March 30, 2011

Wednesday Wants


1.) My friend Lynn and I were traipsing around DC yesterday (cherry blossoms! National Portrait Gallery!) and we passed a Pret A Manger on our way to grab something to drink. SQUEE! Pret is a sandwich shop based out of London and I used to go there all the time during my study abroad in the UK. Ah, memories!


Unfortunately, I couldn't find my favorite sandwich at the DC store---the Christmas sandwich that comes with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Probably a seasonal thing?

2.) This ModCloth dress is adorable! It reminds me of a modernized version of Alice In Wonderland.


3.) Another dress from ModCloth. LOVE this print!


4.) Lastly, I really want someone to finish my rough draft for me. The first 70K of the book flew by rather quickly but the last 15K are killing me. KILLING ME! My main issue is that these last few chapters are mostly fight scenes and I am terrible at writing this sort of thing. Gah. Gah. GAH!

Fortunately though, my husband helped me map out the scenes so all I have to do is hammer them out. But why must this be so hard? *Whiny voice*

So what are you wanting this fine Wednesday?

March 28, 2011

After The Call: What Happens When Your Book Doesn't Sell?

Last week, I wrote a post about why your book might not be selling and I thought I'd expand on this topic today. Let's say your book doesn't sell at all and you and your agent decide to shelve it. What happens next?

As I've weathered the storm that is called "Getting Thee Published," I've noticed a strange syndrome that seems to befall certain novels on submission. I call it...First Bookitis.

First Bookitis is a sad occurrence in which an author's first book fails to sell to ye olde editors. And yet, hope must not be abandoned! After all, numerous authors have suffered from First Bookitis but have gone on to sell their second novels. Like Kierstin White and Brodi Ashton just to name a few.

So yeah...a lot of first books don't sell. It happens! In this crazy business called publishing, not every agented manuscript can land that coveted publishing deal. There simply aren't enough slots to go around. But what happens once your first book doesn't sell? Should you sob and take up knitting? Or perhaps you should give up writing to become a sloth whisperer? No! Instead, take a look at these options.

1.) Mourn for your book. 
It's okay to cry. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to bury yourself under your blankets for awhile and drink rum out of the bottle. You've poured so much of your time and passion into a book...but it hasn't sold. Give yourself some time to mourn.

2.) Talk to your agent. 
Once you receive the bad news that your book didn't sell, it's time to a chat with your agent. Where do you two go from here? Do you want to continue working together? If so, what project should you tackle next?

This step is especially important if your contract is on a project-by-project basis. Since your agent signed you on for the manuscript that didn't sell, you need to discuss the possibility of working together on your next book.

2b.) Part ways with your agent. 
Ideally, both you and your agent enjoy working together and both of you want to continue your professional relationship...but this doesn't always happen. Maybe your agent doesn't love your new manuscript and doesn't feel comfortable shopping it around. Or maybe something happened during the submissions process (like lack of communication) that makes you want to get new representation.

Whatever the reason, you have some thinking to do about your career and about who you want representing your work. (Before you cut ties though, you may want to have one last heart-to-heart with your agent about your concerns and to get his feedback first.) But if things don't work out, just try to keep things polite as possible. And remember, you'll be okay! You're going to land on your feet.

3.) Get another book out on submission. 
Publishing is a business and books are your products...so start workin' on your next product! I know this advice has been given many times across many different blogs---but it really does work. You know what eases the pain of shelving a manuscript? Writing a new kick-ass book that makes you tingly with excitement. Chances are, this new book will be loads better due to everything you've learned while writing and polishing your previous work.

You know...I've been writing seriously now for about 3 years and I've been an agented writer for nearly 11 months. Through my successes and failures---my ups and my downs---I've learned that every writer has to carve their own path to publication. Some writers have a relatively easy path in getting their book published but then they have trouble later getting another deal. Some writers spend months writing manuscript after manuscript before they land an agent. And some writers hone and refine their craft for years despite having no book deal in sight.

So if you have to shelve your book, it's okay. Realize how far you've come! There are so many people who would love to be in your shoes: to have an agent, to have had the chance to go on sub. Just keep on truckin' and keep on tryin'. The path ahead of you may seem dark and dreary, but sunshine and blue skies could be only a few steps away. Keep looking for that sun! 

March 23, 2011

Wednesday Roundup of Linkage Awesomeness!


Ready for some cool links? All right, here we go!

1.) If you like my "After The Call" series, be sure to read Agent Rachelle Gardner's post on why an agent gives up on a project. Fascinating! Some of her reasonings? Bad market. Not saleable. And plain out of options.

2.) My friend Jessica Spotswood (who recently landed a three-book deal with Penguin!) writes about her journey to publication, which is both interesting and inspiring. Even cooler? Jess is answering questions in the comments section!

3.) The lovely Kate Kelly has graciously asked me to write about how I got my agent over on her blog. Thanks for having me, Kate!

4.) Author Alexandra Bracken has a fascinating post about publishing lists and why certain books are published within a year while others take longer to make it to bookshelves. 

5.) Finally, my friend Lindsay Currie just launched a new blog with her writing partner that focuses on dystopians and their YA dystopian FATUM. Cool stuff!

And just for fun, here is a video of one of my favorite animals--the slow loris! I love the look on its face when the owner stops scratching it. Like, "Hey! Keep up the scratches, human!"



March 21, 2011

After The Call: Why Isn't Your Book Selling?

"After the Call" is a new feature on my blog! It chronicles what happens after an agent offers you representation: how to choose the right agent, how to communicate with your new agent, what the revision process is like, etc. For previous posts in this series, please see the "After The Call" sidebar to the right.

At the SCBWI conference I attended last weekend, author Kathi Appelt said something during the Q&A session that has stuck with me.

"50% of publishing is a crapshoot."

Can I get an amen? At its core, publishing is a business—and it's a hard-to-predict business at that. Some books on submission sell in a matter of days. Some books take over a year to sell. And some books—for some reason or another—only receive polite rejections. So...why do some books land a publishing deal while others languish in submission land?

Honestly, it could be a lot of different reasons. Maybe you write in a genre that is overly saturated at the moment. Or maybe your book needs another revision. Like Kathi said, publishing can be a crapshoot--sometimes good books sell big but sometimes good books get shelved. It's just the way this competitive industry works.

Here are a few reasons I've noticed why a book may not sell:

1.) Your book needs more revisions.
Pretty much all of the agented writers I've spoken to have completed at least one round of revisions with their agents before they go out on submission. (Sometimes two rounds, sometimes three). Despite all of this editing, however, a manuscript might not hit the right notes with editors once it goes out on sub.

But this is something that can be fixed! If editors cite the same feedback during your first round of subs, you and your agent may want to tackle some more revisions before submitting to more editors. And who knows? Your book could go on to sell really quickly after it has been edited!

2.) Your book has bad timing. 
At the conference last Saturday, agent Rosemary Stimola was asked what happens when a book of hers fails to sell. Rosemary cited that sometimes a book doesn't sell simply due to timing. She gave a quick example: let's say you write a YA paranormal. It goes out on submission, but unfortunately editors have gotten their fill of paranormal and are now looking for contemporary. Or maybe an editor really loves your book but her list is already stacked with enough paranormal novels.

If this happens, Rosemary stated that the manuscript will become "dormant but not dead." Since the manuscript itself is sound, she would plan on shelving this book for now and coming back to it later when paranormals are hot again. (Haha, when are paranormals NOT hot? They seem to sell like hot cakes!)

3.) Your book doesn't have the right advocate. 
If your book fails to sell, there's also the possibility that you and your agent aren't the best fit. Maybe your agent has the right connections--but not in your genre. Or maybe your agent doesn't have enough experience. Case in point, agent Mary Kole (who used to write YA lit) mentions in this blog post how she and her agent weren't the right fit:

Looking back on it now, I realize [my manuscript] was not as strong as it needed to be, writing-wise. It wasn’t “editor ready.” And I had gone with an agent who had limited experience in the kidlit market. Nothing against her, of course, but I don’t know if we did the strongest revision possible together.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Mary's book would have sold with a more experienced agent but it seems like the manuscript would have had a better chance.

4.) Your book is...who knows? 
Ultimately, your book may not sell because of one of these aforementioned reasons or it may not sell due to a combination of them all. Maybe your agent is too inexperienced and your book needs revisions and you write in a saturated genre. Or maybe, just maybe, your manuscript isn't up to snuff just yet. Which happens!

A lot of successful writers have had to shelve their first books on submission but have gone onto sell their second or third book. Sometimes a book is good enough to land an agent but for some reason it gets lost in the sea of editorial submissions.

At the end of the day, I think Kathi Appelt's statement is apt: 50% of publishing is a crapshoot! Good books sell every day. Good books get shelved every day. It happens. But here's what you can do as a writer: write another good book, edit this book like crazy, and get the book out there on sub. You can control your plot, your characters, your craft. The rest of the stuff? It's kind of out of your hands.

So go write more books! 

March 19, 2011

Saturday Six


1.) SPRING HAS FINALLY ARRIVED IN DC! THIS NEWS MERITS ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!


2.) I posted this tweet on Twitter today that has caused a bit of a disagreement:

If I could create my own planet, I would make spring and fall last 5 months each. Summer will be 7 weeks. Winter gets 1 week for Christmas.

I seriously thought people would be like, "Sign me up! I'm movin' to your planet!" But to my surprise, people do not like the idea of a shortened summer. You guys really dig this season!

In my defense, I love summer. Well, kind of. See, I've lived most of my life in the DC area and our summers can be defined in three words: hot, humid, and hellish. In short, it feels nice for a minute or two but then a bucket of sweat starts pouring out of your armpits and forehead. Attractive!

DC in spring, on the other hand, is marvelous. Simply marvelous! The cherry blossoms bloom, the trees flower, the grass comes back to life, and the weather hovers in the low to mid-sixties. It is seriously wonderful! Thus, my ideal planet would have a very long spring and just a long enough summer to enjoy water parks, beaches, and watermelons.

3.) I'm trying to eat healthier, but last night I caved and gobbled down a cheeseburger from Five Guys. Five Guys is a burger chain that started in DC but has spread throughout the East Coast and even out West. (Justin and I saw one in Missoula, Montana of all places.) If you've never been to  Five Guys, come visit me RIGHT NOW. The burgers are so yummy!

4.) Oh, I bought and read Lindsay Leavitt's Sean Griswold's Head! I blogged about the book last week and I couldn't help but pick up a copy at B&N on Tuesday. It was really good! Fantastic voice that made me laugh out loud and a love interest who was kind and funny and relatable.


5.)My college friend Lisa Tingey and her husband visited DC this week so Justin and I took them to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Jaleo. It was so fun reminiscing with Lisa! We met while on study abroad in London and we got to explore places like the Isle of Wight, Scotland, Paris, Rome, and the Lake District together. *Swoon* We both couldn't stop gushing about the Lake District, even though it has been nearly 8 years since our trip. One day I will go back there!

6.) My WIP is almost finished! Almost, but not quite. I imagine I have about 20K to write and I hope to finish by the end of the month. But man, I'm kind of drained of all of my creative juices. I want to take a few days off but I also want to push through the end. BLARGH!

So what are you guys up to this weekend?

March 18, 2011

Jennifer Lawrence = Katniss Everdeen! What do you think?


If you missed the news yesterday, Jennifer Lawrence has been cast as Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. It seems like this choice has already caused a firestorm across the web.


She's too old!
Too blonde!
Her boobs are too big!

Admittedly, I have a few reservations about Jen. I mean, she does seem a bit old for the role, right? By the time Mockingjay gets made into a movie, she might be 23 or older. And Katniss is only seventeen or eighteen in that book! (Additionally, Jen does seem a bit, uh, buxom, for the role. I've always envisioned Katniss as very slender, very thin. Very flat-chested. Ah well.)

Despite my reservations, I'm actually pretty excited about this casting! I watched Winter's Bone with Justin a couple months ago and I thought Jennifer did a fantastic job in it. She really captured her role as a struggling Appalachian teen trying to keep her family together--and this role is pretty reminiscent to the role of Katniss. I'm just grateful that the director Gary Ross chose a girl who can act.

Speaking of Gary Ross, I really loved this interview he did with Entertainment Weekly about why he chose Jennifer for the role. He and Suzanne Collins worked together very closely in choosing their Katniss:

[Jennifer] came in and read for me and it just knocked me out. I don’t want to go into too many details, but we did a scene from the movie and it was so amazingly powerful that it was sort of stunning. You glimpsed every aspect of the role and the potential of the whole movie.

But that's just my opinion. What do you think about this decision? Who were you rooting for to play Katniss? Hailee Steinfeld? Chloe Moretz? Finally, I found this picture of Jennifer as a brunette. Does this help make her case at all? 


March 17, 2011

Congratulations, Jessica!

My wonderful friend and agent-sister, Jessica Spotswood, was recently blurbed in Publishers Weekly:

Putnam Kids Ponies Up for YA Debut
In a high six-figure world rights deal, Arianne Lewin, executive editor at G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, bought three books by Jessica Spotswood, including the debut novel Born Wicked (formerly called Thrice Blessed). Agent Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich brokered the deal for Spotswood. Born Wicked, set in what the publisher calls "a world of tea parties, engagements, and elegant dresses," follows the Cahill sisters, a trio of teen witches who must hide their powers in order to save themselves from being shipped off to prison or a mental ward. Spotswood, who is from a small Pennsylvania town, lives in Washington, D.C.


Aieeeeeee! Isn't that AMAZING?! Tea parties! Witches! High Six-Figures! When Jessica shared the news with me and our fellow agent-sister Robin Talley, I honestly squealed!

I met both Jessica and Robin back in September 2010 and we've been meeting every month to talk about--what else?!--books, writing, fashion, and everything else in between. In October, Jessica started telling us about a book she was working on called "Thrice-Blessed." It was about witches, she told us. And it sounded really, really cool.

Fast forward to February. Jess let us know that Thrice-Blessed was about to be blurbed in DGLM's YA/MG newsletter. Since I am quite sly, I put on my best innocent face and asked sweetly, "Um, could I perhaps read Thrice-Blessed if you wouldn't mind?" Aha! The innocent face worked! Jess sent me the manuscript via email...

And I pretty much inhaled the book. The characters, the pacing, the plotting, the intrigue, the KISSING, the underlying feminist message... *Happy sigh* It was so damn good!

So a big congrats to Jessica! I couldn't think of a kinder, lovelier person to deserve such wonderful news! 

March 15, 2011

SCBWI Conference Recap of Awesomeness!

Early on Saturday morning, my friend Lynn Colt and I carpooled to the SCBWI MD/DE/WV Conference in Buckeystown, Maryland. (Doesn't Buckeystown sound like such a redneck town? It's actually very pretty!)

We were pretty bleary-eyed and in desperate need of caffeine, but the conference itself was a blast! We listened to great talks, chatted with new friends, gushed over KidLit art, ate way too many muffins, and generally had a wonderful time.

Here's a recap of the day:

8:00 - 8:50AM -- Lynn and I arrive, eat muffins, and chat with Rebecca Evans, an illustrator from Maryland who has an incredible portfolio. I think I'm going to buy her fish print!

8:50 - 9:00AM -- The Conference Coordinator gives us a hearty welcome. When she asks how many people are picture book writers, over half the of the room raises their hands. Yowza!

9:00 - 10:00AM -- Editor Marilyn Brigham of Marshall & Cavendish gives a presentation on how to strengthen our books through word choice. 
     * Avoid purple prose. (Purple prose is overly detailed, overly dramatic language.)
     * Take out adverbs.
     * Use the active voice whenever possible.

Around 9:15 -- I head to the bathroom. On my way back, I pass by freaking Rosemary Stimola! I do a little dance in my head. Rosemary Stimola! She represents freaking Suzanne Collins! Squee!

10:00AM - 11:00AM -- Art Director Kristen Nobles of Candlewick Press offers a talk on illustration. 
     * I'm terrible at drawing.
     * Kristen asks us to take out a piece of paper and briefly sketch four illustrations. 
     * I fail miserably.

11:00AM - 12:00PM -- Breakout session time! Lynn and I decide to go to the YA session led by Author Laura Bowers, who spoke about passion and perseverance. 
     * Make time to write. Get your butt in the chair!
     * It's all in the revisions. Laura mentions that she revised her first novel perhaps 20 times before it was published. 
     * She also provided some worksheets on character arcs that I found helpful. It's important to ask ourselves questions like, "What does my MC want versus what she needs?" "What does she hate?" "What does she fear?"

12:00PM - 1:20PM -- Luuuuuunch! We feasted on delicious lasagna and met some awesome YA writers at our table.

1:20PM - 2:10PM -- Author Kathi Appelt, winner of the Newbery Honor Award, talks about her writing processes.
     * Before the talk starts, every attendee receives Kathi's business card along with a dime. *Scratches head* A dime? 
     * I really loved this talk. Kathi told us about her process through a series of anecdotes and she is a natural storyteller. 
     * The best story? Kathi talks about her paternal grandmother who had a penchant for saving dimes. When she asked her grandmother about it, her grandmother said that she would save dimes when she was pregnant during the Depression to save up for the hospital fees. Ever since then, she kept saving dimes to remind her of how much she loved her son. 
    * Moral of the anecdote? We can find stories in even the most simple of objects.

2:20PM - 3:10PM -- Editor Heather Alexander of Dial Books tells us about the day in the life of an editor. 
    * I really enjoyed this talk as well because I didn't know much about the whole editing process! 
    * In short, Heather's day consists of reading manuscripts, going to meetings, drinking tea, going to meetings, and going to more meetings. 
    * Interestingly, Dial Books does not have acquisition meetings. Instead, Heather will speak to her supervising editor and the president of the imprint if she falls in love with a manuscript.

3:30PM - 4:20PM -- Agent Rosemary Stimola talks about...dun dun dun...query letters!
    * Rosemary recounts various query horror stories. Like the ones that are mass emailed to every agent in New York. And like the one she received from a convict. (She actually requested materials!) 
    * When it comes to queries... Make it smart. Make it short. Make it stand out.

My favorite talk would probably be Kathi Appelt's--she also seems really kind and funny--but my favorite aspect of the conference was the muffins.

Kidding!

No, my favorite part of the day was meeting other KidLit writers. Since writing novels encompasses so much of my life, it's amazing to be able to talk to other people who share my passions and who know where I'm coming from. I wish I could go to a conference every Saturday!

Speaking of conferences, Lynn and I are already plotting ways to go to the next SCBWI MD/DE/WV Conference in July... If you're in the DC area, come join us! 

March 11, 2011

Books I Most Certainly Need To Read

There are too many wonderful books in this world and too little time! Gah! I wish I could clone myself so I could catch up on all of the reading I need to do.

(Speaking of clones, I wouldn't mind having a cooking clone, a cleaning clone, a take-out-the-recycling clone, and a writing clone...)

For instance, I bought Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children at a used bookshop about, oh, two years ago and it still languishes on my shelf unread. "Why, hello, Caroline," it says to me each time I pass it. "Won't you pick me up and give me a go? Why must you spend all of your time on those young adult novels? *Sniff*" It's a rather snooty book, methinks!

Anyway, you probably think I'm crazy now because I'm making up conversations I've had with my books. Ha! You don't know the half of it... But I digress. Here are a few books that I've been craving to read but haven't had the time (or $$$) to do so.


This cover is mega-creepy, eh? I picked up this YA dystopian at B&N the other day and I was immediately engrossed by the first couple of chapters. Here is the book jacket copy:

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.


The ever-so-lovely Alexa Barry gave me an ARC of this novel about two months ago. The book revolves around fifteen-year-old Lina, a Lithuanian girl living in 1941 when the Soviets sweep her city and force her family to move into a Siberian work camp. I've already read the first three chapters and the prose is simply lovely, lovely, lovely. I really can't wait to finish this! 


I read the first few pages of Sean Griswold's Head on Amazon.com and I fell in love with the voice. The protagonist, Payton Gritas, just learned that her father has MS and her guidance counselor advises her to find a focus object--an item to concentrate her emotions on. The object is supposed to be inanimate but Payton decides to choose something she stares at in class: the back of Sean Griswold's head. 


This is an adult literary novel that has been getting all sorts of press in places in like NY Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, and Entertainment Weekly. WANT. Plus, there's an exclamation point in the title! Gotta love that. 

So what books are you craving right now? What's on your TBR list?

March 9, 2011

Wednesday Wants

I'm in a craving sort of mood today. Chocolate! Purses! Books! Dresses! My wallet is cringing at all of these desires... Still, it's fun to dream, right? So here are my Wednesday Wants:


1.) I want the cherry blossoms to start blooming in DC. 'Cause when the cherry blossoms arrive, it means spring is finally here! And I'm really craving spring right now. I'm so done with winter coats and thick gloves. I want warm weather! 


2.) I adore this dress from BHLDN.com. I love how mod it is. I love the colors. I love the fun yellow ribbon that cuts across the bust. But I don't love the price tag. $450! *Gulp* Why are you so expensive, pretty dress?


3.) Cadbury Mini Eggs! *Drool* Justin and I seriously go through a bag of these per day sometimes.


4.) I really want to read The Liar Society! I remember when the authors, Lisa and laura Roecker, first posted their query letter over on Absolute Write. And now their book is finally here! WANT.


5.) Justin and I went antiquing a couple weeks ago and I fell in love with some of the old typewriters we saw. Whenever I get my own office, I'd love to have a heavy black typewriter sitting on my desk. They just look so neat!

So what are you craving on this Wednesday morning? Cupcakes? Dresses? A trip to Jamaica? 

March 8, 2011

After The Call: How Should You Spend Your Book Advance?

"After the Call" is a new feature on my blog! It chronicles what happens after an agent offers you representation: how to choose the right agent, how to communicate with your new agent, what the revision process is like, etc. For previous posts in this series, please see the "After The Call" sidebar to the right.

I don't have a book deal. *Insert sad face*

But that doesn't mean I haven't thought about how I'd like to spend my advance! *Insert happy face*

In my daydreams, I often hope I'll get a large enough deal that will let me buy all sorts of stuff that I've been craving for years. A MacBook Air! A trip to Spain! A shopping spree at Anthropologie! A Ragdoll cat!

Short aside: I adore cats and I really want a Ragdoll because 1.) they're adorable, 2.) they have bunny-like fur, and 3.) they're very docile and friendly. But these freakin' cats can cost anywhere between $700 to over $2500! Yipes!

I haz high price tag. 'Cause I poop out diamonds.


But when it comes down to it, I'll probably spend my advance on more practical things. Like placing it into savings. (Exciting!) Or using it as a down payment on a house. (Whoa, so fun!) Or putting it toward marketing my book. Ah, yes. Marketing. The word we shy writers fear like the plague. (Marketing! Boogity boo!)

But marketing is a necessary evil when it comes to publishing. Thus, here are a few things you might want to think about once you get your first check in the mail:

1.) A website. 
About a month ago, I came across a cool-sounding book on Publishers Marketplace and I decided to Google the writer. Unfortunately, I couldn't a website. Or a blog. Or even a Twitter account. I was majorly bummed 'cause I wanted to learn more about this book! Moral of the story: you should get a website. After all, your website will be the number one way in which people will find you on the vast interwebs.

If you're a do-it-yourself kind of person, you can try your hand at making your own website. My agent-sisters Jessica Spotswood and Robin Talley created their websites/blogs through WordPress and their sites look clean and professional. As for me, I made my website through Wix.com--a free site where you can create Flash-based web-pages. (I do, however, pay about $70 a year for my domain name and hosting.)

But if you'd rather hire a professional to create your website, there are a lot of options to choose from. For a more affordable option, you might want to poke around Etsy because a lot of graphic designers offer their services there. (I like this shop.) Or you might want to hire a designer who specializes in author websites. Biondo Studio, for example, has created some awesome sites for writers like Rebecca Stead and Jenny Han. (I'm in love with Jenny Han's site. Adorable!)

2.) Author pics. 
Ah, author pics! You know you've truly arrived once you get these taken!

In my mind, author pics are a lot like author websites: they're useful for publicity and marketing but you have the power to decide how much you want to spend. If you have a decent camera, ask your spouse/best friend/mother to take a few shots of you. Author Gayle Forman had her husband take her photo by the Manhattan bridge. (She blogged about it here.) If Gayle Forman is a DIY-er, then so can you!

But not all of us have photograph-savvy relatives. And so, you may also want to hire a professional to capture the picture that will grace the back cover of your book. Places to look for a photographer? Wedding websites, your local university, Craigslist. You'd be surprised--a lot of great photographers advertise on Craigslist. Don't hate!

3.) Book swag. 
Postcards. Bookmarks. Pens. Swag is a way to promote your book and get your name out there. But...is it necessary? Agent Jessica Faust has a great take on this matter:

A client once asked me if I thought she should reorder her promotional items and my response was that she really seemed to enjoy her items. She loved passing them out to readers and potential readers and using them as a way of introduction. She agreed. To her they were fun. She reordered. Promotional items don’t do any good without a personal connection. If they are simply picked up off the table they only become another pen at the bottom of a purse.

So if you're the type of person who enjoys meeting new people and who doesn't mind a little self-promotion, then you should consider getting some swag. You can give it away on your blog or mail it to your friends or give it to your mom so she can do the work for you. (That's what mothers are for, right?) Plus, I think swag is a great way to do marketing if you're kind of shy. If someone asks about what you do, you can just hand them a bookmark! Easy as pie.

4.) Book Trailers
Book trailers are all the rage now it seems---I've seen trailers for books that won't come out until 2012 and I've seen trailers for books that don't even have deals yet! A book trailer can be a great way to celebrate your novel but here comes the ever-important question: is it really necessary?

Hmm, the jury is out for me. I think, right now, a book trailer is something fun to show to your friends and family. I also think a book trailer may be a good idea for a big-time author to stir up excitement for a new book. But I haven't bought a book based solely on a book trailer---and I haven't heard of many other people doing so either. Perhaps in a few years a book trailer will be necessary for marketing but I don't think this is the case at this point in time.

Still, if a book trailer is something you want, then go for it! A few book trailers I've liked include Maggie Stiefvater's video for "Linger" (it's pretty amazing) as well as the trailer for "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters."

To close, I'd like to post another quote by Jessica Faust because she is incredibly smart and spot on:

So what is my feeling on what you can do to sell your book? The truth is that the best thing you can do is write the best book of your life and follow it up with an even better book. The rest, the Web site, the blog, the pens, the postcards . . . should only be done if they are fun for you. If you use them to make a personal connection with potential readers. Remember, the point of promotion is not just to pass things out to those who love you and your work already, it’s to introduce yourself to someone new.

Bottom line: the best way to market yourself is to write a damn good book. The other stuff can help but it's all about the writing, baby.

Guess I'm going to buy myself a Ragdoll cat! I'm kidding! Kidding.

Kind of...

So what do you guys think? What do you plan on spending your advance on? And what do you think of book trailers?

March 5, 2011

Saturday Six

1.) Huzzah! My grand designs to create a YA Mafia have turned out nicely! I've already had fifteen people sign up (re: comment on my last post) to join me in my adventure in organized crime. And the cookies you guys have sent are delicious. Delicious!

2.) Since every mobster needs a good mobster name, I've provided awesome titles for each one of my mafia members. Some of you have picked your own names, which is awesome as well.

Pam Harris = Sweet P. 
Stina Lindenblatt = The Hammer
Kate Hart = Knuckles
Lisa Gail Green = Machine Gun
Lori Lee = Smoots
Amparo Ortiz = Big Tuna (One of my favorites!) 
Yahong = YCintegration
Ian Bontems = The Butcher
Jessica Spotswood = Switchblade Spotswood
Rick = Three Finger Johnny
Lindsay = Snickers McGee
Tyhitia Green = Twinkle Toes
Marquita Hockaday = Big Baker Q (She provides our refreshments.)
Krista Ashe = Bugsy 
Meredith = Hacksaw Tom

3.) Want a mafia name? Comment on this post! I'll see what I can do...

4.) As for non-mafia matters, there is a Chocolate Festival this weekend in Fairfax, Virginia and I want to go very, very badly. But Justin does not want to go. :o( If only my sister was here...

5.) My local Border's is closing *Sob* I've been going to this store since I was in middle school and so I am in deep mourning. I can't even muster a lot of excitement over the 50% off sales because I'm sad that I won't be able to wander around the store much longer.

6.) Still plugging ahead on my new WIP! (A YA alternate history.) I've written about 56K so far and I hope to finish in two or three weeks. Fingers crossed!

March 4, 2011

Join Caroline's YA Mafia!

The Young Adult Blogosphere has been buzzing about the whole "YA Mafia" topic for the past few days. If you haven't heard about this, here's a brief recap according to YAHighway:

On Wednesday, Holly Black posted about the supposed "YA Mafia," assuring everyone it doesn't exist. Justine Larbalestier expanded on Holly's post, blaming the online disinhibition effect for the issue (and quoting our friend Phoebe North at length). Then a #YAMafia hashtag appeared, which some people found amusing, and others perceived as yet another threat.

Interesting, eh? Everyone's now saying stuff like, "There's no such thing as the YA Mafia!" or "That's just a silly myth!" To which I say...if the YA Mafia isn't real, then why don't we make one? 'Cause I wouldn't mind joining a mafia. I've already gotten turned down by the Russian Mob and the Chinese Triad---I guess they're not looking to hire weak Asian chicks who can't shoot a gun---so I'd love to create my own illegal organization.


Here are a few perks about joining my YA Mafia:

1.) All of the free books you want! (We have an in with a B&N supplier.)

2.) No book deal? No problem! We have certain "methods" to persuade Big 6 editors... (These methods include cupcakes, massages, and rent-controlled apartments in NYC.)

3.) If you get a snarky review of your book, I'll let you borrow my three henchmen--The Bookworms--for an evening of terror-making. They're excellent at shooting water-guns, toilet-papering houses, installing viruses onto computers, and destroying a writer's muse. In a word, they are evil. Bwahaha.

4.) All members of my mafia get to talk like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. "Eh? *Mumble mumble mumble.*"

5.) All members also have the opportunity to create a Mafia alias for themselves. For instance, my mafia name is Vito. You may choose aliases like Big Tuna, Smoots, Three Finger Joe, or Babyface Jones. The world is your alias-making oyster!

Pretty good perks, right? You're dying to choose a mafia alias, aren't you? So now we get to the nitty gritty stuff. This is what you gotta do to join my club:

1.) Follow me on Twitter. Yeah, you better be followin' my tweets! If not, watch your back...I'll throw gum at your hair.

2.) Make me cookies. I, Vito, prefer oatmeal chocolate chip. Straight from da oven.

3.) Swear a blood oath to the YA Mafia. On second thought, blood oaths sound gross and unsanitary. Pinky swear, then?

Like I said, I think my YA Mafia is gonna be pretty damn awesome!

So who wants to join? :o)

March 3, 2011

After The Call: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Submissions

"After the Call" is a new feature on my blog! It chronicles what happens after an agent offers you representation: how to choose the right agent, how to communicate with your new agent, what the revision process is like, etc. For previous posts in this series, please see the "After The Call" sidebar to the right.

Recently, a good friend of mine went on submission and we've been emailing back and forth about the insane emotions that you get once your book goes out on sub. It's nerve-wracking! It's exciting! It's nerve-exciting!

I've spoken to a few people who have been on submission and it seems like all of them have experienced a similar emotional roller coaster. One minute you think you're going to be the next J.K. Rowling or John Green or Neil Gaiman. The next minute you think you're the worst writer in the entire world. What fun it is!

And so, BEHOLD! I give you the five emotions you shall inevitably experience once your book is launched into the great world of submission:

1.) Sheer Elation
Your agent sends you the email you've been itching to receive: your book is ready to go on sub! This is when sheer elation sets in. You're going to be published! You're going to sell your book! You don't have to work on revisions anymore!

Grab your friends and your family and go celebrate! After all, you've probably been working on this book for months or even years. (I fall into this latter group. It took me 2.5 years to draft my first book and get it shiny for submission. I'm so slow!) Enjoy yourself before the next set of emotions come rolling in...

2.) Nervousness, Anxiety, with a dash of Excitement
The nail-biting begins. The sheer elation phase doesn't last long---maybe a few days, maybe a week. This is because most agents will tell you that you're ready to go on submission but then they'll need a few days to get a submission list in order. During those short pre-submission days, you will be on Cloud Nine. But once you're actually on sub? That's when the nervousness sets in.

You'll check your email every second.
You'll stare listlessly at your phone. 
You'll pray. If you are an Atheist, you will still pray.

But within this turmoil of anxiety, you'll still be excited too. And you should be! You've worked so hard and for so long---an editor could be reading your book RIGHT NOW and loving it! But wait, what if she finishes it and doesn't love it anymore? Damn it. You should have revised more!

See? Emotional roller coaster, I tell you!

3.) Depression
It has been three weeks since you went on submission but nary a word from your agent. Shouldn't those editors be knocking down your door at this point? Is there a massive power outage in New York City? That must be it! No, no, that isn't it. Nobody likes your book. Not even your cat likes your book. *Insert crying*

Hey, this is all part of the process! Depression, feelings of failure...it happens to all of us. Just try not to wallow in this stage for too long. Go on a walk. Take up a new hobby. Start a new book. The point is: keep busy. Being on submission can be a long process so you need to put on your Patience Hat and hunker down.

4a.) Resignation
At this point, two months have gone by and the rejections have started to roll in. You're not depressed. You're simply...resigned. The economy is bad, you tell yourself. It's a hard market. After awhile, the rejections roll of your back like raindrops. You wonder when you developed such thick skin. But it's okay. You work on your next project like a fiend and you still hold out hope that maybe---just maybe---an editor will fall in love with your work.

But you're not holding your breath or anything.

4b.) Sheer Elation Once More!
Your phone buzzes. It's a 212 number. Your agent is on the line with great news: an editor LOVES your book and has offered to buy it! You jump. You scream. You do the moonwalk, even though you have no rhythm. The world is a wonderful place!

5.) Rinse. Repeat.
You think getting a book deal will make your life perfect? Ha! Now, you have to start another round of revisions, finish line edits, and plan out your marketing campaign. Cue the anxiety phase!

:o)

This is what I've learned about the crazy writing process in the past year: writing truly is an emotional roller coaster. Whether you have an agent or not, whether you have a book deal or not, the same feelings are always there. Excitement. Nervousness. Depression. Elation. It's a never-ending cycle, even if you're a NYT Bestselling Author.

So my advice? Enjoy it! Take the good with the bad. And when the bad stuff does come along, just shrug your shoulders and remember that it's all part of the crazy writing roller coaster.

If you have been on submission, what has your experience been like?

March 1, 2011

Would it be possible to microchip my kids?


I know, I know. What a weird question, right?

But it's a random question I've been thinking about. See, I'm getting to the point in my life where I'm thinking about having kids. Thus, I'm already fretting about being a mom. What if I mess them up? What if they end up hating me? What if I can never nap again? And what if---God, forbid---I ever lose them?

When I was a kid, I remember wandering away from my parents from time to time. Often at the mall. Or at the beach. Panic ensued. I cried. My parents fretted. Fortunately though, everything worked out well in the end.

But...what about all of those kids who are lost for hours? Days? Weeks? Who are kidnapped? Who are never found? Wouldn't it make sense to insert one of those little microchips somewhere on the body in case this happened?

"Mommy, I is not a puppy!"
I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "Caroline is kind of going off of the deep end. UNFOLLOW." But I'm honestly curious about this! (Plus, you can read an article on the topic on Boston.com. See? I'm not that crazy!) Here are some pros and cons to this idea:

Pros
1.) Find your lost kid! 
2.) Avoid panicking! 
3.) You don't have to use those kiddie leashes!  

Cons
1.) What cons?
2.) Joking! I'm joking! :)
3.) Inevitably, some crazy parents are going to microchip their teenagers to spy on them. 
4.) Pets are pets, but kids are kids. And kids deserve some kind of privacy, especially when they become teens.
5.) If an abductor knows a kid has a microchip, it wouldn't be hard to cut it out.

As for me, the jury is still out when it comes to microchipping. I think it's a fantastic idea for pets but I do feel a bit wary about microchipping my kids. Still, I might have a change of heart when I become a worried, harried mother. 'Cause I tend to worry a lot!

What do y'all think though? Yay or nay?