Thursday, July 10, 2008

Aaaaaaand...She's Off!!! -- Jay

I never tire of hearing a good "How I Got Published" story. Before I sold my book, I took comfort in the often unpredictable ups-and-downs of other writers. Many of them struggle for years, searching for their perfect age-group or genre or writing style. And when they find it, it often takes years to find the perfect story within that bracket. And when they find that story, they then need to write that story and find an editor who can convince a publisher to buy it...which can add even more years to an author's personal journey.

This post is not about one of those journeys.

But first, I need you to think back. If you're a writer, think back a year-and-a-half. What were you working on back then? Eighteen months ago, I’d just finished editing Thirteen Reasons Why for Razorbill. I was still on Cloud 9, feeling that my thirteen years of slowly learning the craft had finally paid off.

What was my friend and fellow-blogger Suzanne Young doing a year-and-a-half ago? She had just decided to become a writer, so began working on her very first novel. (Please, dear reader, now would be a good time to find a chair...and sit in it.) In the ensuing eighteen months, Suzanne wrote a total of nine young adult manuscripts. That's right…nine YA manuscripts...eighteen months! (Warning: Do not attempt the math because the answer will make your brain go kablooey.) Were all of those manuscripts brilliant? Probably least, it makes me feel better to assume they weren't. But a mere nine months after beginning her writing journey, she signed with a literary agent.

Several months went by, and I received a very nice e-mail from Suzanne about Thirteen Reasons Why. We did a little shop-talk and it became clear that she was not in the best author/agent relationship. So she parted ways with her agent and did some submitting on her own, getting extremely positive feedback from editors. And then, after stumbling across her blog, another literary agent contacted her. This new agent was extremely excited about Suzanne and was soon submitting her novel Smitten Kittens.

Within a matter of weeks, three publishing houses were fighting over Suzanne. This past Monday, she signed a two-book deal with Razorbill.

What I'm saying is, Suzanne's learning curve looks more like a ninety-degree-angle!

So how did she do it? I have many theories, but they mainly come down to this: It's internal. She just gets it! When it comes to characters, emotional tension, how to time a joke, and pitch-perfect dialogue, she knows how to get the idea out of her head and onto her computer in one clean sweep. Her writing process is a lot like an improv comedian. What comes out simply works.

But it can be frustrating, too. Several times, she would send me an opening chapter to a new book and ask me if it was any good. I would start to read it, laughing out loud, and another e-mail would pop up asking me to stop reading because she'd just rewritten that chapter. Not edited it. Rewritten it! New actions. New dialogue. New jokes. So I would start reading the new version, and another e-mail would pop up with the subject line Stop Reading!

And in the time it took me to write and edit this post, Suzanne probably wrote three chapters in her second book for Razorbill...and rewrote each chapter three or four times.

Congratulations, Suzanne! Eve, Robin, and I are doing the Book Deal Dance in solidarity with ya!!!

- Jay

To read more about Suzanne, here are some more links. (Notice how many blogs she contributes to. She just can't stop those fingers from typing!)

Yapping About YA

Lipgloss Lit

2010: A Book Odyssey


Trish Doller said...

I've lost count of how many Stop Reading! emails I've gotten from Suzanne. But one day, when her name is right up there with Judy Blume and Meg Cabot for her prolificacy, I doubt either of us will be surprised.

SuzanneYoung said...

Wow. I am so… humbled. Honored. Sort of embarrassed. Haha Thanks, Jay, Robin and Eve! This is so beyond nice that I’m speechless. And that really doesn’t happen very often.

I feel like we’re on the playground and I just got picked first for dodgeball!!! It’s awesome!

Thanks for including me! (and um…that video where I make a complete fool of myself.)


Thomas Kingsley Troupe said...

I've been a long time fan of Suzanne's through her blog and videos, so I was ELATED to hear about her awesome news. Hats off to Jay for capturing the story of her's awe-inspiring!

Just think, this time next year she'll have 30 more books for editors to choose from.

Anonymous said...

How is that humanly possible?

I take months and months just finish a short story!


Disco Mermaids said...

I've had to stop thinking in terms of "humanly possible" when discussing Suzanne's writing. She just does it.

End of discussion.

- Jay

P.S. Suzanne, it was an honor to write this post. Now go kick a homerun!

Lala13 said...

Warning: This is going to be a log comment. You might want to go grab a soda and find a comfy chair.

O_O *faints*

Whoa! I just finished reading 13 Reasons Why for the 3rd time, and seeing the link to this blog for probably the 4th or 5th time, I decided it was time to visit. And this is so cool!! It's always fun to see how authors of your favorite books are... like... REAL. WOW! ^_^

So a little background on me: My name is Kayla, but everyone calls me Lala. I'm bipolar, so I pretty much have two moods: really hyper (like right now) or suicidal. I've had my share of deep depression. I used to cut and in the 6th grade I tried to run away from home. Reading and writing have kept grounded through the highs and lows.

13 Reasons Why is one of my all-time favorite books. I have a very, very small bookcase in my room (a toddler is probably taller and wider), so I can only keep a few books on it. I'm very happy to say that 13 Reasons Why has an exclusive place on the top shelf. It's like a very rare, hush-hush award. ;-)

Oh, and I would be so, so, SO honored if Jay Asher himself would check out If you've ever visited, you'll probably have a feel for what Saved When is like. Basically, people can tell me who or what saved their lives. I got the idea from my own experiences, a PostSecret card, and from reading 13 Reasons Why.

Have I sucked up enough yet? Yes, I think I have. But I think there's time for one more thing...


*coughs* Okay, I'm done.


Lala13 said...

Oh pickle! That was supposed to say "LONG" comment. X_x I'm not quite used to typing with acrylics yet. Tee hee!

Disco Mermaids said...

Hey Lala! I checked out the blog, and it's a beautiful idea. Thank you so much for sharing it with me...with us. And I'm extremely pleased that you consider 13RW top-shelf worthy!

- Jay

(Confession: Suzanne said she felt like she was picked first at dodgeball...and in my cheesy response, I told her to get out there and kick a homerun. In dodgeball!?!? No wonder I sucked at P.E.)

Colorado Writer said...

Her story is inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

Caryn said...

Wow. That is absolutely AMAZING. Not only does she sound talented, but also dedicated, which is also so important. Wishing her the best of luck.

Sasha said...

I am an absolute believer that Suzanne as writer, and Suzanne's books on the shelves of every major bookstore across the country, is a situation that is meant to be. She rocks, and nothing, not time constraints or a bad first agent experience or anything else, is going to hold her back.

Jay, I'm going to make the opposite bet and say they probably were all brilliant. *ducks the dodgeball, or kickball, or whatever the heck kind of ball we're playing with in this post*

bethany said...

Hey, I've read a good portion of Smitten Kittens, and some of Suz's other stuff. And it's so amazing what she's done. Congratulations Suz!

Anonymous said...

This comment is about 13 reasons why

AMAZING i am only half way through and I am already determining what I will do to earn the money for the book (borrowed from the library) AMAZING I say it again what a great book great stuff

Anonymous said...

You're gonna be the next Meg Cabot, I tell ya. Way to go, Suzanne! And how's it shakin' Jay, Robin, and Eve??

russ (r.a. nelson)

AmandaKMorgan said...

Suz rocks! I love Smitten Kittens and I know Deliquents is going to be huge, too. She's awesome.

Disco Mermaids said...

Seriously, Suzanne, this is such an inspirational story. I can't wait to hear more about the book.

And the fact that R.A. Nelson popped in here to make such a prediction about!!! Can't wait to meet you!


Andrew Carmichael said...

Suz!!!! I love you!!! I'm so excited about Smitten Kittens, Razorbill, and how everyone's going to get to know all of your books (Broken better be included!!!)

You're my idol!!!


North said...

Suz is an amazing talent. She's productive but it's always good stuff. It's strange how effortless it seems for her sometimes.

She's always quick to point out that's it's just writing that works this way for her. Ask her about housekeeping. ;)

We're all very jealous of her super hero/sickness-like proficiency. It's very difficult to keep from hating her but she's so darned nice.

Thanks for the story. She deserves it.