Monday Musings: Grateful For Those Who Believe
I’ve never been shy about sharing how aggravating, brutal, and somewhat devastating this whole publishing journey can be. You can write and write for years and get nowhere. I just listened to Mindy McGinnis’ latest WRITER WRITER PANTS ON FIRE podcast with YA writer, Beth Revis. Beth talks at length about the TEN (!!!) books she wrote before she sold her ELEVENTH novel, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE to Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin/Random House). That book, her debut, went on to be a NYT Bestseller! Mindy herself often shares her story about how it took her ten years before her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK was published.
For me these stories are incredibly important because they show writers that publishing is going to be a LONG HAUL. It is very, very rare to get an agent, and then a contract, with the first book you write. Which brings me to what I want to discuss today: PERSEVERANCE and FINDING THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN YOUR WORK.
I don’t throw the word perseverance around lightly. In fact, I thinking in publishing a lot of people are sick of hearing it. But the truth is, the people who stick with writing are the ones who eventually get published. It could be four years, it could be eight. Hell, it could even be ten years like in Mindy and Beth’s cases. The one thing that unites these two writers is the fact that they never gave up in spite of the constant wave of rejection.
For me what was so devastating during the road to publication was the overwhelming sense that I was writing in a “dead genre”. Basically, I was being told over and over that historical, particularly in YA, “just didn’t sell”. If a publisher was going to take on a historical, and that was a big “IF”, they would only put one on their list per year. That fact alone was devastating to me because there are a heck of a lot of talented YA Historical writers out there. If they were producing a book a year, how was I ever going to break into one of those publishing houses?
What happened to me with NOTHING BUT SKY was a combination of luck and timing. Right editor. Right time. It sounds flippant, but it’s not. What I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes in publishing it boils down to these things and one more ingredient: belief. Yes, belief in the importance of your story.
Belief in story has been a recurrent theme this past week for me. First, after keeping secret for a while, I was finally thrilled to share with the world that Flux has bought the rights to my next book, ACROSS A BROKEN SHORE. I’m incredibly thankful that Flux is allowing me to share another story of a headstrong female who pushes boundaries, this time in 1936 San Francisco!
Here is the announcement with a small blurb:
Belief in the importance of YA Historical stories also had a big victory this past Saturday when YA author Mackenzi Lee announced that Greg Berlanti (Director of Love, Simon and past producer of such shows as Riverdale, The Flash, And Arrow) optioned her YA book, THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE and VIRTUE. When I read this I sobbed because it was another nod in the mainstream media to the importance of these stories.
I will continue to be grateful to those influencers in the media and publishing world who see merit in YA Historical. As we continue to share them in the market, I hope interest in these books will continue to grow.
If you’re curious about what’s coming up in YA Historical, here are a few books to check out and add to your “Want To Read” list on Goodreads.