One of my favorite things about Swoon Reads (note: I have a lot of favorite things about Swoon Reads, but this one is pretty high up there) is that they let readers vote on EVERY. SINGLE. BOOK. COVER! That's right. Every one. Because no one can judge a book by its cover better than the people who are going to be reading it, am I right?
I was anticipating cover voting for ages (more on that below), and at the end of August, the big moment finally arrived! I spent the week refreshing the Swoon Reads blog constantly, watching the votes climb, and interrogating my family and friends about which of these four SUPER cover options would look best:
I loved each of these covers...but of course one emerged victorious, and I couldn't be happier with the result. Check out the official cover announcement below!
*Blog post first appeared on Swoon Reads*
I’ll be the first to admit that I am way too good at getting ahead of myself. And so it should come as no surprise that I was anticipating cover voting long before I had even signed my contract. Oops! But after months of waiting and wondering… here we are!
I couldn’t stop smiling when the four SUPER cover directions appeared in my inbox. I’m even smiling as I’m writing this—that’s how excited I am! Becca S. totally nailed it with these fantastic options. I would have been insanely happy with any of the covers, but I did have a favorite, and judging by the votes, you guys did too!
So here it is! The winning cover direction for The Supervillain and Me:
*Blog post first published on Swoon Reads*
I get the majority of my greatest ideas in the shower. I’m convinced it’s because of the steam.
The title of Men in Tights was no exception. Somewhere between blinking shampoo out of my eyes and scrubbing behind my ears, inspiration struck. And considering I’m a person who is notoriously terrible at coming up with titles for absolutely everything, thinking of something halfway decent was a BIG DEAL! Seriously. During my senior year of high school, I wrote a poem about steak for my literature class and named it "The Steak Poem." It was a very traumatic experience, but that's a story for another day.
I was always proud of Men in Tights, but when Swoon Reads came to me and said we needed to switch things up, I was completely open to new ideas. Anything that helps the book is a great idea, in my opinion. Except... remember “The Steak Poem?” Yeah. I'm not the best at naming things once, let alone twice.
Commence panic mode!
In a nutshell, the old title didn't quite match the story. (My main character, Abby, is not a man nor does she like to wear tights.) And also, did you guys ever see that Robin Hood movie? Well... it's also called Men in Tights, and I can't tell you how many people started referencing Robin Hood whenever I mentioned my book. And so a new title was born!
And that title is…
The Supervillain and Me
After the Swoon team suggested The Supervillain and Me, I was on board! The new title is fun and flirty, and let me just say that there is a really fun and flirty supervillain in this book. (Wink, wink.) ;)
I also want to note that the shiny new tagline is "Never trust a guy in spandex." Full disclosure, I had the biggest smile on my face when I read it for the first time!
I can't tell you how excited I am for you all to read the new and improved version of The Supervillain and Me! It's going to be SUPER fun! (Pun intended.)
From February through July of 2017, I spent the majority of my time (read: 60 hour work weeks) editing my first novel.
"What?" you say, dumbfounded. "You need to edit this thing now? But...but you already wrote it! What else is there to do?!"
The amount of times I've heard this is astronomical. And each time is very, very wrong.
Turns out there was quite a lot I needed to do. And then do it again. Because that's kinda how this "editing" thing works. And so here's the cold, hard truth. Ready?
Editing is like Disney World.
(Full disclosure: I can make a Disney comparison out of almost anything, so this should surprise no one.)
Editing is like Disney World, but it's not necessarily the happy, slightly-less-crowded-than-usual, I-got-Fast-Pass-on-all-my-favorite-rides, it-didn't-rain-once-during-our-trip Disney World. Editing is hot, humid, strollers everywhere, lines-two-hours-long Disney World.
More specifically, editing is like the time I dragged my dad on Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. (He didn't really want to go, but he didn't want to make me ride alone.) Everything was going dandy until the roller coaster started moving (spoiler alert if you haven't ridden it) backwards. Down hill. In the dark. I loved it, but when it was over he looked like he just saw all 999 ghosts that frolick throughout the Haunted Mansion ride. Safe to say he wasn't a fan.
That's editing. You're terrified that everything is awful half the time, but you triumph and get through it in the end. (Hopefully you're less shaken than my dad.)
And yet, it's actually really important to note that Disney World, though sometimes hot and crowded and full of rides that make you a little queasy, is still Disney World - and thus probably still better than a host of other places.
Editing, though at times grueling, is still a wonderful privilege. The team at Swoon Reads is so encouraging and determined to make every book the best it can be. (Shout-out to my editor Emily, who gives such great suggestions! She's got some serious superpowers.) ;)
I don't want to sugarcoat it. I was pretty nervous about editing this book. It's tough to take something that you slaved over for years and reorder scenes, add scenes, delete scenes, and make it all make sense. It's like ripping apart a puzzle and then realizing you lost a piece. (And then finding it hidden face down under a chair; the missing puzzle piece is always hidden under a chair.) It's being told, "I love this! But...you need to work on it some more."
And some more.
And some more.
But here's the truth again: My entire editing experience has been ridiculously rewarding. And at the risk of using ridiculous a ridiculous amount of times...I'm ridiculously proud of how far this story has come (with the Swoon team's help of course!) The Everest-sized mountain of edit notes isn't as frightening when you have great people to help you scale it...
But...I'm positive my dad will never ride the real Expedition Everest ever again. Oops.
My favorite quote from one of the great cinematic masterpieces of our time, Birdman, goes a little something like this:
"Is this for real, or are you shooting a film?"
Coincidentally, that line is the first thing my dad said to me after I told him and my mom that my book would be getting published. Two months later and, honestly, it still doesn't feel real. Men in Tights was something I started writing in college just to keep myself entertained. When I first posted it online, I was a little - okay, maybe more than a little - nervous that no one would like it. I mean, I liked it, but I wrote it. Everything in the story came from some weird, desolate corner of my brain that nobody had visited before except me. Would other people think my story was boring? Or were my characters cliche? Or even worse...would they think my writing just plain sucked?
I vividly remember reading the first comment on the draft of Men in Tights that I posted on Wattpad in 2014. I was sitting on my couch, the spot where my second best writing takes place (my best writing always occurs in the shower), when I got an email notification. Someone, somewhere in the infinite black hole of the internet had left a comment on my story...and I was about 98.5% sure I was going to be sick.
At the time, the only thing I could compare that feeling to was getting called on to answer a question in a classroom. In that deadly silent moment between the professor saying your name and the rest of the class turning to watch as you open your mouth, you're positive that everything is wrong, wrong, wrong, and maybe this was a mistake and stupid and...
And they liked it. A random person who had never met me, and therefore had no obligation to tiptoe around my feelings, liked my story. And as it turned out, they weren't alone. And so I kept writing...and writing...and writing...and in a little under two years, I had three drafts of three YA manuscripts. Great, right? Sure! Except I couldn't find anyone to publish them.
For the record, the best decision I ever made as a writer was to slap my words on the internet and open my soul to public criticism. (No, I'm not being dramatic.) Because guess what? Not everyone was as enthusiastic about my story as I was. After I graduated college, between bouts of anxiety over constantly being asked the innocent, but nonetheless terrifying, question, "What are you going to do next?" I spent months compiling a list of agents and typing query letters until my fingers wanted to bleed. Spoiler alert: Every agent said no - or they didn't say anything at all. And that's totally normal. And it's okay.
If I hadn't already posted my work online and grown accustomed to criticism, I might have thought otherwise, but a healthy dose of failure is kind of, sort of a good thing. It makes your heart as hard as a rock (just kidding, my heart is still as mushy as baby food), and it gets you in the mindset of saying, "My manuscript is awesome and I'm going to try my damnedest to make you think so too, but if you don't, then that's fine; I'll just find someone who does." And eventually someone is going to come along and say, "Hey, you! Yeah, you with the super awesome story! I want to work with you! Let's make people love this book!"
That's where Swoon Reads comes in. They're the reason I keep quoting Birdman every other day. "Is this for real, or are you shooting a film?" It's really real. But the film is next year's bucket list goal. ;)
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you're working hard at something and you're worried you won't succeed, whether it's writing or acting or accounting or starting a family or whatever...find a way to make it happen. You can do it, and anyone who says otherwise is full of the utmost crap that I can smell them from a mile away.
Trust me. If I can have my Birdman moment, then you will too.