Well, it's flown by, but our debut year is ending! It's been quite an adventure for the group; we saw our first books (and a few babies!) enter the world, we've made new friends, and met lots of readers. We've enjoyed the thrill of becoming published authors, but we've learned that publication doesn't mean the struggles of the writing life are over. Through it all, we've had a great support group to hold our virtual hands in the tough times and celebrate with us during the good times.
Check out our "What's Next?" post to see what's coming up for us in 2013 and beyond. For now, here are some parting words from some of your Apocalypsies, about what we've learned and our favorite moments of 2012:
"What I've Learned:
A. You are your book's best advocate. Don't be shy.
B. Make at least one trip out of your own region for a book signing event--even if you have to pay for it yourself. Personal appearances make a much bigger impression on readers than a Tweet."
~ Anne Greenwood Brown (LIES BENEATH, Random House/Delacorte)
"What I learned from my debut year: It's natural for us to have a lot of expectations around the actual book release date, but I found that the work of promotion and growing into my skin as an author was just beginning when my book was published in March, and the process continues. So my advice to new authors is totally enjoy THE DAY, eat your chocolate, crack the champagne, get a massage, soak in the Twitter accolades, but remember that it's not all going to happen at once, and save some energy because tomorrow there's more work to do.
Highlights from the year: Besides meeting other Apocalypsies and developing wonderful friendships with fellow debut authors, I'd say the major highlight has been the little surprise kindnesses that happen when you finally get published—the high school friend of your sister who buys the book for his niece, the reader who shows up at an event with a thoughtful gift, the aunts and uncles that talk you up to random strangers, the librarians and bookstore owners and teachers who go out of their way to give you a platform. I was incredibly moved, on multiple occasions, by what people were willing to do to help me and my career."
~ Elisa Ludwig (PRETTY CROOKED, Katherine Tegen Books)
"Fave thing about the debut year: Getting to meet and learn from so many amazing writers, within the Apocalypsies and the wider kidlit community.
One thing I've learned: Promotion can be fun and creative, and when you've spent so much time on a book it's important to do your best to get it out into the world. But promotion can easily become a full-time job. And expensive. Keep promotion in perspective, in terms of time and money, and don't let it get in the way of writing the next book."
~ Diana Renn (TOKYO HEIST, Viking)
"What I learned this debut year: Surrounding yourself with supportive people, such as the wonder-group, The Apocalypsies, proved to be quite the necessary thing to do. Debut year is a roller coaster ride, and you need a rock solid 'cart of support' to ride in, especially when you crest those hills.
My favorite thing this debut year: Heartfelt feedback from readers, especially teen readers. I hope it will always blow my mind that complete strangers are moved to tears from characters and scenes I created—it’s rather humbling."
~ K.M. Walton (CRACKED, Simon Pulse)
"My favorite thing about this year has been all of my debut author friends. They have given an endless supply of support, real and virtual hugs and a gazillion laughs. I wouldn't have wanted to do it without them. As for what I've learned--for better or worse--I am me and that is enough. I'm looking forward to supporting the Lucky 13's in 2013!!!
~ Kimberly Sabatini (TOUCHING THE SURFACE, Simon Pulse)
"Picture a debut author in the middle of an otherwise great tour suddenly panicked. In a chilly city where you’ve never been before, the B&N who loves your book has a nice poster outside announcing your arrival, but inside, no one is in the store. There’s a sports final going on and everyone is there instead. To top it off, the shipper made an error and only sent a few boxes of your book. The rest were the more expensive jacketless library copies.
A few people do show up but the night is really saved when an Apocalypsie you’ve never met before arrives. And she’s brought her writing group. They’re bundled up in coats and smiles and it’s something you’ll remember forever.
The debut year has more ups and downs than any ride at Disneyland. One constant for me was having the support and friendship of the Apocalypsies. Some of you are wild and crazy, some hysterically funny, some bloodthirsty (in a good way), but I've loved meeting you in chats, at conferences, in restaurants and bars. And of course, bookstores."
~ Lissa Price (STARTERS, Random House)
"I've learned not to compare my writing journey to anyone else's. If jealousy is a green-eyed monster, then comparison is a troll with extremely sharp teeth that will chew you up and spit you out, leaving your self-confidence in shreds. Comparison is the quickest way to suck the joy out of your writing life. Don't do it.
My favorite thing about this year has been getting to know other writers and learn about their books. Some of my favorite books this year have been from the Apocalypsies!"
~ Jenny Lundquist (SEEING CINDERELLA, Aladdin)
"I know it's a bit cheesy, but the best thing about my debut year was meeting the Apocalypsies! They have been a wonderful support - we've laughed, cried, drunk virtual cocktails and offered hugs when needed. I really couldn't have survived my debut year without them!!!"
~ Elizabeth Richards (BLACK CITY, Putnam)
"The most important thing I learned this year was to listen to my experienced writer friends. A year ago, I was chock full of hope, dreams, and WAY too much confidence in my task-juggling abilities. A good writer friend cautioned me to write as fast as I could before my launch date, 'because you won't have time to write anything for a year after that.'
I sort of laughed at her. I need to apologize.
Of course, she wasn't right entirely - I've written lots of revisions, a few chapters on a new manuscript, and a million and forty-seven guest blog posts since this summer. But not anywhere near the pillowy mounds of weekly drafting that had served for years as my happy place.
I'm learning to lie fallow, a bit. And to listen not just to my friends, but my heart, when it tells me 'back to the page.' Because, to me, the page is home.
And there's no place like it."
~ Nikki Loftin (THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY, Razorbill)
"Wow, what to say? My favorite part was launch week, when I got to meet readers face to face and see people holding the book. That was the moment it finally felt real. The rest of it sort of seemed like just a dream.
The surprising (and perhaps disappointing?) thing for me was how little time I had to WRITE this year. I wish I'd known that getting on the path to publishing would triple my email load and internet/social media demands. I really have to work hard to MAKE the time to write these days, so that's been a learning curve."
~ Erin Jade Lange (BUTTER, Bloomsbury)
"Like Erin, I learned that for the first few months after my launch, I had almost no time to write.
I also learned that there is strength in numbers, and being a part of this group helped me grow stronger as a writer and as a promoter of my book!
And here is my favorite thing about the year: I loved getting that first piece of fan mail, from a little girl whose signature included 'Your biggest fan.'"
~ Kami Kinard (THE BOY PROJECT, Scholastic)
"My favorite thing? Meeting readers. Meeting people who are passionate about the books they read, and who work hard to spread the book love to everyone they know.
The most surprising thing? How quickly time went by."
~ Jodi Meadows (INCARNATE, Katherine Tegen Books)
"My favorite thing about this year were all the people who posted pics of my "book in the wild" on my Facebook page during launch week. This included old high school friends I hadn't spoken to in years as well as fabulous new Apocalypsies friends and everyone in between. It seriously made me weepy like nothing else did to know all these lovely people were going out of their way to find the book and send me a photo.
The most surprising thing: how life post-book publication is really not very different from pre-publication. There is still writing, rewriting and rejections to be had."
~ Sarvenaz Tash (THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST, Bloomsbury/Walker)
"For my favorite part, I have to go with reader responses, too. I've enjoyed reading professional, blogger, and Goodreads reviews (well, most of them). I've enjoyed hearing from family and friends who read my book. I haven't heard from any teens post-pub, but I got some pre-pub responses that brought me to tears with their enthusiasm and honesty.
My launch events were also very rewarding. Family, friends, coworkers, and people from my past (my first and second grade teachers, among others!) came out to support me, and it was great fun. Next week I'll be doing my first teen event, and I'm optimistic for that as well."
~ Lisa Jenn Bigelow (STARTING FROM HERE, Amazon Children's Publishing)
"The best part of this debut year for me has been meeting other authors. It's a great big scary publishing world and it's nice to have peers to look up to. I've had a great time interacting with bloggers and readers. Knowing someone is picking up your work is a truly great feeling."
~ Zoraida Cordova (THE VICIOUS DEEP, Sourcebooks Fire)
"One thing I learned this year was how glad I am to have the Apocalypsies--launching a debut novel would be so much scarier without people to lean on who are all going through the same thing.
My favorite thing this year was hearing from readers and realizing all the different ways many people can read one book!"
~ Emily Hainsworth (THROUGH TO YOU, Balzer & Bray)
"Something I learned: Take a break. I discovered very early that I was so much more creative and productive when I scheduled time AWAY from writing and promoting. I actually declared some days 'CHLOE-free days.'
Favorite moment: Seeing WELCOME, CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE on library shelves. Brought me to tears because libraries were such a huge part of my life growing up."
~ Shelley Coriell (WELCOME, CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE, Amulet Books/Abrams)
"My highlights of the year were releasing book two in the Magic Most Foul saga, THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART and landing a 3 book deal with Tor/Macmillan for a new Historical Fantasy saga for adults with cross-genre crossover potential as characters from my other series will enter into this new parallel story line. THE ETERNA FILES will debut 2014 along with a reissue of my first Historical Fantasy saga."
~ Leanna Renee Hieber (DARKER STILL, Sourcebooks Fire)
"I've learned to enjoy myself, not get caught up in all my writing insecurities. I don't want to look back on this time and only remember how scared I was. I want to remember that this was the year one of my very oldest dreams came true."
~ Kristen Simmons (ARTICLE 5, Tor Teen)
"Don’t read critiques of your book. It will only slow you down on your real job: writing the next one. The good ones intimidate you, the bad ones discourage you, and either way they don’t help. Just sit down and keep on writing."
~ Huntley Fitzpatrick (MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, Penguin/Dial)
"Try not to take criticism personally, not everyone is going to enjoy your book. Trust your agent and editor's advice, they know what they're doing and are working in the best interest of you and your story. Lastly, take biotin every day and do yoga because writing and publishing books will make your hair fall out."
~ Colleen Clayton (WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, Penguin/Poppy)
"What I have learned this year: life is sweet; the world is beautiful;
writers are an amazingly supportive bunch. Learn to doodle--very useful
for book signings. Keep hydrated. Get some sleep. Keep writing. Keep
writing! And if life decides to throw you a major curve ball or two, just
smile and bring out the bright blue hair."
~ Anne Nesbet (THE CABINET OF EARTHS, HarperCollins)
"What I learned about my debut year: Don’t take it personal; you’ll never please everyone. This lesson was hard for me because I have a tendency to get along with most people I meet. Putting your work out there makes you vulnerable to criticism. All of it is subjective. What one person loves, ten will hate, and trying to cater to everyone may risk your creativity.
My favorite thing about this year: Meeting cool authors and swapping stories and war wounds. The support system is amazing and it’s a comfort to know while in a crisis that one email, Tweet or chat will bring the cavalry."
~ Jaime Reed (LIVING VIOLET: THE CAMBION CHRONICLES, Kensington)
Thanks so much to everyone who's been following our progress and supporting us along our road to publication this year, and to everyone who helped us achieve the dream of becoming published authors. We'd like to gather you all up in a giant group hug.
We hope to bring you many more books in the coming years, and we'll have occasional posts here about author events and the writing life.
And now, we turn things over to The Lucky 13s! Best wishes, debut authors, and Happy New Year to all!
~ Lynne Kelly (CHAINED, Macmillan/FSG)