Writing & Publishing Questions Batch #4, Darwin & Barbie

A few shout-outs to some friends, first.

Deborah Heiligman’s new book, CHARLES AND EMMA: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, is rocketing to the top of everyone’s Best of 2009 List, collecting bushels full of starred reviews and well-earned praise from everyone. Deb had an editorial in the Los Angeles Times recently and will be talking about all things Darwinesque on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition tomorrow.

Tanya Lee Stone has also been very busy. Her newest book, Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, will be published at the end of the month. Tanya is working on a book about Barbie (yes, the doll). She is looking for submissions – from you! But the deadline is a week away, so hop to it!

Let’s have Tanya explain: “I am currently collecting short (150 words or less, please) quotes/anecdotes from kids, teens, and adults about BARBIE for my new book, BARBIE: FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. If you have a Barbie story to share, read this, and email me your contribution by February 20, 2009! Email: tanyastone AT tanyastone DOT com.”

And, now, today’s writing/publication questions.

You wrote: I’ve read you published your first seven books without an agent before getting Amy Berkower. How difficult is it to publish without one and were you actively pursuing one the entire time before Speak brought you acclaim?

I sent many manuscripts, both picture book and novels, to a couple of agents when I started out, but no one was interested, so I decided to focus on going straight to the slush pile. Yes, it took years. Yes, it was very frustrating. And yes, both Speak and Fever 1793 were rejected by other publishers before they were bought. They are my “Success From the Slush Pile” stories. Once I had proven my ability to write books that readers enjoyed, it was easier to get an agent.

Getting your foot in the door is going to take longer than you want. Instead of pouring your energy into being frustrated, devote that energy to the book you are currently writing. Be thoughtful and steady with your submissions and keep developing your craft. Eventually, the door opens.

You wrote: I wrote a YA contemporary fantasy based on a Native American legend, but it also references a few Christian ideas (the protagonist goes to church, reads the Bible, and believes in God). The Christian themes are not the main focus of the story, but a friend of mine suggested I should send it to Christian publishers (or try to meet Christian agents and editors at a local writer’s conference). How do I know whether to try the Christian market? I respect Christian literature… but I wonder if that market would limit my audience. I just want my story to be available and accessible to all readers, whether they read Christian fiction or not. But perhaps I have a better chance of selling the book in the Christian market?

This is a terrific question. I have never been published in the Christian market, so my opinion is not based on much, but I have an idea for you. Before you submit anywhere, you should have a very good understanding of the kinds of books that a publisher or an imprint puts out. You should read a number of their books before you send to them – and that goes for all publishers! Get the names of a couple of respected publishers in the Christian market, then read the books they’ve published in your genre. If you think that your story fits their vision for fiction, then by all means submit to them.

Busy day ahead! Scribblescribblescribble….

6 Replies to “Writing & Publishing Questions Batch #4, Darwin & Barbie”

  1. I’m going to be greedy and ask one more question!

    Lately I’ve been going crazy with literature directed at authors (Like guides to the markets, writers’ monthly publications, etc.) and I find them very helpful, but I’m never sure if the advice I’m getting is any good.
    Were there any guides or books that specifically helped you become a better author? Or perhaps a particular strain of advice?

  2. Oh my god, I was wondering that too! At my house it always freaks me out in the middle of the night because there’s a giant WHOOSHING sound near me window!

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