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I get emails every day asking for advice on getting published or getting an agent. This is the post for people needing an entry-level introduction to publishing.
Congratulations on your decision to pursue publication. Before approaching literary agents, you’ll need to create the appropriate materials:
→ If you’re a non-fiction writer, you’ll need a full professional book proposal, with three sample chapters (this must include the FIRST chapter). (See How To Write a Book Proposal)
→ If you’re writing fiction, your manuscript must be complete, edited and polished; you also need a one-sentence hook and a one-paragraph pitch.
→ Do you need to know How to Find a Literary Agent?
→ A great title is an important aspect of attracting an agent’s or editor’s attention. Here’s how to create a perfect title for your book.
Once you have your manuscript and/or proposal ready, you need to prepare a query letter. You then begin sending your query to agents. (See How to Write a Query Letter. You may also want to Google it – there are hundreds of posts online about query letters.) Don’t attach your manuscript or proposal to the query; you’ll send that only if requested.
Please don’t contact literary agents with random questions, requests for advice, or asking for an education on how to get published. Approach literary agents with a query letter once you have a properly prepared manuscript and/or proposal. Don’t phone agents, or write them asking for a phone call.
*Resources To Help You*
An indispensable guide to publishing: Writer’s Market.
Magazines: I suggest subscribing to Writers Digest or The Writer.
Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
Jeff Herman’s Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents by Jeff Herman
These help you find the right agent and even keep track of your queries: Agent Query and Query Tracker.
These help you make sure you’re dealing with reputable people: Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors.
Consider attending a writers’ conference (or two):
This is one of the best ways to get a crash course in writing, publishing, and book marketing. Check out the Shaw Guide to Writers Conferences.
Resources for CHILDREN’S and ILLUSTRATED books:
Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators
Resources for Children’s Writers
Children’s Book Insider
The Purple Crayon
Books about children’s publishing
Resources for CHRISTIAN publishing:
Click here for a list of Christian literary agents.
The most comprehensive book for Christian publishing: Christian Writers Market Guide by Jerry Jenkins.
For Christian writers’ conferences, READ THIS.
*Are You Ready to Query?*
Wait! Most agents have a website (and/or blog) on which they list their Submission Guidelines. As you use the resources above to identify agents who might be right for your work, it’s important to read their individual guidelines and submit accordingly.
*Attention Non-fiction Authors*
→ Be aware that author platform and credentials are of primary importance. It may take years to build the kind of platform necessary to interest an agent or publisher. Read all my posts on platform HERE.
→ You also MUST thoroughly examine the comparable books already available on your topic, and be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Does your book say anything that is fresh, unique, and not already well-covered in books within the last five years? If not, go back to the drawing board. Find a fresh hook or angle.
→ Does your topic typically require credentials or degrees to be credible? If so, do you have them? If not, ask yourself what you DO have (besides personal experience) that overcomes your lack of credentials. Are you really funny? Do you have a blog that gets 5,000 hits a day? Have you won awards or major accolades in your subject area? Make sure you have something special to recommend you to a book-buying audience. If you don’t have it, go create it, or give up the idea of traditional publication.
*Attention Fiction Authors*
→ Please do not send the first draft of the first novel you’ve ever written. It’s important to study the craft of writing fiction, as well as getting outside help in editing and polishing your work before calling it ready. You may want to join a writers group or get a critique partner.
*The Final Word*
If you truly want to publish with a traditional publisher, all the resources are available and many of them are free of charge. Good luck!
The post How to Get Published appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.
Rhyming picture books were the bane of my existence as an agent, honestly. I had one rhyming PB client out of maybe fifteen PB “generalists.” And yet 8 out of 10 picture book manuscripts that came into the slush were in rhyme. That’s a pretty big disparity, right?
Part of the issue is that a lot more picture books used to be in rhyme than are being published now. So some writers still have this idea in mind that PB = cutesy rhymes. To those writers, I would suggest a trip to the bookstore, so they can see what’s being actively published now. Last week’s post on paying attention to the market would apply a little more heavily here…
Whether it’s a misconception that you have to write rhyme to publish a picture book, or an affinity for rhyme, or a misconception that young kids can only communicate in rhyme, I’d like to discuss this controversial topic with a little more clarity.
Now that I’m a freelance editor, I actually love working with rhyme. Why? Because I have creative writing training, know my poetics, and can identify rhyme issues a thousand miles away. I’m not bragging, but I am here to ruin your day a little bit: Rhyme involves a whoooooooooooooole lot more than putting cute words at the ends of sentences. Yet a lot of people who choose to write in rhyme don’t seem to make that connection.
First of all, most of the end rhymes I see in manuscripts are about as inspiring as “cat” and “hat,” and I’m pretty sure someone else has already cornered that market. The point of rhyme isn’t to find a word that works and wedge it in somehow, the point of rhyme is to delight, impress, and surprise. If I see an unexpected rhyme in a manuscript, that immediately tells me that the writer knows what they’re doing.
A big mistake I also see is letting rhyme dictate story, not the other way around. Writers become so fixated on getting those rhymes in that things become arbitrary. Why is her name “Dorange”? Because you had to rhyme with “orange”? Okie dokie… Why is he sitting on a wall? Who does that? Oh, so he can have a great fall? Gotcha. But are you writing in service of your story or reaching for a rhyme? If the story falls by the wayside, you are choosing style over substance, and that’s problematic. The integrity of story must come first.
Yet another consideration is rhythm. This is where the poetics training really kicks into gear. Shakespeare didn’t just write in iambic pentameter to torture college students. There is actually a lot of (please forgive me, for I am about to sin) rhyme and reason to rhythm in poetry. If you haven’t read your rhyming manuscripts aloud and counted your syllables at least once, what are you doing reading this blog post? Make haste! Because if I try reading your rhyming manuscript aloud, and the rhymes are fine, but your syllabic counts are all over the place and I’m tripping over my tongue with each line, this is what it looks like to me:
Whyyyyyyy? Why are you making my head hurt? What’s the pattern? Books, especially poetry books, teach us how to read them. Rhyme is a pattern. It says, “You are about to learn that if one line ends with rhyme A, the next line will also end with rhyme A. Then the next couplet will introduce rhyme B…” The rules are right there. So if you’re going to go through all that trouble with end rhyme, why would you not consider your rhythm, too?
I think that reading your work aloud will be extremely illuminating to you if you’ve never even considered counting syllables. The trick here, of course, is actually reading your work as it’s written, not reading your work with the rhythm that you want to impose on it. It’s amazing how writers tend to snap into their ideal rhythm when reading, even if that’s not exactly the rhythm they’ve written. Better yet, have someone else read your work to you. Where do they falter? Which sentences trip them up? It’s an incredibly illuminating exercise.
Now, you might think that I’m just being a stickler. Or that having the letters “MFA” somewhere in my personal history have put me on a high horse. Here’s the real poop on rhyming picture books, and I know you’ve heard this before: Most agents and editors don’t love them. When I was an agent, I didn’t love them because I didn’t know a lot of editors who loved them. When you’re an agent, it makes a lot of sense to really love stuff that sells well, because then you’re providing great service to your clients and making money. And I’m betting that editors see a whole lot of rhyming manuscripts, too. Maybe not 8 out of 10 submissions, but maybe 5 out of 10. And let’s say that their houses are pressuring them to acquire more quirky/funny picture books along the lines of Peter Brown and Mac Barnett. So they only have room for 2-3 rhyming PBs on their lists each year.
Then there’s the idea that there are people out there who really, really, really, really know how to write rhyme. My example in this category is always BUBBLE TROUBLE by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar. I took one look at that text and never wanted to try writing in rhyme, because I think it’s just such an accomplished, virtuoso rhyming text. If there are writers out there who are carrying Margaret Mahy’s torch and talents for rhyme, they are going to get those coveted and limited PB acquisition slots. Because they know what they’re doing. And the editors who want to work with them are going to hold them up to Mahy-like standards, since that’s an example of rhyming done extremely right that’s already out in the market.
As you can see, there are a lot of considerations to writing in rhyme. And finding a good end rhyme to shoehorn in there is just the first level. If you are at all curious, college poetics textbooks are always enlightening, even if you have to also invest in some toothpicks to prop your eyelids open. Long story short, poetry is an ancient art form that has tons of rules and ideas all its own. It’s a system. And if you’re going to bind yourself to a system, you better know the system. Within the system, you might just find a lot of freedom and creativity. Otherwise, if you don’t know it well or you’re just playing around with it because you think it’s what you have to do, it’s a set of handcuffs that will start to chafe pretty quickly. And it’s likely that you will not be truly competitive.
If you’re writing rhyming texts, don’t freak out. Just make sure you’re doing an excellent job. I mean, that’s good advice for any type of writing, or any pursuit, really, but I’ve found that it especially applies to getting rhyme past gatekeepers. Because rhyming PB texts often come from good, but misguided, intentions.
By Linda Joy Singleton
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
A few years ago, I thought my career was over.
Due to slow sales and a changing market, I’d lost both my publisher and agent—and I was devastated. Also, a science fiction/mystery YA that I’d been positive would sell when it went to acquisition meetings at major publishers had ultimately been rejected.
After over 35 published YA and middle grade books, I was on my own.
Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
“I feel so sad when I think back on how high my hopes were but now everything has led to this point of failure. I am so sad...discouraged...mourning the loss of dreams.”
I moped around for a few days, doing things like eating chocolate, reading comfort books and hanging out with my family. But I couldn’t sit around—I had to write.
So instead of giving up—I got busy.
I researched publishers that accepted unagented manuscripts. I polished then submitted my manuscripts—including a few pictures books. This format was new to me since I’d mostly written novels, but I’d sold one picture book--Snow Dog, Sand Dog
, illustrated by Jess Golden
(Albert Whitman, 2014) and that gave me hope. So I wrote more picture books.
One of these, Cash Kat
, seemed like a good fit for my friend Danna Smith
’s publisher Arbordale, so I sent it to them. A year later they offered me a contract—and now Cash Kat (2016) is a beautiful hardback picture book, illustrated by Christina Wald
! It teaches how to count money and celebrates the special bond kids have with their grandparents.
More books I submitted on my own sold: Never Been Texted
(Leap Books, 2015) and Curious Cat Spy Club series
to Albert Whitman (2015). The third book in this CCSC series, Kelsey The Spy, comes out April 1—and I can hardly wait.
Also, I got a new agent—Abi Samoun of Red Fox Literary
, who recently sold two of my picture books to Little Bee for 2017 publication.
And remember that YA science fiction/mystery I’d tried so hard to sell? Well, it’s coming out in September 2016 from CBAY Publishing under the new title of Memory Girl.
Instead of my career being over, it’s taking a new shape.
Being discouraged is part of the writing game. Most writers deal with the lows of rejections, losing agents or editors, low sales numbers and having books go out of print. A writing career is like riding a roller coaster, going up and down then up again.
Here are some tips to help you ride the painful downs:
- It’s healthy to grieve a disappointment or loss—but then get busy.
- Network! Writer friends give great advice and publishing tips.
- Small publishers can offer big opportunities.
- Keep busy writing: books, articles, reviews. Name recognition counts.
- Try new genres! You never know when magic will happen.
- If you aren’t in a critique group, join one—or start one.
- Don’t give up—as long as you’re writing you are a writer.
See more on Linda Joy Singleton's books and writing tips
Lauren Dane has landed a deal with two Harlequin imprints. According to the press release, Angela James, an editorial director at Carina Press, will edit all of Dane’s manuscripts.
HQN Books will publish Dane’s contemporary romance series, the Whiskey Sharp trilogy. Book one will be released in Spring 2017.
Carina Press will re-release two 2007 titles from Dane’s Cherchez Wolf Pack series. The new editions of Wolf’s Ascension and Sworn to the Wolf will come out this year. (Photo Credit: David Hiller)
First Second Books will publish a biographic graphic novel profiling Siddhartha. The story for Little Sid will explore his childhood prior to his “enlightenment” into the Buddha.
Ian Lendler will write the story and Xanthe Bouma will create the artwork for this project. The release date has been set for Winter 2017.
Here’s more from the GeekDad blog: “Before he became The Buddha, Siddhartha was a regular man. And before Siddhartha was a man, he was Little Sid- a regular kid. Well, as regular as you can be if you’re a prince who gets everything his heart desires. But this opulent lifestyle leaves Little Sid feeling dissatisfied, so he ventures out of his castle in search of a more meaningful life.” (via the First Second Books tumblr page)
Ethan Young has signed a deal with Dark Horse Comics.
Young aims to create a science fiction story for a young adult audience. His new graphic novel series will be called The Battles of Bridget Lee. The first volume is slated to come out on Sept. 21.
Here’s more from the press release: “There is no longer a generation that remembers a time before the Marauders invaded Earth. The remaining human outposts have been quiet since they fought back the alien aggressors, but there are stirrings of another attack. Bridget Lee, an ex–combat medic now residing at the outpost Farfall, may be the world’s last hope. But Bridget will need to overcome her own fears before she can save her people. Her legend begins here.”
Lately I've been writing book proposals for other people, and when one went out, two publishers responded right away. One offered a decent advance; the other wanted the book, but didn't want to pay for it.
"I've never sold a book for nothing," the agent wrote.
The editor was indignant; wanted the book and whined about uncertainty. The agent said that acquiring mss. ought not to be going for certainty (buying mss. that are like other best-selling books etc.) but "betting on the right horse."
I love that idea! And not just because it reminds me of John Steinbeck saying, "Publishing makes horse-racing look like a stable, secure business."
Betting on the right horse is a good way to think about my own books, too -- though for me it's like owning a horse as well as betting on one. If you muck out the stalls etc. yourself, owning a horse is a lot of work. And so is writing a book. You have to really love the creature to make all that work worthwhile, whether it wins the race or not.
The cover has been unveiled for Mindy McGinnis’ forthcoming book, The Female of the Species. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?
According to Epic Reads, this will be McGinnis’ first contemporary young adult novel. Prior to this, “Mindy’s book have all been either historical and dark or post-apocalytpic and dark.”
In a blog post, McGinnis revealed that this project also features “my first attempt at writing a male main character and my first book with multiple POV’s.” Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, has scheduled the publication date for September 20.
Berkeley Breathed has signed a deal with The Penguin Young Readers imprint, Philomel Books. He plans to create a picture book called The Bill The Cat Story: A Bloom County Epic.
With this project, Breathed will share the origin story for Bill the Cat; this character is part of the cast for Breathed’s beloved Bloom County comic strip. Michael Green, president and publisher of the imprint, will edit the manuscript. The publication date has been set for September 13.
Here’s more from the press release: “The Bill The Cat Story: A Bloom County Epic will be illustrated and presented as a deluxe edition of the legendary comic strip, which made national headlines after returning from a twenty-five year hiatus in July of 2015. The strip is published exclusively on Breathed’s Facebook page, and in mere months has amassed over half a million followers, a testimony to Bloom County’s lasting and dedicated fan base. This new picture book from Breathed will serve as a funny, kid-friendly introduction to Bloom County, while offering adult fans the chance to learn the backstory of one of its most beloved characters.”
Ann Shoket has signed a deal for a nonfiction book with Rodale Books. She (pictured, via) has become well-known as the former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine.
Marisa Vigilante, a senior editor, negotiated the deal with Brandi Bowles, an agent at Foundry Literary + Media. Michelle Phan, a make-up expert and YouTube star, has agreed to write the foreword. The release date for The Big Life: Find Your Confidence, Live Your Dreams, and Get Everything You Ever Wanted – On Your Own Terms has been set for Winter 2017.
According to the press release, this book “is specifically tailored to millennial women who are changing what it means to be powerful and successful in the world—for everyone. Forever. The book will help them sort through the complicated emotions that come with being young, hungry and ambitious.”
I was wondering, what if I get an agent and she tries to sell two or three of my novels, all in the same genre, and nothing sells. What would happen in this case?
Well Katie, sounds like you and your agent will be at a crossroads and need to make some decisions.
Each agent is different, and some agents might set you free at this point, believing they’re not the right agent to help you find success. You’ll want to clarify whether your agent wishes to continue or hang it up.
Remember that you have a choice, too. You may want to consider indie publishing. If you want to continue pursuing traditional publishing, and you think another agent can serve you better, it would be a good time for you to make this decision. Be cautious not to automatically blame your agent for the lack of a sale – she’s put in many hours on your behalf and hasn’t gotten paid a thing. She probably deserves the benefit of a conversation, at least.
If you and your agent want to continue working together, you’ll probably have a meeting to discuss your options. You’ll take a hard look at what’s going on, asking questions like:
→ Why aren’t your books capturing the attention of editors? Is it the ideas? The writing?
→ Could there be something specific about your characters and plot lines aren’t resonating?
→How much of this is due to the market, and how much is it the specific books you’re pitching?
→ Is it the genre? If so, is there another genre you’re interested in writing that perhaps is more saleable?
Ideally this meeting would culminate in a strategy and action plan for moving forward to find the success you’ve been working toward.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an uncommon scenario. Once you get an agent, it could still be a long time until serendipity strikes again and you find the perfect match between a project and a publisher.
What would you do if you were the writer in this situation?
What’s a writer to do when their agent can’t seem to sell their work? Click to Tweet.
The post When You’re Missing the Mark appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.
it seemed that, for a while in the early 2010s, every book I was getting in the slush as an agent had something to do with the end of the world. Dystopian fiction was all the rage, The Hunger Games were exploding off the shelves, and the Mayans had supposedly hinted that the end times would happen in 2012. (Maybe they did and we are all a dream that one of my pugs, who sleeps pretty much continuously, is having?)
Point being, I saw the same iteration of manuscript over and over:
Kid is arbitrarily chosen to save the world, because the world is definitely ending, usually by a mechanism that is large, ominous, and largely outside of anyone’s control. The phenomenon is either natural (disaster, asteroid, climate collapse, virus, etc.) or manmade (shadowy government forces, global war, etc.).
I’ve written before about the unique challenges of the “chosen one” style of story, where a child is, seemingly, arbitrarily plucked from obscurity to avert global disaster. This is a very tough type of book to pull off, and yet that doesn’t stop pretty much everyone from trying. Basically, it opens up a lot of questions that never seem answered quite to my satisfaction. Why this totally ordinary kid? Why such profound magical powers out of nowhere? If this kid is so special, why haven’t they been groomed for the task from birth? Who decided that this one child, on a planet of 8 billion people, was the only hope?
Structurally, these stories also seem to follow a lot of the same steps, which now seem cliché. A milestone happens and they discover a secret about themselves that reveals a destiny. Then they are thrust into a completely new group of people. Cue meet and greets. Then they have to learn a whole new set of skills. Cue training montages (which contribute to a rather static “muddy middle,” since you can only write a few scenes of learning how to do XYZ before they start to run into one another). There’s a rival and a big challenge, then the character must do the thing they were destined to do. It looks unlikely for a second, and the Earth is splintering apart and shaking, and then, suddenly, they persevere at the last moment and the whole world is saved!
The big issue with these stories, other than their relative sameness, is that the stakes are maybe…too high.
Now, I can imagine you, dear reader, are about to throw your laptop at me. I keep talking about stakes and stakes and stakes and tension and friction and increasing stakes, and then I show up one fine Monday morning to tell you that, well, stakes can be too high. What do I want? Why am I so finicky? Is nothing ever good enough for Little Miss Goldilocks over here?
Hear me out. The issue with most manuscripts is, indeed, that stakes tend to be too low. The action is small, there’s not enough personal investment from the character, and the consequences of each action and plot point are barely registering on the charts. However, the opposite extreme is also problematic. If someone ran down my street right now in their boxer shorts, screaming that the world was ending, I would…shrug? Go to a news website? Call my husband? Throw caution to the wind and eat a whole thing of ice cream? I don’t know. That’s such an improbable event (no matter how many times our imaginations have gone there) that it’s too big to believe.
So selling such high stakes becomes very difficult. You have a lot of convincing to do, starting with the character, then the reader. Is the world really going to end? Readers, by this point, are savvy customers. We know how these types of stories go. And we know that the world ain’t ended yet. And if it was going to, it would probably be turned over to the professionals rather than landing squarely in the lap of a 12-year-old kid.
So should you even bother with an apocalypse story? You can. There’s always something deeply fascinating to humans about the idea of the world exploding or being decimated by virus. I would imagine there are some hastily written zika virus manuscripts popping into agent inboxes right about now. If you still want to do this sort of thing, I would suggest that the kid and the apocalyptic event need to be inextricably tied.
For example, this specific kid needs to match this specific apocalypse in a way that makes them the only possible answer. Let’s say that their mother was a leading climate scientist who was recently kidnapped. Life sucks for the character as they try to put the pieces back together. Then it’s revealed that the reason for the kidnapping was that Mom had just stumbled upon a shadowy government conspiracy to overheat the Middle East in a desperate bid to end the conflict there. But it worked too well, and now the entire planet is in grave danger. Mom is presumed dead, but Kid has his doubts. Worse yet, Mom told Kid some very classified information right before she was taken, almost as if she knew what was going to happen. Now Kid might be the only one to reverse the runaway climate. But, even with the world (theoretically) at stake, Kid has their own skin in the game: to see if Mom is actually alive, and to bring those responsible for the kidnapping to justice.
Apocalypse story. Shadowy government conspiracy. Runaway climate change (giving the story a timely hook). But what do we notice about this premise? It’s not just some random kid. In fact, the kid has deeply personal reasons for springing into action. And averting the apocalypse is almost a byproduct of more intimate, meaningful goals.
That’s what I would suggest doing if your stakes are too high: make them smaller (not in scope, but in terms of intimacy of objective and motivation). Make them more personal. Make it believable that a kid would rise up against huge forces to get what they want, because what they want is very close to their hearts. The stakes stakes can remain huge (there’s still an apocalypse scenario) but their impact on your specific character is what has the power to set you apart in this very crowded category.
By: Rachelle Gardner,
Blog: Rachelle Gardner
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In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up this Sunday, I thought I’d wax poetic about what I love in this industry… and in my job.
♥ First of all, I love the way writers, editors, and yes, even agents, are a true community. Competition exists, but it doesn’t get in the way of real relationships. That’s what this business is about, relationships, and the people I’ve met in this business are simply the best.
♥ I love working with authors. Your passion impresses me; your bravery amazes me. The commitment authors must maintain in order to be successful is nothing short of monumental, and for that, I salute every one of you. It is my pleasure and privilege to support you in the small ways that I do.
♥ I love the new submissions that I get to see all the time. They show me the incredible diversity of ideas out there. They show me the courage of those who have convictions. They tell me that no matter what anybody says, people will always want to write books, and people will always want to read them.
♥ I love the thrill of the hunt for great books. The anticipation that underlies the reading of every query and proposal. The “aha” feeling when you think you’ve found one.
♥ I love calling writers and offering them representation. It can be the beginning of a wonderful partnership that can enrich both of our lives.
♥ I love the moment when an author realizes they are actually going to have a book published. The offer’s on the table… the contract is signed… their dream is coming true. There is nothing better!
Happy Valentine’s Day
The post Valentine to the Publishing Life appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.
Harlequin TEEN and Seventeen Magazine have partnered up to launch a new imprint called Seventeen Fiction. The editors plan to work on a variety of projects such as novels, lifestyle manuals, advice books, and nonfiction digital books.
According to the press release, the executives behind this imprint “will focus on multi-dimensional and empowered fictional female characters and explore topics and situations that authentically reflect the challenges and joys of being a teenager today, just as Seventeen does across all platforms.” Natashya Wilson, an executive editor at Harlequin TEEN, has already acquired the first manuscript: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz.
The story “follows the daughter of immigrant parents who is living the American dream—until her world shatters when she learns she is ineligible to receive the National Scholarship Award because her family is in the country illegally and may be deported.” The release date has been scheduled for Fall 2016.
Bruce Springsteen has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster. The international release date for his autobiography, entitled Born to Run, has been scheduled for Sept. 27.
The legendary rock star has been working on this book for the past seven years. Springsteen first began to write down his life story after performing with the E Street Band at the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show.
Here’s more from the press release: “In Born to Run, Mr. Springsteen describes growing up in Freehold, New Jersey amid the ‘poetry, danger, and darkness’ that fueled his imagination. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song ‘Born to Run’ reveals more than we previously realized.”
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has launched a new young adult literature-themed website called Riveted. The creatives behind this venture plan to feature lists, articles, quizzes, videos, giveaways, news pieces, and behind-the-scenes information.
Some of the writers who have signed on to contribute content includes Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian, and Scott Westerfeld. To launch this website, the Riveted team will host a community “binge reading” of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.
Here’s more from the press release: “Leading up to the March release of the next installment of the Shadowhunters Chronicles, Lady Midnight, members from the editorial board will host live video chats every Friday to discuss the week’s #TMIBingeRead. In addition, the site will feature original content such as DIY videos on how to get the perfect book character-inspired hair, “word of the week” videos, and exclusive serialized bonus stories.” Click here to watch a video to learn more about the binge reading event.
Jay Asher has signed a deal with Penguin Young Readers. In the past, he has written two young adult novels: Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us (a collaboration with Carolyn Mackler).
According to The Associated Press, Asher (pictured, via) has finished a contemporary romance novel entitled What Light. He drew inspiration to write this story “after reading about a family in Oregon with a Christmas tree lot.”
This young adult book will be Asher’s “first solo work of fiction in nearly a decade.” The publication date has been scheduled for Oct. 11. (via The New York Times)
Kelly Clarkson has signed a deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books. The singer has become well-known as a three-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist and the winner of the 2002 season of American Idol.
According to The Seattle Times, Laura Hughes will serve as the illustrator on this project. The publication date for River Rose and the Magical Lullaby has been set for October 2016.
Clarkson posted a video about this picture book on her social media page; we’ve embedded her Twitter post above. TIME reports that “the story follows a little girl who’s too excited about the next day’s zoo visit to fall asleep, until her mom sings her a lullaby that gives her dreams about playing with hippos, penguins and other zoo creatures.”
A lot of writers hear the well-meaning advice that, in order to break in more easily, they should have some writing clips and credits to their resume. It’s good advice, and I especially don’t want to disenfranchise the many writers who have been actively pursuing this strategy with my answer, because it is a very worthwhile strategy.
In case you haven’t thought about this issue before, I’ll summarize here: When you’re an aspiring writer, you have a lot of ambition to write, but not a lot of platform. People aren’t buying what you want to sell, basically. Or, if they are, they aren’t really paying you for it. You’re probably getting opportunities to showcase your work on blogs and at other web-based venues that don’t have a budget to compensate contributors. Or maybe you start your own blog, like this ol’ hack did! This is how a lot of people get going.
Then you think that there has to be more out there that’s, well, more noteworthy to a potential publishing gatekeeper. So maybe you explore other avenues to showcase your work. Whether it’s in the children’s writing realm, say, Highlights Magazine, or in an unrelated area, like an op-ed for the local newspaper, or a poem in a general fiction literary journal, you start to set your sights higher.
Whether you try to gather clips in print journalism, the literary community, scientific or medical magazines (a lot of writers have done a lot of technical writing for their day jobs), etc., you’re basically writing and racking up pieces that someone else has vetted and decided are good enough to publish.
This all makes a lot of sense, right? If you want to write, write, and maybe the momentum of all your writing will speed up your efforts on the book publishing front. Being published is being published, no matter what you’re publishing. And writing professionals love to see writing credits. Right? Weeeeeeeeeell…
It’s not often that clear-cut. Publishing an op-ed in your local paper in Portland is not the magic ticket to calling attention to yourself with a children’s book editor in New York, unless, of course, your op-ed or Huffpo article causes such a stir that it goes “viral” and attracts a lot of attention or controversy. In fact, under my original name (a much longer version of “Kole”), I published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, which is a notable newspaper that people have heard of. And I thought, for sure, this was my golden ticket. The day it ran, I waited for the phone to ring. Aaaaand…my mother was very proud of me. Then one man from Idaho took offense at my sense of humor. That’s about it.
The fact of the matter is, if you can say in your query that you’ve published with a top-tier publication that most casual readers have heard of, that’s going to be an amazing feather in your cap. And agents and editors might take notice. But it’s likely not going to get you a book publishing contract.
And outside of that, if you’re publishing on blogs, or in smaller literary magazines, or in venues that have nothing whatsoever to do with publishing novels, then your clips are going to tell a potential agent or editor one positive thing, but one positive thing only: That you’ve hustled a little and know a little bit about the process. And that’s a positive thing, because that might indicate that you’re at least somewhat easy to work with during the publishing process. But it’s not a guarantee of anything.
My main objection to splitting your focus and concentrating on amassing clips if your primary goal is to publish a book can be expressed in this recent post. The truth of the matter is, some journalists spend years trying to crack the New York Times for their own resumes. It’s an entirely new skillset. First, there’s learning how to write well enough that the Times would take interest. Then it’s cultivating contacts and editor relationships that will get you prime consideration. Then it’s learning the culture of the publication (and every publication has one, no matter how small they are) and learning how to work within it successfully. After a lot of effort, you may finally get published in the Times. But then you’re published in the Times, not in the book realm.
What’s missing from this picture of all the effort you’ve put in? Oh yeah, honing your novel craft, which is why you’re doing any of this to begin with. So gathering clips is phenomenal, but it doesn’t help you accomplish your primary goal directly. And there’s no guarantee that it will help you accomplish your primary goal indirectly, either. You may sink a few years into pitching freelance articles to magazines, distract yourself, and maybe emerge with one well-regarded piece in Real Simple…that has nothing to do with your novel.
Is that payoff worth it? Only you can decide. This strategy only seems to work well when you’re a journalist in your day job, and a novelist by night. Then you possess both skillsets already, and you can jump back and forth more easily. Otherwise, it’s like going through all the work and trouble of growing a new arm, just so you can give your primary hands better manicures. It seems like a lot more effort than it’s worth.
A Japanese manga series based on the The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess video game will be released later this month. Readers will only be able to access this work through Shogakukan’s MangaOne app.
According to Polygon, Akira Himekawa, the pseudonym of two creatives who choose to remain anonymous, has been credited as the writer and artist behind this project. In the past, this duo has produced manga based on three other Zelda games: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and A Link to the Past.
Here’s more from Tech Times: “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an action-adventure game from Nintendo that originally released in 2006 for the GameCube and Wii. The story follows the hero Link as he tries to save Hyrule from an evil parallel dimension. Many Zelda fans and critics often consider Twilight Princess as one of the best Zelda games ever made.” (via ComicBook.com)
Stephan Pastis has signed a deal with Candlewick Press for Timmy Failure: The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have. This book will be the fifth installment of Pastis’ popular middle grade series.
Daniel Lazar, a literary agent at Writers House, negotiated this deal on Pastis’ behalf. The publisher has scheduled the release date for September 27.
Here’s more from the press release: “The most important thing to know about Timmy’s fifth memoir to date is: this book was never meant to EXIST. No one needs to know the details. Just know this: There’s a Merry, a Larry, a missing tooth, and a teachers’ strike that is crippling Timmy Failure’s academic future. Worst of all, Timmy is banned from detective work. It’s a conspiracy of buffoons.”
The cover has been revealed for Arthur A. Levine’s forthcoming picture book, What a Beautiful Morning. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?
According to School Library Journal, Katie Kath served as the illustrator for this project. Running Press Kids has scheduled the publication date for August 9.
Marie Ferrarella has signed a six-figure deal with Harlequin. She plans to write twelve novels.
Patience Bloom, a senior editor, managed this acquisition project. She will edit all of Ferrarella’s manuscripts.
Here’s more from the press release: “Ferrarella will craft two contemporary romance series for Harlequin—Matchmaking Mamas for Harlequin Special Edition and Cavanaugh Justice for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. The first title in the deal, The Case of the Stolen Heart follows a widow who finds a second chance at love with a police officer who was present at her late husband’s crime scene. The Case of the Stolen Heart is set to be published in Fall 2016.”
“Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.” ― William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade
I’ve always liked this quote, because it’s so true—and it applies to publishing, too. We don’t know how a book will do until it goes on sale, or sometimes, until it’s been on sale several months or even years.
Publishing companies and Hollywood studios routinely produce works they predict will sell based on past success of similar works. It’s a flawed method of decision making, but it’s the best we’ve got.
Besides analyzing past experience, what can we do to predict future success of a book or movie? We watch the market; we pay attention to the cultural zeitgeist; we look at what’s going on in the world and think about how that might affect people’s choices in how to spend their leisure time; we look at what people are enjoying in the other arts.
But predicting the future based on the past is an inexact science. Not really a science, even, but an art. Anytime we’re trying to project future success of an individual project, we are making an educated guess, no more.
A corollary to “nobody knows anything” is Billy Wilder’s famous tip: The audience is fickle. Sure, last year they may have gone crazy over vampire novels, but will they still be so enthralled next year? Nobody knows.
It takes just as much effort, time, and money to create a movie or a book that’s going to bomb as one that’s going to do well. This underscores the truth of “nobody knows anything” because if we knew—if we were able to make accurate predictions—then perhaps in the pursuit of the bottom line, only bestsellers would be published and only blockbuster movies would be made.
Instead, we have thousands of non-bestselling books published every year so that there are many, many great choices for those of us who like to read. The fact that nobody knows anything works in your favor if you’re a writer, and even if you’re a reader.
Anytime you ask an industry professional a question that has to do with predicting the future (Will Amish fiction ever go away? Is paranormal going out of style or will it still be hot next year?) just remember that the answer they give you is not gospel, it is simply their informed opinion based on what they see around them. It could be completely accurate… or dead wrong.
Only time will tell.
Based on what’s happening in books and movies today, what predictions can YOU make about the future?
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Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint at Scholastic, will publish a hardcover book based on the special rehearsal edition script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II. The release has been scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on July 31; fans will recognize that this significant date is both Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday. Pottermore will publish the eBook edition.
Here’s more from the press release: “It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.”
Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and Rowling worked on the story for this theatrical production together. Back in October 2015, Rowling announced on Pottermore that this project will serve as the eighth story of her beloved book series. The opening date for the West End show has been set for July 30, 2016.