by J. Yinka Thomas
1. That it could take 10 years and 25 drafts to complete How Not to Save the World before I even got to the publishing stage. I wove the things that I love into the novel, my travel experiences, my passion for technological innovation and my personal vision for creating large scale social change. That kept me going for a decade.
2. That it could take another 4 years after completing the novel before it was finally published. My publishing adventure included self-publishing, twice, being published by a small press that went out of business and receiving a stack of very positive rejection letters from publishers while working with an outstanding literary agent.
3. How much fun it would be to work with an excellent designer on the book cover. I even got my family, friends and fans involved in providing feedback and voting on the cover over Facebook. The cover perfectly represents the adventure, intrigue and excitement within the pages.
4. How much self-promotion is required to market a novel. As a very shy author, I’ve engaged a range of supporters from friends to professional to help promote the book. My friend Mavis has even become my hype-woman, opening book events and kicking off the Q&A like Oprah.
5. The importance of ebooks in the publishing market. When I finished How Not to Save the World 4 years ago, I dreamed about seeing stacks and stacks of the novel in print. Now, with the exponential growth in the Ebook market, I dream about the book in bytes of bits transmitted over the Internet.
6. Not everyone who loves your novel wants to be your best friend. Reading you book and your bio might be just about as much as they want to know about you. And that’s fine.
7. Market, market, market! Half of publishing a novel is writing the book and the other half is marketing. And marketing can be a full time job and a particularly challenging one for someone who is used to sitting alone, writing.
8. People who have never written a word may feel that they have license to tear your work to shreds, in front of you. Luckily, the ratio of adoring compliments to ass-kicking shreds has been 1000:1 so far. But it still hurts.
9. Interviewers act like your life is an open book and ask questions like “tell us something that you have never told anyone else.” Either it’s incredibly private, which is why I have never told anyone else, or it is trivial and you don’t really care.
10. Publishing a first novel means it’s time to get started on the next one. In the midst of marketing, it also makes working on the next one that much more challenging. Well, back to writing the next novel.
About Jessica Yinka Thomas: Jessica Yinka Thomas is a novelist with a background in toy design and social entrepreneurship. As managing director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, she has authored several award-winning academic articles. Jessica has worked as a designer of interactive educational toys, as the director of a social enterprise business plan competition and as a program manager for a community development nonprofit. How Not to Save the World is her first novel. Jessica’s writing highlights her twin passions for technological innovation and for creating significant social change through entrepreneurial ventures.
Growing up in West Africa and traveling around the world has provided her with a rich background from which to draw in her writing. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband, Jeff Forbes and their son Xavier. Jessica enjoys knitting in the winter and competing in triathlons during the summer. She holds a BS in Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.