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How to get your book published (in seven years)

 

I almost cried when I saw my name written in solid black script on the cover of my debut novel. It was the culmination of seven years of relentless work, boundless joy, unexpected friendships and numerous disappointments.

After all the waiting, finally I could read – MAYRA CUEVAS – written under a gorgeous illustration of a girl of color wearing a chef’s coat, her wild locks adorned with a crown of flowers. Next to it stood the catchy title crafted by my editorial team at Blink/HarperColllins, Salty, Bitter, Sweet — the perfect name for the book, and for the long journey that brought it to existence.
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My short story RESILIENT is @ForeshadowYA ‘s NEW VOICE

Awesome #MondayMotivation! Today, my short story RESILIENT published in the NEW VOICE category of April’s FORESHADOW YA short story anthology.

RESILIENT tells the story of two young women who left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to work at a turkey processing plant in Huron, S.D. It’s a story of heartbreak and longing but also hope. In Marisol’s own words, sometimes we “have to be a palmera. A palm tree bends but never breaks.

Here is the inspiration behind the story:

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane María barreled through Puerto Rico, leaving behind the worst devastation the island had ever seen. Like millions of the island’s residents and the diaspora, my heart was broken and desperate to help, hanging onto every shred of news coming out of our homeland. In January 2018 Washington Post journalist Chico Harlan published a story about a group of young Puerto Ricans that left the island for jobs at a turkey processing plant in Huron. Most were in college, worked part-time jobs, and dreamed of a future that didn’t include leaving Puerto Rico. Their stories stayed with me long after reading Harlan’s moving report. Only weeks later, my agent Saritza Hernandez, also a Boricua, encouraged me to submit a story to FORESHADOW’s New Voice competition. Instantly, I knew I wanted to write a story about these young María evacuees. They had been forced to leave everything they knew and loved behind, and venture into the unknown. This is how Marisol and Rosa’s journey came to be.

Enjoy and share!

Mayra

A conversation with Little Shop of Stories bookseller, Justin Colussy-Estes

Little Shop of Stories in downtown Decatur is among a select list of “Best Indie Bookstores” around the country. Little Shop bookseller and store manager, Justin Colussy-Estes, took the night off to discuss the relationship between independent bookstores and authors, self-publishing, and give us insight into “what sells.”

We met during another awesome Mingle and Margaritas at Charis Books in Little Five Points, where lovely co-owner Angela Gabriel was our host.

Fabulous evening with Justin (back) from Little Shop and Angela (right) from Charis Books.Gabriel served as our host.
Fabulous evening with Justin (back) from Little Shop and Angela (right) from Charis Books.Gabriel served as our host.

My notes from our conversation with Justin follow (unless otherwise noted):

On independent bookstores, YA and KidLit: As an author, it is important to understand that all independent bookstores are different. Their differences is what makes them thrive. Independent bookstores understand who they are, and who they are within their community. They are successful when they own that identity.

Recently, there has been an explosion of independent and children’s bookstores. The ones that do well are the ones that know their community and have a very clear identity.

As a children’s bookstore, when we open a catalog to place and order, we have an instinct about what will do well.

What does this mean for authors?

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The business of publishing. Seriously, how much money will my book make?

The business of publishing. Seriously, how much money will my book make?

Literary agent Rubin Pfeffer was in Atlanta last spring. He gave an insightful talk about the business of publishing and how much an author makes from each book sold. This is what he said:

Once you turn a manuscript over to an agent you walk away from the creative side and you walk into the business side. Becoming a full time authors is down the road (way down).

How much money will you make?

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Missing the Middle Grade Mark: 12 Common Manuscript Problems

Middle grade is hot.

Agents and editors are seeking more middle grade content as an answer to a saturated young adult market.

In the spring, I attended a talk on writing and publishing middle grade novels with Sky Pony Press senior editor, Alison Weiss.

She gave a list of the 12 most common middle grade manuscript pitfalls she sees in her query inbox.

Abbreviations:

MG = middle grade

YA = young adult

DA= diverse author

Problem #1 Your character is too young or too old

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Why write YA? The virtues of this category and concepts every writer should know.

This Spring I attended a  SCBWI Southern Breeze SpringMingle conference with  Jacquelyn Mitchard.  Mitchard is a New York Times bestselling author and editor of Merit Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Her novel The Deep End of the Ocean was Oprah Winfrey Book Club’s inaugural selection and was later adapted into a film.

During her workshop titled Why write YA? she talked about the virtues of writing for the young adult (YA) book category and some concepts every aspiring YA writer must know.  

From Mitchard:

YA is a growing market

YA is the only consistently growing category of fiction. Teens are embracing books and buying hardcovers over e-books. They love stories like no one else. To a teen, the characters in these books are real people. When you write YA, you hook a reader for life.
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Best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard talks great beginnings, story structure, dialogue and great endings

On Friday, I attended Jacquelyn Mitchard’s writers intensive workshop as part of the SCBWI Southern Breeze SpringMingle conference. Mitchard is a New York Times bestselling author and editor of Merit Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Her novel The Deep End of the Ocean was Oprah Winfrey Book Club’s inaugural selection and was later adapted into a film. She has written over twenty books for adults, teens and children. She is also a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Mitchard had me at hello. Her morning talk began something like this: In hard times, “writing will save your life.”

Her day-long workshop focused on great beginnings, structure, dialogue, and great endings. I have compiled the highlights in the following post.
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