publishing

Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

I was recently e-mailing with one of my friends, and it came up in the conversation that she felt things seemed so easy for authors once they have a book deal. Which I completely understand. It really does appear that way most of the time, doesn't it? Once a writer gets the ball rolling, it's like they have three more books coming out in the next few years. 

But the truth is, not everything is perfect behind the curtain. 

Because we can't blog about our specific problems or tweet for advice, authors often go to each other. Sometimes it's to vent, other times it's to find a solution. What problems could these possibly be, you ask? Honestly, I've seen a variety of them. Authors whose second book wasn't accepted by their publisher, authors who were stressing about deadlines, authors who wished they had a better relationship with their editors. Of course, these may seem like good problems to have. But to the author who's tearing her hair out and losing sleep, it's just as serious as getting another agent rejection. 

I've already blogged about my own difficulties in getting a book deal. Maybe it seems like everything is perfect now. Which, okay, I'm pretty happy with everything that's going on in my life. However, there have still been difficulties. No one knows that I sent my agent an entire manuscript - I'd worked on it for months, and it was a monster at over 100,000 words - and she ultimately helped me see that it just wasn't working. Since then I've dived into other projects and moved on, but at the time, it was so hard to give up. 

See, authors don't usually share things like that.

It's not always sunshine and rainbows, whatever it looks like. Sometimes it rains.

The purpose of this post isn't to whine, or seek sympathy. It may even seem unfair to those who are still struggling in the query or submission trenches. The simple purpose of this post is to assure - if that's the right word - my friend and all of you that even after the dreams come true, there are battles. Authors don't write flawless manuscripts and have a deal within days. It's hard work. Always, continually, constantly. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don't.

Just like that time we sent out a single query, and that one agent replied with those terrifying-wonderful words. 

I want more.

Why Agents Deserve That 15%

Most of us know why it's good to have an agent around. They negotiate contracts, they have access to the editors, they sort through all the chaos that goes into having a book deal. But agents truly go above and beyond the call of duty here. Unlike most people who have day jobs, these people don't just clock out and go home. They take it with them. All the time. What else do they do, you ask, that make them so amazing?

1. They make the effort to appear sane.

Contrary to popular belief, agents are humans, too. They get discouraged, they get nervous, and they get frustrated just like the rest of us. But unlike the rest of us, these unearthly beings don't show it. At least, mine never has. They make the effort to always be certain in the decisions and events taking place. They are ready to reassure and reassess. Tons of rejections? They'll be unfazed and make the choice between a new round or a new revision. Can't get the numbers you want on a contract? Agents will do the best the can with what they've got.

2. They always tell the truth.

Seriously. Think about it. All those rejections, all those revision notes. They don't hold back. Yes, usually they're kind and encouraging. But ultimately, if a story needs work or something needs to be changed, we will be informed of it. Agents speak truth as easily as I eat cheese. It's so hard to see these truths when us writers are so close to our work, so ecstatically convinced it's amazing or dejectedly believing it's nothing but crap. Ask an agent a question, and you'll get the true answer. Maybe not the one you want, but that's the beauty of it.

3. They deal with e-mails from crazy clients.

I'm not proud to admit this, but we all know how insecure writers can get. Once in a while I'll send random e-mails to my poor agent without trying to stop myself, all frenzied and desperate and truly cringe-worthy. Basically they run along these lines: "Tell me I don't suck." My no-nonsense agent sets me straight pretty quickly. So... yes. She deserves that 15%. And if I'm going to be honest, she really deserves way more than that. 

Have you told your agent lately how awesome they are?

The Ending that Almost Wasn't

This post is for all the writers out there who have lost faith. Whether you're querying or submitting to editors, I hope you read this and feel encouraged, even if it's only a little.

When you read those book deal announcements, or those ecstatic blog and Facebook and Twitter updates, it seems so easy, doesn't it?

Boom

, they had an agent.

Boom

, they had an editor. Then

boom

, their book was on a shelf. Sometimes we hear about the trials and tribulations behind the book deal. Sometimes we don't. Here is mine, for the entire world to see.

Not many people know that  

Some Quiet Place

 was on submission for over a year. I'm not sure of the exact number of editors we sent it to, but it was well over twenty. And while every editor had something encouraging and positive to say about it - there were also two very big, very close calls - there were ultimately only rejections.

We've all heard that perseverance is the key to success in this business - pretty much any business - but I'll let you in on a little secret. Starting out, I believed that all it would take was having a good story.

Don't get me wrong, that's a monumental component. But perseverance truly was what got

Some Quiet Place

to this point. If I had stopped querying agents after the discouraging results, I never would have found Beth. If we had pulled the manuscript after all the editor rejections, it wouldn't be making its appearance into the world next summer. We never would have sent it to

my

editor. This is such a competitive business that it takes a little more than luck and a strong story. It takes a bit of a miracle.

It's amazing to me when I think of how strong my belief was -  how strong it became - that this wouldn't happen. I was expecting Beth to e-mail me any day, saying we should start with a new project. I even had a blog post typed up on what it feels like not to sell. It kind of shames me to admit that. I lost faith. Not in my abilities or Beth's, but in the value of the story I had created.

In the beginning, there's always such high hopes. Of course there's nothing wrong with that. I think we should even cling to that feeling for as long as possible. I've also done blog posts on maintaining a firm hold on reality, and that's still true. It's a balance.

The point is this. Don't let those rejections affect how much you care about your characters, your plot, your work. Even if some of the statements in those e-mails are true. Maybe your plot is too complex. Maybe your genre is too saturated. Or whatever else they say. That's not the point. I'll say it again in a different way.

The point is to not let those rejections affect your faith.

There does come a time when you need to set something aside, or go back to the drawing board. It's also up to us if we want to revise and resubmit. But maybe that time isn't now. Maybe you haven't found the right agent, or the right editor, and all it takes is one more e-mail. One more try. One more hope.

That's what it was for me.

And I'm so glad we took that chance.

How to Celebrate Signing Your Contract

Even though I announced the book deal a few months ago, I only recently got the contract in the mail. I had it signed and sent back the next day. It seemed like another cause for celebration, so I did the following (I may or may not have also done this on the day of the actual book deal...):

1. Eat food. The calories will magically not count for this one.

My cousin took me out to Green Mill. For those of you who are unlucky enough to live in a place where there is no such thing, you have my sympathies. Think pizza and yummy bread sticks. (Thanks, Megan!) I had an extremely delicious, extremely fattening fettuccine alfredo. And I didn't feel the tiniest bit guilty later, because everyone knows that a celebratory dinner like this will not go straight to your thighs! It will simply... vanish. Seriously. It's public knowledge.

2. Tell a stranger. Preferably a nice lady at the post office who will ask you all kinds of questions.

Okay, I may or may not have told more than one friendly stranger. I was practically exploding! I had to let it out somehow. Thus the result of blurting, "Hey, my book is getting published!" to random people who had the misfortune to cross my path. At the grocery store. The gas station. The library. Okay, maybe not as bad as all that, but you get the picture. It definitely made the celebration better, because I wasn't the only one freaking out!

3. Buy so many books the clerk gives you a funny look.

Hey, if there's ever an excuse to buy so many books you pretty much don't have anything left for rent, it's this. The cute guy at the counter didn't really say anything, but he did give me an amused smile. So of course I blurted, "Hey, my book is getting published!" In the process I discovered a new ice breaker. Albeit a bit loud and kind of boastful. He remembers me now, though!

4. Take a picture that you didn't have time to get pretty for, thus forever documenting your general grotesqueness.

A friend told me that if I didn't take a picture of this moment, I would regret it forever. So, without further ado, the signature that changed my life. Wait, is that a bit over dramatic, maybe? No. No, I don't think so. (We only had a cell phone camera on us, so the quality isn't showcase-worthy. Sorry about that. Also sorry about the severe, I'm-such-a-serious-writer expression.)


How would you celebrate? Have a great week, you guys!

After the Book Deal

So it's been a little over two months since I announced the fact my book will be in print. It's been fairly quiet since then. Well, my brain won't shut up. So not in that respect. I've discovered that as with most things, there is a process to go through after something like this happens. Something so wonderful and huge and life-changing. I know I haven't talked much about it, but as you read on, you'll see why. Basically, because I don't have anything particularly coherent to say. Still.

1. Disbelief

At first - and I'm not quite sure it's worn off yet - I was just in a state of shock. Did this really happen? There has to be some kind of mistake. In the midst of all my euphoria, there was a small part of me that felt as if it was too good to be true, that the entire thing wouldn't happen. Don't get your hopes up, I secretly told myself. But the days went by, and there was no "Sorry, we realized your book isn't as good as we thought it was" or "Ha! Just kidding!" e-mails. The deal went up on Publisher's Marketplace. I told the world. Then I got the editorial letter. So... okay. It's happening. 

2. Fear

Wow. It's really happening. Okay, so, this really did happen. (And this thought circles around in my brain until it becomes meaningless.) Okay. All I need to do now is focus on revisions and make this the best book it can possibly be. Nothing hard or complicated.

But then... I comprehend the truth of what I'm doing. I'm revising a book so everyone can read it. My mother. My friends. My professors. What if it isn't good enough? Yes, I'm still overjoyed. That doesn't stop the fear. It may seem melodramatic - believe me, I'm irritating myself with all these insecurities - but I think this is pretty normal. I hope it is. The intensity of this stage comes and goes. 

3. Acceptance

Now, I haven't actually gotten here yet. This is where I want to be, this is where most authors get. I think, the closer I get to the book being out in the world, or maybe just as time passes, I'll reach it. The idea of people seeing my work - loving it or hating it - isn't something I will constantly wonder about. The feeling of unworthiness. I'll just be purely excited and content that this happened. 

So there you have it. You all now know what the inside of my head looks like. It's embarrassing, a little, but it's real.

I hope you guys like the book! Guess we'll find out in eleven months or so.

Guest Post by Author Kat Rosenfeld: My Road to Publication in 37 Steps

(Designed by Amber over at Page Turners Blog)

Confession: When I heard that I'd be doing a guest post on my road to publication, I felt intimidated and overwhelmed. Like many writers, the journey from "aspiring writer" to "published author" was long, arduous, and full of false starts and self-doubt — and in the end, it was only through a series of marvelous coincidences, helpful interventions, and some very good luck that I made it there at all. Also, in my case, it took six years, which is a really, ridiculously long period of time to cover in a standard, essay-style blog post.

So, in an attempt to not bore the pants off everyone and/or put you all to sleep, I've instead taken a look back at the whole process and condensed it down into a handy how-to guide -- one that shows how a person might go from laboring in miserable obscurity to having a real, actual book on the shelves at your local bookstore.

And by "handy", I mean "not handy at all", and by "a person", I mean, "one person, who is also me."

How to Become a Published Author in 37 Easy Steps

1. Move to New York with no intentions of being a writer. Work in publishing. Read lots of books. Date various guys until, out of loneliness, you settle for the one who isn't evil.

2. Join the corporate softball team. Meet a tall, handsome managing editor. Tell him you have a non-evil boyfriend. Kick yourself for being so damn committed.

3. Leave your publishing job for a job in PR. Tell everyone how excited you are. Tell yourself that you're really on the road to the career you're meant to have. Tell yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor isn't really that tall and handsome.

4. Begin to suspect that PR is not, in fact, the career you're meant to have. Begin to suspect that PR is kind of awful. Feel angry and stifled.

5. Start a secret blog. Spend your downtime at work writing an essay about that time your dress blew up in the Fulton Street subway station and a bunch of Japanese businessmen laughed at you. Be delighted when people comment and say that they liked it.

6. Begin to suspect that your non-evil boyfriend is kind of awful, too. Meet up every couple of weeks for beers with the tall, handsome managing editor when your boyfriend blows you off.

7. Admit to yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor really is that tall and handsome. Feel guilty.

8. Get blown off by your boyfriend for fantasy football pick night. Vow not to call the tall, handsome managing editor. Go home. Open your laptop. Write a short story out of boredom.

9. Send the short story to a writer friend. Tell her she's crazy when she tells you it should be a novel. Tell her you could never write a novel. Tell everyone you could never write a novel.

10. Start working secretly on a novel.

11. Discover that your crappy-but-at-least-he's-not-evil boyfriend is, in fact, SUPER FREAKING EVIL. And also, cheating on you on the internet. Dump him. Write a blog post about it.

12. Write lots of blog posts. Write a post about Harry Potter. Write a post about elevator conversations. Write a post about having maybe possibly sleepwalked out into the hallway of an apartment building you do not live in wearing nothing but your underwear.

13. Get five comments.

14. Get twenty comments.

15. Get an anonymous email from a person you've never met who tells you to please, please think about being a writer.

16. Feel empowered. Feel crazy. Quit your job in PR to work part-time as a copywriter. Freelance for magazines. Shriek the first time you see your by-line. Tell everyone you're going to be a writer.

17. Marry the tall, handsome managing editor.

18. Lose your job. Be despondent, until you realize that now, you can work on your novel ALL DAY LONG.

19. Finish your novel. Be very excited for one whole day.

20. In the cold light of the day-after-novel-finishing, become completely and totally despondent. Tell your tall, handsome husband that your novel sucks ass.

21. Tell him you're going to delete it.

22. Tell him that no you will not let him bring it in to work because it sucks ass and you're deleting it.

23. Repeat steps 20-22 for the next two weeks. Use the words "sucks" and "ass" as frequently as possible.

24. Well, okay, maybe he can show it to someone at work.

25. But only if he promises to show it only to the lowliest, most bottom-rung-of-the-ladder editorial assistant there is. Make him promise. Make him promise several times.

26. He lied. You are going to kill him.

27. Receive email from the publisher. She has read your draft. She thinks your novel has promise. Agree to do a rewrite. Grudgingly thank husband, but reserve the right to kill him later.

28. Get another copywriting job. Spend your days proofreading manuals for personal electronic devices. Collect freelance gigs. Work on your revision at night.

29. Lose your job again. Believe it's a sign from the writing gods. Become a hermit. Work on the revision all day, every day.

30. Send your completed revision to the publisher.

31. Wait. Wait. Wait.

32. Bandage the small, gnawed-looking stumps where your fingernails used to be.

33. Wait.

34. Run into publisher on the subway. She is going to email you tomorrow.

35. Because she is going to buy your book.

36. And she does.

37. When your crappy, evil ex-boyfriend emails you to say congratulations, tell him to go suck an egg.

Want more of Kat? She can be found on her website, her blog, Twitter, and Facebook

About the Book!

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent.

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

You can find Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble as well as other booksellers.

Tour Schedule

7/9 - Kick-off & Giveaway at The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7/10 - Interview at Rescue Reads
7/12 - Review at The Story Siren
7/13 - Guest Blog at author Kelsey Sutton's Blog
7/15 - Debut Author Spotlight Interview & Giveaway at Page Turners Blog
7/16 - Guest Blog at 365 Days of Reading
7/17 - Guest Blog at Magnet For Books
7/18 - Interview at Steph Su Reads
7/19 - Giveaway at YA Bliss
7/20 - Interview & Giveaway at Reading or Breathing
7/21 - Review at The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7/22 - Giveaway at Midnight Garden
7/23 - Guest Blog and Giveaway at Reading Away the Days
7/24 - Giveaway at Books to Consider
7/25 - Guest Blog at Words Like Silver
7/26 - Review at Making the Grade
7/27 - Interview at Book Chic
7/28 - Guest Blog at The Mod Podge Bookshelf

For more info on future tours, as well as author info for being hosted on MPB, please check out the new Mod Podge Blog Tour Page on The Mod Podge Bookshelf.

The Book Deal

Children's: Young Adult:

Kelsey Sutton's SOME QUIET PLACE, about a teen girl searching for a link between a shadowy stalker and the childhood tragedy that left her with the ability to see emotions as living beings but also rendered her unable to feel them, to Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux, by Beth Miller at Writers House (NA).

If you could see my face right now, you might be frightened. I've got a wild-eyed, crazy-hair thing going on. I'm so excited right now that I'm not capable of typing up a coherent blog post, so I'll just leave it at this for now! And the words of my friend Bailey when I told her about the deal: "Flux. I like the sound of that. It has an x in it. Neat."

It is neat, Bails. It is.

More later. Also, look for a celebratory giveaway soon!

What Are You Working On Now?

If you talk to an agent or an editor - whether they're thinking of offering you a contract or just making conversation - this question will come up. Probably. Most likely. Almost certainly. This is not bad! In fact, it's great. The only thing you have to make sure of is that you are, in fact, working on something.

I've learned the importance of always having a project to work on. Even if you've just finished a manuscript! Publishing is about two things: now and next. It's a safe bet that if you're chatting with someone in this business, you've got something to offer now. Do you have the next? It doesn't matter if you're not published yet. Whether you're waiting to hear back from an agent or waiting on notes from your editor, you should be writing. We all should be writing.

That's what we do, right?

What are you working on now? I love getting this question. One, because it's always fun to talk about your work and have someone actually be interested in what you're saying. And two, because it holds so much potential. Potential that this agent or editor might want to see this story, potential that it will be the best thing you've ever written.  

Sometimes we might hesitate about opening a brand-new W.I.P. But I honestly think it's a necessity. Even if you've recieved bad news about your other story, or you're in revisions, anything - my advice is to start something new. Just have something else. An idea, a seed, a sentence.

Because when you're asked that question, you're going to want to have a good answer.

Guest Post by Author Ryan Graudin: Revisions

Today I am so excited to have Ryan Graudin stopping by the blog! Her book sounds amazing and I'm pretty sure she's going to be one popular author. Which is why it is so cool she's doing this guest post, because then I can tell people, "Uh, I know her. She totally did a guest post on my blog." Anyway. Thanks for being here, Ryan!

When she’s not writing and drifting around the globe, Ryan Graudin enjoys hunting through thrift stores and taking pictures of her native Charleston, SC. Her novel LUMINANCE HOUR, the story of a Faery who falls in love with the prince she’s forced to guard, is due out with HarperTeen in 2013. You can learn about all of these things and more at http://ryangraudin.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @ryangraudin

When I was a senior in high school, I used to do my homework at my parents’ kitchen table. One afternoon, as I was distinctly exasperated with my workload of Honors Physics and AP English assignment, I looked over at my mom and asked, “Will there be any homework in college?”

She just stared back with a dubious look. Years later, when I was balancing the reading of four separate English classes and a writing fiction class, I would think back on that moment and laugh. How could I ever have thought that there wouldn’t be homework in college?

Well, revisions are kind of like that too. When you first finish the rough draft of your manuscript you probably jump around the house for a day or two in jubilation (I know I do). Somewhere inside those 48 hours the sinister realization sinks in that your manuscript has flaws. Flaws that cannot stay. Flaws that must be fixed.

That’s when the real work begins.

It took me four months to write the first draft of Luminance Hour. It took me two major revisions (as well as countless smaller ones) to find my wonderful agent. Once I signed with Alyssa, I tempted the vain thought that maybe the bulk of the work for the manuscript was behind me. *insert evil laughter here* A few weeks after she signed me, Alyssa sent me a four page revision letter for my manuscript, pointing out the weaknesses of my story and showing me how to fix them. We went through two rounds of this before it was shipped out into the wide world of editors.

Surely. Surely now the majority of labor to snap this story into shape was behind me now.

I was fortunate enough to get my manuscript picked up by HarperTeen and work with editor Alyson Day. My revision letter arrived in my mailbox on December 19th. It wasn’t so long, only four pages (I have friends whose letters are twelve + pages long). But within those four pages was a month and a half worth of work (compared to my agent’s four pages, which took about three weeks to fix).

What was in this letter you ask?

An editor’s first revision letter usually addresses “big picture” issues, such as plot, character arcs and world-building. My letter helped guide me through the development of two separate characters. It also addressed the romance in the book and its pacing. All of these were things I agreed with and was eager to make work.

I finished these revisions on February 10th and sent them back to my editor. She’s reading them now with red pen in hand, getting another letter ready for the second round! From my understanding, the second round of edits focuses on smaller things—individual scenes. There is also a line-edit, where your editor goes through the novel line by line and focuses on language (awkward sentences, repeated words, etc.).

But wait. There’s more!

If you’re lucky and your revisions get approved after the second round, then you will go on to copy-edits. Copy editors check your story for grammatical, cultural and historical accuracy. In my case, they will probably tear my story apart for American words and turns of phrase (my characters are all British).

After copy edits, the author has to read through the galley of the manuscript and look for typos (those pesky things are everywhere!). Then, and only then, is the book finally out of the writer’s hands.

Phew.

Oh hold on! Don’t forget you just finished the rough draft of your next novel!

I think it’s safe to say, a writer’s work is never done.

Editor Responses

Over the past year I have learned a few things about editors. Today I'm going to let you in on a secret about these mysterious beings. Why? Well, I've been sitting at my desk and wondering what kind of blog post I could write that would be helpful and somewhat unique. This seemed like something you guys might be interested in. Writers generally stay away from talking about submission on public blogs (I talked about it a little here, though). For good reason, of course, but I know that I was intensely curious about the other side of the publishing world when I was wading through the query pool. I got my hands on as much information about agents as possible, but it seemed like editors were a little more difficult to research.

So, the big secret about editors: they're nice people. I know it's hard to believe. After all, just like it is with agents, some part of your mind pictures them as higher beings, all bright lights and untouchable. Well, at least, I did. But when they respond to your submission it's usually not a form rejection. They first list what they enjoyed about the manuscript before listing the reasons for passing. It's a very human, very warm response. That pass usually looks something like this:

Dear (agent's name),

Thank you for giving me a chance to read (manuscript title) by (author).

There were many things I liked about it (hook, world, characters, etc.). That said, I found (reasons the editor can't buy the book).

I’m sorry that this didn’t work for me. The author does (lists merits of writing).

Sincerely,

Kind Editor Who I Can't Help But Like Even Though She Passed on the Book

So, in ways, it's very similar to the responses we get from agents. It occurs to me that I'm making it sound like every e-mail is the same, but even if an editor is ultimately passing on the project, I really enjoy the feedback. Because each one is different. They're often helpful and enlightening. I find it just a little amazing that they give every manuscript that comes to them a chance. Can you imagine how much reading that is? (Pictures it and shivers with delight.) Random shout out to all agents and editors, because what they do is frankly amazing.

Maybe I shouldn't be so open about the fact that I have gotten passes on the book. Honestly, though, it happens to everyone. It's going to happen to you. I don't want to pretend that everything has been peachy and raining unicorns. There are exceptions, but success isn't something that just hits you overnight. Finding the right editor for your story is like finding the perfect man. Well, no man is perfect - fine, no woman is perfect, either - but finding the right editor is like finding your agent. Someone who's just as passionate about the story and is willing to go to bat for it. Put in hours and blood and tears. It seems impossible sometimes. The journey can be difficult. I believe in the story I've written, though, and I believe in my agent. Editors are people like you and me... looking for that next book that will entertain and astound.

Discussion: Upcoming Y.A. Trends

I don't write to follow the trends, but I do enjoy keeping an eye on them. I've heard rumors that the popular young adult sub-genres are a-changin'. We all know that the market is saturated with paranormal romance and dystopians. I read in a blog post - can't remember which one for the life of me - that editors and agents feel these particular trends are waning. Which I really hope isn't true, because the novel I have out on submission happens to be a juicy paranomal romance. But what the publishing world is predicting to grow is interesting.

Young adult horror. I've seen a few titles already that fit into this. First couple that come to mind without Googling it are The Long Weekend and The Line. I've yet to read either but I can't wait to get my hands on them. I have an odd addiction to scaring the bejeezus out of myself. What do you think? Could you stand to see a little more gore and suspense in young adult?

Young adult science fiction. Again, this is already starting to branch out, I think. Hello, Across the Universe by Beth Ravis. Love you. The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (okay, I know this one is technically adult fiction, but it really could work with young adult, in my opinion.) I'm really interested to see where authors can go with this. There are so many possibilities. I have no problem with space ships or aliens!

Young adult contemporary. I think there's plenty of these books already - Sarah Dessen, Courtney Summers, Deb Coletti, to name a few - but apparently editors want to see more in this area. Since contemporary is the kind of book that has the most tendency to make me cry, I'm willing to hand over my paychecks to read more.

The most important thing I like to remember is that no matter what genre it is, if you have a good story, someone will want to show it to the world. I mean, hopefully. Cross your fingers.

What genres do you see emerging? What would you like to see?

If You're Going to Pursue Publication

Okay, so if you're actually going to dive head-first into the crazy journey that is publication, there needs to be a few items on your checklist. Before you query, before you send your story out into the world. They may seem obvious or even trivial, but I've learned on my own journey that these things are essential.

You need to love your story.

This is first and foremost because I honestly believe that it's the most important. Yes, there are a ton of other aspects to being an author. But more often than not publication is a battle. You're going to endure rejections, you're going to work hard, and you're going to be responsible for a whole lot more than you used to be. Okay, it's not all work and no play. There are going to be so many amazing things about being a published author. But if you're honestly going to fight for this story to one day appear on a shelf, you have to be willing to go through fire for it.

Not to mention the fact that you'll probably revise so many times that - if you don't love the story - you might be tempted to start hating it.

You need to be able to handle feedback.

I use the word feedback lightly. We all know that everyone isn't going to like our writing. Heck, one of my closest friends didn't like my book. I won't deny that it hurt. I could've let that stop me right then and there. But it won't be the first time it happens. And your agent or your editor is going to say something that'll make you cringe in embarrassment. Just today I thought, Why didn't I think of that?

And again, it probably won't be the first time. Sigh.

Lately I've been spending time browsing the reviews on Goodreads. And not the nice reviews. I've been reading the ones that rate one star and list all the problems with the book. Why do I do this? Not because I enjoy it. Sometimes I actually get irritated. It's not my book, of course, but if I happened to love that story, and that author's prose, the fact that this reviewer called it stilted and amateur clearly proves they don't know anything! Wait, sorry, back on topic. Why I read the bad reviews. I do it because I'm steeling myself. Preparing to see opinions like this on my own work. I've heard many times that writing isn't for the faint of heart, and I whole-heartedly agree. (See what I did there? Tried to be clever. Don't think I pulled it off.)

You need to have self-discipline.

If you're not a writing machine then it'll happen to you: You won't feel like doing it. Once we all have contracts or deadlines hanging over our heads, sitting down at the computer just when we feel like it might not be a luxury we can afford. There might not be enough time. So writing can become a job. Granted, an amazing, fulfilling, gratifying job. But if I spend all day Googling Vampire Diaries fan sites and don't make myself go back to that Word document at some point, nothing will get done.

Think you have what it takes? I do. Go get 'em, tiger.

Opinions

My agent said something recently that struck a chord with me. We've been going back and forth about some things in my manuscript that may need tweaking, and she made a suggestion. Yes, I said. But this person said that it didn't work. We exchanged a few more comments and e-mails, which eventually led me to say, Well, I guess it's all a matter of opinion, isn't it?

And then Beth hit me with: As is most of this business.

Okay, before you're tempted to throw a drink or a piece of food at me and go, Well duh!, allow me to finish. I know that publishing is impossible. I know that a piece of writing can't please everyone. One person is going to love it and one person is going to hate it. But how do you know when to make changes according to someone else's opinion and when to make a decision that goes against it?

I've been at a crossroads a few times over the past few months. I've made choices that go against the grain and choices that go with the flow. People say often, Kelsey, this is your story, you do what feels right. Which is ultimately the only piece of advice us writers can follow. We can make those changes and we can keep things the way they are, or we can go another direction entirely. It's up to us. It's our words, it's our story, it's our decision. There are people standing behind you, and hopefully there are more people down the road that will have the right to an opinion. In the end, though - the truth I keep coming back to during this experience - it all comes down to our opinion. My opinion.

Three Things You Need for the Submission/Query Process

1. A distraction.

Oh, this one should be all three. I could end the post here. Because a distraction is really the path to sanity. My first instinct after that all-important e-mail has been sent is to go back to the computer and check my inbox every four seconds. Which, okay, I pretty much do no matter what else I set about doing. But I try to focus on other tasks or projects. Piano, cleaning, exercising (I always seem to gain a few pounds duing the writing process), another project (though I really try to avoid the computer for a while). We should make a bumper out of this, guys. Distraction: the path to sanity.

2. Comfort food.

This may contradict the whole exercising distraction, but seriously. When that butterfly sensation explodes inside of you and you become consumed with what ifs, it's nice to reach for a bag of chips or a tiny piece of chocolate. Okay, a chunk. Fine, a bar. Okay, a freaking box of chocolate. There's a reason I have a gym membership. It's an investment.

3. An ear.

No, not just a random ear like in a horror movie or something. But don't you just love that imagery? Anyway, I mean a friend. Someone who will listen to you rant and fret without losing their patience. (Thank you, Bambi and Tiger!) It might be just me, but I'm an out-loud worrier. I need someone who'll turn that ear towards me and let me go on and on like an unstoppable freight train. Wait. Wait just a second. Someone in my office has been conveniently gone every time I stop by. You don't think... No. She's just busy. She loves listening to my problems.

These three things should keep us from becoming hunched-over monsters with foaming mouths. Well, it's too late for me when it comes to the hunchback... Good luck with your own waiting!

Links for the Money Side of Things

know we've all wondered at some point how much an author makes. Advances, royalties. And the honest truth is that everyone makes something different. Some are able to make that dream of quitting the day job a reality, and some aren't. (Most aren't.) Which is why I completely believe that if a person wants to write, they have to do it for the love of it. Because if you're in it for the money, you're probably up for a rude wake-up call.

There are already so many great resources out there on royalties and advances, so I thought I would give you a list of what I've been able to find on these topics. First, a couple definitions.

*au·thor's ad·vance: Payment or payments made by a publisher to an author before sales of the book have properly earned the author any income. The advance may be the entire sum an author will receive for the book, which makes it work for hire, or, more commonly, the money may be an advance on royalties.

 *roy·al·ty: A sum of money paid to a patentee for the use of a patent or to an author or composer for each copy of a book sold or for each public performance of a work.

And now for the links! Hope this is helpful, guys. Here's a post on Genreality by Lynn Viehl, The Reality of a Times Bestseller. And a second post later on entitled, More on the Reality of a Times Bestseller. I love this blog! Always very helpful.


Another great post on Average First Novel Advances by Justine Larbalestier. This one is very thorough; you can tell Justine did her research.

Chris Holifield published an informative post on Advances and Royalties. Recently updated. Check it out.

By author Rebecca Brandewyne: Advances & Royalties - How Authors are Paid. This one also has some more great links that inform authors about the financial aspects of things.

This post covers a wider variety on publishing. Book contracts, rights, warranties, copyright, proofing and editing, foreign sales, and more. Morris Rosenthal on site Foner Books.

Agent Rachelle Gardner on Advances. (I adore Rachelle. I follow her blog kind of obsessively...)

And last but not least, Michael Meyer wrote an article for the New York Times entitled About That Book Advance... Honest and, again, informative.

There are so many more, bit this is a good start. Have a great night, guys.

*Definitions courtesy of Google Dictionary

Form Rejections

I know that some people hate form rejections, loathe their quick formality. They all run along the same vein: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to consider your work. Unfortunately... Whenever you see those words, it's like someone knocked the air out of you. The hope dies just a little.

Now here's the kicker: I like form rejections. Wait, wait. Before you go thinking I'm a freak or a glutton for punishment, let me explain. I like form rejections because they don't leave you hanging. Some agents - more and more, actually - don't respond at all if they aren't interested in your work. I think that we, as writers, should be grateful that an agent took the time to notify us of their choice to pass. They took the ten seconds out of their busy day so we're not sitting around wondering, waiting. Sure, they're not personalized. Form rejections are honest, and, yes, they hurt. But I think it hurts more watching the days go by without any response at all.

When an agent passes we have so many questions: Why? What was wrong with it? What can I do to make it better? It's hard not to bother them after that experience. But we have to try and look at it from their point of view: personalizing a form rejection is encouragement. For anything, really. An argument, a plea to revise and resubmit. So I understand, and I'm grateful. Plus - and maybe this is just me - the hurt aspect of getting a form rejection starts to fade after you get so many. So there's something to look forward to!

What are your views on form rejections?

The Relationship With Your Agent

Today I was trying to come up with a blog topic, and I kept asking myself if there was anything I wondered about before I signed with Beth. I remember constantly trolling through blogs and websites, looking for any and all information that I could get about agents. And there are so many resources for writing the perfect query, for what to say or ask during the official phone call. But one thing I didn’t see too much of was what happens after. What’s it like, having an agent? What do you talk about, how do you communicate?

Every author’s relationship with their agent is different. But I can share with you what it’s like working with Beth.

We don’t talk every day. There are long stretches of time that we go without hearing from each other at all, in fact. Right now, for instance, I’m deep into editing. Beth and I went back and forth on the phone and in e-mails for a while, talking in length about these changes. Now that we’ve decided what to do, it’s up to me. Of course if I have a question or an idea to throw her way I will, but for now, we’re both working.

In the beginning I think the relationship was a little more formal. Now that we know each other better, it’s easier. I don’t type Dear Beth at the beginning of every e-mail, and I don’t sweat waterfalls when she calls. I don’t know if this was just me, but I had trouble thinking of agents as actual people. They were beings that were so exotic they were almost unreachable. Not that they still aren’t exotic beings! But they’re actually real, and friendly! I know, it’s unexpected. Who knew?

Edits. Beth is great with the idea-tossing, when the time comes for it. She doesn’t do line-by-line. She lets me know what themes in the novel are working, and what should be tweaked or rewritten. I actually enjoy how much is left up to me. She reminds me that this is my story, and I should do what feels right. It’s awesome sauce.

Point is, your agent is your biggest fan. They’re rooting for you, they’re putting time into your story and your conversations. It’s amazing to have someone so capable on your side.

Have a great day, guys! Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Worth the Risk

When I was a kid - well, a smaller kid - I hated crowds. But I loved playing the piano. My instructor was indignant that I be part of the recitals. Keep in mind that back then I tended to blab whatever popped into my head. Well, when the time came for that first recital, my mom drove me to the hall. There was a nice-sized crowd, all seated at tables with fine meals before them.

I was so nervous. I couldn't eat. My turn came, and I timidly made my way to the front of the room. Sat at the piano. I had two pieces to play. The first one was rocky, but I managed to get through it. The second one, though, my hands hands were shaking so badly and the notes were such a blur that I couldn't do it. I could see my instructor encouraging me, urging me to finish. Instead, though, I slammed the lid down over the keys, pushed the bench back, and announced to the room, "I don't want to play anymore." With that, I stood and sat back down at my table.

Sometimes I remember that day when I'm writing. The truth is, I wish I had finished. Some could say I was taking a stand, or being honest or even practical. But I was just scared. Writing is kind of like that. We have the option of seeing it through to the end, or not. The idea of someone else seeing your work, discovering every dark corner of your soul, that's terrifying. Writing makes us vulnerable.

I don't know the feeling of finishing a piano recital, but I do know the feeling of finishing a novel. It's... satisfying. It's relieving. It's exhilarating. Even though the thought of the world reading my story gives me that same sick-to-the-stomach feeling like at the recital, I think that offering people a few hours of escape is worth the risk.

My Query

It occured to me that although you know I'm on submission, none of you know what my book is actually about. So for the first time, I present the query I sent to Beth that eventually led to representation. I'm not actually sure my query is all that wonderful. The fact Beth requested to see more could be due to the fact that she'd already seen my writing. I might have to ask her one of these days. Anyway. Read on.

Dear Beth,

I am seeking representation for SOME QUIET PLACE, a young adult urban fantasy. The novel is complete at 77,000 words. You requested another manuscript of mine at one time, a young adult suspense entitled BECAUSE, and you were open to seeing more of my work.

The very definition of humanity is the quality to be humane. Ironic, since Elizabeth Caldwell appears every bit human, yet sorely lacks in the latter. As a small child she somehow lost the ability to feel any emotion. While her best friend slowly dies of cancer and her father comes home in drunken rages, Elizabeth searches for the truth.

Among her other abnormalities, Elizabeth has the ability to see the unseen. Faeries are emotions personified. They’ve all stopped seeking her out, save one: beautiful, stubborn, adoring Fear. Fear wants the truth just as much as she does. There’s a stranger in town that might know something.

It soon becomes evident, however, that there’s something more pressing out there besides the mysterious stranger and the haziness of Elizabeth’s history. Creatures are fleeing Edson in terror, and people have begun to discern that something is amiss with Elizabeth. Will she have enough time to put the pieces together? What’s coming for her? And is finding out the truth really the key to survival? Secrets are buried for a reason…

A piece of mine was selected as Best Personal Essay for the Anoka-Ramsey Annual Writing Contest, and I’ve been a part of a writing critique group for over three years. I can be reached at 000-000-0000, and my e-mail address is kelseyjsutton@gmail.com. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

Kelsey

The Questions I Asked

As I was trying to think of a topic to blog about on this chilly Thursday, I thought back to before I signed with Beth. What did I not know then that I know now? The truth is, signing with an agent doesn't suddenly make you wise, or all-knowing. Although during the whole process in finding Beth I did inhale every article I could find about querying, what agents look for, what the step-by-step is like. I'm pretty sure I've already done posts on these, haven't I? To be sure, I looked back over my archives. I stumbled upon my post on The Call...

...and realized that I never actually gave you guys my list of questions. You know, the questions I bombarded Beth with during the conversation? Granted, you can find this list on a ton of other sites on the 'net, but this will be just another resource for someone to stumble upon when they're ready to query. These aren't all the questions I asked, because I can't find the exact list, but I think these are the top ten. Please not that these are in no particular order!

1. If this manuscript doesn't sell, what will be the next step?
2. What is your percentage?
3. Will you show me the list of submissions, and how often will you send me an update?
4. What rights do you handle?
5. Do you consider yourself an editorial agent?
6. Will I work with a publicist?
7. What would happen if you were to leave the agency or no longer able to represent me?
8. What would you consider a good agent-client relationship?
9. May I contact some of your clients for references?
10. Do you have any questions for me?

My list is kind of sad in comparison to these great resources. So if you're expecting that call someday soon, or even in the distant future, check these pros out.

Agent Rachelle Gardner on Rants & Ramblings: What to Ask an Agent
Casey McCormick on Literary Rambles: The Call
Writer's Relief: Nine Questions to Ask a Literary Agent