Today I’m excited to have debut author Tara Dairman here with a guest post on taking the time to get being published right and giveaway of her MG contemporary novel ALL FOUR STARS that releases on July 10th. It sounds like a fantastic book with a blurb by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Nielsen. I know many of you’d enjoy reading it this summer.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.
But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?
So here’s Tara!
The time it takes to get it right
Want to publish a novel? Great! It's an easy two-step process:
1) Get a really, really great idea for a book.
2) Execute it as well as humanly possible.
Now, if you've been hanging around the kid-lit-o-sphere for a while, you've probably heard that writers never publish their first novels. Writing your first novel is a chance to...well, learn how to write a novel, but you shouldn't expect that it'll score you an agent. And, if by some fluke, it does score you an agent, you should still get busy writing that second book, because chances are that that first one probably isn't going to sell.
These are wise words, and I often feel a little funny admitting that my debut novel is actually also my first All Four Stars, the debut novel in question, took me more than five years to write (and nine years from inception to publication).
The timeline went something like this:
2005: Get idea to write a book about Gladys Gatsby, an 11-year-old restaurant critic in New York who must keep her age a secret from her employers. Pat self on the back for coming up with such a stellar idea!
2006: Write a first chapter, featuring a snarky narrator and several jokes about prune juice. Learn that writers' group does not find it nearly as hilarious as I do. Rewrite opening, proceeding to load it down with backstory (a classic rookie mistake).
2007: Stop writing for several months to produce a play.
2008: Progress slowly. Finally reach the point where I, and my critique partners, are starting to enjoy the story.
2009: Stop writing for several months to produce another play, plan a wedding, and sell all my belongings so my husband-to-be and I can fulfill our dream of backpacking around the world.
later in 2009: Take off for South America with half-finished manuscript in my backpack. Swear that when I return to the U.S.A., I will have a completed novel.
2010: Finish my draft in a cafe in Tanzania while my husband is off hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. Stick finished manuscript back in backpack for eight more months.
2011: Return to U.S.A. Type up manuscript and run it by writers' group. Ignore most of their suggestions and start querying agents anyway. Receive rejections across the board.
Later in 2011: Spend months revising manuscript, ruthlessly cutting backstory and developing character. Start querying again with revised manuscript.
January, 2012: Sign with agent.
April, 2012: Sell book to Putnam.
July, 2014: After plenty more revision, the book is finally published.
As you can see, my book's path to publication was littered with false starts, long hiatuses, and major revisions. In the amount of time I took to produce a single manuscript, many other writers would have written several books.
But let's go back to those two quick and easy steps for getting published. I had step one—the great idea—taken care of from the beginning. It was step two that I needed to work at; I needed to put in the time to develop the writing chops to tell the heck out of the story. Other writers may have the opposite problem: They have the skills right off the bat, but it may take them years (i.e. multiple manuscripts) to find the perfect concept with which to showcase them. Or, perhaps, it's a little both.
The bottom line is that overnight success stories in this business are extremely rare, and that most “debut” authors have been putting in the hours on one or more novels for years before they score a book deal. Nobody just sends the first thing they wrote to a publisher and gets offered a contract the next day. (Okay, well, Gladys Gatsby does, when she sends her sample restaurant review in to the chief Dining editor at The New York Standard. But hey, that's fiction.) :)
Tara Dairman bio:
Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and recovering round-the-world traveler (2 years, 74 countries!). She grew up in New York, received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College, and worked for several years as a magazine editor, managing freelance writers that she never met face-to-face. While in that job, Tara realized that she could probably be tricked into publishing an article by a kid if the writing was good enough and the kid sent professional-sounding e-mails. Voilà: the premise for her first novel, All Four Stars, was born.
You can find Tara at:
Where to buy links:
Tara is generously offering a copy of ALL FOUR STARS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through July 19th. I’ll announce the winner on July 21st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US and Canada residents.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Monday, I’m participating in the Just Couldn’t Put It Down Bloghop. I’ll have lots of great choices of books for you to choose from.
The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Livia Blackbourne and a giveaway of her YA fantasy MIDNIGHT THIEF.
The Monday after that I’m interviewing debut author Stephanie Diaz and giving away a copy of her YA sci-fi story EXTRACTION.
And don’t forget Casey’s Thursday Agent Spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!