From Imagination To Publication

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: How far would you go to get published?

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This Week's Topic: 
We writers can form quite an attachment to our characters and stories. But we also know publishing is a business, and sometimes to make it in said business--to really build a career from it--we have to bend a bit. How far would you go to break into the publishing world?

When ZOVA Books signed me, they loved the concept of Oppression and my writing style, but no manuscript is ever perfect. Working directly with my publisher (with no agent) meant that I was coming to them with a manuscript that had not been reviewed or critiqued by an industry professional. The only feedback I’d gotten was from friends and relatives, which meant I knew there would be requested changes.
Now, ZOVA signed me before sitting me down to work through the weak spots in my story, so I wasn’t making crazy changes to please someone who didn’t believe in me. ZOVA has believed in me from the beginning. When they provided their critique, a list of weaknesses and suggested changes, I accepted them, but I’ll admit….I cried. After I cried, I worked really hard and re-crafted the lackluster parts of my story. Looking back, I am so thankful for their advice. Sometimes we fall in love with parts of our stories just because we wrote them, not because they help the plot along. In writing, we’re only supposed to take what we need to survive, right? Don’t be a Princess Vespa. What is it she says in Spaceballs… 


“It’s my industrial strength hairdryer! AND I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT!”

Sometimes we need editors, agents, or publishers to come at us with tough love and give us that reality check.

What I've learned is that people in the industry (or at least the people with ZOVA) are smart. They know what they’re doing and their feedback is honest. Now, that isn’t to say you should completely re-write your story because someone in the industry is telling you to (especially if they aren’t invested in you) but my point is, there is a lot to be learned from that kind of feedback.
ZOVA has not only believed in me along the way, they have been a great teacher, advisor, friend, mirror, critique partner, and genius publisher. They’ve helped me grow as a writer, and for that I am so grateful.

So how far would I go? I'd say I'm willing to be open to new ideas, suggestions, and advice about the details of my novels, as long as in the end, it's still my writing, my work, my creativity, and my story.

What would you do if a publisher, agent, or editor asked you to change your novel? Would you be open to it or say no thank you?


  1. Thanks for sharing from your experience, Jessica. Most of us, I think, are speculating what we would do, which is hard. As an unpublished, unagented writer, I would agree that whatever changes are recommended, they shouldn't compromise the heart of the story. That's what really matters.

  2. I think I have to agree with you on this one. I didn't do RTW today because I didn't really know how to approach it. I think I'd be so overwhelmed with gratitude that I don't know what I'd be willing to do. Hard to say. Though I think you're right - these people are incredibly smart and I'm not sure they would be so out in left field with their suggestions. Maybe so, but I think more often than not they tend to steer the story in the right direction, you know? Glad your experience with ZOVA has been exactly that!

  3. I so agree with you, Jessica! Our agents, editors and publishers are paid to know what works and what doesn't...and what sells and what doesn't. I embraced my agent's requested changes and had a blast working on them. That said, there have been times when others' critiques have inspired tears... (All part of the journey, right??)

    So glad to hear that you and your work are in trusted hands!

  4. Hey Jessica! Thanks for following.
    I had to do a search for your blog because it's not attached to your Google profile. Thought you should know that!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience Jessica. I agree with you that we do fall in love with parts of our stories because we wrote not because they are so necessary to the plot. I think I would probably have the same reaction as you though when I get my first real criticism being from friends, crit partner, agent or publisher. When the suggestions will come rolling, I may shed a tear for what I need to change but knowing that my story may become amazing because of it will be worth it :-)

  6. Agreed. As long as I felt the publisher "got" my story, suggestions to tweak it would be appreciated.

  7. I think it would depend on if the change made the story better or not.

  8. thanks for sharing your writing journey! seems it would be hard to have to change something you love, but i suppose if it's coming from a credible source, i'd assume it's for the better.