For the Love of Books: How to Give Thanks When You’ve Burned Out

With Thanksgiving only days away, I’ve been thinking about what I’m most thankful for when it comes to my professional life. I have some awesome coworkers, a list of super talented authors, and I get to work on books every day. So in some ways, that list of “thankful” items is a mile long.

But as everyone in the book business knows, ours is an industry of exhilarating highs and devastating lows. It’s an industry of two steps forward and one step back. It’s an industry where every yes seems to come with a no.

The reality is, publishing is not for the faint of heart. The success of any book is based on the ability to merge business with art, consumerism with creativity. It’s a difficult balance to strike. On top of that, rejection follows us at every stage of the publishing process. Authors are rejected by agents. Agents are rejected by editors. Editors are rejected by pub boards. And all of us know the pain of putting an amazing book out into the world—one we all poured our hearts and souls into—and watching that book be rejected by readers.

It can be hard to push past the setbacks and the rejection and the self-doubt. It can be even harder to admit to ourselves that while we may be in our dream industry, we don’t always feel like we’re living the dream. Continue reading

Beyond the Manuscript: What ELSE an Editor Looks for in a Submission

Let’s pretend (only for one horrifying second) that the content of your manuscript didn’t matter.

Yes, I know. It’s awful. But bear with me.

Let’s pretend that it didn’t matter how good or bad your actual writing was, and that an editor only focused on the other pieces of your submission—your platform, your hook, etc.

Okay, now you can stop pretending. That was pretty scary, right? Don’t worry—content is always going to be the #1 concern for an editor. However, it isn’t the only concern. So let’s dive into the other elements of a submission an editor considers when thinking about acquiring a book. Continue reading

Not Just a No: The Decision Behind a Rejection

Let’s face it—getting rejected sucks. You poured your heart and soul into a book and were brave enough to ask other people to read it…only to get shot down.

Quite frankly, doing the rejecting isn’t all that fun either. We editors and agents know the hard work that goes into writing a manuscript, and it’s never a good feeling to know you’re crushing someone’s dream. We’re not sitting behind our desks, holding red pens and grinning evilly as we write a giant “NO” on someone’s submission. We want to fall in love with books. We want to publish them. But not every submission will be a fit, and here’s why. Continue reading

Reblog: What an aspiring writer needs to know about editing, marketing, and publishing: An interview with editor Jillian Manning!

Reblogged from GoTeenWriters.com

Monday, May 22, 2017

Stephanie here! I’m really excited that Jillian Manning, the acquisitions editor at Blink YA Books, is here with us today! Jillian was my editor for my 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and is a rock star of an editor. Not only is she great at the red pen stuff, but she’s super encouraging, and will even dress up for her authors:

Jillian and me at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Wouldn’t we have been great flappers?

Jillian was gracious enough to take time out of her schedule to answer a few questions for me about the unique struggles of trying to get your first book published. I wish I could have read her detailed answers back when I was a flailing and confused aspiring author!

Continue reading

Preorders: What They Are and Why They Matter

pre·or·der
verb: order (an item of merchandise) before it is available, with the understanding that it will be shipped later.
noun: an order for an item that has not yet been made commercially available.

If you’re an avid reader, odds are you’ve preordered a book. When you purchase a book before it’s on sale to the public, that’s a preorder. (Remember the good old days of Harry Potter midnight release parties? *nostalgia*) So what’s the big deal? Why are preorders so important? I’ll give you three reasons. Continue reading

I Want to Be an Editor. Where Do I Start?

At the past two writers conferences I’ve attended, I’ve been asked a different kind of question. Not, “Will you publish my book?” but “How do I become an editor?” Well, here’s my answer, as told in someecards memes. Because what better way is there to do so?

(P.S. You can also check out these articles about working as an editor: What Do You Do All Day? A Look at the Life of an Editor / The Freelancer Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need to Know About Freelance Writers and Editors)

Complete a degree in a field like English or Creative Writing.

im-an-english-major-my-parents-have-serious-concerns-34b6a Continue reading

What Makes for a Good Publishing House?

When you’re on the quest to publication, it can be hard to know what makes a publishing house good or bad. Whether you want to go indie or join the Big 5 (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster), you may feel like you don’t even know what to put on your pro and con list.

Even if you’re lucky enough to have gotten a book deal offer, it’s still a good idea to check out who you’re partnering with. Here’s what you want to find in a good publishing house: Continue reading

Hook, Line, and Sinker: 5 Ways to Create Your Novel Hook

Today’s publishing world is all about the hook. Just take a look at PW’s roundup of recent deals for any given week.

“It’s a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility.”

“It’s a gender swap of Gone Girl.”

“It’s Jaws meets Catcher in the Rye.” (Okay, that might be interesting. Is the shark a phoney too? Will it cost Holden an arm and a leg to find out?)

Don’t get me wrong…I love a good hook. It can be make or break for a submission. It’s a great way for editors to pitch a book to sales reps and accounts. It helps make a book memorable. It can be the cornerstone of a marketing campaign. But creating the right hook is even more important than having a hook in the first place. Some things, like Jaws and Catcher in the Rye, just don’t go well together (unless you’re as anxious to see Holden Caulfield get eaten as I am). You want your pitch to fit the book, but not seem campy, confusing, or forced. So how do you master the art of the hook?  Continue reading

A Match Made in Literary Heaven: What to Look for in an Editor or Agent

Finding the right editor or agent is a lot like finding The One. You two are going to be spending the rest of your literary lives together, at least for this particular book, so you need to choose wisely. This means no trip to Vegas only to wake up with a hangover and lots of regret the next morning (i.e. don’t settle for just anyone because they promise to get your book published).

You want to find someone who can handle your crazy—because trust me, the editing process involves a lot of crazy—who will celebrate the good reviews with confetti and sparklers and hand you the kleenex when the not-so-good reviews come in too. Someone who cares about your characters, your story, and the message you are trying to share with the world.

So when you’re making the call on who to work with, ask yourself these three simple questions. (Note that we editors ask ourselves these questions too!) If you can say yes to all of them, you have found your match! Continue reading