Guest Post: 5 Things I wish I'd known about publishing by Catherine McKenzie

The one thing we keep learning on our publishing journey is how much we DON'T know. So we turned to savvy bestselling author Catherine McKenzie for some advice--what did she wish she knew about publishing?  She gives some great advice! and she should know--she's had two fantastic releases in 2014.  Hidden, (Which we LOVED, btw) and Spun (Out TODAY and only 2.99!).

5 Things I wish I had known about publishing by Catherine McKenzie

Publishing Can Be A Full-Time Job. Don't Let It Be.

I'm fond of saying that I took my fun hobby of writing books (I work full time as an attorney) and turned it into a second job. And while this is a quip, it's one with a deep truth to it. There are so many steps to getting a novel out into the world after you get your book deal or decide to self-publish (and a million other steps once it is out in the world) that it can easily take up all your time. All your writing time, anyway. The important thing is: not to let it. Your job is to write books. While the rest of it is important and necessary, you need to continue to make writing a priority so you can get that second book done. And so on. Doing that is hard. It takes discipline. But that's how you got your first book done, right? So you know how to do it and you can do it again.

Promoting A Novel Can Be A Full-Time Job. Don't Let It Be.

This is very much related to the point above. Having a website, a blog, a Twitter feed, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Stumbler (I just made that last one up (I think), but I like it! Dibs.) can take up all of your time. The polar vortex is made up. The Internet vortex is a very real phenomenon. Do not get sucked into it or you will never accomplish what you need to do: write your next book. Here's a tip. Limit all book promotion etc. to one hour a day. Have a running list of things you need to do and work at it like a job, but one you can do in an hour a day (this sounds like a late-night infomercial but it's important, and possible). If you limit your online presence to things that you're good at (not everyone can blog or be good at Twitter but everyone can be good at something online) and use tools like scheduled posts, you can avoid the pitfall of The Book That Never Got Written Because The Internet Ate It.

You Are Running A Small Business. Treat It That Way.

Even though we're artists (we are artists, right?) that doesn't mean your book business isn't your book business. Whether you go indie or traditional publishing doesn't change this (it just means you have a partner in your small business if you go traditional). This means lots of things--you should treat it like a business as much as you can, it can be precarious, it can be exhilarating--but mostly, to me, it means that no one will care about your business as much as you do. Of course my publishers care (a lot) if my books do well and they want to help them do so. But I'm the one who's going to notice if my book's sold out on Amazon, or if a link isn't working on my website or if the promotion someone was supposed to run didn't run on the day it was supposed to etc. It's a hard balance to strike: being the squeaky wheel that calls these things to your publisher's attention v. being that annoying author who takes up too much space. But ultimately, your name is the one on the front cover of your book, right? That's you out there. And your Inc. (oh, another terrible pun!) is yours.

You Are Never Going to Know Everything You Want To Know.

I've often thought that there should be a boot camp for authors once they know they are going to be published (again, this would apply to both kinds of publishing). There are books out there (What To Do Before Your Book Launch being a good example), but like in many things, there's nothing like experience, and every publisher has its own set of rules and regulations. For example, when my first book, Spin, came out, I didn't know it was okay to ask to see the marketing plan for the book--in truth, it didn't really occur to me that there would be one. Positive side: an amazingly pleasant surprise when I found a huge pile of my books on a front table next to Audrey Niffenegger's latest book. That being said, four books in, I know there are things I can ask and things I can't. I've accepted that even if I ran my own publishing company, there would be things I didn't know the answer to (just exactly how each bestseller lists work, for instance.). But figuring out those boundaries can be hard, though important.

Don't Forget to Celebrate.

Perhaps it's just my personality, but I've found over the years that I often don't celebrate milestones in the book business like I should. I think part of it has to do with the process. If, say, you got your book deal (yeah!) and a month later you were at your book launch (woohoo!) it would be easy to keep the celebration going. But in reality there's often a long, long time between those two events. In between there's lots of little cool things that happen--seeing the cover, getting your first pass pages, getting your first reviews--but there's a lot of work too. By the time the book actually comes out into the world, it can seem like it's just one more small step in the big process. But hey, you've published a book! And whether it's going to be read by millions or just your immediate family, that's something. Thanks, Catherine!

Our chat with Stephanie Evanovich + giveaway!

Big_Girl_Panties_paperbackToday's guest: Stephanie Evanovich Her latest: Big Girl Panties

(Out in paperback today!)

The scoop: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape...and winds up getting her groove back—and a whole lot more!

Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.

Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?

Our thoughts: A hilarious and fun read. Just what we needed to kick off 2014!

Giveaway: ONE copy (US). Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, January 26th after 3pm PST.


Stephanie_Evanovich_author_photoL&L: How did you come up with the idea for Big Girl Panties? And what's the story behind the title? (We love it!)

Stephanie: Thanks for the love!  BGP was an idea born during my own journey into personal training after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  I started working with trainers in the attempt to increase my fitness level without further injuring my joints. I've had about seven trainers since I started my experiment in 2002 and somewhere along the line, I came to the realization, these guys are hot!  And since a good trainer really takes all the guesswork out of it (everything from what exercises you do to the heaviness of the weights, even the counting) it really frees up a lot of time for a mind to wander. I had gotten tired of  thinking about all the ways I'd like to make my trainer suffer (just cause they're hot doesn't mean they aren't kicking your butt), so I tried turning to warm romantic thoughts instead.  I have to admit, not only did I get enough material for a book, it really turned my workouts from a revenge-filled hate fest to something rather enjoyable.  As for the title, it was actually suggested by my agent.  Once I stopped giggling, I thought it was perfect.  What woman hasn't heard or used the phrase "put on your big girl panties" when being faced with a challenge?

L&L: What books are you reading now?   Stephanie: I just finished Vintage by Susan Gloss.  It completely charmed me, I really enjoyed it.  It won't be out until early 2014.  Totally one of the main perks of the job...scoring the occasional Advanced Reader Copy.   L&L: What is something your readers would be surprised to know about you?

Stephanie: I am a rabid fan of the band Fall Out Boy.  I think everything about them is amazing.  In 2007, I paid an outlandish sum for a single ticket - front row seat on the isle (at the PNC Arts Center, for all my Jersey friends) to the Honda Civic Tour, that they were headlining.  I told everyone my reasoning was, I didn't want to worry about having to stand to see the bands when all the young whippersnappers stood up, which wasn't exactly a lie. I still smile thinking of all those enthusiastic concert goers on their feet and me, Mid-Life Mom, occupying the best seat in the house with my feet comfortably resting on the stage and politely clapping at the end of each song.

L&L: Do you have any New Year's resolutions you'd like to share/what are the odds you'll stick to them?

Stephanie: My resolution for 2014 is to try and step up my game in regards to social media. Back in July, when I first started my book tour for BGP, I posted a pic to my then 130 followers on Twitter that included a little joke about hoping the GPS on my rental car was as good as it claimed.  Well, the rental car company answered the Tweet, and it blew my mind.  Since I am old enough to remember rotary dial phones, the technology completely overwhelmed me. I spent the next week looking behind shower curtains to make sure someone from the rental car company wasn't actually following me.  And it turned me into a total social media wallflower. A writer who is afraid to write stuff is probably a terrible combo. Next year is the year I conquer that fear and embrace all the great things social media has to offer.  Odds I'll stick to it?  Considering I either will or I won't, I guess it's safe to say 50/50.

L&L: What can you tell us about your next novel, The Sweet Spot?

Stephanie: The Sweet Spot is the backstory to the secondary characters in BGP, Chase and Amanda Walker.  A prequel, if you will.  How they met, how they fell in love and how a scandal put that love to the test.  A lot of readers really took a liking to them.  When I suggested them for my next book and got the go ahead, I was thrilled.  I think they are just so much fun.  I hope you will too.  :)