We’re thrilled to have former monthly contributor Allison Winn Scotch back with us today, as her latest novel releases in the U.S.! In Twenty Years is all the buzz this season, with the book already on several ‘hot reads for summer’ lists (Glamour, Bustle, Popsugar and Bookbub). The story takes us twenty years beyond a loss that affected a group of college friends, and revisits them as they come together to grapple with their many ghosts. It is, says Library Journal in their starred review, “an absolute must-read that lovers of women’s contemporary fiction will devour in one sitting.”
Allison is back with us today to share some of the things she’s learned over the last many years — though not quite twenty! — as she’s penned six novels. Let’s bask in the wisdom.
Lessons From a Sixth-Book Place
Hi Writer Unboxed community! I haven’t been here in a long time, but I’m so glad to be invited back just in time for the launch of my sixth book, IN TWENTY YEARS, out today! Yup, I think I was a contributor here back when my second or third book released, and it really seems impossible that I’m now half a dozen deep. I thought this was an apt time to share a few things that I’ve learned between now and then, wisdom that hasn’t always come easy, and yes, came with a few scars and more than a few tears. Let my mistakes of the past clear the way for your future!
Here are a few things that I’ve taken to heart this time around:
- Sales of Your Book Do Not Define Your Success as a Writer
I’m starting with this one because I think it’s the hardest and most painful lesson for writers to learn. It certainly was for me. I have had some books do very well, and I have had some books do…not as well. In each case, the successes and failures had nearly nothing to do with me or the words that I put on the pages inside the spine. They had to do with marketing and PR and good luck and bad luck. They had to do with unexpected reviews on places like The Today Show and People, and conversely, with store closures and big reviews getting bumped for other things and never seeing the light of day. After my fourth book, I had a very firm reckoning with myself in which I realized that good sales or bad sales, I am still a writer, and I am still the same writer. It’s so easy, too easy, to blame ourselves (or the author, if you’re the publisher) for a book’s failure, but I no longer accept that because if a book is good enough to publish, it should be good enough to sell. If it doesn’t, I’m still here.
- You Can’t Control Everything
To that end, so much of your book’s release is going to be out of your hands. I think that most writers will complain about the lack of control upon publication, and I’ve come to accept that I can do everything I can to ensure that I am satisfied with my efforts and then just…let go. This release is the most relaxed I’ve ever been – I actually almost forgot that the book was out until this week! – because I really do understand that there are chess pieces I can move…and plenty that I cannot. I deliberated which publisher to go to with this book primarily because of this control or lack thereof. I wanted an imprint that had killer marketing, because at the end of the day, that is the area I always felt the most out of control in – there are very few ways that authors can move the dial themselves – so I went with Lake Union, an imprint of Amazon. Knowing that I’d done what I could in advance to quell my control anxieties, I’m much more chill this time around.
- You Don’t Have to Dance If You Don’t Want To