Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2 WoW: Up-and-Comers on their best publishing moments

For the past month or so on WoW, we've been talking about how to keep going in the face of the adversity of publishing. While it's important to have coping mechanisms to deal with a all the rejections and hardships faced by writers, this week, we thought we'd celebrate some of the victories that make it all worthwhile. Here are 13 up-and-coming writers on some of their best experiences.

What’s been the best moment on your path to publication thus far?

Cindy Baldwin, Where the Watermelons Grow
(Harper, Summer 2018)
By far the most exciting moment in my publication journey so far was the morning my editor e-mailed me my cover! I hadn't expected it until this summer, and it was such an unexpected and delightful surprise. I'd talked with my editorial team quite a bit about covers I liked and didn't like, and the couple of ideas I'd had in mind that might work well with my book, and so when I first opened the attachment I was kind of gobsmacked because the cover they'd designed for WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW was... nothing like any of the ideas I'd proposed! It was completely different than I'd expected, but I loved it. Now, on days when I'm feeling anxious or frustrated about something book-related, I go into my e-mail and admire the cover sketch from my editor. I can't wait to see it on shelves next year!

Gloria Chao, American Panda
(Simon Pulse/S&S, Spring 2018)
Thus far, the best moment of my publication journey was signing my contract with my publisher. Suddenly, there was a real possibility that my book could help a teen feel accepted and seen. Of course, I couldn’t have gotten there without other favorite moments like deciding to write my Own Voices story and signing with my fabulous agent, but the moment I knew my book would be out in the world felt like the culmination of years of work.

Jessica Bayliss, Ten Past Closing
(Skypony Press, 2018)
I have 3: getting my first story accepted; hearing that story read as an audiobook for the first time; and the first call my agent made to me. Up until Leap Books accepted my short story for BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT, I seriously thought I may write my entire life and never get a single ‘yes.’  I danced around the house all night long and was so excited I barely slept for like two weeks. The day I had to proof the MP3 of that story for the audiobook, I cried the whole time and had to rewind it over and over because I couldn’t hear. And the day got my agent phone call… ahh! I was leaving work when I heard the VM, and I had to keep pulling over just to breathe.

Joy McCullough, Blood Water Paint
(Dutton Young Readers, 2018)
Early on, I had a phone call with my brilliant editor, Andrew Karre. He made a small comment that sent me straight to writing three new poems for my verse novel as soon as I got off the phone. I knew then how deeply he understood my story, and that he would know exactly how to push me and help me grow in my craft. (Which is exactly what he’s done.)

 Katie Henry, Heretics Anonymous
(Katherine Tegen Books, Summer 2018)
The day my book went to acquisitions, I was visiting my parents and sister in California. My mom and I were sitting in my childhood bedroom when the email came in—the meeting had gone well and an offer was forthcoming. My mom hugged me and declared that she’d never been happier.  

“Um,” I said. “What about your wedding? Or the day of my birth?”

“You were an emergency C-section. It was stressful."

I live very far away from my family, and I felt so lucky to experience that life-changing moment with the people who had always supported me.

Kim Chance, Keeper
(North Star Editions, Spring 2018)
The absolute coolest moment in my publication journey so far was seeing the announcement of my book deal in Publisher's Weekly and Publisher's Marketplace. For years, I've poured over those announcements and imagined what it would be like to see my own name among such talented writers! When it finally happened, it was one of the most incredible and surreal moments I've ever experienced! It's a feeling I won't soon forget!

 Kit Frick, See All the Stars
(S&S/Margaret K. McElderry Books, Summer 2018)
The best moment on my path to publication thus far was getting the news that my editor, Ruta Rimas at McElderry, had offered on my book, See All the Stars. I was at a writing residency with very limited internet and phone service, so the days surrounding the offer and finalizing the deal involved a comical series of delayed text messages and furtive land line calls with my agent. Somehow we all connected, and a book deal was born.

 Laura E. Weymouth, The Weight of Worlds
(HarperTeen, Fall 2018)
There have been a lot of great moments on my path to publication, most of which revolve around the AMAZING people I get to work with. Forming an unstoppable duo with my superagent, Lauren Spieller, has been a highlight, as well as getting to know my fantastic HarperTeen editor, Alice Jerman. But I'd say the one thing that really stands out has been the opportunity to chat with and receive editorial feedback from Barry Cunningham, who heads up my UK publisher, Chicken House. Barry's very low-key and doesn't make a big deal about his accomplishments, but he acquired the Harry Potter series during his time at Bloomsbury Children's, and he's set up a brilliant publishing house of his own with a keen, passionate staff. I couldn't imagine a better UK home for my book than Chicken House and really look forward to working together.

 Marie Miranda Cruz, Cemetery City
(Tor Starscape, Macmillan Books, 2018)
There were many wonderful moments to remember in my path to publishing, but if I had to choose a specific one, it would be when my editor accepted my final edited manuscript and scheduled it for production. It had been a huge relief because I had been terrified about the revision stage. I was afraid I wouldn’t get it right, that I would have to go through endless rounds of editing—fortunately, I didn’t. I had three rounds of revisions. The first one was the major round, where I added new scenes and fleshed out old ones. The second involved tweaking details to make sure cultural aspects of my book were clear. The third involved line edits, but they were few. It took me only a couple of days to work through. So hearing how my editor loved all the changes and that she felt the manuscript was ready for the next phase of publishing was the best and defining moment for me as an author.

Rebecca Schaeffer, Not Even Bones
(HMH, Fall 2018)
Definitely receiving an offer on my book. I’d been on submission to editors for a few weeks, and I wasn’t expecting any responses — it was the end of December, my agent had gone to visit family, and I imagined the publishing houses were closing down until January. Nope! I got an offer three days before Christmas. I ended up accepting a pre-empt on Christmas Eve. Best Christmas present ever! 

 Rebecca Sky, The Love Curse
(Hodder Children, June 2018)
Last October, I was in NY for WattCon, and my book had recently gone out on submission. To say I love NY is an understatement—I’m from the opposite side of the continent, a small Canadian island, and NY to me is the faraway magical City where Poe once lived, and Lennon penned life changing lyrics, and Fitzgerald first thought up Benjamin Buttons. Being there, and knowing that somewhere nearby an editor at one of those fancy NY publishers I often dreamed about, might be reading my book, well, I didn’t think it could get any better than that.  But the day I was scheduled to fly home I awoke to an email from my agent. My heart palpitated, it does that every time I get an email from her—during submissions, emails can be anything from offers to forwarded rejection. I was delighted when I read that an editor had devoured the novel and wanted a call. I can’t explain how special it felt to read those words, in that City. It was a life changing moment for me, for the first time I let myself really embrace the hope that this wild dream of mine might actually come true.

Samira Ahmed, Love, Hate & Other Filters
(Soho Teen, Spring 2018)
Getting the edit letter. It's a milestone moment, often a dreaded one. But my edit letter opened up a series of conversations with my editor, Daniel Ehrenhaft, that helped me see my work in a new light--a process I really enjoyed. With that direction, I found the tools I needed-- small chisels, rasps, and files--that shaped my final manuscript and brought it to life and made it a book. On this journey, it's been the hardest, most anxious moments that I've found the most rewarding.

Sarah Lyu, True Romantics
(Simon Pulse/S&S, Summer 2018)
Every single moment has been amazing and surreal, but I think the best was my first call with my agent, Kerry. I didn't know it was the agent call and thought that she was asking for a revise and resubmit. At the end of our call, I started to talk about when I hoped to get a revision to her, and there was a short awkward pause before she clarified that she was offering representation!

What about you? What's been the best part of your writer's journey so far?


  1. These were fun to read. One day I hope I'll be able to name that special moment!

  2. Such fun to read all these Paths to Publication and hear about their upcoming books!


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