By Cynthia Leitich Smith
Laurie Boyle Crompton is the first-time author of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) (Sourcebooks, 2013) and looks forward to the release of
Adrenaline (FSG/Macmillian, 2014) and
The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High (Sourcebooks, 2014).
From the promotional copy of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains):
When comic-obsessed Blaze stands up to her evil ex, he posts a racy picture of her online and a battle of epic proportions ensues.
Before she knows it, Zap! Thwack! Pow! Blaze becomes the target of intense bullying.
She must learn to channel her inner-superhero if she hopes to gain the ultimate victory; rescuing herself.
Read an excerpt of Blaze.
How do you psyche yourself up to write, to keep writing, and to do the revision necessary to bring your manuscript to a competitive level? What, for you, are the special challenges in achieving this goal? What techniques have worked best and why?
As a debut author I’m in a unique (and extremely blessed!) position of having three books under contract with two different publishers so I have pressing deadlines all over the place.
Publisher deadlines are very effective motivators, but I still need to set my own deadlines along the way. Breaking a huge revision project into stages such as, “By Friday I will finish compiling research,” or “I have two weeks to do a final manuscript read-through,” makes things much more manageable.
It works well that I’ve always been able to convince myself that my own deadlines are ‘real’ which is probably helped by the fact that I’m a little bit gullible.
When I find motivation lagging I try to tune in to the inspiration that drove me to write the story in the first place. That initial spark is something that should continue to burn throughout the process.
I also try not to think about the book going public. When you write edgy YA, imagining your mother or grandmother reading your work can tend to stifle creativity. Of course, this game of pretending nobody will ever read the book grows harder as the process draws closer to publication day.
The writer’s worst enemy in the late stages is a little thing called perfectionism. The final read-through can be brutal since it’s the last time for making changes. It’s difficult to let go and release your book into the world, but there comes a point where you just need to decide on the word you have changed back and forth with each draft and accept the fact that you won’t be able to tinker with this story anymore. Then the best thing is to turn focus to the next project.
How did you go about connecting with your agent? What was your search process like? Who did you decide to sign with? What about that person and/or agency seemed like the best fit for you? What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?
I love talking about my wonderful agent! The day I signed with Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency was the day things turned around for my writing career.
Mind you, I still had a long path before getting that first publisher yes (and six months later the second one!). But I’m constantly telling writers they need the right agent, not necessarily the right now agent.
My path to publication had many twists and turns, and I know that feeling of wanting to get your polished manuscript in front of editors, like, now! But as tempting as it can be to jump on that first agent offer, be sure you listen to your gut before signing on the dotted line.
I learned this lesson the hard way. After working on my craft for a number of years I got my first offer from a reputable children’s agent and I was thrilled. Finally, here was someone who would get my book in front of editors! I was on my way! But on my way to where? It turns out I was in for three years of heartbreak and insecurity.
That agent happens to be great for some people and we split on the best of terms, but looking back it should’ve happened much sooner. I do not in any way blame that first wrong agent for those early manuscripts not selling, no agent sells every manuscript they take out on submission. But there were many signs along the way that we were not a good fit.
We parted ways. Within two months I had an offer from a new agent at an established agency on Blaze (then titled “Fangirl”). She seemed very nice and said all the right things, but I didn’t quite feel that love that I’d heard other authors talk about. I let the offering agent know that I had a few other partials out and here is the other piece of advice I try to tell any writer who will listen: in addition to contacting those agents with partials, I also wrote to all those with queries who I hadn’t heard back from, letting them know of the offer.
This actually turned into a few full requests, including one from my absolute top choice; Ammi-Joan Paquette. It turned out, she hadn’t received my original query but she was intrigued by my book and asked to see more. As things progressed towards her offer of representation, I came to understand that agent love that other writers talk about. And I certainly feel it still.
So authors, when you get an offer take the time to contact those agents you’ve queried! At the worst it will save busy agents time reading a query for a book that’s already spoken for. And at best, well, you just never know.
Visit Laurie’s LiveJournal.