YALLFest, NaNoWriMo, Thoughts on Publishing, Pinterest, etc.

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Today is November 15th which means the awesome band Alvvays is finally playing in Atlanta tonight… oh, wait, I’m talking about writing here. This means it’s the halfway point in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)!

I started strong in week one – until I went to YALLFest (the Young Adult Book Festival) in Charleston, South Carolina last weekend. I saw a ton of bestselling and award-winning authors like Rainbow Rowell, James Dashner, Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Allie Condie, Veronica Roth, Sara Zarr, Sarah Dessen, Sarah J. Maas (lot of Sara(h)s!), Laini Taylor, Marie Lu, and many, many more. I spent all day watching fascinating and informative panels about the young adult genre, the publishing industry, storytelling in general, etc. It was truly a great experience. I spent a little bit too much on books. (I’ve really been a book nerd lately. I even started a Booktube channel.)  I did not, however, get any writing done for the three days I was gone. I think it was still very beneficial to my writing, though, and it really helped to renew my writer spirit–being around all of those people who are SO EXCITED about BOOKS, listening to successful writers saying encouraging thing for once, and the actual panels themselves.

There was one panel about publishing trends that I thought was very interesting. It featured David Levithan (award-winning author and editor at Scholastic), a literary agent, an editor from Disney-Hyperion, and a librarian who was the moderator. It was fascinating hearing all of their stories and all of the conflicting information that goes around (like publishers telling the agent “high fantasy is dead” and then requesting high fantasy submissions a few months later!) and how they all had stories of projects they loved so much they were willing to fight for in spite of any “publishing trends.”

Basically, the main points I got out of the panel were that as hard as they try, no one really knows what is going on with publishing trends because by the time they discover a trend, it’s already too late, really. So getting your book published is all about finding the right people who LOVE your book and UNDERSTAND what you are doing. I mean, sure, publishers and agents want to find books that will make them money, but getting any book published involves a lot of work. It’s a process that can take years. If I were an agent or a publisher, I can’t say I’d want to spend years working on a book if I didn’t love it 100%–even if I thought it would make money.

I don’t think I really thought about this before. I’ve gotten some rejections from literary agents and publishers that had so many positive things to say about THE MUSES, but then they would close with a vague sentence like “but ultimately I just didn’t love it enough” or “it just wasn’t my cup of tea.” This used to frustrate me, but when I thought about it from their perspective, it completely made sense. They could see the value in the book, but if they weren’t so in love with it that they were willing to spend possibly years fighting the “suits” for it (which is often what they have to do), they didn’t want to take it on.

Luckily, I have found a literary agent who is in love with my book. She understands what I’m doing, and she is not going to give up on it. I remember when she called me right after I signed on with her and she explained to me how she felt like she was having a “spiritual experience” reading my novel, and she found herself spending a lot of time on it before she even knew whether or not I would want her to represent me. I am really lucky to have her in my corner. And I know that it might take some time to find an editor or publisher who feels that way about it. (I think this might be closer than I have been thinking, but I can’t say anything for certain yet.)

So I am going to let my agent do what she does and let the publishing Gods do what they do and let The Universe work things out. But in the meantime, I’m going to be busting my ass on book #2 in THE MUSES series. (Which is what I’ve been doing for NaNoWriMo.)

I’m currently at 26,470 words. (Here’s my NaNoWriMo page.) You only have to get to 50,000 to complete the challenge. I know 100% that I will definitely reach that goal. However, I think this novel is longer so I’m not sure that I will finish the novel before December 1, but I’ll sure as hell be trying!

I’m really having to practice what I preach on this one and turn off my “editor” voice. Because in NaNoWriMo, we have to keep pressing forward. Keep typing. Even if we’ve used the word “just” way too many times, even if that last scene really doesn’t make sense, even if there are huge plot holes and undeveloped characters. Forget about all of that. You can fix it later. Just keep typing. (When I’ve done something I know I will need to go back and fix, I find myself making notes within the manuscript like NOTE TO SELF – FIX THIS SHIT.)

In other news, I’ve been really into Pinterest lately. I started a new board for THE MUSES – mainly pictures of celebrities and models that remind me of the characters, pictures of places that are talked about frequently, pictures of art that reminds me of scenes in the novel. I also started a board with YA covers that I really like (usually with some sort of element that is similar to THE MUSES) so that by the time I get around to working with a graphic designer and publisher on the cover design, I can just send them this link and say, “here are some covers I like.” Anyway, I think Pinterest can actually be a great tool for writers.

How about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? How are you doing?

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