TGI Thursday!

February 4, 2010

So it seems that some people are staying away from the internet this month.

This sounds like complete and total crazy to me, but maybe that just means that I should be internet free for the month as well? But I won’t, mwhahahah.

Also, I realized that this came out on Tuesday and no one even ALERTED ME!

What’s the use of not giving up the internet if no one even TELLS you about things like this?

I know. It’s embarrassing! It’s wrong! It’s ruining publishing!

Whatever, I don’t care, OMG, the first one was so bad it was good, and it ended on a total cliffhanger, and I MUST FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Also, Lauren Conrad is doing a book signing tonight in Boston. No, I am not going. And it’s NOT just because I already have other plans, I swear, la la la.

Okay, I have to get back to work now. I’m finishing up page proofs for HAILEY TWITCH IS NOT A SNITCH.

What are you guys working on? It seems like everyone’s blogs are so dead these days — I miss hearing about everyone’s new projects/agent searches/new contracts/etc!

More later,
xx

Posted by Lauren @ 9:08 am | 5 Comments  

Happy Groundhog Day!

February 2, 2010

There are meatballs in the crockpot and they are making the whole house smell soooo good. I can’t take it. I might have to eat some before The Boy gets home. (Okay, fine. I already ate two. Whatever. I made them, so I should get to have a couple at least!)

Today is Groundhog Day. That means if the groundhog sees his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter.

This makes no sense to me, because a) how can they tell if the groundhog sees his shadow? b) six more weeks of winter puts us at mid-March, and when have you ever heard of spring starting before mid-March? and c) the movie Groundhog Day is only on once today, at 6 pm on Bravo, which seems like a missed opportunity to me.

Anyway, I don’t believe in Phil the groundhog.

I prefer to hurry spring up by using positive thinking techniques, like refusing to wear my coat as long as it’s over thirty degrees, or celebrating when it’s still light out at 5:30. It totally works.

Well, sometimes.

Oh, well. At least if it’s winter and I have to stay inside, there is plenty of good TV on.

Like The Bachelor, which is very good this season and included a contestant getting kicked off for having a scandalous affair with a crew member!

The only thing is that they’re calling it The Bachelor: On The Wings Of Love since the bachelor is a pilot. Which is pretty cheesy, but whatev.

And Life Unexpected, which is OMG, so good AND it has Kerr Smith in it. (Is it weird, though, that all the people from Dawson’s Creek are now playing parents? It seems wrong. Like James Vanderbeek playing a single dad in that one Lifetime move, MRS. MIRACLE. He should be back in his bedroom with Katie Holmes!)

Make It Or Break It is still always good, and Being Erica (am I the only one who watches this?) is in its second season. Plus American Idol is back, and The Amazing Race is starting up again on the 14th. (Starring Jeff and Jordan from Big Brother!)

I just realized it is pretty embarrassing that I watch all these shows. But at least I DVR them so that I can watch whenever. But still. How did I have time to write five books last year?

Maybe the TV is motivating me?

More later,
xx

Posted by Lauren @ 11:57 am | 1 Comment  

What I Know Now

December 31, 2009

*This is something I originally posted in 2008, and I was going to add to the list, but I realized I still feel the same way about many of these things. I’ve edited it here and there (and marked those places), but it’s essentially the same.*

The other day, while I was out checking out FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE in bookstores (ETA: FOUR TRUTHS came out September 2008, so of course I don’t still bookstore stalk it, la la la), I started thinking about what it was like when REALITY CHICK first came out, and how much has changed for me since then. I thought about my old self, the mistakes I made, the things I didn’t know, how much I’m still learning about this whole crazy business. I thought about what my future self would tell my past self if I could. I thought about all of you who have books coming out soon…And so I came up with this list:

1. FORGET YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Everything is about to change. But not in the way you may think. Being published is amazing, but nothing can really prepare you for it. You might not even believe me as you’re reading this, but things are going to get harder. When you’re not published, you’re going for this seemingly (at times) unattainable goal. But you don’t really have anything to lose. Once you’re published, that changes. This might not make much sense, but in some ways, I think it’s much harder to get rejections AFTER you’ve been published. Because you know what you’re missing out on. It’s kind of like if you ask out a guy, and he turns you down. Big deal, right? It might sting for a while, but you find a new guy. But if you’ve been dating that guy for a year and suddenly he breaks up with you, it’s kind of devastating. Being published does not make things easier, it makes things harder. Because of…

2. NEW PROBLEMS. You won’t be worried about finding an agent, you’ll be worried about sales numbers. And how your book looks in the publisher’s catalog. And why Barnes and Noble hasn’t ordered any copies. And how all this is going to effect your career. It’s hard, because unlike sending out a new batch of queries, you can’t control any of this stuff. So you have to learn to let go. Which leads me to number three…

3. ON PROMOTION. All we hear about as writers is “You have to promote!” and “You better get out there and promote!” and “What do you mean you don’t have a blog, a podcast, a video series, a joint blog, and a giveaway?” The weird thing is, no one even knows for sure what works.

The book I did the most promotion for (REALITY CHICK), has sold the least amount of copies of all my books. The book I did the LEAST for, (THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY), has sold the most. (My theory, and from what I’ve heard from my publisher, is that college books just aren’t really doing well in YA. Kids pick them up, see they’re about college kids, and put them down. But like everything else in this business, this is just a guess. It could be three million different things.) (ETA: TWO-WAY STREET had now passed Devon Delaney in sales, and I think it’s because of the word of mouth talked about in number four. Also, REALITY CHICK will be rereleased this summer under the title of WATCH ME, so yay!)

So when it comes to promotion, I say, do what you want. Do you like blogging? Do you want to update your facebook a thousand times a day? I happen to really enjoy blogging (ETA: I do still blog, but I’m more into twitter these days – again, everything changes so fast! I didn’t even mention twitter when I first posted this! One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to blog more, though.), so I do it. It’s not a chore for me.

The one thing I think is important is to have some kind of web presence, because kids who read your book will come looking for you on the web, to write to you and to find out what else you’ve written. This is one of the best parts of being an author — getting to hear from people who have read your books. And teens and tweens are the best audiences if you want to hear from your fans. They LOVE to write emails. Right now I’m still answering fan emails from two months ago — and I know this is because I have a website where people can find out how to get to me.

So what do I think is even more important than promotion for good sales, especially in the teen market?

4. WORD OF MOUTH. Teens tell their friends what they like to read, and teens pass around books. I get tons of emails that say, “I read your book and I made all my friends read it, too!” TWO-WAY STREET didn’t get a huge amount of orders from bookstores at first, and now it’s gone into a seventh printing. (ETA: It’s in a thirteenth printing that I know about now, with over 100,000 copies in print!! After being [I think] skipped by Barnes and Noble at first. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has bought it and/or told their friends about it. Seriously. Thank you.) I really believe this is due to word of mouth. People read the book, liked it, and told their friends about it. And then those people told more people about it. Which means…

5. IGNORE REVIEWS. If you get a good one, awesome! Definitely celebrate. But I get sad when someone gets a bad review and worries about what their publisher is going to think, or how it’s going to affect (ETA: Originally this said “effect” but I changed it to “affect” — which is right?? Obviously this is one thing I haven’t learned.) them. Some of the best selling books (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, anyone?) have gotten the worst reviews. Your publisher cares about SALES. And besides, when was the last time you heard a teen say, “Oooh, I really have to pick that one up, it got a great review in Kirkus!” (ETA: RIP, Kirkus.) Yeah, maybe librarians and certain bookstores read reviews to take into account what to buy, but honestly? If kids are coming into a library requesting a book, that holds more weight. Which means…

6. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. The most important thing you can do for your career is focus on your writing. Making it better, making it tighter, working to write the very best books you can, so that you can start that all-important word of mouth. And if the time you’re spending promoting is taking away from this, I think something’s out of whack.

7. ENJOY EVERY SINGLE THING. Celebrate it. Every single tiny little moment. I really think that, for your first book, you should have a party. Not to sell books, but to celebrate with your family and your friends. Have a cake! Enjoy seeing your name on a Borders sign, with all your books on display. It is an amazing, amazing moment to have your first book out, and it should be celebrated in a big way.

The smaller moments should be celebrated, too. Did you get great placement in your publisher’s catalog? Did your editor love your revisions? Is your agent excited about your new proposal? Has your book gone into another printing? Did you get a gorgeous new cover? So much of this business can be waiting and disappointment, so when you get these good moments, cherish them.

8. BE SMART. Now, more than ever, you should keep yourself abreast of your career. Make sure you are making smart choices. Ask yourself if you’re staying with an agent who’s maybe not the best fit for you, just because you’re afraid. Make sure you’re pushing yourself with your writing, and doing what you can to make sure you’re improving. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to inform yourself, so that you can be sure you’re making the best choices for yourself and for your career.

9. SAY THANK YOU. Editors and agents are ridiculously overworked. Editors don’t really make that much money — they do this because they love books. Agents sometimes work for years before even seeing a penny of money. Saying thank you to people who are in your corner is extremely important. And a gift never hurts either 🙂 These are the people who helped to make your biggest dream come true, and they should get credit for their work and determination.

10. BE GRATEFUL. It’s amazing to have a passion like this. To know what you want to do, to get such joy out of something, to have a goal to work for. Some people go their whole lives and never find the thing they know they were meant to do, to be excited about it. You found it. You have it. So do it. Write. Don’t get discouraged by the business side of things. Keep writing, keep learning, keep growing. Treat it like the gift that it is. And never forget how cool it is that you found such a rewarding, frustrating, insane, wonderful, horrible, fabulous, crazy, thing to work toward.

This list is definitely not all inclusive, and I’d love to hear from those of you who have books out on what you wish you knew — and if anyone has questions, I’d love to hear those, too!

More later,
xx

Posted by Lauren @ 9:11 am | 5 Comments  

Happy Agent Appreciation Day!

December 11, 2009

Happy Agent Appreciation Day!

I definitely could not let this day go by without blogging about my fab agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group.

Here are the reasons I love Alyssa:

1. She is so on top of things, it’s almost scary. Seriously. I will send her a project, and it comes back to me almost immediately with notes. I ask her a question, and she sends me a thoughtful reply with tons of helpful information. She follows up with editors, she keeps track of checks, she pays attention to what’s going on in publishing, and she makes it all seem easy.

2. Alyssa never freaks out. Even when I say things like, “So I’m thinking I want to write a chapter book series, and a middle grade, and two YAs, oh, and I have a great idea for an adult romance..” She just talks me through it and finds a way to make it work.

3. One time, after a particularly hard rejection, one where the book had gotten so so SO close to being bought, she sent me an email that said, “Don’t worry, we WILL find X a home soon.” For some reason, I believed her. And you know what? We had two offers on that book within a month.

4. She gives me great feedback. She’s extremely smart and she pushes me to make any new submission the best it can be before it goes out. She wants my books to have the very best chance, and I love her for that.

5. She’s always looking out for me. She will think of things I never even thought to ask about, and make sure they’re all taken care of.

6. She answers my emails usually within, like, an hour. Seriously. An hour! One time she took five hours to email and apologized for the long response time because her email was down. Ha!

7. I trust her. Completely, totally, one hundred percent.

8. She’s sold eight books for me in the two years that we’ve been together. But it’s not about the sales, since I know a lot of that is out of our control. What I love is that I know some of those books wouldn’t have sold if not for her editorial advice, and her willingness to keep at it.

Even reading this list back, I realize I haven’t really done her justice. She believes in me, she believes in my work, and I am just so lucky to have her on my side.

Happy Agent Appreciation Day, Alyssa! I hope you have a great one!

P.S. The idea of Agent Appreciation Day came from Kody Keplinger – check out her blog here . And if you want to read more agent appreciation stories, go here.

Posted by Lauren @ 9:21 am | 3 Comments  

Weekend Contest :)

December 5, 2009

Happy weekend!! Last night The Boy and I went to see Brothers, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman. I LOVED IT. So good, you should all go see it.

Now I am drinking coffee (decaf – I know, what’s the point, but I am trying to cut back on my caffeine and at least it’s French vanilla flavored) and waiting for The Boy to wake up so I can make him take me out to breakfast.

Things are usually dead around here on the weekends (by here I mean internet world), so I decided to do a contest for those of you who ARE around. Maybe you are procrastinating on your Christmas shopping like me? We were supposed to get up early and start ours today, but since I’m posting this and The Boy is still sleeping, you can kind of guess how well that turned out.

I am kind of (read: very) bad with procrastinating. Like with new bookshelves. I really, REALLY need some. Right now, for example, we have a stack of books over in the corner of our LIVING ROOM just waiting to be shelved. This is a pic of them:

bookcontest

I know, right?! Totally ridiculous.

Anyway! My procrastination is your gain (just read that back and it doesn’t really make that much sense, but just go with it – I’m drinking decaf), because I’m doing a contest!

Email me with the titles and authors of as many books as you can spot in the picture, and whoever gets the most right, will get a book of their choice from the pile. (I will send you a brand new copy, because why would I send you mine? As you can tell, I have a hard time parting with books.)

The person who has the highest number correct will win, and if there’s a tie, whoever emailed first wins. I will give you five extra points if you link to this contest on your blog or twitter, just please let me know where you linked in your email.

Email your lists of books to Lauren (at) laurenbarnholdt (dot) (Com) Contest will end at midnight EST December 8th. But like I said, if there’s a tie, the first person wins. I’ll only ship to the US.

Here are some hints:

*Some of the books I got at BEA.

*A lot of them may be Simon and Schuster books because the fab Editor K is VERY generous with books, which is one of the many reasons I love her so much.

*Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Good luck!

More later,
xx

Posted by Lauren @ 10:03 am | 2 Comments