Book Conventions: A How To Guide

Hi Readers & Writers,

With book convention season upon us, I thought I’d compile some tips and tricks to navigating conventions. I’ve both attended and worked behind the booth so hopefully this list will be able to help you out whether you’re a first time attendee or a frequent show goer.

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Source: Twenty20.com 

1. Dress Comfortably. There are going to be a lot of people around and the last thing you want is to overheat in the first hour. I always opt for good ole quality cotton and dresses (with pockets) because bless pockets.

2. WATER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. This circles back to point one, but aside from overheating, you’re going to do a lot of running around. You’d be surprised how quickly dehydration sets in.

3. Try to Arrive Early. For conventions like Book Con, there’s going to be a line alongside a bag check. Take the time you need to eat, park if you’re driving, and prepare yourself for the day.

4. Plan What You Want to See in Advance!! Trust me – this will save you so much time. I would also recommend highlighting what you absolutely don’t want to miss. Chances of doing everything on your list are low between crowds and wait time.

5. Learn the Layout. Spend a few minutes locating all the booths and author signings you’re interested in. This will ground you and save time later.

6. Budget, Budget, Budget. Food and drinks are always overpriced in convention halls. Be prepared for that. But also, be prepared for all of the glorious things you’re going to want to buy.

7. Be Prepared to Wait, A Lot. Between panels and ARC drops, sometimes you’ll need to line up an hour, maybe two in advance. Factor that into your schedule and what you need to either be standing or sitting for long periods.

8. Pack Light Initially. This will save your shoulders and back as you continue to collect swag and books.

Warning: grabbing everything you can may and likely will happen.

9. TAKE BREAKS. Make sure you take time to sit, recharge, and mentally/physically recompose yourself. You’re going to get tired quicker than you normally would.

At book con day two last year, I had a migraine. You can imagine how that went.

10. Make Friends! You’re going to be surrounded by book people. Most of them are super friendly and it’ll be easy to strike up conversations while waiting in line.

11. Respect Boundaries. This applies to convention goers, authors, and booth workers. Ask before taking photos or engaging in any physical contact (hand shakes, hugs, etc.). Every person has a different comfort level.

12. Have Your Badge Visible At All times! You’ll need this to enter the convention hall, but also for book drops and events. In Book Con specifically, they scan your badge before giving you whatever it is you’re lined up for.

13. Pushing Gets You Nowhere. I know there are a lot of cool things at conventions, but you don’t want to be that person.

14. Thank the Workers! It gets hectic and they’re working several days in a row to keep the show together.

Last year there was a wonderful Harper Collins woman who cleared a very crowded aisle and I thanked her once I got to the front of the line. Her smile was heartwarming.

15. If You Want to Network, I Highly Recommend Business Cards. They’re an easy way to have all your important information in one place and pass on after talking with someone.

Protip: Keep some business cards tucked behind your name tag if you’re wearing a lanyard.

16. Know the Rules. Author signings require a separate ticket from general admission (at least for Book Con). You will register for these before the con itself and they will not cost you anything – unless it’s a special entertainment guest. Every person, I believe, gets two signings per day.

17. Check Twitter. A lot of pub houses will tweet about contests, book drops, and author signings during shows. Turn on notifications so you can stay up to date.

18. Have fun! Get those books and swag and take tons of pictures.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them below.

Xx

Megan

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Blog Bound 2018

Hello Readers and Writers,

I have a super exciting announcement and that is: I’m going to be a panelist at Blog Bound!!!! For those of you who don’t know what Blog Bound is, it’s a free event in New York City created by bloggers for the blogging/writing community. From 5:00pm – 8:00pm at the Jefferson Market Library, you can chat with others in the industry as well as attend a few awesome panels that will be happening during these hours. For more details on the event, click here

blogbound 2018 twitter with link

So what panel will I be on at Blog Bound? Well, me, along with several others, will be discussing how to get past reading and creative slumps from 5:15pm – 6:00pm. Seeing as this is my first ever panel, I am both terrified and excited to dive in and speak about my experiences and tactics to overcome such a frustrating aspect of the creative world. I am crossing my fingers and toes it goes well, though I expect good things with such supportive people around me.

If you happen to be in New York City at that time, I’d love to see you there!

Xx

Megan

When To Put A Book To Rest

No one’s writing journey is the same. Sometimes, a writer will land an agent after a few tries, while others will take a handful of manuscripts and false steps. Time doesn’t invalidate success and each writer will have a different story about how they reached their goal. Publishing weighs heavily on luck, the market, and what agents and editors have in their inboxes. A rejection does not always mean your story isn’t where it needs to be.

Seriously, I highly encourage writers to read blog posts by agents. They can help your mindset beyond words.

Bearing this in mind, writers can reach a crossroads where after so many unsuccessful attempts, a question arises – does this story need work or is it time to shelve it? The answer depends upon so many factors, but it’s an important thing to discuss. The story of one’s heart is not always the one that gets an agent or a book deal. Maybe it’s the second book of your heart or the fifth. Maybe it’s one you didn’t expect.

The bottom line is you need to do what’s best for you, your story, and what you want to achieve.

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If you plan to shelve a story, here are some things you should consider:

  1. Where are you in the revision process? Have you gone through multiple revisions from a variety of reliable people (critique partners, editors, agents) and it still hasn’t gotten requests or offers of representation?
  2. What’s the market like? What’s desired fluctuates. Maybe your story falls into a bracket that is no longer being asked for by the publishing industry. This doesn’t mean your story isn’t good. It just means the interest isn’t as current as it once was. Interests tend to come back around so your book may be relevant later as opposed to now.
  3. Are you wearing emotional blinders? Writing is and always will be personal. Has being attached to a story clouded your judgment? Separating yourself from the story could allow you to see what may or may not be working.
  4. Are you burnt out? Now, this isn’t always a factor that ties into shelving a story. Life could be stressful. A personal issue could prevent you from getting words down. You’re jumping between projects. What I’m referring to here is more specific. Has writing a story left you feeling more exhausted than happy? If you find you’re struggling with your love for a story or it seems to be draining you, leaving it alone may be what you need. What may have started off as a positive experience might have tipped into something you didn’t anticipate.
  5. Have your ambitions or goals changed? Another issue could be the story you began with isn’t the one you want to succeed or your views on it have shifted. Maybe you’ve decided to pursue a different genre or audience altogether. Maybe this story wasn’t what you hoped it would be. Shelving it to work on something you’re more excited/hopeful for could bring muse back and a newfound drive for the publishing process.

Of course, shelving a book will always be an intense and personal decision that is never easy. For some, it may hurt. For others, it may be a relief, but this is up to the writer and the writer alone.

Feel free to share your experiences if you’ve shelved a project. What made you decide this? How did you get through it? What are you working on now? No author has the same writing experience and it’s important to see the variety of paths.

Xx

Megan

 

Relative Strangers: A Review

I was super fortunate to receive a copy of Relative Strangers from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This book is due out April 10th, 2018 and I highly recommend picking up your copy or doing the author a favor and preordering it.

No spoilers below!

Paula Garner left an impact on me after I read her debut, Phantom Limbs. She had a unique way of tugging at my heart strings. I devoured her book in one sitting and had to not cry in a car ride. It was a fun time. Relative Strangers had this same kind of emotional tug.

1This book is vastly different than Phantom Limbs as it explores a relationship between Jules, her mother, and a life she had never known about – particularly that she was in foster care for some time as a toddler. The plot not only centers around finding out what happened to her, but delves into her connection to her foster family, a complicated bond between mother and daughter, and how this shapes Jules as a person.

What I liked about Jules is the conflict within her, how things didn’t just settle into place, but was something she needed to explore in order to move on and craft a bridge between her past, present, and future. She makes some horrible decisions, but this demonstrates her conflict, her humanity, and her youth. I thought Garner did a great job with drawing on how emotionally taxing the revelation was to Jules and the people involved. Though this book may be short, it packs quite a punch to the heart. 

Also, I want to give a shout out to one of the secondary characters, Eli, because we need to protect him forever and his cuteness. When you read this book, you’ll understand what I mean.

Overall, this was a great read and Garner is definitely on my list of authors to watch.

Xx

Megan

Girl Made of Stars: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the wonderful honor of receiving a copy of Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Blake from HMH Teen. This book is due out in May 2018.

Before I start this review, there are two things to note:

  • This review will contain minimal spoilers so no need to click away.
  • If you are triggered by sexual assault, please take caution reading this book. Sexual Assault is the plot and deals not only with this, but with consent, slut-shaming, victim blaming, and how sexual assault is handled by the criminal justice system.

With that being said, let’s dive in.

Girl Made of Stars is one of the most powerful, heartbreaking, and hopeful books I’ve ever read. I will not say it is an easy read, because the subject matter is heavy and an overwhelming problem in society, but this book puts it all on the table. Ashley Blake challenges the notion of choosing the easy way out, of being complacent, of what happens when trust is obliterated.

31351689The story opens up with a glimpse into Mara and Owen’s lives. They are twins and they are as close as expected, a pair that has always found comfort in storytelling and constellations. You immediately feel their genuine bond and their unwavering security in one another. You also get a glimpse into their family and social circles. For being teenagers, their lives have a solid foundation.

But all of this unravels quickly as Hannah, one of Mara’s closest friends, doesn’t show up to school and a phone call to her parents reveals Hannah’s family wants to sue for what Owen did to her. It doesn’t click in Mara’s head at first. Her brother wouldn’t rape anybody, let alone Hannah. On the opposite end, Hannah wouldn’t lie about being raped. Quickly, Mara is thrown into a whirlwind of not only deciphering what’s real and what’s not, but memories of her own past she hasn’t allowed herself to discuss. She is also dealing with breaking up with her girlfriend Charlie, as she doesn’t want their friendship ruined by dating.

Throughout the story, we see Mara break apart and the strings connecting her to her family and to her twin snap. We see her trying to deal with a past that has been weighing her down for so long. We see her trying to reconcile with Hannah, if there is anything she can say that will fix what her brother has done. We see her trying to figure out if she is immediately a bad person because of her brother’s actions and if there is any way to mend that relationship. We see her trying to understand love. Ashley Blake tosses us into a whirlwind as Mara breaks apart and it is up to her how she chooses to piece herself back together.  There is no easy way to deal with rape, to have the image of someone you’ve known all your life be destroyed. She is pulled in two directions: needing to be what her family wants her to be and doing what she knows is right.

This book made me angry for all the stories that get swept under the rug, for everyone this happens to without any justice.

This book made me sad because my heart broke for Mara and for Hannah and for anyone who has suffered this.

This book made me hope because Ashley Blake doesn’t leave her readers drowning in darkness and confusion and pain. She offers stepping stones, small bits of light to cling to, to pull yourself up.  She in no way makes it sound as if dealing with sexual assault is easy.

You will not forget this book. I know I won’t. It is thought provoking, emotionally challenging, and leaves you speechless. It takes a close look at sexual assault and how many people it truly affects.  It pulls at your heart strings and it is so well done.

When this book comes out – if you’re able to – pick it up and prepare yourself for a powerful narrative that needs to be read.

Xx

Megan

Debut Novels, Sisters, and Pants with Rachel Lynn Solomon

Hello Readers & Writers,

Joining me on the blog today is Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone which comes out January 2nd, 2018 from Simon Pulse. This is Rachel’s debut novel and I couldn’t be more than excited for it as I’ve heard it is a heart-wrenching and addicting read.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. 

YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE hi-res finalEighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

1: Thanks so much for joining me, Rachel! It’s great to have you on the blog. To start things off, how did you discover you liked to write?

Thank you for having me! Like a lot of writers, I’m sure, I can’t quite pinpoint “discovering” that I loved to write. It’s something I’ve always done: as a kid, I scribbled stories on stapled-together scraps of construction paper, as a teen, I posted stories on Fiction Press (which are still up there because I can’t remember my password), and in college, I studied journalism. I took a break from fiction during that time because I was pursuing journalism pretty hardcore, but once I graduated, I started and finished my first full-length novel. I queried it and got one request and many, many rejections, but I keep writing. Four books and many more rejections later, I had You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone.

2:  Your debut novel comes out in January! That’s crazy exciting and probably terrifying, I’m sure. Where did the idea for You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone come from?

One day I tumbled down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and somehow wound up on a page about Huntington’s disease. The name was familiar—anyone who watched the show Everwood probably remembers a plotline involving a decision to get tested for HD—and I knew a little about the genetic testing some people with a family history of HD choose to undergo. As I continued researching, one particular statistic struck me: a child of a parent with Huntington’s disease has a 50/50 chance of inheriting it. I wondered, what if twin sisters received opposite results from a genetic test for Huntington’s? How would that affect their relationship and the trajectories of their lives?

3: Family, especially the bond between siblings, is a big influence in your book. Did you grow up with any siblings?

I have a sister who’s two years younger than I am. We were awful to each other until high school, when we started sharing some of our friends and extracurriculars. The sister relationship in my debut is not at all like the relationship between my sister and me. I don’t believe we’ve ever been competitive like they are, and I also don’t think there’s an undercurrent of jealousy between us…but maybe she’d have a completely different answer! J

4: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

When I decided to write about twin sisters, I wanted my characters to be equally ambitious, committed to goals they’d do anything to achieve. I would love especially for teens to see themselves in my bold, occasionally tempestuous girls who want things so desperately and refuse to bend to anyone’s whims but their own. I think the book is also sex-positive and hopefully empowering with regard to female sexuality and desire. Lastly, because there are so few books with Jewish characters that aren’t Holocaust narratives, I would also love for readers to learn a little more about Judaism.

5: Out of your characters, which one do you relate to the most and which do you differ from the most? 

I like to describe Tovah as the person I was in high school, and Adina as the person I was too afraid to be, the thoughts I had but never acted on. Strangely, I relate more to Adina because I was able to pour into her everything I never did but spent a lot of time thinking about 😉

6: Describe You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone in three words. 

Sisters at odds

7: What books influenced you or what books did you enjoy growing up?

Growing up, I inhaled Meg Cabot books. As a somewhat lonely teen who often struggled to make connections with other people, I found solace in her characters, many of whom were exactly like me. Her premises were so compelling, and all her characters were lovable and flawed in different ways. And her voice was just so fun! Even today, The Princess Diaries and All-American Girl are such comfort reads for me.

8: What are some hobbies you enjoy?

I tend to spend most of my free time tap dancing, playing with my sweet rescue dog Wally, and sitting in Seattle coffee shops and drinking anything except coffee! I also love experimenting with makeup, and I am addicted to Indian food. I wish I had more time to play piano and write songs, two things I loved as a teen.

9: Is there any advice you’d offer to other writers?

Write something that scares you a little, something that challenges you. The only way I feel I’m improving as a writer is if I take a risk with each new book.

10: Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

In high school, I sang and played keyboard in an all-girl band. We had a song called “Pants,” and at our very last show, people in the audience took off their pants and threw them onstage.

Author Bio: 

Rachel Lynn Solomon_photo credit Ian Grant

 

Rachel Lynn Solomon is the author of the upcoming
contemporary YA novel You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (Simon Pulse, 1/2/18). A former journalist, she has worked for NPR, produced a radio show that aired in the middle of the night, and currently works in education. You can find her online at http://www.rachelsolomonbooks.com/ and on Twitter @rlynn_solomon.
Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35297395-you-ll-miss-me-when-i-m-gone

Thanks so much again to Rachel for taking the time to speak with me and don’t hesitate to preorder her stunning debut.
Xx
Megan

What to Know: Publishing

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So you want to work in publishing?

YAY – shoots confetti from a cannon- The publishing world is happy to have you, but there are a few things you should know. These tips are mostly from my experience with publishing as well as some friends of mine and in no way dictate the experience you will have. Also note that I work in the United States so not all of this information may apply to international publishing houses.

Before Applying for a Job in Publishing:

  1. A large percentage of jobs will require a college degree. The most commonly asked for degrees will be a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in English or Creative Writing. I’ve seen some jobs extend outward to Communications, Journalism, and even just an arts degree in general, but the main two are listed above. The reason for wanting these degrees is so employers know that you’ve had experience with critical reading and writing.
  2. Be familiar with Microsoft Office. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are three main programs used constantly in publishing. Get acquainted with them now. Learn how to do track changes in Word, which is critical for reviewing manuscripts, how to set up PowerPoints, and how to format a data sheet in Excel. Upon getting a job, you will likely be trained on software that is specific to your company. This software will hold all of their information regarding their books, authors, and the like.
  3. Know the market beforehand. This is a super impressive thing when you’re meeting with potential employers and companies. They want to know that you’re paying attention to their brand, but also to a genre’s audience, trends, and popular books. If you want to work in fiction, it wouldn’t hurt to browse through a list of best-selling books, top publishing houses, and social media.
  4. Get an internship. Not everyone may have the time or means to acquire an internship, but if you can, please do. These will help make your application stand out and show employers you’re working towards your goal. Also, your chances of getting a job increase for a particular publisher if you’ve interned there before.I will warn you that a lot of internships are unpaid. You will either be offered a small stipend or request that you do the internship in exchange for college credit. Another important fact is the majority of internships are not offered to graduates (those going for a master’s degree or above). Publishing internships are geared for seniors in high school and those attending college. If you want an internship, plan ahead. Some publishers offer internships all year round, while others strictly in the summer.
  5. Publishing is not an easy business to get into. It is very competitive and often constrained to major cities, New York being a central hub. It took me six months to land a job. For friends of mine, it took over a year. Prepare for this, both physically and mentally. It can wear you down.Some companies offer remote positions, where you can work from anywhere, or chances to work from home. Unfortunately, these are still the minority.
  6. Where to look. Here are the sites that I used to search for jobs.http://bookjobs.com
    http://jobzone.publishersweekly.com/
    https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/jobs/
    https://www.mediabistro.com/

    A publisher’s website. A lot of the times, a publishing company will have their own section on careers and how to apply.

    Twitter. Editors and sometimes publishing companies post when jobs are open and the contact person to go to. Keep an eye on these!

 

The Interview:

Congratulations, you’ve secured an interview, maybe even several. Here is where you should go from there!

  1. Have a writing sample or portfolio ready. A good handful of jobs I applied to wanted a writing sample or several pieces gathered into a portfolio. Plan ahead and organize which pieces you want for this. They should be pieces that showcase your talent, voice, and how you analyze a text. Sometimes, the company will tell you what to write about and in that case, it’s up to you to craft a piece.Bring these samples with you, (I suggest two to three copies), to your interview even if you send them ahead via email. There could be multiple people who want to see your work or have a physical copy to read later as they make their decision.
  2. Include your social media on your resume. Publishing is very much an industry about getting the word out and that is mainly through social media, bloggers, etc. If you have a blog related to publishing, writing, editing, or similar topics, mention it on your resume. Note: This should only apply if it’s mainly professional and updated regularly. Employers don’t want to read about your daily life, but rather things that relate to the field. This can help show them your engagement.
  3. Questions you’ll be asked. No interview is the same, but there are some questions you should have answers prepared for. Taking time to think is fine. However, you don’t want to be caught on the spot with a potential employer. Interviews are already nerve-wracking enough.A) What’s your favorite book or a book you read recently?
    B) How do you react under pressure/how do you stay organized?
    C) What do you know about (insert genre, publishing house, assigned task here)?
    D) Why did you choose our publishing house?
    E) What is your biggest strength?

 

The Work Itself:

You’ve got yourself a job! I hope you’re celebrating because this is a big deal especially if it’s your first one in publishing or your first one out of college. Here’s what you should know.

  1. Timelines change. There are so many things that can happen that affect a schedule you were originally given. Be prepared for sudden changes that can either push back a book, make it jump weeks in the schedule, or make you scramble for documents you thought you had ready ages ago. Like any job, publishing relies on a lot of hands and not everything runs smoothly. Keep a schedule, a planner, post-it notes, tons of computer folders-whatever you need to stay on top of things.
  2. People can suck. You’re going to have to talk to a lot of people on a daily basis, whether it be other editors, different departments, or authors. When you work with authors who put a lot of time and effort into their projects, they can get upset/angry if you have to tell them no, change schedules, or give edits on their manuscript. This is bound to happen, hopefully not daily, but there are occasions where you’ll get a nasty email or voicemail. There isn’t much you can do other than be as understanding as you can or realize in your mind their words are not valid and they’re venting because the process didn’t go as they wanted. Or you know, they wonder why you didn’t take them when they’ve written the next Harry Potter.Don’t take the harshness to heart. If something is really bothering you, talk to a coworker of your boss or even step away if you can.
  3. Book people everywhere. My favorite part about my job is being surrounded by book lovers. A few weeks ago, I went to lunch with my coworkers and had an hour long conversation about classic literature-what we love, hate, and want to reread. It makes time fly and also puts me in a comfortable place. You will hopefully get this feeling as you enter publishing, because you can’t do this job if you don’t have a love for reading and stories.

Those are my main tips, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Xx

Megan