JENN KELLY

the journey from writing a novel to ... what were we talking about again?

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How to Deal with Bad News…

Sometimes, in the publishing world, you get bad news. Awful news. Devastating news. And sometimes you get lovely news. And fantastic news. And heart-stopping, dream-making news.

But today we talk about how to deal with bad news.

Bad news #1: Your manuscript was rejected.

If this is the first rejection, it will be the hardest. You will anxiously open your email, tell everyone who is around you to shut up and you will read. And then your heart stops. And then you frown.  And then you get mad. Real mad. Who do you think you are? You can’t reject me! I’m brilliant! What is wrong with you? And you will debate emailing them back and asking them if they still do their mother’s laundry. Don’t.

How to deal?  Cry. You’re allowed. Eat chocolate. Have red wine and popcorn for supper. Throw something and think irrational thoughts. And then get over it. Because no one likes hanging around a self-pitier. Your book was rejected, your father did not just die. Get perspective. There are two reasons why you were rejected: 1) your book sucks or 2) you haven’t made the connection yet.

Be patient.

Bad News #2:  The editors removed a rather large chunk of what you wrote, because they don’t like it.

How to deal?  Cry. You’re allowed. Eat chocolate. Have red wine and popcorn for supper. Throw something and think irrational thoughts. And then get over it. Time to look at two options. 1) argue with your editor or 2)allow the changes

Arguing with your editor can be good or it can be bad. Try not to use any bad words or criticisms. Editors are terribly smart and there is a reason why they have the job they do. They also have the power to make you look good or bad. Editors talk. If you are a bad person they don’t like talking to, it’ll get around.  Ask your editor why? If it is terribly pertinent to the story, explain. If they are firm, how can you be changed? Or, when it happens to me, I think about it, pray about it and ask God to either change them, or me.

Bad News #3:  Your book isn’t coming out on the release date.

How to deal? sigh and get over it. You can’t change that. No matter what. Get focused on the next project.

So:  today I got to edit some stuff I didn’t really want to, but I think with some super creative ideas, I can make it rock even more so.

And my second book won’t be out until October. Instead of August.

Poop.

Watching: Glee

Reading: Bourne Identity

Eating: cheeseburgers

I Love News…

First off? Let me say how excited I am that Target is coming to Canada. While my heart feels bad for Zellers, let’s face it, Target has its act together. And they sell great clothes at cheaper prices. Not…cheap clothes at cheap prices. And their linens! Don’t even get me started on their duvets!

I’ve got an agent. And I think I’m allowed to say who it is. Mr. Bill Jensen! I am super excited as we had a few phone calls and every single time I talk to him, I get that ‘sparkle’ in my eyes (has hubby puts it) because I honestly believe he is the one that will help me reach my potential. Yay! And you couldn’t ask for a sweeter guy. I like him. Sadly, he lives in Oregon.  But strangely coincidental (God-incidental: my word!) is that my lovely ex-editor Kathleen just moved to the exact same town he lives in! How crazy is that? No, I haven’t checked out flight tickets yet, but probably later today. First I have to take down my tree.

While I haven’t really heard anything from Zondervan about book 3 (as Bill kindly reminded me) the publishing business is crazy-slow. I can’t believe how slow it is. And I’m sitting here debating whether to start book 3, banking on, what I think are good sales, to expect a book 3, or if I should write the Amish Fiction.  My AGENT (oooh, I like that word!) told me to just write the A.F. as it has a strong plot. Oh, I wish I could share with you, but I really can’t. Except to say that the main character ends up in an Amish community. But the craziest part which is blowing my mind off the rails (ie. spent twenty minutes in the cooking section at Chapters staring off into space) is that I need to write 70,000 words.

Dude.

That’s a lot of words.

I’ve written two books, one is 36,000 and the other is about 33,000. Which added up, would be the right amount. However, it took me 5 months to write the second and that’s only half an adult book.

And then there’s the daunting issue of aiming for the big leagues now. Which means bigger words, better descriptions and more character involvement.

I’m kinda excited.

I think I need to make a list of things I need to do beforehand (ie: study Amish Villages and find rockin’ soundtrack) and do some soul searching.  I’m so excited.

And I love how God gave me the most awesome idea for the book in a dream at 5:31am.  And I wish I could share it, but I can’t. Just know that it involves a mason jar. :)

Drinking: market spice tea from Teaopia. Ohmyword it’s gooood!

Watching: the soft snow coming down.

Listening to: the child build paper airplanes.

Reading: Vanity Fair (december issue with Cher on the cover) it’s fantastic! There’s this awesome vignette on a couple of military guys who were stranded in the ocean during WWII. Absolutely fascinating! And Cher gave a good interview too.

Being Brave

I’ve already mentionned that I’m looking for an agent. I gave myself until January 1 to do it. Which meant hunkering down and ignoring the call of the wii, the walks outside and the movies on tv to read my literary agent book and hi-light what looks good.  Now I’m researching them on the web.  And today I searched a few and then had a moment of boldness.

I had met an agent at the Word Guild Writer’s Conference in Guelph back in 2009. Or maybe it was 2008. Oh I hope it was 2009 or I look like a bum.   Anyway, let’s call him Fred. Fred and I hit it off really well and he gave a talk on platform. Which was fascinating, but scary.  I pitched him and he told me to contact him. I did and he turned me down. Rejection #43.  And I let him go.

As I’m going through the agents that have already rejected me, I have to pause.  Which ones should I bother trying to contact again?  The ones who never responded? The ones who actually sent me a personal rejection? The ones where they had their assistant do it? (Last one would be a ‘no’.)  There’s the pride factor of being all, ‘well, you rejected me and look how famous I’m gonna be and your boss is gonna be peeved at you’. Which of course is never a healthy way to be, although for the ‘what-if’ game, it’s fun for ten minutes.  Then there’s the ‘am I good enough now?’ thought.   And there’s the ‘I don’t want to pay an agent if I’m already in!’ thought.

It’s terribly confusing.

And makes me stare off into space quite frequently.

Which is lots of fun. But I have no time to do that. I have to find an agent.

Watching: Cars

Listening to: Pachelbel Canon (the gaffer listens to it while he sleeps. has since he was a baby. am going to play it at his wedding to see if he falls asleep. also have baby video of very large poop mess he made to shame him at wedding also)

Eating: salad with pecans

Reading: Narnia. Harry Potter. Demons and Angels. Depends what room I’m in.

Other Things I Didn’t Know…

Oh you learn so much in the business. And there is so much I still don’t know.

I still don’t know how they managed to convince Costco to carry my book. No idea.  Granted, they don’t have it yet, but maybe in the fall.

I still don’t know why my book has not shown up in Kanata yet. But that’s ok.

What I learned last night, when we got home very very late from celebrating the gaffer’s 6th birthday, was that they write the back ad for the cover waaaay before the book is done.

So last night, I got an email from lovely Kathleen, showing me the back cover ad. It was really really good. And it’s pretty much the story.  I want to read it, it’s so good.

I should probably write the book now…  6 weeks and counting…

Reading: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (I inhaled Catching Fire two days ago. She is so good. I wish I had written it)

Watching: Nothing. I’m READING!!

Listening to: my teeth crunch a Lindt milk chocolate. Yum!

Eating: see above. Now for healthy lunch.

Edits

Lovely, editor Kathleen sent me the edits last night at 11pm.  She is insane to stay up that late to finish. I opened the file this morning.

Oh boy.

With the first book, I only had two pages of edits. And they weren’t even a big deal. I felt very good about myself. Granted, I had a year and a half to play with it while searching for a publisher or agent, but still.

This?  5 pages.  And oh boy, not much of it is good.

I need some major overhaul.

I forgot to give Jackson a purpose.

Pretty sad, isn’t it?  In the first book, Jackson longs to be a hero. And he gets to be one.  This one? He’s doing nothing. Just a lot of meaningless wandering around, learning nothing. Oops.

My lovely editor was tactful kind enough to tell me that it was her job to make it amazing and that it is never easy to write a book, let alone a kids’ book and that everything would be wonderful. I just had to hunker down and drink my chai lattes and get to it.

And I have 7 weeks to do it.

Let the games begin.

Listening to: the boys are listening to farting and burping noises on the computer

Reading: The Hunger Games. Oh you must read it. It’s fantastic.

Eating: peanut butter.

Watching: tonight? My husband. It’s our ten year anniversary!

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