Authors Unite Online: Support, Sharing & Celebration During the Debut Year, by Sara Bennett Wealer

Writing may be a solitary profession but, as I learned when I sold my first book (Rival, HarperTeen), the journey toward launching a debut novel should not be taken alone. You need the companionship of others who are traveling the same path.

Friends and family know you’ve realized a dream, but better yet are people who appreciate how it feels to break through after years of scrapped drafts, agent searches, revisions and rejections. And when the dream becomes a bumpy reality (Your editorial letter is 14 pages, single spaced! You hate your cover! Your book gets skipped by a major retailer!), you’ll want those same people to hold your hand through the twists and turns.

No one appreciates the sweetness of reaching a longed-for destination better than someone who’s in the same boat. That’s why I formed the Elevensies along with fellow debut author Sheela Chari (Vanished, Disney-Hyperion).

The Elevensies is an online group of young adult and middle grade authors whose first novels come out in 2011. We meet at our home base, a Live Journal blog, to share information, offer support and celebrate as we prepare to see our books on the shelves for the very first time.

“My agent, Steven Malk, said to me, ‘You can only debut once,’” says Sheela. “I think this is so true. No matter what your life might have been like before your book deal, it will certainly change afterwards. The Elevensies community is a great place to find writing friends, share experiences, and promote our books.”

Carrying on the tradition

The Elevensies actually represent the third generation of a tradition that started when Jackson Pearce (Sisters Red; Little, Brown) founded the 2009 Debutantes, also known as The Debs or “The Feast of Awesome.” Jackson had just sold her first book, As You Wish (HarperTeen), and was looking for a casual setting to connect with others like her.

“I was lonely,” she says. “Well, not just me—so were the other debut authors I knew. I wanted to provide a social arena where we could get to know one another outside the context of marketing and business networking.”

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