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10 Surprising Things I Learned While Writing a Book

Caroline Cala

My first book is out today. If you had told me this ten years ago, I never would have believed you. Indeed, many things about this experience have surprised me…

1. Dreams take forever.
When I was twenty-three, I wrote a horrible, terrible novel that will never see the light of day. I submitted it to an agent — ONE agent — and received a rejection within minutes. Now I know this was his assistant summarily rejecting everything in the slush pile, but at the time, I took this as the ultimate sign that I was not meant to be a writer. Dejected, I stopped. Instead, I got a job as an assistant at a literary agency, where I remained for four years. Next, I became an editor at Penguin Random House, where I acquired and edited fiction and non-fiction, primarily for teens and young adults. After that, I came to work for Cup of Jo, where I decided to try my hand at writing again. And a few years after THAT, I attempted writing books. So yeah, this was not a situation where I wrote something, submitted it into the ether and got it published. I feel tremendously lucky to have gotten here.

2. Books themselves also take forever.
Dreams aside, the publication of a physical book takes approximately one million years. I wrote this book in 2016, and it’s finally coming out… in 2019. “Why do books take so long?” everyone asks. “How much time can it take to print something?” This is a long and complicated answer, so let’s just say that book publishing is an archaic historic institution, with schedules that harken back to another time, and the process of getting a book into your hands takes many, many steps.

3. You kind of get to do whatever you want.
There are a million inside jokes (with myself) baked into the text. An arcade named after my friend’s cat. A character named after my favorite lipstick. Because I could, and it made the process that much more fun. To that end, I would argue that writing, even when it comes to fiction, is just as much about mining the contents of one’s memory as it is about making things up. How did you feel at a certain age? What was going on in your life? What did it look like? Who or what were the touchstones of that period? Those details are baked into this story, because as much as this is a story about three girls on the cusp of turning thirteen, it’s also my story. And maybe yours, as well.

4. I don’t know where any of this comes from.
For me, the act of writing is a little like blacking out. On the best days, it feels like going into a trance. After the fact, I don’t really remember having written any of it.

5. Reading is more important than writing.
One question I get asked a lot is how to be a better writer, and my answer is always the same. Read. Read more. Read everything you can get your hands on — voices similar to your own and voices that couldn’t be more different. Topics you have no knowledge of and memoirs about all kinds of people. Read the newspaper. Read essays. Read poetry. And then get very, very quiet and let your own voice speak through you.

6. Authors often have nothing to do with the cover.
People will say, “Oh, I like what you did with the cover!” or “That’s an interesting direction you took that in.” But in many cases, writers have absolutely nothing to do with that. Covers are heavily influenced by what sales and marketing think will do well in the current marketplace.

7. You — yes, you! — can make stuff happen.
This is not specific to writing books, but it’s something the process has absolutely taught me. When there is something you really care about — be it a book, a brief, a child — sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands. Do it yourself. Speak up. Don’t be afraid of being aggressive. This is your baby we’re talking about, and you need to do everything in your power to help guide their journey.

8. Writing a book is not fancy.
“When are you going to hit the road?” everyone says. “When is the book tour? Where is the party with celebrity guests?” That’s funny. That is the stuff of ’80s lore and television shows. The vast majority of authors do not go anywhere. My book tour is on Instagram, and you are warmly invited.

9. Most books fail.
This is where I do my best therapist voice and say, “But just having written a book is a success.” And that is true! But commercially, most books do not earn back the expense it takes to make them. The mega bestsellers (like James Patterson or J.K. Rowling or Michelle Obama) are what make the vast majority of money for publishers, while everything else is a loss. So, book sales are very important! Particularly the first week of sales, which often sets the tone for how a book will perform over its lifetime. If a book sells out of the gate, then stores will re-stock, the publisher will re-print, and everyone will be happy. All of which is to say, if there is a writer whose work you love (ah-hem, cough cough), don’t hesitate to support their book when it comes out! Writing, like many other art forms, is ultimately a labor of love.

10. You always have to start somewhere.
After you finish one project, you are faced with the terror of starting another. But for me, the hardest part is always simply beginning. I’ll tell myself, write one paragraph per day, write one page, write one chapter. Run a few meters, run a few blocks, run a few miles. Wherever you are, whatever you want to accomplish, just start somewhere. Because before you know it, you’re actually doing the thing, and that feels pretty amazing.

Best Babysitters Ever

Best Babysitters Ever is a modern day spin-off of The Baby-Sitters Club, where three girls find an old copy of Kristy’s Great Idea (the first book in Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series) and decide to form their own babysitting organization — this time with a CEO, a COO, and a marketing director. The one catch? They’re really bad at it. The book is geared for kids aged 8 to 12 — and also for adults who have unabashed nostalgia for The Baby-Sitters Club and want to escape reality with a light read. And, the New York Times loved it. :)

P.S. 12 beautiful children’s books and 18 great books with female heroines.

(Top photo taken at Books Are Magic.)

  1. Great and honest post.

  2. Ashley says...

    Just wanted to let you know my 10 year old daughter finished your book today and loved it! She can’t wait for the next one.

  3. Michelle says...

    You did it! Thanks for helping to break it down x

  4. Jen says...

    Congrats! I just ordered it for my 8 yr old! And I know her 12 yr old brother will also end up reading it. They both love the babysitter club!

  5. Rosita DeFino says...

    AWESOME!! Congratulations!

  6. Tiffany says...

    Congratulations Caroline!

  7. yay! congratulations caroline!! i love your advice from the other side. a while ago i wrote a list of roles but then realized I can’t call myself something if I dont actually do it. so even though it’s just a blog, i can now consider myself a writer. maybe someday i’ll pen a book as well. i wrote more about my aspirations here: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2019/02/0028-i-am.html sharing is a way to motivate myself.

  8. Gina Anderson says...

    I LOVED reading The Baby-Sitters Club series growing up! Mary Anne was my favorite babysitter! I have a 9 year old daughter who loves to read – excited to get this for her.

    Congrats on the book!

  9. Katie says...

    Congratulations Caroline! I just ordered it for my niece :)

  10. Joaquina says...

    No salami for anyone you care about! Plenty of research shows that cured meats lead to increased colorectal cancer. Instead, stick with dark chocolate or healthful food choices to show your love!

  11. Alyssa says...

    I ordered this book for my 12 year old neighbor who babysits our kids. Inspite of her age, she is truly a great babysitter; fun, playful, patient, compassionate, and creative. When it arrived, my five year old daughter was enthralled by the cover, so I read her the first chapter. Really fun! Congratulations Caroline!

  12. Katie says...

    This is so exciting Caroline! Congratulations! As someone who once upon a time had a babysitters’ club inspired by Kristy’s Great Idea, I cannot WAIT to read your take! I ordered a copy for my classroom library too. My third graders will love this.

  13. Congrats, Caroline! My soon-to-be 8 year old is a book-devouring fiend. I’m heading to Amazon *RIGHT NOW* to get her a copy! I’m so excited for you…

  14. kay says...

    Congratulations Caroline! You are so inspiring. I have loved reading your work on Cup of Jo for years now and am so excited for your book.

  15. I got to meet Caroline this weekend at her book reading in New York and she is as wonderful in person as she is online! Her answers were thoughtful and honest and she spent so much time chatting with people one-on-one too. I’ve read everything she’s written on here and almost everything in other places too (like on her own blog, which is wonderful if you’ve never been over there) and it was so inspiring to see her in person with her own book! I’m almost halfway through her book and I genuinely suggest reading it even if you don’t have kids and especially if you want to write or are a writer. Congratulations Caroline! I’m so happy for you and it was a dream come true getting to meet you :)

  16. Congrats on your book!!!! Just some feedback: considering your picture is in front of the oh so lovely Books are Magic in BK, you may want to link to your book on their site (https://booksaremagic.net/r/tu/Z7), or say, quite literally any indie bookstore for that matter! Where you spend shapes where you live, so let’s put that money back in the community, VS a behemoth tax-evading corp that doesn’t need the help. Congrats again on the release of Best Babysitters Ever!

  17. Alex says...

    CONGRATULATIONS CAROLINE!! (!!!!)

  18. Molly says...

    Such an accomplishment, Caroline! Congratulations! As a former BSC fanatic, and attempted club creator myself, I can’t wait to read. Just ordered for my 10 and 11-year-old nieces (and myself)!

  19. Kate says...

    Just bought it for my library! Congratulations, Caroline!

  20. Natasha says...

    Bought it. Happy to support you and this blog that gives me so much. Doesn’t hurt that I also have an 11yo., who, incidentally, loves to watch the old Babysitter’s Clubs. You’re on the pulse.

  21. Erin says...

    Congrats! Babysitters Club spin-off are what my 90’s girl dreams are made of!

  22. Congratulations on doing it Caroline! I’ve followed you here for years and it’s so inspiring to read this.

  23. YoungDirectionless says...

    Congratulations on seeing your first book through to publication! As someone whose first novel is still languishing in the editing stage (and has been for almost two years, I am in awe and inspired to get back to work. What a big achievement. Enjoy :)

  24. Victoria says...

    **Added to cart** I feel privileged to support you! Congrats on the book!

  25. Madelaine says...

    Congratulations, Caroline! I loved the Baby-Sitters Club and just ordered a copy of your book for myself. I can’t wait to read it! My daughter is 4.5 and I’m sure that she’ll love it in a few years :)

  26. Kara says...

    Caroline,
    This is so exciting! Thank you so much for responding to my question on your apartment post explaining why you chose to publish under a different name! I’m rooting you on from Ohio and buying a copy ASAP! I can’t wait for my 9 year old daughter to read it! (And I’m sure I’ll read it too :))

  27. Sarah says...

    Congratulations! I have your book in my cart on amazon.com. And thanks for your insights on writing.

  28. Louise says...

    Congratulations! These are such wonderful words of advice. Plus, I was so pleased when I got to the end and saw that your book is a babysitters club spin off!

  29. Caroline, were you obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club like I was? I wrote an award-winning essay about how much I admired Ann M. Martin when I was in second grade (and the prize was a $25 gift certificate to Toys R Us, where I bought a beloved stuffed dog that I named Norman). Then she did a book signing at my local book store, so of course I brought my essay and asked her to sign it! I had every single book in the series, and every reference to The Babysitter’s Club gives me intense pangs of nostalgia!

    More importantly, congratulations on your first book! I’m sure it’s wonderful and I hope it introduces a bunch of young girls to the original series, too, like Netflix has done for old TV shows.

  30. Ann-Marie says...

    Congrats Caroline! Such an exciting thing, to have your book published! You have such skill with language, I’m sure the book will do great.

    Curious if you considered self-publishing and your thoughts about it in general? Anyone else who is in the industry, would love to see what you think, too.

  31. Diana says...

    Just bought a copy for my 11 year-old daughter! Congratulations!!!

  32. Annie says...

    I just ordered it, for myself (age 36), haha. So happy for you, Caroline! You are such a gifted writer who really stands out.

  33. Jenn says...

    Congratulations Caroline! Former book publicist here (adult and children’s books) and now I’m a freelance writer. I applaud your bravery and the discipline it takes to actually make this happen. A book is no mean feat. Wishing you so much success!

  34. Maureen says...

    Congrats! Hard work paid off.

  35. Congratulations, Caroline! I just ordered my copy! I work in children’s publishing (and am a writer myself), so this post hits home. Your top ten are spot on. And to speak to #10, I had a writing professor in graduate school who told us she used to set a timer when she sat down to write. Fifteen minutes, she’d tell herself. Just write for fifteen minutes (since that seemed less daunting than sitting down to write for an hour or longer). She told us, oftentimes, she didn’t even hear when the timer went off and kept writing long after those fifteen minutes were up. I’ve always loved that advice as a way to just get going. Have I ever used it? No. BUT I’m doing it. This week. Promise.

    Ps. I love how many people are commenting saying they feel as if one of their friends wrote this book. I second that.

  36. JP says...

    1) I totally did this when I was a kid! I started a babysitters club with my friends in the mid 90s – I had a black ledger book, pooled our earnings, made business cards on my parent’s computer and put up a geocities website eventually. We even went to our parents’ offices to present our services and drum-up business. By age 13, I was making more per hour than I did my first job post-college! By high school, I had regular nanny gigs, by college full-time nanny jobs and preschool teaching jobs. 2) This says series – will there be more??

    • Sally Dalwood says...

      Oh my god. I started one too. Waaaaaay before computers and in a tiny outback country town- the demand for babysitting was pretty low but I made a sign and popped it up in the general store (the only shop for miles). I was babysitting at 12. Now with two babies, my peers look at me with horrified faces when I explain my super capable 19 year old niece is baby sitting my 2 yo and 8 mo. I wouldn’t dare tell them I was babysitting at 12 – inspired by the BSC. I am so excited to read this – good on you Caroline. Your article on getting your baby published was excellent!

  37. Val says...

    So excited for you, Caroline! The biggest congratualtions to you!

  38. Maire says...

    Thank you for this, Caroline! I have been working on writing romance novels for a little over a year but I constantly struggle with self doubt and many days I feel like giving up the project. Your list helps me continue to remain dedicated to finishing what I’ve started, even if it never sees the light of day.

    Congratulations on your book, I wish you all the success and hope there are many more creative projects to come for you.

  39. So happy for you and love every single thing you just wrote about writing!

    I worked at Random House for 15 years. You captured the process perfectly!

    Congrats! It’s a clever idea. Hope it sells, sells, sells!

  40. Kathryn says...

    Way to go Caroline!

    For those who would love to support Caroline (or any writer!) but don’t have the financial means to buy the book, here are some free ways to support a writer:

    -Leave a review
    -Checkout the book from the library
    -Library doesn’t have it? Request it!
    -Did I mention? Leave a review
    -Recommend to friends (in person or on social media)
    -And finally, leave a review!

  41. Pam says...

    Writer question for you Caroline! How would you feel if someone told you they loved your book, and they took your book out from the library? That is generally where I get all my books, but I sometimes feel bad knowing the authors don’t get paid. Thoughts?

    • Karyn says...

      Librarian and former book publishing professional here! Checking the book out from the library is absolutely a great way to support writers you love! Public libraries are one of book publishers’ most important clients, and they love libraries. When tons of libraries across the country are requesting a copy of a book, that directly translates into sales and possible future reprints of a title, which is always good for authors. And, if lots of library patrons check out an author’s first book, the libraries will be eager to purchase copies of that author’s future books. Good all around! <3

    • Tracey says...

      Illustrator from Australia chiming in here. Every year I get $1 royalty per copy of my book that is loaned in libraries that year. I also got $1 per copy when it was purchased. In Aus at least, authors and illustrators still get royalties on loans books.

  42. Emma says...

    Congrats Caroline !! <3

  43. Millie says...

    My husband is an essayist (and a high school math teacher). His writing is gaining traction now, but it has been a slog. He’s about to have an article published in Harvard Ed Review that his been rejected 73 times by other publications! Granted, it’s a tough article on race so I know why people passed on it, but that’s a lot of rejection to absorb while you KEEP ON WRITING! It’s not for the faint of heart, I suppose.

  44. Congrats Caroline! Love your writing and am buying the book. Wishing you great success….

  45. Ashley says...

    My copy arrives tomorrow and I can’t wait! Your writing on Cup of Jo has been a joy to follow and I’m thrilled to hear your voice in a different context. Plus, as a former tween OBSESSED with the Baby Sitters Club books (remember the “special” editions; they were my fave) I’m thrilled to revisit that time of my life. Congrats!!!!

    • Yes! My favorite was Super Special #1 (when they go on the cruise and to Disneyworld)…

      Just put myself in line for the book at the library – congrats, Caroline!

  46. Neely says...

    Get it, girl!!

  47. Kristin says...

    Congratulations! So exciting. This book looks perfect for my 9 year old daughter–buying it now (and I am a notorious underbuyer of books–we go the library every week and get our fix there. ) But I would love to support you!

  48. LK says...

    Congratulations, Caroline! xoxo

  49. Bernadette says...

    Caroline–CONGRATS! I feel like my very own FRIEND has made this happen. It’s always a pleasure and a joy to read your posts on CoJ. Your wit, humor and ability to cut through the crap is a true gift. Cannot wait to read :)

  50. celeste says...

    Bought a copy for my 11 year old. Congratulations, C.

  51. Congratulations on your new book! As an indie bookstore owner who LOVED The Babysitters Club when I was younger, I’m the perfect demographic for stocking these. BUT – you’ve got a picture of yourself at an indie bookstore and a link for your book on Amazon and no links to indie bookstores anywhere…seems like a bit of a disconnect and a really big missed opportunity to let your readership know how important it is to support their local indie bookstore, and if they don’t have a local, we ship, too! Just thought I’d point it out that you could have linked to your book on the site of the store you’re posing in front of and help to keep them there. Also, have you reached out to any indies for your virtual book tour? We hold them, too! We would love to help support you, and are usually pretty creative with how we can do that, unlike the Amazon algorithm. As someone once said (paraphrasing) – “An algorithm can only tell you about the past. Booksellers give you the key to the future.” I’m excited to share your book with future generations of readers. Please help us stay here by linking to us indies when you can. Thank you!

    • Jessica says...

      📚💜 In case anyone had any doubt about the passion of indie booksellers…

    • As a diehard fan of indie bookstores, this made me giggle a little because, as Jessica points out, you have to love the passion of our indie booksellers!

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you, BrocheAroe! Well said.

    • agnes says...

      You’re fantastic!

  52. liz says...

    congrats and great advice! #10 is so important!

  53. Congratulations!! I’ve always loved your writing and perspectives on Cup of Jo. It’s very inspiring to read about how you are following many paths in your life.

  54. Bri says...

    Congrats on your book!
    I strongly encourage you to link to IndieBound or an independent bookstore (perhaps the one your are standing outside of in the Books Are Magic photo?) rather than Amazon. Authors and indie bookstores support each other on a very real and personal level, and these kinds of things go a long way to building a stronger community. Many indie bookstores will ship anywhere in the country and IndieBound is a great resource that can help an interested party shop from local bookstores in their area that might carry your book.
    Indie booksellers can hand-sell your book, put it on a staff recommends shelf, write a review of it, hold an in-store event, and many more things that Amazon can’t do for you. Reach out to some of them, tell them about your book, demonstrate your support by linking to an indie store and build those relationships!

    • Jessica says...

      Yes please! Thanks for commenting on this as well. I noticed the Books Are Magic photo too—they should be credited at least, and IndieBound is a great resource.

  55. Silvina says...

    Congratulations, Caroline!

  56. Yes, yes, yes to all of this! The publishing of the first book entails a huge learning curve!

  57. agnes says...

    Bravo Caroline and thanks for these “surprising things”, I’m in the process of writing/not writing and the one paragraph a day tip will help, I’m sure. It’s discipline, it’s work, and it’s “I can do it”.

  58. Lisa says...

    Congratulations! I’ve always loved your writing on CoJ and it feels like there’s some justice in the world now that you’re being published.

  59. Jessica says...

    Congratulations Caroline! As an indie bookseller, I wish that your link went to Books Are Magic, where your photo was taken, rather than the big A. Indie bookstores do author events, recommend to teachers and librarians, and do lots of other things to support their communities (local taxes, anyone?). Cheers, and congrats again!

  60. Catherine says...

    where I live, baby-sitters are usually in high school, most parents don’t trust younger teenagers with their kids, isn’t that funny?
    I’d love to read your book as my daughter will soon be old enough to baby-sit!
    Congratulations on this great accomplishment!

  61. Laurie says...

    Congrats! Just ordered my copy. For myself, OG lover of BSC. I still remember the day I won my first one, ‘Claudia and Mean Janine!’

  62. MB says...

    Congratulations! What an achievement!

  63. Laura C. says...

    Caroline, congratulations, and thank you very much for sharing what you learned on your process. It is indeed something to be very proud of. Brava!

  64. OK, so I live in South Africa. We get a lot of the international bestsellers, but they’re expensive. So if I’m not sure if I’ll like something, I’ll often get it on audio, especially if I can get it with an Audible credit (it’s often much cheaper that way). Do audio book sales still count towards sales or not as much as printed books?

  65. Nigerian Girl says...

    Congrats Caroline. You’re an inspiration. All the best with your book and your writing career.

  66. jeannie says...

    Huge congratulation on the publication of your book, Caroline. What an achievement!

  67. Barbara says...

    Hip hip hooray! Congratulations, Caroline!

  68. Meg says...

    So, so, so happy for you. Just ordered a copy to share with my 5 year old. 💛

  69. Carmen says...

    Heartfelt congrats to Caroline on this milestone. Please know that your digital audience is cheering for you.
    Thank you also for this post, championing all of us to be brave and do brilliant, difficult things by your example.
    You are an inspiration.
    Xx
    Btw- buying this for all the young people in my life. And for me.

  70. Shivani Balan says...

    Congratulations! How incredibly exciting. :)

  71. Maria Brown says...

    Yes! My kids, girl aged 9 and boy aged 7 are both avid readers and writers. They love graphic novels and really enjoy The Babysitter’s Club series by Raina Telgemeier and Ann M. Martin. Anyway, they are both aspiring writers; the boy is more a self-proclaimed cartoonist. So the inspiration and perspective are appreciated :) Just ordered your book. I just hope they share it nicely…

  72. Kim says...

    I’m really curious – did Ann M. Martin give her blessing?

    • I’m curious too now!!

  73. Malissa says...

    CONGRATULATIONS! What an amazing feeling to be done and in your Insta book tour :)

  74. Thanks for sharing Caroline! The publishing world is so so glacial. Even more so With picture books because you’re waiting on an illustrator! I was supposed to get published 2019 but am awaiting illustrators still so lets see.

    My first book Lailah’s Lunchbox took a year to make it into print which I now realize was nothing!

    I can’t wait to read your book!! I’m a fan of the BSC so Yayyy!

  75. Sounds great! Congratulations!!!

  76. Chelsey says...

    Just ordered a copy for my neighbors daughter who’s 9! Congratulations!

  77. beth says...

    Congratulations on your book, and loved this thoughtful post.

  78. Amanda says...

    Congratulations, Caroline! I’m so glad I was introduced to your writing via Cup of Jo. I still revisit the 7-step guide to heartbreak every now and then – it is a source of comfort during a time when many of us need it most!

  79. Katie says...

    Congrats! I put my hold in (New York Public Library) (for myself, 33!) Someone in the industry once told me utilizing the library system is still very supportive of writers and publishers. I’ve agonized over not spending at my local independent shops but the library is perfect for me and I adore my local branch. I contribute monetarily to the NYPL often. Would you say this is accurate?

    • Christina says...

      Hi, Katie~ I’m also very interested in hearing about this from Caroline!! As an avid library user, I typically only purchase a handful of books a year from authors I adore. Often I will borrow the book from the library, and then if I love it enough to read again and again, I’ll purchase. But most often, I use the library for the bulk of my reading (about 40 books per year). I googled and read a few pieces about this concept, whether using the library is supporting the author. I liked this one: https://litreactor.com/columns/13-ways-to-support-an-author-without-spending-a-dime

    • Gill F. says...

      Remember that the library buys those copies! And they usually buy a few! So even though you aren’t directly paying for the book, you’re supporting the writers through your amazing public library. :)

  80. Suko says...

    Congratulations! That’s so awesome that NYT gave its 👍

    Regarding point #2, I actually am very curious to know why exactly does it so long for a book to come out in the States??

    In Japan, I have a friend who is shooting photos and writing up her first cookbook right now, and the book will be in print and available to buy in late summer this year. (It’s from a major publisher.)

    If anyone knows of an article that covers this topic, would love to hear!

  81. Congratulations, Caroline! You’ve written some of my favorite words on Cup of Jo (though it’s hard to pick favorites around here!), and I’m thrilled your book is officially out in the world. Woohoo!

  82. VP says...

    Congratulations Caroline!!! I loved The Babystitters Club series as a girl! This sounds so fun! My kids are still pretty young, but I’ll just have to keep it on the shelf for a few years =)

  83. MK says...

    Congratulations!!! Going to buy it from my local bookstore in my college town for my cousin. I may read it before I send it to her though. :-)

  84. Gen says...

    Was delighted to receive my copy of the mail today. Can wait to read it with my 9 year old. :)

  85. Amy says...

    Just ordered this for my 10 year old daughter! :) She is super excited! Congrats in making your dream reality.

  86. Laura says...

    Congratulations Caroline! I am newish to the book industry (on the independent bookstore side) and one of the most fascinating random tidbits I’ve learned is that there is one woman–the fiction buyer at Barnes & Noble–who has tons of influence and power, and publishers will change a cover, and even a title, if she tells them to. Crazy to think about.

  87. Kristin says...

    My 8 year old daughter will absolutely devour this book! Congratulations!

  88. Congrats!
    My daughter loved that series.

  89. Sara C says...

    Ordering a copy for my classroom (and all my teacher friends) now! :-)

  90. Thrilled to see this arrive on our doorstop today! It’s a gift for my 9-year old daughter. Love that we’ll both enjoy reading it to each other at night. Congratulations Caroline!!

  91. JessicaD says...

    This is wonderful! Ordering right now for my 9 year old daughter and will suggest this for the next meeting of her book club! Congratulations!

  92. Meghan says...

    SO excited for you, Caroline. I’ve been enchanted with your writing since your first COJ post. Ordering now– for my 30-year-old self :) All the best to you and this book’s journey. HUGE congrats on the NYT review!

  93. Sheila says...

    Just received my copy today! Congrats on your novel — I can’t wait to read it.

  94. Aya Costantino says...

    Congratulations! I just ordered a copy for a friend’s daughter.
    I felt like telling her that a friend had written it.

    • Betsy says...

      Just did the exact same (and felt the same way)!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this makes me happy :)

  95. Nicola says...

    Congratulation Caroline!!! This is HUGE and I’ll be ordering it today for my girls. My dad has written several college level probability/statistics books and I read them like a novel because it too has inside jokes/ or what I call family Easter eggs. So many of the math problems include relatives’ names, favorite hikes from the French alps, the chances a family will have 4 children (3F, 1M) like us, even my dad’s daily commute to and from work. They are such treasures!!!

    • Taylor says...

      Wow! How lovely! I never considered that so much sentiment went into a math problem I was solving!

  96. Congratulations! As a writer myself, I know of what you speak! From one author to another: you’re an author! Soak it in! It feels like a miracle, but we know it’s hard work. Reading this made me want to keep slogging away at my current creative projects. Thank you. And enjoy the launch! I’ll hand sell it at the bookstore I work part-time at out here in Seattle!

  97. Lizzie says...

    Beautifully stated as always. Go Caroline!! So happy for you!

  98. Congratulations! I’m ordering one right now for my daughter.

  99. AJ says...

    So thrilled! Gonna buy a copy each for my twin nieces. They’re three years old so it’ll be a while ‘til they can read it, but it’ll be fun telling them how their ‘grown up’ book collection started after a brilliant writer on aunty’s favourite blog back in 2019 published a book.

    • Mwis says...

      My niece is two and I too will buy for her a copy for the same reason! Love you Caroline and congratulations!

  100. ann.e says...

    I have an 11yo who is loving the new Babysitters Club books – this is perfect! Thank you for a wonderful piece on the process <3

  101. Tracey says...

    1. Buy your books from independent sellers or from the publisher directly. Not amazon. The makers get more of a cut and can make and support riskier work.
    2. Caroline was kind of vague about the process, but to hold a physical book in your hand (or even kindle I suppose) is a massive process and risk for a publisher. The endless edits, the production meetings, the design meetings, the proofs, the printing, the shipping – it is all time consuming. People in this industry get paid peanuts because they love producing quality literature and adding voices to the world. As in part 1. Of my comment, please support them!

    Signed,
    Publishing Designer of 12 years

    • Em says...

      Then how are these so many awful, truly awful books? I’m not trying to be snarky. I’m very curious.

    • Tracey says...

      Em, two words: self publishing. Standards have diluted with paper and printing being cheaper. My tip: find a few publishing houses (big and small) that you trust to have put in the hours and go from there, after that it’s a matter of taste, I suppose.

  102. Jenny Rosenstrach says...

    “For me, the act of writing is a little like blacking out. On the best days, it feels like going into a trance. After the fact, I don’t really remember having written any of it.” SO FUNNY SO TRUE.

  103. Aria Cole Asher says...

    Kudos! I look forward to picking up a copy and getting nostalgic with the BSC.

  104. Meredith says...

    “For me, the act of writing is a little like blacking out. On the best days, it feels like going into a trance. After the fact, I don’t really remember having written any of it.”
    100% agree and am glad this is a real thing that other people have too!!!

  105. Robin says...

    Thank you for featuring this and the opportunity to learn more about the book process. I am doing a lot of reading for my PhD on colonialism and trauma and I need a break from such heavy reading. I loved the Babysitter’s Club. Thank you, Caroline Cala- I hope you know you wrote this for grown ups too!

  106. Debbie says...

    Congratulations! I’m ordering a copy for my 10 year old niece. I think she’ll love it!

  107. Erica says...

    Congrats, Caroline! XO

  108. Samantha says...

    Just ordered the book for my 9 year old goddaughter!

  109. Louisa says...

    I had a book published 2 years ago (after having 2 of my top 3 publishers vying to publish it!). I picked out a new set of dishes I would buy myself when my first royalty check came in. A beautiful 12-piece place setting from a pottery studio. Rude awakening: I could buy 2 place-settings with the royalties.
    I bought my dishes anyway, as a celebration.

    • Tracey says...

      Hehe when on “tour” in schools for my picture book a child asked with stars in his eyes how much money I’d made of it – glad you asked kid, 9c an hour. Lol! Thank goodness I had a day job.

  110. maywyn says...

    Congratulations!
    Wishing you much success

  111. Hey, I also have a middle grade novel coming out this year w/ Scholastic! (I’m actually editing it right now and read this on my *break* time) so this was really helpful and timely! Thank you!

  112. megan thieme says...

    So excited for you! Just ordered it for my 11 year old daughter!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Thank you!

  113. Congratulations, Caroline! I really love the part about how you can make stuff happen. Ordering it, reading it, and leaving you a five-star review on amazon.

  114. Kathryn says...

    Congratulations on the book! The 4th grade version of me, who the best day of the month at school was when the scholastic book order came with the newest Babysitters Club, is very excited to read this book.

    And…YES, YES, YES to #7.

  115. Erin says...

    Congrats Caroline!!

    I’m so curious- I know you read and write a ton…how and why did you decide to write this book in particular? Did you have the idea for it long before you wrote it or did you think of the idea and then decide to pursue it right away?

  116. Cayla says...

    Congrats Caroline!

  117. Diana K. says...

    I’m curious, why the pen name?

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Good question! Cala is my middle name and in my everyday life, I typically use all three names (Caroline Cala Donofrio) because it feels like a way to honor my family, where the names come from.

      When it came to the children’s books, I wanted to own them fully, but also keep them separate from my writing for adults. Sometimes my typical essays or stories might have adult themes, and I was careful to keep the children’s books clean and appropriate for younger audiences. Writing under Caroline Cala felt like an additional way to keep the projects separate and ensure I could write as honestly as possible for different readers.