A Scary Turn On the Writing Journey

crossroadsAs you may recall if you’re a frequent guest at the Ball, Dhonielle and I took the long road to publication on Tiny Pretty Things. And along the way, there were plenty of bumps.

But perhaps the scariest moment for us was when we’d done what was maybe like the sixth revision of the book — and we knew it was in great shape, we could feel it. It was ready. But the Big Agent still wasn’t happy with it. She thought it was too dark, that the “ballet trend” had passed, that it just wasn’t marketable at the moment. But we were hearing what she was really saying: to her, it would never be marketable. So then we had to make the most difficult decision we’d make on our publishing journey. We had to leave our fabulous, well-reputed mega-agent and dive back into querying. Or worse: shelve the manuscript and start from scratch. Muddling all this, of course, was the fact that we’d pinned our hopes on this book as the launch project for CAKE. Shelving it would mean putting the company on hold for a year or longer — not something we were ready to face.

Still, there was something freeing about leaving Big Agent. After that, after all, we had nothing really to lose. And I still had confidence that this manuscript had legs (haha, punny!), and that it could be something delicious. So I worked on convincing D that we should do one more small revision and query again. We sent it out to a handful of carefully selected agents — and got a lot of solid interest. This time around, though, we tried not to be swayed by big and shiny promises. CAKE’s new agent is up-and-coming, just like us, and she’s so energetic and collaborative and just so effin’ smart, we couldn’t have made a better choice. She thought the book was ready — that we were ready. And within just a few short months, we had a deal.

Anyway, what I’m really saying here is, when we got to that crossroads, it would have been so easy to stall right there, defeated, and stop moving ahead. Instead, we decided to dust ourselves (and our manuscript) off and push forward. We could have gone in a zillion different directions, written something new, revised again, self-pubbed TPT, or focused on individual projects. Any way we went, it would have been okay, because there are so many detours on this road — and we’ll face plenty more along the way. As long as we remember to have confidence in what we’re doing and what we want to put out there, we’ll be okay. No, better than that. We’ll be awesome.

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An entertainment and lifestyle journalist published by The New York Times, People, ABC News, MSN, Cosmopolitan and other major national media, SONA CHARAIPOTRA currently curates a kickass column on YA books and teen culture for Parade.com. A collector of presumably useless degrees, she double-majored in journalism and American Studies at Rutgers before getting her masters in screenwriting from New York University (where her thesis project was developed for the screen by MTV Films) and her MFA from the New School. When she's not hanging out with her writer husband and two chatter-boxy kids, she can be found poking plot holes in teen shows like Twisted and Vampire Diaries. But call it research: Sona is the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. Her debut, the YA dance drama Tiny Pretty Things (co-written with Dhonielle Clayton), is due May 26 from HarperTeen. Find her on the web at SonaCharaipotra.com or CAKELiterary.com.

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This article has 3 Comments

  1. You two are gutsy! Way to have faith in your book and what was right for you. That’s so hard to do when publishing pros are telling you one thing. I can’t wait to read it!!!

  2. Sometimes the only assurance we have is believing in our own judgement … that and taking full responsibility for the results of that choice! I love reading about your success as it unfolds. I am inspired!

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