Things I Wish I Knew: Q&A with Author Andrea Dunlop

http://books.simonandschuster.com/Losing-the-Light/Andrea-Dunlop/9781501109423

http://books.simonandschuster.com/Losing-the-Light/Andrea-Dunlop/9781501109423Hi, all. I’m starting a new series on the blog called “Things I Wish I Knew.” I’ll be featuring some of my clients talking about their book deals, their writing careers and their platforms. I’ll also be talking to some industry professionals too. “Things I Wish I Knew” is going to be about everything from things people actually wish they knew when they began their career (as a writer or publishing professional) or a way to reflect back on how far they’ve come. Let me know what you think of the new series in the comments.

Now to our first feature: my client Andrea Dunlop. Her first novel LOSING THE LIGHT is in stores tomorrow! Buy it here.

Debut author Andrea Dunlop has a background in publicity and marketing in the publishing industry. She’s currently the Executive Director of Social Media and Marketing for Girl Friday Productions in Seattle. Helpful when you become a debut author, right?! Not only does she know what the industry expects from writers, she has also assisted other debuts launch their own books. However, knowing the industry side of things is a Catch-22 when you’re an author.

One of my favorite parts of this interview is Andrea talking about publisher’s internal and external responsibilities: “I think it helps to understand that no one at the publisher actually works for you. They have responsibilities to you, sure, but they don’t ultimately answer to you. They work for the publisher, who has many other priorities and concerns that have nothing to do with your book.”

Read on…

What do you wish you knew about expectations during the publishing process?

I was pretty well-prepared in terms of expectations from all the years I’ve worked in publishing. I definitely knew enough to keep them in check, namely. From the time you and I sold the book (about a year and a half ago), I’ve really tried to come from a place of making plans, rather than having expectations. Mostly because the former is more active, more about what I could do than what was going to happen to me (or not). To be frank, whatever expectations I allowed myself to have about what getting published would mean for me, after a decade of working in the industry, were pretty minimal. On the one hand, simply getting published fulfills a lifelong dream, on the other I know enough to understand that it’s neither a panacea for all of my other problems, nor is it a guarantee of future success. That said, my experience thus far with you, with Atria, with Booksparks, and with all the other fellow authors and friends who make up my support system for this book has been wonderful. I know exactly how rare it is for things to go as well as they have with my book: working with my editor Sarah was a blast and went smoothly, the first cover I saw, I loved and everyone in-house—the social media, marketing, and publicity folks, the sales team, the publisher—has been a dream to work with. I never imagined that the book would go into a second printing before going on-sale. I won’t lie and tell you I don’t have any nerves or fears about the book coming out, but really I’m mostly excited and grateful to everyone who’s worked so hard on the book thus far.

You came from the publishing side to the author side, how did that help your understanding of how to be a good collaborator? 

I think it helps to understand that no one at the publisher actually works for you. They have responsibilities to you, sure, but they don’t ultimately answer to you. They work for the publisher, who has many other priorities and concerns that have nothing to do with your book.

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised (well you wouldn’t be surprised, but other folks might) how many authors seem to be confused on this matter. You can expect support, you can expect good communication, and to be treated with respect by your team—but ultimately, it’s your book. You need to show up for it. And by that I do not mean that you need to micromanage your book: let the pros do what they’re good at and figure out where you can be most helpful. I’m in a great spot with my background, because I knew what to ask for and what to just plan to take on myself or use my advance to pay someone else to do. I went into it thinking “Here’s what I’m going to do, anything my publisher does is gravy.” And they’ve done a lot! So, it’s been great.


What is the best part about being a debut?

Connecting with other authors. I’ve been on one side of the fence for all my life: as a reader, then in my day job as a publicist, now social media and marketing director. I’ve known lots of authors, obviously, but getting to be one is just its own singular joy. Getting support, getting blurbs from people whose work I so admire—Laurie Frankel, Katie Crouch, Courtney Maum, Miranda Beverly Whittemore, Taylor Jenkins Reid—I mean, what could be cooler than that? So many people have reached out and have been so genuine and supportive. It took me a long time to get here, it feels good to have arrived at last, especially since the natives are so welcoming.

What advice would you give to other debut authors beginning the journey?

Anyone who works with authors knows that the lead-up to a book’s publication—particularly a debut—can be joyful or miserable, sometimes both in the same day. You don’t have control over a lot of things: what happens at the publisher, whether your publicist is going through your divorce or your editor moves to another house six months before pub. But there is a great deal, in this day and age however, that you do have control over. Learn about social media, learn about the industry, invest in your own career by hiring whatever help you need. I recognize that not everyone has a decade of experience going into their debut the way I do. But there are so many good resources out there which authors can learn from—including this very blog: Jane Friedman’s is another essential, there are a dozen more I could name. Do what you can, enjoy the moment, and live to fight another day. Being an author is a lifelong occupation. This is not an industry for the faint of heart, so decide you’re not going to be that.

What are you reading right now?

My TBR pile is an ever expanding monster that I co-exist with happily. Right now, I’m reading Flood Girls by Richard Fifield, another February debutante. It’s about a woman who returns to her tiny, completely bonkers Montana hometown to try to make amends for a couple of years of damaging shenanigans. It’s super funny and weird, I’m loving it.

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Webinar: Successfully Publishing Your First Novel in the 21st Century

IS09AK1RZJoin me on Sept 3 at 1pm EST for a webinar!

Writer’s Digest is delightfully hosting me again for another great afternoon of talking books and business.

Busy that day? If you want to sign up but you’re booked up, sign up anyway because you get the webinar emailed to you.

PLUS everyone receives a 5 page critique of your work!

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Here are the details for Successfully Publishing Your First Novel in the 21st Century:

It has never been more difficult to get traditionally published and make your writing stand out than right now. No matter what your writing goals are, a writer needs to get their book noticed to make it in this age of publishing. But with the right tools and industry insider tips you can make it possible.

Literary agent Carly Watters has years of experience launching debut authors. She’ll share with you the process of polishing your manuscript and getting it publication ready, querying literary agents effectively, keeping an agent’s attention with your manuscript, how to make the most of an agent/author relationship, how to find the best place to publish your writing, and where to find your readers.

Getting published today is still about the book: the writing has to be superb and stand alone. However, there are other tools writers can harness to grow their career. Carly will share her industry insider tips that have helped her clients grow from slush pile darlings to successfully published authors.

Being a published author in the 21st century means knowing how to get published, how to do it well, and how to rise above all the other books out there. Instead of accepting that it’s a competitive industry, why not learn what it takes to build a successful writing career?

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • How to begin your book and why you’ve probably been starting in the wrong spot
  • Self-editing tips that will transform your manuscript
  • How to make your query letter stand out (from someone who reads over 800 a month!)
  • Why agents stop reading your manuscript
  • What agents are looking for in writers that are going to help them stand out
  • How agents partner with authors to make them stand out in 21st century publishing

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

  • Writers who are looking to publish their work for the first time
  • Writers who want to get their manuscript publication ready
  • Writers who would like to get a literary agent
  • Writers who would like tips on how to query literary agents
  • Writers who want to learn more about the business side of publishing in the 21st century
  • Writers who have published before, but are looking for better ways to find readers

Sign up today and secure your spot!

Happy Book Birthday to THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD by Karen Katchur

Today’s the day! THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD is available in a store near you. Live in PA? Join Karen at one of her events this month:

August 4th 2pm Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association Launch Party, Online

August 4th 6:00-8:00 pm Moravian Book Shop Bethlehem, PA

August 6th 7:00 pm Open Book Bookstore Elkins Park, PA

August 13th 6:00pm Let’s Play Books! Emmaus, PA

SecretsLakeRoad_cover_hi res

*A Library Journal best debut selection*

Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels. For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.

Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her-but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family. The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur is a riveting novel that is impossible to put down and hard to forget.

Guest Post: Karen Katchur “How This Book Came To Be”

Today debut author Karen Katchur is on the blog talking about her novel THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD which is out tomorrow.

Hear about the writing process straight from her! Read below about how her sixth book written is finally her debut, and how the dead body she saw as a kid changed her forever.

Chat with Karen on Twitter and let her know what you think of her post below and her novel: THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD out 8/4.

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Karen Katchur - Author PhotoIt’s common for writers to get asked where they get their story ideas. It’s different for every writer of course, but for me, I tend to build my fiction around an event. The event can be of a personal nature, or it can be something I’ve read or heard about. THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD just happens to be of a personal nature.

When I was nine or ten years old, a young teenage boy had drowned at a lake where my grandmother owned a cabin. I’d watched them drag the lake for several days before they’d finally pulled his body onto the beach. The tragedy of that day has never left me. It was the first dead body I ever saw.

It was this event that sparked the idea for SECRETS. Written in five characters’ points of view, the two most prominent being Caroline and her mother, Jo, the novel explores the destructive power of secrets not only within a family unit, but also within a community.

SECRETS is the sixth novel I’ve written, but the first to be published. I had to write several novels before I could look at my stories as a whole and say: This is where I get my ideas, and this is how my process works. If I’m really excited about the event, setting, and characters, I know it’s something I should write.

Q: What about you? Where do you get your ideas from? And how do you know which ones have legs so to speak?