Words of kindness: paying it forward


Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart (HarperCollins 2010), chosen as a Target Breakout Book. Visit her website at www.robinantalek.com. She also blogs at www.robinantalek.blogspot.com and thenervousbreakdown.com. Of course, you can find her on Facebook.

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Kind Words

As a debut novelist, you have no idea what to expect. There you might be, alphabetically anyway, rubbing book spines with authors you’ve long admired. Authors who have a fan base, who garner praise and accolades from their peers, you know, authors who have a career.

Before The Summer We Fell Apart debuted I was given the task of compiling a dream list of authors I would approach for blurbs. This is a very heady and humbling experience. My agent and editor at HarperCollins encouraged me to write letters. So I put everything I had in three to four paragraphs. It wasn’t hard for me to say why I loved their work and how very much it had meant to me – but why on earth would they drop what they were doing to read mine?

A few weeks passed and the blurbs began to trickle in …. words of praise from people who didn’t know me. Not only did they write lovely blurbs, but, they offered support in other ways. Links to sites, connections to bloggers, and other authors, what worked on tours and what didn’t, how to build a website, a mailing list, what to do at readings where one person showed, offers of support and encouragement. They made it easier to navigate a world where I still felt I didn’t belong. They introduced me to a world I only imagined, and slowly, magically, a network of authors both new and established emerged to usher my debut into the world.

Eight months past the debut of The Summer We Fell Apart and it is my turn. I have blurbed books, passed on advice, links, encouragement and support. Whatever I can do to pay it back – or pay it forward, I will do. I have been bolstered beyond belief by the kindness of strangers who I now consider friends and it is more than I ever dreamed possible.

~Robin Antalek

Next week, an essay by Eileen Cook. Please submit your questions and / or Q4K essays (no longer than 1,000 words, and no attachments please) to questforkindness[at]gmail.com

6 Responses to “Words of kindness: paying it forward”

  1. Q says:

    When I was getting started, strangers helped me too. One was an agent who rejected my manuscript, but then kept e-mailing with helpful advice just because she had a hunch about me. That got me through some dark months and kept me pitching until I found my agent. People really can be amazing, and life surprises you in nice ways every now and then.

  2. As we see here kindness can be contagious. Good work, Robin.

  3. BD says:

    As an aspiring writer, I can attest that small words of encouragement and advice make all the difference in the world. It’s great to see you’re paying it forward, Robin. I’ll have to check out your book!

  4. You are so right, Robin! Blurb requests are scary! As you said, I found the kindness of absolute strangers wowed me the most in this process. So it is always worth it to write that letter to an admired author and cross your fingers.
    You book is lovely, I can see why you received such wonderful blurbs!!!

  5. John Sparger says:

    Just wanted to drop a line and say how gutsy you are.

    Oddly enough, as confidant as I may be in other areas, I haven’t been able to get past the: (like you said) “humbling experience” and the: I’m not worth a lick of what these authors are so who am I to be asking something of them.

    So it’s good to hear about someone who took that risk and was welcomed with such generosity. Just might have to get off my ass and start writing some letters.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Paying it forward is a great concept.

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