Hope you are all enjoying the first week of YA MONTH? Today I have the wonderful Karen Gregory on my blog with a guest post on being a debut author and first author events.
Writer. Single mother. All round plate spinner. Debut COUNTLESS out now with @KidsBloomsbury. Represented by Claire Wilson at RCW.
Being a debut – the first author events
When I first got the news that Countless was going to be published, author events seemed like the haziest of distant possibilities. I’ve now attended a few and they are rapidly turning into one of the best things about being an author, but they’re not without their challenges! Here’s a quick rundown from the perspective of a very new author:
The Highs (or why book people are awesome)
It probably goes without saying, but meeting readers, bloggers and other authors and publishing people has been absolutely fantastic. It’s such an honour to be approached by someone who has read Countless and let me know it has meant something to them. The road to publication can seem so long it’s easy to think your book will never have any actual real-life readers beyond your family and friends, so I am constantly astonished and delighted whenever anyone takes the time to come and say hi or to bring a copy of Countless for signing.
I was lucky enough to attend my first ever YALC last week, and despite having laryngitis and not being to talk masses, I loved every minute! There was such a welcoming vibe as soon as the lift doors opened onto the YALC floor. Chatting to other authors, especially debuts like me, really helped me to see lots of my worries and fears were totally common. Without exception, the more experienced authors I met were kind, generous and happy to chat to a newbie and the panels I attended were really interesting and fun.
I’ve also loved doing panels with other authors. They’ve provoked some really interesting and thought-provoking questions from audiences and great discussions. It’s fascinating to hear about how other authors approach their work and it definitely confirms there is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing, or journey to publication.
The Challenging Bits
This is the big one for me. I imagine most people get at least a small amount of nerves before public speaking and I’m no exception! My first event after the Countless launch consisted of a reading and conversation with the lovely Penny Joelson, author of I Have No Secrets (which you should definitely read, because it’s brilliant). It was the first time I’d ever read from Countless in front of people and my hands and voice were definitely on the shaky side. Luckily, I remembered the advice to, ahem, clench your buttocks and it actually does work to stop shaking hands! Hopefully I wasn’t pulling too many weird faces at the time …
As I’ve done each event, the nerves have become slightly more manageable and it really helps to talk to other authors and realise most people feel the same way.
Travel (AKA looking confused and getting lost)
I’m one of those people who gets anxious about travelling to new places and I can’t stress how important it is to leave plenty of time to get to and from events so you don’t arrive in a panicked, sweaty mess. So far, I’ve had the Sat Nav conk out on me, braved the M25 (I’m a nervy motorway driver), had my train out of Paddington delayed by several hours and sat in an apocalyptically deserted tube train with only a pigeon for company. And oddly, it’s all been fine and has given me more confidence I can manage when things don’t quite go to plan. So perhaps this one isn't so much a low as a reminder that travelling to new places might be daunting, but it is also totally doable.
I genuinely can’t think of any other lows! It’s been such a privilege and pleasure so far and a real surprise for someone who thought their introvert tendencies would mean they’d struggle at book signings and events. My biggest piece of advice for anyone new to attending book events is to take a deep breath, be brave and strike up a conversation. Plenty of other people will be feeling as nervous as you and the vast majority of the time you’ll find interesting, lovely and warm people to chat to who love books as much as you do!
'Is there anything that's concerning you?' Felicity says. 'College, home, boyfriends?' Though she's more or less smiling at this last one. I don't smile. Instead, I feel my face go hot. Silence stretches as wide as an ocean. When I look up, Felicity has this expression on her face like she's just seen Elvis. Slowly, she leans forward and in a gentle voice I've never heard her use before she says, 'Have you done a pregnancy test?' When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn't believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don't add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She's even given her eating disorder a name - Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time ...