I am on an endless quest to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I've been a chicken farmer, bartender, ski instructor, English teacher, and a lawyer. As of June 2012, I am a Young Adult author. I think this one might stick. I live in Minnesota with my amazingly patient husband and our three above-average children.
Notes from a YA Debutante
MY JOURNEY TO PUBLICATION:
I'm a planner, but there's no way I could have planned my journey to publication. In fact, if I'd tried to plan it, it would have never worked.
I've been writing my whole life--but just for fun. That's what I'd say, "This is for me; this is for fun." Then I wrote a list titled "Things to Do Before I'm 40." On that list, of course, was "write a novel." I put that list away and did other things.
Then when I was 35 my sister asked how I was doing on my list. Turns out I hadn't crossed anything off. She told me to write. So I wrote a really terrible novel. I knew it was terrible. I didn't need any literary agents to tell me that. It was fun though. So I wrote another one.
While my first novel was historical fiction, the second was contemporary romance. The second was better, but only slightly. Still…it was fun! I joined a writers critique group. I published some short pieces. Then I wrote a Middle Grade novel for my 12 year old son. Wait…what? Now that was REALLY fun! Sometimes you have to play around and try different things. I needed to make mistakes to finally figure out my sweet spot. Turns out, my writing "voice" is better suited for MG/YA novels than it ever was for serious historical fiction.
Then things got weird.
I went to my first writers conference. My plan was to pitch my second novel (a contemporary "adult" novel) to a literary agent and get a lucrative publishing deal! Duh. Apparently I wasn't alone in that plan. I couldn't believe it when I showed up and there were hundreds upon hundreds of hungry-eyed writers clutching manuscripts to their chests. Dang it.
Not to be unduly freaked out by my competition, I went to the first pitch session. Let's just say it did not go well. Things got worse when they announced that the only other agent I signed up to pitch was sick and couldn't come. So on a whim I pitched to an agent named Jacquie Flynn. This second agent (as far as I could tell from Google on my tiny cell phone screen) only represented nonfiction. Still, it couldn't hurt. At least it would be good practice. On a whim, I pitched her my MG novel instead of the adult novel, and she said, "That sounds cute. Send me that." So I did. Then I promptly forgot all about it because--as I said--she only represented nonfiction--she was just being nice.
I went home and started novel #4, this experimental YA novel about murderous mermaids on Lake Superior. At first, I called it THE PROMISE. Four months went by. Then, in August 2010, I was in the drive-thru at Arby's when my phone rang.
"Hi, Anne. This is Jacquie Flynn. I was at a hockey tournament and my son forgot his book at home. He pulled your MG manuscript out of my bag and he read it. He told me to sign you. So I read it, and I think he's right."
My intelligent response was: "Wait? Who is this?"
Flash forward another four months and that MG novel hadn't sold. All the editors said, "I love this but…" But the economy, but it's too quiet, but we already have a similar book on our list. I could have felt defeated, but by that time I'd finished that mermaid book, now titled LIES BENEATH. Jacquie sent LB out on January 24, 2011. Random House/Delacorte bought it one week later in a two-book deal, which I hope will ultimately be three.
So that's my publication story. Like I said, I couldn't have planned it, but I'm glad it all worked out!
Bookie's Note: Mermaid Books <3 This is one YA trend that I'm loving and Anne's debut sounds so absolutely, unbelievably fantastic - I'm going to get a copy once I work myself out of this so called poverty of a teenage life! The power of kids! What a story, maybe one day that MG book will see the light of a Barnes and Nobel store hey? And like you said, everything worked out well! :) We're happy for you!
Badass Bookie xx
That's one hell of a journey!! Glad you made it through :DReplyDelete
I just LOVE this dress.
Wow, that's one heck of a story! Glad you made it through, Anne! Oh, yeah, that dress: LIKE!ReplyDelete
I love that her son read it first! That's great! I can't wait to read your book, Anne. It's been on my to-read shelf forever and I'm finally getting down to it! And I love that dress in that picture. If only I could pull off something like that... ;)ReplyDelete
I love reading about authors' journeys, and Anne's is both emotional and interesting. It's great she found her real writing voice!ReplyDelete
I love that dress - very mermaidy:)
Haha sounds like a great journey, I can't wake to embark on my own!ReplyDelete
Excellent! I love reading author's journeys! It gives me hope for myself!ReplyDelete
And for the record, I doubt I could actually wear that dress, but it looks awesome on me in my imagination!
Your dream debutante dress looks soooo soooo pretty!!! :)ReplyDelete
i love reading about everything that author's have gone through to get where they are now. also, i would totally wear that dress. love it!ReplyDelete
Great post..i love getting the inside scoop. I adore the dress and would love to wear it. I enjoyed Lies Beneath and wish the author much success!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the great post! It's always fun to read about an author's journey to publication. Maybe not so fun to experience it, but it definitely shows how hard work pays off!ReplyDelete
Congrats on the release and here's wishing you many more ;)
Lies Beneath is one of my favorite mermaidy-goodness novels of 2012. It's so different than the other ones out there, and that makes it all the more fun!ReplyDelete
Wow! So it was very hard becoming a writer! But I'm really happy she didn't give up because at the end her efforts has been repaied ^^ReplyDelete
Congrats on your release! I've never heard about murderous mermaids so I'm looking forward to read "What Lies Beneath" ^^
Sara @ Sara In Bookland
Hi Anne, congrats on your release debut book. The story sounds really interesting and I love the cover, the cover is awesome.ReplyDelete
It's so hard to be a writer. Once (well, still actually) I'm dreaming to become a writer. And I still hoping someday I could.
Your journey to publication is amazed me. So happy that you didn't give up. Can't wait to read your debut book. I love mermaid :)
Congrats on your book release... I also curious with you book already... Mermaid is a new story for me.. at YA of course.. hahha..ReplyDelete
Wish You will be more successfull with you other next book... can wait to read Lies Beneth next.. ^^
OOh O.O I sooo want the dress!!! XDReplyDelete
I can't wait to read this, it sounds amazing! :D I love darker novels.ReplyDelete
And that dress... wow!
Great story! Love the dress!ReplyDelete
I love that your journey to publication started with a challenge, you made for yourself, through that list of yours. :)ReplyDelete
Wow, what a story! To think that Jacquie's son helped to bring your work to light. It's awesome really. I'm sorry that that book didn't sell, but I'm thrilled about Lies Beneath! So excited to read it.ReplyDelete
And that dress ... dang, there is a lot of detail in that skirt. :D It would probably drive me crazy if I were the one to have to sew that together. LOL
First, GORGEOUS dress! Prefect old school beauty.ReplyDelete
Second, thank you for the road to publication story. I find it fascinating as a hopeful writer to read other publication stories!
Third, I'm very excited to read Lies Beneath!
Crazy story! Thanks so much for sharing it with us! Can't wait to read your book! The dress picture is very pretty as well.ReplyDelete