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.”

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