I’m very excited to be able to reveal the cover of my next book, THE ARTIFACT HUNTERS, which will launch August 25 from Viking. This middle-grade novel is a companion to THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE, with a different protagonist (though some of the same characters). I’m excited for this story to reach the many readers who’ve asked for more in my 1940s fantasy Scottish world.
It still amazes me (I mean, really, amazes me) that I’ve written, now, eight books, five of them published by one of the Big Five publishers. Once upon a time – and it still feels like yesterday – I was desperately trying to write something that someone, somewhere would think worthy of publication. I struggled with craft, I ached to be able to say what lived inside my head, and I felt the sting of rejection time and again.
I had a desk with a drawer that was about five inches deep. As I went through form rejection after form rejection (this was back in the day when rejections came back in a thin self-addressed stamped envelope) I decided that I would put each rejection inside that drawer and I wouldn’t quit trying until I couldn’t close the drawer.
It felt like it took forever, but eventually I sold one thing…and then another…and then I found one agent…and she sold three books…and now I have my dream agent who has sold three books and we’re working on more. Several of my books have won awards, and one has risen to multiple starred reviews, of which I’m deeply proud. And the drawer wasn’t stuffed (paper is really thin!)
I have some year-end advice for those of you seeking to be published (and one piece for those who are, but feel you haven’t “made it”).
- Don’t give up. Maybe you need to polish your craft. Maybe you need to find the story that sings from your heart. But if you want to be published, don’t give up.
- Be open to opportunity. Make plans to attend conferences to meet fellow writers and hear the words of agents and editors. Always be nice – always.
- Go to pitch sessions (at first this will be scary, but over time you’ll feel more self-assured). Hone your pitch. Keep names of agents/editors that you connect with (but don’t bug them).
- Try for “entry points”. My first publications were a short story and a short article in children’s magazines. I was paid – and I was an officially published author after that.
- Keep learning. Keep listening. Stay connected to your local writing community. Find people you trust as beta readers – and be generous and read their work, too.
- When you feel you have something worthy of submission, send it out. Send it out again. And again. Reassess after each rejection, but don’t give up.
- Always check submission guidelines before sending. Don’t waste your time or theirs.
- Target your submissions to editors and/or agents that you believe will like your work. Submit to up to five at a time, no more.
- If you think it might help, and you have the funds, get advice from a professional. Go back to school or attend writing workshops or hire a book coach. But…if you apply yourself you can learn a lot about craft by studying writing-craft books (more on that in a future post).
- Don’t give up.
- And…if you are published and are disappointed by anything (the reviews were less that you wished, your sales were not what you hoped) don’t despair. Move on to the next book. And DON’T GIVE UP.
I’m sending you my best wishes for your future success!
Yay, Janet!!! The cover looks awesome! So happy for you! And wonderful advice!