This week I'm bringing in the big guns: People who've traveled down this long and winding road toward publication. Some of them already have book deals. Some have agents. Some have both. They've "made" it. Join us this week for 75 (yes 75!) success stories! Then dream big. Go forth and query. Conquer.
Click here for more inspiration: Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Victoria Schwab, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Kim Harrington, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins, Gretchen McNeil and Tiffany Schmidt.
I will be featured on Lisa and Laura Roecker's blog this Friday (and just so you know, Lisa and Laura are still beauty-queen geniuses). Please go check out all the posts this week, because you never know who's going to say exactly what you need to hear to keep moving forward.
Today I've got the girl-with-the-mojo Heather Petty.
CAMP WYLDE in a tweet: Drew Donovan always wanted Faeries to be real, until they started waking up in the forest surrounding the summer camp where she works.
Kelpies are creepy, Pixies are cute, Prophecies are inexplicable & Dark Elves are hot. LET ME SHOW YOU HOW! #CampWylde #noturmamazsummercamp
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
I’m not really the “giving up” type. I’m more the “I’ll do it until you SUBMIT TO MY WILL!!!” type. (With or without maniacal laughter, depending on my mood.)
So, really it was never a matter of giving up for me. I had only attempted to query one other project, and once I realized I had no idea what I was doing, I pulled back and did what writers do best… I researched the hell out of the industry.
By the time I was querying CAMP WYLDE, I knew enough about the process and the industry to know that it was going to take time and drive. And I inherited the Drive Gene from my dad, who is a musician and artist. And growing up in an artist’s house, I was told every day that I could do anything I wanted to do, as long as I was willing to put in the work. And I was willing. So I was going to keep going until I died or the Zombipocalypse overtook us all.
I may nor may not be overly stubborn. [Elana interrupts to say that Heather received multiple offers of representation and went with Eleanor Jackson at Markson Thoma Literary. Stubborn? Whatev. More like talented.]
What has been the hardest part of your road to publication so far? And why?
Did I mention I have waiting issues? Because I totally have waiting issues.
I think, though, that the hardest part is hanging onto that spark inside you that really believes in your own talent, no matter what happens or how many stories you read or rejections you receive.
Because really, the number of people who will instantly tell you “No” in this business far outnumber those who will even take a moment’s pause to consider your work. [Elana interrupts to say "Amen!"] You will hear over and over about people who come to the precipice of success only to plunge over the side. You will read of people whose agented books never sold, whose numbers weren’t high enough to sell their next big thing, who eked out a publishing presence over decades before finding any modicum of success. And those stories resonate in any writer’s mind as the agent rejections and editor pass letters pour in.
But you have to believe in your own work to survive it. You have to be able to read your own words and say, “Dear GOD that sucks,” and have that push you to work like you never have before to make it better. But at the same time, you also have to be able to read your own words and think, “My GOD that’s brilliant,” know deep down that others will feel that way too, and then work like you never have before to connect with those people.
Maybe there is a bit of narcissism in every artist. Or maybe the truly successful artist craves the act of their art over the praise of their admirers.
Either way, the hardest part is believing in your work when there’s silence or when the only sound you hear is the echo of a NO. And the best solution I’ve found is to seek out those who can relate and those who will cheerlead you no matter what. Keep equal parts around you at all times and lean on each other. Because as much as writing a book is a solitary act, becoming an author shouldn’t be.
Um… and here’s where the joke goes to lighten the mood. Cuz that was all kinds of serious.
What's your best advice to aspiring authors?
My *cough* 27 words of advice: Read voraciously. Write something every day. Be who you are in every word you put on the page, because kids sniff out fakers like it’s their job.
Super Secret: If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
This is one of those questions like, ‘Who is your favorite musician?’ where I whine dramatically about “SOPHIE’S CHOICE!!” and beg off. I can never pick just one, and I’m sure it changes day to day. But if I’m selecting purely literary types, today my choices would be:
Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett, and George MacDonald
In fact, I think a dinner party with those three will be part of my heaven.
Find Heather online:
Heather tweets! And she's doing #yafrezy in the month of April. Click here to find out more and join this writing party on twitter with Heather (and me)!
Read Heather's journey--and her query letter--on QT.