Merci, Merci, Merci

This month has been CRAZY.

I am so grateful—and so shocked, and so overwhelmed—by outpouring of support for Anna. I'm honest when I say I believed I wrote a small book, one that would be enjoyed by a modest but (hopefully) devoted community of readers. Contemporary romance is not an easy sell these days.

Thank you for giving my novel a chance.

Thank you for recommending it to your friends.

Thank you for your emails, letters, messages, and tweets.

Thank you, John Green and Nerdfighteria. (My WORD, thank you.)

I was not expecting any of this. And it's sad for me to be so removed from the internet right now, because this has been one of the most exciting months of my life. I wish I were more available to talk to you, to thank you all personally. To give you my time.

I'm working on a major revision of my second novel, and it's due soon, and it's a slow and painful process. I am not a fast writer. And I want it to be good.

It is a difficult thing to work on something that you know will, inevitably, disappoint a large number of people. And I don't say this to put myself or my work down—or to dig for compliments—but I say it in a realistic way. Most second novels (or films) disappoint. Unfortunately, it's the nature of storytelling. Things are no longer new and sparkly. And while I know that there are rare exceptions—The Two Towers and The Empire Strikes Back spring to mind—and while I know that some of my readers WILL love Lola's story, these are the facts:

Lola is not Anna.

The boy next door is not Étienne.

America is not France.

It's hard to finish something when you can already hear the negative reviews in your head. It's stupid and self-centered, I know. But that's the truth. I wanted to spend this month celebrating Anna, and instead, the majority of my hours have been spent worrying about Lola. Sometimes, it's all I can do to keep from jumping on my roof and shouting:


Which is not, you know, a great marketing campaign.

So instead, I work. And I hope at the end of this I'll have written something that I can be proud of. (Because if I don't like it, I sure as heck can't expect any of you to like it.) But I'll continue to be fairly absent online for the next few weeks while I finish.

To everyone who has emailed me or sent me a letter, I will reply! (If it makes you feel any better, I have not replied to anyone yet. It's not you. It's me.) I just need more time. But I'm really, really, really looking forward to telling you how much I appreciate your words.

Because I do. So, so much.


P.S. Please lower your expectations, okaythanks.


  1. ((cyber hug)) I'm SURE Lola has more to her than you can see right now. You know how they say you can be too close to something? Methinks that might be you.

    For the record, I'm INCREDIBLY excited for Lola--not because I expect her to be anything like Anna. But because I will get to meet her through your amazing writing. And that my dear makes everything golden.

    Hang in there. If you need ANYTHING you know where to find me!

  2. Anonymous2:08 AM GMT-5

    PLEASE LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS is a brilliant thing to be shouting just about now.

    M (my 16 yo) and I are looking forward to Lola because we expect her to be different from Anna. And we expect her book to be different. But we love us some contemporary YA romance, and you have a knack with that.

    Remember that small audience you wrote Anna for? Go ahead and write Lola for that same group. Anything else that comes is gravy.

  3. Steph Perkins, you rock. 'Nuff said.

  4. Lower my expectations? Pssht. If anything, they've gotten higher. ;)

    (Kidding. Kinda.)

    I'm sure Lola's gonna be kickass in its very own way. <3

  5. Stop that! It's a good thing I'm not your publicist!

    The reason we love Anna is not because of Paris, or Anna, or Étienne. It's because YOU wrote it. It was the story YOU spun. It was the characters that YOU created. It was the conversations that YOU nailed. It is your writing that made us love your novel.

    If you love Lola, if it's true to you, then there's no way we won't love it also. Yes, you will lose some fans, and may even get some negative press. But that's the nature of things. Even the great ones go through this stuff. Even Radiohead ticked off some fly-by-night fans. But the loyal millions will always support what is true and honest. YES, I did just compare you to Radiohead! :)

    Those who appreciated your smart, witty, and brilliant writing will stand in line to get your next novel. The worst part is that we have to wait until September. But I'll be there, at Borders ready to buy it and even have a stare down with the twerp that gives me the once-over because I'm a dude wanting to buy a great book!

    Your loyal fan and supporter ~Ara

  6. Even though I know what you mean about people hyping things up because they get excited about a new addition I have to disagree (a little) about the second book being disappointing.

    This year I've read -a lot- of first books in a series, or debut books and even though I loved quite a few of them it takes a lot more work to get into the first book. You have to get used to the writing style, build up the world the characters live in etc, but when you get into the second and subsequent books, it is so nice getting back into a style you're already familiar with.

    Even when you read a whole different series by the same author, it still feels that same way because you've become familiar with that author's "voice".

    I'll take your advice and keep an open mind about Lola, but I do have faith that it'll be a really enjoyable read :)

  7. Expectation lowering aside - well done for the great reviews, the outpour of support and the fancy magazine cover!

  8. The truth:
    I liked Anna.
    I liked Étienne.
    I liked Paris.
    But what I LOVED was the way you wrote the story.
    It was your writing, not the characters themselves, that made me swoon.

  9. You crack me up. You have had so much success and you remain so humble! Lola is going to be awesome. Just you wait!

    What an awesome year you have had! Take at least a day to celebrate it!

  10. Wow. I can't really add to these amazing comments—just wanted to say that I agree with everyone else. It was your writing, your ability to so subtly weave such a fabulous story, that most captivated me. Etienne helped—so did Paris—but like everyone else, I'm confident it's your writing that made those things sparkle the way they did.

    Very, very much looking forward to Lola. Best of luck with the rest of your revisions!!! :)

  11. I'm sure your second book will be amazing! Good luck with all your revisions!

  12. You, my friend, are one of the lucky people in the world to entirely exceed her expectations in modesty. For that alone applause. *claps*

    As for Lola, I agree and disagree -

    Yes, some people will be disappointed. My beef with a lot of readers and reviewers these days is that they refuse to accept that - in most cases, even series books - the book itself is a singular entity. It is bound to happen, and you are SMART to prepare yourself for it to some small degree.

    I'll still love Lola, though. Your voice alone would make the story, but I can feel it in my reading bones that it's going to be a good story on it's own because Lola will be Lola. After all, the whole point of my review last time was that Anna was herself, making it one of the best books out there simply BECAUSE she acted like herself.

    But I digress. You do awesome work. Ring in the New Year with HOPES and HARDWORK and a COLIN FIRTH film. You will be fine. :)

  13. Ditto what Shannon and Ara said! (Even though I totally understand where you're coming from.)

    Also, ADORABLE yellow jacket. Is that yours, or was it lent to you for the shoot?

  14. You're on the cover of a magazine?!?! Holy congrats! :) Hang in there on novel #2. They are tricky little scamps. It'll all be fabulous in the end though. I know it!

  15. Just passing through to say congrats on all of your amazing success! And best of luck with the second book. I agree with everyone else here, your talent as a writer is what made Anna a success, so you should be just fine for Lola. :)

    Also, you look gorgeous on the magazine cover! :)

  16. Okay, just stop it. Now.

    Stop worrying about what the audience will say...maybe that is why the revisions are so hard. Just tell the story in the best way you can. That is all you really can do. What Lola and her boy next door really want is your honesty as a writer.

    Lecture over. (Wow...I really sounded like a mom, huh?)

    (I am soooo hypocritical! I am struggling through revisions right now...soooooo hard.)

    Love the picture!!!


  17. Sending you confidence and good writing vibes.

    I'm not afraid that you are a one-hit wonder! Easy for me to say; hard for you to believe, right? But hopefully hearing it will help, just a little bit.

    I'm think that with book reviews, like other things, there is a pendulum effect. Some people may issue harsh criticism of a novelist's second effort because it is easy or provides small-minded enjoyment to level mighty success by hacking at its ankles.

    But that core of devoted readers you mentioned? We feel like family. We will continue to support you no matter what. We will remind you and the interwebs at large why we love you because you deserve to hear it.

    We will read Lola for the newness of her tale, knowing she is not Anna and her story isn't the same.

    Although, I was a little surpised to hear America is not France ;)

  18. Wonderful Verve article, Steph. And you're so darn adorable in the pics!

    Take a deep breath. We'll all still be here when you can exhale :)

  19. I love the article about you in Verve magazine! You definitely deserve the recognition...you're a great author and an inspiration to other writers and readers everywhere. :) Congratulations on all your accomplishments, Stephanie!



  20. Anonymous1:20 PM GMT-5

    I just wanted to let you know that I finished Anna and the French Kiss at oh... 2 in the morning the other day because I just couldn't put it down. And because people kept interupting me, which I responded to with loud SHHHHHHHHHHs!
    I LOVED Anna and the French Kiss. I haven't really had much time to read books that i actually like in a while. Anna and the French Kiss was funny and light, but also really deep at points. I loved how many twists the plot had. I loved Etienne and I want an Etienne. Really badly. He's so cute and funny and... wow.
    I can't wait for your next book. I'm not expecting it to be exactly like Anna and the French Kiss because every book is different. As an aspiring writer, I know that. But I can't wait to find out who this boy next door is and fall in love with him too.
    Good luck, Stephanie! Happy 2011!

  21. It will be fine. Honestly.

    I was going to list some second books that were excellent, but decided not to. Because we both know that there are rules and exceptions. No one can predict what will happen, we just have to wait and see. You make that book what you feel it needs to be and that is all anyone can ask. You can't compare your children, and you shouldn't compare your artistic "children". It will be awesome.

    That is all.

    Now go and enjoy Anna's success, take a little time to celebrate.

  22. I work at a bookstore and sold YOUR book today to a very excited reader. Congratulations on everything!

  23. Congrats Congrats Congrats
    I seriously love Anna and the French Kiss. Almost Almost done with it. My WIP is set in Paris, so it was WAY fun to experience yours in Paris too. Can't wait to read your next book. BTW, I have already lowered my expectations cause I hope people will lower theirs for mine. JK. My WIP is great and will only get better.

  24. Look at you on the cover of a magazine! AWESOME! Congrats on a phenomenal year ... and many more to come!

  25. Anonymous8:06 PM GMT-5

    Just heard Anna recommended on NPR tonight and was like, Yeah! I could have told you that! :0) Actually, I just finished it last night at about 2:30 because I couldn't put it down. I have not read a book like that in ages. I think what made it so great and why so many like it is because it wasn't a fairytale. There was no clear path and people got hurt, as often happens in real relationships. There was also serious lack of communication, which, again, also is real. You wrote a really great book. And your voice was on point. Truly. Anna seemed real, though sometimes it was hard for me to picture her (not sure why), but I felt her problems were real and true. Looking forward to the next. And I look at books like essays - not all of them can get that A, maybe a B+ or B, but when it's from a good writer, that B is far better than, say, from someone who's not as good. Run with Lola and see where she takes you. I wouldn't want another character like Anna. Lola's a different story to tell.

  26. I'm excited for LOLA! But I promise to try to go into it with no expectations. Relatedly, I enjoyed Isla's cameo in ANNA. I love when book's universes overlap.

    Congratulations on all the success! I've been reading your blog/following you on twitter for a while now, and I'm very excited for you!

    (I'm a Harry Potter/Wrock fan, and I first heard about ANNA on the LeakyCon website, if you're interested in how readers find you.)

  27. OK, so i have read 3/4 of these comments I agree with all of them except that one *points index finger to it* I can't wait for Lola! I think you created a pessimistic community inside your mind and we are apparently standing on ur front porch saying its not good enough! But of course that's your mind! If you need a break from being sad or scared about Lola just read these comments!!!!!!!!

    -8-Bit aka Anna and the French Kiss book lover

  28. Hey there Stephanie,

    I normally don't comment on posts, but your post really spoke to me.

    Please relax about making all of us readers happy, because in all honesty, you can never please everyone.

    However, the important thing when all is said and done with your second novel is that you are pleased with yourself and your own work!

    Just because it isn't Anna doesn't mean us fans won't like it as much or expect it to be the same. If it has heart, which Anna did, we'll love it.

    Good luck and be brave! We are supportive of you and grateful that you have shared your imagination, creativity, and talent with all of us!

  29. I'm certain that Lola will be just as amazing as Anna!

    You're awesome. That's all :)

  30. Congrats! I picked up your book this month after John Green and Maureen Johnson recommended it on Twitter and I'm so, so happy I did. Your book made me giddy and wish I was back in Paris with le boyf (we went in late 2002). So enjoy the attention -- it's very well deserved. :)

  31. Congratulations, my dear!

    You're so talented and brilliant and witty. Your writing is superb and your stories are romantic.

    I know Lola won't be Anna, but she'll be Lola. I believe in her, and in you. Remember how you told us about the long revision process with Anna? It's not fair to judge a girl on her appearance an hour before the dance, you know.

    Plus, to us Europeans, America is Paris. Well, not literally, but you get it.

    Plus, you're adorable and cool and the cover of a magazine!

  32. Dear EVERYONE:
    I have read/am reading/will continue to read Lola. You won't be disappointed. Steph's abilities as a writer and a storyteller and a creator of incredibly delicious boys shines through even in America : ) But I understand Steph's panic completely. Even if it is unwarranted...

  33. First off, Congrats!

    And second, I just finished Anna last week and I *loved* it. I'm pretty sure Lola wont' disappoint.

  34. Okay, so I've adjusted my expectations from Oh-My-God-My-Head-Will-Probably-Explode-From-Awesomeness-And-Then-I'll-Have-Brains-On-My-Shirt to Holy-Hell-This-Is-Going-To-Be-So-Awesome-That-I-Expect-A-Nose-Bleed-And-Headache. Is that better?

  35. And another thing. You're totally on thte cover of a magazine looking GORGEOUS. Just saying. Not to impune on writing pains and stuff, of course, just.. LOOK at you!

  36. Anonymous8:02 AM GMT-5

    I just read Anna and I cannot stop thinking about it. I plan on following your blog forever now. Because I know just how much of the writer appears in the narrator and I have no doubt that there will be something to draw us all in to Lola's story because YOU have the ability to draw us in with your writing. I am currently telling everyone I possibly can to read Anna. And I honestly cannot get St. Clair out of my head. Which is AWESOME on your part. Way to create a guy we can't stop thinking about. I have no doubt you can do it again but I totally agree. Try not to think about Anna while you write Lola and I have no doubt your readers and more will devour your second book just as your first. :)

    <3 Meredith

  37. I'm late reading this so I hope Lola is giving you less stress and you've managed to enjoy the outpouring of love for Anna :)

    Also, for some of us none Americans, America is as exciting as France :) And though I would love more of Anna, it is really your writing I'm dying for more of so I can't wait for Lola, who has the best name by the way.

  38. OMG YES. This? YES.

    I'm not even close to releasing Book 2, and I'm already thinking the. Exact. Same. Thing.

  39. On the bright side, this month people have:

    1. Read your book.

    2. Laughed with (not AT) your book.

    3. LOVED IT.

    Like, you know, ME. :D

    And even if I'll miss France because it is magical and beautiful in a way Walmart and McDonalds can't even comprehend, and even if St. Clair is the hottest American-English-Frenchman ever, it was your story, your writing, and your characters that kept me laughing for hours on end - And you are still going to be in the next book.

    Enough said.


  40. Holy smokey! How awesome! I need to get meself on the cover of Vogue's next special edition on chubby bellies!
    What an honor- congratulations!!

  41. i so feel you on the expectations for the second book. but i love the name Lola and i love america and american boys so i'm sure it will be fantastic! :) good luck!

  42. congrats for the cover! how cool. :)

    i'll try to lower my expectations, but i've got to admit, i'm really looking forward to lola. your writing style is lovely and it'll be such a treat to see it at work again! :)

  43. How did I miss this? It could be my ever pressing problem of never being on the internet. Sigh.

    But how cool (and hot) are you? So very.

  44. So I'll just post a comment even though I'm late, late, late.
    I think it's a good thing when authors write books that are different from each other. Versitility is a good thing. We can always reread Anna if we miss her and Paris.
    Also it's set in SF, yes? My favorite city EVAR. Well, I haven't really been around, but so far it's my favorite city.