And even though I'm not ready for that phase, I'm already feeling anxiety (something I have a great deal of) over what to do next. What to put on the cover, when to find an editor, whether to self- or traditional-publish, how long it will take until I get published, how to market myself, things mentioned in this article on Writerslife.org.
Today, Stephanie Faris tells her story of her publishing journey on this blog, by Jessica Therrien.
I wrote my first book in 1995. It was a young adult novel. My research, however, revealed that there was no real market for young adult novels in the mid-90s, unless you could get a deal with one of the book packagers publishing series like Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. After auditioning twice to write for Sweet Valley High, I gave up on YA and moved to category romance (the books published by Harlequin). Romantic comedy was huge at the time and I loved writing those books, but publishers weren’t quite as excited about reading them. After a full decade of trying to get published, I took some time off and when I returned, young adult was huge again…only not the same YA I grew up reading. An agent kindly told me my voice was better suited to middle grade and once I learned that, landing an agent was relatively easy. I have a feeling the decades of work I put in before that contributed to landing an agent, though. I chose traditional publishing because it was the only real option at the time. Self-publishing (we called it “e-publishing”) came along soon after I started writing, but it wasn’t respected in its early days. If I were starting over today, I probably still would go for traditional publishing, but there are quite a few small presses that are making a big impact on the market.
Do you have an agent?
How many queries did you send?
I spent 20 years trying to get a publisher, so I sent at least 50 queries to publishers and/or agents over the course of that.
If represented, how long did it take to get your agent?
Only two years, but prior to that, I spent 10 years unsuccessfully querying Harlequin, Silhouette, and Bantam Books with romance novels. They didn’t require an agent to submit.
If you have an agent, can you copy and paste your successful query letter for others to reference?
I no longer have that email account, but here’s part of the blurb I used.
School Spirits is a 40,000-word novel targeted toward an upper middle grade/tween market. It is the first in an intended series about four pre-teen ghost hunters. Brothers Ethan and Noah are two seasoned investigators, struggling to make that first big “find” that will make everyone take them seriously. Brooklyn, their next-door neighbor, is a novice…and a non-believer. She hooks up with the guys accidentally, and is initially brought along only because her skepticism appeals to the boys on a scientific level. Her skepticism decreases, however, when she has her own ghostly encounter.
How did you (or your agent) find your publisher?
My agent met the editor, who was discussing the type of book she was looking for. She’d already thought that the Aladdin M!x line would be a good fit for my voice, so she couldn’t pass up the opportunity for me to write and submit something.
How long did it take to find a publisher?
After landing an agent, it took three years. From the time I wrote my first book, it took 17 years.
What do you like about your publisher?
I love my publisher! I love the fact that they publish books geared specifically toward young girls and that the books have such positive messages.
What do you dislike about your publisher?
That they can’t buy more books from me. But I think that would be the same of any publisher. I’m pretty prolific. My dream scenario would be to write ten to twelve books a year. I’m currently writing 2,000 words a day for my freelance clients.
Did you or your agent hit any snags along the way, and if so how did you overcome them?
The book I won my agent with was never published. It made the rounds and was considered by a major publisher, but because the query process is so slow, my original idea based on a popular trend wasn’t so original two years later.
Did traditional publishing get your book(s) in Barnes & Noble or other bookstores?
Yes, as well as Books-a-Million and independent bookstores.
Did your publisher produce a hardcover of your book or just paperback?
Both. Hardcovers mostly went to libraries, I believe.
Did your publisher create an audiobook for you?
What marketing tactics worked for you?
Bookfairs, networking through SCBWI, school carnivals and family nights, and library events. School visits worked but only with schools that agreed to book sales at the event, and that seems to be rare.
If you are traditionally published, what did your publisher do to market your book?
Got it in bookstores, put it in catalogs distributed to librarians/schools, presented it to librarians and booksellers, sent it out to major review publications.
Looking back would you do anything differently?
Waste far less time on school visits and find other venues to reach children!
What lessons have you learned? Any advice for those about to go down your path?
Each person has to decide whether self-publishing, small press, or traditional press is the best route. There’s no right answer. While there’s no substitute for the distribution a traditional press can give an author, some small presses are doing well with that, too. Research all the options and decide the best path for you.
Can you provide names and/or contacts for the following?
Agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary Agency
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Aladdin
Formatter: Simon & Schuster staff
Cover Designer: Hired by Simon & Schuster
Reading about this has set in my anxiety over what to do next, one I feel I've finished writing. I already know some places in my town where I could promote my book and sign it when it's published. Thinking too far ahead, I know, but the places I have in mind are perfect for such events, if I or anyone else in town ever gets a book to see the light of day. But upon reading this, I now wonder how long it will be before I get an agent or how long before I get published. I know things like this don't happen overnight, but I want to be one of those to whom it does happen. Thus, taking the steps toward working toward this goal has set in a great deal of anxiety. especially, since this would be my first book ever.
BTW, next week several blogs will be hosting Stephanie Faris's new book, and I will be one. My post will be on Tuesday.
Love Actually meets Adventures in Babysitting in this hilarious novel written by seven authors about seven classmates who are preparing for a crazy night at their middle school dance.
Lynnfield Middle School is prepped and ready for a dance to remember, including an awesome performance from Heart Grenade, the all-girl band who recently won a Battle of the Bands contest. Seven classmates—Carmen, Genevieve, Tess, Ryan, Ellie, Ashlyn, and Jade—intend to make the most of the night…or at least the five of them who are able to attend do. The other two would sacrifice almost anything to be there.
One thing’s for sure—this entire crew is in for one epic night! Gail Nall, Dee Romito, Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, and Jen Malone have created a charming, hilarious, and relatable novel that’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait to dance the night away.