Category Archives: Publishing

How the Light Gets In: A Not So Brief History

The sale of a book is a weird phenomenon — an often exciting but sometimes frustrating process involving a magical combination of skill, timing, and — mostly — luck. 

If you’re a writer who’s feeling defeated, or if you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes of the submission process, or if you’re just nosey and want to know how my latest sale went down, I invite you to read on. I hope this saga (spanning seven years) reads like commiseration or inspiration or maybe a little bit of both. I hope it encourages you to continue trudging down the path to publication because — cliche as this may sound — it really does take only one yes.

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September 9, 2010 – On this, my daughter’s first day of preschool, I write the opening scene of Where Poppies Bloom, the manuscript that will one day end up almost entirely rewrittenIf you’ve followed this blog or any of my social media platforms for a while, you might recall hearing about Poppies, also known as my Ghost Book.

November 30, 2010 – After three months of writing like the wind, I finish the first (of MANY) drafts of Ghost Book. It is my third complete manuscript.

January 3, 2011 – I begin querying. I feel hopeful, like Ghost Book might be The Book.

March 6, 2011 – I complete an agent-requested revise & resubmit. I’ve trimmed 11K words (about 50 pages) from the story, and learned a lot about pacing and killing darlings.

April 29, 2011 – I receive the first of two agent offers of representation. I’m certain this is it — my big break.

May 9, 2011 – I accept an agent’s offer of representation. Celebration ensues.

Early June, 2011 – I begin to revise Ghost Book according to my recently acquired agent’s feedback. I work hard, all summer and into the fall.

November 4, 2011 – Ghost Book goes out on submission, a process that will prove to be long, and rife with close calls.

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August, 2012 – After a miserable “we love this, but the market is currently saturated” walk down submission lane, Ghost Book is, to my dejection, placed in a metaphorical drawer.

November, 2012 – With much anxiety, I decide to part ways with my agent. The decision to seek new representation turns out to be a positive career move.

December 3, 2012 – After a whirlwind and surprisingly positive querying experience with a fresh manuscript, I accept an offer of representation from Victoria Marini.

January 21, 2013 – Just as Victoria and I are getting ready to send the manuscript for which she signed me out on submission, we hit a snag. Through the publishing grapevine, I discover that my first agent received an offer on Ghost Book. In secret, she declined that offer on my behalf. This is a long, convoluted story, but suffice to say, I am very upset.

Late January, 2013 – Super agent Victoria manages to gracefully straighten out the mess caused by my first agent. I decide to let the previous offer for Ghost Book go in favor of focusing on the submission of my new manuscript. I won’t lie — this is a hard decision. For years, I will wondered if it is the right decision.

February, 2013 – April, 2014 – I work on new things: different manuscripts, strengthening my craft, and supporting others in the writing community. This time brings highs and plenty of lows. The path to publication is a rocky one.

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May, 2014 – Because I love it — have always loved it — I dig Ghost Book out of hibernation, and brainstorm how to revitalize it. Victoria and I agree on the incorporation of a new element, and I begin a significant rewrite.

July 14, 2014 – I finish rewriting Ghost Book. I am so proud. I send it off to my critique partners, and await feedback.

November, 2014 – After another round of revisions, the story is ready. Victoria sends it to a limited list of editors. Remember, an earlier version of this book was submitted back in 2011-2012, so the pool is shallow. I write new stories while the months pass. Again, ALL the close calls. If I hear maybe when the market shifts one. More. Time.

July, 2015 – Eventually, Ghost Book finds its way back into the drawer, but not indefinitely. I believe that one day, luck will be on its side. I’m not so sad this time, either, because I’ve recently discovered Swoon Reads, and I’m preparing to upload a different manuscript, Kissing Max Holden, to the site. I’m excited to see where this crowd-sourced Macmillan imprint might get me.

November 16, 2015 – Holy shit — Swoon Reads wants to publish Kissing Max Holden! Finally, I’ve gotten my foot in the door, and with an imprint I find truly inspiring.

December, 2015 – August 1, 2017 – I spend the next 18 months focused on Jilly and Max. I revise, and edit, and promote. Spring, 2016, Victoria and I sell a second manuscript, The Impossibility of Us, to Swoon Reads. I am thrilled to be working with an imprint that supports and celebrates its authors. I can’t wait to write more!

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Early August, 2017 – Victoria and I submit a third manuscript to Swoon Reads. Full disclosure: I’m feeling pretty confident.

September 13, 2017 – I get word that my editor isn’t into this latest manuscript. I’m so bummed, and yet… I get her reasoning. Also — surprise! — published authors don’t go on to sell everything they submit. I knew this, but now I know this.

 October 11, 2017 – I write detailed synopses of two new story ideas, and submit them to my editor. I am vaguely excited about both ideas, but also terrified that I won’t be able to pull them off should either be picked up based on proposal alone.

November 6, 2017 – Turns out, my concern was for nothing. My editor isn’t 100% onboard with either idea. *womp womp* But… she suggests I consider writing a story like [popular YA novel] meets [popular YA novel]. To which I respond… I’ve actually already written something kind of like that — my Ghost Book.

November 15, 2017 – My editor reads Ghost Book. And… she wants to take it to acquisitions. I am DYING. It’s been years, and this story means SO MUCH to me. How will I get through the next few weeks of waiting?

November 29, 2017 – Victoria has good news: Swoon Reads wants to buy Ghost Book! I’m beside myself! Not only do I get to work with my fantastic editor on another book, but this story that I love with all my heart has finally, finally, finally found a home.

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And now I get to share my news with you! The story to which I have for years lovingly referred to as Where Poppies Bloom has a beautiful new title, How the Light Gets In, which speaks so perfectly to its themes and mix of darkness and light.

I’ve been hard at work on revisions, taking inspiration from my editors savvy notes, as well as some of the images I’ve included here, and those I’ve pinned on my How the Light Gets In Pinterest Board. This book (what will be my third published novel — what is this life?!) is due in stores and libraries Spring/Summer, 2019.

I can’t wait for you to read it!

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Author Mentor Match

I’m so excited to share that I’ll be joining the
Author Mentor Match as a Round Two Mentor! 

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What is Author Mentor Match? 

Author Mentor Match pairs unagented, aspiring YA & MG writers with mentors who will help them with their manuscripts and guide them through the publishing process. There’s no contest aspect – AMM focuses on building lasting relationships. Mentors will help writers revise their manuscript before querying, give advice and tips on agents, and offer support through the process. Author Mentor Match was created by Heather Kaczynski and Alexa Donne in Fall 2016, who comprise of 2/3 of the current moderating team. Kat Cho has joined the team for Round 2.

How does Author Mentor Match work?

Mentees can apply to up to four possible mentors, submitting general information about themselves and their book via a submission form, then emailing their query and first ten pages to a specified address. Mentors will consider all mentee submissions carefully, potentially asking for more pages, before selecting someone to work with.

What kinds of stories will YOU be looking for?

Simply, I’m hoping to find a manuscript that moves me. I gravitate toward character driven stories, and I love books with strong voice. If I can get behind the chemistry between characters, I can overlook a multitude of technical flaws. Specifically, I love books that are full of romance, atmospheric, “angsty”, and/or have a chill-inducing twist. For my more detailed wish list, click on the MSWL tab of my mentor profile.

*** The Round Two submissions will be April 13th – April 23rd. ***

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Author Mentor Match Links of Interest

Round Two Mentors

My Mentor Profile

Stats, Trends and Tips from Round One

Submission Guidelines

FAQ

Twitter Hashtags: #AuthorMentorMatch & #AskAMM

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If you’re interested in learning more,
then I’ll look forward to “seeing” you at Wednesday’s Twitter chat! 

Holy hell…

…I’ve sold a book!

Finally, finally, finally! 

Kissing Max Holden is going to be published by Swoon Reads under Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan! 

Seriously, guys — I wish I could adequately describe how over the moon I am. My characters, Jillian and Max, will live on real paper, beneath a beautiful cover. I get to work with Lauren Scobell, Holly West, and the rest of the Swoon Reads team. Kissing Max Holden, the manuscript I’ve poured my heart into over the last six (yes — six) years, is going to be an actual book.

Totally surreal!

I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me and my story. The ratings and comments you left over at Swoon Reads played an enormous part in getting Kissing Max Holden noticed, and I can’t thank you enough. I wish I could bake enough cupcakes and cookies and brownies to share with you all!

Be sure to check out the official announcement at Swoon Reads!

Podcasts For (YA) Writers

Guys, I love a good podcast. I listen in the car, when I’m cooking, while I’m folding laundry, when I put on makeup, and while I mow the lawn. I’ve got lots of favorites, but today I’m focusing on my preferred writerly podcast. The four I’ve featured below are particularly beneficial for YA writers, but I suspect all sorts of creative-types can benefit from these conversations on craft, industry, inspiration, relationships, and ingenuity. Images link to podcast websites. From iTunes: “Podcast interview series featuring authors, an epic road trip, music, bookstores, tall tales & more, hosted by Sarah Enni.”

From iTunes: “The craft of creative writing, screenwriting, playwriting, children’s books, and literary fiction as discussed by Cheryl Klein and James Monohan. We share tips and techniques of interest to any writer, student, or fan of quality prose fiction, screenplays, plays, English literature, etc. Each episode, we analyze popular novels, movies, Broadway shows, television shows, short stories, and more. Featuring various expert guests as well as material from Cheryl Klein’s book ‘Second Sight’ and James’ app ‘The Storyometer.'”

From iTunes: “A candid discussion of sexuality, culture and young adult fiction, featuring YA authors Christa Desir and Carrie Mesrobian.”

From iTunes: “Author Sara Zarr in conversation with writers, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers and more, with a focus on the practical and psychological aspects of creativity and the creative process.”

What are your favorite (writerly or otherwise) podcasts? 

What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: Last week I read Isla Bick’s Drowning Instinct, a very intense, very dark contemporary. I love that there are no real heroes or heroines — just a bunch of broken people making messes of each others’ lives. It’s really well done. I’m currently making my way through Victoria Aveyard’s fantasy debut, Red Queen so I can participate in YA Book Club next week.

  

What I’m Writing: NOTHING. I sent Stars Like Dust to my agent yesterday. Phew! Now, I wait (and stress about whether she likes it). In the meantime, I’m reading a most excellent manuscript by my CP, Alison Miller. This one’s super smart, heartfelt, and truly funny — like, legitimately laugh-out-loud funny. And, it’s so unique, I refuse to tell you any more about it. 🙂

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Last week I skipped out on WUW because we took an impromptu journey across the U.S. to Washington. My husband’s grandmother passed away, and we wanted to be at her funeral. She was a fun and fiesty French lady, and we loved her lots.


While there were some sad moments during our trip, there were some good times, too. We saw family and reveled in the Pacific Northwest’s (rainy) spring.

 
Now, it’s spring break and I’ve been spending quality time with my girl. Over the weekend we saw Cinderella (say what you will about its lack of fierceness/ingenuity, but I loved it!), on Monday we treated ourselves to fro yo, and yesterday we went strawberry picking. Today, we’re off to the beach!

What Works For Me: I’ve been feeling the writerly blues lately. Not really sure why, but this happens to me from time to time, and usually the best cure is a step back — time away to freshen my perspective. I recently reread a pretty fabulous blog post by writer Robin Lafevers titled Surviving Almost There. If you’re feeling stuck or stagnant or like it’s NEVER going to happen, I highly recommend checking it out. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

On book propping…

Recently Corrine Jackson, awesome author and fellow Bookanista, shared this video by YA author/vlogger Daniel Marks. In it, he speaks about “book propping,” which, simply put, is giving tons of support to a particular book or books. Often the books that are “propped” are ones that were bought with large advances and have considerable budgets for promotion. These are books that don’t necessarily need a lot of word-of-mouth hype, but seem to get it anyway.

I’ll give you a few minutes to head over to You Tube to check out the video because Daniel explains it all far better (and more entertainingly) than I do…

Basically, Daniel is saying: Let’s prop up the fantastic books, the ones we truly love, but may not have tons of money or marketing behind them. Let’s prop up the quiet books, the hidden gems, the beautifully written stories that are full of wonderful characters, but, for whatever reason, lack big buzz.

While I read and review plenty of well-hyped books, I do my best to spread the love for my favorite not-so-buzzed about novels as well. In fact, some of my very favorite young adult books are ones that don’t get talked about nearly enough (in my opinion): Saving June, Lovely, Dark and Deep, Chime, MoonglassImpossible, Stolen, Something Like Normal, WanderloveHow to Save a Life, and The Summer I Turned Pretty, to name just a few.

So… check them out!

And won’t you join me in propping up books that are excellent, but are missing out on big-budget promotion? Let’s show publishers that we like literary diversity, and that we like to have lots of choices when we enter a bookstore. Let’s help the authors who write the stories we adore. Let’s recommend their books. Let’s talk about why we love them, and help them find their way into the hands of new readers. Let’s create that whirlwind of excitement Daniel spoke about!

What book will you “prop up” today?

Five on Friday

1. WriteOnCon begins August 14th! Never heard of WriteOnCon? Well, you’re missing out! From the website…designed to give attendees many of the features of a live writer’s conference, but in an online environment. Thanks to technologies like blogging, vlogging, livestreaming, and chats, WriteOnCon connects writers with both industry professionals and fellow peers from the convenience of their own homes. Critique forums allow writers to receive feedback and exposure for their work, and the entire program is designed to be both informative and entertaining. 

Guys. There are tons of authors, writers, and agents involved with WriteOnCon. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people, get your work critiqued, and learn from some of the best. Oh, and WriteOnCon is FREE! Click on the image below for more information…

2. I have the world’s best CPs. Not only have they provided me with amazing feedback on my WiP this summer (thank you, TarynTemreChrista, and Alison!), but their writing… Holy hell these girls are amazingly talented! Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of reading work by Alison (upper-YA contemporary with a wicked twist of magic and a male narrator who has all kinds of issues and still manages to rock) and Temre (middle grade contemporary with the most charming magical thread and an absolutely adorable protagonist who I can’t wait to share with my daughter in the future). While the stories of these two writers couldn’t be more different (seriously–they’re worlds apart), they’re both utterly engaging, unputdownable, with voices that are unique and enviable. And, if reading Alison’s and Temre’s incredible manuscripts isn’t enough, I get to read Christa‘s next week. Lucky me!

3. YA Book Club, brain child of brilliant Tracey Neithercott, has an official August selectionThis is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. I’ve read this book, therefor I can say with supreme certainty that it’s amazing. We’ll be discussing This is Not a Test via our blogs and blog comments on Monday, August 27th, so you’ve plenty of time to hunt it down (like you’d hunt down a zombie), read it, ponder it, and write about it. I can’t wait to blog hop and check out everyone’s thoughts on this astonishing book. For more info, click on the image below…

4. I have agent-suggested revision notes! You might recall that, with great trepidation, I sent my WiP off to Agent Vickie a few weeks ago. Then I waited nervously and ate a lot of chocolate and tried not to bug her while she read the manuscript I’ve been working on for more than two years. Well, Agent Vickie has now read it and she’s on board with it (yay!), and she recently sent me an email full of shrewd feedback and invaluable suggestions for improving the story. Mostly, this revision will consist of digging deeper, strengthening character motivations, and fleshing out backgrounds. This is the phase of writing I enjoy most (drafting = yikes!), and I’m currently letting all that feedback simmer in the depths of my mind so I can start brainstorming and dive headfirst into the work next week. Can’t wait!

5. Kindergarten. My girlie started school on Wednesday. First of all, how am I old enough to have a school-aged child? And second, how am I going to fill my days now? I’ve been a stay-at-home mama since the day my daughter was born. Now I’m just a stay-at-home… person? I mean really. One can only do so much grocery shopping and cleaning. Luckily, I have plenty of CP reading and regular reading and revising (see above) to keep me busy. And thankfully, my girlie is doing fantastically at school. So, I guess I should just be grateful for all the extra writing time and stop watching the clock, counting the minutes till pick-up. Right? RIGHT?!

Pretty girl all ready to go!

A little nervous and a little sad once reality set in. Luckily, she pulled it together and let me leave with minimal fuss. (Thanks to my dear friend Meghan for acting as paparazzi and snapping this photo through the classroom window… I love it! ♥)

A successful first day! (Again, my sweet friend Meghan… She brought my girlie flowers at pick-up time!)

Tell me: What do you have going on this weekend? Reading? Writing? Fun in the sun? (We’re cooking out with neighbors and going to a professional soccer game… Fun!)