SJU Writing Studies Blog

Tips on Publishing Young Adult Fiction with Dr. April Linder – by John Rafferty

Photo courtesy of Chris Hensel

Photo courtesy of Chris Hensel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. April Linder teaches writing at St. Joseph’s University and has recently published her third young adult novel, Love, Lucy. A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of Cincinnati, where she earned her Ph.D., she is also the author of two poetry collections, This Bed Our Bodies Shaped and Skin.

With the current popularity of young adult novels, and so many looking to make their way into its world, she was kind enough to answer the following questions on how to turn a manuscript into a published work.

How did you come to write your first young adult novel, Jane?

I’ve always enjoyed literary retellings, and I’ve long played with the idea of possibly writing one myself.  In the years before I wrote Jane, there weren’t all that many retellings of my favorite novel, Jane Eyre, though now there seem to be hundreds! I’d played with the idea of writing one myself, but couldn’t come up with a way to handle the all-important barrier that stands between Jane and Mr. Rochester—the huge class difference that stands between them. Then one day it occurred to me that Mr. Rochester could be a celebrity, and Jane could be just an ordinary broke college girl.  From there it was just a small step to realizing Mr. Rochester could be a rock star.  At that point I knew I had to write that book—so I did.

 

Can you take us through the experience of getting that first young adult novel published?

For most of my career, I’ve been a poet, and getting my books of poetry into print has been an uphill battle. One very welcome thing about writing fiction is that it’s possible to get an agent to help you place your book. (There’s no money in poetry, so very few agents will represent poets.)  When I’d finished polishing up my manuscript for Jane, a friend introduced me to her agent who agreed to represent my book.  She submitted the manuscript to six presses and the fifth one took it.   If the process sounds relatively painless, it really isn’t, considering I had to hone my craft for about twenty years to get there.

 

In what ways has the process of publication for each subsequent novel differed, after obtaining that original publishing deal?

My second novel, Catherine, took a lot longer to write than Jane did, and the third novel, Love, Lucy, took even longer.  But by then I did already have an agent, and an editor who was willing to help me to whip those manuscripts into shape.  I’ve stuck with the same press for all three of my novels and I do love having an ongoing relationship with an agent, a press, and an editor.  There’s never a guarantee that a press will take the next book, but I’ve got book four in the works and I’m hoping.

 

Would you say young adult publishing is different from publishing other genres?

These are boom times for Young Adult books.  I can’t believe the number of YA that are published every year.  YA fiction has an avid readership of both teens and adults, and a really vibrant book blogging scene.  Otherwise, these are tough times in the publishing world, and it seems to be a lot harder these days to get into print as a writer of adult fiction, so I’m thankful to have stumbled into the YA universe.

By the way, I didn’t set out to write YA.  I thought I was writing Jane for an adult audience, but my brilliant agent recognized the book’s YA elements, so that’s the way she decided to sell it.

 

What is the most important thing one can do to break in to the young adult publishing world?

The most important thing any writer needs to do is read—widely and deeply—in your chosen genre/category and beyond.  And the other important thing a writer needs to do is keep writing, no matter what.  You have to be willing to be rejected—it happens to all writers, often repeatedly—and to keep sending your work out into the world.  The more you are rejected the more likely it is that you will someday be accepted, because rejection means you are sending your work out, so you’re already ahead of people who are too afraid to take the risk.  Be hard headed, keep learning and revising, and never stop trying.  Or, to steal the words of Bruce Springsteen, “Keep pushing till it’s understood and these badlands start treating you good.”

John Rafferty is a Masters student in the Writing Studies program at Saint Joseph’s University. His email: johnmrafferty@gmail.com

 

Summer Course Offerings

As you may know, summer registration has begun!  Here is a description of the course offerings:

AimeeSummer I: May 18 – June 27, 2015

 ENG 646: Multimedia Storytelling (Area II) – hybrid class (half in person, half online)

 Taught by Aimee Knight 

 Hours: one night per week, 18:30-21:45

 

In this course we will explore digital stories in an era of media convergence. We will employ an audience-based, rhetorical approach to the critique and creation of original content for online communities. Throughout the course we will learn how image, text, and social media work together to create powerful narratives. By the end of the course students will publish non-fiction, multimedia stories to online platforms such as Medium, Cowbird, and Steller.

Goals and objectives:

  • To examine the role of multimedia stories in an era of media convergence
  • To understand the rhetorical role of narrative, structure, image, and audience

engagement in digital environments

  • To produce engaging digital narratives by combining image, text, and social

media

Required Texts

  • Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (2008) ISBN: 0316014990
  • The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best

Pictures of Your Life (2013) ISBN: 0761169237

  • Writer/designer: A guide to making multimodal projects. (2014) [Excerpts/

PDF]

Summer II: June 29-August 8, 2015

ENG 668: Creative Nonfiction (Area III)

Instructor: TBD

Hours: twice a week, 18:30-21:45

In this workshop, we will read, dissect, discuss, and create works of creative nonfiction. We will learn to offer and accept criticism, to challenge our preconceptions of genre and style, and strengthen our chops as writers. To accomplish this, we will read and write and talk like crazy. We’ll analyze the work of published authors in the many subgenres of CNF. We will write our own pieces, and offer them up to the group for critique. I can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening.

 

Note:  original post classified ENG 668 as Area I.  My apologies for any confusion.

How to Get Your Name in Print – by Elyse Hauser

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Elyse Hauser

 

 

 

 

 

 

As students, we sometimes find the act of writing a lot easier than getting that writing published. We spend more time thinking about the craft itself than about self-promotion—which is as it should be. But (with a few exceptions) the ultimate goal is to see our words in print, somewhere other than our personal computers. How can you go from writer to published writer? These are the tips that helped me do it.

 

 

 

 

  1. Divorce your writing from financial gain—for now.

Obviously we all intend to get compensated for our work at some point. But if you’ve never been published before, submitting a few pieces to unpaid publications can help build up your credentials so you can get into the paid ones. Publishing is a competitive business, but previously published work will give you a leg up on the competition.

  1. Talk to everyone.

You might be sick of the term “networking”—I know I am—but you shouldn’t give up on the concept. Networking doesn’t just happen at labeled “networking events”. It also happens at restaurants, friends’ parties, family gatherings, you name it. The more you talk to people about what you do, and the more questions you ask (even from those in seemingly unrelated fields), the more you’ll open the door for opportunities to come your way.

  1. Self-describe as a writer.

On the same note, talking to people won’t do much good if you don’t tell them you’re a writer. Saying “I’m a writer” when people ask what you do can take some getting used to, especially if you haven’t been published yet. But if you write, you are a writer! I’ve gotten editors’ email addresses and leads on new publications just by mentioning this fact in casual conversation.

  1. Don’t fear rejection.

Rejection is part of the game, so find some way to accept that your writing will probably be turned away far more than it is accepted. In fact, every rejection letter is a credential in a way—it’s proof that you are actively writing and submitting, and one step closer to getting published. Instead of getting discouraged, try doing one small nice thing for yourself every time you get a rejection letter. Or vent to your best friend, write an angry journal entry—whatever it takes to get you back to writing.

  1. Consider genre-crossing.

You may think of yourself in terms of a single genre, as strictly a poetry or fiction writer. But exploring new genres can be a great way to get published. Nonfiction essays are huge right now, especially online—think about the last few articles you clicked on—while fiction opens up a whole new category of literary journals to submit to. Most writing is story-based, so you might find the transition from short stories to personal essays or vice versa easier than you thought. Even “listicles” like this one can make for valuable publication credentials. Experiment and see what sticks.

  1. Be open to new publications.

We’ve all got a list of the places we dream of getting published, but it’s important to submit and pitch to a wide variety of publications, not just your favorites. Be open to having your work appear in a lesser-known publication. You have a better chance of getting published if you cast a wide net—within the boundaries of where your writing style fits, of course.

By the way, The Avenue is currently accepting submissions from Writing Studies students who’d like to see their name in print!  March 19 is the deadline.

Do Not Forget to Apply for Graduation

CAS grad

Are you graduating in May? If so, please remember to apply for graduation by

April 1, 2015. Please click here to view the “Apply to Graduate” flyer.

Apply to graduate so that you may:

  • Receive your diploma;
  • Have your name published in the program;
  • Walk in the ceremony.

Apply for graduation by:

  • Logging on the Nest;
  • Clicking on the Classes and Registration tab.

Also, please remember to mark your calendar for the Graduation Salute.

  • The Salute will be taking place on March 18th and 19th from 11:30 am to 7:00 pm, 5th floor, McShain Hall.
  • There, you will be able to pick up your graduation gown. If you are unable to attend this year’s Salute, and you do not have a financial hold on your account, please pick up your cap and gown at your earliest convenience at the SJU bookstore beginning on March 26th.
  • Please click here to read more about the Graduation Salute.

If you have any questions, please email Retention and Student Success atgradsuccess@sju.edu or call 610-660-1281.