A Million Little Questions

One especially interesting aspect of this whole book-writing process has been how many tiny things there are to learn. There are big questions, of course – like how to write a book proposal at all, or how to get it into the right hands once it’s written – but there have also been a million smaller ones that I never anticipated. (I was nervous about all of them, just so we’re clear; Ye Olde Type A tendencies have been out in full force for the past several months.)

As an example, I didn’t know whether I should be sending my editor chapters as I finished them, or whether that was annoying and I should just send her the whole thing when I was done (the latter was preferable, as it turned out – at least for my editor). I didn’t know whether it would be helpful if I bounced ideas back and forth directly with the illustrator so that other people didn’t have to act as a go-between (apparently that’s a big “no”: it’s the art director’s job to liaise between the author and the illustrator).

Basically, I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass. At all.

Yet another example of Small Thing That I Did Not Know: what to do when I walk into a bookstore and see my book. Obviously I’m excited about it…but do the employees have first-time authors running into their stores all day long, all freaking out and do-you-want-me-to-sign-this-for-you and annoying? I had no idea, and so I asked.

As it turns out, B&N employees are really nice to people who are just excited about seeing their books on the shelves. I think authors do come in and ask about their own works with semi-frequency, so it’s not like, you know, they get a parade thrown for them or anything…but it doesn’t happen so often that it’s irritating. Basically, you just tell them you’re you, they bring you a few copies of your book, you sign them, they put little “Autographed Copy” stickers on the front cover (apparently those stickers help book sales, which is nice for everyone), and you go on your way.

Or, if you’re me, you take a surreptitious photo of the “New In Paperbacks” table, feel like a dork, and slink out the door.

So here’s a question for you: I have found this process very, very interesting from top to bottom. Writing the proposal, writing the book itself…it was exciting and exhilarating and scary and really new to me, and so I’m planning a post talking about what, exactly, it was like. I know this isn’t a topic relevant to everyone’s interests, but if it is I’d really like to be as helpful as possible, so please let me know if there’s anything specific you have questions about.

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  • Olivia

    Writing a book is my dream in life (I have like 3 books somewhat written–novels!)…so I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to know the process!!

    • jordanreid

      i SO hear you – i swear, i had one book or another “in the works” from the time i was in high school on, and never felt like i was able to finish them…and it was so exhilarating to figure out a) that it IS possible to finish, and b) how to go about actually doing that. coming up! excited to write it 🙂

  • Emilie

    Would love to hear about the experience! Did you use an agent, and if so, how did you find her? Also, did you face some rejection before you proposal was accepted or was it a relatively smooth process? And, in general, how did you motivate yourself to reach your writing goals and finish the book – did you have a schedule or use some other method? Thanks for sharing!

    • jordanreid

      Will cover all this, thank you!

  • antheapena

    What an interesting journey. You have such a talent for conveying your thoughts, giving tips, passing on info, lacing it with insight & humor & managing somehow to create a readable-while-trying-to-do-10-other-things-post. (even though you think some are too long, like this one) Sooo I’ll read all about it, however you write it. I’m starting your book this weeknd btw. Can’t wait

  • Sarah P

    I by no means expect you to talk about what you got paid, but I’d love to better understand how much a book is worth. It seems like a lot of work, and I’m curious if the payment is in line with the amount of work you put into it! Also, congrats! I can’t wait to read it 🙂 I want to get an autographed copy–love that detail that B+N gets authors coming in from time to time!

    • jordanreid

      That’s a great question. I feel sort of shy writing about specific numbers – although I’d be happy to share if you want to email me; it’s not a secret, just not sure it’s appropriate to share “publicly”, as it were – but my general understanding from other first-time authors I’ve spoken to is that the advance kind of covers your living costs while you’re writing (in my case, my advance felt 100% fair for what amounted to 3 1/2 months of work), and then you make money if the book sells. And of course the money it makes goes towards recouping the publisher’s costs first, so I’m not sure you see a ton unless it’s a runaway bestseller, which means that the advance is basically “what you get paid.” But honestly, just having your book out there is the biggest reward, in my opinion.

  • hannahmwilson

    I just wanted to pop in and say that I stole the copy you sent Anthony as a Thank You and I can’t put it down! I’m not a mother or expecting, but it’s such a fun and insightful read. I explained to Anthony that reading the book is like catching up with your favorite girlfriend. Well, done. All the best, H

    • jordanreid

      Oh, I’m so glad – I was hoping that would be the case!!! I was going to make it out to you, but figured he deserved…I don’t know…the BIGGEST THANK-YOU IN THE WORLD. Did you know you’d married a hero? I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book; hopefully we can catch up in person one of these days!

  • vonhottie

    I want to know EVERYTHING you want to tell about it. I’m writing my first book, and one of my best friends and writing comrades just sold her first book. The whole process is fascinating, and intimidating, and I will be just as worried about the “etiquette” of the whole process as you were.