Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Bleeping Long Road to Publication

Yesterday, during question time, Marsha told me she's not a cold person. Sing out, sister. I could quite happily live in a tropical climate. In fact, I had this tiny one room apartment when I was a grad student, and the heat was included in my rent. That meant it was okay to keep the heat at 82 degrees all winter, so I'd come home from work, take off my snow boots, and put on shorts. It was great, except for the year that Slayer and I made jack-o-lanterns, and they actually BAKED.

Anyway, Marsha asked how long I queried and how many novels I've written. And I haven't really talked about it much. It seems like it's time.

The short version? I've been writing for 15 years. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to write. I tried poetry. Plays. Screenplays. Short stories. Freelance nonfiction. Finally I decided to try my hand on a book, and it was DEPRESSING and CRAPPY. That's right. I wrote a really CRAPPRESSING book.

So after my daughters were born, I decided to try my hand at something funny. I always liked YA, even if I didn't know it was called YA, and I wanted to write about superheros fighting regular old crime instead of maniacal supervillains that stand around and dry wash their hands. Because really--WHO DOES THAT IN REAL LIFE? Of course, you could argue that superheroes don't exist either, but then I'd say that they totally do, and then you'd think I was nuts. Or nutsier. Maybe even the nutsiest.

Anyway, I wrote and wrote, and I found myself a critique group, and they thought it was pretty good. The book ended up being SUPERBLY USELESS, and it cracked me up. I started querying. I belong to the query widely school of thought, although I did make sure to research EVERY agent I queried after a close call with an agent who requested the full, and then I found her listed in Preditors and Editors. I don't have the numbers anymore, but I sent a lot of queries. I got like 30 full requests. And then one of my crit group members recommended that I read Maureen Johnson's DEVILISH.

I devoured it in one weekend and immediately found her agent and queried her. HERE was someone who might get my sense of humor. And she did. A few months later, she picked me out of the slush and offered representation. I still had a few other queries out with some FABULOUS agents that I would have also been thrilled to sign with, and I got a few more offers AFTER ALL THAT WAITING. Color me astounded.

So I signed with Kate. SUPERBLY USELESS went through some minor edits before we sent it out, and it had a lot of close editorial calls, but ultimately it wasn't the right first project for me. But it's still in the back of my mind there, and I hope to revisit it someday.

And the moral of this story is: DON'T WRITE CRAPPRESSING NOVELS. Or maybe: DON'T GIVE UP, BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY IT WILL HAPPEN IS IF YOU DON'T GIVE UP.

20 comments:

melissa said...

Thanks for posting your journey to publication. It's nice to know everyone's in the same boat when it comes to finding the right agent and project.

Kristi Helvig said...

Thanks for sharing, Carrie--it's amazing how the path to publication is different for every writer. :)

Plamena Schmidt said...

Yay! Glad that you didn't give up : )

RK Charron said...

Hi Carrie :)
I love your humor!
Thank goodness you persisted and found Kate.
Thank you for sharing your "Road To Publication" story.
All the best,
Rob

Chanelle said...

Great publishing story. I love reading these!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm so glad you posted this, Carrie. There's nothing more encouraging than the journey of another writer. :-)

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for telling us a little about your experience, Carrie. I'm happy you never gave up!

K. M. Walton said...

Journey to publication stories are my favorite posts to read. They always make me feel like we writers are all in the trenches together - regardless of where one is in their own journey. Thanks for sharing your journey!

Renee Collins said...

So it took me a while to realize that Superbly Useless was the title of your first book, and not an exasperated declaration on your part. :)

Great story! I love it because it has a happy ending. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

Thank you for answering my questions!

Is it wrong that I laughed out loud over the word crappressing??? I love it and plan to use it frequently. But not when speaking about my writing...nope definitely not.

Hanna Banana said...

Crappressing! Finally a word that sounds semi profane and I can say it in front of the kids ALL I WANT.

Tara (The Bodacious Pen) said...

Thanks for such an honest post about your journey towards publication! Glad you didn't give up. :)

Carrie Harris said...

So glad you guys liked it! And by all means, feel free to borrow "crappressing." I plan to use it a lot too.

Anita Saxena said...

Thank you for sharing your journey =)

Hanna Banana said...

Yay =D

Joanne Fritz said...

Whew! So happy to hear you spent 15 years on this journey. I've actually been an on-again-off-again writer for much longer than that. It's only the last 4 years that I've been writing on a regular basis. So I'm not counting those early years because THAT's too depressing.

Thanks for the laughs.

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent story! I love reading stuff like this. I don't know why. Gives me hope, I think.

Badass Bookie said...

It sounds like a long journey ( I have calculated that I will be 28 yrs 98 days and 52 mintues yrs old y the time I get anything publsihed IF I finish what I'm writing write) I'm not a prude but I find it difficult to write any kissing scene ... it always sounds silly -_- What are your thoughts on romance in "funny" YA novels? Kind of of topic but GOOD WORK CARRIE!!* pat on the back* You've made a difference in the world :)

Claire Dawn said...

DON'T WRITE CRAPPRESSING NOVELS. Great Moral!!!

Cate Gardner said...

Inspiring post, Carrie.