Lisa McMann is a former blueberry picker and, more recently, a New York Times bestseller; her first novel, Wake, is nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association. The sequel, Fade, will be on sale on February 24, 2009.
1) What is your writing day like?
Intense. On the days I am writing, I write fast and barely stop for air, much less lunch. It all starts at precisely 8:22 a.m. when the last family member leaves the house for school, and it usually goes until 2:30 or 3 p.m. I drink a couple Diet Cokes in there, maybe stand up a few times to stretch, or go outside to sit in my thinking chair if my brain needs a breather. I love days like these.
2) We’ve heard about “the call” when someone gets an agent/a publisher. What was “the call” like when you heard you were on the NYT Bestseller List?
My agent called me on a Wednesday afternoon and said that Jen, my editor, wanted to talk to us both. He then hooked Jen up with the three-way calling thing and while I was waiting for Jen to come on the line, I was just sitting there, wondering what was up – I actually thought she was calling to say that they were disappointed in sales or something, or that maybe there was a problem and they no longer wanted to publish FADE…of course I’m as neurotic as any author.
So when Jen came on the line, she says something like, “I just wanted to let you know that I am talking to a New York Times bestselling author!!” only she kinda screams that last part and I absolutely can.not.believe it. So I said something like Shut. Up. and we all three were talking at once, so excited, and I said “No WAY!!” about a hundred times.
And it was the absolute best day of my entire life. (My husband doesn’t mind that it was better than our wedding day, which really sort of sucked.)
3) What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Editing the rough draft.
4) What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Writing the rough draft.
5) I know you’ve mentioned publicity in another interview. Specifically, you mention your MySpace page. How exactly does a writer or wannabe writer create a MySpace page that gets people to go there?
This is a GREAT question. And I don’t have the answer. I only know how to have a Myspace “presence,” whereby I go out and find people who like to read YA books, and hang out and talk with them.
A lot of authors feel like it’s up to the fans to find them. I love it when fans find me, but those people already know about the book. I want to find future fans, too. We as authors need to be humble enough to seek them out.
So you find an author who 1) has a lot of fans on Myspace already and 2) writes similarly to what you write, and you find readers on their pages. I prefer to befriend people from their “new friends” list and comments rather than their top friends so I don’t end up wasting time befriending people who haven’t logged on since June of 2006.
You send a friend request to them. If the person accepts your friend request, a thank you is in order. Please don’t start the conversation out by saying, “Hey, I have a book coming out that you might like!” I hate when people do that to me. If they want me to buy their book (or CD or whatever), they need to court me a bit. At least pretend like they care, you know?
You might want to mention that you found them on Cassandra Clare’s (or whoever’s) Myspace page and you wonder if they’ve read City of Ashes yet. Or comment on another book in their “favorite books” section that you’ve read too. You have a conversation with a fellow book lover.
Be a friend first. Your page should have all the info about your books on it – when your friends come to like you, they’ll naturally grow curious about your book and ask. And they’ll read your bulletins and blogs, too – that’s where you sell your book. And over time, they’ll be pulling for you! They’ll spread the word about you and your book, forward your bulletins to their friends, all because you took the time to establish a reader-in-common relationship with them.
Yes, it takes a ton of time. And it’s not for everybody – you have to enjoy interacting this way. But when I see teens posting on blogs, “Lisa McMann’s book WAKE is amazing and she’s really nice too – she’s my Myspace buddy!” I sort of melt a little. And I know that my effort paid off not only in word of mouth advertising, but also in a loyal friendship with some pretty amazing, invisible people.