For a few years I've been working on a teen/YA novel (just like 80% of the country it seems), and while the current draft is far from submission quality, I was wondering how you were able to get into contact with a publisher like HarperTeen? By no means am I asking for you to read my manuscript, but I'm just curious as to the details on how you were able to effectively contact someone like Jodi Reamer and Harper.
so, Matthew was kind enough to allow me to post this question on my blog, because i think this is a BIG question.
it's a question that's basically asking: How do I get published?
and while i know that the majority of you who read this blog are all very intimately acquainted with the Query Letter and the Query Trenches and The Publishing Journey of Perseverance, i think there are a good number of quiet (lurking) readers who might not be as familiar with these things. and so. because i remember all too well what it was like to be dazed and confused in the face of Publishing: The 8th Wonder of the World, i want to touch on this subject. i want to talk about it. just a little bit.
THE QUERY LETTER OF WONDER
the query letter is your golden ticket to Hogwarts. it's one page and 15 seconds to capture an agent's attention. it's like Willy Wonka and Harry Potter had a baby and the result was this piece of paper that gave you a snazzy scar and a lifetime supply of chocolate to ease the pain of it all. because querying is hard as hell. it hurts like hell. it's like Voldemort is hanging out in your back pocket and your forehead is splitting open and Hermione won't stop yapping about you doing your Herbology homework and Cho Chang just decided to dump you for Robert Pattinson. then you get home only to find your mom has made cabbage soup, AGAIN, and maybe you want to throw your laptop out the window, but maybe you'll just bang your head against the wall for a few hours, you're not sure.
that's what it's like to query. seriously. i wish i were lying.
but to answer your question? this is exactly it. i queried. i queried and queried and queried. i queried bad and i queried okay and i queried mediocre until i learned to query
good well. i studied the industry. i read a trillion agent/editor/author blogs. i ate books for breakfast and dinner. i studied the craft, the process, the rules and regulations. i DEVOURED the internet. Queryshark. Miss Snark. Nathan Bransford. The Rejectionist. Rachelle Gardner. Kristen Nelson. Editorial Ass. ten billionmillion others.
(spoiler alert: i still read all of these blogs. almost daily.)
then i joined the AbsoluteWrite forums and they changed my life. i scoured thread after thread dedicated to agency information. i made lists and spreadsheets and double-checked them against the information on Preditors and Editors. i lived and breathed agentquery.com and querytracker.net. i shoved books in my pockets and carried them with me to work. i googled until my fingers were covered in letters and my face was paper-mached in research. i spent countless nights hiding from laundry and social responsibilities just to be able to sit under flickering fluorescent lightbulbs and read one more article about landing an agent or undergoing revisions or what on earth an SNI was.
that's how i found Jodi Reamer.
which brings us to:
THE SUBMISSION PROCESS OF OH GOD THE AGONY
Jodi found HarperTeen, not me. because basically, if you're interested in being published with a "Big Publisher", most won't accept submissions from unagented manuscripts. this is why i first had to find an agent. once you write a query letter that's enticing enough to, well, entice, you send off your manuscript to the requesting agent. if the agent loves it, the agent will offer representation. once you've accepted representation, you then proceed to do one of two things:
1. Revise, and then go on submission to editors
2. Go on submission to editors
most people will spend some time working with their agents to polish their manuscripts. how much and how long is entirely dependent on you, your agent, and the state of your manuscript. either way, once both of you feel ready to pitch the book, your agent will compile a list of acquiring editors (at different publishing houses) who she thinks might like the book.
response times vary. sometimes it takes a day. sometimes it takes two years. sometimes the book doesn't sell at all. there are no guarantees. you never know. you rip your heart out of your chest and you wrap it in a cover letter and toss it into the ocean. and you wait.
so my advice to you, Matthew, if you're seriously interested in getting published? is to learn everything. read everything. study all of it. try to understand as much as you can about the way things work.
and then finish your book.
finish it and revise until you've beaten the manuscript within an inch of its life and only then consider querying agents. you don't want to put out anything but your best work because you deserve the best. because it's never good to get eager and jump the gun. it almost never pays off.
so read blogs. read books. know your genre. understand what it means to be a writer in this new-fangled century and then own it. because it's not impossible. it's nothing you can't achieve. and though it may seem daunting in the beginning? the more you know, the less scary it becomes.
so hang tight!
keep your head up!
and write the best damn book you can write.
what do you think, dear friends? can you suggest some of your favorite writer/agent/editor sites for Matthew to peruse? maybe share some tips and/or tricks you think will help him on his journey?
HAPPY MONDAY EVERYONE.
may your inboxes be bursting with full requests and agent offers in multiples of 1000.