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

 

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.

Writing Studies Alum Jackai Musonge Publishes Novel

Jackai Photo

Jackai Musonge

 

 

 

 Another alumni success story!

 

 

 

 

Jackai Musonge (’07) has published a novel about his experiences as a student in the United States.  Originally from Cameroon, Central Africa, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media with a minor concentration in Journalism from Temple University in August 2002 prior to completing his Writing Studies degree.

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The book, entitled International Student Part One: Journey to America, was published in September 2014 and is the first in a two-part series.  Jackai is a journalist, writer and actor.  We wish him every success as he pursues his passion for writing.  Be sure to visit amazon.com to read more about the book and perhaps buy it!  

Writing Studies Alum Elishia Peterson Publishes Poetry Collection

Another success story in the making.

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2 pens and lint

2 Pens & Lint

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We were recently contacted by Alum Elishia Peterson (’13), who told us about her latest accomplishment. She was eager to share her news with current students as well as fellow alums. Here is what she had to say:

“This past November of 2014, I published a collection of poetry in the form of a chapbook through a publishing company called 2 Pens & Lint. The poetry is actually my graduate thesis project “Black Roses: Five Women and Their Mental Breakthrough,” in which I interviewed young women that I know concerning their mental health and how they’ve dealt with tough issues that happened in their lives. I then transcribed the interviews (along with my own personal style) into poetry. I decided to publish the thesis in a chapbook format as a means to begin to promote and share my work. I am selling the books for $5.00 each. Click on this  link to purchase a copy. This venture is a step closer to furthering the collection by interviewing more women and completing “Black Roses” as my first novel (hopefully a publisher will accept my manuscript).”

Congratulations to you, Elishia! We look forward to hearing more about your work in the future. It is always so exciting to hear of Writing Studies students and alums that go on to publish their work so that everyone can share in their creative genius.

 

Writing Studies Student (Soon to be an Alum) David Jackson to Present Paper in D.C.

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Congratulations to David Jackson, who’s paper: “New Century Approaches to Literacy: Engaging the Margins”, has been selected for presentation at the National Council of Teachers of English this month in Washington D.C.

As a first time presenter, we thought we’d have a brief interview with David by one of St. Joseph’s more seasoned students; impending graduate David Jackson.

 

 

So, are you nervous about your first presentation?

DJ: Dude, what do you think?  I’m planning on wearing a Depends under my suit and bra pads under my arms to absorb the sweat.

Seems drastic.  So explain what your paper is about.

DJ: Well, this conference is given for teachers of English on various topics.  This year the focus is on using story as a way to explain existence.

Huh?

DJ: Over the years, it seems that education has favored empirical and objective modes of thought over subjective ones.  But there seems to have been a gradual shift since the 1970’s that appreciates the contribution of narrative as an equally valuable tool in the formation of theory.  It adds elements to non-narrative theories that can make it more fully understandable.

Huh?

DJ: Women, children, disabled people, gender-nonconformists, and people of color have usually not been included in the formation of theory.  Even so, throughout history these people have contributed to humanity moving forward as a society.  They have kept journals, written poems, sang songs to their babies, made clothing and danced dances that explain our lived existence in ways that more scientific methods do not.

While I seem to be straying off track, all of these things are elements that tell a story, both overtly and covertly.  This conference is devoted to plumbing the depth of these non-traditional forms of storytelling.

Tell us how your presentation interacts with this.

DJ: I have a presentation that tries to turn the challenge of in class cell phone use into a tool to help engage students that are often disinterested in standard teaching methodologies.  If we use texting as a way to create story, we can take advantage of technology to harness the power of telling stories, which all humans do, and create a communal, reciprocal classroom where each member contributes and where all have equal value.

Good luck at your presentation!

DJ: Thanks.  Know where I can get a discount on Depends?