Things that terrify me about my traditional debut

I joined a Club House room this past week with the Romance and WF club about fears published authors have, for instance, not earning out, no one liking the book etc. While I participated and shared one of my own fears (keep reading for details), in my mind I was racking up way more worries than I publicly confessed to.

A few months ago, I blogged about all the things I most anticipated with my traditional romantic comedy debut, AS SEEN ON TV. But now that we are less than a year away from the release, fears are beginning to infect the anticipation. *Disclaimer: I acknowledge how fortunate I am to have secured a traditional publishing deal. I worked very hard, but there are many other authors who put in just as much effort, want it as badly, and are just as patient and persistent as I was, who are still querying or on submission with editors. I have such high hopes for all of you! But with each milestone we cross, there are new doubts and hurdles. Here are some personal examples:

What if no one likes the book? Here I am, so proud of finally achieving my dream of traditional publishing and the possibility of a much broader reach, but what if the readers don’t come despite my publisher’s best efforts? Or what if they do come and wish they hadn’t?

My publisher is positioning the book as a romantic comedy and that is how I describe it. The central plot is romance and there would be no book without it, but there is also a lot of focus on my main character’s journey, and the book is told in her single POV. What if the romance community doesn’t think it’s romantic enough?   

What if it’s not funny? I’ve heard bookstagrammers and bloggers complain about novels marketed as romantic comedies that didn’t make them laugh. My critique partner, beta readers, and agent thought it was hilarious. My editor wrote in her offer letter that she snort-laughed while reading. But what if no one else shares our sense of humor?

In my earlier post, I wrote about how excited I was to participate in romcom and authorly panels as an author. What if no one invites me to panels or wants to be “in conversation with me” even at my own launch? Will it be like junior high all over again?

I hear other 2022 debut authors discussing blurbs. I’m not quite there since my developmental edits haven’t been accepted yet, but I assume it’s a discussion I will have with my editor in the not-so-distant future. There is no shortage of authors I would be thrilled to blurb AS SEEN ON TV. What if no one wants to? Or what if they agree but can’t think of anything complimentary to say because they detested the book?

What if I get awful trade reviews or libraries and book-sellers don’t take a liking to the book and, therefore, don’t order many copies?

What if I did such a lousy job on my developmental edits that my editor regrets signing me? What if she hates me?

My publisher accepted the detailed outline for Book 2 of the contract, so my editor must have liked the premise, but what if the execution is not up to snuff? I’m in love with it, but would they have bought the book if it had been the one we’d gone out on submission with?

And the one I confessed to in the Club House: what if this two-book deal is a one-off? I am so proud of myself for getting this far, and if the experience begins and ends with this contract, it is still a dream come true. But I’m in this for the long haul and afraid I’ll never sell another book. Publishing is so competitive. Selling once is no guarantee of it happening again. Authors need to bring it every time: great writing, a fresh premise, the right market. I haven’t finished revising book 1 or submitted book 2 and am already thinking about my option book.

I’m sure I could come up with more worries if I tried, but I think you get the gist. Thank you for letting me unload on you! With that out of my system, I am going to thank my lucky stars, get back to dreaming about holding AS SEEN ON TV in my hands, seeing it in a book store, and answering all my fan mail!

Editing with emojis

I don’t typically use my blog for writing tips but I’m making an exception today. Any author who’s ever revised a book is familiar with searching for repetitive words, phrases, descriptions. When you have 300 occurrences of “just” “like” “smile” “shrug” in a 300 page novel, it’s too much. And it is not the fun part of editing—at least not for me.

I’m currently in my last stage of revisions for AS SEEN ON TV before I turn the first round of developmental edits to my editor. I’m at that stage. You know, the one where I’m mortified to discover how many times my characters “suck in a breath” and “widen their eyes.” Many recommend the Emotion Thesaurus for assistance in describing various character’s emotions. I own a physical copy and use it often. But it’s currently in my apartment and I’m…well, not. Also, I have come to the point where I’ve already over-used even some of the wonderful examples suggested in the guide.

My writing strengths are witty banter/dialogue and describing internal thoughts of my characters. Where I struggle is description of objects and faces. During my grueling review for repetition, I discovered overuse of the word “look.” It was easy enough to change some of the verb uses to “peer” and “glance” and “study” and “observe” etc. But I also found too many instances of using the word as a noun: “I gave him a questioning look;” or as a verb in this manner: “He looked at me with sincerity;” “She looked at me questionably.” Which begs the question, how does a face expressing sincerity actually look? How does a skeptical face actually look? (More repetition of the word look even in this blog post. Ugh!)

My first idea was to search various emotions in GIFS for help in matching feelings to facial expressions. It was helpful to a degree except I still needed to describe what I saw…using words. (Wouldn’t it be great if we could just affix images to our books instead??)

And then the answer came to me in an emoji. Yes, an emoji! I turned to Google, where I searched “skeptical emoji” “thoughtful emoji” etc. Lo and behold, along with the image of the emoji I searched, there was a description of the expression on its face! For instance, the paraphrased description of thoughtful emoji is “furrowed eyebrows with the thumb and index finger resting on its chin.” Using these emoji definitions as a guide, I was able to describe a thoughtful “look” with more specificity than simply “he looked thoughtful,” and as a result, I managed to reduce the repetitive language in my novel. I didn’t replace all of the instances of “look” because everything is okay in moderation and I also believe too much showing can slow the pace of the novel, but I changed enough to provide much-needed variety to the manuscript.

In summary, for those of you who, like me, struggle with describing facial expressions or simply use the same ones too often, I highly recommend you implement the “editing with emojis” method too. Obviously, there is more to revising a novel than searching emojis, but it is another tool to utilize when dealing with pesky repetition.

You’re welcome!

AS SEEN ON TV: wishing and hoping

I don’t have a release date yet for my upcoming romantic comedy, AS SEEN ON TV, but the tentative publishing season is Summer, 2022. Despite it being what feels like a very long time to wait, I find myself day dreaming about exciting things to come. It’s easy to do while anticipating releases from other […]

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RIP: RUTH BADER GINSBURG

Millions of hearts broke last night over the death of liberal giant, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG was only the second woman appointed to Supreme Court Justice and she fought tirelessly for women’s rights and same sex marriage. Her legacy will be remembered forever and the loss is huge. I was eating outside, […]

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Book News!

This will be a short one, but the sweetest blog I’ve posted in…well…ever! I was offered and have accepted a two-book publishing deal with Forever, the romance and women’s fiction imprint of Grand Central Publishing. Here’s the official announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace with the elevator pitch for the first novel in the deal – AS […]

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Where I’m at A-Z Pandemic edition

I hope you all had a great weekend! The weather in New York City was beautiful and I went running on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I try to get out early and beat the crowds. That way, I get my fix of fresh air and don’t feel like I’m missing anything stuck indoors the rest […]

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dating in the time of Corona

I’m not doing it. End of blog. Just kidding. Let’s discuss. When I thought the restaurant/bar closings, instructions to stay at home, and warnings against close contact with others would last several weeks to a month, dating was something I was happy to put on hold. I didn’t see the point. The idea of spending […]

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What I most look forward to after a vaccine

A few days ago, I posted my favorite things about staying at home. Today, I want to take a different route. To avoid being negative, I’m not going to list all the things I hate about life these days. Instead, I will take a more positive approach and discuss what I most look forward to […]

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Favorite books to stay at home with

I’m devouring books more than ever due to my complete lack of a non-virtual social life. While many of us are embracing reading during this time, I’ve heard others are struggling to focus on books. By sharing some of my favorite reads over the last two months, I hope I can provide recommendations to those […]

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Fitness in the age of Corona

Before Covid-19, I exercised five days a week. My rotation consisted of outdoor runs, the Peloton bike in my apartment building’s gym, spinning at NYSC, and rowing classes at Row House. When gyms were ordered to close down, I had to re-access my fitness routine. Spinning, rowing, and the Peloton bike were no longer options […]

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