March 5, 2021

Rosie Loves Jack Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

Welcome to the Rosie Loves Jack Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon on March 1st, blogs across the web are featuring original content from Mel, as well as 10 chances to win the hardcover!

What I Wish I Had Known Before Starting My Debut Journey
by Mel Darbon

Having done an MA in Creative Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University I was fairly well versed in what to expect when I started out on my journey as a published author…or so I thought. The reality of dealing with everything that comes with the new book is very different, especially when you are suffering from imposter syndrome and the mere act of calling yourself a writer and actively pursuing a career in writing brings you out in a cold sweat of self-doubt and feeling a fraud. So here is a list of things I didn’t know about being a debut author, but wish I had.
Snatching time:
What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact I would get no time to write my second book and that I would be snatching moments late in the evening or on the train to an event to write that seventy-thousand-word novel that the publishers wanted in a few months’ time. I had no idea that all my energy would be taken up with everything but the writing. I had envisaged myself in my little attic room, alone, with not a festival, school visit, event, or blog tour in sight—all these to help publicise the first book. Did I really have to do all this? My MA course didn’t tell me that being a published writer meant you’d no longer have time to write!
Then you worry if you cut down on some of the promotion that no one will want to read your book if you’re not visible, and that you and your book will disappear without a trace. After all, you’ve got imposter syndrome. You start to feel the pressure and take on as many different school visits or events that you can, as they are helping to pass on your story and the message that you wanted to convey in writing it. That’s when you realise an event doesn’t just magically happen and that you won’t be able to talk freely and easily for an hour without any prep. The prep takes up hours of your time, especially if you’re a debut author, because no one has ever asked these questions before and you don’t want to look stupid, so you try and cover every angle. After that, you read your pages and pages of notes, several times, on the train up to Edinburgh, to give you confidence and calm your nerves, but you lose your snatched writing time. Of course, this gets better as you become more experienced, and by your next book you’ll have just one A4 piece of paper and not twenty. What you really need is to be able to hire someone to do all the PR for you…

Salaries – or lack of:
It’s a big shock to new writers how little they will get paid to do an event or school visit and are often expected to do things for free. You either have to pay your own costs to get there or pay upfront out of your own money. You do it because you’re a new author and your book needs readers and sales. Also, talking to the children, the very people you wrote the book for, is amazing and one of the most satisfying things an author can do. But after your tenth freebie you realise you’ve got to eat and pay the bills. It doesn’t stop you from feeling bad when you have to ask to be paid. I wish I’d known from the start about a wonderful organisation called Authors Aloud UK who organise all your events for you and guide you through those pitfalls.

Lack of attendance:
One thing I wish I’d known was to be prepared for the fact some events won’t be well attended and that it’s not necessarily your fault and doesn’t mean that everyone hates you or your book. It’s just that teenagers don’t want to come to the library on a freezing cold, wet night in January at six o’clock in the evening.

Blog tours:
Blog tours are invaluable to authors. We had learnt about these on my MA course and how important they were, as they help your book reach a much wider audience. The book bloggers are amazing in being passionate about your work. It’s well worth putting a lot of effort in to writing guest posts for blog tours, but little did I realise just how much time it can take to write about several different subjects. There goes book two editing time again, but then you realise it gives you valuable material to talk about at an event, so, head down and get writing!

The bad review:
We were told at my university not to take to heart any reviews that weren’t glowing, but what they didn’t tell us was that those reviews are the ones you won’t forget and will go over and over in your head and be the only ones you’ll ever remember. 

Editing, the art of compromise:
I did know that in the editing of my debut novel, I likely would have to sacrifice small sections, if that’s what my editor wanted, in order to fight for sections that you definitely don’t want to change. It’s all about compromise. What I didn’t realise was how many questions my editor might ask me. They look at everything—themes, the plot, characterisation—and push you to explain what or why you have done something. They pull your book apart and help you to put it back together again, leaving you to worry that if you take A out then subplot B will fall apart. A quick run through your book to sort a few quibbles? No, be prepared for the edit note agonies, which will of course, eventually make your novel ten times better than it was before.

Social Media:
No one told me that half my life would be spent networking on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The pressure is intense, and you have to learn to manage your time or you’d never write another book again. It’s a great way to spread news about your novel, but you have to get a balance and realise that you don’t have to “like” every last tweet, from every last author you follow!

My Tribe:
I’ve left the best ’til last, as this is also the most important bit, that if I’d known would have taken all the fear out of everything else. The children’s book industry is the best place to work, without a doubt. Everyone across the board is kind, supportive and encouraging, from the people you work with, fellow writers, your agent and everyone you connect with at your publishers, as they are all right behind you looking after you and making sure your book can be the best it possibly can. It feels like you’ve come home, that you’ve become a member of a very special club. The whole experience is a series of highlights, each one better than the one before. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

You definitely cannot expect to know or be prepared for everything you experience as a debut author, but these experiences are what allow you to learn and grow, and hopefully will get a little easier with a second book and beyond. 


“The author stays out of Rosie's way, successfully depicting her protagonist as a person, not a puppet or a platform. The other characters populating the book are realistic, with a striking range of personality traits. The plot is so engrossing that the book is almost impossible to put down. Yes, Rosie loves Jack, and readers are going to love Rosie.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Fall in love with sixteen-year old Rosie, a girl with Down syndrome who’s fighting for little freedoms, tolerance, and love. A stunning, beautifully insightful debut YA novel from Mel Darbon.
“An enthralling story of resolve and grit... a moving and uplifting novel.” –The Guardian

"They can't send you away. What will we do? We need us. I stop your angry, Jack. And you make me strong. You make me Rosie."

Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So when they're separated, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head. Even defy her parents’ orders and run away from home. Even struggle across London and travel to Brighton on her own, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though people might think a girl like Rosie, who has Down syndrome, could never survive on her own.

Introducing a strong and determined protagonist with Down syndrome, debut author Mel Darbon gives readers an underrepresented but much-needed point of view with a voice-driven, heartfelt story of finding your place an often big and intimidating world.
Mel Darbon spent a large part of her childhood inventing stories to keep her autistic brother happy on car journeys. She won’t mention the time spent with him standing by level crossings waiting for the InterCity 125 to go past, as she wouldn’t want to be labelled a train spotter. Life took her in many different directions working as a theatre designer and freelance artist, as well as teaching young adults with learning disabilities and running creative workshops for teenage mums. She moved to Bath in 2014 with her husband and their dog, Alfie. Rosie Loves Jack is her debut book.

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  • 1 winner will receive a finished copy of Rosie Loves Jack
  • Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win!
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11:59pm ET on 3/21
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  1. I would enjoy seeing more hearing impaired/sight impaired characters in YA.

  2. I’d like to see more deaf & hard of hearing characters in YA stories.