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Category: publishing

I’m in Harness Magazine!

Oh, hi! You came to see me, but today I’m over on Harness Magazine with an essay I wrote what feels like forever ago and stuck in a drawer. I’m glad it finally has a home, and just in time as the school year winds down to single-digit days. Happy summer and happy reading!

Head on over to read “Wait, I was supposed to register my kids for summer camp in January?” on Harness Magazine.

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I’m in my book friends era

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, Taylor Swift in Japan Day, and International Day of Women and Girls in Science (however you celebrate – I don’t judge).

I’ve devoted far more brain matter than is appropriate to thinking about how much changed for me between 2022’s Texas Book Festival and 2023’s (back in November). In 2022, my latest book had just come out a few months prior, and while it was still having its moment in the sun, I didn’t feel like I was. I barely knew anyone in the local book scene, and I was only able to get a launch party at the same bookstore that had had me a decade before, when I was brand new to Austin.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to BookWoman for having me, but walking between the booths at the last TX Book Fest, it struck me how different of a place I was in. My book had gotten a modest number of good local reviews and I had inched my way into the local circle by showing up at events and forcing myself to talk to people (and buying their books… lots of them… I need shelf help). Instead of gawking at the lineup of authors and cautiously approaching booksellers, I was waving to them and chatting them up like old friends, because that’s what we’d become over the past year since my book came out – friends.

For most of the last eight years, I realized I’d been in my “mom friends” era. So much of my social life revolved around my kids (and let’s be real… a lot of it still does) and being on the board of Austin Parents of Multiples that those were the only circles I was regularly in. Not that I was particularly adept at making mom friends – it took a lot of awkward minivan and Costco talk at windowless room birthday parties to find my people. Before the twins started Kindergarten, I was squarely in a niche mom friends era in which I rarely interacted with any parents who didn’t own a double stroller.

Before that, it was the “college friends” era. Instead of pizza and cake and Urban Air birthday parties every weekend, it was weddings and bachelorette parties and housewarmings. I mostly dodged the bridesmaid bullet, largely due to avoiding the whole sorority thing. I somehow found time to hang out with my now-husband in sports bars between working full time and doing the world’s weirdest freelance writing gigs. (Okay now I know how – I didn’t have two tiny humans who relied on me to feed them and bathe them and put them to bed when I would normally be in a sports bar).

But NOW… my kids are older and a increasingly more self-reliant. I have a sliver of life outside of school pickup and twin stroller walks where we take up the sidewalk AND the bike lane. Are all my pants still Costco pants? Yes – because Costco is the best and waistbands are the wort. But most of my t-shirt repertoire is now bookstore and book festival finds.

This past weekend, I attended a much-needed Zibby Books Retreat after convincing myself A) It was an appropriate use of my Indie Author Project prize money (see previous blog post) and B) I had enough solo-attended book events under my belt that I wouldn’t feel too out of my element talking about books with a group of 60 strangers. We weren’t strangers for long. There’s something about a mutual love for books that instantly bonded me to these new book friends, and made me feel like I was my own person outside of my husband and kids. They also appreciated my strong bookstore t-shirt and Costco pants game.

Of course, I still have some long-lasting friendships from my college friends era. I still camp once a year with my twin mom era friends. I went to dinner and a show with my kids’ best friend’s mom last night. They are still my people. But when my next book comes out (TBD… don’t ask), I won’t be the outsider at the Texas Book Festival anymore. I’ll be surrounded by the book friends I’ve made and am still making in my book friends era, because they are now my people, too.

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How I spent my pub day

It was a long, slow road from manuscript to shelf, but my publication day finally arrived on June 21, just 6 days after my 40th birthday.

I took the day off my day job to celebrate because, let’s face it, it’s not like I was going to get any actual work done… and if you can’t take a day off to celebrate when you release a book into the world, when can you?! Here’s how I spent my pub day…

Social media

I laugh in the face of people who say authors should spend 2-3 hours a day on social media, cause ain’t nobody got time for that, but I definitely spent the first 3 hours of my pub day on social media. I was sharing pub day Instagram posts to my stories, interacting with post comments, posting myself to let people know the book was available, etc. I also started recording clips for a pub day reel, after I googled how to do it because I’m 40 and don’t understand reels.

The gym

Most of my book takes place in a gym, so of course I had to take advantage of a weekday off to go to one of the classes typically reserved for stay-at-home-moms. I honestly can’t remember the last time I took a gym class at 10 AM on a weekday (before pub day, I mean). Of course, I recorded video clips (before and after – I’m not one of those assholes who pulls out their phone mid-class) for my pub day reel.


I wrote a post for my blog to announce my pub day. I also had 3 other blogs I had written guest posts for months earlier hit on pub day (thanks, but y’all could have spaced that out and done me a favor), so I wrote blog posts to share those as well.

Drinking in a pub

If there’s ever a day to go day drinking in a pub, it’s your pub day. I chose the Mean Eyed Cat in west downtown Austin because it’s one of my favorites, I knew it wouldn’t be busy on a Tuesday afternoon, and because I know they have Electric Jellyfish on tap.

Of course, I recorded more clips for my pub day reel and made a TikTok video because I’m still trying to figure out that platform.

Visiting a bookstore

The Mean Eyed Cat was conveniently on the way to BookPeople – Austin’s largest independent bookstore. I knew they had purchased some copies of the book because I had a preorder campaign with them, but I wasn’t sure how many, and if they would be shelved yet.

Imagine my surprise when I strolled over to the fiction section and saw the cover of my own book staring back at me, shelved cover out! I was so excited (and feeling slightly buzzed from the pub) I asked the BookPeople staff to snap a picture of me… which I didn’t like. So I took this one, wrinkles and all. Obviously I was still excited. And yes, then I recorded more reel footage.

After the kids were in bed on the longest day of the year, I capped off the day’s celebration with some wine and finished up my pub day reel, which I thought turned out pretty good. Certainly not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.

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Authors, stop comparing yourself to Bookstagrammers

I have a little more than four weeks left until Community Klepto comes out, which means I have to spend a lot more time paying attention to social media. To prepare for upcoming podcast interviews, I’m listening to episodes with other authors to get a feel for the aesthetic and the kinds of questions they might ask me, and then also seeing how authors and the media are promoting their episodes.

Algorithms working the way they work means that you’ll start to see the author, their book, or both everywhere. Every other book stack contains that book that you just heard about 5 minutes ago for the first time, but all of a sudden the book has exploded and gone viral. That’s when you start to wonder… why isn’t my book everywhere? Why don’t I have a different Instagram live author salon every hour for the next four weeks? Am I really the talentless hack I feel like when I read my own book for the 800th time and find a typo I missed the first 799 times?!

Okay, so maybe that one’s just my own impostor syndrome projections, being so close to pub for this novel and deep in the dreaded saggy middle of writing the next one. But we’ve all been there, wanting to call the printer at the 11th hour and stop the presses because the book’s no good, right? Well, it’s too late now. The books are already in the warehouse and it’s time to put an end to this pity party of one and give myself a pep talk.

Here’s why I need to stop comparing myself to influencer authors on Instagram, and you should too.

No one’s the overnight success they appear to be.

Behind every celebrity-status author you think rose to stardom with a book that came out of nowhere is a human being who was rejected by 100 other agents and publishers, who submitted the same short story to open reading periods for three years in a row before it got accepted somewhere.

And the reason you suddenly start seeing a book everywhere is because algorithms work. They know it takes a number of impressions before you’ll take action and buy the book, and they also know a lot about you. It’s the same reason you search for a shoe you’ve never heard of and then you start seeing ads for it everywhere. And several of the social media platforms are pay to play. You’re seeing the book everywhere because someone is paying for it to be seen everywhere.

Which brings me to my next pep talk…

They pay for the exposure, too.

Anyone who tries to say publicity is free is full of shit. I interviewed several book publicists as part of my book journey for Community Klepto, and not a one of them offered to work for me for free. Even the big New York book publishers only invest marketing dollars into a book that they think they will make their money back on. Even authors who finally land that big 4 book deal with a sweet advance aren’t promised much, if anything, in publicity and marketing budget.

So who pays? The author, usually. Book bloggers might enjoy the perks of getting a mailbox full of free books every week, but they’re also in it for the money. No one buys a book they’ve never heard of, and getting your name and title heard will cost you.

And lest we forget…

Instagram isn’t real life.

Neither is Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or whatever the hell the new-new thing is that I won’t hear about until the olds take it over. No one posts their rejection letters on Instagram (not all of them, anyway – some of them make for good entertainment; I once got a rejection for a book that wasn’t even mine). No one live streams the hours they spend rewriting the same sentence 20 times. No one makes a reel of all the pitches they make that go completely unanswered, but I’m willing to bet there’s a lot.

For all those live events that seem to happen every hour for those authors I see over and over, there are plenty of them with single-digit audiences. For every TikTok, there’s a quick shirt change and parting the hair on the other side between filming five 1-minute videos while the kids are upstairs watching Disney Plus because we don’t have time or energy to spend doing our hair and makeup for something spontaneous (at least I don’t).

Okay – pity party’s over. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna suck it up and make the most of my release because I have to out-earn my publicity spend!

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My least favorite part of this book process…

Earlier this week I got my design pages from my publisher! Not only is it a wonderful preview of what my book will look like in print (sans cover), it’s also my last chance to make any edits. In meetings with my publisher and other authors in my cohort, I knew it was coming, and I also was told repeatedly of two things I could do to make sure I was catching any last minute typos: 1) print my design pages on brightly colored paper and 2) read the printed pages out loud.

I think even your average author despises the sound of their own voice (good thing David Sedaris is not average… I can’t imagine anyone else reading his audiobooks). Because I have a speech impediment (stuttering), I hate listening to the sound of my own voice more than most, because the sound of my own voice – even when I am by myself in the master bedroom, because it is the only room in the house with interior locks, after draining my Buc-ees mug of coffee with Bailey’s – is sometimes a legit battle.

But since I can fit the amount of things I know about the business side of books into one tiny pinky nail, I trusted their word and printed out my design pages on bright yellow paper… because it was second cheapest. (Salmon was cheapest… but I just can’t bring myself to stare at that much pink while I read out loud.)

And as much as I would like for this blog post to be a refutation of my publisher’s recommendation… goddammit they were right. I’ve probably read this manuscript at least 20 times and have done so with the eagle eye I’ve been told I have on multiple professional occasions. And yet, by reading it on piss yellow paper in my wavering stutter, I’ve already found missing words, transposed words, and an entire section in the wrong verb tense… and this is AFTER the proofreaders did their worst.

So, I’m going to fumble over my words and finish reading this super-yellow manuscript out loud until page 277, because I am magically catching things I should have caught years ago, and because it’s making my book a better book. Even when I can’t pronounce words that begin with R.

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Another feature in Moms Don’t Have Time to Write

This essay was jostling around in my mind long before Moms Don’t Have Time to Write put out a call for submissions about holiday topics, but I was hesitant to even give voice to the negative feelings I was having. More than anything, I was scared to submit the essay because I was worried how it would be received by my family.

However, as a writer, I’ve found that whenever I find myself writing something that scares me, that’s actually the place where the gold is. The minute I start self-editing is the minute I stop being authentic, which is a disservice for me and my readers. Needless to say, after much hand-wringing I submitted the essay for consideration. This week, they surprised me by publishing it!

Check out my published essay here.

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Community Klepto is coming to a bookshelf near you, courtesy of She Writes Press

After COVID reared its ugly viral head and caused my prior publisher to shelve all its projects, I thought long and hard about what I wanted for my book. I’m biased of course, but I knew it was a polished, funny, marketable book (it wouldn’t have had two offers to publish it already if it wasn’t). Not wanting to sell myself short, and feeling like I had nothing to lose, I submitted COMMUNITY KLEPTO to She Writes Press, after reading that it took the prize of Independent Publisher of the Year in 2019. I also started aggressively querying other publishers and agents, not letting the sun set on a day where I submitted less than two queries.

A couple months later, I woke up to an email from She Writes Press saying they wanted to publish COMMUNITY KLEPTO. Today, I made it official and signed the contract, making me She Writes Press’s newest author! COMMUNITY KLEPTO will be released sometime in the Spring of 2022 (hopefully by then, things like in-person book signings and launch parties won’t be frowned upon by the CDC).

It goes without saying that applying my signature to a book deal is the easy part and now 18 months of hard work begins to bring my newest book into this world, and I guess it also means that I’m finally going to have to go back to my hair salon since my last cover photo is now a decade old. Mask up, stay safe, and follow along on my ride as a SWP author.

About She Writes Press:

She Writes Press is an independent publishing company founded to serve members of, the largest global community of women writers online, and women writers everywhere. She Writes Press is both mission-driven and community-oriented, aiming to serve writers who wish to maintain greater ownership and control of their projects while still getting the highest quality editorial help possible for their work.

In 2014, and She Writes Press became part of SparkPoint Studio, LLC, creating a powerful combination that no other hybrid publisher brings to the table, including a strong editorial vision; traditional distribution; two award-winning hybrid imprints (She Writes Press and SparkPress); and an in-house marketing and publicity team through its publicity division, BookSparks. The SparkPoint Studio family is a female-run company with a strong vision, passion, and work ethic. In 2019, She Writes Press was named Indie Publisher of the Year.

– She Writes Press 2020
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What is this “book” thing the hipsters keep tweeting about?

While I was procrastinating further on writing the pitch for Community Klepto tonight, I decided to go through my Twitter list of publishing people. It’s a list that I’ve been building ever since I joined Twitter, which Twitter tells me was 7 years ago, so most of the accounts I’ve followed on that list about about as old as I am, in Twitter years. As I opened profile after profile, URL after URL, I had waves of mixed emotions as I saw the following:

  • 404 Not Found
  • Domain for sale
  • We have ceased operations
  • We are no longer accepting new submissions

I admit that between switching careers and giving birth to two children on the same day, I haven’t kept up with all the happenings in the publishing industry like I maybe should have; but at the same time, I think I can outline the trajectory of the 7 year Kelly’s-Twitter-publisher-list timeline easily enough:

  1. E-books happen. Some publishers resist all changes. Others pop up looking to cash in early.
  2. E-books gain popularity. Some publishers still resist all changes. Others adapt and innovate. Shitty books get self-published.
  3. E-books soar. Some of the publishers who resisted all changes die. Some who adapted and innovated succeed, some don’t. More shitty books get self-published. Readers start to realize most of the free books they downloaded are shitty.
  4. E-books sales to fall off. The resistors shout that they were right, even as they continue to publish marketable turd sandwiches. Authors of shitty books stop making money on their shitty books. Some of the innovative co-op ventures find they are no longer viable.
  5. Hipsters make physical books cool again. Resistors decry TOLD YA SO. Everyone else is saying Now what?

Now what. Some publishers have died horrible deaths because they refused to innovate. Some died because they were counting on a fad to sustain its growth indefinitely. This is a sad but predictable reality. Some of weathered the storms, adapted where they needed to, and are doing really cool things now. This makes me happy and excited to see what’s next.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that e-books were a fad. I mean, I still read them so they must be cool, right? And I like the papercut and smell of an old book as much as the next hipster. But in a world where evolving technology is changing every industry, publishing is not immune. Their battles for market share aren’t over, even if the e-book is losing ground. The future may be uncertain, but I am certain that as more traditional publishers broaden their horizons (and re-open their wallets), it’s a good time for me to be diving back in.

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Portrait of Woman in Ink available in paperback

After some deliberation and figuring out what to do with Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook now that my contract with my publisher is up. Since I’m in the middle of a career change, uber-frequent visits to my doctor, and deep in the throes of editing my third novel, I opted to go the way of the Amazon and just put it out there as part of my growing “backlist.”

I was partially lucky because I had already done the long, time-sucking work of formatting a print copy of my manuscript: sections, section headers and footers, right-facing pages, page numbers, front matter, back matter – pretty much everything you don’t have to worry about for electronic format books. Even so, it still took a good couple weeks of back and forth with CreateSpace to get my cover positioning just right, which proved to be a frustrating couple of weeks. But at long last, the print paperback is complete and available everywhere (CreateSpace print paperbacks are sold).

So if you’d like your very own dead tree version to add to your Kelly I. Hitchcock collection of works, you can find it here!