Today I have debut author Ronald Smith here with a guest post and a giveaway of his MG Historical Southern Gothic HOODO that sounds fantastic.
Here's a blurb from Goodreads:
welve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can't seem to cast a simple spell. Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.
Now here's Ronald!
A Road to Publication Story
By the time this article posts, my debut middle grade novel, HOODOO, will be out in the world.
Actually, it’s not a wow feeling. It’s more like a numb one.
As I was trying to come up with ideas for this post, I thought back to what I most wanted to know when I was searching for an agent and hoping for the Elusive Book Deal.
I was obsessed with finding out how long it took debut authors to get an agent and a deal.
Or, how long it took from the time they got an agent to sell their book.
I really struggled with deciding whether to share this information or not. But in the end, I’m going to do it because hopefully, those of you still in the trenches will get an inside look at how things happen. There’s not a whole lot of info out there about being on submission. You’ve heard before that no two stories are alike, and this is no exception.
December 21, 2012
Queried Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary with HOODOO, a middle grade southern gothic fantasy novel.
(I just realized I sent a query a few days before Christmas. Why did I do this?)
February 19th, 2013
Adriann writes back, saying she enjoyed the ms., but had a few issues with it. She went on to explain what they were, and invited me to revise and send again, if I wished.
(This was really nice of her and she didn’t have to do it. A lot of agents don’t.)
September 16th, 2013
Resubmitted after revision. (That's a seven-month revision!)
Took a class led by YA Author Nova Ren Suma. She’s a great writer and teacher. Read her! Or take one of her classes.
I was also doing real life stuff during this time so it wasn't just spent doing revisions.
DO NOT RUSH IF AN AGENT ASKS YOU TO REVISE!
September 25, 2013
Email from Adriann saying she loved the revision and wants to speak on phone.
September 26th, 2013
Offer of Representation on phone!
I told her a few other agents were looking at the ms and I should let them know about the offer. I did. After contacting them, I knew that Adriann and Wolf Literary would be a good fit for me. A week or so later I contacted her and said Yes!
She sent me the contract and I became a writer with an agent!
Of course, when I told non-writing people this (what I call civilians) they had no idea how awesome this was. I think a lot of people think you “type-up” a book, put it in the mail to Random House (with a check so they can publish it) and then watch it appear in bookstores.
And then they ask when it’ll become a movie.
Since my seven-month revision was extensive, HOODOO didn't need a lot more work. Just a few small tweaks.
We felt good about the ms around October of 2013, but decided to wait until the New Year because of the holidays.
January 15th, 2014
At this time I was still working as a writer in the advertising industry. I had to record a radio spot and decided to do it in New York, because there was a studio there I really liked. And, um, an agent I just happened to know.
After the session, I was able to meet up with Adriann.
We met, and she was awesome in-person. Easy to talk to. She shows me the submission list. Holy Cow! It’s an impressive list.
I take the train home feeling great because train-car bourbon.
I search everything on the web about submissions even though everyone says not to.
Adriann says be prepared to wait at least a month for responses.
Reading submission stories on web…
January 19th 2015
Exactly Four Days After Meeting Adriann
Phone rings. Or chirps. Or maybe it was the Game of Thrones ringtone. (Which is quite apropos for the occasion, actually.)
Adriann Ranta’s name comes up.
Ron? We have interest…
Me, in my head: (“It’s only been a few days since we went on submission. WTF?”)
Over the next several days we get some more “interest.”
Adriann calls and says I should come to NYC so we can meet up with editors.
I pretty much fall out at this point.
January 29th, 2015
I travel to New York to meet up with Adriann and visit publishing houses. It’s one of the coldest days of the year, and we’re both freezing our asses off as we walk and cab it around the city.
This is all pretty much a blur, whether from the cold or the fact that I was visiting publishing houses I’ve known about since I was a kid. I mean, who am I to be standing in these austere offices where famous authors made their names?
I swear it was the weirdest/most thrilling thing I have ever experienced in my life, aside from that time on the Vampire Diaries when Damon…
So, a few days later Adriann says we are going to auction. I guess she just thought I knew this but I didn't really believe it until she said it.
Five offers. *mind blown*
One house dropped out because they wanted significant changes and Adriann and I didn’t agree with them.
God, it was tough. Never thought I'd be in such a position.
I accepted an offer from Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I really liked the editor’s vision and thoughts on my writing career. We accepted a two-book deal. The other book, THE MESMERIST, is a MG fantasy/horror set in 19th century London.
Time from submission to accepting offer: 19 days.
No months-long nail-biting.
No shot-down in acquisitions.
I can't believe it happened to me but it did. I won't ever forget how lucky I've been in this process. Every day, I try to stop and realize how fortunate I am.
I left my job in advertising and now I write full-time.
The moral of this story is to save all your emails.
Of course, now the hard work begins: continuing to write good books, marketing, promotion, doing the work of an author.
You also get a whole new list of things to obsess about:
How come that author got their book optioned for film and TV?
Will I sell foreign rights?
What about audio?
It never ends. It just becomes…different.
So, I hope this gives you some inspiration if you’re still in the trenches. It can happen to you, too.
Never give up.
Thanks for your great story, Ronald! You can find Ronald at:
Ronald has generously offered a copy of HOODO for a giveaway. To enter, you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through September 19th. I'll announce the winner on September 28th as I'll be out of town the weekend before. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S.
Here's what's coming up:
Next Wednesday I have an interview with debut author Kevin Sands and a giveway of his MG historical THE BLACKTHORN KEY.
The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Heather Petty and a giveaway of her YA mystery LOCK & MORI .
Wednesday that week I have an interview with agent Moe Ferrara and a query critique giveaway.
The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Lee Mackenzi and a giveaway of her YA steampunk THIS MONSTROUS THING.
Have a great Labor Day weekend and see you next Monday!