Post by Christy Swift on Jan 29, 2017 21:53:05 GMT -5
I was wondering if some of the published authors would share their stories with us newbs? I'd like to hear how it happened for you. How long did it take? What did you learn along the way? Also, once you published that first novel, what happened next? Does your publisher automatically take the next one? Do you quit your day job? How does this all work?
If anyone is willing to share their story, I would love to set my expectations for this journey. Thanks! Christy
Post by Lora Palmer on Jan 30, 2017 6:54:13 GMT -5
Hi, Christy! Thanks again for your feedback on RED SKY :).
So, here's my publishing story so far. I wrote my YA fantasy, THE MIRRORMASTERS, over the course of several years. For several years after that, between editing, lots of querying (I sent maybe about 70+ queries), and participating in contests and online twitter pitch parties), and more editing, I learned a ton about perseverance. And about not getting daunted by the inevitable passes. I participated in WriteOnCon. I workshopped my opening 5 pages. All the while, I kept revising, kept trying. Then, in July 2015, I participated in #Pit2Pub and afterward got a fave from a small press I'd submitted MIRRORMASTERS to before from a previous pitching opportunity. I submitted again to Clean Reads, noting that I'd submitted two years prior and made substantial revisions since that time. A couple weeks or so later, I woke up to a lovely email offering a contract!
Since then, I've learned that again it takes persistence to market a book, and that I still have tons to learn about marketing, because it's a challenge. I participate in Facebook events, sometimes doing author takeovers to promote my book. I try creating memes and have worked with other authors to do spotlight posts on their blots, engage on social media, and all that. I'm excited to hear marketing ideas and tips from others. One thing I'm doing is Amazon giveaways, and the book gets snapped up quickly every time I do one, which is awesome. Also, to enter the giveaway, I selected the option to have people follow me on Amazon, so they'll be alerted whenever I have a new book release, which will hopefully help sales for that next book. I'm building up my reviews as best I can.The owner of Clean Reads has said that the best marketing for your debut is to release that next book. I'm in the process of editing it (RED SKY) and will maybe once it's fully ready query agents. I'm also working on a MIRRORMASTERS sequel which I will submit to Clean Reads, as they have the right of first refusal. Acceptance isn't automatic, but I know there are publication deals which do include a contract for all the books in a series. Or, at least, for multiple books. Yes, I am still keeping my day job :). Few writers reach the point of being able to support themselves through writing alone, but it's definitely a goal, a dream, an aspiration.
Hope sharing this story helps, and feel free, everyone, to ask me any questions! I'm not an expert by any means, but I'm having a great time writing, trying marketing stuff, and so on :).
Post by sharischwarz on Jan 30, 2017 17:15:49 GMT -5
This is taken from my blog post about my path to publication.
MY PATH TO PUBLICATION
(Query STATS below)
In my fifth grade diary I have a list of goals written in the back. One is to write a book. And if you know anything about me, you know I love to dream...and I love to work toward my dreams.
I started writing my book, THE LEDGE (now renamed to TREASURE AT LURE LAKE), December 10, 2013 after a quick facebook chat with a good friend of mine, Jenda Nye, who is also a writer. She encouraged me to start writing and, bonus! we could be writing partners!
The idea for my story was totally inspired by my boys and Gary Paulsen's HATCHET. But I had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I wrote 'The End' on my first draft in February 2014, or what would happen when I plugged into the amazing writing community on Twitter in March 2014.
At that time, my parents were the first ones to give me valuable feedback and editing suggestions on my first draft, and I will always be so grateful for their support and guidance. Then, I sent out my first queries to literary agents in March 2014, literally a year too early, but that's what the learning process is all about...making lots of mistakes and learning from them. I'm thankful for each mistake along the way because they all have been a part of the path I'm on to becoming a better writer and a better communicator.
I entered The Ledge in various online contests like #NestPitch, #JustPitchIt, several times in #PitMad, #PitchSlam, #PitchMas, Operation Awesome, #AgentMatch, #SecretShop, Sub it Club pitch party (and those are just the ones I received requests from agents on) and queried widely over the next six months. Early on in the query process I received two "R&Rs" (revise and resubmit requests)--one from an editor and one from an agent. While neither of them panned out in the end, they offered sound and generous advice that helped me shape the early drafts of TREASURE AT LURE LAKE.
In the fall of 2014, after getting feedback from at least 30 critique partners, getting numerous rejections from agents and a couple of bites (requests for fulls), I went to the Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference with my friend, Emily Moore, who I also met on Twitter but then got to know in real life! I learned so much at the conference, and Emily really helped me brainstorm ideas for some major changes in the story that got me excited again after enduring so many rejections on my work. It's not easy putting your heart and soul into something and having a hundred people tell you "no, not quite right" or "not for me."
One side of wisdom might say it's time to throw in the towel, but this is a hard business to break into. I had so many people encourage me to press on, not give up and try again and again!
In December 2014, after a few close calls, I nearly gave up on TREASURE AT LURE LAKE. I had also finished writing the first draft of a new book. Discouraged and heartbroken, I went for a long hike where I stomped and cried and yelled at God. Why is this so hard? So frustrating? I hated getting my hopes up over and over again each time an agent seemed interested only to be let down and disapointed when they said no.
So, I decided to let go and self-publish. By that time, I knew there were problems with my book, but I just couldn't give up on Jack and Bryce (the boys in the story). I felt free and excited and a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of self-publication!
But then, in January 2015, an amazing online friend and critique partner, Sarah Floyd, told me not to give up and took a once over of the first few chapters of my manuscript. With her feedback, I was inspired to revise again and send out a small batch of queries. Full manuscript requests started to come in. Lots of waiting ensued!
So, back to the revision board...again and again. In March, one of my original critique partners, Sally Hughes Doherty, read through TREASURE AT LURE LAKE and gave me a thorough evaluation of my book which shed bright light on some problem areas I still had. With her brilliant advice, I revised again. A couple of contests and a few more full requests later, I felt like I was on the right track.
By this time, I wasn't as prone to discouragement; my skin had grown thick. Plus, I had started reading manuscripts for a literary agent and could now see firsthand the numerous ways in which a manuscript just doesn't cut it even if it has good writing or is an amazing story. The idea of self-publishing became more and more of a possibility to me, and I started to research it.
Then one day, I saw a call for submissions by an editor, Ashley Gephart, at Cedar Fort Publishing and decided to send TREASURE AT LURE LAKE to her on May 11th, 2015. By the end of May, I received an email saying they had accepted my story for publication! I literally could not believe it at first. I think I read that email ten times before it sunk in that it was real--not spam or a joke or someone who was going to change their mind a few days later.
After researching Cedar Fort, asking a million questions, talking to one of their clients and going through the contract multiple times, I'm thoroughly blessed and honored to say that I signed with Cedar Fort's general release fiction. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE came out April 12th, 2016!
These STATS below are to help querying writers. Don't give up! Whatever your dream may be. It took me 101 queries to find the right home for my book! Each try (query) took at least an hour to research and compose.
First query sent: March 25, 2014 Last query sent: May 11, 2015 101 queries sent (6 to small presses that requested my manuscript from contests) 14 full requests (2 on my original version of THE LEDGE 12 requests on latest versions) 31 requests for extra pages (not full requests) from either contests or queries 37 no replies 4 times, that I know of, that my query landed in an agent's spam box and they didn't find it for weeks/months (I never sent out queries in bulk so this makes me wonder how many agents, of the 37 that didn't reply to me, never received my query in the first place.) 100s of hours spent querying and researching agents.
40+ critique partners who critiqued parts of my manuscript including several anonymous critiquers on Critique Circle. 8 beta readers who read the whole book and gave me invaluable feedback. 28,530 tears shed throughout the process.
Since then, I was able to sell another book to them on proposal (synopsis and 20 pages) and were working on another. They are eager for more work from me (one of the things I love about Entangled. They *want* to build your career). It doesn't mean they automatically take what I pitch them (they've turned down 2 others so far, but for specific reasons like one was too close to another one of their books) but I do know I can continue publishing with them even if I never sign an agent, my options are just a bit more limited.
Did I quit my day job? Well...technically I did quit my job about 6 months before my debut released, but uhh that was about 0% to do with $ from my book. I had a baby and became a SAHM. Definitely not making enough to support myself yet (luckily husband does, though)
Post by midenianscholar on Jan 31, 2017 9:33:25 GMT -5
I've written about finding my agent and my publishers, but the short version is that I found my agent via an opportunity in my MA program. She signed me for a YA fantasy ILLUMINATE and we went through many rounds of edits. But just before we were looking at sending out, she asked me if I was interested in trying out the MG contemporary about refugees I kept mentioning to her. I said sure. At the beginning of 2016, I drafted the book. By the end of 2016, it had sold to Macmillan (US) and HotKey Books (UK) and othersss I'm not allowed to mention yet.
In short form, it sounds like my journey was crazy easy, rainbows and butterflies. It really wasn't. The only reason I was able to churn out THE ELEVENTH TRADE so quickly was because of the 15 or so manuscripts I've finished, revised, and put on the back shelf. I also definitely had a huge identity crisis when I realized I would be coming out in the MG contemporary genre instead of YA fantasy (which I'm still hoping to move into, once I have a couple of MG books under my belt).
I haven't quit my day job... though I could probably go part-time if I wanted. But healthcare is expensive here in the U.S., I love my job, and so far it's flexible enough that my writing doesn't suffer. So I'll be holding onto it as long as I can and use whatever I earn to pay off student loans.
My tips would be: work hard and be a pleasure to work with. Both my agent and my editors were extremely impressed when I told them, "I know I'm not the best writer, but I love to revise and I'm open to any critiques. Edits are my favorite part of the process!" I've never been the most talented, but I am a hardworking Hufflepuff, and the years of work (about 15 since I started writing, and perhaps 8 since I got really serious about it) have paid off.
I wrote five MG novels before I got my first agent. 290 queries, 47 full requests, one offer. Top agent.
I was with her for a couple of years, I kept writing, she put three books on submission.
I parted ways w/her for a variety of reasons and with much trepidation and queried anew. Signed with my current (wonderful!) agent. First book we put on submission didn't sell. Finally - FINALLY - this fall my debut sold. It's the tenth novel I wrote. Not even counting ghostwriting, which I've done a lot of.
So, no your publisher doesn't automatically take your next book. Sometimes you might have a two book deal. Often you'll have a deal with an option, which means the publisher basically has a right of first refusal on your next book. And no, you definitely do NOT quit your day job. I mean, maybe if you get some astronomical deal, like mid-six-figures. Because the thing is, even a six-figure deal is spread out over years, and with taxes and commissions taken out...it's a lot of money. But it's not as much as it seems. And there's no reliable schedule of when you'll receive your payments. So you really need to have a steady stream of royalties from several books and/or extremely low living costs and/or some other means of support (like a spouse with steady income and health insurance).
In terms of finances, set your expectations at zero, and then you'll be pleasantly surprised at anything more. :-)
And the key to surviving a long journey like mine is to surround yourself with this wonderful writing community - which you're already doing if you're here at Write On Con!!!
I wrote about my thoughts regarding my YA being "too Asian". I am a hybrid author (self-pub & published with small and independent publishers). I debuted a while back in 2011 with my urban/contemporary fantasy set in Singapore. My YA sff set in a desert land was published by a Singaporean publisher, Math Paper Press. My space opera will soon be published by Fox Spirit Books, an UK independent publisher. I have no agent. Queries met with rejections ("Does not fit our interests").
Great question @christy! You've given us a sneak peek into some helpful stories and surprising stats. A bear hug of thanks to all the authors that replied. And to everyone else, a huge "hang in there" pat on the back.
Happy writing one and all!!!
Last Edit: Feb 4, 2017 17:03:20 GMT -5 by dianelandy