A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Of Websites and Wedding Dresses

Today is Monday and according to my new blog format that means it's all about ME!!!

For the past four days I've been working furiously towards one thing--my manuscript going on submission this week. Yikes! Yay!

* Hyperventilating and celebrating at the same time.*

I thought you might be interested in what it takes to for a writer to prepare for her/his manuscript going on submission. For me it was: go through the manuscript, send it to my agent, make a few revisions, send it to my agent, go through it again, and one last thing...

Get a website.

My first official conversation with my agent was about my manuscript, but after we had talked revisions she said, "Okay, about your web presence..."

Web presence?

Gone (or at least fading) are the days when an author could slave away in their little corner, create their art, and then send it to readers who would enjoy the book while the author remained in relative anonymity. Today, readers expect to be able to Google their favorite author and find out what they wore to their high school prom. (Or if they even went to their high school prom.) For the record, I went to my junior, but not my senior prom.
And my dress was blue, and a little too tight because I borrowed it from a friend, but I digress...

The point is, there's a lot more to selling a book than just writing it, sending it off to a publisher, and going to a book signings. (Not even mentioning the query process or revisions.) Now, it is vitally important that authors, especially new authors, take responsibility for their own branding and their own advertising. Hence, I needed a website.

By now you're probably wondering (based on the title of this post), What does a wedding dress have to do with my website?

It's a parable of sorts. Let me enlighten you.

My first foray into higher education was at a small, private college, run by my church. It was called Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). At Ricks there was a running joke about girls who went to Ricks to get their MRS (to find a husband). I was not one of these girls, and honestly I didn't know too many girls who were like that. It was a joke and a stereotype, usually not true. (And I suspect even less true now.)

However, one of my friends had a roommate who personified that stereotype. She actually came to Ricks with her wedding dress. No kidding. I saw it in the closet. And she didn't even have a boyfriend. There were other girls, not that extreme, who had already figured out what kind of wedding dress they wanted, some had even looked into decorations, caterers etc. Some had books of that kind of stuff. (If you're old or young enough think Monica on "Friends).

I wasn't like that. I actually wrote in my journal "I will not get married until I'm at least 25." (I won't tell you how young I really was when I got married.)

And then I met David.

David was and still is the one person in the world that completes me. (I know that's a cliche but it's true.) My mom says we're like a hand and a glove. When I met him I knew we were going to get married.

Sooner that I expected, I was faced with the task of planning my wedding. Only I didn't have a clue what I wanted. Or where to look. The whole thing stressed me out I didn't get to enjoy the process. When my sister got married I wanted to be involved in everything. By then, I knew what I liked--too late for my own wedding.

So websites and wedding dresses. (I will tie this all together, I promise.) What I should have learned from planning a wedding that I was completely unprepared to plan; it's okay and not presumptuous to PREPARE for an event that you are working towards and that you want to happen.

Like writing. Like having a manuscript on submission. Like putting up a website.

Last year, I attended a SCBWI-WWA (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Western Washington), meeting that was put on by Greg Pincus. Greg writes a blog called The Happy Accident, all about increasing your web presence. He said that the time to start advertising and creating buzz about a book is three years before it comes out. Three years!!! I took that to my critique group and we all agreed that seemed a little crazy. Three years ago was when I started this process, three years ago my story hadn't even been conceived, much less written.


In many ways he was right. Not that I could have promoted a book that didn't exist, but that I could have promoted myself as a writer. I could have started a blog, (like this one). I could have a least looked into how to do a website. I could have connected with other writers, (luckily I did).

Not having any idea what I wanted for my wedding added stress to an event I wanted to enjoy. Not knowing what I wanted and needed for a website added stress to another process I could have had fun with.

Fortunately, choosing wisely in the first instance (the wedding) helped me out in the second. My techie husband did an amazing job on the site that he built for me, and he was even willing to work late hours to get it together in my unreasonable time frame. (Thanks Hon!)

So I didn't tell my young friend heading off to BYU-Idaho, (my former college) this week that she needs to bring her wedding dress. But I will tell you, my friends and fellow writers, BE PREPARED.

The idea of putting up a website or even a blog might seem presumptuous. Going to a writer's group when you're just starting out might seem premature. But it's not. Let me say that again, working towards something you want is not presumptuous, it's smart.

And I'm not just talking about writing. Any goal that's worth having is worth taking seriously, even if it takes years to achieve. You can enjoy the journey knowing that you're working for something you want and when the time comes you'll be prepared.

And you might not be stuck wearing your best friend's too-tight blue dress to your prom. (But that's another parable.)

With that LONG introduction I present my website:

JUADSOL (Jumping up and down, screaming out loud!)


  1. Love it! And by "it" I mean the "Pretty in Pink" gloves on your hands at your prom. Who is that dashing young man who took you?

    And judging by the wedding pic, you weren't much beyond your prom when you did get married!

    Thank you for this. It's inspiring and helpful. I am mentoring a young writer now who is working on her own web presence. I'll make sure she sees this!

  2. Love the prom pic! I totally can remember that. And relate to everything you said. Good luck with everything!!!

  3. Thanks ladies. Okay Val, when you said gloves I was thinking, "I didn't wear gloves to prom," but...pictures don't lie. And funny story about the guy, remind me and I'll tell you later. :)

  4. Really fantastic advice. It's funny.. I've been thinking about this same issue for a few weeks. As I get ready to send the kids back to school and have some real time for writing again I think it might be time to change my blog from a mommy/grandma/me/too often complaining blog to something more professional. I hope to see you at the meeting on Tuesday but I will be struggling with the night before school starts stress too. We'll see.