Lauren DeStefano's Blog
November 22, 2013
According to the file properties, I started writing this in January of 2009 and made my last revisions before the summer. This is probably the third full manuscript I wrote that didn't sell, but of the three, it's the one I loved the most. Sometimes I think it is the best thing I have ever written/will ever write, and when I'm in a funk, I reread pieces of it to remind myself of why I do what I do, and that it is possible to forget the world and the sales and the comp titles and just write.
This story does not even really have a title, because my agent and I could never agree on one. And in 2009 when I finished it, I wasn’t exactly picky about this sort of thing anyway. My agent began submitting it across the board, and I kept my crappy day job, trying not to think too much of it. This was the third manuscript that I had written and considering the previous two hadn’t sold, my hopes weren’t especially high.
And then one afternoon in March, the phone rang. It was my agent. A couple of editors wanted to speak to me re: this story. I was up on the ceiling about it. This was a new stage for me. Up until that point, the rejections were all flat and immovable. Nobody in any publishing house had ever wanted to speak to me before.
If I’m remembering correctly, I spoke with three editors. One was enthusiastic. Another wanted an overhaul and suggested turning it into a ghost story. But another—it was as though all the stars and planets aligned and everything in the universe made sense. We were absolutely on the same page about everything. This editor did warn me, though, that theirs was a small trade publication and that we’d be talking a modest advance and a strictly paperback publication.
This editor may have expected this to disappoint me, but in truth it’s what I wanted and expected. This was a quiet story, and I had a quiet voice, and I did not have extraordinary dreams. All I wanted was to see it on a shelf. I didn’t even mind keeping my crappy job.
But, as these things often do, the pieces collapsed into an inglorious heap.
I was gutted. It wasn’t so much the rejection that stung. It was that this had been my greatest effort. One paragraph in particular took me about two days to perfect. And if this couldn’t get published, well—I could do no better. I had maxed out my abilities. How would I ever write something that would top it?
I like to think I’m made of tough stuff, but that night I went to bed and did all the crying I ever intended to do in this game. The next day I put it behind me. The next thing I wrote was WITHER. Despite several ups and downs and leaps and failures in my career, I have not found a single thing worth crying about.
A lot of people would think that the disappointments stop upon publication. I did. But the truth is that whether you are trying to get published, or have been a New York Times bestseller a couple of times, the disappointments will come in equal quantity. I still have days where I think I can never do better than what I’ve already struggled to finish. I still have days where I wonder if this story will be the last. In fact, maybe there are more worries now than before I got into this game, because now more of the world is watching. Now publishers pay actual money for my work and there is more at stake. There are days when I feel deeper down in the hole than I ever did before I was published. And there are many more people I may let down.
Failure is not even a reflection on the work itself. When we were on submission, some editors didn’t like the writing itself. Some offered no comment. But a majority told us they just didn’t think it would sell. That’s actually how I wound up with my agent: she didn’t think my first story (two stories before this one) would sell, but there was apparently something about my writing that she liked, because she asked to see what I churned out next. And she’s still my agent today. A failure to get published does not necessarily mean the failed story wasn’t worth writing.
Some writers will nail it on the first time. I had to get it wrong a great many times. I don’t regret a thing. The world will never see this story, but I am the same writer now that I was when I wrote this. I have not changed, and that means something to me.
Every now and again I bring this story up in casual conversation. People ask me to self-publish it, or to send them a copy. I can’t say for certain what I’ll do in the future, but for now I’ll keep it to myself, safe from the world. I’ll share bits and pieces, and I always edit out the names of the characters, selfishly hoarding them because they are a piece of me that the world has not had a chance to form an opinion about. I have so many words out there that are published for the world to love and hate, but this is still mine. And when I need to remember why I love what I do, I pull up this word doc and I scroll through the pages, and I remember how much I love words. I may spend the rest of my natural life trying to write the story that tops this one.
Here is what I have learned in the time between the time I wrote this story and now: Whether you are brand new, or you have several publications under your belt, the new word doc is blank every time. You have to start over with nothing every time. There will be no promise of success, every time. You may only speak one language; you may only know the same words you’ve known your entire life. But there are infinite combinations for those words. There are infinite stories to tell.
November 12, 2013
These are not for sale anywhere in the US, but what really makes it swanky is my drawing of a girl in a sled, because winter reading is fun. And, as you can see, it is also SIGNED. :D And you're bidding for a good cause, because 100% of the proceeds are going to benefit the Petit Family Foundation. Please read about that here: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenDeStefanoFan/posts/749310181749390 and consider following them on twitter here: https://twitter.com/PFFPetit
This auction is INTERNATIONAL. Please read all the terms below before bidding.
The winner of this auction will add $3 shipping if in the US. If the winner is overseas, please add $40 shipping. Yes, it really DOES cost that much to mail most things overseas, even at the cheapest rate. However, if I get to the post office and it costs less, I will immediately refund you the difference. Sorry that it's so high!
Here's how to bid:
1.) Tweet or facebook the following: "I just bid on a SIGNED UK copy of
2.) Comment on this post with the amount of your bid, your email address, AND your link.
3.) You MUST tweet/post every time you bid. You may bid as often as you like, but wait for someone else to bid before bidding again.
4.) Bids must be in increments of no less than $5, and may be as high as you like.
5.) Bidders who harass/tease other bidders will have their bids deleted.
6.) Bidding will end on Tuesday 11/19 at 12 noon, EST. I will post that the auction is closed, and any bids after that wil be disqualified. The highest bidder before my comment will be the winner.
7.) Winner must pay via paypal within 24 hours. I will provide my paypal address at the close of the auction.
Bidding is now open!
Want to help out the PFF but can't bid? Help spread the word by sharing this link on FB or twitter!
November 1, 2013
To be clear, I’ve never fancied myself a photographer. I won’t pretend to understand nuances or themes or whatever. I slap the Willow filter on instagram pics of my cat with reckless abandon. But still, I thought it would be fun to work in a darkroom, and maybe I’d learn something.
My professor had a very lax attitude about the course. He told us what sort of film to buy and then he sent us out into the world to capture whatever we liked. Most of my fellow students were passionate about photography, had worked in a darkroom, and knew what they were doing. To reiterate, I did not know what I was doing, a fact that my professor drilled into my head at every possible opportunity.
One afternoon, as I was measuring and cutting the mat board for my latest effort, he said to me, “Is that the photo you’re using for your final project?” I told him that it was, and he proceeded to tell me, “It’s the kind of hackneyed work I’d expect from a first year photography student. Nothing you’ve turned in this semester has been outstanding.” I reminded him that this was the first photography class I had ever taken in my life, and that he hadn’t exactly given me an outline.
He sneered. But he did it in that sort of subdued way that he presumably thought I was too dense to catch. Because after all, I had no appreciation for depth and subtlety. After a moment, he politely asked me what I planned to do after I graduated.
I shrugged. “Something to do with writing,” I said.
Now, he had seen my photos, so he was capable of making an informed opinion that they were not good. But he had not read my writing, had not heard me discuss my writing, and did not ask to hear my ideas. Instead he told me that his wife was a journalist, and that whenever she took on a new assistant, she sent that assistant on a Very Super Incredibly Difficult task that forced them to write under the gun. He told me that most of her assistants did not last. He didn’t outright say that I couldn’t do it, but my uneducated, dull-minded guess is that’s what he wanted me to take away from our conversation.
When he walked away from me, I am confident that he did not think he had offended me.
And honestly, he didn’t offend me, even though the student standing next to me muttered “well that was harsh” after he was gone.
I don’t remember the name of this professor. I’m sure that he doesn’t remember my name, either. And the things he told me are things that we all, at any stage in our life, are likely to hear at some point. Perhaps we’ll hear it multiple times. This professor represented the world through the eyes of anyone with an idea—an inventor, an artist, a photographer, a singer, an actor, or even one who would like to go on to cure cancer.
I still have the photos from that class somewhere. I may not be educated in the ways of photography enough to know whether or not they’re good, but I’m not peddling them for profits. They mean something to me, and I like them.
As to writing, his words were arrows being shot at a tower that extends higher than our sky and our world. They are nothing. Was my writing at that time any good? I didn’t know, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let that guy tell me it wasn’t. This professor wasn’t the first one to try and discourage me, and he certainly wasn’t the last. Anyone with a passion in life, or even just an idea, an inkling, has to build their own impenetrable tower.
If you have any ambition in life, the best thing you can do is ignore the voices of the cursed real world. They’re just a bit bitter, and we frighten them.
October 24, 2013
The expectation of an author’s career does not line up with the reality. On the outside, any author with a handful of twitter followers and a publisher and some amazon ratings is presumed to have a glamorous life. And for some others this may or may not be true. But it doesn’t change the fact that authors are still expected to pick up after their dogs in the park, and clean the litter boxes, and take out the trash (unless they have a robot to do these things, which, if anyone knows of a good robot company….)
We write out stories and we engage on social media if that’s our thing, and we have opinions about the president and so on. Sometimes we share this non-author side of ourselves. I for one love to do this. But my point is that while we are writing our books, like anyone else we have a personal life to contend with, and even the greatest of oversharers like myself (and I have openly admitted to wanting to hire a butler to take the blame for my farts) have things about our lives that we do not say, or can not say.
On any given day, while I am tweeting about wanting to be a cat or the next way to torture my readers, I am also living with a degree of social anxiety that is so crippling I often can’t leave my house. Two weeks ago, over a span of days that included my birthday, I lost a family member, and one of my biggest concerns was whether I’d be able to drive myself through the funeral procession without having a panic attack. At their worst, they can impair my ability to comprehend what I’m seeing, which is why there are days when I don’t leave the house.
Thankfully the anxiety gods were merciful that day and I was able to be with my family.
This is not always the case. As I posted back in May, I attended a particularly large event in Rochester, NY. In the days leading up to it, I was feverish, unable to sleep, nauseous, and having a chain of panic attacks I hadn’t experienced in years. I would say that on a scale of 1-10, I was waffling between a 9 and 10 for the entire six hour drive to the event, and I maintained this level as I tried to sleep in my hotel room. It was so bad that I couldn’t close the curtain when I took a shower because I felt like I was trapped in an elevator. It didn’t help that during this trip I actually DID get trapped in an elevator. (Thank Gennifer Albin for getting us all out of that one).
But maintaining this scale of 1-10, on the day of the event, I hit an 11, or perhaps even a 12. One of the event coordinators had to take me outside. I wouldn’t have been able to find a door in that sea of people if it was made out of 90s windbreakers. But I won’t go into that here, since I’ve already written about it.
The year before this event, I was asked to go to a teen book event in Austin. I sincerely wanted to do this, because come on, Texas. But I didn’t even get the chance to have the panic attack experience, because the anticipatory stress of that trip gave me a case of shingles. In hindsight this really should have been my warning sign that I was pushing myself too hard socially. Anyone who tells you that social anxiety can be overcome is wrong, by the way. You can overcome your fear of the dark, and you can overcome your fear of heights and bugs and politicians with willpower and a good therapist. But if you suffer from anxiety, depression, and anything along this vein, you cannot will it away. And if you try, the result is the same as if you’d poked a beehive to overcome your fear of bees. It can multiply, and it is smarter than you, and it is faster.
Following one of my failed appearances, I received an angry letter from a parent. He had taken his daughter to see me, and because I left before he arrived, he deemed me selfish, arrogant, and uncaring.
I know how an empty chair with my nametag comes across. Believe me. I can appreciate the anger and the disappointment.
Even without wanting or meaning to, authors seem to disappoint fans by the dozen. And I’m not saying it isn’t justifiable to be upset or disappointed. As an author, I long ago came to peace with the fact that I create things, and I put them out there, and whatever comes from that is part of the journey. I also try to live my non-author life this way. I get up in the morning (or okay, post noon), and I clean the litter boxes (sometimes) and I feed the cats and I do what I can to be a person that I like, and that maybe other people would like to be around.
I think most authors, anxiety or not, are managing a similar balance.
When you see an author at an event, what you are seeing is someone who created something you love. Or maybe something you loved at first but now you don’t love. Or maybe you just saw a line and jumped in because you thought someone was giving away free brownies.
What you don’t see is a person who probably traveled far from home and slept in a hotel last night, and will sleep in more hotels in the coming nights. What you don’t see is a person who has been up for several hours, and signed a lot of stock, and socialized with a lot of publicity and bookseller types.
What you see is 15 minutes of that author reading something, and then answering a few questions. What you see is that author smiling at you and talking to you for a few moments as he or she signs your book.
But before you got there, and long after you leave, that author will be doing more with his or her day than many people would be able to handle without 14 cups of coffee and maybe a good cry in a bathroom stall. What you are perhaps not seeing is a person who is very much like you, with struggles very much like yours.
I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m not asking for anyone to feel guilty. I only mean to remove the microphone, and the nametag, and the stack of books, and the sharpie, and the line out the door, so that you may see what’s left.
May 19, 2013
Sometimes on twitter I make the occasional joke about nerves, hiding under my bed with my cats, and weeping uncontrollably under a deadline. The truth is that it runs much deeper than that. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been living with an anxiety disorder. Over the years I suppose the anxiety has gotten bored and decided to try on different hats, such as a fear of flying, a fear of elevators, fear of travel, and agoraphobia. I really never know what I’m dealing with on a given day until it rears its head. Sometimes, just to keep me on my toes, there are long stretches (months or even years) in which I experience no anxiety at all.
I’ll give you an example: Living in CT about 90 minutes from NYC, the hub of All Things Publishing, I often take the Metro North train to visit my agent and/or publishing team. I’ve taken this train, I don’t know, about a hundred times by now, with no incident. Back in February, on the way to meet my agent, the train car suddenly felt too narrow. The air felt hot and thin. I was overtaken by waves of chills and heat rash, and the remaining 20 minutes of the trip was unbearably long. I had to remove my headphones because I felt they were causing my head to cave in.
Why? Your guess is as good as mine. The train made it to the station, and I ran to a bathroom and hyperventilated and talked myself down in a stall. And then I went about my day, and I’d actually rate this experience on the more positive side because I was able to overcome it and it didn’t disrupt my meetings that day.
One of my earliest memories is of a panic attack. I was somewhere between six and eight years old. I had been feeling strange all day, and that night I climbed in bed with my mother to watch TV. As soon as she shut the TV and the room was dark, I couldn’t breathe. I had no idea what was happening to me, and it didn’t matter that I was someplace safe or that nothing was wrong. The attack escalated to the point that my parents worried I’d developed asthma or a heart condition. None of us had any idea what we were dealing with, and several trips to the doctor in the coming months returned nothing but a clean bill of health.
Very little was known about anxiety in young children. And even now, I feel that anxiety disorders are misunderstood. That first panic attack was when I first heard the words that have been repeated hundreds of times, and now haunt me to this day: Calm down. Calm down, my parents would say. Nobody is going to hurt you. You’re safe. Calm down. Nothing is wrong. It’s all in your head. Calm down.
I began to withdraw. By late elementary school, I couldn’t get through a dinner in a restaurant without having to hide in a bathroom to get away from the other customers. By middle school, the anxiety began to manifest into something new and scary that I didn’t understand. I began to obsess over numbers. The textured shower tile proved a problem, because it had somehow entered my head that if I didn’t step on the tile a certain way, some horrible tragedy would befall my family. And if I did it wrong, which I always did, I would have to get it wrong eight more times, and then get it right eight times. By the time I made it to the shower every day, the water had gone cold, but I was too embarrassed to tell my parents. I thought they’d have me committed. Over the course of just a few weeks, this obsession with numbers overtook my life. It would take me more than an hour to close a window properly, and even more time to pull back the blankets on my bed.
I tried to hide this not only from my parents, but from everyone. I was teased mercilessly. I often went to school with messy hair because the stress of trying to brush it was crippling. I often wore yesterday’s clothes because it would take me twenty minutes to open my closet door properly. I didn’t understand why I was like this. And then one day, in what I can only call a life-saving coincidence, I saw a daytime TV segment about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Everything these people described was what I’d experienced: the fixation on numbers, the panic attacks, the withdrawal from society. And once I understood what I was dealing with, and understood that it was not a condition exclusive to only me, I grew brave enough to face it. I challenged it. Sometimes I won a small victory, and sometimes it won instead.
Over the years I’ve learned little tricks to overcome it. And now, at 28 years old, the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not have a paralyzing hold over me. When I’m under extreme pressure, such as work deadlines or a family tragedy, I’ll catch myself putting the car into gear twice, or turning a sink off and then on before I use it, and I stop myself. And just like before, sometimes I win, and sometimes it wins. I’ll always have that fear in the way back of my mind that things will revert to what they once were.
But while I have a hold on that aspect of anxiety, the rest of it remains. When my agent calls to discuss my latest manuscript, my heart leaps up into my ears and it takes me a few seconds to get my breath. When I’m under a deadline, I wake up gasping. When I do even the smallest signing events in my hometown, I hyperventilate in the car on the way over, and perhaps have nightmares for days before. And over and over in my head I hear the words: calm down, Lauren, calm down. It becomes a challenge and a threat. Calm down, or they’ll notice. Calm down, or you’ll never be normal. Calm down, or this will destroy your life.
I cover it up with jokes, because it puts me at ease, but more importantly, it seems to put other people at ease, which goes a long way in making me feel like I can be a functioning member of society. (Also I just love to make people laugh, how can I resist?) But there is a lot of pressure to be normal, and, as an author, to be what readers expect. During Wither’s launch week, when faced with more reading and signing events than I was able to handle, I broke into tears and told my agent, “My job is to be a writer.” To which she firmly replied, “No. Your job is to be a published author.”
That’s when I realized there was a difference between those two things. And truly, what a huge difference there is. A writer can hide in the worlds she creates: structured, paper worlds in which everything is fiction and the writer herself doesn’t exist, and therefore can’t be harmed. An author, however, must exist in the real world.
I’ve been a published author (if you will) for two years. I’ve miraculously stumbled my way onto the NYT bestseller list twice. I receive letters, tweets, and comments from readers daily. And I love my readers, and I want to be what they expect me to be. I want to be charismatic at signings, and answer their questions, and reassure them that their own dreams are attainable. I want to be, for my young readers, what I wish I had when I was that age.
So I say yes to signings that terrify me. I look for the positive. I sit in front of a room full of people, and in my head I tell myself: calm down, calm down, calm down, and I hope no one notices that I’m falling to pieces.
Sometimes my body complies, and the anxiety is subdued.
Last year, I was all set to go to a rather huge author event in Texas. It was an honor to have been invited and I was not going to let my crippling fear of travel and crowds stop me. Anxiety won that round. Days before I was set to leave, I got very sick, and was diagnosed with shingles. My doctor’s reaction was, “What has you so stressed out that you managed to give yourself shingles?” I was distressed to think my own anxiety was the reason I had become so sick, and I told myself that this was all silly and I just needed to calm down, calm down, calm down.
This past Saturday, I was at the amazing Teen Book Festival in Rochester, NY. I was moved to tears by the pre-event dinner on Friday night. So much heart goes into this event and any author is honored to receive an invite. I sat between two lovely young ladies who missed the start of their prom just to be there with their favorite authors. I met a few of my heroes and I befriended some truly phenomenal authors who were as welcoming as they were charming. And in my head I told myself: calm down. Everyone here is on your side. Calm down.
During the event, which was inhabited by no fewer than three thousand people, I was seized by terror. People asked why I didn’t have breakfast. We stood in line making small talk. Calm down, calm down, calm down. I stumbled through three morning events, and somewhere in the third event, while the lovely Jessica Brody was talking about UNREMEMBERED (which you seriously have to read, btw), my face started to go numb. I have a vague memory of taking the microphone from Marissa Meyer and being terrified that I would drop it because I could no longer feel my arm. And when our panel was over and I finally stood, I could see a very detailed sweat imprint on my chair. I hurried off stage, despite the guilt of knowing readers were waiting to meet me, because I couldn’t breathe. My vision was tunneling. I walked my way through a bustling crowd, nothing at all in head but the words: calm down, calm down, calm down, which grew increasingly desperate.
A volunteer found me like this and brought me to an isolated place outside, at which point I burst into tears of guilt, humiliation, fear, and utter defeat, because after a week of frantically telling myself to calm down, it was time to face the truth: sometimes I just can’t. Sometimes it’s bigger than me. Sometimes a love for my readers and a responsibility to my publishing team and the welcoming faces of my fellow panelists and event hosts isn’t enough to make this go away. Nothing is.
I don’t know whether or not I’ll conquer my anxiety, because I don’t know if it’s something that can be conquered. It’s as much of a physical thing as it is a mental thing. Those with anxiety will tell you that much. In these sorts of situations, the response from my brain is, “Whoa whoa WHOA, what the hell are you putting me through?” It cannot be negotiated with. It has no concept of reality, no ear for logic. The way I see the world begins to change. People seem venomous. The world seems cold. The ceiling and walls are suddenly much closer. The intrinsic mantra of “calm down, Lauren, calm down,” swirls down a drain and escapes me.
This is a blog I hoped I’d never have to write, but now I think it’s time to be honest. I owe that much to myself, and my hope is that it helps anyone else out there who may be wondering why they can’t calm down.
Now that I’m home, with one cat in my lap and another napping in the laundry basket of clean clothes, I’m taking some time to assess my needs. Therapy had helped me for a while in college, and my hope is that it will help me again now. I’m putting a freeze on appearances for the moment so that I can focus on my wellbeing, which in turn means I can continue to write the books you will hopefully love. I cannot be a strong writer unless I take care of myself. This is something I’ve put on the back burner for a long time, but now I am going to accept that my willpower alone is no match for this degree of anxiety and I am going to actively seek help.
I will, of course, still be here to answer your emails, tweets, and comments. And of course, work on Internment Chronicles, which I hope you will love as much as I do.
February 23, 2013
In case you missed it, a while back I announced that Simon & Schuster BFYR will be publishing a BRAND NEW SERIES that I wrote with my own two typing hands. You can read more about that here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17339241-perfect-ruin
And even though it's just a tad early, I just love an opportunity to give away free stuff... The fact that ARCs aren't printed isn't going to stop me. Are you interested in winning something that hasn't been printed yet? OF COURSE YOU ARE, and you have come to the right place, my friend. So here's how it works: This giveaway will carry through from now until Sunday, March 31st at 12:01 AM. The giveaway will be INTERNATIONAL, and the winner will be drawn using a random number generator. Based on the number of entries, I'll throw in a few consolation prize packs that will include some signed copies of my Chemical Garden books and/or a mystery book that I think you'd also enjoy.
Still in? Here's what you have to do. Internment is about a city that floats 30,000 feet in the sky, with virtually no means of getting to the ground below. In 100 words or less, write a piece of flash fiction about a person who would live in such a city. Your flash fiction can be told in any tense, and any perspective. It can be serious or silly. It can even be a poem! The winner will NOT be determined by content; I just want to see you guys have some fun. Once you've written your flash fiction:
1.) Tweet/facebook/tumblr/blog/whatever the following: "Enter to win a floating ARC of @LaurenDeStefano's #InternmentChronicles! http://laurendestefano.livejournal.com/1590.html"
2.) Comment on this blog post with your flash fiction and a link to your tweet/facebook/tumblr/blog/whatever post IN THE SAME ENTRY. You may advertise about the giveaway in as many places as you like, but please no more than one entry per person.
3.) Be sure to check out the summary for #InternmentChronicles on goodreads! http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17339241-perfect-ruin
4.) Pet a cat, hug a baby farm animal, eat some grapes and check back on March 31st to see if you've won!
Winners will be announced here. I will not email the winners; it will be their responsibility to check back and see the instructions for reaching me! Please remember this step, as it would make me very sad if you missed out.
NOTE: ARCs for this book have NOT been printed yet. I don't know when they are coming, but whether it is one day or six months from now, I will be certain to send it to the winner right away. If, for some reason, ARCs are never printed, the winner will receive a finished hardback instead. Think of this as like a blind date.
December 12, 2012
Recently I was forced to do a little e-housecleaning when my site’s mailbox reached its max capacity. I’ve spent the last several days going through about three years worth of emails from fans, peers and critics. Most of these emails I answered. Some I did not. However, I can say with certainty that I read them all. And reliving years of authorial emails has inspired me to compose a teeny blog on the topic. A blogella, if you will.
Keep in mind, I don’t speak for all authors. I haven’t interviewed anyone, and it’s possible that others might not even agree with what I’m saying here. But from my personal inbox, here are some examples of how I’ve been contacted in pitch perfect and in “ehhhhh, could’ve been better” ways.:
Asking for signed and/or free books: This is something every author will face at some point, and it’s flattering, because a request for a free book means that there’s interest. And the person doing the asking usually sees it this way as well. However, given the context, it can be a little bit like going into your grocery store and asking the manager for a free crate of steak so that you can invite your friends over for dinner and spread your unbiased word about his store.
So how and when should you request a free book? If you are collecting books for a charitable cause, provide the specifics and ask whom you should contact about obtaining a signed copy. Some authors or their publishers may be willing to donate. It’s also perfectly acceptable, prior to publication, to ask for an ARC (advanced reader copy) for review purposes. ARCs are absolutely free, and if the author doesn’t handle their distribution personally (I don’t), they should know where to refer you.
How and when should you request a signed book? Ask the author where you can purchase a signed copy, or a bookplate. Most authors can refer you to a local bookstore where they sign copies of the books that can be mailed out nationally. And most authors will be willing to send you a bookplate for free, or ask for you to send them a self-addressed envelope. Bookplates are a signed sticker that you can put inside of your book’s cover, and it’s the next best thing to a signature.
How and when should you NOT request a signed and/or free book? When you’d like to give the book as a present for your cousin Harold’s birthday, or you just really really want one. A book is a product like hair gel or nose clippers, and buying a copy is a great way to show your support. And if you are a reviewer, it’s a faux pas to ask for a review copy of a book that is already published. If you’d like a free copy for review, check your local library; if they don’t have it, ask for it! This is a great way to support an author. You could also try looking for giveaways online. Bloggers are always eager to share books and are known to give away a copy once they’ve reviewed it.
Inviting an author to participate in a blog post/other event: This is something I faced a LOT during the year Wither debuted. And it’s as flattering as it is overwhelming, because of course an author wants to answer questions, but when there are so many interviews fighting for that author’s time, and there are only so many hours in a day, the author is forced to pick and choose.
How should you request an interview and/or event participation? Always address the author by name. Always. I can’t stress this enough. Read the author’s FAQ; the author’s FAQ is a response to frequent interview questions, and it’s where the author will provide the most detailed and thoughtful answer. Be sure to look through it and be certain that you aren’t asking something that’s already been answered. The author will notice and appreciate that you took the time to do this.
How should you NOT request an interview and/or event participation? By beginning your email with “Dear Author,” no greeting at all, or an apology for the mass email and an explanation that you’re just so busy you can’t send individual emails. You’re emailing an author to ask for his or her time, thought and consideration, and how can they be expected to offer those things when you didn’t take the time, thought or consideration to mention them by name? Which leads me to another fatal error: mass emailing a group of authors. While it may save time for you, what it says to the author is, “I’m just going to throw this out there and hope I get a few bites, and it doesn’t matter who from.” These are the most common emails in my inbox that went unanswered. And the most fatal of fatal flaws: Sending periodic reminders, inundating the author with friendly nudges, or, worst of all, forwarding your request again. If an author is interested, he or she WILL REPLY as quickly as possible. Sometimes “as quickly as possible” means a few weeks. It takes a long time to slay the deadline monster and feed the editor and agent dragons their word chum. We are doing the best that we can and we adore our readers and we will get back to you. Promise.
September 24, 2012
If you happen to be in the Bridgeport, CT area on Friday, September 28th, there is a silent auction that includes TONS of YA gift baskets among other things, some of which are signed. Tickets are $30 at the door, I believe. Details on the link. ♥
September 6, 2012
If you've been following me on twitter and facebook lately, you might know about the books I've been auctioning off to help a family member and friend who is battling stage 4 breast cancer. Her name is Jessica, and about five years ago we all thought she had conquered her breast cancer. Not too long ago, she learned that not only was it back, it had spread to her lungs and abdomen as well. My family and I have been doing all we can to help raise money for her treatment, as well as allow Jessica an opportunity to perhaps plan a fun activity here and there with her ten-year-old daughter. 100% of your bid will go to Jessica's cause.
So here's what you're bidding on:
Once you've emailed me the first 30 pages of your manuscript, I will read it and reply with at least 1,000 words of feedback.
Your 30 pages must be double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point, or an equivalent thereof. This would put it at about 7,500 words. With the exception of a paragraph or two, I will not read beyond the 30th page.
If you have a query letter, I am happy to also take a look at that for no added charge.
I will reply within 30 days of receiving your writing.
If you have specific areas of concern, you're welcome to let me know when you send me your manuscript.
And here's how it works:
Post your bid in US dollars, as well as your email address ONLY. Bids that include any sort of commentary at all will be disqualified.
Your bid must be at least $1.00 higher than the previous bid, but you may bid as high as you would like.
You may only place one bid at a time, and are welcome to place another bid only after you've been outbid.
The winning bidder has 24 hours to PayPal me. If I haven't heard from you within 24 hours, I'll assume you are no longer interested and the offer will be extended to the next-highest bidder.
To be sure your bid is counted, post it as a new comment, not as a reply to an existing comment.
This is open internationally, however your submission must be in English.
Bidding is open now and will be open until Monday, September 17th at 12:01 AM. Bidding will not be officially closed until I've posted a comment announcing as much. Any bids after my comment will not be counted.
I've been an author represented by Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Literary Agency since 2008. My debut novel, Wither, became available nationwide in March of 2011 and is currently published in over 20 countries. Its follow-up, Fever, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in February of this year. Both are available wherever books are sold and electronically wherever eBooks are sold. You can find me on twitter here, and on facebook here!
I was once an aspiring author, too. I will be as helpful and informative as I know how to be, and I do solemly swear to be 100% honest.
This is going to be a very deep and meaningful blog. But for right now, I am trying to figure out how to make the transfer from my old blog. If you're looking for any previous entries, for right now they can be found here: http://laurendestefano.com/blog.php