You guys. YOU GUYS! I can finally officially announce my huge news! This is AMAZING!!! My book is in a press release! And my editor is KATE EGAN, who edited The Hunger Games series (among other things)! Totally a dream come true! So excited to have this opportunity to work with KCP Loft!
Read on for more details:
Kids Can Press Announces New Young Adult Imprint:
Powerhouse YA editor Kate Egan joins KCP Loft as Editorial Director at Large. Imprint launches in 2017 with four fiction titles.
For immediate release
April 11, 2016, Toronto — Corus Entertainment’s Kids Can Press (KCP), the award-winning publisher of over 700 books for children, whose history spans over 40 years, announced today a new imprint, KCP Loft, which will focus entirely on Young Adult (YA) fiction and nonfiction, with respected editor Kate Egan at the helm as Editorial Director at Large.
Geared to readers 14 and up with crossover appeal to adult readers, KCP Loft explores the first loves and deep friendships, the heartbreak and life-altering crossroads on the road to adulthood. Engrossing, shareable, contemporary and smart, these are the must-haves for readers hungry for the next world to get lost in.
KCP Loft will release four novels in 2017, including Zenn Diagram from debut, Chicago-area novelist Wendy Brant;Textrovert, based on Lindsey Summers’s wildly popular Wattpad novel; Just a Normal Tuesday by Daytime Emmy Award–winning writer and producer Kim Turrisi; and Keeping the Beat, originally published as Drummer Girl to critical acclaim in the UK, from screenwriter and journalist Bridget Tyler and Canadian author and producer Jeff Norton.
“We are thrilled that our imprint will be expertly curated by Kate Egan,” said Lisa Lyons Johnston, President of Kids Can Press. “One of the genre’s most highly regarded editors, Kate has a 20-year publishing track record and is notable for her YA experience, including her work on the phenomenal Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Kate has already brought her considerable knowledge, talent and energy to Loft, and we look forward to the fresh voices she’ll discover.”
“I’m so excited to be working with Lisa and her team to build a new list from the ground up,” added Egan. “Opportunities like this don’t come around very often, especially from a publisher with the stature of Kids Can Press and a parent company like Corus that shares and supports our vision for a dynamic list with the potential to grow beyond books.”
Reporting to KCP President Lisa Lyons Johnston, Egan will make acquisitions decisions in collaboration with an advisory panel of Kids Can Press and Corus team members and serve as editor on all Loft titles. The KCP Loft team has the distinct advantage of being able to work with Corus colleagues to expand and develop projects from page to screen and vice versa. In some instances, books will be considered for Corus-affiliated TV or web programming, and appropriate broadcast content will be considered for book adaptations.
The first four books from KCP Loft are scheduled to release in 2017:
About Kate Egan
Kate Egan has worked in children’s publishing for 20 years, first at Scholastic and then as a freelancer based at her home in Maine. She has edited many award-winning authors and is the author of the picture book Kate and Nate Are Running Late! (illustrated by Dan Yaccarino) and the chapter book series The Magic Shop (written with magician Mike Lane), all published by Feiwel and Friends. Kate lives with her family in a small college town, where she is also the president of her local public library.
About Kids Can Press
Kids Can Press, part of the Corus Entertainment family, is the largest Canadian-owned children’s publisher. Its catalog includes an award-winning list of over 700 picture books and nonfiction and fiction titles for young readers. For over 40 years, Kids Can Press has distinguished itself as a publisher of exceptional children’s books and continues this tradition with its digital publications, custom-publishing partnerships and brand marketing initiatives. Kids Can Press is distributed worldwide by Hachette Book Group. Browse Kids Can Press books at www.kidscanpress.com.
About Corus Entertainment Inc.
Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX: CJR.B) is a leading media and content company that creates and delivers high quality brands and content across platforms for audiences around the world. The company’s portfolio of multimedia offerings encompasses 45 specialty television services, 39 radio stations, 15 conventional television stations, a global content business, digital assets, live events, children’s book publishing, animation software, technology and media services. Corus’ roster of premium brands include Global Television, W Network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network Canada, HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada, HISTORY®, Showcase, National Geographic Channel, Q107, CKNW, Fresh Radio, Disney Channel Canada, YTV and Nickelodeon Canada. Visit Corus at www.corusent.com.
Sometimes it feels like this whole publishing endeavor moves at about the pace of a snail crawling through a vat of molasses. A snail on muscle relaxers ever so slowly inching his way through slushy molasses mixed with quicksand. That slow. But I have good news! We are making progress! Achingly slow progress ... but progress nonetheless!
After three rounds of edits with my agent (one major round, one minor round, and one round of easy little tweaks, all of which made my manuscript stronger and more polished than it was), she started sending out pitch letters to editors last week. Agents usually send these out in batches as opposed to ALL THE EDITORS at once for many reasons. Some editors don't want multiple submissions (to see your manuscript if others are looking at it at the same time). Some want an "exclusive." Some editors don't like when you pitch to multiple editors at the same publisher. But I think the most important reason is probably that agents don't want to blanket the entire publishing world at once in case editors have valuable feedback about what still might need to be tweaked. The agent may need to go back to the author for more revisions and they want a fresh batch of editors to approach on round two. It's the whole "don't put all your eggs in one basket" kind of thing.
Anyway, my agent sent her pitch letter for Zenn Diagram out to 14 editors and -- joy of joys -- got 8 positive responses so far! That is WAY more than I expected, frankly, and I'm thrilled! So now I assume my agent will send them the manuscript and they will read it and decide if they like it enough to take it back to the publishing powers that be to fight for it and, hopefully, eventually make some kind of offer. Obviously the more editors reading, the better my chances. The best case scenario is that several editors all want it and they get into a bit of a bidding war. But ... I'm not holding my breath for that. At this point I'll just be happy if ANYONE likes it enough to pay me any sort of money at all.
Again, since I've never been this far in the process before, I'm not exactly sure what is next, or how quickly this process will go, but I'll keep you updated. Hoping for some wonderful news in 2016!!! Thanks to all of you for following my publishing journey, and happy holidays!
This is probably why I never started a blog before: sucky time management. Keeping up with a blog while working and parenting and writing and being a volleyball/hockey fan (and occasionally trying to get some sleep) is just too much for me. I admire people who can do it... unfortunately, I am not one of them.
Anyway, it's been two months since I've given a status update, which I suppose is appropriate because it gives you an idea of how truly slowly this publishing process can be. Last time I posted (8/21/15), I was working on the first round of revisions based on feedback from my agent. I got her initial feedback on 7/27/15 and I sent my revisions back to her on 8/28 -- it took me about a month to slog through it. She then dug in again for a third reading (first reading: when she initially read the manuscript and offered me representation; second reading: initial feedback; third reading: second round of more minor feedback). She got me her (possibly last) round of suggestions on 10/13. These were much less intimidating. Not plot holes or character development or major issues, just little things I just needed to remove or clarify, stuff that dates the story (or the author), wording issues, etc. Nothing too big or overwhelming. I've been working on these and hope to get back the edited version by Friday, 10/30. Then (I assume), she'll read through it one more time. Imagine -- reading the same book four times within 5 months! What a trouper! Once we decide that the book is good enough (not perfect, because that will never happen, but good enough), the process is mostly in her hands: writing a pitch letter, contacting publishers, etc., etc. I really don't have much of an idea what that is involved because I have never been through it before. But I'm looking forward to finding out! Please keep your fingers crossed for me. I would love to see this book actually have a life outside of my computer!
In the meantime, I'm supposed to be starting on a new project. And I have started ... I just haven't gotten very far. It's about Harper, a tech savvy youtube sensation who would consider trading her absentee mom for more bandwith, and Eddie, a farm boy with hippie parents who doesn't even have a data plan on his flip phone. Harper and Eddie have so little in common that they might as well be different species. But when they are stranded together during an ice storm -- no power, no phones, no technology -- they realize maybe they aren't so different after all. Or maybe they still are, but that's ok. Anyway, it's in the very early stages. I'll let you know how it goes.
I may not be back for awhile, but I'll definitely let you know when there is progress. Thanks for checking in!
P.S. Oh! And I almost forgot: I got a rejection the other day on a query I sent out on May 13. That's FIVE months. See? Very slow process. Like molasses.
My agent (gosh, that sounds cool, doesn't it? My AGENT!) sent me her notes on ZENN DIAGRAM and it's time for revisions. Her comments are insightful and her suggested changes will definitely make my story better but ... this feels almost as overwhelming as actually WRITING the novel in the first place. It's not that the changes are so huge or difficult ... it's just the challenge of trying to tweak and expand and edit with a fresh eye. I have read this manuscript many, many times and trying to look at it anew is almost impossible.
I've made some good progress so far, but I've been kind of stuck for the last week. Hoping that tomorrow I can buckle down and try to finish up.
A few more people have read my manuscript (my mom, and some of my kids' friends and their parents), and I've been getting positive feedback, so that's encouraging!
Anyway, nothing too exciting to say. I just wanted to give a quick update for those who are wondering where things stand. Thanks for encouraging me and following my progress!
So. I officially have an agent! The contract has been signed!
No, seriously! WOOOOOOOO FREAKING HOOOOOOOOO!!!
Her name is Bethany Buck, and she's with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in New York. She seems awesome and I can't wait to work with her!
So, yeah. I'm super excited, but I know this is only the very beginning of the process. There will be manuscript revisions, submissions to publishers, rejections, things that get my hopes up, things that shoot them back down. Hopefully not too terribly far down the road there will be an offer from a publisher. Hopefully we'll get a book deal and go from there.
But ... now what?
Now there are doubts. Now there are fears. What if no one is interested? What if I miss the window, the market is oversaturated with my type of book? What if it doesn't happen and I have to start all over? AGAIN.
So ... now is the time to start writing. I need a distraction. Something new to focus on. Plus, I can feel the desire growing. I miss the words flowing and the story building in my head. I miss the pieces of the puzzle coming together almost magically. It's time to write!
But what do I write? Unlike most other areas of my life, with writing I tend to tackle one project at a time until it is done. (Too bad I can't do that with cleaning out the basement!) I don't usually have multiple in-progress manuscripts on my computer. So now it's time to think about the next project. Problem is, I haven't had that "ah ha" kind of story idea yet. I've had some little thoughts, some inklings, but nothing that's made me go "YES! THAT'S IT!" I can tell it's coming, though. It's out there ... or maybe rather IN there (my brain). I just have to nurture it and coax it out.
Sometimes people ask where I get my ideas, and usually I can pinpoint something that triggered the story. I'll give you a few examples (descriptions of these projects are to the left -- click on the links).
THE SOLDIER'S WIFE: This is a story that came from my family history. My mom was born in 1945, while my grandpa was serving in the air force during WWII. She was 9 months old before he finally got to see her in person. He saw pictures, got letters from his wife, but there was no Skype. No email. Things were so different back then. I thought of all those war brides -- those young women who got married so quickly before their guys shipped off -- and I wondered how well they really knew each other. I thought about the idea of trying to get your new spouse solely through letters. But ... what if the letters weren't actually written by your spouse?
THE SWAILING: I remember the exact moment the seed for this story was planted. It was July 18, 2011, and I was waiting for my car to be serviced. I was writing in my journal and listening to some morning "news"/entertainment program. They were talking about a proposal to remove obese children from their homes and place them in temporary foster care as a way to remedy their obesity. The very next story was about Jennifer Hudson and how she had lost weight since her days on American Idol, and they were discussing whether she was now TOO thin. I remember thinking, "What the hell? We can't be fat, but we can't be too skinny, either!" At the time, I was very involved with health insurance decisions at my work, and companies were moving towards "consumer-driven health care" and I wondered ... what kind of society would take overweight kids from their parents? As the parent of one very slim child and one huskier child, would a society like that let me keep the thin one, but take the other one? This was before FitBits were even on the market, but I thought about how a very healthy society might want to monitor our activity and diet to make sure we were making good decisions. Could things ever get to that point? At that time, like today, the government could not seem to reach ANY compromises, and the country was becoming more and more partisan. I thought, what if the government just fell apart and states or regions could do their own thing? What would that look like, eventually? What would the different regions become? That chain of thoughts grew into The Swailing.
PREGNANT PAUSES: In 1998 I was vacationing in Michigan and I went into a shop where a young guy -- probably 18-20 or so -- rang me up. I was 29 at the time, not OLD by any means, but I was SUPER pregnant. He was polite, but did not give me a second glance. I felt invisible. At around that same time, the show Dawson's Creek was popular. I never watched the show much, but I do remember seeing an episode where Pacey (Joshua Jackson's character) got involved with one of his teachers. I thought ... Hmmm. What kind of kid would find an older woman attractive? Or an older PREGNANT woman, for that matter? What kind of older pregnant woman would get involved with a much younger man?
I'm not sure if this is how every writer's mind works, but that's how mine works. I get an inkling -- something that triggers a chain of thoughts. I hear about related things repeatedly, and the idea sort of blossoms in my head.
I am currently reading a book called LANDLINE by Rainbow Rowell. I'm not very far into it, but I think the landline phone at her mom's house is going to serve as some sort of time machine for her to mend her broken marriage. I've also been reading about technology's effect on the current generation of teens: from the proliferation and access to pornography warping their views of sex, to their disconnect from nature. As an adult who grew up without computers and cell phones, I often forget what that was like, and I know my kids have NO idea. What would things be like if all the technology we use every day was no longer available? Not because of any kind of dystopia, but maybe a long-term massive network disruption? How would kids function? How would WE function? How would it change us and our relationships? This is where my mind is wandering today. We'll see if anything comes of it.
Feel free to comment below with your ideas! I promise I won't steal them ... unless you want me to!
Man, when it rains, it does tend to pour.
What a whirlwind two months of querying and sending out partials and fulls and getting rejections and actually making progress! Such a different experience than the last time I went through this process!
Yesterday I got my third (and probably final) offer. Now comes decision time.
I've spoken to all three agents on the phone and got a different vibe from each of them.
Agent A: a more experienced (but part-time) agent who is not located in New York. These days, with technology, that might not matter, but there is something to be said for agents rubbing elbows and networking with publishers in the publishing capital of the world. This agent was kind and encouraging, but her editorial feedback was a little underwhelming and focused on minutiae. She was nice enough, but I'm not sure we clicked.
Agent B: a newer agent, but with many years of editorial experience, in New York, who gave me glowing reviews and we really clicked nicely. Her feedback was helpful and we seem to be on the same wavelength.
Agent C: also a new agent, but younger with fewer years of experience in the industry. But she works at an established agency with a well known agent who would be working with her. Also in New York.
To save you all the suspense, I went with agent #2. She is awesome and I am so excited to start the next step of this journey! Once we get things finalized, I will introduce her to all of you!
Thanks for following along on my quest!
My intention of starting this blog was to do a real-time, blow-by-blow narrative of my path to publication, but I'm failing rather miserably. The good news is, I'm failing because things are moving fast, at least as far as finding an agent is concerned.
So in my last post I mentioned that I received an offer of representation on 6/19 (via email). On 6/21 I sent out 32 emails letting other agents (who I had queried already) know that I have received an offer. Almost immediately I started getting responses. It's funny ... agents tend to move at a snail's pace and most of the time you don't hear anything back from them at all. EVER. Until you get an offer. Then they put their foot on the gas and respond lickity split! Knowing that someone else wants you makes them think they might want you, too. It's all very much like some twisted high school relationship drama: you suddenly become more attractive to others when someone new finds you attractive.
So, back to the emails...
Last week I spoke with the first offering agent, and today I spoke with the second and let me say this: it is so nice to be able to interview them and actually choose vs. just having to jump on the first or only offer. Interviewing these two agents was like night and day, and it's easy to see how important it is to find one who is a good fit and who is excited about your novel.
At this point I am still waiting to hear back from five other agents who have fulls. I assume that they will have to really like the manuscript to offer representation, since they will be competing with other agents for it. Can I say that it is SUCH a nice feeling being the one with some leverage for a change, to be the one courted vs. the one courting?!
So, I have a few more days to wait before I make a decision. Will I accept one of the offers I have? Will I get any new offers? Or will I decide to make revisions and resubmit? Stay tuned to find out!
My husband and I spent the weekend in Iowa for the Gentlemen of the Road concert tour (mainly to see Mumford & Sons). On Friday night, at the Hampton Inn in Waterloo, I got the email that I've been waiting for ... an offer of representation!!! (She actually used the word "Brava" in her email, which kind of cracked me up.) Now, I've had an agent before so I know this is just another tiny, slow step in the long and winding journey to publication. But at least it's a step in the right direction!
This agent and I have an appointment to talk on the phone tomorrow night, and she'll get to ask me questions and I'll get to ask her questions and we'll decide if we're a good fit. In the meantime, however, the proper protocol is to let any other agent who has your manuscript know that you've had an offer so that they can either back out, or throw their hat into the ring as well. It's kind of a "shit or get off the pot" email, and I'm super excited to be the one to be the one to give a deadline for a change! Also, since I only started this querying process 38 days ago, and most agents give a query response time frame of up to 8 weeks, I've contacted all the agents who have not responded to my query to let them know I've had an offer as well. (This actually generated one request for a full already last night!)
So, now I wait a bit longer. My daughter and I are traveling to New Orleans for the USAV Junior National Volleyball Championship on Wednesday and will be gone for a week, so I gave a deadline of July 7th. I currently have 8 full manuscripts and 1 partial manuscript out with agents, and there are another 29 agents who have not responded to my query. I'll be interested to see how much interest is generated now that there is an offer on the table. Two agents have emailed me back to say they are still reading and still interested. The hope is that I'll get multiple offers of representation and I can pick the agent who is the best fit for me.
I can't tell you how excited I am. After years of going through this process with frustrating results, I'm finally making some relatively quick headway. And there's a lesson in this for me. I wouldn't have learned all the things I've learned over the years if I had quick and easy success. My writing would not be as good, my query letter would not be as effective, I would not be as confident in myself or the process. I've gotten to this point exactly because of all the failures and stumbles along the way.
Fingers crossed that I keep taking steps forward from here on out!
I didn’t do any blogging last week because I was up to my elbows in cookie dough. My 16-year-old daughter started her own business last year – a bakery called “Gumdrop Ninja”. It’s interesting to note that she has made far more money in her year as a professional baker than I’ve made in my lifetime as a writer. If you taste her chocolate cupcakes, you'll understand why. I’m so proud of her ambition and the fact that she’s not waiting until she’s my age to follow her dreams. (If you want to check out her food blog – which is only a little bit about baking and a LOT about healthy food – visit avocontrol.weebly.com.)
Anyway, I am her sous chef and we had several cakes, dozens of cupcakes, and a zillion iced sugar cookies to get done, so blogging (and writing and querying) took a back seat to baking.
In the haze of flour dust and sugar highs, I got three more query rejections, but also three more requests for more sample pages, and one upgrade to a full (this is when an agent who requested a partial liked what she read, and now wants to read the whole thing). So that’s not too bad. I’m running at about a 21.2% positive response rate on my queries with quite a few still out. I’m feeling okay about that number. Currently there are six agents with partials or fulls of my manuscript.
And now that the update is out of the way, today I want to write about writer envy, which is not too much different than the cupcake envy you are feeling right now. Seriously ... look at those beauties.
..... ..... .....
Where was I? Oh, right! Writer envy. So last week I read a YA (young adult) book called Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and this week I am reading Mosquitoland by David Arnold, both recommended by my daughter, who has pretty darn good literary taste if I do say so myself. If you haven’t read them yet, you should. How writers can say so much with so few words, SHOW and not TELL so skillfully, and be FUNNY at the same time amazes me. And when I read books like these, I get a bad case of writer envy. I look at my own work and think it’s a big pile of craptastic crap and I’m all “No wonder I haven’t been published yet. I suck compared to this.”
When I get like this, the best thing for me to do would probably be to 1) eat a cupcake and 2) read a book that I think is horrible. Like, go out and find the most awful book I can think of and force myself to read it – and the more commercially successful it is, the better. Like read a 50 Shades of Gray or Twilight or pretty much anything by Nicholas Sparks and remind myself that you don’t need to be the best writer in the world to get published. You just have to fill a need and find an audience. (I apologize if I’ve offended those of you who love 50 Shades or Twilight or Nicholas Sparks. They certainly have their merits. But taste is subjective and I personally am not a huge fan. I can guarantee I love authors that you can’t stand, so we're even.)
Unfortunately, I don’t usually do that. Well, I eat the cupcake, sure. But I don't console myself with bad books. Instead, I wallow in doubt and negative self-talk and frosting. I reread parts of my manuscript and cringe. I beat myself up for not being better.
But the truth is, there are so, so many books out there. Mine will be better than some and worse than some. I hate some books that have gotten rave reviews and I love some books that are critically panned. There is a place for all kinds of writers.
I just need to remind myself that I can find my place. There is room for all of us.
(And seriously, check out my daughter's blog: avocontrol.weebly.com)
DNR: Do Not Resuscitate.
Writers on Query Tracker have a similar acronym: CNR. When an agent doesn’t respond to your query and you know they are all caught up, it’s a CNR: Closed No Response. I had to do a CNR for one of mine today. I saw on Twitter that the agent had zero queries left her inbox and I had not heard anything, so even though mine was only 3 days old, I CNRed it.
Just like a DNR, it’s pretty final. Oh, sure, there is always the very slim possibility that you will CNR a query and then a month later get a request. I think that happened to me once. But usually a CNR means you’ve had your one shot and you blew it, for whatever reason. Your query wasn’t strong enough, your sample pages weren’t strong enough, they weren’t looking for the kind of book you wrote, they just signed another author who wrote a similar book, they hadn’t had their coffee and were feeling cranky, they once had an old nemesis with your name... Frankly, who the hell knows why they didn’t like it? You certainly never will because they don’t tell you. Even the agents who do respond don’t usually tell you exactly WHY they are rejecting. Their answers are vague and polite. These are actual responses from my last book:
I understand why they are vague.
First, they don’t want to encourage more communication with any authors they don’t want to represent. They get hundreds of queries a week and if they are more than tersely polite, they will be getting follow-up emails from authors who now think they are best friends, looking for feedback, advice, etc. They don’t want to give us false hope or waste their own time.
Second, they’re trying to be gentle. Maybe your writing sucks and they don’t want to be the one to tell you. Maybe they're afraid any specific comments will come back and haunt them if your book ever does become a hit. I mean, even Twilight and Harry Potter were rejected before someone took a chance on them. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so who knows? Maybe another agent will LOVE your stuff even if they don't, so they keep their thoughts to themselves.
Third, they may not even know why, exactly, they don’t like it. Taste is a tricky thing. There are lots of reasons to reject and the best they can do is just politely tell you no. It’s kind of like the whole “it’s not you, it’s me” saying of the relationship world. Polite, but not 100% truthful.
So I’m sure in the coming days I’ll have many more CNRs. I’d much rather have a clear rejection than have to do a CNR. Even though it’s more final, at least you know for sure.
I think it's better to know than to wait and wonder.