Great Expectations

A Letter to my Unpublished Self
by Katie Oliver

katie-oliverDear Katie,
It won’t always be like this.
I see you sitting there, tapping away at your brand-new laptop, full of fire and enthusiasm as you finish your first novel – and full of self-doubt, too. While it’s true that no one’s agreed to represent you yet, or realized that you’re the next Sophie Kinsella and offered you a three-book deal, they will. They will.
And when they do, your troubles will have just begun.
Because no longer will you write whenever the fancy strikes you, about whatever random thing you please. No, instead you’ll have deadlines to meet and guidelines to follow, and editorial expectations that will need to be satisfied. And the readers who like your characters, and who can’t get enough of your ‘Dating Mr Darcy’ series?
They’ll want more of the same.
Oh, don’t worry; after all, you love your characters and you love writing chick lit, so it’s a win-win. Just know that while you’re feverishly working on books number four and five, you’ll also be doing promotion for books two and three. (It’s true – promotion is pretty much on you, babe.)
There will be guest blog posts to be written, and interviews to do, and podcasts to record. And there will be indifferent – even, on occasion – bad reviews to be read and dealt with.
But you will put on your big-girl panties, as they say, and you will do it. And you will LOVE every minute of it.
Because chick lit readers and bloggers are the best, most supportive people in the world. They will champion your book (if they like it, of course) and they will retweet you, and connect you with like-minded readers and bloggers; they will cheer you up on days when you wonder how you can possibly juggle a full-time job with a writing career for one minute more; and when someone named “FudgeBrownie” trashes your first and second book on Goodreads, they will say she trashed theirs, too.
mansfieldlark_coverBesides, you adore those gorgeous, cutesy book covers created by the art department, and the clever book titles set in those swirly, girly fonts. You like knowing that your stories make readers laugh, and help them forget – at least for a couple of hours – the overdue mortgage payment and the grocery bill and the annoying dog next door who barks all night.
You know this, because they tell you. They tell you your book helped them through a bad time, or made them laugh out loud on the bus ride on the way home from work, or gave them something to look forward to at the end of a crappy week.
True, your chick lit books may not be literature. They probably won’t ever win the Man Booker prize or be featured (or even mentioned) in the New Yorker or the Paris Review. But that’s okay. Because at the end of the page, there’s a lot to be said for having entertained your readers, for making them laugh or helping them forget their problems for a little while.
So keep the faith, little Katie grasshopper. Your books may not be finished (or even published) yet, and maybe they haven’t hit the New York Times bestseller list.
But if you work very hard, and write good books, they will. They will.

Katie Oliver is the author of Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability and Mansfield Lark. She loves romantic comedies and all things British and lives outside Washington DC with her husband.

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One Response to Great Expectations

  1. Terry Tyler says:

    That’s a great post, ladies! I think you’re right about the community of chick lit readers and bloggers – it’s a huge one, too! I really like this idea for a blog series, too – nice one!

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