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Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Got Published

Getting published is an experience unlike any other, and although it’s been a rollercoaster ride of awesomeness, there are some rules of the game which I wish I’d known prior to signing on the dotted line.

1. It’s OK to argue with your editor. Encouraged, even. Your editor has one job: to make the story better. Naturally, the author wants this too, which means disagreements are bound to arise. An editor who lets just anything slide isn’t doing their job, but at the same time, the author should have major influence. Arguing means both sides are passionate, and that’s awesome. Think of it as like a stellar collision: when two stars are pulled into each other’s gravitational fields and collide at sufficient speeds, their collective awesomeness coalesces. Out of this exploding nebula of extra-terrestrial excellence, an even brighter, bigger star emerges. Pretty cool, huh?

2. You’re allowed to be embarrassed. It’s a natural reaction to people’s amazement. “You wrote a book?” friends and family exclaim, delighted. You want to refute – less out of modesty than just sheer awkwardness – but they’re having none of it. Everyone is super happy for you, which is nice, of course, but sometimes, their happiness makes you want to curl up under a rock somewhere. Writers are solitary creatures, after all. We dwell in the shadows cast by the light of our computer screens, entertaining ourselves with thoughts of strange and horrible things happening to the people in our heads. (Note: no, we don’t need to be institutionalized.)

3. Marketing is hard… and doesn’t necessarily work. I’m the sort of author who doesn’t mind the odd cover reveal or book tour, but coordinating interviews and guest spots is a mammoth task in itself. And there are no tangible rewards, either, since it’s impossible to know the reasons behind readers purchasing your book. Was it because they liked the cover? Or were they enchanted by the interview in which you gushed about your Celine Dion obsession? Who knows. It’s all part of building your brand, though, which is why I hired a publicist to organize the release day blitz for UNTOUCHABLE.

4. Bad reviews aren’t the end of the world. I suppose I can’t really talk. The lowest review I’ve gotten is four stars, though I’m anticipating an end to the streak any day now. Why? Every author – seriously, every single one – gets lacklustre reviews. It’s nothing to be ashamed or upset about. As a matter of fact, I don’t mind bad reviews provided they’re constructive and offer suggestions. As writers, we’re always improving our craft, and reviews allow our most important critics – readers – to help us do just that. Got a bad review and want to feel better about it? Just head over to Goodreads, click on your favourite book and scroll down til you find the inevitable one-star and two-star reviews. It just goes to show that it’s impossible to please absolutely everyone. (Also, whatever you do, never respond to bad reviews. For that matter, don’t even respond to wonderful ones. It’s unprofessional and kind of stalkerish.)

5. It’s OK to be dissatisfied. I used to think getting an acceptance meant a publisher arriving in a helicopter, six-figure contract in hand. Nowadays, I realise how crazy I was. Most writers dream of publication their entire lives, and when it finally happens, it can be depressingly anti-climactic. That’s fine. Just remember to be grateful for the little milestones – like getting to see your cover for the first time. Or hearing the delighted squeals of readers who received an ARC. Or even just noticing a spike in your Amazon rankings. These are things that all authors get to experience, not just the Big Six elite.

And don’t forget: at the end of the day, you have the privilege of calling yourself an author. Embrace it.

10

To me, “FEARLESS” is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, FEARLESS is having fears. FEARLESS is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, FEARLESS is living in spite of those things that scare you to death. FEARLESS is falling madly in love again, even though you’ve been hurt before. FEARLESS is walking into your freshmen year of high school at fifteen. FEARLESS is getting back up and fighting for what you want over and over again… even though every time you’ve tried before, you’ve lost. It’s FEARLESS to have faith that someday things will change. FEARLESS is having the courage to say goodbye to someone who only hurts you, even if you can’t breathe without them. I think it’s FEARLESS to fall for your best friend, even though he’s in love with someone else. And when someone apologizes to you enough times for things they’ll never stop doing, I think it’s FEARLESS to stop believing them. It’s FEARLESS to say “you’re NOT sorry”, and walk away. I think loving someone despite what people think is FEARLESS. I think allowing yourself to cry on the bathroom floor is FEARLESS. Letting go is FEARLESS. Then, moving on and being alright…That’s FEARLESS too. But no matter what love throws at you, you have to believe in it. You have to believe in love stories and Prince Charming and happily ever after. That’s why I write these songs. Because I think love is FEARLESS.

3

In the Name of God

The Ramnamis are a small hindu sect from central India. As leather-workers they are on the lowest rung of the caste-system, because they process the skins of dead cows and are considered ‘untouchable’. Traditionally this status meant that they were prevented from entering Hindu temples along with the other castes. So, in an expression of their own proud religious convictions, the Ramnamis began the practice of tattooing the name of the god, (Ram) all over their faces and bodies. In this way they wished to show that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and that they have no need of temples to confess their faith. Today the Ramnami tradition continues with its own strand of Hindu belief and outdoor prayer areas, and its members hold their heads high in the knowledge of their devotion to their faith.

Olivia Arthur 2005

“You okay? That was a huge blow!” He was laughing and smiling and completely astounded at the size of the line I had just blown. My name is Jane and I’m fourteen years old. I’m sitting on Alex’s bed with his iPad on my lap with two more lines waiting for me to bring the rolled up dollar bill to my nose. I briefly looked up at Alex and gave him a little smile to let him know that I was alright but when I did I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were glossy and the whites were a tint of red which made the blue in the irises stand out even more, my sun-kissed skin turned a ghostly white. Who the hell have I become?
I am no longer the girl that would sit on the swings and squeal with excitement as my dad would give me a hard push. I am no longer the girl who would walk into church on Sunday morning with my great grandfather, hand-in-hand. I am no longer the girl that hides in closet with her sister and pretends that the boxes are rocket ships. I am now the girl that can remember her dad pushing her once on the swings before getting high over at the tennis court. I am now the girl that knows what would happen after church when my great grandfather would help me undress. I am now the girl who knows that every time Ashley and I would pretend we’re space explorers on a different planet it was because she didn’t want me to hear my dad hitting my mom.
As I stared at myself in the mirror and these memories danced in my head and the images played back like some sort of home movie, I became disgusted and angry with who was looking back. I brought my nose to the rolled up dollar bill and I inhaled. Just like that, I felt as though nothing bad had ever touched my life. I am Jane Cowens, I am untouchable.”
—  A book that will never be read
Zodiac Signs As Childish Gambino Songs

Aries: People say that I should be more humble, I hope they understand, they don’t listen when you mumble.

Taurus: I come around when you least expect me. I’m sitting at the bar when your class is empty. You thinking that this song’s coming on to tempt me, I need to be alone like the way you left me.

Gemini: Try to stay inside, I don’t really like appearances. I try to stay inside, but they still got something to say. 

Cancer: I’ll give you all of me until there’s nothing left.

Leo: Told me I was awful and that shit did not phase me. Tell me how I sucked again, my memory is hazy.

Virgo: I took off my nine to five, but you still don’t have the time to kiss me (just hit me). If I left you all alone, would you still pick up the phone, it’s iffy. 

Libra: And even when you were sad, you were really happy. Cause you were here. And I got to meet every star, every planet, everything that made me. And we all kissed, and became the same.  

Scorpio: I’m a ghost and you know this, thats why we broke up in the first place.

Sagittarius: It’s up to me, but then we left. The times have changed. The pleasures that I feel. They say you never say never, it’s real. 

Capricorn: If I don’t take myself serious, who the fuck else will?

Aquarius: Speak from your heart and never compromise what you feel is real, And never let these white people tell you how to feel. Never let anybody tell you how to feel.

Pisces: Cause I don’t know where to go and no one else seems to know.