This is my third year going to The American Library Association’s Mid-Winter Conference , but the first time attending with a completed novel under my belt. As always, there were plenty of books to check out, too many ARCS to carry, and loads of yummy food to eat. One thing I didn’t expect, was all the lessons I learned from the people I met at this year’s show and how it’s changed the way I see my journey, as an author working towards publication.
- I’m Not Speaking To Myself Online:
Sometimes we forget that our social media is not just reaching our friends and family. On Twitter, I make jokes, tweet about my writing, participate in contests and try my best to encourage and help fellow writers. But honestly, I didn’t think anyone besides the handful of followers I always interact with actually noticed me. Turns out I was wrong. Not only did I meet an agent I admire who recognized me from Twitter (major internal freak out moment), but Becky Albertalli (YES THAT ONE) said she remembered me from online as well. I don’t know about you, but for a writer just starting out like me, and an avid reader, this was a giant, giant deal. It made me feel so happy, but also made me realize that people are listening to what I have to say. It’s an important thing to remember, especially if your social media account is connected to your writing. People will take notice, the things you say online will shape their views of you, so make it count and most importantly be kind to one another. You never know when you’ll run into someone you’ve met online, and what great friendships can flourish from those meetings.
2. Writing is hard work for everyone.
I met an author whose first book ever was a massive success, and now writing her follow up, she’s feeling the pressure. She told me that for the first time, she feels like she’s truly learning her craft, and that although her debut came more naturally, this book has brought loads of hard work, and a new set of challenges. The journey is different for everyone, and it’s always a bad idea to compare your story to someone else’s. No matter where you are on your path as writer/painter/engineer, whatever your dream, know that it’s hard for all of us. The struggle is part of everyone’s narrative, it just might look a bit different from your own.
3. You get nervous no matter where you are in the process.
I was lucky enough to be the first person to receive a signed book from a debut author this weekend. Before the signing began, she confessed to me how nervous she was. As someone who has just started querying, I think it’s pretty easy to feel like getting an agent and a book deal is the end game when it comes to nerves, but I’ve learned pretty much nothing can be further from the truth. After a book deal, comes all the pressures of marketing, of your book selling well, of writing a new book, and rinse, and repeat. There are never any guarantees when it comes to a creative life, and insecurities are the norm for us. Embrace the jitters, celebrate the little victories, and always know that it happens to everyone, no matter what stage they reach. I mean, I don’t know if it happens to JK Rowling still but we can pretend together, okay? 🙂
4. Supporting one another is important, and crucial.
Last year I met so many wonderful authors online through contests like Pitch Wars and weekly events like #1lineWed. It was great to see some of their books in person, and I did my best to tweet pictures of as many ARCS as I could. Everyone was so kind and appreciative of this, even excited, at seeing people holding their books, and I was happy to give them a close up look when they couldn’t be here themselves. There are enough things working against us writers, and and supporting one another makes our community stronger and a happier place to be. I was thrilled to make someone else smile, to watch as they retweeted those pictures and got excited. It was a gift for me to be able to share in that moment with an author, no matter how small my role in it was. And it was an encouraging moment for me too. To watch these successes take place made me feel it was possible for me too—that just maybe, I could be in their position one day.
I hope that by next year’s Midwinter, I’ll have more to share with you, and I hope you all keep pushing towards your dreams. I can’t wait to watch you shine.