Well, tomorrow’s the big day. Not only am I meeting my editor (and the rest of whoever I get to meet at the publishing company) and my agent face-to-face, but I’m also getting my Edit Letter.
This is where my editor and her compatriot editor sit and rip my baby apart in front of me and tell me how they think I can improve upon the DNA and raising of my child.
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? I mean…as an author, this book is my baby. I’ve slaved over it. Cried over it. Beaten my head against a desk for it more than a few times. I’ve agonized and laughed hysterically and shoved it out into the cold, cruel world begging for it to be noticed. And it has. It has been noticed.
Those critical eyes also noticed that it needs some tweaking, some polishing, some “where can we go with this” suggestions. And God help me, I’m sure they’ll have some “this has to go” suggestions, too.
I knew from the minute we started talking contract, that I wanted an agent on my side.
And that’s not a slam in any way at Swoon – the contract offer was good, fairly and transparently presented, and I was encouraged to ask questions at every step while it was being laid out. Many of Swoon’s authors work without an agent and do very well for themselves, without shaving off 15% for someone else.
But I had no idea what the hell I was doing. It all seemed great to me, but what did I know? Maybe comparatively, it wasn’t all it could be. Maybe there was more I could ask for that I wouldn’t even think about – and I’m not just talking money. There is a lot to consider when you’re looking at rights and royalties and a lot of details that I was completely clueless about.
I have no idea why, but I didn’t check my email that day. I opened it the following morning, while munching on a bagel at my day job.
And then I started hyperventilating, sure I had to have read that wrong.
Then I went to the restroom, sat down on a toilet and put my head between my knees so I wouldn’t pass out.
I remember my hands were shaking.
I really don’t remember how I found out about the Swoon Reads YA novel contest – I think perhaps on Twitter. I’d only just started tweeting on a regular basis – it had been an occasional thing before – and trying to get my follower count up, and I came across a tweet about the contest.
It’s a revolving contest – Swoon is an imprint of MacMillan Publishing that targets YA fiction, and the contest is set up as sort of a crowd-sourced slush pile. You submit your manuscript, complete with cover art (or you can select a generic cover from their collection) and then you wait.
I had a book.
Or at least, I thought I had. I took the idea of there being another world on the other side of the mirror, and I expanded on it. What if there were many, many worlds there? What if a mirror was just a portal?
Why would you go there? What makes you different that you’re able to go there? What if something goes wrong while you’re on the other side?
58,000 words, and I had a clear beginning, middle and end. I had a good protagonist, a budding love story (because YA loves a love story) and even a hint of a potential love triangle. I set it up to work as a stand-alone, or perhaps be part of a larger series of books – which is ideal when you’re talking about YA.
So I was sitting at my desk at the day job, and bemoaning to my coworker that I loved to write, had written a lot of romance and some cool sci-fi and fantasy, but all the editors seemed to be looking for YA.
Which really shouldn’t be a problem, I recall telling her. I read a lot of YA. I mean a lot of YA. I love the genre.
She asked me what was stopping me and I smirked and said “Oh, I dunno…an idea, maybe?”