THIS IS NOT A DRILL - In bookstores everywhere - Click to Learn More

Articles tagged with: publishing


One Writer’s Crazy Ride to Publication

Thanks for all your questions and comments about THIS IS NOT A DRILL, my upcoming YA debut novel (Oct. 25, 2012) from Nancy Paulsen Books of Penguin Group. In an industry that’s slow as continental drift, my path to publication was a zipline ride. I sailed from query to agent to first offer in two days, and thanks to the amazing Jill Corcoran, the powerhouse of energy who is now my agent, I landed with one of the most respected editors in the business within two weeks of submission. Here’s a quick run-down of what happened last summer (starting July 7) :

Thursday: After a year of writing and revising my novel, I held my breath and hit “Send,” submitting to my top 7 agent picks on 7-7 (a winning combination, I hoped.) Jill Corcoran of Herman Agency requested the full manuscript within an HOUR of receiving my query letter and sample pages.

Friday: I woke to a note from Jill (written 1:30 am her time) - she was “absolutely loving” the book and had trouble putting it down to sleep. By noon she emailed me offering representation; she said she knew I had the work still out with several other agents, but she wanted to sign me if I was ready to say yes. I paused my happy dance just long enough to type “yes.” Jill has an English degree from Stanford and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Chicago. She’s not only worked in advertising, but teaches writing workshops and writes books of her own. I knew she’d understand the bumps in the writing road and could guide me through the marketing maze, too. She sent me a contract, and I emailed the other agents I’d queried that I’d accepted representation so they wouldn’t spend time reading my work.

Saturday: Jill and I talked by email, and I tried not to obsess over my new agent. She friended me on Facebook and I followed her on Twitter, loving all the glowing comments from her clients.

Sunday: Jill emailed me that she felt THIS IS NOT A DRILL was ready to go out without further revisions (amazing!), and she’d be submitting it to editors THE NEXT DAY! I was elated – and terrified.

Monday: Jill sent me a list of the editors she’d subbed to, and I tried not to freak out. I cleaned house all day to keep from going mad and went to bed that night with my head clogged from dust I’d stirred up.

Tuesday: I googled Jill’s clients, googled each editor on the list, googled my name to see what editors would find, and finally got in the car and left the house to stop the googling madness.

Wednesday: Jill called. I loved her sense of humor about her kids and her cat, and her competence and knowledge base were obvious. We chatted and hung up. She called back an hour later. I was surprised. “Did you just hang up on me?” she said. “I hope not, ‘cause I have some of the biggest news of your life.” I explained that my phone didn’t even ring, we’d been having trouble with our cell carrier, and I was so sorry if she - WAIT, did you say you had NEWS? “We have an offer coming in!” she said. I tried to listen from my spot on the ceiling, but thank God I wrote it all down ‘cause I was WAY too excited to really hear what she said.

Within days there were multiple offers and I was in the wildly unanticipated position of choosing the editor I felt was the best fit for my book. When I signed with Nancy Paulsen at Penguin, I felt Velveteen Rabbit “real” as a writer.

Hold on a second! Before any of you throw erasers at the screen, there’s something you should know. All this happened fast, but I am no overnight success – not this girl. My whirlwind week came after five years of writing, one shelved manuscript with about 25 rejection slips tucked inside, another agent who unsuccessfully submitted another book of mine (ON the day that became known as Black Wednesday in the publishing world - could there BE any rottener luck?), lots of broken plates in my backyard (my secret catharsis), six weekend writing conferences from Nashville to LA, and hours, days, weeks, months and years of studying the craft through books, articles, blogs, and websites on writing - not to mention countless novels I picked apart to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

There, feel better? If you’re interested in writing for publication, read books on how to write (like Stephen King’s ON WRITING , Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, and AnnIe Dilard’s THE WRITING LIFE, my faves), study books in your genre, read blogs like Jill’s and Nathan Bransford’s and Kristin Nelson’s to learn about queries and agents and opening pages and point of view, and write every day to improve your style and voice. (How do you learn to play tennis? Play a lot. How do you learn to write? Write - a lot.) The secret is and always has been: butt in chair, fingers on keys.

The good news is persistence pays off. Keep reading, keep honing your craft, keep believing, and if you work hard enough and learn from your mistakes, something good will happen. I can’t wait to hear YOUR story when it does.

| Leave Comment

Posted in August, 2012


A Wild Ride in Publishing

Hang on, everybody! We're in for a wild ride. The publishing industry is changing so rapidly, the information you find online today may be obsolete tomorrow. It's exhilarating, terrifying, mind-boggling, intimidating, confusing, and very, very exciting!

The good news is:

-Most experts think books will continue to thrive in both print and digital formats. More options for readers and greater accessibility (ordering from your bed at midnight) is increasing the number of books people read. Sales are strong.

-Print-on-demand will allow mid-list and out-of-print books to continue to sell, and will help eliminate huge print runs of books that don't sell and must be stored, remaindered, and destroyed – a practice that was terrible for the environment and a royal pain for booksellers and publishers.

-With 50 pages or so available in downloadable free samples, we'll all waste less money on books we thought we'd love after reading the first few pages in the bookstore, but lost interest in after a chapter or two.

-Niche books that never saw print because of a limited market will be available to those with an specific interest.

-Lower prices will result from savings in shipping and storing costs, and e-books currently offer authors a greater share in the profits.

-New vetting processes will emerge for self-publishers – reputable reviewers offering readers a "clearing house" for navigating the huge numbers of digital uploads they'll be wading through. Customer reviews online and book bloggers will remain a driving force in word-of-mouth sales of books.

In a city where many start-up companies have been birthed, I'm all in. I'm convinced that the emergence of new technology will benefit the reader in the long run. In the meantime, it's much more productive to welcome the new baby than to bitch about the birthing pains. And as for e-books, don't say "never" if you've never tried one. You can always download the Kindle or Nook app to your computer or phone. Then if you download a few free sample chapters from Amazon or Nook, you can give it a try without spending a penny.

| Leave Comment

Posted in October, 2010