Marie Lu‘s debut novel, Legend, hits the shelves tomorrow. We caught up with Lu (pictured, via) to learn more about how authors can utilize social networking tools, the writing process for the book and her views on being an Asian-American author. The highlights follow below…
Q: How did you land your book deal?
A: My agent, Kristin Nelson, first took me on for a novel that we ultimately didn’t sell. While we waited for feedback on that one, I began writing Legend. After two intense rounds of edits with Kristin, we submitted Legend to publishers in the summer of 2010, and I recall shrieking in my apartment when Kristin told me it was going to auction with six interested publishers. Legend sold to Penguin a couple of weeks later!
Q: You drew inspiration for Legend from watching a musical production of Les Miserables. During the writing process, did you consult with Victor Hugo‘s Les Miserables?
A: It’s odd–Les Miserables triggered the first flash of inspiration for Legend (a criminal versus a detective-like character), but after that, I never referred to it again. I think the story just started going in a completely different direction. I did consult Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow a few times for inspiration on how to write from the point of view of a child prodigy.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Another WOW Wednesday and another wonderful author.... We're lucky to have Barrie Summy
guest blogging today, so give her a huge round of cyber applause. For those who don't write for the teen or tween market, Barrie's the author of the fun I So Don't Do mystery series starring thirteen-year-old Sherry Holmes Baldwin and her ghostly mother. And no--that's not a typo. Ghostly. Not ghastly. Her latest book, I So Don't Do Makeup
was just released on May 11th with five-star kid reviews.
Read on for her take on what it takes to get published. And don't forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!
Hello All! It's very fun to be away from my corner of cyberspace and over here blogging about getting published! I'm just going to jump right in. I know you're busy and have other sites to visit, meals to cook, jobs to do and, most importantly, stories to write.
Okay. I have three kinda hokey sayings, but these are the three sayings that keep me going. So, I figured I'd share them with you.The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Apparently, a South African golfer, Gary Player, came up with this sentence. I had no idea until I googled a couple of minutes ago. Anyway, I love the thought that we have some control over our luck. Especially given that there's a huge element of luck in publishing.Assume you'll beat the odds.
Agent Kristin Nelson publishes her stats most years. Last year, she received (are you sitting down?) 38,000 queries. Of these, she requested a mere 55 manuscripts. And took on only 6 new clients. Are those numbers disheartening? Uh, definitely. But...assume you'll beat the odds and your full will be requested and you'll wind up one of those six new clients. (Here's the link to Krisin's stats post
.)Leave no stone unturned.
(I actually set up this shot in my backyard!)
The following is a true story. One night I'm up late with insomnia. I messing around on the computer, answering email, blog hopping, etc. I stumble across an interestiing bit of info on Kristin Nelson's blog. (Seriously, I read a ton of blogs, so it's weird that I've referenced her twice in this post.) Anyway, Kristin had lunched that noon with Wendy Loggia, Executive Editor at Delacorte Pr
I’m going to be submitting to agents and editors in the next few weeks, after I’ve done a few more tweaks to my manuscript and managed to write a good query letter (which will probably take just as long as it took to write the novel), so it’s a good reminder from literary agent Kristin Nelson to beware when finding a good agent.
Kristin wrote a blog post this week reminding us about the great work of the Writer Beware and Predators & Editors sites. These sites are must-visits when we’re compiling lists of agents we want to send to.
When we’re looking for an agent to represent our work, we should not be looking for someone to sell this one project; we should be looking for someone who can be our partner, our advocate for the rest of our career — a long career. We should be as picky about who our agent should be as agents are about their clients. We should research lists of agents (start with the various books and web sites); research their latest sales on their websites (if they have one) and through Publishers Marketplace (you have to subscribe, but the small fee is worth it). Research the types of books they have sold already, who their clients are and what they’re looking for. Read as many interviews with them as you can find. Go to conferences and watch them speak. All this will help you figure out a good list of agents that you think you can work with. Also, don’t submit unless your type of manuscript is on their list of wants.
Now, figuring that out doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll automatically be a good match. The agents might not get into your work as well as you’d hope. But that’s ok, because someone else will. You just keep sending to others on the list. (This is, of course, after you’ve made sure your manuscript is in publishable state, after being read at critique groups, etc.)
Once you’ve done all this research, don’t burn your bridges if the agent you think you’d love to work with rejects your manuscript. Don’t do what some people have done to agent Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown. Don’t email the agent back cursing at the agent. For one thing, it’s rude and unprofessional. For another, you’ve lost your chance with that agent and potentially with others. They know each other.
Remember, this is your career, your book. And you want to give that book the best opportunity it can. Do your research, then be polite and professional. You’ll attract much more with honey than vinegar. It’s cliche but true.
As much as I like this blog to be read, hopefully you’re all taking a break from publishing (I know, strange for the “write every day” girl to say that) and enjoying your Easter. It’s hard to believe, but some things are more important than our writing.
I’ve done more research on how to write a killer query and discovered that the query was even more important than I had previously thought because at least one of the agents I plan to query wants just a query in the initial submission, not even a couple pages of the story to show my writing chops. That means the story, tone, voice, everything has to come through in my query. After I got over my desire to bury my head in the sand, I continued my search of agent/editor websites and blogs about query writing tips and wanted to share a list of links that I think are very helpful. Also, remember that yesterday I posted some links to agent Rachelle Gardner’s tips, so check them out too.
Literary agent Nathan Bransford has a list of posts about “The Essentials” in the right nav bar on his blog, but here are some I think are most useful:
Two copies of query letters Nathan thinks are good. These are real query letters, and he comments on what was good about them. Here’s the first one and the second one.
How and Whether to List Publishing Credits - The jist is, do if you’re published (not self-published) and/or the experience relates to the project.
Nelson Literary Agency has a wealth of information in their FAQ section. In it, you’ll find links to a 12-part Pitch Workshop, seven examples of query letters they received from some of their clients along with commentary and a bunch of query letter dos and don’ts.
You should also read agent Kristin Nelson’s blog, Pub Rants, which is very informative.
Got any good query letter links to share?
Current word count: 12,201
Words written today: 568
Words to goal: 27,799/ 352 words a day til end of September
Nothing written yesterday, but I got back on track this morning and hope to not miss a day this week. The good news is, when I do write, I’m usually way over the number of words I need a day to have 40K by the end of the September. The bad news is, what I am writing is not making up for my missed days, and I’d secretly love to be finished earlier than the end of September. We’ll see.
Friends and I both have query letters out with agents right now, and we were chatting the other day about gleaning information from rejections. It’s frustrating to receive a form letter that says the manuscript just isn’t right for them. It would be wonderful to get a letter that gives some specific details about what exactly they don’t like about the manuscript, but that doesn’t happen often mainly because agents don’t have time, and I FULLY understand that.
But there’s another reason I think rejections letters are vague, even when they’re not form letters. I received a lovely and very encouraging personalized rejection letter from one agent who had requested the full manuscript. In it, she said there was “much she enjoyed and admired,” but ultimately, she said she didn’t feel she was the right agent for the book and knew “another agent will feel differently.”
There’s still nothing specific in this letter that could guide me on improving my manuscript, but that’s the point. Sometimes a rejection doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with a book. I’ve read agent Kristin Nelson write on her blog about books that she turned down that went on to do well once they’re published. But Kristin pointed out that the book did well thanks to the work of another agent, and if she had picked it up, the book might not have done as well because she didn’t have the passion for it.
Let’s face it, writing is an art and art is subjective. Some people love the Harry Potter books passionately, others enjoy them but didn’t rush to buy the last book when it was released, others might read them in a pinch at the doctor’s office. But for an agent, who’s going to go out and sell a book, there has to be real passion for the writing and subject matter and story and characters. If not, that agent might not be able to sell the book as well as another agent who has that kind of passion for it.
Of course, there are some reasons why queries and/or manuscripts are rejected. The Adventurous Writer blog lists 17 reasons given by agent Janet Reid, editor Julie Scheina and reviewer Haile Ephron. Some are misuse of the English language, boring writing, too complex a plot, too many stock characters…
These are all good things to think about when we’re considering sending out our work. As writers, we should look at our work with an honest eye — a really honest eye, after we haven’t looked at it for a few weeks to a month and the excitement of finishing and revising and revising has worn off — and see whether we can truly say that our manuscript and query letter suffers from NONE of these. If that’s the case, then we could send it out. If not, then we should keep revising.
But if we can say that we truly believe our manuscript or query letter has none of these problems, then we should look at rejections with less frustration. Because, like Kristin Nelson points out, agents do think differently, and it’s out job to keep persevering until we find the RIGHT agent for our work.
How’s your writing coming?
Today I went to the Great Wall of China. While there I saw a praying mantis.
On the way back I noticed a roadsign forbidding giraffes to drive small cars.
Which is, I assume, why the giraffes of Beijing hide in the middle of streets, cunningly disguised by bushes, and wait to steal small cars and go joyriding....