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Say Yes to Everything

I’m writing this from my bed, where I’ve been battling an awful cold for the past week or so.  Naturally, I started feeling sick just after my second book came out on May 14th. But adrenaline is a powerful thing – it kept me functioning through the first part of a massive book tour that comes in waves this summer. I traveled to Chicago, Woodstock, IL, and Mystic, CT and then it hit me like a ton of bricks right around the same time I was asked (read: begged by my lovely daughters) to get a new set of kittens.


What? you ask.


Exactly, I reply.


It’s been utter chaos. So naturally, the second my defenses came even the slightest bit down, I got good and sick.


Still, the show must go on. And so, it shall. This week is the launch party for Kristan Higgins in CT followed by the Wedding Expo part of my tour (includes stops in Albany, Brooklyn, and Harrisburg, PA) and then I have another little break before a lighter week where I only have to travel to Boston. I’m highly medicated, so it’s fine.


Tomorrow, I have an appointment to apply for TSA precheck. I’ve decided I got sick on the line at JFK heading out to Chicago. I wore masks on both plane rides, but I didn’t think I’d need to wear them at the actual airport – but JFK was packed with people while I was waiting to go through the TSA line and I should have known better. Hence, TSA precheck for the future. Need to avoid the lines – and the germs – at all costs.


Many people – most notably, my mother – do not understand any of this. “Why are you doing this to yourself?” she asks. “What’s the point? The book is in bookstores. People will come to it or they won’t.” Just that simple, right? Personally, I disagree. I’m still brand new to the game, in a heavily crowded space (and I don't just mean the airport!). The real estate in bookstores is marginal at best, and is entirely negligible on the internet. Real talk – the only people who buy my books on Amazon are people who are looking up my name. The hardest name in America to spell, and they have to remember it long enough to look it up on a website that has everything and can easily derail you with promises of toilet paper by the case for only $24. "What did I come here for again?" you wonder, while drifting from makeup to electronics to garbage bags. Amazon is an internet paradise for ADHD. I sell almost no books there, folks. Tell all your friends.


My books get sold in bookstores. And the way to make sure you’re in bookstores is to go visit them. Sign stock. Host events. Meet readers. Do all the things, and use a lot of hand sanitizer. Basically, my mantra is: say yes to everything.


Every month I somehow remind myself that the purpose of this blog is to pontificate on this particular moment in time in my author career. So, here we are. My sophomore novel has been out in the world for two weeks tomorrow, and it’s up to me to sell it. Why? Well, first off, it’s a good book. It’s better than my debut. I mined the Goodreads reviews and tallied the hateful comments looking for threads of commonality, and sure enough, I found some. So I went into book 2 knowing what people didn’t like. (Namely, sharts, but there’s a whole other blog post on that from about a year ago.) And reviews are trending up, so that’s great. But that’s just the beginning.


When you’re a baby author – namely a trad pubbed one – I think the sophomore novel carries the largest amount of weight. If the first novel does well (which from a sales perspective, mine did), you have to prove that you’re not a one hit wonder. My character Nate goes through this in A Storybook Wedding. And, legit, the bigger a success you are for book one, the more crippling this can feel. Luckily, my success was fairly limited. I was the #1 bestselling debut for my imprint in 2023 – but we’re talking like best out of maybe 8 titles, so… not really all that amazing. Still, someone’s got to be number one, and I worked my ass off last year, so why not me? I did quite a bit of touring and got my name out there. Also, I got a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which was perhaps the most validating thing about my debut year. I sold about 20,000 copies of The Book Proposal from its launch in May through December. A lot of those copies were in the UK. And I learned a ton.


Storybook had a lot to go up against. Right out the gate, my audience was more limited. Remember, there were people who read my first book and said, “Nope, that KJ Micciche is not my cup of tea.” I didn’t feel right throwing as big of a launch party or begging friends, family and acquaintances to do early reading (though some happily did do so) – it was kind of like how you throw a baby shower for the first baby and then a sprinkle for the second one. By the third baby, it’s all hand me downs and you’re giving birth in the car. Like a boss. But I digress.


The ratings I have on Goodreads so far are from real readers who do not share my bloodline. And they’re really good. So I’m very happy about that. I have a spreadsheet (because, of course I do) and I am fully prepared to plug in all the data to track how Storybook does compared to The Book Proposal, in both ratings and sales. (And in case you’re wondering, week 1 sales were higher for Storybook than they were for Book Proposal, though not by much.)


If you’re thinking this is all some kind of twisted head game where I’m in a match against myself, you’re wrong. I believe that all this hard work is going to set up what happens next. Think about it: I have a third book coming out next summer on June 17th. After that, I have nothing on the calendar. So, ‘tis the season, right now, for me to start discussing my option material with my publisher. My publisher, which sounds like a single entity but actually consists of a lot of people working hard behind the scenes so that I get to do this, is counting on me to keep the train moving forward. Thankfully, I’m a crazy hard worker, and I’m committed to this 1000%. If I can prove to the folks in sales, marketing, and editorial that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep doing this, they’ll very likely be willing to take a chance on me again. Maybe even a bigger chance (read: more money). Which they should – because it’s not as much of a risk if you know what you’re investing in. And so, if they invest more, I’ll have more to work with insofar as touring, etc. I need to build my backlist as quickly as possible, so I’d like to put out two books a year for a couple of years. Thankfully, I’m still young enough to do that without completely burning out (says the girl with the cold she can’t get rid of).


Anyway, I offer all of this to say that it’s really wild to me how hard it is to stand out in a crowded market. But you have to find a way, and you have to be endlessly optimistic and positive, because only the people who are willing to push through the noise and believe in themselves enough to keep at it through the germs, the haters, and the self-inflicted pressure (mine comes to me via THE INSTAGRAM, lol) will still be here to tell the tale in three, five, ten years.


Believe in yourself. Say yes to everything. No one will care more about this than you do, young writer.


Your future self will thank you.

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