Pip Harry published her first book – the YA coming of age novel, I’ll Tell You Mine, in April, 2012 (In August it was released as an ebook worldwide) it’s available on Amazon, Kobo and fishpond. She’s pretty sure there are still plenty of copies available.
5 things I learnt being debut author in 2012
1. Other YA authors would become my friends
There’s refreshingly little competitiveness in the YA world and in my first year of being published I discovered a warm and welcoming community of awesome young adult writers all over the world. Melina Marchetta (Quintana of Charyn, On the Jellicoe Road) blurbed my book and launched it at a bookstore with the sweetest speech ever. Margo Lanagan (The Brides of Rollrock Island) invited me to share curries with other lady authors so famous I would frequently choke on my naan bread when they revealed their names. Stateside, Julie Cross (Tempest, Vortex) let me in on her gang of teen authors: Team Teen Author and I found myself involved in international dare days with other YA writer's involving peanut butter facials and writing group posts about bullying and how to be a writer.
2. Book bloggers would be more important than traditional press to spread the word
My book sailed under the radar of virtually every big name newspaper and magazine (despite me having worked as a journalist for nearly 15 years and begging every former editor to give me a review) and it was the book bloggers who really came to the party to help tell the world I’ll Tell You Mine was out there. Vegan YA Nerds, Cuddlebuggery, Alpha Reader, Lizabelle, Winterhaven Books, Distraction99, Rather Be Reading…they shared the book, sang its praises, staged giveaways and posted insightful reviews on Goodreads that made me weep with happiness. They GOT it. I loved their funny memes and in-jokes and was even okay when some of them didn’t like the book and said so. Some of those bloggers I now count as friends.
3. I would re-connect with my past
When you write a book – especially one that’s set in high school - it blows the cover off your privacy and anonymity. Out of the woodwork came dozens of people from my past life saying they had read the book. Old school mates wrote to me on Facebook and invited me to speak at their book clubs, former workmates tweeted the cover, family friends wrote ‘fan’ letters and called my Mum, overseas friends went out of their way to find the book (even in NYC or London) and send congratulations. My Italian cover model (who had never read an English book) made a huge effort to read it and sent a note via twitter. It was an overwhelming and glorious love-in and a great way to re-ignite friendships that had lost their way over time and make new ones.
4. I would still doubt myself
In my first year out I got mostly good reviews (whew) and even a grant, but the writer angst remained. Will anyone want to read my second book? Is this all just a wonderful fluke? Who do I think I am anyway? An author? It turns out being published doesn’t make the ideas flow easier or the writing turn out more polished. It doesn’t give you bullet proof confidence either. I’m still back at the computer, hacking away like I did as a non-published scribe.
5. I wouldn’t be a big success
Every debut author dreams of lightening in a bottle success. The tipping point. The buzz that can’t be stopped. The sort of thing that has recently happened with Gone Girl, Fifty Shades, Wild, Easy…thousands of sales and an Amazon rank in single digits. In reality, very few debut authors enjoy that sort of big scale success – particularly on their first hit out. When my friends ask me how many books I’ve sold, I shrug and ask them to pick a number between 100 and 5,000. Because I don’t actually know. I figure if it was a big hit, we’d be re-printing by now and fielding offers from dozens of international publishers. I won’t lie – I’d love that sort of validation. But the real success for me this year was making contact with my teen audience, writing something they found real and important and sharing the work I’d kept hidden for so long. All those things make me as lucky as JK or Stephenie. Though not as able to buy a ski chalet in Whistler.