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8 surprising twists on the debut novel journey

My first novel, SAVE ME, KURT COBAIN, comes out March 8, 2016. I’ve experienced a few things that surprised me on this journey so far.  Since my book releases on March 8, here are eight of them:

  1. The Camaraderie: The best unexpected development was finding support, humour, and friendship from The Sweet Sixteens, a group of Young Adult and Middle Grade writers who are debuting this year. They are an amazingly generous and talented bunch. Their books are going to rock your world.
  2. The Swag: Ordering bookmarks, stickers and other little incentives to help with marketing wasn’t on my radar. Once I got my head around it, this part was fun. I connected with a wonderful designer, Kristin Rae, who was a star. Now I have bookmarks, lots of lovely bookmarks, and I’ve hand-delivered a few to libraries and indie bookstores.
  3. The Zombie To-Do Army: It is massive! Writers want to write, so there is a magnetic pull to write Book Two (or whatever count your next novel is). And you want Book Two to be awesome. But there so many other things to think about. Like kids, and other jobs, and questions like: What conferences should I attend? Where should I have my launch party? Do I want to make a trailer? Personally, I decided to make a video to support the book and tracked down some great local film students. (The launch is still part of the Zombie to-dos.)
  4. The Ask: I’ve had to make numerous requests and rely on the kindness of strangers. I contacted bands to ask for permission to use songs and asked journalists to borrow archival photos. A few days ago, I asked a homeowner if I could dig up a certain kind of wildflower to use in the video. (He agreed, I think because he wanted me to leave.)
  5. The Blogs: I have always read blogs but had never truly clued in how many there are, the high quality of their sites, and how much bloggers contribute to introducing readers to new books. It’s incredible. Hug a book blogger today (but ask first).
  6. The ARCs: I’ve reviewed books myself from time to time, but never realized how early in the game ARCs are available. It’s like you pack them a case and they go on a steamship to travel the world while you stay home deciding on bookmarks. Also new to me was Net Galley, where my book landed today.
  7. The Angst: Having a fledgling book fly out into the world is a wonderful thing, but it brings tsunamis of anxiety. I know from reading reviews of books written by friends and acquaintances that even reviewers in reputable publications can sometimes be unnecessarily personal and mean. I’ve published lots of articles and even personal essays, but nothing has prepared me for the wrenching in my gut about the launch of SAVE ME, KURT COBAIN. At least there is always Flight of the Conchords if I need them.
  8. The Ouija Board: So, I ended up ordering a Ouija board to use as a prop in the video. I haven’t held a Ouija board since I used to consult it with my friend, Kim, when we were about eleven years old. The new Ouija board arrived today in an enormous box. (Does it need room to breathe?) I am not going to ask it anything about the future, though. I’ll just have to wait and see.

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