It is my greatest pleasure to welcome – again – my dear friend, Lucy A. McLaren, for a new chat about what about what to do now your book is out, publishing and BookTok!
Lucy’s first book, Awakening, the first in a 3-book series, is just out at SFWP.
Hello Lucy and thank you for accepting this interview!
Thanks for having me, Cindy! 🙂
First things first – can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I can—I’m Lucy A. McLaren, a fantasy author and professional counsellor. My debut book, a YA dark fantasy called Awakening: The Commune’s Curse Book 1, just my came out from Santa Fe Writers Project. I’ve loved stories in all their forms for as long as I can remember, and enjoy reading, gaming, and watching all things fantasy.
Let me address you my congratulations since you mentioned your first novel, Awakening, was published earlier this year, on May 1st to be exact, by SFWP. This is of course a milestone in the career of any author. So, I’m curious to know how you lived this experience, both the positive and the less positive aspects. Can you tell us more about it?
Thank you! Yes, it’s certainly been a rollercoaster. The positive, of course, has been seeing my book released into the world and getting back some lovely reviews. I’m still finding it quite surreal, in all honesty—but also amazing.
I think what I didn’t anticipate so much was the energy it would take to market my book and to keep up that momentum now that it’s out. I’ve got a young son so it’s been hard finding balance. Marketing takes a lot of focus and creativity. I have had the opportunity to take part in (or will be taking part in) some really exciting writing events/author interviews, and that’s been fun.
I struggle with anxiety and self-doubts, so I’m constantly battling with a little voice in my head telling me it doesn’t matter if my book is now out—I’m still not good enough! That’s something I’m working to counteract, and the positive feedback some people have given me for my book does help.
I understand that you are currently working on the edits of the second book, since Awakening is the first book of a trilogy. How is it going? Is it easier/more difficult to work on this novel?
I am indeed. I wrote the second book very soon after I wrote Awakening which, in hindsight (and three years down the line now with a baby in tow), I’m really grateful for! Editing is a much different process to writing the book. In many ways it’s easier—the book is already written and I know what I want to add, so it’s just a case of going in and adding extra scenes/chapters and ensuring what is there lines up with the final version of Awakening.
I’m finding it easier to work on the second novel because I’m so in the character’s heads at this point, I feel like I know them and how they would react to situations. Book 2 takes some twists and turns that I don’t think readers will be expecting, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with people.
One aspect that is not mentioned often enough in an author’s career is the promotion stage! I saw that you describe yourself as introvert, so was it hard for you to talk about your book on social network or at online conferences?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Being an introvert means it’s been quite a challenge getting used to public speaking and discussing my book. It’s becoming easier the more I do it, but I’m still very nervous before any events. I think it’s helped that a lot of them are still online because of COVID, so I haven’t done an in-person event as yet. I’d love to do one in future, but that will be a whole new level of nerves ha!
Ultimately, I want to share my book with people. I want it to find its audience, because I love the characters and think others will too. So… being open and speaking about Awakening is part of that! Maybe one day I’ll get used to it (not likely!!).
For example, you recently started on Tiktok (congratulations by the way!) how do you feel about it? Do you think it really has an impact on book sales?
Ah yes. I was in two minds about it, but I’ve been hearing lots of good things about it for authors so I thought—why not? May as well give it a try. I can’t yet say whether it’s had much of an impact on my book sales, but I have had a surprising amount of fun with it. The BookTok community is huge, so I think it’s worthwhile investing time in it as an author. It’s a way of sharing your work with a big community of potential readers—you haven’t got anything to lose, really. I would just recommend not thinking about what you’re posting too much. I hate putting myself out there BUT if I just record, upload and post then there’s no time to overanalyse.
Now that you’re published – and have gone through the looking glass! – is there anything you would like to improve/change about being a writer?
Good question. In some ways, social media is a huge asset for writers, but in others it can be a real drain. It takes up time and energy that could be placed on, you know, WRITING! But I can see the value in it at the same time. If I could change anything, it would be that perhaps social media doesn’t play as a big a role in book marketing as it does now. Can’t our books just magically find their audience without all this online advertising?! (If only).
I know you have an extremely busy private and professional life, how do you manage to reconcile this with writing?
I’m not sure I do reconcile it, to be honest. It’s been a real struggle since I had a baby in summer 2021 to find time to write again. I’m slowly getting there and I’m hoping as he gets older and goes to nursery/school, it will become easier… for now, I’m fumbling my way through.
Honestly, I’m not sure that having a young baby at the same time as launching a book was the best idea—but that’s how it happened and they are both a huge blessing in my life! So I’m plodding along as best I can.
Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment or do you prefer to focus on your edits?
I do have a couple of projects on the back-burner but, for now, editing book 2 is my priority because it turns out that having a baby massively reduces your brainpower… so, honestly, I do not have the mental capacity to focus on other novels right now! I have been writing some short stories on the side though, just to keep my writing brain ticking over.
I hope in the near(ish) future to return to my other YA fantasy series, and a certain joint project with a good friend… 😉
Thank you very much Lucy for answering my questions!
Thank you, Cindy!
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