Friday, February 24, 2012

LTUE Recap: Breaking Into the Market

Obviously I had to go to (and go-pher) this panel. Just look at all the cool authors!

James Dashner, Jennifer Neilson, Jenn Johansson, Kasie West, Brodi Ashton

Here's what they said:

James Dashner (THE MAZE RUNNER series)
  • Luck definitely plays a part: he feels like if certain events had not gone his way, he’d still be an accountant
  • Every step taken in his career has been both a lucky break and wouldn't have happened without the previous steps (Hunger Games came out right after Random House bought the Maze Runner, so suddenly MR got more attention in-house, and they advertised it as "If you like Hunger Games....")
  • When in a writing group, you have to be strong enough to decide what to listen to. Use the Rule of 3: if three people say the same thing, it’s probably true. You have to be strong enough to disagree, and ignore advice you don’t like. 
  • When he was first starting out, he wouldn't even go home 2-3 nights a week: he'd go write in a library or a bookstore instead. Now, he makes a great living writing full time.
  • Don’t get discouraged by the odds and the numbers: the vast majority of the people trying to get published suck. People at a writing conference are already ahead of the curve.

Jennifer Nielson (THE FALSE PRINCE, coming April 2012)
  • You have to be ready to grab onto the luck when it happens
  • She spent so much time focused on the rules, she wasn't finding her voice. She finally decided to throw out the rules, didn't care about getting published, decided to just have fun. Forget what you know, write what you are.
  • In a writing group, thick skin will come back to benefit you when you’re published: taking and giving criticism, being humble, etc, will help with future reviews, editors, and so forth.
  • She's a full-time writer, has a goal to have husband wean off of his career to start to explore his own dreams
  • The only way to fail is to give up: if you are willing to do it, you will succeed. Find the door that answers who you are as a writer and go through it.

Jenn Johansson (Debut INSOMNIA... available soon in Germany and Italy)
  • On luck: In the US, romance is the bread and butter. Europe likes thrillers. European Literary scouts look for US books to recommend to foreign publishers. One found her book, INSOMNIA it sold in Germany and Italy. Because it's a thriller, it will likely do better overseas than it will here. 
  • Find what you like, then do that.
  • If she could go back, she would have moved onto the next book sooner.
  • Nobody can tell you what the right path is (even an agent or editor). There are more paths to pursue than ever, and no one can tell anyone else what to do. 
  • It is difficult to get into foreign markets with self-published books. 
  • If it’s not a priority, you won’t find the time to write. Keep writing while you’re waiting on querying, etc – don’t put it off because you’re waiting to hear back from an agent.

Kasie West (Debut PIVOT POINT coming January 2013)
  • Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. 
  • When she was starting out, she was too much in a hurry, trying to get ahead. She realized the author of The Traveling Pants had lots of author friends... realized later that they all "grew up" together. She wishes she had been more patient with herself.
  • She found her writing group online. She read blogs she liked, of people she connects with. Their group is online: they send stuff to each other over the internet.
  • If writing is something you want to do, you’ll make time for it. 
  • Publishers are still paying good money for books.
  • Don’t be afraid to interact with agents on Twitter

Brodi Ashton (Debut EVERNEATH. Duh.)
  • With her first book, she got over 100 rejections from agents, finally got one, then revised 6m during the Fall of 2008... when the market crashed. Someone told her if she sold a book that year, she’d be right up there with Jesus. It was rejected 15 times.
  • She wrote her next book, and her agent didn't like it. She queried new agents and immediately got 10 offers, then signed with Michael Bourett.
  • She wishes had put her first book aside much earlier: big writers write hundreds of books, write lots of different stories, but new authors tend to think we’ll make it or break it on one book.
  • Writing groups: keep trying one on until you find one that fits.
  • She supports her family with her writing now (!!!)
  • Finish your first book, query in batches: send out 5 queries, if no requests, tweak the query


  1. thanks for the inside info!
    (except "the vast majority of people trying to get published suck" =(
    not me!?

    1. Of course not you! Those of is who are out here trying to improve are always going to be better than those who think they can get by on natural"talent".

  2. Invaluable info, thanks for sharing! I really need to take the "move on from the first book" advice to heart; I just haven't found what's *calling* to me next. So many ideas and so little time!

    1. Just remember that if your first book DOES sell, you're going to want another one waiting in the wings. Try picking your three favorite ideas and combining them into one story.

  3. I keep trying to put my first book aside and Chad keeps pulling it out of the trash can. You gotta love his optimism ;)

    1. Well, there's your mistake. First novels go in the TRUNK. Not the trash. Silly Shelly. Listen to your husband. :)

  4. Thanks for you posts about the confrence Robin. The more you know the less mysterious the process will be.

    1. No problem, Eric. When are you going to start coming to conferences with me?

  5. Thanks for this--I missed that panel, and you took great notes! I need to read Everneath, too...

    1. Thanks! I type fast. :) And yes, yes you do need to read EVERNEATH. Right now. Get off the internet and go read it.

  6. Thanks for the shout out, Robin. That panel was so much fun. And it was great to meet you in real life. :)

    1. It was so much fun meeting you! Thanks for all your excellent advice!

  7. Thanks for more notes, Robin . . . hmmm, thinking I'll blog about my conference notes tomorrow:):) You've inspired me!