Feb 6, 2010

Interview with Jeanne Stein

So I emailed an author of mine the other day to get a little more insight on the writing world. Jeanne is one of those lucky full time writers, so I wanted to know this and that about her job and how she got to it. I thought I would share her answers here incase anyone else who wants to be a writer, they'll know some of the inside scoop as well.

How did you go about trying to get published? Did you query an agent first or did you just start sending your MS to publishers? Is one way better than another?

I did both. But I actually got my first contract by meeting the editor at a local RWA meeting. She represented a small Colorado publisher and when The Becoming was released, I used it to query an agent. It’s getting harder and harder to send manuscripts to editors without an agent so I recommend you go that route. However, if you get a chance to pitch directly to an editor at a con or meeting (the way I did), take advantage of it.

Q. When querying for an agent, did you do one at a time, or a few at once?

Jeanne: I went on line at a website called agentquery.com, made my list of “A” agents and started querying. I was lucky because I got a hit on the first half dozen queries I sent out. But don’t think you have to send one at a time. With email queries, response time is much quicker than it used to be. It’s to your advantage to have several queries out there at once.

Q. What was your road to publishing like? Long? Hard? How many rejections did you have to go through before getting the proposal one?

Jeanne: I started writing about twenty years ago—straight mysteries. I probably racked up forty rejections before I changed to UF and then, the first contract came pretty quickly. I had found my niche.

Q.What was that like? When you got the call, letter, email about being accepted into a publishing deal?

Jeanne: When I got the call from the small publisher, I was excited. But I knew I had to get picked up by a New York house to really make writing a career. When my agent called with the news that Ace wanted the series, THAT was the call that changed everything.

Q. Do you write the blurb that's on the back of the book that readers read to get an idea of what the story is about minus major spoilers?

Jeanne: No, the marketing department does that.

Q. How hard is that to write? I find myself struggling to write one for my WIP because I can't decide if revealing this little bit of info is a spoiler or not, even if the information gets revealed fairly early in the story.

Jeanne: Writing a pitch or log line for a WIP is different from the info on the back of a book. Actually, you want your blurb to contain enough information to interest an editor or agent. Spoilers are allowed here.

Q. Are you a full time or part time writer and what are the benefits of your choice? The challenges?

Jeanne: I now write full time, largely because I have a spouse who makes a good salary. While I am beginning to make decent money, it would not be enough to support myself and still do the promotional travel and attend the conferences that I do. I must say, though, I work longer hours than I ever did when I had an 8 – 5 job but the work is a lot more enjoyable!

Q. Where do you look for your inspiration? Like getting ideas for a plot or subplot. How do you manage to weave in your subplots so easily that it just flows?

Jeanne: I generally start with a one page synopsis—it includes the main story arc. As I start writing, sub plots develop usually from secondary characters. But it’s not easy. I have the same trouble you do. In fact, my current WIP is not going so well. I may have to stop and develop a more complete synopsis to see how I’m going to tie up all those loose ends.

Q. What is your overall word count for your novels?

Jeanne: 75-85000 words.

Q. How long do you get to write your novels?

Jeanne: Six to nine months. And during that time, I still have to promote the next release, attend conferences, do guest blogs and articles and write short stories. It’s not a lot of time.

Q. Does your editor look over your novel before publishing to see if there are mistakes or if things need explaining, changing, etc? How does that process work?

Jeanne: After turning in the manuscript, I get an editorial letter first. In it, my editor tells me what she likes, dislikes, what needs to be changed, expanded or deleted. After that revision, I get a copy-edited proof—spelling, grammar, names, continuity are all addressed. I have a copy editor who is so good, she reminds me when I’ve changed a character’s hair or eye color! Then, comes the galley—it’s laid out exactly how the book will be printed. It’s the last chance to make any changes or corrections.

I guess that's enough questions, I really could go on and on since I am trying to learn these things for my near future, but I'll let you get back to work. :)

Jeanne: Glad to have been of service!

Best, Jeanne

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