One of my favorite YA authors to follow is Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why. Released in October of 2007 (it actually just celebrated its 3 year anniversary), the cover had been haunting me every time I stepped inside a bookstore. I couldn't get away from that mysterious girl on the swing.
I tried avoiding it - not because the book didn't interest me, but because I knew what was addressed and feared the reaction I would have. But in December of 2008, I caved and bought it. Well, I couldn't put it down (seriously; I actually carried it into a movie theater and read until the previews began). It was a real page turner - one that had me on the edge of my seat and constantly wanting to know more.
For me, the novel I enjoy the most is one that brings me into the story. Not just one I can visualize or relate to, but one that pulls me inside the story - one that makes me a character a character in the background watching everything unfold. Thirteen Reasons Why did just that!
Jay's novel has been a huge inspiration to me. It was his debut book and became a huge success. The concept was unique, one that had not been previously attempted.
ANYWAY, last night, I was in one of my usual writing funks - that cyclical one that plagues my brain on some ambiguous schedule I haven't quite figured out yet. So I started browsing blogs, and even though I visit Jay's consistently, clicked a link for the first time that took me to his archived post about selling his first book.
Jay's experience ignited a lot of motivation - so much that it's now hanging next to my desk as a tangible reminder of what might result from writing a manuscript. It is helping me keep my eyes on the prize. And even though I never expect to have a success story comparable to Jay Asher's, his depiction of that monumental moment keeps me inspired and focused.
Below, I have copied that entry; it really is a great story!
Happiness is... (From the original blog of Jay Asher, posted on 10/6/2006)
Razorbill? Isn’t that the name of a scary looking bird? Yes, it is. But it’s also the name of Penguin’s kick-ass teen imprint. And their logo, the one seen above, is going to be printed on the spine of my very first published book. Say it with me now…Woo-Hoo!!!
So how did I get The Call? Was it, “Hi, is Jay Asher there? Jay, this is Kristen calling from Razorbill. Are you sitting down?” No, it was a bit more…unusual. I checked my phone on my lunch break and saw that I had two new messages. The first was from my agent asking me nicely to call her back because we’d just received an offer. The second was also from my agent, this time telling me to call her back because we’d just received a second offer.
Last week, Razorbill and two other publishing houses squared off in what I have come to call The Battle of the Book. The rules of engagement, as set up by Referee Rennert (a.k.a. my agent), went as follows:
1. Slap your bids on the table.
2. Show us your marketing.
3. Place a call to the author.
Here’s how Rule #1 went down:
(today, the role of Variable X will be played by Variable $)
1. Contestant A offers an advance valued at $.
2. Contestant B counters with $ + ($ x ½).
3. Contestant A roars back into the lead with a staggering $ x 5.
4. Not to be outdone, Contestant B whips out the ol’ $ x 7½.
5. Wait…who’s that?…it looks like…it is!…here comes Contestant C with $ x 10.
6. Having none of that, Contestant A digs down deep to match the $ x 10.
7. But it’s not over yet, folks. Contestant B gets a second wind and we’re neck and neck with a three-way $ x 10. This one’s gonna be a photo finish.
8. And would you look at that…all three contestants are waving 2-book contracts!
Phew! Just typing that not-so-instant replay made me sweaty all over again. When I told Gregory K. about the auction, and after we were done celebrating, he asked, “Do you remember how it felt when the offer was still at $?” “It felt amazing,” I replied. “That’s what you need to remember,” he said. What a profound guy! (Of course, he then hit me up for some cash cuz he’s a smart guy, too.) But the great thing about having the editors come in with matching advances meant I was able to concentrate on the other details without being swayed by my well-fed credit card bill.
Speaking to each editor on the phone was wonderful. I came away with the impression that children’s book editors are some of the coolest people in the world. In the future, I would love the opportunity to hang out with each of them without having to worry about pitching myself to them…or having them pitch themselves to me. How weird is that? With past submissions, editors told me I was the one who wasn’t right for them. But last week they were telling me why they were right for me. Just when I thought I had this business figured out…
So my first book will be a Razorbill book. And my next YA will also be a Razorbill book. (If you have any ideas for a YA…any ideas at all!…please shoot me an e-mail.) They’re hoping to have my book out in Fall ’07, but you don’t need to write that down. Based on their marketing strategy, anyone within 20 miles of a bookshelf is gonna know it’s on its way. The title will likely change between now and then, but it’s currently titled Baker’s Dozen: The AudioBiography of Hannah Baker. As a demonstration of Razorbill’s marketing creativity, they submitted a 13-point Marketing Plan.
13-point…Baker’s Dozen…get it? Ha!
The original post above can be found here.