Oct 22, 2017

Pro Advice On The Publishing Industry!

Have you ever finished a first draft of your prized manuscript and not known where to go from there? Did you have an overwhelming feeling of dread or fear about not knowing what to do? 

Don't worry. Us too.

As a new writer, it can definitely be difficult and scary to make your way in the world. While a lot of writers and agents may give advice on what to do after you're published, it's a lot more difficult to find specific information about where to go and what to do right after you finish your first draft. Because we've all gotta succeed together!

So have no fear. We're here for you. We've spoken to dozens upon dozens of agents, authors, and even some publishing companies to get their thoughts and advice on the subject. So without further ado, take a look around (and even check out the credentials of some of the people who gave some advice!). What you'll see may surprise you, but hopefully, more than anything, it will help inspire you and guide you in the right direction...because everyone wants to end up with their books on a shelf in a Barnes and Noble somewhere. So let's make that happen together!

So, I just finished my story...now what do I do?

"If your goal is traditional publishing, a well-crafted query letter is essential. Sites like Absolute Write (the Query Letter Hell forum) and Query Shark can help you learn how to write one and then polish it to perfection. It's really tough to boil a manuscript down into a few words, but getting several sets of eyes on it will definitely help. When you're ready to query, Google is your friend. Research agents before reaching out to them, and always follow their guidelines to the letter. It's possible to get published without an agent, but a good one can make all the difference." - Rebecca Philips, author of These Things I've Done

 - Romina Russell, author of the Zodiac series (from the Latinx in Pub newsletter)

"It is a good idea to get an editor because it can improve the odds of getting a publishing deal. If it doesn't work out, an aspiring author will need one to self-publish a book anyway." - Free Eagle Studios, Publisher

"Love editing. Learn to enjoy the process. Become excited by the idea of taking your book apart and rewriting it from scratch. Take pleasure in killing your darlings. No book is published without edits. If your goal is seeing your work in print then editing must become your new best friend." - Kate Evangelista, author of No Love Allowed

"When just finishing a first draft, my first piece of advice would be to continue editing as much as you can. You don't always have to go out and get professional editing, but it's important that you make sure you go through as many revisions as possible to make sure that your manuscript is in the best place it can be. While there are agents out there that will spend time with editing, there are many that expect a manuscript to be heavily edited already that way they can focus in on smaller rounds of edits before sending it to editors.  You can always start your research for agents after your first round, but I highly advise not to send out a first draft to agents. It's only going to hurt your chances. If you want to start researching agents and build up a list for once you have finished, here is a list of websites I recommend checking out: New Agency Alerts (Writer's Digest)Publisher's Marketplace (Requires Subscription), and Manuscript Wish List. These are just a few of many great sites out there! These are just some of the resources that will help you find legitimate agents. You always have to be careful, and make sure that the agents you are sending to is legitimate. It's also important to note that a lot of newer agents will not be listed on Publisher's Marketplace yet. If you have any questions, please follow me on Twitter (@Justin_941) and watch for when I do #AskAgent sessions and ask me questions during those time slots. I usually don't have time to answer a lot of questions outside of that." - Justin Wells, Jr. Literary Agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency 

"The best advice I can give is to remember that you're not alone. Every time someone finishes a book, they become a beginner all over again. New agents, new beta readers, new CP's, new pitch contests, and a new way of going about finding the perfect place for their work of art. Everyone is a beginner and everyone is consistently stumbling and making mistakes within an industry that is continuously changing and based solely off good timing and luck. Find your people you can trust to stumble with you, learn with you, help you pick yourself off the ground, and never look back. The publishing industry is a lonely place, and friends who understand your journey make it a whole lot easier. Always trust your gut and if a CP, beta, or agent just don't feel right for you and your story, they probably aren't. Remember that your agent should be your professional friend too, as they guide you, support you, and want the best for you. There's nothing wrong with saying, "this isn't the right path for me," and continuing your artistic journey, finding the RIGHT people to support you along the way." Kelly Peterson, Corvisiero Literary Agency 

"Believe in yourself. You're the only one who can keep fighting for your story." - Taylor, blogger at Stay On The Page

"As someone who is Looking to publish, I'm going the traditional route and searching for an agent. I guess the advice would be write the stories you want to read and do your research when subbing to agents." - Camille, blogger at camillesmaby

"I’m Kat Brzozowski, and I’m an editor at Swoon Reads, a division of Feiwel & Friends at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. As an editor, I acquire YA manuscripts of all genres, from horror to romance to fantasy, and I’m always looking for my next favorite book to come across my desk. If you’ve recently finished your novel, my first suggestion for you is to get it out in the world and get feedback from other writers. Done that? Great. Now we would love for you to consider submitting your completed manuscript to Swoon Reads. On swoonreads.com,  you can upload your finished YA novel, receive comments from other writers, readers, and book lovers, and have the chance to get a book deal. Here’s how it works:  We use our site to find the best and brightest new YA manuscripts to publish – the manuscripts that are getting a lot of love from our readers, the manuscripts that Twitter can’t stop talking about, and the manuscripts that we fall in love with because they’re full of voice or create an exciting new world or showcase irresistible characters. Three times a year, we select a list of new manuscripts to publish in hardcover. From there, our authors get a standard Macmillan publishing contract and a full team of dedicated book lovers from editors to marketers to publicists to jacket designers who make the book great. Our whole process is centered on readers, and we involve our community in every step of the publishing process, from choosing a cover to soliciting blurbs for the book jacket to providing editorial updates from our authors about what it’s really like to be published.  If you’re still in the writing stage and not ready to submit, we provide tons of writing advice, prompts, and lessons about craft on our blog at www.swoonreads.com/blog.  And we’re always available to answer your burning questions about publishing and what really goes on behind the scenes; you can tweet at us @SwoonReads. We hope we’ll see your amazing YA manuscript on our site very soon. Happy writing!" - Kat Brzozowski of Swoon Reads Publishers

Some Other Helpful Resources!

*The Novel Gent put together an entire page of excellent resources about indie publishers that accept unsolicited work, query agents and editors, and all sorts of other incredible information that anybody can utilize! They provided so much information that we had to create a whole separate post to contain it -- so you can click HERE to see it!

*Gloria Chao, author of American Panda, has an entire page on her website dedicated to writing/querying/drafting resources -- click HERE to view it!


Justin Wells was awesome enough to offer a giveaway for you all -- so three (3) lucky winners will receive a query critique from Justin! The giveaway ends on October 29th, so enter while you can!

Hopefully this information was of use to you guys! If you're an author/agent/publisher with some more advice you'd like to add, feel free to add it in the comment section down below. And if you think this information was helpful, please let us know! Let's tackle the writing world together, people: We've got this.

Oct 20, 2017

Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Publisher: Crown Books
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Harcover, 224 Pages
Published October 2017

Summary: Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

Emily and I both received advanced copies of this book at BookCon, and things have been so crazy that I haven't had a chance to pick up this book until now. It turns out that I have excellent timing, because this book came out to the public just a few days ago, so now whoever you are, you're totally capable of getting your hands on this book as well!

As the summary explains, Justyce is a senior in high school, all set to go to Yale, and he finds himself unfairly put in handcuffs after a misunderstanding where he was helping his drunk ex-girlfriend get into her car while the police assumed something different. Throughout the rest of the book, Justyce encounters many different scenarios in which he realizes the racial injustices that happen on both sides, numerous times, and some of these altercations even lead to shocking results. And throughout it all, Justyce is partaking in a self-inflicted social experiment in which he tries to channel the energy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in behaving the way he would have and handling situations in ways he would best be known to do. However, Justyce soon realizes that some things are trickier than he could have imagined.

What I really liked about this book was all the different topics and scenarios it managed to cover. This book wasn't just about Justyce getting arrested for something he didn't do because of a misunderstanding after being racially profiled. This book also covered many different important topics and alluded to several popular cases that have happened recently in American and worldwide media. This book creates conversations that span from racial profiling to "affirmative action" and even what it's like for people not being able to "take a joke." I really enjoyed how this book went in several different directions, but it also managed to somehow go in all those directions simultaneously and everything was executed flawlessly. 

(Major spoilers ahead, so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read the book yet!) When the incident with Manny happened, I was honestly so shocked that I dropped the book. I was totally taken off guard. I had known Manny was going to die because I accidentally dropped the book while reading it, and when I picked it up, it was open to the last page and I hadn't realized until I started scanning it. So at first, I was super disappointed in myself for spoiling such a major plot point, but I was still shocked with the way things played out, so I'm still going to say that Nic Stone caught me off guard with an aspect of the story that I definitely hadn't seen coming.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Justyce. Even when things were getting tough around him and he found himself to be the victim of accusations he had no part of, he was working so hard to channel the inner mind of one of the greatest and most influential men of his century, both in America and across the world. There were some times that things got really, seriously tough, and Justyce held on tight and help his ideals in mind and didn't give in. (Although there were some moments when he lost his temper, which were honestly a long time coming and so deserved, and it was good to see him let out his anger and frustration. Nic Stone did an excellent job of showing the day-to-day injustices that people of color face, and as a non-POC reader, it was eye-opening and made me rethink a lot of what I've seen going on around me in my life. This book brings so many different important topics to light that all need to be talked about, and I'm very, very glad that she did. 

The only thing I didn't enjoy about this book was the length! I really wish this book had been just a little bit longer, because Justyce's story hooked me right from the start and I just wanted to keep going. But other than me wishing the book was longer (which isn't a real complaint, if you know what I mean), there's nothing more I can really critique about this book. It was very tastefully done and packed a punch in all the right ways.

Overall, I really liked Dear Martin. I am pleasantly surprised at how shocked this book made me at all the right times, and how interesting it was to be in Justyce's head. This is a book that everyone needs to read. Similar to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, this book will touch you and shake you up in ways that you didn't expect. And it's the kind of shake-up that you need -- so you should add this book to your TBR as soon as possible and experience this excellent story for yourself.

Oct 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Jessica's Waiting on:

Title: Not If I Save You First
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic  
Publication Date: March 27th, 2018

Summary: Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. No phone. No Internet. And not a single word from Logan. Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full. Until Logan shows up six years later . . . And Maddie wants to kill him. But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly. Maddie still really wants to kill Logan. But she has to save him first.

I'm a huge fan of anything by Ally Carter, so I'm super excited to get my hands on this book. The entire plot sounds like something I haven't read before, and it's always nice to read something refreshingly new. The title and the cover itself (as well as the little blurb on the cover!) also have me hooked, so I'm eager to see exactly where this story takes me.

PLUS it comes out the day before my birthday. It's pretty much a sign...right?

Counting down the days for this release!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back!