Welcome to Literary Rambles! While you’re rambling around and exploring the site enter for a chance to win:
IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING through September 24th
Agent Barbara Poelle Three Chapter Critique and THE READER Giveaway through September 24th
Agent Catherine Cho Query Critique through October 1st
GENESIS GIRL through October 1st
BETH REVIS INTERVIEW AND BOOK GIVEAWAY
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
Hi Beth. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your book.
I’m just an everyday kind of person, nothing really interesting about me I live in rural North Carolina with my husband and my dog, a big black Lab named Sirius. My book, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is a murder mystery set in space, telling the story of Amy, a girl from Earth, who is cryogenically frozen to be with her parents on an interstellar mission. When she wakes up fifty years early in a foiled murder attempt, though, she has to figure out who unplugged her…before whoever it is unplugs her parents.
2. I’ve read that you had many other books in your drawer and were contemplating quitting writing if this book didn’t sell. How did you get the idea for this story and did you have any idea that this was the one that would get you your agent and sell?
I have ten trunk novels—nearly all of which I tried to get published. I was very frustrated by the time I finished writing ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I just didn’t understand why I’d been writing for so long and writing so much and nothing had been published yet. But when I finished ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, I did feel that there was something special about this manuscript. Writing it was like magic—it flowed, and I reveled in the language as well as the story. I knew it was the best thing I’d ever written and that if it didn’t sell, I had no business writing.
3. We should all remember Beth’s experiences and have faith that it’ll happen for us too. You have an incredibly detailed map of the ship on the inside of the book cover. When did you design the ship in relation to your first draft? What challenges did you face in creating your world on a ship?
Somewhere around the first hundred pages of the book or so, I got out a legal notepad (my preferred brainstorming method) and drew a VERY rough sketch of the ship—it was seriously just a circle with some notes on it. After I signed with Razorbill, my publisher asked for the sketch and took it to a whole new level with the blueprint design!
4. That’s so awesome. You tell your story from Amy’s and Elder’s points of view. How did you develop their characters? Is there any of you in either of them? Did you find it more challenging because they literally come from completely different worlds?
I didn’t find it more challenging to write from such different points of view—I loved it! It was so much fun!! But even though they are so different, there is a little bit of me in each of them. Amy’s need for her parents and fear of waking up without them were pulled from my own fear of moving away to college far away from my family when I was still pretty young (I was 17). Elder’s desire to prove that he was worthy as a leader of the ship and fears that he wasn’t good enough definitely stemmed from my own desires to be published and fear that my writing wasn’t good enough.
5. You’ve already written the second book in the series. Did you have it planned out when you wrote ACROSS THE UNIVERSE? What did you learn about writing a series from writing this one? Do you have any advice for us aspiring authors trying to create a trilogy?
I just finished the second book, A MILLION SUNS, but I’ve not even touched the third book of the trilogy yet…the only thing I’ve written on it is the title!
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE started as a standalone novel. I didn’t change the ending—I always wrote it with a somewhat ambiguous ending, leaving it open to the reader to decide what happened to Amy and Elder. But in talking with my agent, I figured out a way to extend the story in a way that would fit a trilogy.
Writing the second book was very difficult because it wasn’t a part of my original plan. But I do believe that, as with any writing, you’re just developing a logical “what happened next.” Stay true to the characters, and you can write any number of books.
6. That’s great advice. Now let’s move on the business aspect of writing. Can you tell us about your road to publication and any struggles along the way?
Well, there were the ten trunk novels that never got published! I feel like an expert on queries—I’ve written them for nearly all the ten trunk novels and have the hundreds of rejections to prove it.
Some of my struggles include:
(a) get my writing up to snuff—I don’t think my writing was bad, per se, but I do know that my writing improved with time.
(b) Writing something marketable—I don’t think you should dictate how and what you write from the market, but there are two of my trunk novels that I can look at now and realize they will never sell merely because there is no market for them.
I think the best thing to do as a writer—or, at least, the best thing for me to do to overcome these struggles—was to find good, trustworthy critique partners.
7. What have you learned about what works and what doesn’t work marketing-wise from the release of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE? Do you have any tips on what debut authors should definitely do to market our book when it’s released?
Heh. In my last answer I said to write something marketable. But you know what I learned from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE? Don’t worry too much about the market. I thought it was going to be a huge struggle to sell it—it was sci fi, and there wasn’t sci fi in the YA market at the time. When I was querying, I went to my local bookstore and library and asked them for YA sci fi—the only thing I got was ENDER’S GAME and THE HOST—that was the extent of the selection. I was terrified when I started querying that no one would want the book because it was set in space…and in some cases, I was right. I got a couple of rejections that flatly said “space sci fi doesn’t sell in YA.” But then I got acceptances, too.
So, the short answer: if your book is good enough, you don’t have to worry about the market.
As for what debut authors can do to market their titles: the number one thing for any author to remember is that they are a writer first, not a marketer. I do think that a writer should have a website—they should be able to control the information on their own books online. It should be professional looking and easy to read and find information on. Do you need a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or anything else? No. If you enjoy them and want to connect to your readers—sure, go ahead. But it’s not necessary.
8. It’s good to know that the website is essential and you can do the other social marketing as you feel comfortable. What are you working on now?
I’m working on the final edits to A MILLION SUNS, the sequel to AtU, and then I’m turning to the last novel in the trilogy. I’m also just now playing around with a new idea for a book that I rather like…
9. When will the next two books in your series be released?
They should each be released the following year. So: A MILLION SUNS will be out early 2012, and the third and last book out 2013.
Thanks so much Beth for all your advice. And good luck. You can visit Beth at her website and her blog. I’ve been following her blog for a long time and really recommend it.
I’m giving away one copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. And Beth agreed to send the winner a signed bookplate. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on June 4thth. I’ll announce the winner on June 6th. International entries are welcome.
Don’t forget on June 6th, I’ll be having a BIG debut party for Elana Johnson. Her book POSSESSION comes out on June 7th. There will a BIG giveaway! Please come back and make it special for Elana. She’s such an awesome person who has helped so many of us on our road to publication. Let’s show her how much we appreciate it by supporting her on her special day.
And hope to see you next Monday.
Posted by Natalie Aguirre on Monday, May 23, 2011