In today’s W.O.W. I’m proud to present Stephanie Elliot’s writing journey. Through hard work and perseverance, Stephanie struggled through the query trenches and submission until she finally achieved her goal: a publication deal. Her YA Contemporary, SAD PERFECT will hit shelves in 2017.
Many thanks to Stephanie for sharing her journey today…
Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?
Stephanie: I didn’t set out to write YA but now that I do, I’m inspired by all of the amazing young adult novels and how they strongly impact the lives of teenagers. I’m also inspired by a shorter word count – I can write YA faster than women’s fiction! ☺
Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to SAD PERFECT?
Stephanie: Before I wrote Sad Perfect I had written three and a half full novels and one novella. I self-published two novels and the novella on amazon.
Amy: After reading your website, it sounds like SAD PERFECT is about a subject that hits close to home for you. How did you know you wanted to tackle the topic of ARFID in this book?
Stephanie: The funny thing is that I had no idea I wanted to write about ARFID and in turn, this story. I originally set out to write a vignette about how my daughter met her boyfriend at the time, which is actually the first chapter of Sad Perfect. It was going to be nothing more than that.
But then my daughter went into a 20-week intensive outpatient program for her eating disorder (ARFID). She had three to four days of intense therapy a week and I also had to attend a parent’s group weekly. Sad Perfect stemmed from her being in therapy and me needing an outlet during that difficult time, so writing the story essentially became therapy for me.
Amy: Are you one of those people who has an easy time writing a query or does it take several tries before you land on the one you want to send?
Stephane: Queries are hard! And I definitely play around with them – if I find that the first version isn’t getting any bites, I’ll revise the paragraph that describes the novel until it works. I’ve queried a lot – my first time querying, I sent out more than 100 queries until I got an agent. That’s not the agent I have today though. This was a long time ago!
Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for requests/rejections?
Stephanie: As I mentioned above, with Sad Perfect, it wasn’t my first ‘bath’ in the querying pool. I did send quite a few queries out for Sad Perfect – 45 of them, but Adriann was the seventh of that batch. After Adriann requested the full, I signed with her a few weeks later. My opinion is you have to query wide and far to find the right agent for your book.
Amy: What was your “call” like with your agent, Adriann Ranta? How did you know she was a good fit for you?
Stephanie: My call with Adriann was pretty surreal. She emailed me first to set up a call so I was hopeful that she wanted to work with me. I had a notebook and wrote down things that she said about the book so I could remember them later on. (Of course, now I don’t know where that notebook is!) At the end of the call, when she finally asked to take me on as a client, it felt like I was a high school girl getting asked out to prom – I was that giddy over it! (PS—I didn’t go to prom!)
Right away I felt that Adriann would be a great fit because we felt the same about Sad Perfect – she didn’t want to make any major changes, like change the POV (it’s told in second person), and she really liked Ben, the love interest.
Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?
Stephanie: Yes, I considered it – I had two books get close to the publishing stage only to be turned down after the editors took them to the acquisitions meeting. That’s heartbreaking. To be that close and then get a ‘No.’ It makes you almost want to quit. I think other writers motivated me to keep going – their words of encouragement and support that I could get there really helped when things weren’t going the way I hoped they’d go.
Amy: What advice did you get early on in your writing career that you still use today?
Stephanie: An author once told me that she believed in the theory of TPT … Timing, Persistence, Talent when it came to writing and getting published. I wrote that out and taped it near my desk. And I remembered that. It takes a lot of time; it doesn’t happen for most overnight, not even the famous, famous people like JK Rowling and Stephen King. And you have to be persistent – in your writing, in your querying, in your dedication to the craft. You also have to have some talent! The TPT Theory – that is the one piece of advice that I really kept to heart all those years I was trying to get published.
Stephanie Elliot is the author of the young adult novel Sad Perfect (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, Winter, 2017), which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and has been a passionate advocate of other authors by promoting their books on the Internet for years. She has been, or still is, all of the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper, a reformed Diet Coke drinker, a gecko breeder and the author of three self-published novels. For more on Stephanie, check out her website or follow her on Twitter (@stephanieelliot)