The Big Announcement! Jennifer M. Eaton signs with @Month9Books for YA SciFi FIRE IN THE WOODS Series

Yay!  Today’s the big day!

I’m thrilled to announce that my young adult contemporary science fiction novel FIRE IN THE WOODS has been contracted with Month9Books for release September 23, 2014.

Did you catch that?

September 2014!!!

Yes, I’m a little stressed, because most books being signed right now are pushing out to late 2015 or 2016, but in my editor’s words (answering a tweet from someone saying how fast that was…)

“Whew! Can ONLY do when work comes in nearly perfect shape. Even then, whew!”

Wow. Nearly perfect shape? I’m still tingling.  Awe, Heck. I think I’ll just show your the entire Twitter stream, before the official announcement was made, so there is no mention yet of my name, or the title of the book.

Twitter Stream

 Wow. Just Wow.

You can’t even imagine what public tweets like that are doing to my ego.

Mostly, though, I’m holding my head and trying to not fall off this fast moving train I’ve suddenly (and a little unexpectedly) found myself on.

Now, that is not to say that I don’t have a whole lot of work ahead of me. My editing timeline is KILLER

Wait! There’s more!

Did you catch the last word in the title?

SERIES.

Yup. Month9Books has contracted a series of 3 FIRE IN THE WOODS books, with an option for a fourth. The first will release in September, 2014, and the next two will release in 2015.

Being that I don’t even have concepts for a second and third book, and the second book is due in two and a half months, and the third book due four months later –

Wow

I am in for a heck of a roller coaster ride.  No – Other than plotting out how many words (YIKES) I will have to type a day, I have NO IDEA how I am going to pull it off.

Be prepared for a stream of FREAK OUT posts to fill you in on how I’m doing.

Here we go.  The roller coaster ride has officially started!

Wahoooo!

_JenniFer____EatoN

How to Publish Topic #4: Qualified Small Houses

I will admit, this is my sweet spot.  Qualified Small Houses are the up and comers that have the big-guys quaking in their boots.  Some of these people have jumped ship from bigger houses.  Some are experts in their fields, while others are succeeding because they are not afraid to break the rules.

These companies have the ability to do everything that the bigger houses do, without the name recognition of the larger houses.  Royalty rates, in general, are higher, and contract terms (in some cases) are easier to swallow.

While these companies may not have the big sales forces of the large houses, that’s not stopping them from publishing best sellers. Not only that, these houses still see the value in MARKETING, and not just the big titles.  They back every book that they publish.

The list of these little gems is not as long as some other lists, because there are not as many “independent publishers” that can boast best sellers. If you know of any that are not on my list, please let me know so I can add them.

Ellora’s Cave (Romance only – Could be considered a big-guy these days.)

Entangled (Strong Romantic Elements Required)

GMMG (Month9Books, Swoon Romance, Tantrum Books)

Lyrical Press (Recently acquired by Kennsington – Romantic Elements Required)

JenniFer_EatonF

SUCCESS! Holy Sh— Um— Wow! BEST WEEK EVER!

Okay, I admit, I am a Twitter stalker. Some people make it easy. They use Twitter as a method to voice what they are feeling about everything from the weather to really important stuff… like editors reading submissions.

A few days ago, the editor that has had my manuscript for quite a while tweeted:

“Catching up on subs. Really like the voice and story in the YA scifi I’m reading, It’s from March. I’m so far behind.”

I tensed. My sub is a YA Sci Fi.  And I submitted in March.  I’d be lying if I did not admit my head went ka-blooey!


A few hours later an email popped up from the same editor.

Nothing definite, just a note to say she was reading AND ENJOYING my manuscript.

How_stinking_cool_is_that

Okay, deep breath. That’s good. Really good. Fingernails are now officially non-existent. Let’s hope she doesn’t have an explosion phobia!

At one o’clock in the morning the next day she tweeted:

“Stayed up late to finish a manuscript I will offer on tomorrow. Really love this story.”

Now, I’m really glad I was fast asleep at one o’clock in the morning, because there would have been no sleeping that night for me if I had read this when she tweeted it.

PKO_0001147The next morning I woke to an email sent just after that Tweet. She’d stayed up late reading because she couldn’t put it down.

Yes!!!

Now let me tell you. Spam filters can be evil. E.V.I.L. because after almost a whole day, thank goodness, she poked me to make sure I got the contract offer.

“Umm, no.”

Resend is a wonderful thing.

I spent the next half hour reading and re-reading everything she had to say about my book.  I mean, you have dreams about people going on and on about how great your work is, but you never really expect it to happen. Especially from an editor with such a great reputation in the business. I was numb. Completely numb.

Wow. Just Wow

An editor at my target publisher loves my story just as much as I do. She loves my quirky voice, and the themes blew her away. (Literally, in some cases).

Wow.__I_mean_REALLy_Wow!_00000

Now on to the nitty gritty. I hope I will have exciting news to share with everyone really soon.

_JenniFer____EatoN

How to Publish Topic #3: Bigger than you can imagine houses

We’re continuing our Monday discussion of different ways to get published. Today we’re talking about large publishing houses.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that there were a “Big Six”, because there sure are a lot of OTHER houses out there that can give you exactly the same stuff.  Some take unagented manuscripts, others do not.

Some that don’t take unagented submissions open up once a year (or once in a while) to unagented authors, and always for a short time.  If you are interested in this, you need to follow these publishers closely.  The windows are tight, you don’t want to miss it.

In general, everything I said about the “Big Six” is true about these guys.  One in particular – HARLEQUIN – should be particularly attractive if you are a romance writer. TOR should be very attractive if you are a Speculative Fiction writer.  The reason I say this, is that these publishers have followings.  People who like a certain type of romance trust Harlequin, and will buy a book for the Harlequin name alone.  Hey, I wouldn’t say no to that.

Here are some of the “biggies” that are not considered “Big Six”

Harlequin (Recently purchased by HarperCollins)

Tor (St. Martins Press)

Baen Books

Baker Book House

Daw Books

Houghton Mifflin

Scholastic

Kennsington

Personally, I think the bragging rights are just as good to get into any of these guys. I certainly wouldn’t say no… but only if I believed that they loved my book enough to help promote it.

_JenniFer____EatoN

Rejection. Sometimes coming to grips is harder than others.

Like everyone, I’ve had a lot of rejections. Usually form rejections. I brushed myself off and moved on. But none of them stung as badly as this one.

83 days— twenty three days over their posted “get back to you” deadline, all leading to a form rejection.

Rejection.

Wow. I was speechless. Took me a while to get over it. I mean, I understand that publishers are busy, but when they have had the manuscript so long that they probably read the whole thing, and maybe even had several people read it, and then getting a form rejection?????

Ouch.

I’d just love to know— was it good enough? Did they have two alien novels on their desk that were great, and someone flipped a coin? Do they have an explosion phobia? Do they not like the color purple? What was it?

It took me a full day to get over this. Once I did, I dusted myself off and started reading my novel from page one.

Picking myself up, and getting back to it.

You know what?  I was amazed. After not reading my novel for several months, I found myself instantly engrossed, and stunned when I realized “Hey, I actually wrote this.”

I know why the publisher had it so long, now.

It’s good. Damn good.

I was probably rejected for one of those silly reasons you read about… like they already signed a sci-fi this month, or someone spilling their coffee or something.

My novel just needs to find the right person. Someone who loves the idea as much as I do.

I’m fine. I’ll get there. Patience has never been my strong suit. In the immortal words of Yoda “You must learn patience.”

There is still one more publisher on my “wish list” reading my baby. Maybe they are “the one”.

So I sit back, relax, and hunker down into my new novel.

This sucker ain’t gonna get written on its own.

 

Jennifer___Eaton

Sixty-three days and counting. It’s Submission Crunch Time.

Sixty-three days and counting. Crunch time.

I always swore I would never let querying get to me. Up until the last few weeks, I’d approached it with a grain of salt. Oh, yes, I gave it my all, but even after getting requests at a conference from a great agent and the YA editor from HarperCollins, I still approached the whole process emotionally void. I mean, you have to, right?

I have to admit, I am no longer emotionally void.

Two publishers that I’ve been trying to get into since, like, EVER are both reading my novel.

ReallY_HappyAn acceptance from either would make me deliriously happy.

It’s dumb, but I feel like this is it… do or die. If neither of them takes it, what else is there?

Yes, I know there are tons of options, and I should still be sending my manuscript out to others.  After all, there are hundreds of really great small houses out there, right?

But at the moment, I can’t. I’m just frozen. Like time has stopped.

PKO_0012884

I am now at the two week mark with one publisher and 63 days with the other. Everyone tells me the “63 day” publisher rejects fast, but reads long. They should have gotten back to me at 60 days.

That’s good. I need to believe that’d good.

I have to believe that my novel is standing for itself… That it’s good enough… That someone at the publisher loves it as much as I do.

But what now?

Do they have to convince someone else? Are there other editors with books they love, and they are all lobbying for their favorite to fit into a pre-determined schedule?

I said it once (maybe twice) and I’ll say it again.

This just doesn’t get any easier.

JenniFer_EatonF

How to Publish Topic #2: Do I want a Big Six Publisher, and Why?

This is something I think a lot of people struggle with. Not too long ago, authors did not have the choices they have today. If you wanted to get published, you needed an agent. Period. And that agent had only a handful of publishing houses to get you book into.

Not so today, but let’s take a look at the “biggies”.

These are the publishers commonly referred to as the “Big Six”

Hachette

Macmillan

Penguin

HarperCollins

Random House

Simon and Schuster

Even though there are many other choices available, these Big Six (5) are still the “only option” for many people. Hey, I’m not knocking that… why not aim high? The big houses can do a lot for you. Professional editing. Marketing. Sales team to get you into bookstores. Kick-butt cover art.

Yep. Sounds good to me.

I completely understand anyone wanting to jump into an organization that can give you so much. Problem is, more and more Big Six authors are raising their hands and saying “umm, I don’t get that stuff from my Big Six publisher”.

Marketing:

Now, I am not a Big Six author, so I can only relay what I’ve heard. Yes, there is a marketing budget. However, most of that budget is spent on the Stephen Kings and JK Rowlings of the world. Big houses spend their money to spread the news about titles the KNOW will sell. The little, debut authors? Not so much (but that is not to say never) And as far as getting into Barnes and Noble, the sales person, if you are lucky, will mention and talk about your book for all of fifteen seconds in a very short sales meeting with the bookseller. That’s not too long.

Editing:

Editing is hit or miss. I think we’ve all seen typos in Big Six novels. They make me cringe. It shouldn’t happen. I do think that, overall, Big Six novels do seem to get decent content edits, though. Editing is manual. It will always be open to mistakes.

Cover Art:

I will give them this… Covers are usually pretty dern snappy. That kind of cover costs a pretty penny. But there are some misses there as well. And you will have no creative control whatsoever about your cover with the big guys.

Bragging Rights:

I think that the big thing attracting people to the Big Six is bragging rights. I totally understand that. Getting into a Big Six is a statement. What does it say?

“I did it.”

Yes, I understand that completely. It’s a huge accomplishment. With thousands of novels vying for a precious few slots in their catalog, “making it” is certainly brag-worthy. Once you are there, though, you need to take stock and decide if you are really getting what you thought you were getting.

In many cases, authors ARE getting what they hoped for. But there are also many who think the Big 6 fall short.

Next time, we’ll talk about the ‘bigger than you can imagine’ houses.

JenniFer_Eaton__F

Unexpected High Points While You’re Waiting on a Submission

The torment of waiting can have its high points

The clock is ticking on a manuscript I submitted now 51 days ago. Within another week (hopefully) I will hear something. It’s good they have it a long time, right? If they hated the first few pages, they would have stopped reading and rejected it by now. Right?

Right? Right? Right?

But what if they are just behind? What if the editor has been out sick, and papers have piled up? What if she gets back from a vacation or something and then just rejects everyone just to get current again!?????

Ergghhhhhh!

It can totally get to you. I swear.

Anyway, I got a bright little flicker of hope today.

In response to an earlier query, I got a request for full from another publisher I’ve targeted for their awesomeness. For non-writerly-types, that means they have asked to read the entire manuscript.

Yay!

It feels good, having my completed manuscript in the hands of two publishing houses that I have had my eye on for a while. But even with a few successes under my belt, I still bite off my nails.

Publishing is so subjective.

Woman Erg PitchforkThey could take a manuscript just because their boss yelled at them and said “More aliens!”

Likewise, they can reject a fantastic manuscript because they spilled their coffee, missed the bus, or their boss just yelled at them: “We have enough aliens!”

It can leave you pulling your hair out. I swear it can.

Go_through_the_motions

So now I am at Day 51 with one publisher, and Day One with another publisher.

And the waiting goes on.

Anyone have any antacid? I ran out a week ago.

_JenniFer____EatoN

The torment of waiting. It can get to you, can’t it?

There is a great new system out there that a few publishers and agents are using. It’s called Submittable. It is awesome, because after you submit your novel, you can look up your query’s status at any time. Is it received? In progress? In editorial Review? Rejected?  All the info is there at your fingertips 24 hours a day.

You know what’s really bad about the system?

It is available 24 hours a day. For checking. Constantly.

I swear. It can be an addiction. I know I will be contacted if I get rejected or accepted, but I still check… just to make sure.

Yes, I am mildly stressed out. I’ve been querying for a long time, but up until recently, when I started to get good feedback, I’d been staying near the middle and bottom of my wish list. When the rejections came in, it was no big deal. I had plenty of more places to go. I revised some more, especially if I received feedback, and moved on to the next one.

No big deal right? That’s what this business is like.

Now that I’ve finally got the gummy bears to submit to places that I’ve targeted as “The ones I want”—Now I am starting to sweat.

Each day that passes, I think “Good. That means they are still reading it.” Of course, just because it changed from “Received” to “In Process” three days after I submitted, does not mean anyone has actually looked at it yet. But I keep telling myself they are.

You see, I’ve been rejected by one of these publishers TWICE. Each for novellas. Now they have something I’ve invested a significant amount of time on. The novellas were rejected on day 35 and 37 of the submission process. As of today, they have had my novel for 45 days.

That’s good, right?

Arghhh! PictureNo, guys. This does not get any easier.

I keep telling myself “They are still reading. This is good. If they didn’t like it, they would have rejected it already.”

Right? [smacks herself in the head]

JenniFer_EatonF

How to Publish Topic #1: So let’s start with agents.

Whether or not to get an agent is a VERY personal decision. It is one that I flip flop back and forth with. You need to ask yourself a few questions before you make this decision.

  1. Do I have the ability to negotiate my own contract? (Another option is to hire a lawyer to review and explain the contract, but you will still be on your own for negotiating)
  2.  Do I need an agent to get into the publisher that I want?
  3.  Are you willing to trust your publisher with income statements (Because you’d need a PHD to figure out your sales/royalties)

There may be more questions that would point you in one direction or another, but these are the biggies for me.

Number one and three, I think, are self explanatory. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone on your side. Just remember, you will pay them 15% of your royalties for them to “be on your side”

This, I think, is the major question regarding whether or not to partner with an agent:

Think GirlDo I need an agent to get into the publisher that I want?

In general, if you want to get into the Big Six (5) under one of the imprints that gives you larger advances and printed book circulation, you need to have an agent. A few of these houses have open submission once a year, or you can try pitching at conferences, but in general, you need an agent to get a foot in the door. Some of the “not big six but still really big” houses require agents, too. So do your research, and choose wisely.  However, make sure you are reaching for the Big 6 for the right reasons (which I will discuss in my next post)

The interesting thing is that many agents are starting to send manuscripts to Qualified Small Houses. You need to be careful of this, because if the only reason you want an agent is to get into a Big Six, and they get you a contract at a Qualified Small House, You have wasted your 15% (because most Qualified Small Houses take un-agented submissions.)

However: In those houses, agented manuscripts seem to get a looksee before unagented manuscripts. I learned that recently in my own querying. So again, you need to decide what it is you really want.

So what do you think? Agent or no agent, and why? Do you have a reason I did not cover above that makes you want that agent relationship?

JenniFer_EatonF