How We Fall’s Paperback Release Day + Giveaway!

I’m thrilled today, because today is the release day for the How We Fall paperback! To celebrate, there’s a Goodreads giveaway of the paperback, open internationally, with signed copies for the US. So enter, enter. 🙂

Also, this post is kicking off an awesome blog tour where I’m chatting with some fantastic book bloggers, giving away a seriously adult hot chocolate recipe (yes, it’s Marcus’s recipe), showing deleted scenes, playing a last-lines game, and showcasing some really genius fan art. So watch my twitter feed for the posts!

And if you haven’t yet gotten the book yourself, there’s a slick new $9 paperback that just hit shelves. Enter the giveaway below, order from your favorite bookseller, and read the first chapter, all below 🙂

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How We Fall by Kate Brauning

How We Fall

by Kate Brauning

Giveaway ends November 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/160443

About the book:

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting way too much–and with her own cousin, Marcus.How We Fall

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can’t control, and he’s the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for…no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies as the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Praise for How We Fall:

2015 Silver Falchion Best YA Novel finalist- Killer Nashville

Kirkus Reviews: “Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid…. A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil.”

School Library Journal: “Heartbreaking and well-paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning’s characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller… this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens.”

ALA Booklist: “…an unusual combination of romance and suspense…There is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions, while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

How We Fall is available through:

Read the first chapter!

Author Bio:www.jenniophotography.com

Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. This is her first novel. Visit her online at http://www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning.

How We Fall Review Giveaway: Books and $20 to Barnes and Noble!

Good morning, friends! Guess what? Tomorrow, the paperback edition of How We Fall releases. And guess what that means? My 9781440581793cvr.inddbook has been out for a year. A whole year. And all of you have been wonderful, leaving reviews, telling your friends about my book, helping me get the word out and being such an awesome part of this year that I’m doing a little giveaway to say thank you, especially to those of you who have taken the time to leave reviews. Reviews are such a huge part of a book’s success, and it does take time and energy, and I so appreciate every one of you who has taken the time to do that.Nightmare-Affair-FINAL

So! If you have left a review on Amazon AND Barnes & Noble on or before Nov. 7th, you’ll be entered into a drawing where I’ll pick three winners at random. Prizes include a hardcover copy of All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry, a hardcover copy of The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett, and a $20 giftcard to Barnes & Noble! (Books US addresses only, giftcard international.)

Truth

Want to enter? Go leave a review! If you can help by sharing this post, that would be wonderful, too.

Haven’t read How We Fall, and want to know if it’s for you?

Read the first chapter!

Praise for How We Fall:

2015 Silver Falchion Best YA Novel finalist- Killer Nashville

Kirkus Reviews: “Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid…. A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil.”

School Library Journal: “Heartbreaking and well-paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning’s characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller… this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens.”

ALA Booklist: “…an unusual combination of romance and suspense…There is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions, while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

 

How We Fall is available through:

 

5 Things A Debut Author Learned

It’s been eight months since my debut novel released. If you’ve been there, you know what a busy, challenging year that is for authors. If you haven’t– it’s months and months of constant learning, screw-ups, trial-and-error, thrills, and pretty much every emotion available to humans. I learned a few things this past year, and I’m pretty sure this next year I’m going to unlearn them all and re-learn them in better and less newbie ways. However, here are 5 things I learned while writing and releasing my debut novel:

Thing One: WRITE A BETTER BOOK

One of the hardest things I’ve been learning as my debut starts to hit shelves is that I can’t really control how well it does. I can’t control reviews, publication timeline, what other fabulous book releases the same week, deadlines, or bestseller lists. I can’t control how much my publishing house invests in my book, whether the concept appeals to readers, or whether YA contemporary is hot right now. Not everyone is going to like a first cousins romance, and a lot of people are going to really not like it. What I can do is write the best book I possibly can—and then to make it even better. “Good enough” is not good enough. If you know you struggle with pacing, don’t let that remain an issue. Tackle it. Resolve it. If you suspect there’s a tension wobble somewhere, dig into the problem. How We Fall had both of these issues, but I didn’t listen to myself and kept plowing on through drafts, revising other things and ignoring those problems because I didn’t know what to do about them. I convinced myself it wasn’t that big a deal, that no book was perfect. Don’t do that. Have the guts to stop, evaluate, and dig into those problems you half-suspect are there. Don’t stop at “good enough.” Go all the way.

My writing, my book, is what I can control. I can become a better writer, I can push myself, and I can write a better book.

Thing Two: BOOKS ARE MADE IN REVISIONS

The first draft of How We Fall was 60,000 words, and it’s now 89,000. The story was there in the first draft, mostly, but it needed a lot of work. In its final version, the mystery is darker, the romance between the cousins is a little more obsessive, and the pacing is much faster. I had to dig deeper into the legal issues of cousin marriage (it’s legal in about half the states, and only considered incest in a few), as well as the ethical and safety issues, and let those pressure the relationship. Between revisions with critique partners, my agent, and my editor, it went through six major rounds of revisions. Even in final edits, it gained a new first chapter and a new final chapter. Revisions made my ugly first draft almost an entirely new book.

Don’t get discouraged when you’re drafting if you’re not seeing magic happen. That magical touch and those insightful moments you see in great books aren’t magic at all. They’re the result of blood and sweat. First drafts are limp and flat and awkward—that’s normal. The depth and layers come as you revise. And revise. And revise.

Thing Three: TEACH YOUR GUT, THEN FOLLOW IT

Writers get told a lot to follow their intuition. And that’s great advice—as long as you’re training your intuition. Good writers aren’t born knowing how to magically write brilliant books. They learn and learn and learn until it becomes second nature. So read, and read a lot. A book a week—or two. Consume, so you can see what’s been done and what hasn’t, and how it was done, and how you could do it differently or better. Read out of your genre to see what those authors tackle, and how they pull it off. Make your own blend. And as you’re reading so much, and reading new and different things, dissect what you’re reading to see what worked, what didn’t, and why. Teach your gut, and then listen to it when it says something is forced or too thin or just right.

Thing Four: KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR OWN PLATE

When I was querying, it was sometimes a struggle to not be jealous when someone else signed with an agent. When I was on submission, it was hard to not be jealous when someone else landed a book deal. Even though I was happy for my friends, it often turned into a “does this mean I’m not as good?” self-defeating little sad-party. And now that I have a book out, there are other authors’ awards, bestseller lists, and publicity and buzz I could be upset over.

But no one else’s success diminishes mine. One of the most wonderful things I’ve been realizing as I find critique partners and connect and blog with other authors, particularly in YA, is that we’re much more colleagues than competitors. Readers can pick up my book, and they can pick up someone else’s, too. Another author’s success doesn’t limit or detract from mine. What does limit my success is me looking at someone else’s plate, and wishing I had what they had, and letting my own work suffer.

Thing Five: STORY IS CONFLICT

A lot of people have asked me why I would write about two cousins who fall in love. I mean, weird, right? And as I tried to write a better book, and revise revise revise, and teach my gut, I started to realize what drew me to the concept in the first place: story is conflict. Usually, the deeper the struggle, the more fascinating the story. We’ve seen that with other forbidden love stories– biracial, cross-cultural, and same-gender relationships, relationships crossing political, religious, and status lines, and just about any other boundary we put up between people. When the conflict is an immoveable fact with deep-rooted prejudices and potential to harm people you love, that’s a significant and difficult struggle. What does this do to your family? What if your siblings get bullied because of it? What if the relationship fails and you’re stuck related to an ex-boyfriend? The issues involved in cousin relationships are a huge part of why I wanted to write about it. It would test my characters in ways not much else could.

Story centers around conflict. Without a problem, there’s no story. A page or chapter or book that lacks conflict is lacking story.

So revisit your conflict, keep in mind that genius writing likely won’t happen in the first few drafts, and train your instinct. Read out of your genre, read a lot, focus on your own successes, and keep writing the best book you can front and center. This career takes blood and sweat and persistence, so keep at it.

I originally wrote this post for Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds, as part of my blog tour for my book release– I wrote about 30 posts that went up on different sites over November and December, and with all that content out there, I’d like to keep it all in one place, so I’m posting it here for archiving purposes!

“You don’t grow out of YA”: My Interview with International Thriller Writers

Last fall, The International Thriller Writers interviewed me– they’re a great organization of highly respected authors who do a wonderful job supporting new thriller writers, with Lee Child, M.J. Rose, R.L. Stein, and other greats on the board. Here’s that interview!

From ITW:

A rural Missouri girl, Kate Brauning fell in love with writing at a young age. She was that child who practically lived in the library, discovering all its treasures. Now, she resides in Iowa with her husband and a Siberian husky, and works in publishing. She loves to connect with readers. If you see her and say hi, she might invite you for a coffee and to talk about books.

Her debut novel HOW WE FALL is a young adult tale about two cousins with a secret relationship, a missing best friend, and strange girl with secrets. Will this strange girl be a harbinger of doom? Will they find their friend? THE BIG THRILL sat down with Brauning to find out more.shadow

When did you start writing?

Oh, I was pretty young. I wrote my first “story” at ten or so, I think. I’ve always had fun writing stories, and I wrote a novel all through high school. I loved it, but it just never occurred to me that I could write for a career. I kept on loving it, though. In college I decided that I loved it too much to not try.

Did you ever want to be anything besides a writer?

I decided early on that I wanted to be an author, so no, not really. Along the road to becoming an author, I’ve discovered I love the publishing world and I love editing, so if I couldn’t write anymore, I’d continue to work with publishing houses as an editor.

What got you interested in YA Fiction?

Great question. I didn’t imagine myself as a YA author to start with, actually. I started out writing adult, but it didn’t quite fit the stories I wanted to tell. Young adult fiction explores the teenage years of a person’s life, and those years are a significant point of change for most of us. Teens are tackling adult issues for the first time—serious relationships, jobs, shifting authority structures, new limits and opportunities—but they’re doing it without the experience, and often without the resources, that adults may have. It’s a vulnerable, heady, thrilling stage in someone’s life. Teens are also adjusting to greater independence and more authority in their own lives, but might still be dealing with limitations at odds with those things, like curfews, not having a car, house rules, and the structures of school. YA tackles that.

The experiences we have in our teenage years are formative ones, and the mistakes and choices we make can follow us into adulthood. There’s great opportunity, uncertainty, and passion in those years, and they leave a mark on us. I didn’t start reading YA until I reached my twenties, and I wish I’d found it earlier—seeing so closely into the lives of other teens who are wrestling with the same changes and struggles I was would have been so helpful as a teen. I still find myself identifying with the characters in these stories, because people never stop struggling with change. You don’t grow out of YA.

Did you have a favorite character to write?

HOW WE FALL is a YA contemporary story about two cousins who are hiding a relationship. I chose Jackie as the perspective character for this story because I really love how she thinks. She’s not really honest with herself, and often says the opposite of what she means, so it was a really interesting voice to write. Since it’s first person, the reader is really close to her thoughts, but I still needed to communicate the difference between her thoughts and reality. It was a really fun style I’m looking forward to doing more with.

What was the road to getting published like?

I’ve been writing since I was a teen, but it wasn’t until after college that I finished a novel I wanted to get published. I researched agents and query letters, developed an interest in the publishing world, and started working first as an internship with a publishing house. Then I worked with a literary agency, and started sending out query letters for my novel. I then moved to a job as an editor with a publishing house. While I was querying, I started writing my second novel, which was HOW WE FALL, and the response from agents was much more encouraging than for my first work. I did revisions and signed with an agent after about six months, then we went on submission right after the holidays and I had an offer in late February. It happened pretty fast and I couldn’t have done it without such a fantastic agent. My debut just released in early November, and it’s been a tough but really wonderful journey.

How would you describe your writing process?

I spend a long time working on the concept of the story—living in the story mentally, churning scenes around, and figuring out the focus—before I actually start drafting it. Once I start drafting, I try to fast-draft the first act so I can see how things work out when I write characters into the situation and the environment. Then I go back and heavily revise that first third to get all the layers in place and make any changes to the plot/characters that I thought of along the way. After I have the first act solidly drafted and revised, then I finish drafting the rest of the book. Of course, it depends some on the book and how well I know the story before I start writing it. Doing revisions in that first third makes starting a manuscript slow for me, but I do find it helps me avoid having to change major parts of the story.

What does 2015 hold for you?

I’d love to know that, myself! I’ve just moved to a new publishing house (Entangled Publishing) where I work as an editor with YA fiction, so I’ll be acquiring and editing some really wonderful YA titles. I’m also hard at work on new projects, both adult and new adult, that I’m really excited about. I’m also attending a lot of conferences (I’m a conference junkie), so be sure to say hi if you see me!

_________

PS Did you know there’s a narrative Pinterest board for How We Fall? Have you ever seen a narrative book board? I worked so hard on it! And I love it so much. Tell me what you think? ~Kate

 

YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team, including HOW WE FALL! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Also, scroll to the bottom of this page for an excerpt and chance to win HOW WE FALL as an extra giveaway!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 6, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
WIN_20150127_130733 (2)Today, I am hosting Christine Norris on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
Christine Norris is the author of several speculative fiction works for children and adults, most notably The Library of Athena series. She is extremely overeducated, having a B.S. Temple University (Kinesiology), a B.A. from UMUC (English), AND a Masters in Library and Information Science from Southern Connecticut State. All of which means she loves to be in the library, which is her secret day job (whoops…). She is married with one son, two rescued cats, a rescued Jack Russell, and a rescued palomino rabbit. There’s a lot of rescuing. She also has a complete weakness for Doctor Who, Sherlock, and other British television shows, as well as an addiction to movies, re-told fairy tales, and police procedural shows. She also believes in fairies. Christine is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Literary Agency.
 
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here! Christine’s Website
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Ash & Iron eBook 2000Christine here! Thanks to Kate for hosting my part of the YA Scavenger Hunt!

I am not sure how many other authors on the YASH are talking about books that haven’t been released yet, but mine isn’t due out until May 21! I thought it would be fun to write up a list of things people should know about the book before it comes out.

Top Ten Things You Need to Know about A Curse of Ash and Iron
10. The book is set in Philadelphia in 1876. It was a big, important year in the city and I use quite a few historical references, including the Centennial Exposition and the fact the arm of the Statue of Liberty was on display. For fifty cents you could walk up inside, and that was how they funded the rest of the statue.
9. Originally, this book had a different storyline. Like, completely different. It was after I got a really long but very helpful rejection letter from a super-awesome agent (not my agent, who is also awesome), I ripped the whole book apart and totally changed it to what it (mostly) is now.
8. The story is, in fact, a Steampunk retelling of Cinderella. I tried to incorporate as many elements of the original GRIMM’S story as possible. See how many you can find! No mice, because that’s from the Perrault version. Sorry.
7. Almost all of the character’s names in the story come from my family tree. The notable exceptions are Ellie and Olivia. Clarence the cat got his name from my great-grandfather.
6. There is a big scene in the book set in Cape May, NJ, and it includes the famous Cape May Diamonds. Look it up.
5. In the original version, there was no prologue. A certain editor at a big NY publishing house told me it needed a prologue. It’s all his fault.
4. Curse originally had a different publisher. Some people might remember that. It was originally contracted by Strange Chemistry, but then the main publisher shut down the imprint three months before it was supposed to release. But since it happened before the book was published, I got the rights back right away and my agent was able to make a quick turnaround and sell it to Curiosity Quills. They have been awesome!
3. The carriage Ben makes for Ellie (it’s Cinderella, of course there’s a carriage) was originally pumpkin-shaped. That detail ended up being cut when an editor at an NJSCBWI mentoring workshop told me it was a little too ‘on the nose’.
2. The original title for the book was Smoke and Mirrors. The first publisher asked for the title change because there is a book by Neil Gaiman with the same title, and they didn’t want to confuse the two (I wish!) My agent and I brainstormed for days, coming up with alternate titles like Masquerade and Midnight and all manner of other things that just didn’t fit.
1. I actually like the new title better. A Curse of Ash and Iron will be out from Curiosity Quills on May 21!!! You can like it on Goodreads now, though 🙂



And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Christine, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is  5.  Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the blue team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
 
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! Lisa Tawn Bergren
As my own super exciting extra giveaway, I’m giving away a SECOND copy of How We Fall! Hardcover if you live in the continental US, or ebook if you live outside the continental US. Click the link to access the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tips for Preparing for Release Month

Release month is almost always a hectic, stressful time for authors. As an editor, I’ve seen my clients go through it, and my first novel just released last fall, so I went through it myself. Especially with all the different opportunities and strategies available to authors now, it’s easy to get bogged down, worry about what you aren’t doing, stress over what you are doing, and lose the excitement of it altogether.

One thing seasoned authors kept telling me was that this one is special because it’s the first. Enjoy it.
Do something for yourself. Celebrate in market-smart ways, but also celebrate in personal, zero-stress ways.

One of the things I did to personally celebrate my release week was to go on a weekend writing retreat with my critique partners. It was so, so much fun, and a great stress relief. I planned as if my release day was 3 days earlier than it was, so 95% of what I needed to do, I already had done. I took very little work on the retreat with me. Also, it was tremendously good stress relief to not think about the launch and get back to actually writing that next book. And of course, my critique partners are the ones who have been through this with me, and getting to celebrate with them was so meaningful and just plain fun.

Aside from celebrating for yourself, authors can do a few simple things to prepare for a book release that will make that week and month a little less stressful.

Marketing:

Get started on major marketing elements as soon as possible. As soon as you have a book deal/decide to self-publish, (or even before) you can get started on these things:

1. Author photos. Many authors have a friend take a photo, but there’s a big difference between a snapshot and a professional headshot. If you know someone talented, that’s great and definitely take the less expensive route. But first, look at the author photos of major authors in your genre and aim for that kind of result. Author photos are a significant piece of your marketing, and a great photo helps you look like a professional, and it might end up on your book jacket. It can take several months to line up a photographer, schedule the session, and get your edited photos back, so do this ASAP. I was interviewed by my own photographer, Jenni O Photography, where I discussed what I looked for in my author photos, so check that out if you’re interested.

2. Author website. Every author needs a website, even if you don’t blog. A site where readers can see your book and read a bit about you is definitely something you need as an author. You can design it yourself, but if you don’t have experience and talent there, hire someone. Friends who will cut you a deal can work out well, but again, look at the sites of authors in your genre who are doing well. See what’s possible for professional, clean layouts and informative, interesting content. Decide what kind of site you want, and then hire someone who can do that. Your website is another major piece of marketing, so to me, it’s worth spending a little money to have a quality website. Design, revisions, and launching the site can take a long time, too, so get started right away.

3. Street team. Many authors assemble a street team from fans, friends, book bloggers, and fellow authors. Not everyone wants a street team, and it’s important to be grateful, courteous, and reasonable with your team members, but they can be a huge help. Many authors have street team members get the word out through book blasts, reviews, and social media, and they can help word about your book break out of your own circle of friends and fellow writers. Start building that street team immediately—you can start this as soon as you have a book deal. Keep in mind street team members need to be able to reach people you can’t, so look beyond friends and family members, though they can certainly be enthusiastic supporters, too. It’s also great to let your team earn some value for their work. I sent each of mine a welcome package with swag and an ARC, and prizes along the way. It has definitely paid off.

4. Think about your dedication and acknowledgements. A lot of writers take a long time to get these done because they mean so much to the author. These don’t have to wait until your editor asks for them, and waiting to do them until then can make edits even more hectic, so you can definitely start them early. At the very least, you can start a list of who you need to thank and what you need to thank them for—don’t lose track of those early beta readers. And keep in mind there are a lot of people behind the scenes at your publishing house who are working hard for your book. It’s not a bad idea to email to ask who has been working on it, so you can specifically thank people besides your editor and publicist.

5. Conferences. Talk to your editor and publicist (or figure out for yourself) what the plan is for appearances and conferences leading up to and after your book release. Early-bird pricing and promotional opportunities are a great reason to get started on this early, and if you know you have a conference during a certain week, it can be something you plan your other launch preparations around. That way you don’t have to cross conference days off an already-full schedule. Conferences, even just for the connections, are wonderful marketing. I’ve never been to a conference that hasn’t paid off well for my investment.

6. Launch Party. There are so many options here! An in-person party, an online Facebook or Twitter party, a bookstore signing as your party, etc. As far as I know, those are the three main models, and they all have pros and cons. Online parties can be impersonal, and I’ve seen a lot of online parties that are poorly attended, even though hundreds or even thousands of people were invited. Authors work hard on their launch parties to make them have fabulous content, but it is really hard to engage a crowd online for a long period of time. They tend to drop by, learn a bit about you and your book, play a game, and then move on. And that’s great if that’s how you want to reach your readers. In-person & bookstore launch parties can have the same drawbacks—a small crowd, and difficulty reaching new readers. They can also be expensive, depending on what you do, and they are limited to people within traveling distance. Of course, there are pros to both—reaching fans who can’t travel to you and lower costs for online parties, and more personal connections with in-person parties, etc. I did a blend of both, and hosted 9 other authors at a livestreamed book party, so readers could ask questions, see, hear, and interact with all 10 of us. The combined draw meant we had a large audience, and we discussed everything from publishing paths to movie adaptations. Can you blend models to limit the drawbacks? Release vlogs during an online party, for example, or host other authors to draw on combined platforms.

Launch Month:

Prepare for launch month events ahead of time. There are so many things authors can do: book blasts, blog tours, book giveaways, book hunts, library appearances, book signings, etc. Debut authors are often encouraged to say yes to much of it, but that can lead to stress and burn-out, and it can take a toll on that next book you need to be writing. So here’s how to keep it manageable:

1. Immediately start researching the opportunities and identifying your goals.

  • What’s possible? Realistically—what will you have time and money for? Can you re-prioritize to change any of that? What are your boundaries?
  • What sounds fun? Ideas you’re enthusiastic about will feel like less work than ones you’re already dreading, and they’re more likely to get done.
  • What meets your specific goals for your book release? Some authors want the launch to build their platform, some want to push for ranking high on Amazon or bestseller lists, and some want a stress-free way to celebrate with friends and family.

See what’s out there before you settle on anything, and think creatively. Talk to other authors about what worked for them. Do you want a book trailer? Can you do something high concept for your launch party?

2. Calculate the time and financial investment, and choose wisely where you’re putting your hours and money. Keep in mind it will almost always cost more and take more time than you’re figuring. Chose the things that sound fun to you, because they will automatically be less stressful and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate on them! Also, choose the opportunities that reach a wide audience or allow for deeper connections with readers.

3. Order swag/promotional items ASAP. Calculate amounts you’ll need, and as soon as you have the information and images you’ll need for on any paper products (like postcards, bookmarks, and business cards), order them. Printing and shipping can take a while, and rush shipping costs can be expensive. This is something that can be done early and stored safely until you need them. My personal advice is to not spend a ton of money on swag. Thick, professional business cards and bookmarks that won’t crease are a great idea. (As soon as it creases or crumples, people tend to throw it out. Moo.com does fabulous, high-quality work.) Swag can be expensive, especially considering how much authors make per book sold, so keep that in mind when you’re laying out your budget—calculate what you make per book, and balance that against the value the swag will provide. Some of it depends on the book, of course, but I went with nice business cards, postcards, and book pins. I haven’t found myself needing anything else so far, though I might do a mix of postcards and bookmarks next time.

4. Don’t leave preparing for a few weeks before release. Treat it a bit like wedding planning. Make a to-do list for each event you’re doing for your launch, right down to items to purchase and announcements to make, and figure out which items can be done ahead of time. Schedule them into a certain day or week on your calendar. For example, if you’re doing a blog tour, start writing the posts three months in advance. One or two a week means you don’t have to scramble and you can keep your schedule balanced. You can even write your release day post early and have it saved as a draft to make changes to as the event gets closer. If you’re doing a book blast/blitz, you can write that material far in advance, too.

Stress Management:

This whole post is about stress management, really, but there are a few specific things you can do to help keep balanced and to enjoy your book release instead of dreading it.

1. Schedule R&R. And I actually mean plan it into your day. An hour for reading, an evening or two a week where you catch up on that show you love, time with your family and friends. You aren’t a machine, and if you act like one, you’ll break down. The most efficient, productive thing you can do during busy, demanding times is take care of your brain and your body. So rest well, eat well, and take that R&R. I’m not kidding. If I push myself hard a few days in a row with a stressful project, it takes me several days to feel like I’m functioning at 100% again. And don’t forget to schedule R&R for after your release—staying balanced will help reduce those nerves.

2. Disconnect. If you don’t need to be on Twitter or your email, close them. As it got closer to my release date, I felt more and more bombarded by stats, reviews, emails, and questions. It’s overwhelming. Closing up email and social media frees up my concentration and lowers my stress levels. It can be tempting to stalk relatively meaningless rankings and count reviews, but don’t do it. Let yourself look once in a while if you have to, but several times a day or even once a day is usually both a time drain and a cause of stress.

3. Keep writing. One of the best things you can do for your book is to write another one. A new book is great marketing for the old book. Writing also lets us invest somewhere else, and helps us see that not everything hangs on this one book. And it can be fun and inspiring to keep working on a new project, and it can take our minds off everything about release day. Writers write, so keep writing!

I originally wrote this post for Adventures in YA Publishing as part of my blog tour for my book release– I wrote about 30 posts that went up on different sites over November and December, and with all that content out there, I’d like to keep it all in one place, so I’m posting it here for archiving purposes.

#YAlaunch: 10 Authors Talking Writing, Debuts, & Publishing

I’ve meant to blog about Yalaunch for months, but… my first book released in November, I moved to a new job acquiring fiction for Entangled Publishing, I went to the East Coast for two weeks, and then I went to ALA in Chicago. But I am home now, and catching up on everything, and YAlaunch was JUST TOO GOOD to not tell you about. Honestly, it was one of the most wonderful, fulfilling experiences of my life.

Nikki Urang, my critique partner, and I both had our first novels release November 11, and in the wildly stressful and exciting process of figuring out how to actually celebrate the launch of our books, I decided I wanted a writing retreat with my fellow authors. 4 days in an awesome Omaha hotel writing, drinking, sharing work, eating great food, and staying up far too late– ending with a 3-hour livestream where we played games with the audience on Twitter and Facebook, talked about our books, answered audience questions, and gave away over 100 books. Almost 400 people visited the livestream over the course of the night, and it was such fun to hear the brilliant minds of my fellow authors at work. It was half party, half mini-conference, and ridiculously fun. Here’s a recap, and at the end, I’m including the video, so you can watch the whole thing:

What was it, and who was there?

List of the 100 books we gave away

Once everyone arrived, we (after lots of talking/eating) got to work at the hotel:

Authors  Writing

And that weekend, THIS happened:

It was such a wonderful experience to sit down with 10 other authors (shout-out to author Tonya Kuper, who joined us for an evening, too!) and write. Word sprints, plot hole discussions, brainstorming sessions, and “do you think this works?” and “does this make sense?” happened ’round the clock, and I’m thrilled to report we actually got a lot of real work done.

And then it was Monday, and the #YAlaunch livestream happened! Basically, it was my launch party. Check out the #YAlaunch hashtag on Twitter to see all the awesome crazy, but here are the highlights.

 

And viewers seemed excited, too!

 

We had viewers from Mexico, Australia, Canada, the U.S., the Dominican Republic, and several more wonderful places. Book lovers reach around the world. 🙂

set 1 set 2

Use the times listed in the descriptions below to jump to sections of the video you find interesting, or watch the whole thing!

We kicked off the livestream with a panel discussion on our favorite genres to write, and whether we read genres we don’t write, and questions from the audience covered what New Adult is, how we all feel about fanfiction, solving writer’s block, and what we do for day jobs in addition to writing, if we have another occupation. (first 29 minutes of the video.)

At 29:19 on the time stamp, I interviewed with Alex Yuschik and Blair Thornburgh about gravity racing, the importance of passion in their work, obsessive characters, and writing retellings.

To end the interview, we played an awesome word scramble game of scrambled book titles. You’re all much better at word scrambles than I am!

At 51:48, Nikki Urang interviews Kelly Youngblood and Delia Moran about historical fiction, Kelly’s collection of 1000 books and her transition from writing nonfiction to fiction, traditional vs. self publishing, plotting and “pantsing,” and played a game guessing which books a collection of first lines came from.

At 1:07:33, after a round-table introduction of what we all write, I hosted a panel discussion on writing a series, trilogies, companion novels, and stand-alones. We discussed how that affects our process and changes our work, how we know when a story needs more than one book, and when to best leave the story so that we don’t drain the concept and not wear out the readers. We also discussed writing in a male POV, avoiding leaning on cultural stereotypes for a “male” sound, and how parents who write balance kids and the author life.

At 1:31:18, Nikki Urang interviews Kiersi Burkhart and Bethany Robison about drafting vs revising, their writing process, and the difference between writing for MG and YA. We tried to play a “name that cover” but of course we were owed some kind of technical difficulty, and that’s when it happened.

1:52:00 Eventually we got the game to work, and went back to the main table for a roundtable discussion on when reader reactions differ widely, why we think YA is so popular and what’s drawing people to the category and how Harry Potter changed YA. We also gained a giant platter of unbelievably wonderful cupcakes, and Kiersi performed an impressive cross-table lunge for them.

At 2:04:00, we discussed using social media and multimedia in our books, as well as writing multiple points of view and what we think of the value of formal writing education. We also discussed how to find critique partners, using humor and acting experience to inform writing, and the community and collaboration so often involved in great books. Blair got very wise about first and third person and writing from opposite genders, too. We were also under strict orders to pass around the cupcakes.

At 2:26:00, I got to interview New York Times bestselling authors Nicole Baart and Tosca Lee. We talked about their hobbies, upmarket women’s fiction, historical biblical fiction, Nicole’s upcoming April release THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS from Atria, how the industry has changed during their 8-book publication journey, and their advice for new authors. I particularly loved what Tosca had to say about being brave and continuing to write fearlessly as your audience grows, and how Nicole has seen readers change in the last ten years and balancing writing with interacting with readers. They also discussed their paths to publication, and what it’s been like to see 8 novels each published traditionally.

At 2:55:15 we went back to the big table for a game of ABC books, and you definitely want to see 10 authors competing to shout out alphabetical book titles. It got crazy. For authors, we had a surprisingly difficult time with the alphabet.

At 3:01:00, we began a panel discussion on book-to-film adaptations. What makes a good one, if any of our own work has ever been adapted to screen, and screenplays written by the author or involved in the adaptation as in Gone Girl, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones.

https://twitter.com/meggie_spoes/status/532009222184005633

And then all 8 authors interviewed Nikki Urang and me about our debuts. Title changes, our involvement in our book covers, how the experience of being a debut author has gone for us, how being an editor helps/hinders me as an author, what next for both of us as authors, and what we hope readers take away from our books.

Basically, over the course of four hours, debut, nonfiction, fiction, and multipublished authors talked through everything from fan fiction and using social media to writing dual POV and writing as an art. I learned so much from these incredibly talented ladies on set with me, and I was so humbled and thrilled that they all came to help us celebrate the release of HOW WE FALL and THE HIT LIST.

Here’s the full video:


If you still haven’t gotten your copies, you can get HOW WE FALL here and THE HIT LIST here!