inside the publishing process

Titles, titles, titles.

crumpled-paper It's freaking hard to re-title a project. For the last two or so years, the book I've been working on has been called Flame. It's the title we pitched it as, the title I told my friends and family about, the title I placed on the top of the Pinterest board of imagery for when I got blocked. The book is about burn victims and young love, and so it made sense, but it was always a working title. In the back of my mind, I always wanted something else.

Well, after about a million emails with my editor and agent, after some creative brainstorming with friends and family, after just about tearing my hair out while staring at the blank Word doc, I found a title just a couple of months ago, and I couldn't be happier.

Flame is now ...

The Last Time We Were Us

Beyond burning/love, the book is really about nostalgia, about getting to a place you'd thought you lost and how wonderful it is when you can, indeed, go home again. It's about how two people, over the course of a friendship and relationship, change so many times, and how that can be both good and bad. The title is long and nearly impossible to shorten, but I'm pretty happy with it.

So from now on I'll be talking about The Last Time We Were Us (TLTWWU). Dear goodness, I need a shorter slug.

P.S. In case you forgot, TLTWWU comes out in about a year. Can't wait!

Friday Writing Inspiration: Sylvia Plath and Overcoming Self-Doubt

Sylvia Plath writing quoteLike all writers (and all humans), I have a tendency to get down on myself sometimes. And with a published book, sometimes it can be pretty easy. Is it selling as much as X, X or X? Why did so-and-so get a positive review from such-and-such and I didn't? Why is review #23 on Goodreads so mean? What did I ever do to them? Do they know that I still read every single review? Do they know how much their words can sting? Why is a 24-year-old a bestseller? By that logic, at 28, I should be a bestseller a few times over! During times like this, it's easy to forget about the good things. That Booklist loved The After Girls, that, for awhile, at least, the book was rocking the Top 50 on Amazon, that a reviewer, who, for all intents and purposes, appears not to be delusional or crazy, compared my writing to that of John Green

And beyond all that commercial stuff, the fact that I receive emails like this:

Hi! I just finished reading your book After Girls and wanted to tell you it was really good! I felt like I was in the book and experiencing what Sydney and Ella were. It felt like Astrid was my friend. 

Or that this adorable teen thought it fit to record a hilarious review for her YouTube channel.

There's also this: The After Girls is not the only story I have in me. That I have a new idea that I love and my agent loves, and I feel like readers will love, too.

There are so many things to be thankful for as a writer, and more than anything else, the fact that you get the joy of writing and sharing your work with the world, whether that world is your partner, a friend, your doting mom or a million loyal readers.

For those of you struggling (like me) with the inevitable writer self-doubt, for those looking for an agent, an editor, a second publishing lottery ticket, or simply for the strength and dedication to complete your story, I encourage you to meditate on the fact that we all feel this way sometimes. And to remember that, if you've suffered any of the setbacks that come with writing and publishing and you still want to write, you must have something to say, because there are a lot of easier ways to make money (and a ton of easier ways to have fun).

Happy Friday.

Leah

Friday Writing Inspiration: Robert Graves Quote, Money and Writing

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Happy Friday! Today, I'm enamored by this quote by poet and novelist, Robert Graves. It reminds us that money can never be the end-goal of writing, but that that's okay.

Sometimes, I think it's almost easier to say you're not in it for the money before you get published, because even if it's a long-shot, you can always dream of your book going to auction, of that huge deal, of being the next J.K. Rowling right out the door (p.s. not even J.K. Rowling was J.K. Rowling right out the door), but once you get your first deal, you're faced with a number, a paper, a contract. You have a dollar amount that says: This is how much your art is worth.

While I'm working hard towards a time when that dollar amount is enough to be my sole income, it's important to remember that that is not the goal. The goal is to write something beautiful and of value to others--and to yourself. Some art will be rewarded monetarily, some won't. Some works that are not authentic hardly truly valuable will earn money in droves. It's a lottery ticket. But for now, at least, I feel very thankful that some people, during these crazy economic times, are willing to shell out a few bucks for The After Girls, something that is very special and important to me.

So here's to writing, and here's to day jobs, eating in, and all the other things that are a part of a writer's life.

New York Trip Part Three: My First Book Party. My first Reading. With VIDEO!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3ZlkixlAx0&w=560&h=315] Well I meant to post this ages ago, but I guess life got in the way. I've already blogged about all the fun I had in New York at Book Expo America and my first author school visit, but the most fun had to be the book party!

I have to admit I was very intimidated by the planning/throwing a party for myself. I love planning things for others, but when it comes to celebrating me, I usually stick to casual meet-ups or low-key dinner parties. So planning a book bash in Manhattan was a BIG DEAL.

All planning worries aside, the party was a huge hit! It was amazing to be surrounded by so many friends, family and supporters. Thomas acted as my official bookseller, and I even ran into the problem of running out of books (a good problem to have).

The whole thing felt like what everyone says about weddings--that it goes by in a flash and you talk to so many people but can hardly remember it. For me, it was a flash, but a wonderful one. Old writing teachers, the authors who blurbed my book, former coworkers, even Thomas's extended family attended. I felt so blessed to have so many loving and supportive people in my life--and I can officially say that I couldn't have done it without any of them.

For those who missed it (or those who will enjoy a video of me stumbling over my own work), I've made a quick video of the main event--the reading. Enjoy!

New York Trip Part Two: Book Expo America (with lots of pics!)

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Since my return from New York, I have of course been way behind on everything, but I am belatedly getting to one of my favorite events there--Book Expo America (BEA).

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Let's be clear--I have never been to a book event of this magnitude before. It's thousands of square feet at Javits of ... BOOKS. Yes, it is truly, amazingly booktastic, and now they open it to the public one day, so you should def check it out next year.

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But anyway, my publisher had set up a half-hour signing for me in the autographing area. It felt super official (and super nerve-wracking). You had to go sign in at this special booth and then make your way through this behind-the-scenes curtain (where they stored boxes of everyone's books) to pop out just as the author before you left and make everything look super seamless. Then a bunch of people get in line and you just sign your book to your heart's content. Since I'm such a new, unknown, I was a little worried I'd have the sad empty line, but I didn't. It was full the whole time. I met a lot of cool people, and got some great practice on my autographing skills :) It was awesome to meet people who'd seen the book in the show catalog and had marked it down as one to pick up!

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After that, the publicist swept me back to the F&W booth, where we did another impromptu signing with my tower of books. See above. (It's not really allowed, so shhh, but it was really fun.)

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All in all, it was truly an amazing and humbling experience. I felt like a real author for maybe the first time. One of the women walking by even said, "You're the author? You look to young to be an author!" I'm going to take that as a compliment.

Other highlights included cool LEGO structures and getting a glimpse of the Ron Hubbard scientology booth. See below.

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I want these.

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Really bad.

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That's right, a book really is sold every 2 seconds... If that's not terrifying, I'm not sure what is.