If Only I Had Known

Calling Debut Authors! Now Accepting Applications for the 2018 Debutante Ball! Read this post to learn more. Hurry! THE DEADLINE IS JULY 28!

This week the Debs are discussing how hindsight is 20/20.

“To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, “I wish I had known this some time ago.”
Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn

This last year has been a crazy one in the world of books and publishing. There are some things that I could not have done anything about if I had known, such as the current political and news circus that make it very difficult for many books to cut through the noise. There is a lot that I was lucky to know ahead of time (how publisher budgets are often small for books and how your publicist will only be focused on your promotion for a small window of time). And there were some things that perhaps I didn’t know or wished I had done a little differently.

  • I wish that I had been prepping freelance articles ages before my launch. Now that I’m a few months in and my life is so busy, it’s hard to get serious about writing another article, but I know it’s what I need to do to keep some momentum and chatter going.
  • I did not expect that my Google Alerts would be full of alerts for places that had pirated copies of my book, which was disappointing. Fortunately Google has been pretty awesome about keeping that clean from the search engine–I think that the Touchstone/S&S lawyers must be pretty on top of it, whew.
  • It’s incredibly humbling to get genuine fan letters…people I don’t know that pick up the book and feel so moved that they wrote me to tell me how much they enjoyed FEAST OF SORROW.
  • And to see photos of FEAST in the wild, like this one that my friend Henriette spotted at Logan Airport! How cool is that?!
  • I wish that I had been prepping a whole ton of social imagery in the weeks leading up to my launch. There are tools like Canva that are incredibly helpful, but it is time consuming. I am a social practitioner by trade so I know the power of it all, but alas, I am not a designer so putting them together is not a snap for me.
  • My book has been out for a little over two months and my paid publicist is all done and my internal publicist is off to doing other things. Sales are starting to slow a bit and my inbox is quieter and my calendar a lot less full. There is a part of me that is panicking a little and a part of me that is glad for the reprieve.
  • I am grateful that I knew a lot of authors before my book came out, and that I’d been to a ton of readings before the book as well. It gave me perspective on what to expect…how much money I wouldn’t be earning, how important it is to champion other authors, how to work with booksellers (be very very kind to them…they are your livelihood), and a bevy of other things. I’ve watched fellow authors who didn’t have this same perspective struggle or make missteps. It’s a messy, confusing industry and easy to make assumptions that will just lead to a world of frustration later. I’m so glad that I had a bunch of that knowledge up front.
  • I was surprised by the number of people that assumed that I had a free book to give them…mostly people I barely speak to except the occasional Facebook post. I’d get the “when do I get my signed copy?” query and I’d have to explain that if they want to send me a copy or have one shipped to me I’d sign it and send it back (and would pay for that return shipping). I don’t have unlimited copies, but worse, it’s frustrating that those individuals aren’t realizing that at some point in my life it might be nice to make a career out of writing and that isn’t going to happen if I’m giving them all away for free. Follow that up by the friends who tell me, to my face, “I’m still waiting for the book from the library to come in…I have a hold on it.” Seriously? I mean, I get that you can’t always buy books, but if you are talking to the author, one that is a good friend, just do them the courtesy and support them by buying a copy of their book. And then review it afterward–it’s the best thing you can do for a fellow author.
  • Most of all, I had NO idea how many new and amazing friends I would make. This isn’t a hindsight thing so much, but a wow observation. Meeting my fellow Debutantes and other authors from the ‘17 Scribes has been such a great experience. And ultimately, that’s been the best part, in my mind, meeting other wonderful people who also have incredible stories to tell.


Author: Crystal King

Crystal King is a writer, culinary enthusiast and social media expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and an obsession with the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught writing, creativity and social media at Grub Street and several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University. Crystal received her masters in critical and creative thinking from University of Massachusetts Boston. She lives with her husband and their two cats in the Boston area.