Great question! I get asked this all the time, and the answer is no. As a writer, I do, of course, draw from events and people in my life. But fiction is fiction. No one in any of my books is directly modeled on a person in my life and yet every theme in each of my books is borne from some journey I’ve walked personally or with someone else.
Yes. I do manuscript reviews for people looking to publish. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you an estimate of cost based on what type of feedback you want.
Absolutely – if it works with my schedule. I love to visit with readers and have a particularly great time when I’m invited to speak at book clubs that have read one of my books. I’m also available for other speaking/reading events such as conferences, panel discussions, or public readings. Shoot me an email via the “Let’s Talk” page with details about the event you’re arranging.
First: if you’re going to be a writer, you’ve got to be a reader. Read as many quality YA books as possible.
Second, find or create a community of writers. This is more important than you’d think. True, you and you and alone are going to do the butt-in-chair time, but writing can be a lonely endeavor. Community provides the support you’ll need to carry you through the inevitable ups and downs of tackling the marathon that is writing a book.
I also suggest reading about writing. Some books that were particularly helpful to me are:
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
A Writer’s Time by Kenneth Atchity
From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler
Third, consider the path of publication that is right for you. Never before have writers had more options or control over how they publish their work. In a nutshell, you can choose:
- To pursue traditional publishing by querying literary agents, obtaining representation, and having your agent sell your book to a publishing house. There are lots of pro’s to this option, especially for a debut author who may not know or have the energy it takes to market your book to the degree that it can build a profitable readership. There is also no cost to the author to publish your book with traditional publishing. The biggest pro, in my opinion, is the opportunity to work with industry professionals who will see your book without the emotional attachment.
- To publish independently. The pro’s here are that you, as the author, retain full control of every aspect of your book from cover design to title to editing. You also spare yourself the rejection that simply is a part of pursuing traditional publishing. You also can get your book on the market immediately as opposed to the 18-month wait that is part of traditional publishing as your book goes through all the various stages. Pro and con: you will be paid a higher royalty percentage…but it’s completely up to you to get your book into the hands of your readers.
Times have changed and are still changing. Do not be swayed by the opinions of others who may shout firmly, from one camp or the other, that their path toward publication is the best. BOTH OPTIONS ARE VALID and only you can decide which path is right for you and your manuscript.
Finally, and I believe this is relevant advice for every author regardless of genre or publication path: keep your focus on your primary audience. It’s easy to fall into the trap of worrying about whether your manuscript will catch the eye of a literary agent or land you on Amazon’s Top 100 list. Yes, those are great goals, but they are not as important as writing your heart book. What is your heart book? It’s the book that you and only YOU can write because it is borne of your deepest truths.
Be brave, authors!
Take your pain to the page and never, ever forget that somewhere out there is a reader who, like you, has experienced that hurt. Unlike you, he or she may not be able to speak the truth you are daring to write. Writing to give your reader a voice matters.
My God, does that matter.