A Debut Author’s First Month: How We Fall

One month ago, my debut novel was released. It’s been hectic, it’s been hard, it’s been wonderful. It’s been more fulfilling than I could have ever thought.

I haven’t bit major bestseller lists. I haven’t been named in best of the year lists.

School Library Journal did name How We Fall in their October list of what’s hot in YA. How We Fall has been ranking on Amazon in 1-3 categories since its release. I am thrilled.

I haven’t gotten fancy endorsements from from bestselling authors.

SLJ, Kirkus, Booklist, and Voya all came back with positive, very kind reviews. I can’t believe it.

I’ve been told that I wrote pornographic smut and I should be run out of town.

I’ve been told How We Fall was a fun, charming, and challenging read, and some readers have told me I’m their new favorite author. That is the height of what I hoped for and it makes all the work worthwhile.

I’ve heard that my soul is lost in darkness and I’m damaging the very readers I’m trying to reach, that teens shouldn’t be reading my books.

Readers from all over the US, and even internationally, have sent me photos of my book on shelves, in their homes, on vacation. Every one of them has made my day.

I’ve been thanked for writing intelligent, true-to-life teens. I’ve been told that it’s awesome that I wrote a book and got it published, I’ve had people tell me I should be having kids instead of writing, I’ve had a signing in New York City, and people have asked me why I couldn’t have written a “happier” book, a “cleaner” book, as if the realistic struggles of teens are something dirty.

My book is out in the world now, and people are finding it, and that alone is a huge reward.

Every kind review has meant the world to me, and I’m so incredibly grateful for all the Facebook, Twitter, and blog support How We Fall has gotten. It’s blown me away.

I believe in what I write. I believe I do write happy books–and to me, that means books where people can change, where bad choices aren’t always the end of things, where life is hard and maybe someone will show up to go through it with you. I am intentional with the content of my books, and I don’t just throw in sex and swearing for sales. Those things don’t increase sales, anyway. I include hard things, and difficult topics and actions, because they are important to me and we need to see those things represented and dealt with or not dealt with by characters in stories.

Publishing is always a mixed bag. But one month in, I love my mixed bag, and it’s a huge victory for me. I’m so thrilled with how well my book is doing, and how many of you have written to me to tell me you love it, and how fulfilling it is to know that because of your support, I might get to do this write-a-book thing again.

I am an author. I plan on sticking around. I still have stories to tell and things to say, so I’m going to keep writing. I love my book, and I love you for reading it.

And in case you haven’t thought of it, How We FallΒ might make a pretty cool Christmas gift. πŸ™‚

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14 thoughts on “A Debut Author’s First Month: How We Fall

  1. I think you are incredibly brave, Kate. You wrote about a very difficult topic. But you did so with grace and humor. I felt every single thing these kids were going through. I remember being a little unsure when I initially read the book blurb. But I’m so glad I gave it a read. How We Fall is a very compelling story. You’re extremely talented and I can’t wait to see what comes next for you! πŸ™‚
    – Caitlin

  2. I’d like to say I can’t believe people would say such terrible things to you, but then I’d be lying. I love your perspective on what a “happy” story is, about people changing. Most people (not just teens) want to read books that ring true. Books that challenge them while not making them feel terrible for their totally human feelings. I think How We Fall does a good job with that. What’s especially cool is that the whole forbidden romance translates to other types of relationships. In this case it’s cousins. But most of the same problems apply for same-sex relationships, mixed race relationships, and other queer types of romances. I think you’ve written a wonderful story, one of value and courage. Screw all the mean idiots. πŸ™‚

  3. This is so awesome, and you are so awesome. Can’t wait to read the book. I love what you said about it being a happy book in its own way, too. I couldn’t agree more.

  4. Honestly, what teen wants to read a book that’s preaching to them? “This is what the consequences of your actions will be!” Yes, that sounds like a book I would have loved to read as a teen (sarcasm).

    I wanted books then that spoke to me in my language. I wanted to read about characters who were like me, sometimes, who were cooler than me. Characters who were dealing with the same things I was dealing with. And those things weren’t always pretty. They were the things I hid from my parents, the things my parents were happier not knowing about. The real stuff, as ugly as it might be.

    Idealized worlds where everything is perfect and happy all the time and nobody has sex and nobody does drugs will sell to adults who want to condescend to their childrenβ€”not to real teens who want to get lost in a book.

    This is a fantastically honest post and I know this is easy to say, and harder to feel, but… screw the haters, Kate. Your book was fantastic and will speak to many. Rock on!

  5. Hi, Kate. I am so thrilled and happy for you. I’ll be honest, it isn’t a book I would want my 13-year-old granddaughter to read. I want her to keep her innocence as long as possible. But I also know that there are teens out there who have already had horrible things happen to them, or have made some really bad choices. They need to be able to see consequences. They need to have a safe object lesson to learn from (meaning non-judgmental and someone not directly involved in their lives). So there is a place for your books. Where you spend eternity is between you and God. That isn’t for anyone else to say. I am a Christian and I applaud you.

      • What gets my goat is the people that decide what’s appropriate for what age group. “Splintered” is listed as middle grade and is in school libraries targeted to fourth graders and up. To me this is appalling, and I don’t know that there’s anything we as authors can do about it. We categorize our novels in a certain genre [spectrum] and someone else decides the age groups. I don’t get it.

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