What I Learned Posts, Part 3!


Here’s the final piece of the What I Learned posts from the Fearless Fifteeners. Happy New Year!

Ronni Arno Blaisdell, author of RUBY REINVENTED:

“First of all, congratulations! You’re going to have a book published! And now, stop whatever it is you’re doing. Take a deep breath. Go to a bookstore and stare at your book. Enjoy this moment. You will never be a debut author again. I know you’re probably worrying about sales and your next book deal and finding time to write, but put that off for a minute. There will be plenty of time to worry about those things (and you will!), but now is not that time. Right now, focus on the things that you can do to help your debut. Rock your launch party. Book school visits. Introduce yourself to local bookstores. And smile. You’re a published author! “

Meredith Moore, author of I AM HER REVENGE:

“I always knew publishing my first book—sending it out into the world after years of careful writing and revising and stress and worry—would be a strange mixture of thrilling and terrifying. Okay, mostly terrifying. What I didn’t know was how wonderful it would be to not have to do it alone. The YA writing community, especially groups like this one, have made my debut year so much less frightening. Finding writer friends to chat with, celebrate with, and freak out with has made all the difference, and I will never stop being grateful for that.”

Lance Rubin, author of DENTON’S LITTLE DEATHDATE:

“2015 has been so exciting and fulfilling and magical, but it’s also had its fair share of anxiety and humbling moments. In October, six months after my book came out, I wrote about what I learned, which ultimately came down to this: “Block out the noise and make the thing.” To go hand in hand with that, an author I recently met said, “Writing is a career, not an event.” Wise words. One of the pitfalls of putting weight on this idea of “the debut year” is it narrows your focus, so you almost feel like, by the end of the year, your status as a writer will be decided: you’re either a successful writer, or you’re an unsuccessful writer. Well, let me tell you, friends: the debut year ain’t no sorting hat. It’s just the beginning of a new chapter of your creative journey. So my advice would be to savor and enjoy all of the debut year’s trappings—panels, events, new friends, signings, reviews, tweets/blog-entries/shouts about your book-baby, and, of course, celebrating each of your debut peers’ books as they release week by week—but save most of your focus for the thing that got you there in the first place: the process of writing. The painful, uncomfortable, exhilarating, revelatory, highly rewarding process of creating something from nothing. Because, inevitably, 2015’s highs and lows will fade, and when they do, your old friend The Blank Page will be there for you, ready to bring you along on the next phase of your journey. “







Some things I learned in 2015:

-Not having a multi book deal can give you more time to write your second novel which you will then squander.

-Let it go. Promote it, but let it go. I think all the debut authors agree that measuring and comparing and searching for feedback is a sure path to obsession and grief. Okay, there might be the occasional awesome surprise, but let someone else bring those to your attention.

-You may command a little more respect but you’re still one of hundreds of thousands of published authors.

-If your book comes out later in the calendar year, you may find yourself supporting the first half of the year release authors, only to have most of them get very busy and disappear when your book comes out. But you will get busy, too.  C’est la vie. We formed a Fall-Fifteener group (thanks, Sarah Schmitt) and that was really helpful. Dividing the year into two parts is worth considering.

-Writers are awesome.

-Librarians are awesome.

-Life goes on.


Susan Adrian, author of TUNNEL VISION:

Ah, I learned so many things. The most important, and lasting, is that your release year will NOT be what you expect…but that’s totally okay. I had all sorts of ideas in my head about what release day would be like, what events would be like, how sales would go…and not one was exactly how I pictured. However, once I learned to go with the flow and enjoy all the moments I could, I had a fantastic year. I discovered that I loved doing events, and connecting with other authors and readers. There is nothing like the rush of seeing your book in a library or a bookstore! Or even more, watching your own kid read and enjoy your book. I discovered that I had so much support from my family, my real-life friends, and my fellow authors. Thank you to all the Fearless Fifteeners for launching on this ride with me!

What I Learned Posts: Part 2


Whoops, got a little involved in my deadline. 🙂 Here is part 2 of the Fifteeners What I Learned Posts! Part 3 will be up December 31…hope you had as exciting a year as we did!

Fonda Lee, author of ZEROBOXER:

“Let’s be frank: your debut year will not live up to your expectations. It simply won’t. This is because you’ve spent years working toward a dream you’ve wanted for longer than you can remember. You can tell yourself that you’ve talked to other authors, you’ve suffered rejection, you know it will be difficult and you’re prepared—but you are lying to yourself. In the back of your mind, you still hope for the achievement of the dream to be as shiny and wonderful as you’ve imagined it could be. Don’t get me wrong: it will be exhilarating in many ways—but it will also be harder than you think. Accept that now. When the trials and disappointments come—and they will—lean on other authors, hold tight to the joy of writing, be kind to yourself, and remember: you’re a professional now.”

Miriam Spitzer Franklin, author of EXTRAORDINARY:

“Expect the unexpected! Be prepared for the emotional ups and downs. Once you’ve written the best book you can write, the rest of it is out of your control. Worrying about sales numbers, Amazon rankings, and reviews is a complete waste of time. It will zap your energy and keep the writing from flowing. Celebrate the positives: seeing your book on the shelf, receiving a note from a young reader who loved your book, having friends and family who realize what a huge personal accomplishment this is for you and are genuinely happy for you. I’ve learned that if you can write one book and get it published you can do it a second time, no matter how hard it seems. Sharing experiences with other writers like the Fifteeners has made the hard days easier and the great days even more amazing!”

Romina Russell, author of ZODIAC:

“What I learned in my debut year is how amazing the YA community is! Everyone I’ve had the fortune of meeting and interacting with about ZODIAC—readers, bloggers, authors, publishing professionals—has been so warm and welcoming and wonderful that I never want to leave this place. I feel like I’m finally home—and I’m so excited to now be embarking on my second adventure with Wandering Star! <3”


“I learned this year that the kidlit community really is the greatest. Supporting and being supported by my fellow Fearless Fifteeners made the debut experience so much less daunting and overwhelming than it could have been, and I hope that I’ve made friendships that will last for years (and books) to come. I also met so many welcoming and generous already-published authors, and I hope I can pass their kindness toward me on to the next batch of aspiring and debut authors. My advice to the next debut classes: use your new network in a real and meaningful—rather than purely promotional—way. Give to your peers as much as or even more than you receive. Read each other’s books and talk them up online. Take and post pictures of each others’ books once they hit the shelves. Get to know each other beyond the book world, as well. I promise, you won’t regret it.”

Rachel Marks, author of DARKNESS BRUTAL:

“I think the main thing I’ve learned from finally reaching this amazing year when I could call myself a debut author, was to keep looking forward. To never feel like I’ve “reached it”. One book should never the goal of a writer. It’s what we do, it’s in our blood. And as anyone who’s ever been on submission to an agent or an editor knows, you have to celebrate every leg of the journey. The small victories need to be cherished. The tiny moments of encouragement and inspiration held tight. None of that changes after the contract is signed. In fact, in a lot of ways, it still feels like I’m always aiming to reach that next level, that next vote of confidence. There will always be someone in the wings—agent, editor, reader, reviewer, awards board—who is needing to be impressed. The pressure never lets up. You don’t walk through the “gateway” and breathe a sigh of relief. You walk through and then keep walking. And, really, that’s how it should be. We should keep aiming higher, always looking and striving to take our work to that next level. We should never be content with where we are in our craft or our ability. I don’t feel very different today than I did three days before I got my first agent, three days before I got my first editor. I am still me, and I’m still wanting to keep focused on the road ahead, the next project, the next adventure I can take through story. I’m still just a writer who loves to write. And I never want to lose that.”

Heather Petty, author of LOCK & MORI:

“I learned (again) that no matter where you go and no matter what you’re doing, the people you meet will always be the best part of any adventure. The authors, librarians, and booksellers; my editor, agent, publicist, and publishing team; and of course all of the readers and bloggers and reviewers…the people were definitely the best part of mine. I feel overwhelmingly lucky to be the tiniest part of the brilliant group of artists who put their work out into the world this year for the first time. They all work incredibly hard and with inspiring amounts of passion. Some have risen to incredible popularity and others are hidden gems waiting for you to find them. But beyond their talent, they are all quality people who I feel very lucky to know.”

What We Learned this Debut Year: Part 1


Hi all!! Whew, it’s been quite a year, for each and every one of the Fearless Fifteeners. I asked Fifteeners to write a paragraph about what they learned in their debut year…and I will be posting these throughout the month. Here is the first set. Valuable stuff! See if you can spot the themes…

Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz, co-authors of THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE:

“Writing and releasing THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE was one of the most gratifying creative experiences of our careers. We’re not gonna lie––it was a road of potholes and dangers and despair, but there were also moments of staggering exuberance. Opening that first box of finished books is a tear-jerking sensation like no other. But we digress. The good stuff is obvious, so we’ll focus on more practical insights that have made us better writers and better at the business of being authors. Hopefully these tips will help those preparing to make this jump. First, don’t quit your day job. Startlingly few authors manage to make a real living from their writing, so don’t go into it expecting that you will be the next (enter famous author name here.) Second, hire an outside publicist because the reality is that most debut authors get minimal attention from the publisher’s in-house team. Ask for recommendations to find your publicist and hire someone with experience in your particular genre or demographic – don’t be swayed by empty promises. Bear in mind, of course, that even with an in-house publicist AND a hired publicist, you will still be doing most of the legwork yourself. Third (and this is a less significant thing but still relevant), when signing a book for a reader, it’s a good thing to include the date to help make the signing a fond memory. However, when signing stock at a bookstore, don’t write the date you signed. If the book doesn’t move quickly, it will look old and stale and will likely get returned to the publisher. Last and probably least, don’t dink around too much with Goodreads or most blogs and reviews. It will likely lead to frustration and pent-up resentment that will leave you feeling powerless. That’s the short list – happy authoring!”

Jen Brooks, author of IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT:

“In my debut year, I’ve learned how to deal with success and disappointment, reviews and requests, jealousy and earnest happiness for others. I’ve learned exactly how many consecutive days I can sit in a chair for fourteen hours straight (hello book 2) and how hard it is to be separated for multiple nights/weekends from my family. I have learned what I’m willing to do to promote my work and what I’m not. I have learned who my audience is and how grateful I am for readers who really “get” my work. I cannot emphasize this enough: readers who, for whatever reason, find my work resonates with them are the only thing that has kept me going when I had my darkest doubts. (If you have ever read a book and truly enjoyed it, please let the author know–by Tweet, email, whatever.) I have learned, above all–as a shy sort of person scared to death of the imperative to “network!”–that YA writers are the most generous, kind, supportive, kindred souls I could ever have hoped to encounter in my lifetime. Thank you to all of you who have shared this remarkable journey. I love to write. I love to be part of a collective of fellow writers. It takes a village to raise a writer–so they say!”

Melody Maysonet, author of A WORK OF ART:

“The time leading up to publication is way more exciting than the time after publication, so enjoy it and try not to sweat the small stuff. After my book was out in the world, I became a little obsessed with tracking book reviews, which was exciting, but like I said, it can become obsessive if you let it. I also spent way too much time trying to track how my book was selling via Amazon Author Central (a tool I think every author should ignore–but try getting me to stop looking!) Most of all, I learned not to compare my own success with that of other authors. It’s hard not to feel jealous when you see a fellow debuter getting tons of accolades. I got my fair share too, but somehow I keep wanting more. I have to remember that getting published in the first place is a dream come true, and there’s no sense in letting envy tarnish the experience. “

N.K. Traver, author of DUPLICITY:

“My biggest debut lesson was learning to let go. As many debuters did, I spent the first few weeks obsessively checking my Goodreads and Amazon rankings, applying those rankings to my worth as a human, and fretting over sales numbers even though I had no actual idea what said sales numbers were. The best thing I ever did was to stop checking. “What will be will be,” as they say, and once your book is in the world, you’ve done all you can as an author – you put the words on the page, and the rest is out of your control. Realizing that helped me get back to worrying about what I was writing instead of how many reviews had gone up in the last hour. Er, I mean week. No one checks every hour, that would be crazy…”

More to come!!