Kelly Meding on What it’s like to be a Debut Author

For entirely personal reasons that shan’t be aired in public, my debut weekend was a bit of a bust. So I’m living vicariously through the lovely Kelly Meding, whose fabulous book, Three Days to Dead, is released today! Kelly’s been so kind as to talk with me her experiences as a first-time novelist. After you’ve enjoyed her discussion, answer one, two, or all three of the questions below the interview IN COMMENTS, to put yourself in the running to win a copy of Three Days to Dead.

DEBUT AUTHOR DISCUSSION

What’s the most consistent piece of advice you’ve gotten from other published authors about how to handle your very first release day?

Don’t obsess over Amazon rankings.  It’s funny the number of folks who’ve mentioned wearing out the refresh key, checking their numbers.  I admit, I don’t really understand Amazon rankings anyway.  What on earth would be considered bad/good/awesome/OMG?  I don’t know.  But apparently obsessing over Amazon is a time-honored tradition on release day, and not just for debut authors.  I intend to actually spend the day out of the house (after sleeping in), possibly treating myself to those Pecan Pie Pancakes I just saw in an IHOP commercial.  For lunch, since I’ll be sleeping in and won’t make it to IHOP for breakfast.  So yeah, hopefully I won’t be around enough to get online and obsess.

Okay, let me put it this way: I don’t plan to be online and obsessing.  But never say never, right?

Since you sold your first novel, what’s the one question people you know/meet ask you the most?

“When’s it coming out?” followed almost immediately by “Why so long?” for the first….oh, year or so.  A lot of people don’t realize that most of the books that have just made it into bookstores were bought anywhere from one to two years ago.  They don’t know the process of what goes into editing, producing and promoting a book, or why it takes so long.  Truth be told, before I got serious about publishing, I didn’t either.

As a tween, I obsessively read “Sweet Valley High.”  Every month, we’d trek to the B. Dalton in the Mall (which was 45 minutes away and, at the time, the nearest bookstore), and I’d buy the latest SVH.  I remember having this strange idea that the books were being “made” the month right before release.  I don’t think I really considered the logistics of how one woman would write four books a month (at the time, Sweet Valley had High, Twins, Kids, and College), not to mention my assumed time crunch.  I’d never thought that hard about how the printed book got into my eager little hands.

Even after I discovered the joy and agony of writing, I didn’t think that hard about it.  This is probably why I was almost sucked into the provocative world of vanity publishing with my first novel.  They promised my book in my hands, in mere weeks.  It was exciting! It was thrilling!  It was…wrong.  Thank the stars I discovered, by sheer happenchance, Absolute Write.  That quickly cured me of my vanity press aspirations, and I learned A LOT about why it takes so long for a book to hit stores.  I try to give the condensed version to folks who ask, and they’re often just as surprised as I was to find out why it takes so long.  But the wait is often worth it.

What surprised you the most about the process between “Deal” and “Debut”?

“Hurry up and wait.”  It’s a key phrase that I understood going into editorial submissions, but I’d never put it into practice until after we sold.  There are long stretches of nothing, followed by “get this back to me ASAP.”  That’s just the way things go.  Editors juggle a lot of books and authors at once, and when it’s my turn to be juggled, I need to be ready to work and do what she needs done.  It can be frustration, sure.  Months pass without a word, and then you’re trading emails every few hours for a couple of days.  More weeks pass, then you need to return copy edits in three weeks.

If you’re really big on planning ahead, this business will fry your brain.  Fortunately for me, my schedule is pretty flexible.  If something is due, I can fit it in and get it done.

First novel versus debut novel.  Go!

Well, for some lucky folks (*glares at Nicole*) they are the same thing.  I know a few amazing authors who write and sell their first completed novels.  I wasn’t one of those.  THREE DAYS TO DEAD was the seventh novel I wrote.  Lucky number seven.  My first novel was your typical “me” story—set in a town kind of like where I grew up, with characters kind of like people I knew, very small story and not a single paranormal element.  It was a novel I had to write for many reasons, but it would have a very small market.

The next three books I wrote were all part of a series of supernatural thrillers—and that isn’t really the right genre.  The books were mysteries of a sort, and the characters had various psychic powers, but there were very few books in the market that were similar.  I had no idea how to market them to agents.  Two more books were written, these of a new series and genre—superhero fiction.  There was very little of it out, and I pulled the ideas out of something I started working on when I was fifteen.  These got a little more attention, but as an author, I still hadn’t hit my stride.  I was stuck in this strange murky area between romance and non-romance, and the blend wasn’t working.  I hadn’t quite figured out what it was I wrote, so the books suffered.  Then I got a good, swift kick in the pants from Jeaniene Frost, and viola!  It clicked.  I knew what I was doing wrong.

So yes, it took me six tries to finally write my debut novel.  It wasn’t my first completed, but it’s my first published, and I’m very proud of the final product.

What’s your biggest challenge as a debut author?

Overcoming the way my brain is wired to equate “talking about myself and my book” with “bragging.”  I hate talking about myself.  Hell, some of the people I work with in the day job only found out last week that I have a book coming out—and that’s because another co-worker told them.  But that’s just me, I guess.  No one likes a bragger, I have this weird idea that being proud of my accomplishments and telling people about my book is bragging.  In a way it is.  And I know it’s the good kind of bragging, right?

I suppose it’s a by-product of shyness.  Most of the people who meet me now can’t believe I was ever a shy, frumpy kid who hid behind books.  Working in retail cured me of most of that shyness, but I still get tongue-tied around new people, and I hate being put on the spot.  I don’t do well thinking on my feet.

Debut authors (the majority of us, anyway) don’t get big promotional pushes from our publishers.  We don’t get tours and full-page ads in magazines, and we don’t get big interviews.  We have to promote ourselves.  I have no trouble with the Internet side of promotion (like this).  It’s all about writing down the words.  But going into a public place and selling myself face-to-face with strangers?  I’d rather shave my head.  Nicole, you saw how nervous I was at Dragon*Con, speaking on my very first panel.  With five other authors.  Just wait and see how crazy I get when I have to do something alone.

Oh boy.

To win a copy of Kelly’s book, comment below and answer one or all of the following questions:

1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

I’ll choose a winner, at random, from the Contest Can on Monday, Nov. 30th! Thanks!

Posted by Nicole Peeler

Author, Professor, Lover, Fighter

46 thoughts on “Kelly Meding on What it’s like to be a Debut Author”

  1. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    With a large cake, and a treat to myself!

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    Well, nothing much, just racked up a huge bill on my credit card

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    I think she should have a huge party to celebrate the release!! 😀 Include all her friends and family and have a rocking time.

    Then again they could all go to vegas and have a great time to celebrate!

  2. I'm really looking forward to Three Days To Dead, I'm so glad it's finally out. I usually mark a big occasion by retail therapy – buying myself something I've wanted. I think Kelly should celebrate by doing something fun for herself – maybe doing a virtual release party. Those are always fun and no need to be shy because she wouldn't have to face anyone in person.

  3. congrats on your debout sounds awesome

    1) How do you normally mark large occasions? I ususally write it on acallander a few places and tell asmany ppla s ic an to remind me

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success? I went out baught 3 new out fits then tried them all on in tacobells bathroom whilehaving lunch

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    treta her self to a nice dinner a bubble bath and a good movie!

  4. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions? A celebratory meal of sashimi/sushi at my favorite Japanese restaurant with my Mom and Dad.

    2) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to celebrate a success? Would you believe I'm so boring there's literally not a good answer to this question lurking in all of my (nearly) thirty-two years? I just don't do crazy…at least not in celebration.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel? Since she's a self-proclaimed shy person, I'm going to stick with tame suggestions: a nice dinner out with her s.o., a dozen red velvet cupcakes, and a long relaxing bubble bath.

    Congratulations Kelly!

  5. Congrats! I hope it will do well. In the last few weeks I've read a lot about this book and I've gotten curious.

    1) Eating. Alot.

    2) For my father's 50th birthday my mother and I baked 25 kg of Austrian cookies/biscuits – which are tiny, elaborate and very yummy. All of them were eaten.

    3) Despite my food theme, I'd suggest she immediatly starts writing the next one. And then the next and the next. I'm unabashdly greedy 😉

  6. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    Well I guess it would have to depend on the occasion, but most likely my roommate and I would have a little party with a couple of our friends.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    A lot of my friends think I'm crazy but I'm not one for big crazy celebrations.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    I think a nice dinner with her closest friends and family would be good.

  7. 1) a party

    2) Nothing at this point really pops out at me

    3) I think she should do anything that is solely treating herself. It should be memorable, and a mement all for her.

  8. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    A really big occassion like a graduation or starting a new job deserves a present of some sort. Something I have been dying to get, but it was not something I needed. I bought a Nintendo DS when I started my current job. I've always wanted one of the portable gaming devices since I was like 10, so it was a childhood promise fulfilled.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    Honestly, I can't think of anything really crazy or maybe I just don't remember. There is some drunkeness in there somewhere. 🙂

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    Grab a group of close friends, and go out and celebrate!!! i think you should make yourself a hat with the cover of the book and use it as a tiara. If brides can do the whole veil thing, this would be appropriate too.

  9. Awesome responses, guys! I'm seeing a trend . . . shopping, eating, and bubble baths. Couldn't have come up with better responses myself! 🙂

  10. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    – write it in my daily planner and plan some sort of dinner w/ friends.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    -I dont think i have ever done anything really crazy, usually just have a small gathering of friends and family to celebrate.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    – Kelly should throw a party with her friends and family on her success!

    Congrats on the book release Kelly!!

  11. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions? With food…either something extra special at home or out to eat and we have the money.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success? I don’t know. I don’t think I’m that crazy with this sort of thing. It probably had something to do with retail therapy though. Treating myself to something or somethings (usually books, bath stuff, art supplies, tea or all of the above).

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel? I think she should just pamper herself with good food and good company. She should try and relax and enjoy it 🙂

  12. 1) I usually mark large occasions by treating myself to something. Whether it be something I've been wanting to buy and couldn't quite justify the price or a nice dinner or whatever. Just something to make the day a little more special.

    3) I think Kelly should go visit a bookstore and see her book there. And then maybe sign the store copies.

    I've been looking forward to this book and will be buying a copy soon if I don't win one.

  13. The craziest thing we've ever done to celebrate a success is fly out to another country, on impulse, to celebrate.

  14. Janicu: You're not one of my students, are you? 😉

    Wanda: That rocks. I love it. YAY FOR RANDOMLY LEAVING THE COUNTRY!

  15. Hi Nicole,

    In your interview with Kelly, she mentioned getting pancakes at IHOP. I used to go to IHOP with my family for their pancakes but we may want to keep in mind that the company has been exposed for food safety issues and animal cruelty in its supply chain. For more details, please check out: http://www.humanesociety.org/ihop.

    I just wanted to let you about what is going on with IHOP. I appreciate your taking the time reading this. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Sincerely,

    Emily Spivak

  16. To win a copy of Kelly’s book, comment below and answer one or all of the following questions:

    1) Honestly? Alone. I live in one part of the country and ALL my family are dispersed elsewhere. I also have a small cadre of friends but only one or two live in my town and getting together with them is sometimes difficult. So yeah, I celebrate with a dinner out by myself and/or a movie.

    2) Hmmm. I went to Orlando and met up with friends for a girls weekend (I live in Canada… it is a long jaunt).

    3) Well ending up 'naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue' is out (and hardly comfortable unless you are a fictional character. I say you take your neurotic cat out to the movies with you. I figure that should be exciting – or risky depending on the loud noises in the movie and the level or neuroses in the cat, LOL.

    I’ll choose a winner, at random, from the Contest Can on Monday, Nov. 30th! Thanks!

  17. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions? We go out to eat for everything. We get together and have huge meals. I'm not sure why we do this, but it's ingrained in our beings, so I'm not sure we could stop even if we wanted too. And, at this moment I don't want to stop.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success? I bought a house and a car within a month after I based my boards and started practicing therapy. That was a really stupid thing to do, because my whole check went to the upkeep of the house and the car and I had very little play money.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel? I think she should go to Vegas and bet on black. She's already on a winning streak and the law of three's says she is in line for 2 more good things. For those who do not know the law of three's, good things and bad things come in three's. Ex.1 if you are invited to a wedding expect to be invited or part of two more. Ex.2 if a someone dies, expect two more deaths.

    Thanks….Stacy

  18. I don't get too crazy, but to celebrate things I usually go for the old standbys: shopping (especially the bookstore!) and a good meal out that includes a yummy chocolate dessert.

    I think Kelly should celebrate heartily in whichever way she sees fit but have FUN and enjoy it!

  19. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    – A small celebration with family and friends. Either a dinner out or a dinner in with cake.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    – Spent way too much money.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    – Go out and celebrate with family and friends doing whatever she finds most fun.

  20. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    give myself a treat either a pedicure, a new book, or some reece's ice cream

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success? don't usually do crazy lol. I can't think of anything.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    go out to dinner and dancing and just enjoy herself.

  21. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    –I buy myself a pound of mini gummi bears, slap in some Joss Whedon and veg until someone reminds me to return to reality XD

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    –I went drinking with my co-workers at a new sports bar that had opened up. We got free drinks, since my one friend's boyfriend was the bar tender and comp'ed it all for us, so I drank somewhere close to $100 just by myself to celebrate.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    –Bake us all dinner and dessert and invite everyone over! 😀 s'long as I get invited! XD

  22. Who doesn't love an excuse to celebrate? Certainly not this gal. For marking large occasions, I love new experiences…visiting a foreign land, meeting an online friend for the first time, trying a novel sport like fencing…you name it, I am probably up for it any time but having a special reason just makes it all the more sweet.

    My first instinct is to ask for a definition of "crazy." I've run through the snow barefoot, gotten a tattoo with a dear friend, dyed my hair black (I am a natural blonde). All in the name of successes, large and small.

    Kelly should do exactly what Kelly wants for one day. I could make all sorts of suggestions. She could fly to an exotic island, but what if she hates travel? She could buy herself a treat, but what if she finds shopping stressful? She could throw a major party, but what if she just wants some alone time? I don't know what is dear to her and I know it can change. So…Kelly should have her heart's desire for one day.

  23. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    Food, of course. =) In particular, family (or at least mother) outing to Olive Garden.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    ::blinks:: I can't think of a single thing. Guess I'm more likely to be crazy when tired (can we say hyper?) than when celebrating.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    Sorry, no suggestions. I'm kinda boring, and wouldn't want to pass the boredom on.

  24. 1. Party hardy, some wine with friends at a bar.

    2. I threw a big party when I passed my college Forensic's class, big ol' sucess.

    3. Kelly should pamper herself for the day, get away from the computer and writing and just relax!

  25. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    Go out to eat like most folks, good food, good company what else you need…

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    Gotten drunk when graduated High School almost 30 years back…

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    Spend some time with those who made this possible, family, friends and her professional "helpers"… Whatever else laugh, cry and just be happy about this milestone day…..

    Happy Thanksgiving yall….

    Jackie B Central Texas

  26. Not answering questions, because I've got TDTD waiting for me on the hold shelf at the local B&N until I can next make it there! (Also, I never do anything crazy, and I'm still under an order of silence about the answer to question two, so it's safer for all of us if I remain under wraps.)

    If Kelly stops back by, I'd love to know if she thinks any of the first six novels are revisable now that she's beyond her debut. (Superhero fiction is awesome, and I hope it's gaining market-share — I love the stuff!)

    Nicole, sorry your debut weekend wasn't what it should have been. I hope the whole debut *month* turns out to have been better in the long run!

  27. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions? I got to Barneys or Neiman Marcus to treat myself something nice.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success? I went on a vacation. A very expensive one.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel? Take a break and go shopping!

  28. 2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    I can't say that it was the craziest thing, but for my 5th grade graduation, my mom and I went to Denny's in the middle of the night and stayed there for a couple hours just pigging out! It was sooo much fun and really wish it had become a tradition or something, lol.

  29. Did someone say Barneys? *perks up*

    Alana: Thank you, darling. *hugs* The next weekend doing the signing with Jaye helped make up for it, and I'm having a sort of belated-launch at Bitten By Books this Monday which will also make up for it. I am also going to Dakota's this weekend to have her help me purchase a Fucking Expensive Purse. That should wipe all of the stain away. LOL 😉 But thank you, honey.

  30. To celebrate her release she should go out and see her book in stores, maybe even get someone you know to buy it…eat your favorite foods…relax…don't do anything demanding that day. Just have fun!!

  31. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    –> having a lunch or dinner with all my families (dad, moms, sisters, my brother in law, hubby and my son )

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    –> bought my self a gold necklace 🙂

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    –> First Be thankful to God 🙂 then have a party of dinner with her close friends and families. Enjoy the Moments !

  32. 1) I usually go out to dinner with friends and after we get together and have a few drinks and a few laughs.

    2) Can't really think of anything, probably because I do the same thing pretty much every time.

    3) Doesn't matter what it is as long at it is with friends and loved ones!

  33. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions? If I'm lucky enough to be around my friends and family and to have the money for it, going out to a nice restaurant is always a great way to celebrate. I'm too shy for parties.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    How about the silliest? When I earned my Masters, I invited a group of friends to go out to eat, but I forgot to tell them what for. Then I missed my bus, and they got to sit around waiting for 20-30 minutes for me, with no idea why they were there!

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel? I think somebody should make Kelly a big cake (chocolate, unless she's one of those people who can't have it) with her book cover on it! Then she should treat herself to a concert, a play, or some other kind of show!

  34. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    By purchasing a book I've been wanting or chocolate or both.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    Treat herself to a day at the spa getting a massage and then whatever favorite treat she likes to indulge in.

  35. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    With it being a large occassion, you have to plan something a little special. For example, my Dad's 60th I went out and got a lot of the things he remembered from childhood, so loads of sweets, some proper sasparilla cordial, Port Sunlight Soap in original wraapping (I ordered this specially from Port Sunlight.) and a few other bits that teared him up.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    Probably jumping from a bridge into a freezing cold river with a bottle of beer in one hand and my undies in the other.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    Something really unusual and memorable. Its going to be a day she'll look back on with some pride so perhaps do something that you've always wanted to do. Perhaps a Sky Diving jump with a copy of your book.

  36. 1) How do you normally mark large occasions?

    I like to go out and treat myself to a good dinner.

    2) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to celebrate a success?

    Went across the country in a car.

    3) What do you think Kelly should do to celebrate the release of her new novel?

    Get on a plane to an exotic location.

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