It’s been since months since Jennifer R. Hubbard‘s debut young adult novel The Secret Year came out, and today she’s here to tell us a little about what those six months have been like, what she does to stay focused and some of the realities of being a debut author.
But first, a little about Jenn. Jennifer R. Hubbard grew up in New England and now lives in the Philadelphia area. She is a hiker, a chocolate lover, and a night person who believes that mornings were meant to be slept through.
She had her first short story published when she was seventeen. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines. Her first book, the contemporary young-adult novel THE SECRET YEAR, was published by Viking in 2010.
Now that your book has been out for a while, how are things different than you expected? What was the hardest thing to get used to? What’s the best thing about having it out in the world?
I’m not sure what I expected. Through my friends, I’ve seen so many different ways the debut experience can play out. I was ready for anything. But it’s still a pleasant surprise to receive fan emails.
I’m also surprised that people have so much to say about the book. I’m happy that people are reading and discussing it, but it’s a very new experience for me. When I published short stories, I just never saw that kind of public discussion of my work. Yet, that’s part of the “best” experiences also: knowing that my book is out there, that it’s gone to places in the world where I’ve never been, that people are reading and responding to it, that it’s part of a larger conversation about books.
Any advice for debut authors?
One of the best things I did was to join forces with other debut authors (Class of 2k10 and The Tenners)–for moral support, for networking and information. I would encourage people to find a supportive community like that.
Also: in the midst of all the bustle, promoting one book and writing another, don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
One reader whom I met in person teared up while she was telling me how she felt about the book. Another time, a high-school student talked about how the Thanksgiving scene in my book related to her own life. Those reactions, and many more, are special to me.
What’s your toughest challenge?
My toughest challenge is staying in the present moment, and not getting too anxious about the future and things I can’t control. Writing-wise, my toughest challenge is staying vulnerable, allowing myself to cut to the core.
Are you working on a second book? Can you tell us a bit about it?
My next book is a contemporary realistic YA, again told by a male narrator. But this character faces different challenges from those Colt faced in The Secret Year. He’s threatened by very different circumstances–and in many ways, I think he’s in deeper trouble than Colt was.
How much time a day do you spend on social media (if at all) and how important do you think it is for authors to be on Facebook, Twitter, etc?
I blog, I read blogs, and I’m on Twitter. I also have a website, and I visit the blue boards once a week. I think it’s important for writers to have at least one place online where people can find them–and beyond that, it’s a function of your own personality and availability. As an introvert with a day job, traveling everywhere to meet people isn’t a real possibility. But online, I can reach out to people all over the world, and I find the internet to be invaluable. None of my networking is forced, either. I like connecting with people online.
Thanks Jennifer for stopping by The Debs. And if you’re a debut author in 2011, take Jenn’s words to heart regarding being part of a debut group, and apply to be one of the new members of The Debutante Ball (info is in the side bar).