this was INSANELY difficult to calculate, and mostly because i spent the majority of the time just staring at all the numbers, trying to figure out when i last used a calculator.
MATH IS HARD, GUYS.
also this really blew me away:
i don't even know how to say thank you for all of your enthusiasm. but thank you. i can't tell you how much it means to me.
so, all that being said, i really, really, really wanted to give EVERYONE an ARC. but, unfortunately, i don't have 400+ ARCs to spare.
though i do have FOUR.
MMM HMMMM that's right, dear friends. i thought i'd only give one ARC away because i didn't think so many people would enter the contest. but now i think it's kind of cruel to only give away one ARC when there are so many entrants. the odds just aren't in anyone's favor.
so! i thought maybe a 1/100 chance would be better than a 1/400 chance, no?
(and anyway, let's be honest, you're not even reading any of this, are you? you've already scrolled down to see who's won the ARCs and you probably won't even notice if i just ramble on about the weather and cheese fries and how much self-control it requires to keep me from buying yet another pair of boots as we make our way toward the summer months. "ridiculous!" is what my father would say, i'm sure. "we live in southern california!" my brothers would point out. "what, do you just buy the entire store? do you leave any boots for other people in this world?" is my mother would ask me. ohhhhh i've heard it all before! BUT IT WON'T STOP ME!)
WELL, HELL. if Snooki and Tyra can get published then i sure can i mean how hard can it be to write a freaking fiction novel, obviously not hard at all, i'll just throw some glitter on the page and make that adverb sparkle and i'll be a millionaire in 5 days oh and honey, go ahead and book that vacay we don't have enough money to pay for and i'm pretty sure the kids won't have to go to community college and end up like Chevy Chase because i hear writers make huge money GOD WHY DIDN'T I LOOK INTO THIS PROFESSION SOONER
hm. so. yeah so we're pretty deep into this story, me and you, and you still don't seem to have a plot and you know, other people are kind of starting to talk? i'm hearing things around the blogosphere and maybe i wouldn't judge you so much, but apparently everyone ELSE thinks plots are really important? i mean don't get me wrong, i like you just the way you are and it's not like i'm trying to CHANGE you or anything, but maybe you should do a little more than just talk to your friends for 15 pages HEY HEY HEY LISTEN DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT -- I'M NOT TRYING TO PRESSURE YOU INTO ANYTHING I'M JUST SAYING I'M JUST -- IT'S -- THAT'S WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS SAYING ABOUT YOU, NOT ME, IT WASN'T ME
listen, please, I'M BEGGING YOU, just talk to me, tell me what you need i'll do ANYTHING, i'll massage the knots in your conjunctions and rub aloe vera on your comma splices if you'll just TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME i don't understand why you're being so DIFFICULT, please, just send me a SIGN, show me what to do, how can you be so cruel what have i ever done to you WHY WOULD YOU MAKE A GROWN MAN CRY
you know what? i kind of hate you. why can't you be like all the other novels? why can't you be EASY? why is it that everyone else seems to have this all figured out and it's just YOU who refuses to cooperate? why do you INSIST ON BEING A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE WHY CAN'T YOU BE A NORMAL MANUSCRIPT? why do i feel like i'm the only one in the world who's struggling like this? is it even POSSIBLE? are you doing this on PURPOSE? WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH AFTER EVERYTHING I'VE DONE FOR YOU I FREAKING INVENTED YOU
well THANK GOD that's over. at least now we can part friends. i can read you and admire you from a distance, appreciating all the blood, sweat, and expletives we've shared over the course of this endeavor. you've really ripened into a fine-looking manuscript. i'm proud of you. i'm so happy you were able to finally come around and recognize your many, many faults. but the pain is behind us now. we can move on. NOW, AT LAST, our millions are within reach.
WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN I HAVE TO REVISE THIS MANUSCRIPT
Molly asked.... So I wanted to ask you a question, because I know you used to be totally a panster. So now, are you still a panster? Is that even possible with a three book deal, bc don't they want synopsii? You always say that you learned something from each book you wrote, and I was just wondering how your processes have changed as you've written your various books, and what you thought was most helpful...?
Barbara asked... As an aspiring author, I have a question. I'm currently submitting my first book in a series I have planned. Since Shatter Me is part of a series, did you have the entire thing outlined before you submitted your book one? The reason I ask is because there isn't a whole lot out there on series, aside of everyone telling you to move on from it if you don't "sell" your first book. I just want to know how prepared I should be with the rest of them!
Anonymous asked... do you outline before writing a novel? if not, how did you manage to need only 1 revision before having SHATTER ME ready for querying?
i get a lot of questions about writing a series, and these three questions were all so similar that i thought i'd try and answer them together. i hope this helps clarify some things.
i am still absolutely, wholeheartedly a pantser. i do not outline, i have never outlined, and i never write a book knowing exactly where it's going to end up. when i sent out the queries for SHATTER ME, i had only a vague idea of how the story would develop. i intentionally left loose threads in the first book -- few enough to keep it as a standalone novel, but just enough to give it the possibility for evolving into other books -- but i didn't focus my energy on developing intricate plots for the other books in the series. you should never count on your first book to sell, so you should always be working on a second different book, and not the second in a series. that way you'll always have fresh material to work with in case the first book doesn't sell.
that being said, regardless of whether you're a pantser or an outliner, you should always have an idea of where your story has the potential to go. know enough to be able to sketch it out in a couple of paragraphs; that's all you really need to pitch the series. (my synopsis for book 2 was about 2 pages, and my synopsis for book 3 was only 1 page.)
but a brief synopsis -- a general understanding, if you will -- of a story, does not an outline make. i think that, perhaps even more so for pantsers, having a very strong grasp on your characters is critical. you have to be able to trust them to guide you in the right direction -- you have to know their feelings and what's at risk for them. i finished writing book 2 about a month ago, and it took me about a month to write it. i just picked up where i left off with book 1 and, with the [aforementioned] general idea of where i knew things were headed, followed the story through by paying attention to my characters' wishes. no outlines necessary.
and a quick answer to Anon's question: i try very hard to write complete, chronological, cohesive first drafts. i edit as i write — reading and rereading everything i’ve already written every time i sit down to write again — and i’m extremely, extremely meticulous about it. (i hope i'm not making this process sound breezy, because it's not.) when i complete a first draft of a book, it’s usually very clean, but only because i like to start with as strong a first draft as possible. my post-completion revisions have never been incredibly rigorous -- just a lot of adding detail and dimension to things -- because i do most of the legwork in the first draft. this is not to say, however, that my drafts are perfect. i always spend time really trying to enhance the story in my second draft, fleshing it out and adding layers to characters and plot lines. i don't even know if it's successful, truly. i can only do my best.
but please note: these are the processes that work for me. they're not universally applicable processes -- and i don't want anyone to think that there is only one right or wrong way to approach a manuscript. in fact, the beauty of writing is that it's so unique to the author. it's a very personal, very intense, very all-consuming labor of love -- and that gives us each the right to tackle it the way we see fit.
this is something i had a really hard time coming to terms with, because before i got a book deal, a lot of people were telling me i was doing it wrong. people would tell me it wasn't possible to write a decent draft in such a short period of time, that it wasn't possible to be a pantser and write a cohesive novel not filled with plot holes and glaring errors. in short, i became convinced i was writing incorrectly. but i soon discovered that there is no incorrect way to write a novel. my efforts to change these things about myself didn't work. they weren't organic to me and what i needed to do. they were forced and unnatural. i had to revert back to what was comfortable for me.
so don't worry. don't feel like your process needs to be the same as everyone else's. people are going to try to tell you that you take too long to write or you don't take long enough. one person will tell you the story is boring and another will say it's too complex. in short, you have to be wary, because sometimes the feedback we hear from our fellow writers isn't right for us. sometimes we forget to be readers and instead advise writer-friends to write a book the way that we think it should be, instead of the way it should actually be for the author herself/himself.
honestly, all you really need to do is focus on writing the best book you possibly can, the best way you know how. that's the only thing that matters.
if you have any questions you'd like me to answer, please feel free to email me or leave a comment.
in the interim, you tell me:
are you a pantser or an outliner? and do you have any tips or tricks for writing a series?
HAPPY FRIDAY, EVERYONE!
i hope your weekend is full of wonder and delight.
Matthew asked... 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.
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.
some things, it seems, are HAPPENING? i just got word that my ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) should arrive in the mail today, and then a lovely friend on twitter happened to find my ARC at TLA!
it is kind of blowing my mind, just a little bit.
this whole thing is hilarious because i haven't even gotten my own copies yet -- i haven't even gotten my first pass pages yet (which means i have no idea what the inside of the book looks like) -- but already the ARC is popping up at this conference. it is very EXCITING. and scary. but mostly EXCITING!
so, here is some info on some stuff.
i've gotten a lot a lot of questions about the cover, namely, where is it, and why can't we see it, and are you hiding it from us? and this question i understand completely, especially since my book is already in ARC form and so, if it is in ARC form, then surely there must be a cover. right?
the plan for my ARC is a little different because we are on a slightly accelerated schedule. therefore! my ARC is going out in two waves. the first set of ARCs are going out with just a fancy title text on a plain background, and the second set will have cover art. the ARCs with cover art are supposed to be at BEA, so hopefully i'll have a cover to share with you before then.
in the interim, here is what the first-wave ARC looks like:
you will notice how it matches my updated website. SHINY.
anddddd here is what it looks like in the real world!
basically, this is all just to say that if you are at TLA, and if you are interested, maybe you can try to find a copy? maybe? and then maybe send one to me, on account of i still haven't even seen what it looks like yet?
and i promise that just as soon as i have the okay to share the final cover art, you will certainly be the first to know!
HEARTS SO MANY HEARTS
onto another subject! i have asked Super Agent Jodi Reamer if she would answer some questions for an interview on this here little blog, and she has kindly consented to this.
is there anything you'd like me to ask Jodi? anything you'd like to know re: the publishing industry?
i might be able to sneak some of your questions in.
i've gotten some questions about the specifics of my BEA stuff via email and tumblr and twitter messages, so! i contacted my publicist to find out whether or not i can share some of that information with you.
and i cannnnn
and as of right now, i can tell you i will be doing these things:
Tuesday May 24
10:30-12:00PM "Speed Dating with Children's Authors" - open to booksellers & librarians only Room: 1E09/10
1:00PM-1:30PM Signing SHATTER ME - Table 10, formal autographing area
6:00PM-8:00PM HarperCollins/Brian Murray BEA Party, held at The Park - by invitation only.
Note: Speed Dating is only open to booksellers & librarians, but the signing is open to anyone with a BEA badge.
SO IF YOU ARE GOING TO BEA YOU SHOULD TOTALLY COME IT WOULD BE AWESOME
i know, you are astounded, right? it's Saturday and i'm blogging, i must be quite beside myself with the crazy today. lucky for you, this is only partially true.
THERE ARE THINGS! things i forgot to take care of and/or tell you about.
1. WE HAD A CONTEST. there was a contest winner! and i completely forgot to make this announcement. so! the winner of the $20 amazon gift card is Rachel Stark! CONGRATULATIONS!
Rachel, if you would please contact me at thmafi at gmail dot com, i will send that gift card your way.
2. YOU CAN WIN AN ARC OF SHATTER ME. this ARC was generously donated by my publicist to the ladies over at Write Hope in their effort to raise funds for Japan relief. the auction for the item is now live, and you can find more info HERE. bidding will be open until April 6th, 4pm EST.
this is, unfortunately, not a giveaway, in that you do have to bid to win it, but! all the money goes to charity! and i am quite excited about this prospect, if only because it is the first online opportunity anyone will have to win an ARC. it is kind of like hoping someone will ask you to prom, only what if they don't? and then you have to go to prom with your cousin and he tells everyone he's your cousin and we all know how that turns out.
so! if you are interested! you can maybe bid on it. and then when you win, maybe send it to ME, on account of i don't even have a copy yet, so this is me, smooshing my face up against the window, trying to read over your shoulder.
3. THANK YOU SO MUCH. to all of you who've added SHATTER ME on Goodreads, contacted me just to tell me how excited you are for the book, wrote blog posts or sent me an email just to say congratulations, and to every single person who's emailed, tweeted, messaged and facebooked me to tell me you've pre-ordered the novel.
I'm 24. I'm a girl. I write books. My debut YA trilogy will be published by Harper/HarperCollins, and the first novel in the series, SHATTER ME, hit shelves on November 15, 2011.
I'm represented by Jodi Reamer of Writers House, LLC.
You can visit my official website at www.taherehmafi.com.