Swoon Author Kristen Orlando: My Book Journey — Nothing But Gratitude
There were a few life mantras that permeated my childhood and helped to make me the person I am today:
1.) Dream big and work hard for what you want.
2.) Never fear failure.
3.) Always be grateful.
Over the last few years, I’ve touched on the first two in my Swoon blogs. So, I wanted to take a moment and write about the last one on my list: gratitude. The journey to becoming an author is full of highs and lows. If you’re lucky enough to reach that ultimate dream and see your words in print, there will be moments that are full of bliss and pride and still other moments that can leave you disappointed. The publishing industry is supremely rewarding, but can also be just downright hard. I think that I’ve been able to remain positive and enjoy this experience to its fullest by remaining grateful. So, I thought I’d list a few of the things (if I listed them all, we’d be here forever) that I’ve been thankful or throughout this amazing experience.
1.) Swoon Friends: Before I even got the phone call from Holly and Lauren that changed everything, my life was made better by the fellow readers I met on the Swoon Reads website, several of whom I still talk to today. And don’t even get me started on the other Swoon Reads authors. We’ve created a little “Swoon Squad” and the support I get from these amazing, brilliant, kind, compassionate, thoughtful and talented authors I’ll forever be thankful for. They really are the very best.
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2.) The Call: March 2nd, 2015, will go down in my personal history as one of the best days of my life. It was the day that I got an email in my inbox from Holly with the headline: Swoon Reads Would Like to Chat. I sat at my desk praying it meant something good. I was on pins and needles for an hour until Lauren and Holly were able to call me. When they told me how much they loved my book and wanted to publish it, I screamed in the stairwell of my office.
Becoming an author was what I secretly wished for on every birthday cake and every 11:11. I kept it a secret from even my closest friends because I thought it would never, ever happen for me. But with that one phone call, my dream came true. And I’ll always feel like the luckiest girl alive because of that call.
3.) Swoon Team: From the brilliant editors and cover artists to the publicity, marketing and foreign rights teams (and many, many people in between), every single person I’ve had the pleasure of working with at Swoon is the crème de la crème of their craft. It takes a village to get a book on a shelf. And all of the people at Swoon have taken such great care of me and my story. And I am so FREAKING thankful for them that I could cry.
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4.) The Readers: I still cannot get over the fact that there are people out there reading my book—not only in America, but around the WORLD! The Macmillan foreign rights team has done a phenomenal job of selling the book into several different territories and it blows my mind to see photos or reviews of the books in France, Germany, Czech Republic and throughout Central and South America. And those foreign covers, you guys…
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Thank you, thank you, thank you to every single person who has read The Black Angel Chronicles series, reviewed one of the books, told a friend, posted a photo, stood in line at an event, sent me a nice email, tweet or DM. I love you guys and cannot wait to create more stories that I hope you’ll enjoy.
5.) My Family and Friends: I really do have the best and most supportive family and friends out there. From friends who allowed me to bounce ideas off of them to family members who traveled hours (seriously, they have!) to come to my book signings or talks, I am blown away by the continued excitement and unwavering support from the people I love. I think there were more people at my first book signing than my wedding. I’m not kidding!
6.) The Little Moments: I’m grateful for all the little moments in this process. Not just seeing my book on a bookstore shelf on release day. Getting on the phone to discuss something with my editor or agent, I still pinch myself and go “Oh my god! I have an editor! I have an agent!” I’m such a dork, I know. Crying the first time I saw an advanced copy of You Don't Know My Name. Holding my breath when I glimpsed my gorgeous covers. Seeing any sort of package on my porch with the Macmillan label and the ensuing butterflies. Writing my author bio. Practicing a decent signature for signings (mine sucked and still kind of sucks… sorry, guys… I try really hard). Meeting authors I admire. Having a one-on-one breakfast with Jean Feiwel in New York—she’s as amazing as I thought she’d be! Enjoying a super fun Macmillan dinner at RT. Receiving hugs from Lauren and Kat when I was crying at a booth in an Atlanta hotel restaurant because I was running on exactly one hour of sleep and could NOT figure out the plot to Book #3. Opening a lovely gift from the Swoon team after my daughter was born. Having the privilege to dedicate books to important people in my life.
I could honestly go on and on. I think no matter what business you’re in, you can look at what you don’t have instead of celebrating what you do. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have moments of disappointment or that you don’t deserve to be frustrated. You do! I’ve had moments of sadness. I’ve called my agent or editor crying out of frustration. BUT, at the end of the day, I always come back to gratitude and feeling so damn lucky. Do I want to write more books, hit bestseller lists, see TV or film adaptations of my work, win awards and all that jazz? Of course! I will always dare to dream big, but I will forever be thankful for what I have achieved and the many, many people who got me there. So, I leave you with this quote: “Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.”
I love you all and will forever be grateful.