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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Life After Book Deal: What Changes (and What Doesn't) Once Your Book is Sold

A guest post from Jen McConnel

Hey everyone! I'm thrilled to be here talking with you today, and I thought for this guest post I'd share my thoughts on what happens after you get the phone call or email that sends you over the moon; what is life like after your book deal?

If you're anything like me, you might have expected that everything would be different once you sell your first book, and in some ways, it is, but in other ways, it’s not. I don’t say that to be a downer; things do change after you've sold your first book, but they may not be the things you'd think. Let’s take a look at a few of them.


What changes: I go through a lull in my writing whenever I sell a book. I don't know; maybe I get complacent, or maybe my brain is just busy readjusting to my new reality, but I've found that the weeks after a book sale pull me out of my writing routine, and when I get back to it, it isn't the same as it was before. It takes some time to adjust to the new normal, especially if the book you sell is part of a series (now you’re more self-conscious about your story, whereas before, you may have just been happily flinging words onto the page.)

What doesn’t change: Sitting down to write is still the highlight of my day. I love every part of the process (revisions included), and I hope that never goes away.


What changes: You're no longer faced with this giant task alone! Once you sell your book, you’ll have support from your editor as you start polishing the book to make it the best it will be. You might not always like the changes that your editor wants, but now there’s someone to have a dialogue with as you try to make the book better. It can be challenging and liberating at the same time to move from whatever your solitary revision process is into the tandem efforts of working with an editor, but the bottom line is, you're not alone in your editing cave anymore.

What doesn't change: It’s still editing, folks. It still takes time and effort, and some days the process might make you want to tear your hair out, but it’s still there. It’s vital!

Social Media

What changes: After I sold my first book, I started expanding and deepening my social media circles. I'd always worked to make connections with other writers, but now I started seeking out authors who are releasing in the same year, publish the same genre, or are my publishing house siblings. The World Wide Web suddenly got both a lot bigger and a lot more intimate.

What doesn’t change: I still waste spend way too much time playing on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. Nope. I'm no better at managing my time now than I was two years ago.


What changes: The boost you get from landing your first (or second, or third) book deal is immense. Suddenly, the world is your oyster, and for a day or maybe a week, pride and excitement push all your fears to one side. You, my friend, have arrived: you're on the road to success! Unfortunately, once the sparkle wears off, your fear comes rushing back, only now it’s bigger and scarier. Added to your earlier fears is the knowledge that PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY READ YOUR BOOK SOON, and that can be exhilarating and terrifying. I try to focus on the exhilarating part, but some days, fear wins.

What doesn’t change: Your fears won't melt away forever, and the things that make you insecure about your writing and your path will continue to poke at you. The good news? If you can acknowledge your fears, they can be managed. Eventually, they are familiar little niggles that can (mostly) be ignored.

What I've learned:

Through the ups and downs of writing, selling a book, and seeing it come into the world, the biggest thing I've learned is that things will change. Some days, I’ll be afraid, and others, I'll be on top of the world. The way I write is changing, and that’s a good thing. Change is growth.

But one thing I hope never changes for you (or for me) is our deep love of storytelling. After all, that’s why we're on this crazy roller coaster, right?

Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnel

Nothing is more terrifying than the witch who wields red magic.

There comes a time in every witch's life when she must choose her path. Darlena's friends have already chosen, so why is it so hard for her to make up her mind? Now, Darlena is out of time. Under pressure from Hecate, the Queen of all witches, Darlena makes a rash decision to choose Red magic, a path no witch in her right mind would dare take. As a Red witch, she will be responsible for chaos and mayhem, drawing her deep into darkness. Will the power of Red magic prove too much for Darlena, or will she learn to control it before it's too late?

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About Jen McConnel

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she also holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. Visit http://www.jenmcconnel.com to learn more.

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Jen McConnel said...

Thanks so much for having me today! Happy writing, y'all! <3

Juliana L. Brandt said...

This is a wonderful post. It's good to be reminded that we need to be realistic about after-the-sale. And you're right, what matters most is how much we love storytelling :):)

Charity Bradford said...

Wonderful insights! Thanks for being so open and honest about the nuances of life after getting that deal.

By the way, I'm so sad we didn't get to meet before I moved out of NC. I still miss that beautiful state!

Jen McConnel said...

Thanks, Juliana! It's all about the stories. <3

And Charity, thank you! I wish we'd connected in person before you moved, too. Maybe we'll cross paths at a conference soon!

Sean McLachlan said...

I had a similar experience to yours with my first book, but I kind of eased into it because I was co-updating a guidebook. That didn't feel like as a big of a deal as my second project, which was an actual standalone history book written only by myself.
Now 12 traditionally published and four indie published books later, I've gotten over the post-book slump problem, still struggle with time wasting, and have a deep appreciation of what a large cadre of beta readers can do for me.
Keep on writing! It gets easier. Sort of.

Jen McConnel said...

Thanks, Sean! It's good to hear that it might just get easier! :) And congrats on your success!

Jess said...

Love this post! Great to hear an insider's perspective of what changes (and what doesn't) after a book deal :)

Jen McConnel said...

Thanks, Jess! Glad it was useful! :)

DMS said...

What an excellent post! Great to hear from someone who has sold more than one book about the changes and similarities (not changed) that take place after each sale. :) I think the list looked good to me- and I like the idea of having someone else help with the edits, even though there are still edits. Great to hear from Jen and wishing her the best of luck!

Jen McConnel said...

Thank you so much, Jess! It was fun to share my experiences! :)