For entirely personal reasons that shanâ€™t be aired in public, my debut weekend was a bit of a bust. So Iâ€™m living vicariously through the lovely Kelly Meding, whose fabulous book, Three Days to Dead, is released today! Kellyâ€™s been so kind as to talk with me her experiences as a first-time novelist. After youâ€™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.Â It’s funny the number of folks who’ve mentioned wearing out the refresh key, checking their numbers.Â I admit, I don’t really understand Amazon rankings anyway.Â What on earth would be considered bad/good/awesome/OMG?Â I don’t know.Â But apparently obsessing over Amazon is a time-honored tradition on release day, and not just for debut authors.Â 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.Â For lunch, since I’ll be sleeping in and won’t make it to IHOP for breakfast.Â 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.Â 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 firstâ€¦.oh, year or so.Â 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.Â They don’t know the process of what goes into editing, producing and promoting a book, or why it takes so long.Â Truth be told, before I got serious about publishing, I didn’t either.
As a tween, I obsessively read “Sweet Valley High.”Â 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.Â I remember having this strange idea that the books were being “made” the month right before release.Â 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.Â 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.Â This is probably why I was almost sucked into the provocative world of vanity publishing with my first novel.Â They promised my book in my hands, in mere weeks.Â It was exciting! It was thrilling!Â It wasâ€¦wrong.Â Thank the stars I discovered, by sheer happenchance, Absolute Write.Â 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.Â 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.Â But the wait is often worth it.
What surprised you the most about the process between “Deal” and “Debut”?
“Hurry up and wait.”Â It’s a key phrase that I understood going into editorial submissions, but I’d never put it into practice until after we sold.Â There are long stretches of nothing, followed by “get this back to me ASAP.”Â That’s just the way things go.Â 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.Â It can be frustration, sure.Â Months pass without a word, and then you’re trading emails every few hours for a couple of days.Â 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.Â Fortunately for me, my schedule is pretty flexible.Â If something is due, I can fit it in and get it done.
First novel versus debut novel.Â Go!
Well, for some lucky folks (*glares at Nicole*) they are the same thing.Â I know a few amazing authors who write and sell their first completed novels.Â I wasn’t one of those.Â THREE DAYS TO DEAD was the seventh novel I wrote.Â Lucky number seven.Â My first novel was your typical “me” storyâ€”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.Â 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 thrillersâ€”and that isn’t really the right genre.Â 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.Â I had no idea how to market them to agents.Â Two more books were written, these of a new series and genreâ€”superhero fiction.Â There was very little of it out, and I pulled the ideas out of something I started working on when I was fifteen.Â These got a little more attention, but as an author, I still hadn’t hit my stride.Â I was stuck in this strange murky area between romance and non-romance, and the blend wasn’t working.Â I hadn’t quite figured out what it was I wrote, so the books suffered.Â Then I got a good, swift kick in the pants from Jeaniene Frost, and viola!Â It clicked.Â I knew what I was doing wrong.
So yes, it took me six tries to finally write my debut novel.Â 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.”Â I hate talking about myself.Â Hell, some of the people I work with in the day job only found out last week that I have a book coming outâ€”and that’s because another co-worker told them.Â But that’s just me, I guess.Â No one likes a bragger, I have this weird idea that being proud of my accomplishments and telling people about my book is bragging.Â In a way it is.Â And I know it’s the good kind of bragging, right?
I suppose it’s a by-product of shyness.Â Most of the people who meet me now can’t believe I was ever a shy, frumpy kid who hid behind books.Â 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.Â 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.Â We don’t get tours and full-page ads in magazines, and we don’t get big interviews.Â We have to promote ourselves.Â I have no trouble with the Internet side of promotion (like this).Â It’s all about writing down the words.Â But going into a public place and selling myself face-to-face with strangers?Â I’d rather shave my head.Â Nicole, you saw how nervous I was at Dragon*Con, speaking on my very first panel.Â With five other authors.Â Just wait and see how crazy I get when I have to do something alone.
To win a copy of Kellyâ€™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?
Iâ€™ll choose a winner, at random, from the Contest Can on Monday, Nov. 30th! Thanks!