KA: I was reading at the University of Waterloo, and a question came up that really caught me off guard. That was my biggest challenge: getting used to answering scary questions about my stories.
AFM: I started on the editorial side of the business. When it came to working that process with my own book, what surprised me was the number of times I had to read my book. It’s a test. If you don’t get sick of your book after reading it 20 or 30 times, it’s a good sign.
SC: I’m a rule-follower. When I heard back from my first editor, I got to work making all the requested changes. What I had to learn was that editors aren’t infallible. You have to learn to fight for your work, when necessary. When you hear from an editor for the first time, read a comment, and then take a drink of tequila.
AFM: My first published novel was with Harlequin, the publisher for whom I edited. A fellow editor suggested I write my book, but when I submitted it, an editor was assigned who was a frustrated author. I went through four rewrites without a contract. Eventually, I went over the editor’s head, but that was only possible because I had a 12-year working relationship with Harlequin.
KA: My Canadian publisher sent out advanced reader copies (ARCs) and wanted me to write a couple of articles. I did, but what stuck out was my stance that what I had written was not horror. There was a terrific backlash from other writers of horror.
MP: I was working with an author under contract. Three days before the book was due, her computer crashed. We had to come forward, explain what happened, and ask for an extension.
CdL: The original cover for The Riddle of the Wren was a collage. I thought it was crappy. My editor, Terry Windling, advocated for me and ended up doing the cover for free.
SC: The promotional piece is challenging, too. Start three months before the release.
KA: Just realizing that I had to promote my own book was a shock. I don’t have what it takes for event planning and blogging. The most important thing I learned, though, is to thank your readers.
MP: Publicists are not magicians. Promotional materials can be as much work as writing the novel.
CdL: I agree with Kelley. Connect with your readers. Find common ground. Recommend the books of other authors that they would enjoy.
SC: I talk about hockey more than I talk about writing. One of my surprises was that you have to convince the library database to feature your books so that libraries will pick it up.
AFM: Never underestimate the value of friendships. Come up with cool swag ideas for your supporters.
MP: At one party, we handed out LED flashlights.
KA: Chocolates are bad promotional tools. They get eaten. Give out screen cleaning cloths, bags, pens, useful things. Every time someone picks up the pen you gave them, they’ll be reminded.
AFM: Bookmarks. Leave that shit everywhere.
SC: Wine is expensive, but cool. Everybody loves cake.
CdL: Giving stuff to kids is fun. The more creative you can get, the better. I’ve written songs to go with my books. I had an artist draw pictures of the characters, sign them, and leave them for the fans.
And that was time.
Tomorrow: I’ll be transcribing my notes from Jane Ann McLachlan’s workshop.
Next week: Ad Astra gets uncanny . . . and my Next Chapter update 🙂