Ode to the author community – Amanda Stauffer

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By Amanda Stauffer

When I first began writing the manuscript that became Match Made in Manhattan, I had just moved to Paris. The creativity and verve of my new neighborhood in the 9e arrondissement inspired me to write diligently and with heightened focus. But when I finished my manuscript, I had no idea how to proceed or what the logical next steps were.

I took to Google but found surprisingly little that clarified the opaque business of publishing. I didn’t personally know any authors, agents, or editors to ping for advice.

A few weeks later, a friend introduced me via e-mail to a Pennsylvania-based women’s fiction author who had multiple traditionally published books under her belt. I was anxious about taking up time in her busy schedule, so I drafted my three most pressing questions in advance of our overseas phone date. Instead of briefly answering those questions, our call lasted over an hour and led to a series of many more long-distance chats throughout the coming years, as she graciously counselled me on how to query, then when I landed an agent, on how to navigate the publishing process. My gratitude for her mentorship is boundless; I feel certain there would be no book without her.

And yet she is not the only one. As an unagented, aspiring author, the literary world felt closed off and clandestine, an insider’s club hoarding secret information. But once I landed a book deal and shifted into marketing and promotional phases, I began attending writers’ conferences, and my mentors grew from one to several.

On the recommendation of one new author-friend, I started frequenting local book events and panels — not with any specific aim or purpose, just to meet more writers and be around the business of books. Another author I met at a launch party led me to my first authors’ group, which has been the true pinnacle of my often-bumpy publishing journey.

Through the authors’ group, I’ve found inspiration, commiseration, many fonts of knowledge, and a couple true friends. After spending half a year in this group already, I can safely say that no two authors’ publishing journeys are alike. But instead of panicking in silence, I’ve been able to pose questions to my authors’ group and receive thoughtful, diverse, and immediate responses: What’s the etiquette behind soliciting blurbs? How can you adequately thank your blurbers? How far in advance should you expect to receive your ARCs? Is it worth investing in a blog tour? What about Facebook ads?

These groups are ripe with collaborative opportunities, too. My two biggest upcoming launch events for Match Made In Manhattan will each feature lovely, smart, talented literary panelists — who are also members of my Authors ’18 group.

I sometimes joke that after you sign a book deal, the invisible gates magically open and you suddenly find yourself a member of this illustrious inner literary circle. The reality, though, is that this isn’t how it works. I suspect all the authors I am lucky enough to now call friends would have gladly doled out advice to me when I was ready to query; there just wasn’t a mechanism through which I could meet or find them. As a fun aside, long after I wrote the “comp titles” section of my query letter, citing three well-known and/or bestselling titles, I was introduced to each of their three authors through random, unrelated channels. All three authors wound up blurbing Match Made in Manhattan, leaving me with three important takeaways:

1. I will never turn down an aspiring author’s request for coffee or a phone date.
2. The author world is so small and so very generous, you may wind up being supported by your favorite authors.
3. I can officially die happy.

Amanda Stauffer is a graduate of Yale and Columbia Universities who works as an architectural conservator, restoring historic landmarks across the country. When she grew frustrated with New York City’s dating scene, Amanda headed to match.com. Her experiences provided her with a lifetime of warm and fuzzy memories, a few friends, and an abundance of material for a book or a career in comedy. An erstwhile expat who has lived in Bangalore, Sicily, and Paris, Amanda currently lives in Manhattan, where she is busy writing her second book.


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