Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Being Published

Today I’m thrilled to interview Elana Johnson– the queen of the query, blogging phenomenon, and the author behind the books POSSESSION and the newly released SURRENDER.

So, Elana, you've been through so many of the ups and downs that come with the road to/and beyond publishment (I know it’s not a word) and it seems, to me, that you took each step as it came and threw yourself into it wholeheartedly. -You analyzed and perfected ‘the query’ and helped hundreds of others as you did. You stayed determined through the soul-sucking climb through the query trenches until you found the agent who was right for you. And not only did you make it through the aftermath of signing that first contract (and all the pressure and work that comes before a book hits the presses) but the promotional movement for POSSESSION went down in blogging history as the most epic and memorable of any other book launch I’ve ever seen. (Really? Thanks so much!)

If I’ve learned anything from watching your journey, it’s that living the dream of being a published writer means challenging yourself over and over again in new and unexpected ways.

So I have to ask, now that you’ve made it so far and SURRENDER, the second book in the POSSESSION series is hitting shelves:

What are the three biggest and best moments of your writerly journey in the last five years- moments that you’d mark as the highest on the scale of happiness?

1. The launch party. Seriously. Every writer, no matter how or when you’re published, should have a launch party for their book. It’s the time when virtually no one knows about you or your book, so you’re surrounded by those that matter most—those who knew you “way back when” and love you with or without the book.

I’m getting weepy just writing this, because it’s so, so true. I can still see with perfect clarity my launch party, and looking across the hundred or so people there and thinking, “These people love me.”

Everyone should have that moment. That brief second to feel loved, to celebrate the huge accomplishment of writing a book and seeing it go into the world.

2. Getting the first book deal for POSSESSION. What a great moment, you know? I mean after querying for 8 months, and sending so many letters, and getting close a couple of times, and all the rejection? I honestly wasn’t sure if I could handle editorial rejection too—and I didn’t have to. So that was a super-shiny moment as well.

3. Getting the cover for POSSESSION. There is nothing like seeing the cover for your first book. You have a vision of it in your head—usually what you’d really like NEVER to see—and when you get that email with that jpeg attached… It’s a rush, let me tell you.

And when it’s as brilliant as a butterfly in ice? Yeah. Amazing moment.

And of course, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the highs without the lows – So, what were the three most challenging (emotionally or work-wise) moments of your writing career?

Ah, the lows. Okay, let’s start with something I’m not even sure I’m supposed to talk about…

1. The third book in the POSSESSION series has not been purchased. It’s not a “we won’t, no matter what” but more of a “we’re looking at sales and the market” type of thing. Apparently the dystopian market is a bit softer now than it was 2.5 years ago when POSSESSION sold.  WHAAAT???? That’s just plain crazy. You’d think the new HUNGER GAMES movies would incite even more interest in the genre by consumers.

So that phone call was definitely the lowest of the low for me. It’s the only time I’ve cried tears of unhappiness over this business.  
L 

And hey, you have the power to take this depressing moment and make it better—buy SURRENDER! Good sales for this book help determine the success of the series and if it’s worth continuing. Amen to that!

2. I’m going to say querying here, even though I did end up with an amazing agent. I think sometimes we think querying will be fast and easy. We think because we’ve A) had an agent before or B) we’ve written our best work or C) that we’ve already suffered so much rejection that we won’t have to go through a long, hard query process. <-Oh yes. These delusions seize me every time I query a new project. The query trenches are most certainly one of the suckiest places to be on the road to being published. I've been here so long, I wonder if I shouldn't start selling tickets to see agents take a shot at me.

Some people don’t have to. We’re glad for those people. But a small number of days and a low number of queries don’t determine if your book is good or not.

So yes. I queried two books over a combined period of 16 months. It was hell. I hated it. I hoped every single one of those 480 days, and I spent many nights on the ledge, wondering if I had enough hope for another query, another day, another email.

It was terrible. But I made it through.

3. This last one is writing-wise. Post-publication, I found my attitude toward writing shifting, changing, morphing. And what it was becoming I didn’t like. I love to write, and I love to tell stories. But I found myself writing stories I didn’t like just in the hopes they would sell.

I found myself viewing writing as a job, instead of a hobby or as something I do because I love it.

I found myself resenting everyone who seemed to “have it better than me.” More marketing. A better cover. More excitement. Better sales.

And I didn’t like anything about writing. I didn’t like the actual act of it, I didn’t like the thought of spending hours (after my day job!) doing it, I didn’t like participating in the online community.

As soon as I realized this, I pulled way back. I examined everything about writing, and thanks in part to my fabulous husband, I found the joy of writing again. Now I write what I want, when I want. I’m happy for those around me in their writing successes, and I don’t ever want to go back to that low of realizing that writing had become a chore rather than a source of contentment.

What words of advice do you have for others who might be facing the lows that come with the game? What helped you most to find perspective and push through?

Honestly? I think the best advice for pushing through the lows of this industry is to write more. Keep writing. Another story. Another book. Another character. It’s writing that you love. Do that to combat any of the lows you might experience. This is absolutely fabulous advice and so so true.

For me, writing a new story always makes me smile. So that helped me push through the tough times. My family helped keep things in perspective. And it’s said that if kids have just one really good friend, they won’t get bullied or into too much trouble. I think that’s true for writing too. Everyone needs just one really good friend, one really safe place, to make it through the rough patches in the publishing industry. Mine knows who she is. *waves*

Thanks so much for giving us so much insight into your journey! SURRENDER sounds amazing and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for for your newest characters Raine and Gunner!

Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

     Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

     All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.

     Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….



40 comments:

Murees Dupé said...

This was a great interview. Thank you for sharing this.

Old Kitty said...

Lovely Elana! All the best with your blog tour and launch and blogfesting for Surrender! Thanks for sharing your writerly journey too! Love that you now see your writing as a proper job, no longer a hobby! You are so a proper published best-selling author! Brilliant!

Thanks for hosting lovely Creepy!! Take care
x

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing the highs and especially the lows of being published.

That's too bad that dystopian is not as popular in publisher's eyes. Because it is the favorite genre of my teen daughter and her friend and they will be very sad if more books aren't published, including book 3 in Elana's series. I so hope that Elana gets a book deal for book 3. I might cry if she doesn't because Surrender is so awesome.

Laura Pauling said...

I think publishers tire of it before audience does! Here's to book 3!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great interview. I love hearing about the highs and the lows. A heavy dose of reality and true is always appreciated.

It's funny about the market softening. The two new books my 12 yo son is excited about are both YA dystopian. But both are from a guy's pov. Those are pretty much the only one's he'll read. Anything strictly from a girl pov (most of my bookshelves) is out.

Jess said...

It's so cool to get an honest persepective on both the good and icky parts of a writer's journey~ major thanks to Elana for laying down the joys and growing-pains of becoming a published author!

Connie Keller said...

What a fantastic interview!! Thanks, Elana, for sharing!

Veray said...

I love your books!

Meredith said...

Love this interview! I especially love the advice to keep writing to combat the lows--I do think that's the best thing I can do when I'm frustrated. Can't wait to read Surrender!

Matthew MacNish said...

I remember when I first met Elana, and I thought she was too famous and too amazing, and just too awesomesauce to ever approach. But I was totally wrong, at least about the approachable part. She's the nicest lady ever!

Heather B. Moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather B. Moore said...

Great and honest comments. I've been through some of this too.

Julie Dao said...

Such a frank, honest interview - thank you for this. It's easy to put on the rose-colored glasses during the early stages of the game, so it's nice to know what some of the challenges might be like. I have all my toes and fingers crossed that the third book is purchased!! I'm also surprised by the "softening" dystopian market... that's been the next big thing for a while now and I thought the HG movies would continue propelling it.

mshatch said...

Great interview and Excellent advice. I know I've had to take a step back and "find the love" a few times. And a huge congrats to Elana on book #2!!!

Michael G-G said...

Great, honest interview. You both rock.

Talli Roland said...

What a fantastic interview, ladies. I love the honesty and candour, and I can totally relate to how writing changes after being published. I really struggled with that on my second novel.

A big congrats to Elana!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I love Elana because she is honest. This is a great, great interview.

Johanna Garth said...

This was such a great interview. So many useful and encouraging thoughts AND Elena is doing an amazing job launching Surrender because I'm seeing it everywhere!

Michelle McLean said...

wonderful interview :) You are awesomeness my dear :)

Rick Daley said...

Thanks to you both for that insightful interview!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Very interesting interview! I don't usually like to go to parties, but I definitely wouldn't mind going to my own launch party. I think that would definitely be wonderful, to know that all those people are there because they read and liked my book.
I also agree that everyone needs one really good friend, particularly a friend who's there for them. Having a friend like makes us feel like we're not alone in the world.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Seeing my cover for the first time was a major highlight for me!
I've never wanted writing to be a job either. Heck, I never even wanted it to be a career!
Hope they say yes to your third book, Elana.

Shari Green said...

Thank you, Elana. Some of this really hit home for me, and I so appreciate your honesty. And I totally agree about the advice to write more! (Just keep writing, just keep writing...)

Shari Green said...

PS - thanks, Katie, for doing such an awesome interview with Elana! :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Such a great, honest look at the highs and lows. I love Elana!

Amanda said...

Oh my gosh! How could they not buy the thrid possession book?!?!!?

Lea said...

I SO hope that the third book will be published! Thank you for the honest interview.

Daniela said...

Sounds great! Can't wait to read Surrender

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome interview! I really hope book #3 gets picked up!

Kelly Polark said...

Such a great, honest interview, ladies!
I also don't like when writing becomes a chore. I write what I want, when I want. It takes longer, but I love it!

Vivien said...

Loved the interview...I really hope there will be a third novel!!!!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Hi, Katie and Elana!
Thanks for sharing those highs and lows! I'm familiar with both!

Your advice is spot on! Keep writing what you love, no matter what.

Donna Hosie said...

What a brilliant - and brutally honest - interview.

I'm happy to support Elana.

Rachel said...

i have commented, woot woot!

Carrie Butler said...

Great interview! I love how candid Elana always is. :)

kathleen said...

I soooooooo cannot wait to read this one!

Nichole Giles said...

*cries* You're my hero, E.

People, buy Surrender. Because it's awesome.

PurpleMist. said...

Great interview!

Tal said...

Thank you for the honest interview!
Thank you for sharing this :)

Susanna said...

Your blog is awesome, you're doing so great!! :) happy summer!

xoxo
Susanna
http://susanna-behindmyeyes.blogspot.com

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...