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Posts from the ‘Getting published’ Category

Selling Your Teen Novel Manuscript, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Writing an entire novel that’s rich with character and appeal, and that has a clear beginning, middle and ending in which the character grows, facing obstacles along the way, isn’t an easy task. Once this is done, congratulations are in order.

Then it’s time to immerse yourself in the selling market by doing a lot of research.  Go to the new release section of bookstores armed with paper and pen, find books that are like yours, and take note of who wrote them and which publishing houses published them.  Then go home and do a Google search to find the name of the agent and/or editor for those particular books.  Sometimes, you won’t even have to Google; you’ll get lucky and flip to the Acknowledgements page of the book to find that the author has thanked their beloved agent and hardworking editor.

Start to keep a list of these names.  The editors and agents are the people that you should be targeting for your work.  Write an intelligent and presentable one-page query letter that summarizes your book and gives a brief introduction of who you are.

Sound easy?  It isn’t.  It takes patience and a thick skin.  Some people get lucky and get requests for full or partial manuscripts right away.  For most of us, it’s a much longer process – one that requires a sense of humor, a lot of waiting, and hopefully a cheering squad of writer-friends.

I’d recommend sending out batches of query letters, five at a time.  Once a rejection comes back, send out another, keeping a log of names, dates, and responses.  But, again, always do your homework.  Make informed decisions as to whom you’re sending your query.  Know who that person is, what books are on his or her list, who his or her clients are, and what he or she is looking for (if anything at all).

Once you start to get responses you’ll find there are different levels of rejection letters, from the standard form letter to the more personalized ones.  I’ve gotten fortune-cookie sized rejection letters that simply say “No, thank you”, as well as personalized letters that explain why my work wasn’t a good fit at the time.

Try not to take any of it personally.  Sometimes you’ll get a rejection purely because the market is trending in another direction or because a particular editor already has a novel like yours on his or her list.  Just keep working and learning.  When I was trying to sell Blue is for Nightmares I was continuing to write my next manuscript, Bleed, which became my fourth book published.

Personally, my initial path to publication was a rough one.  I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the Young Adult supernatural/paranormal genre).  It took me a long time to sell my first novel.  I have a folder filled with rejection letters – over a hundred. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive Young Adult market.”  That same Young Adult novel, Blue is for Nightmares, has sold over 200,000 copies, been translated into numerous languages and has appeared on many different award lists, not to mention it’s been optioned for a TV series.

So, in addition to doing your homework, my next bit of advice is to persevere.  There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10 or even 50 rejection letters.  Be open to learning and to getting better at your craft.  If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again.  Lastly, consider joining a writers’ group.  There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

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Writing Teen Novels
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Age Is No Barrier To Getting a Novel Published, by SM Johnston

I’ve got a lot of teenage friends who are aspiring authors that I’ve met through online writing communities and they are such great writers. For the past couple of years I’ve watched them grow as writers and so have their aspirations to be published.

In my circle of friends we talk a lot about querying and whether age is a barrier, and it’s not.

Firstly, let’s look at some facts. Agents and publishes are looking for amazing stories that sell. They find them written by people of multiple age groups. They also look for marketability. If they’ve found a teenage protégé, then it adds a new dimension to how they can promote the book.

Here’s a few Australians who have been published as teenagers:

  • Alexandra Adornetto published The Shadow Thief at age 15 and Halo at 18 and her sixth book is due for release this year and she’s only just turned 20.
  • Steph Bowe published Girl Saves Boy at age 16.
  • Jack Heath published The Lab at age 18 (which he started writing at age 13).

If you look at the journey of these three writers there’s one thing in common – dedication. Age isn’t the barrier to being published. Your writing may need to be stronger and your industry knowledge may need to improve, but they are things that can be worked on:

  • Research – there are lots of blogs dedicated to the craft of writing that cover things like “show, not tell”, characterisation, cutting superfluous words, world building, voice, word lengths and other aspects of crafting a novel. You can also find information on how to write a query letter and information on agents who represent YA and the genres they’re looking for, such as YAtopia and Literary Rambles.
  • Go to conferences – there are many great conferences around for writers. I highly recommend the CYA Conference in Brisbane, but if you contact the writers centre in your state they will have a comprehensive list of what’s about. If money or location is an issues then try WriteOnCon, a free online writer’s conference.
  • Take a course – writers centres hold lots of courses throughout the year, both in the capital city, regionally and online.
  • Get a mentor – this is a tough one to describe just how this can happen. Networking is the main key, but it still needs to flow naturally. My mentor was someone who I met at my state’s writers centre and we clicked. It went from discussing publishing in general and evolved in specific advice to me on writing and querying.
  • Join online writing groups like Figment, Wattpad and Teen Ink – The first online community I joined was Inkpop, which has now merged with Figment. I loved it as I made great friends, learnt a lot about writing and was able to post my work and get feedback. It helped me as an editor, as you read other people’s work as well as them reading yours, and I formed strong bonds with some members that then progressed into being critique partners (also known as beta editors) and blog partners. This is where I became friends with now published authors Jeyn Roberts, Leigh Fallon and Wendy Higgins. I also have a group of friends affectionately known as The Insomniacs that I met on Inkpop. We’ve remained close friends and help each other refine our query letters, naming characters and project titles, get over writer’s block and war words (which is where you undertake writing sprints with friends, sharing and critiquing the work when the times up).
  • Entering competitions – this is another great way to focus your writing, and it builds up a resume for querying. I’ve entered competitions with The Australian Literature Review and was runner up in the YA themed competition and was shortlisted in the Troubled Family themed competition. Agents see placing in competitions like this as writing credentials.

There has never been a better time than now to aspire to be published as a teenager. There are different schools of thought on whether you should include your age in a query. My advice is work hard on your writing and let it speak for itself. An agent and publisher will probably see it as a positive marketing tool, but don’t let it define you. Let your work define you.

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The Shadow Thief: The Strangest Adventures (Strangest Adventures)HaloGirl Saves BoyThe LabHit ListWhen Courage Came to CallDark Inside

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