Random Practical Tips for Your Debut Year

At Vromans with Susan Adrian, Mary McCoy, and Gretchen McNeil.  Thanks to Elizabeth Briggs for the Photo

So I recently finished up the Pasadena Teen Blog Fest, which will probably be the last event I do to promote my debut novel Midnight Thief. The next events will be to promote the sequel Daughter of Dusk, and I'll be posting info about those launch events soon. 

This has gotten me to thinking about the things I learned this past year about having a book out--not so much big picture, overarching things, but the little bits of practical advice I might pass along to someone with a book coming out soon.  This is what I came up with.


Gotprint.com has the cheapest good quality bookmarks.

Metallic sharpies are good for signing dark pieces of paper.

USPS media mail is the cheapest option for mailing books, though priority mail flat rate padded envelopes are a pretty good deal for faster shipping.

You can get packaging materials (like flat rate priority mail padded envelops, for example), delivered to your house for free.

You can also send a package from your home at no extra charge.  Buy the postage online (easy to do if you're doing flat rate sending methods) and schedule a free pickup at the usps website.

International forever stamps are a thing.  They are round and cost $1.10 each the last time I checked.

Blog tours take a LOT of time to do if you're providing guest post content.  Be aware that if you agree to do one, it will greatly ratchet up the stress level of your weeks leading up to launch.


Quickest remedy for bad review blues:  pick your favorite book and go read bad reviews of it online. It helps to put things in perspective.

More time consuming remedy for bad reviews:  this awesome talk.

Stay away from goodreads, but if you must go, there's a filter option to display reviews with only certain star ratings.

Tracking Yourself Online

Google alerts misses the vast majority of hits.  Talkwalker works a little better.  Mention.net works quite well, but the free plan doesn't very many hits.

Don't freak out at your bookscan numbers.  Really.  They don't include ebooks, library sales, special sales, or a good proportion of independent bookstores. For me, bookscan was less than half of my print sales and less than 1/3 of my total sales.

Curious about libraries that have your book?  Check out worldcat.

Author events

If you're speaking on an elevated stage, be careful with short skirts.  Sometimes panel tables will have tablecloths hanging to the floor, but not always.

Wear deodorant


Drop in stock signings: If you find your book in a bookstore, bring it up to the front desk, and they'll usually be happy to have you sign it.  The store employees will put a sticker that says "Signed copy," and sometimes they'll even display it face out on the shelves.  Don't sign anything other than your name though, or else the store won't be able to return the book to the publisher.  

 If you get a store employee to help you look for your book, don't tell them you're the author.  Otherwise, it's awkward if they don't have it in stock.

But if you're going to be in a new town for a few days, you might want to try emailing stores a few weeks before hand to let them know you'll be there and are willing to sign stock, and sometimes stores will order extra stock for the occasion.

Public Life

PO Boxes are worth the expense to protect your privacy.

Fellow authors, any other thoughts or tips?

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