (watch this space!), and
  • Planning a public release celebration to take place, most likely, the weekend after Juniper comes out. Key words so far: scavenger hunt. Raffles (open internationally). ICE CREAM.

Book 2 (unrelated to Juniper) currently hovers somewhere in the background, but I anticipate that may also move to a front burner quickly– and likely in the busy rush of release!

For now, it’s one day, one new step at a time.

JUNIPER: ARCs and links and a release date, oh my!

Every aspiring author dreams of one day holding her work in her hands. Well…

The ARCs of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index have arrived!!! MY BOOK IS A PHYSICAL, PRINTED THING. YOU CAN PICK IT UP AND TURN THE PAGES AND WRITE THINGS IN IT AND USE BOOKMARKS AND AND

Oh, what an ARC is? ARCs are advance reading copies (also called galleys and uncorrected proofs) that come out in the months before a book’s release to start generating buzz for it. I’ll be giving some away pretty soon, so stay tuned for details!!

“But when does it come out, Julie?”

I’m glad you asked. The original date, as you may catch on the spine, was in June, but has since moved up! The book will now be

p1090484-3-web

!!!!!!!!!!

And until then?

There are a few things you can do to save Juniper a place in your reading pile!

All three of these things help me as an author, so any would be greatly appreciated 🙂 Thanks for heralding this humbling first with me, and keep an eye out for those giveaway details!

 

What happens between selling your (first) book and publication?

Spoiler alert: a lot.

 

Hello, friends!

How long has it been? Looks like my last post was in August (and even that, I remember, felt like it took days to put together between other tasks).

I credit several reasons for that, but most tie back to: selling your (first) book is work. It’s all uphill to this point, right? It should get easier once you’ve got your foot in the proverbial Publishing door, right?

Quoth the raven, “Nopenopenope.”

Here’s a glimpse at some of the blur that’s been going on off-screen this last year or so. Note towards the end of the year I started to lose track of what round of edits we were on and exactly which other tasks fell between them—everything ran together!

JANUARY 2016. Near the end of the month, my first book sells. Also my second (unrelated and unwritten, but same contract).

FEBRUARY-MAY. Peaceful quiet period in which my editor is working with her other, earlier pub date authors. I have time to read 1-2 books a week, work out every other day, sleep well, eat three meals a day, think and dream and outline what I hope will be my next project with said editor. Heaven is a quiet inbox.

END OF MAY. Receive my first edit letter. 13 pages. I know my work is cut out for me, and my editor graciously grants me a couple weeks to digest feedback and form a game plan.

I spend all of it taking apart my book and stitching it back together.

JUNE 14. Phone call with editor to discuss revision plan. Goes well; we’re really on the same page.

I start revising as soon as we hang up.

JUNE – AUGUST tasks:

  • Revision. Must complete ~1.5 items each day to make deadline.
  • Author Questionnaire (a packet the publisher sends you to fill out to help them promo the book)
  • Cover discussion
  • Contracts (with Penguin Random House and my first foreign sales) coming in to read and review
  • Deal announcement

MID AUGUST. First revision due. After two months of massive cuts, rewrites, rearranging, and 100% new insertions (with 12 days left over to read the new product from start to finish and edit), I hit send and lie down forever.

SEPTEMBER? This is where things start getting hazy. I get another edit letter and only 20 days to do the entire revision – none of the plan-forming time I’d had for the first round and not even enough time to re-read through the changes before hitting send again.

Also going on:

  • Cover discussion
  • Book 2 discussion – including finding out that the idea I’d spent most of spring planning and researching would not make an ideal sophomore to Book 1, so back to the drawing board. Begin Stress of the Century.
  • Book 2 brainstorming in the 10-ish days Book 1 is not in my court

OCTOBER. Subsequent revisions? Cover things? Maybe we’re starting to move more into line edits now? I don’t even know. I look outside and there are leaves on the ground. When did THAT happen? Where did summer go???!

New foreign sales, new contracts.

Around this time I join the Swanky Seventeens (2017 group for debut kid lit authors).

Super secret good news that might not mean anything but could mean everything and is pretty freaking cool regardless

The Book 2 stress is real. I’ve got nothing, nothing, nothing.

I should really find a CPA soon.

NOVEMBER-ISH. Starting to home in on a couple Book 2 possibilities. Between rounds of whatever’s going on with Book 1 (line edits? copy edits? First pass?), I back and forth with my agent to discuss them. Agent feels one idea is stronger, asks questions to help me flesh it out so we can send not just a premise, but a few pages (including details as involved as protagonists’ internal arcs) to editor.

I send those off at some point.

By now I’ve asked my publisher how to deal with permissions for lines and lyrics quoted in the book and written to the appropriate rights holders regarding them.

Miraculously, Publishing seems to shut down for Thanksgiving. The holiday is an actual holiday.

I should really find a CPA soon.

LATE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER (not necessarily in order): 

  • THE YEAR IS ENDING MUST FIND CPA
  • first pass
  • I want to say this is when I see the book first typeset?—that is, evolved from a Word document to a PDF with real chapter headings and handwriting fonts, etc.?
  • Seeing the book in design is awesome, but there are TONS of formatting details that mistranslated or were lost in the move; I swipe through the whole PDF as fast as I can on a Kindle to find and mark them in time to be corrected for the ARCs, make a (24 page?) list, and hit send
  • FINALLY connect with a CPA, who directs me to an attorney to help set up an LLC
  • set up LLC
  • cover conversations with UK team
  • Acknowledgments
  • Find out JUNIPER will be an audiobook. Woohoo!
  • holidays: family visiting
  • learn that new Book 2 idea will also not work; back to the drawing board
  • holiday homework: 25 queries from copy editor (and a par-tridge in a pear treeeee)
  • holiday homework: write 1 page letter to accompany UK ARCs
  • actual holidays! I permit myself exactly 2 work-free days in a row to make the most of festivities and family time.

JANUARY 2017.

  • meet CPA in person
  • finish setting up LLC
  • UK cover talks resume
  • Book 2 conversation resumes; editor graciously grants an open timeframe to ease the pressure of brainstorming (yay and thank stars)
  • trying to get myself back into a reading groove of at least one book a week; my reading has really taken a dive since autumn, when a combination of Book 2 stress and edits led to longterm burnout
  • a few follow-up queries from copyeditor
  • chains of emails on final production details for Book 1: jacket copy, jacket design, handwriting fonts, formatting details, inline visual options
  • follow-up on permissions requests
  • ARCs arrive!!!

Which brings us to the present! I’ve started distributing my ARCs and am still making plans for others. I’ll be giving away at least one or two, so stay tuned for details!

Since I was given some flexibility for Book 2, I’ve also been making efforts to refill the creative well these last few weeks. That means reading, time to follow curiosity, making art or writing things that are allowed to be pointless, and getting out and going places weekends and wait—what’s that—a hint of SOCIAL life??

But to stay on header topic: it’s been a year since Book 1 sold and it’s still not finished yet. Things seem like they are starting to wind down, but there continues to be more to do every week. And now that we are entering the months prior to publication, I expect there to be increasingly more on the promo side even as the product becomes finished.

I’ll try to post more than once in a blue moon this year to share about the rest of the debut experience!

First Revision on Deadline – in pictures

Midway through June I posted some anticipated stats for a major revision (which, as you may have guessed, was for my debut novel). This has been my most ambitious revision to date, and was also my first on a deadline. I worked on it every day from the morning I talked through changes with my editor to the day I handed it in to her– not to mention the two and a half weeks beforehand it took to translate the edit letter and all margin notes into a game plan.

Here’s a glimpse of what that revision looked like.

 

(More) Big Book News!!!

Hahaha, you thought I was done shouting last week when I shared this?

JLHI PW Children's Bookshelf announcement

Well, check out what appeared in Publishers Marketplace this week:

Juniper in FRENCH!

Can you tell which part I’m most excited about? (Hint: not the sensible thing, which is that there were actually two books to this deal with a Big Five imprint, but that my debut also sold in France and Quebec– and is going to be translated into one of my favorite foreign languages!!)

JUNIPER is slated for release next year, summer 2017. If you’d like to be notified when the book is added to Goodreads, made available to pre-order, or will be celebrated/raffled off in a giveaway, you can let me know here or subscribe to my website RSS feed. Alternatively, follow me on Twitter or tumblr for antics peppered with book news!

For now, thanks for helping me celebrate. Virtual doughnuts on me!

doughnut bar 2

Projected Revision Stats

Three weeks ago tonight, I received an edit letter outlining all the major (and minor) changes I needed to be thinking about as I revise my YA novel. But what does a traditional track revision look like in terms of work? Well, I’ll give you a hint: it’s more than moving commas around.

AHEM *fetches reading glasses*

long scroll

Here are my projected stats for this revision:

CUTS: 12 scenes, 3-4 threads, ~4 characters (+1 with almost no page time)

COMPLETELY NEW MATERIAL: 10 scenes, 17 other significant* insertions

MAJOR REWRITES: 15 scenes, plus 12 with substantial adjustments

LINE EDITS: *delirious laughter* 80+ tweaks of substance, X more for fine details, & a large, uncounted number of cuts.

*significant = in terms of creative brain power, not necessarily length

 

There will be other changes that are harder to quantify, too. But the bottom line is: I know my book is going to be much stronger after this.

That makes me a happy writer.

 

The Ailing Writer’s Burnout Repair Kit

We all burn out sometimes. For creative types, it tends to come with the territory, so knowing how to deal when it happens is an essential part of our self-care. And just how does one deal? Well, there are no hard and fast rules for treatment, but there are many things that help. I suggest a few (okay, twenty) of them here, in:

The Ailing Writer’s BURNOUT REPAIR KIT

burnout repair kit-2

CONTENTS:

    1. Pillow for crash-nap and/or screaming into.
    2. Big boss pajama pants, because nothing punches stress in the face like comfort and good circulation. And why not look cool doing it?
    3. Chocolate because not only does it lift mood and obliterate magical trauma (source: Remus Lupin); there is actually a sampler box of health benefits to indulging. Not to mention its effects on the reading experience.
    4. Emergency cookies.
    5. Bubble bath & bath bombs for relaxation, scent-sations, and soaking the stress away. And when you’re done, you can smell like a galaxy! Or, you know. Vanilla. And hey does anyone else see this and think “Triwizard Tournament”? What I did not just buy a dozen bath bombs YOU BOUGHT A DOZEN BATH BOMBS
    6. Comfy slippers won’t transport you to Kansas, but they may just bring heaven to earth and your feet. Mm. Squishy.
    7. Notebook & pen for when you need to go dark and rest your weary eyes from the screen.
    8. Markers, or tools for any creative outlet, to prove to yourself that even if you’re feeling word-blocked, you can still have fun making things!
    9. Your favorite book, or any book you enjoy. It’s an inexpensive escape and an invaluable connection to why you love writing and storytelling in the first place!
    10. Something you can anger crush and not feel bad about. Pictured: junk mail. Suggested: soda cans, bubble wrap, the dreams of enemies
    11. A sad movie & ample tissues. Feeling blocked? Stressed? In over your head? Put on a tearjerker and let the emotions roll. Popcorn optional.
    12. Low-tech wireless blocker (i.e., tape). Step 1: Turn wireless off. Step 2: Place tape over switch. Step 3: Profit.
    13. A cold bottle of age-appropriate beverage. Wine, vanilla soda, beer, coffee—whatever fits the bill.
    14. Fan mail and/or author exchange. Admiration for anything you’ve written, book or blogpost (or even tweet!) can be fan mail. Keep a folder and refer to it any time for instant cheer. Also healing: exchange with writer friends. It’s nice to remember you’re not alone in this—that others go through the struggles, too. Plus, a friend will have your back if you need to vent a little!
    15. Jar of love. Squirrel away printed margin note compliments, edit letter praise, and positive reader feedback for a rainy day. Then when doubt creeps up on you, PAPER CUT THAT BASTARD WITH LOVE and remember you are not an utter failure.
    16. Written permission (to you, from you) to take the day off. As authors, we are largely responsible for monitoring our own work. This includes meeting deadlines, but it also means recognizing when we, the creative muscle, are running ourselves into the ground. If you reach a point where your work is becoming destructive to you, it is probably healthier to spend some time apart from it—and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.
    17. Sturdy shoes for walking it out, or a rejuvenating time on the town.
    18. Plush socks. Part of a balanced cozy.
    19. Blankets. One deluxe and fuzzy one to hide under, or many with which to build a fort and [read] [work] [Netbinge].
    20. __________??? (What’s in yours? Share in the comments below, or tell me on Twitter!)

What’s in an outline?

Every book I’ve written, I outlined. I am a planner by design (ho ho ho), and yet with each subsequent project I feel my planning process evolves: if not in cleanliness, in utility– perhaps because each time around, I better understand what makes a good story, and that allows me to better shape and reshape the whole thing at the skeletal stage.

Since the outline is a sort of growing, changing process itself (and must vary from author to author as much as from one to the next), I thought it’d be fun to share a snapshot of personal stats from my current one.

I first conceived of this idea probably last August, and began work on it more in earnest in October/November. There’s been a lot of stop and go with it between the holidays and another project so it’s hard to say exactly how much time I’ve put into it, but maybe that’s an accurate portrayal, anyway (because life IS stop and go, isn’t it?).

project: M

outline version: 4.0

page count: 31 single-spaced

format: chapter by chapter, bullets into prose

title: I started this project without one and FINALLY FOUND IT LIKE A WEEK AGO YAY

highlight colors: 3

text colors: 6

margin comments: 30

accompanying documents: 5

those documents are:

  • cuts
  • bullets that became fleshed out scenes (well, more fleshed out than the ones I left in)
  • a rambling list of story questions, plot holes, ideas, me talking myself through problems, tracking things, and points for consideration
  • a clean copy of a list central to the story
  • floor plans

placeholders? Yes, but very few at this point

research? Has been done; one minor subject left to

One thing I can say: my outlines are always messy at the start. I think because they are my truest first draft: the place where Editor Julie doesn’t exist, and I am literally just throwing ideas on the page as fast as they come to me.

Incidentally, this may be why even my outlines require drafts.