Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pathways to Publication: Interview with Patty Blount

Have a manuscript you think might be worthy of publication and not sure what to do next? Maybe you're wondering if you need an agent and how to go about finding one. Or you're confused about what kind of money is involved--does someone pay YOU or do you have to sink some of your own savings into this venture? What does an editor do? Will you have to market this book yourself?

Last month I wrote about my own first feeble attempt at publishing a book. Now I'm interviewing other writers on their SUCCESSFUL pathways to publication--from self-published to traditional, debut writers to a writer who's published 130 books, and everything in between. 


YA novelist Patty Blount on the importance of research and rewrites

Jody: You wrote a book that you felt was worthy of publication, what were your next steps?

Patty: Send required a lot of research. I had to find out what law the main character Dan Ellison could be found guilty of breaking, so I attended a seminar on cyber-bullying held by a local Bar Association and learned that the laws vary widely at the local levels. Few laws exist specifically for bullying. In Dan's case, other laws were used to 'fit' his crime. After I finished the novel, I joined my local RWA chapter, where members critiqued my manuscript and helped me get it pitch-worthy.

Jody: RWA?

Patty: Romance Writers of America

Jody: Oh, right! Always a good idea to join a professional organization. Once you had your polished manuscript, how long did it take from that point to publication? Was all this wrinkle free? Or were there setbacks along the way?

Patty: My journey to publication was fairly wrinkle-free, relatively speaking. There are ups and downs, certainly, but over all, it was smooth sailing. I learned in autumn that Sourcebooks would publish Send the following August. I had some moments of panic trying to meet the aggressive deadlines for revisions and copy edits and am happy to report I met every one!

Jody: Do you have an agent?

Patty: I do! I'm represented by the awesome Evan Gregory of the Ethan Ellenberg Agency. I got my agent exactly the way my research said I should: I wrote a query letter and followed submission guidelines. Evan submitted Send to various editors, tutored me through the publishing contract process, helped me understand royalties, brainstorms plot holes and title ideas, and even showed me how to write a film treatment.

Jody: Explain a little about your book deal.

Patty: Send and TMI (coming this summer) are published with Sourcebooks Fire. I have a two-book deal and received an advance. I just learned Send earned out that advance, which means I earned royalties that exceeded the advance amount. This is really exciting news! Because Send was my first novel, it was finished before the contract was signed. But TMI was just an idea. I had to get that entire novel plotted out and written in just a few months. I learned so much about the craft of writing with that project.

Jody: Was there a lot of revision involved at that point? (Oh, and congrats on earning out the advance, by the way!)

Patty: Thanks! Yes, I did extensive rewrites on both novels. For Send, I re-crafted the ending and for TMI, I dropped a point-of-view character. Next, I worked with a Sourcebooks copy editor, who caught some really embarrassing mistakes like the time when main character Bailey asks a boy to email her but never gave him her email address. Both books got amazing covers from the Sourcebooks design team.

Jody: What about marketing and promotion? How do the people at Sourcebooks approach that?

Patty: I got to work with a talented publicist who coached me through Send's launch, set up a great blog tour, designed really eye-catching bookmarks, and wrote a fantastic press release. Together, we brainstormed ideas for engaging teachers and librarians, like wrist bands for students and school visits. I bought my own ads on various websites to help promote the book. For me, traditional publishing means I don't have to coordinate every little thing all by myself.

Jody: Any thoughts on the future of publishing or what's going in the industry, as far as mergers, e-books, bookstore closings, etc., go? Do you see any of these issues as affecting you now, or in the future?

Patty: Ebooks are great - I have an e-reader that I use all the time. But there's something permanent, something real about holding a book in your hands, smelling its pages, feeling the texture under your fingertips that just can't be replicated. I know people devoted to one or the other medium and that's fine. What's interesting to me are the debates on how much people are willing to spend on an e-book. Though I realize the words I buy in an e-book, are the same words I buy in a physical book, I still feel outraged if both are the same price. I feel e-books should be less expensive because I don't get to sniff and feel and hug my e-copy.


Technical writer by day, fiction writer by night, Patty Blount mines her day job for ideas to use in her novels. Her debut YA Send was born after a manager suggested she research social networks. TMI, a novel about the danger of social networks, will be released Aug. 6, 2013.

Learn more about Patty on her website www.pattyblount.com

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting way to 'teach' publishing 101 - through interviews of writers who have gone through the process successfully and come out on the other side with a published book. I look forward to reading the next interview.