Welcome to Community Fridays!
During Community Fridays, I interview authors, editors, publishers, and pretty much anyone else who I can get my hands on from the writing and publishing community. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to suggest new participants. Check out current and past interviews here. Only have a minute? Click here for interviews at a glance.
Today's guest is Katie Hines, author of the upcoming middle-grade fantasy Guardian.
Your middle-grade urban fantasy, Guardian, is scheduled to come out in May, 2009. I'm curious to learn more about what happens between the time a book is accepted for publication and the actual publication date. Approximately how long ago was your book accepted? What are the stages you've gone through since that time? (i.e., edits, negotiations, etc.)?
I signed a contract with 4RV Publishing November 1, 2008. I have to admit, I was sure flying high at that point. The happy dance? Let me tell you, my whole house was rockin’ that day!
As far as what happens between then and the publication date? Tons of stuff. More than tons, if that is possible. Since this is my first published book, I was almost totally unprepared for what I needed to do beyond signing the contract. I received an email from the publisher. They wanted a synopsis for the illustrator (which I had, but was thrilled to find I had an illustrator!), a nice picture of moi (which I didn’t have), a marketing and promotion plan (which I didn’t have), and a few other things.
The thing that is taking the most amount of time is the marketing and promotion plan. I discovered I could cover my local area pretty well with book signings, school visits, and library visits. But, I was clueless as to how to reach the broader market.
I have ended up creating a blog, re-upping my domain name (which is currently tied to an almost useless website), I’m learning about blog tours, social networking, talkradio, and so forth. I have joined a yahoo group that is dedicated to blog tours (learn more about it here), and that is helpful. I feel like I’m on another huge learning curve and struggling to keep up.
To date, the manuscript edits are the easy part!
On my blog, I've been discussing recently how authors link up with publishers. Did you meet your publisher through a conference, agent, or organization? Or did you send out a query that was accepted?
Getting a contract happened in a round-about way. I sent out three query letters. The first publisher sent me a nice, polite rejection. The second one I got a response back saying they didn’t feel comfortable editing a middle grade story, but would pass on my manuscript to another publisher they knew—4RV Publishing.
That was cool. After a short time, I received a letter from the publisher indicating she found the book “interesting,” but wanted to see some changes before she considered it further. Fair enough. I put the book aside for a couple weeks or so, working on some other stuff.
About a month later, I got an email from the publisher, responding to something unrelated to my book that I had asked them about. At the end of her response was, “By the way, we have your book on the schedule for summer, 2009.” By the way? What on earth had changed?
Turns out she had left the manuscript lying about her house, and her grandson, a vociferous reader, picked it up, read it, loved it, and voilà! a contract was offered.
You must have had a good query letter or pitch to net your publisher or agent. Do you have any query/pitch tips you'd like to share?
The acceptance of my book for publication didn’t really rest on a query letter because I never sent this publisher one. However, I constantly try to upgrade my knowledge, and I had several example query letters saved on my computer. Even so, I spent a lot of time crafting my query letter, and asking for, and receiving, critiques of same.
There's been talk recently of upcoming shakeups to the publishing industry. Have you noticed any changes? For example, moving to alternate formats (softcover instead of hardcover, ebooks) or increased encouragement of author participation in marketing?
I have been watching the publishing community closely because of the economic downturn. A lot of houses are paring down staff and consolidating imprints. So far, children’s books haven’t been affected too badly. But I know that book store buyers are being more careful of their selections, and choosing authors they believe will sell. As such, I feel that puts us newer authors at a disadvantage. But, we shall see.
Would you like to tell us a little about Guardian to whet our appetites for the book release?
Sure. I think my blurb says it quite well: Imagine you have made a secret promise that can lead you to the discovery of an incredible treasure and an ancient power. But in order to fulfill that promise, you must defeat an age-old sect that is determined to claim the treasure and power themselves.
This is a story about a real-to-life treasure story. It is about a boy who struggles with guilt and a personal destiny, and it is a story about family, love and making commitments beyond yourself. The cast is replete with four teens, a professorial grandfather, a wacky grandmother and a mysterious knight, whose very life is dedicated to ensuring the safety of not just one, but two treasures.
Now that your first book is in the process of being published, do you have other projects you're working on or thinking about?
Absolutely. I have several chapter books that I’m working on, as well as a Christian, adult novel. I am also about 40 pages into a manuscript using one of my characters from Guardian. I’m very excited about that last book, and am trying to figure out when I have time to do the research I need.
Lastly, because this feature is about establishing bonds within the writing and publishing industries, can you name one author, editor, publisher, organization etc. who's doing great things right now, and why?
Most instrumental was Nancy Lamb, a children’s author. She answered my questions, gave encouragement, and my book would not have been completed if not for her book, “The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children.”
Thanks so much, Emma, for allowing me to share about my book on your blog!
About the Author
Learn more about Katie Hines at her blog.
© Emma Larkins and Katie Hines