Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Things Authors Do (That Don't Involve Writing)

When I first started writing several years ago, it was the ONLY thing I did in regards to developing a possible career path as a published author. Of course I read, I researched writing craft, I put my butt in a chair and drafted, revised and edited. But now that I am a soon to be published author, the list of non-writing things is getting long:
  • Develop a blog (which includes learning how to design and market--enormous feats for someone who didn't get a degree in computer design or marketing)
  • Get a Twitter account (and develop a following)
  • Get on Goodreads (as a reader first and then as an author)
  • Work Facebook (first as a reader/writer and then get an Author Page)
  • Get a website (and write crazy amounts of content for it so that people will actually spend time there)
  • Join a group blog (which requires even more blogging). I am joining the OneFour Kidlit group blog, meant for authors debuting in 2014. I should really be in  the Lucky 13's, but they are full. I guess they couldn't foresee that a person could get a book deal at such break-neck speed!
  • Organize a marketing plan involving such things as book signings, school visits, blog tours, etc.
  • More stuff that I can't even wrap my head around now.
My question is this: How am I supposed to have time to sit around the beach, intermittently writing and napping? (Which is how I pictured my author life to be).

What else have I missed? What other stuff (that I'm not qualified for) should I be doing as a debut author?

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Huge Thank You & Answers to Questions

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who commented on my blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed all of last week, congratulating me on my book deal news. It was one of the most exciting moments in my life and sharing it with all of you was the icing on the cake! And thank you as well to all of you who "liked" my Facebook Author page. I guess this is all real now and not some lovely dream I was having. So to all of you:

At the end of last week's post, I offered to answer any questions anyone had on how I got my book deal, querying, or whatever else anyone thought I might have the answers to. Here's a few questions I received:

Q: How many agents did you pitch to before you found (and knew you'd be happy with) Sarah Davies?
A: Well I only "pitched" to five agents in person, at two different conferences. I received full requests from each. However, I queried 30 other agents via their regular slush pile. I kept a color-coded spreadsheet containing date of query, date of response, list of clients, what each agent was looking for, etc, with a separate list at the top listing my "dream agents," who I was really holding out for. Sarah Davies was at the very top of that list for four reasons: 1) she was consistently one of the top three best-selling agents in the industry for my genre; 2) after regularly reading her website and blog I developed an affinity towards her style and demeanor; 3) she has a stellar list of clients who all spoke highly of her; and 4) she had a great online presence in terms of interviews and participation with blogs and twitter. Several other agents fit most of these descriptions as well, and I targeted them. Basically what it came down to, was research. Lots and lots of time spent on researching which agents would be the best fit for me.

Q: Did you get your manuscript professionally edited before you started querying?
A: Yes. I asked my friend, Natascha Jaffa of SPJ Editing to give my manuscript a basic copy-edit before I queried. But I also had fifteen beta readers before that point, so the work she did was more grammatical, overuse of words, and consistency issues. She helped me clean it up pretty good. And then...Sarah Davies and I spent four months working on big picture issues that required more revising. So yeah.

Q: What's the biggest tip you have for writing query letters?
A: The one biggest tip I would give in regard to queries is to go big with your hook. Get the agent's attention right off the bat. For KILLING RUBY ROSE, I wrote my hook before I even started writing the manuscript. I actually wrote in during Elana Johnson's 2011 Storymakers class called, "How To Write A Killer Query." During Elana's one hour presentation, I conceived a new idea for a book and wrote the one sentence that started it all: "In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks, her killer SAT scores, and even her killer taste in shoes—but only her victims will know how killer she really is."I guess I was really inspired by the word "kill!" My point is to spend a lot of energy on your hook OR attend one of Elana Johnson's live or online query classes so she can help you come up with supa'hott hook line!

There were a few more questions to answer about the book deal itself, but I will tackle those this week because today's post is long enough!

Thanks again everyone. xoxo  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Book Deal News!!!!

From Publishers Weekly:

"In an unorthodox deal, debut author Jessie Humphries sold world English rights to two books, including her novel Killing Ruby Rose, to Tim Ditlow at Amazon Publishing and Courtney Miller at Kindle Serials. Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary Agency represented Humphries, a lawyer, and the unique structure of the deal calls for the book to publish initially as episodes in Amazon’s Kindle Serials program. The episodes will begin appearing in the summer, with the print edition to follow in the early fall. The book was pitched as “Dexter meets Heist Society” and follows a girl who, unwillingly, becomes a serial killer targeting infamous villains."

I almost feel like this whole thing might be a dream and someone might have to come and B-slap me in the face just to make sure. But seriously, I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I couldn't be more thrilled and grateful: For my agent, Sarah Davies, who believed in me and made this happen (at the Bologna Book Fair of all incredible places!). For my new editors, Tim Ditlow and Courtney Miller, whose enthusiasm for KILLING RUBY ROSE is breathtaking. For my Mr. Humphries, who never doubted this day would come. And for all of you who have hung out with me on this journey...and being here with me to celebrate!

Okay, this is sounding a bit like an Oscar speech and the music is playing and someone just yelled...


I know I didn't share some of the juicy exciting details of HOW my book deal came to be, but I promise to do that soon. Plus, I'm going to do a question and answer day this Friday. Like answering the question, "Is your book seriously freaking coming out in two months?!!" So if you have any other questions you'd like me to answer-- about the book deal, or kale smoothies, or querying, or why every road should lead to the beach-- just email me at jessiehump [at] gmail [dot] com. Or put it in the comments section.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Keeping In Touch

So, I'm not "officially" participating in the A-Z challenge. You might wonder if that's me conceding to not being up to the challenge of blogging almost every single day of the month! You might be correct.

BUT, I feel like the A-Z challenge has sort of prevented me from blogging regularly since most participants feel the need to meet new people, especially the ones "officially" participating. Well, screw that! The A-Z challenge will not defeat me. Even if only two people visit my blog because I'm not on the linky-list. Whatev, A-Z!

Yet, I want to Keep in Touch. I still want to be involved in the conversation. I want to know what's happening with you,  and for you to know what's happening with me. So as for moi, I'll B-word it out:
  • I'm on vacation in Huntington Beach, California. I'm on the beach right now as I write this post.
  • I've written 25,000 words on my WIP in the last couple weeks. It's a straight YA contemporary set in France.
  • I bought a $500 blender from Costco called the Vitamix which has changed my life. Spinach and kale smoothies everyday. I'm going to live to be a hundred years old!
  • I Facebook messaged my tumultuous high school best friend/boyfriend/ex who is now a plastic surgeon. It's cool, my husband knows. TMI.
  • And I have had a very life-changing couple of weeks in terms of my writing career, which I will share more about on Monday. So tune in! 
How about you? Any random fun facts about your life? And feel free to one is reading my blog during the A-Z challenge anyway! :).