From Imagination To Publication

Thursday, August 10, 2017

MY PUBLISHING JOURNEY: Author Stephanie Faris

Have you ever wondered how authors get their start?
How do they get agents?
How do they get published?
Is it luck? Talent? Drive?

This segment is an attempt to satisfy my immense answer the one question I'm dying to ask every author out there: How did your book become a book?

Visit the full catalogue of "My Publishing Journey" interviews HERE.

Today's Featured Author

Stephanie Faris

I wrote my first book in 1995. It was a young adult novel. My research, however, revealed that there was no real market for young adult novels in the mid-90s, unless you could get a deal with one of the book packagers publishing series like Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. After auditioning twice to write for Sweet Valley High, I gave up on YA and moved to category romance (the books published by Harlequin). Romantic comedy was huge at the time and I loved writing those books, but publishers weren’t quite as excited about reading them. After a full decade of trying to get published, I took some time off and when I returned, young adult was huge again…only not the same YA I grew up reading. An agent kindly told me my voice was better suited to middle grade and once I learned that, landing an agent was relatively easy. I have a feeling the decades of work I put in before that contributed to landing an agent, though. I chose traditional publishing because it was the only real option at the time. Self-publishing (we called it “e-publishing”) came along soon after I started writing, but it wasn’t respected in its early days. If I were starting over today, I probably still would go for traditional publishing, but there are quite a few small presses that are making a big impact on the market.


Do you have an agent?

How many queries did you send?
I spent 20 years trying to get a publisher, so I sent at least 50 queries to publishers and/or agents over the course of that.

If represented, how long did it take to get your agent?
Only two years, but prior to that, I spent 10 years unsuccessfully querying Harlequin, Silhouette, and Bantam Books with romance novels. They didn’t require an agent to submit.

If you have an agent, can you copy and paste your successful query letter for others to reference?
I no longer have that email account, but here’s part of the blurb I used.

School Spirits is a 40,000-word novel targeted toward an upper middle grade/tween market. It is the first in an intended series about four pre-teen ghost hunters. Brothers Ethan and Noah are two seasoned investigators, struggling to make that first big “find” that will make everyone take them seriously. Brooklyn, their next-door neighbor, is a novice…and a non-believer. She hooks up with the guys accidentally, and is initially brought along only because her skepticism appeals to the boys on a scientific level. Her skepticism decreases, however, when she has her own ghostly encounter.


How did you (or your agent) find your publisher?
My agent met the editor, who was discussing the type of book she was looking for. She’d already thought that the Aladdin M!x line would be a good fit for my voice, so she couldn’t pass up the opportunity for me to write and submit something.

How long did it take to find a publisher?
After landing an agent, it took three years. From the time I wrote my first book, it took 17 years.

What do you like about your publisher?
I love my publisher! I love the fact that they publish books geared specifically toward young girls and that the books have such positive messages.

What do you dislike about your publisher?
That they can’t buy more books from me. But I think that would be the same of any publisher. I’m pretty prolific. My dream scenario would be to write ten to twelve books a year. I’m currently writing 2,000 words a day for my freelance clients.

Did you or your agent hit any snags along the way, and if so how did you overcome them?
The book I won my agent with was never published. It made the rounds and was considered by a major publisher, but because the query process is so slow, my original idea based on a popular trend wasn’t so original two years later.

Did traditional publishing get your book(s) in Barnes & Noble or other bookstores?
Yes, as well as Books-a-Million and independent bookstores.

Did your publisher produce a hardcover of your book or just paperback?
Both. Hardcovers mostly went to libraries, I believe.

Did your publisher create an audiobook for you?


What marketing tactics worked for you?
Bookfairs, networking through SCBWI, school carnivals and family nights, and library events. School visits worked but only with schools that agreed to book sales at the event, and that seems to be rare.

If you are traditionally published, what did your publisher do to market your book?
Got it in bookstores, put it in catalogs distributed to librarians/schools, presented it to librarians and booksellers, sent it out to major review publications.


Looking back would you do anything differently?
Waste far less time on school visits and find other venues to reach children!

What lessons have you learned? Any advice for those about to go down your path?
Each person has to decide whether self-publishing, small press, or traditional press is the best route. There’s no right answer. While there’s no substitute for the distribution a traditional press can give an author, some small presses are doing well with that, too. Research all the options and decide the best path for you.

Can you provide names and/or contacts for the following?
Agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary Agency
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Aladdin
Formatter: Simon & Schuster staff
Cover Designer: Hired by Simon & Schuster


Love Actually meets Adventures in Babysitting in this hilarious novel written by seven authors about seven classmates who are preparing for a crazy night at their middle school dance.

Lynnfield Middle School is prepped and ready for a dance to remember, including an awesome performance from Heart Grenade, the all-girl band who recently won a Battle of the Bands contest. Seven classmates—Carmen, Genevieve, Tess, Ryan, Ellie, Ashlyn, and Jade—intend to make the most of the night…or at least the five of them who are able to attend do. The other two would sacrifice almost anything to be there.

One thing’s for sure—this entire crew is in for one epic night! Gail Nall, Dee Romito, Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, and Jen Malone have created a charming, hilarious, and relatable novel that’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait to dance the night away.


  1. You're proof it doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen!
    Bummer school visits don't work well. And maybe someday your books will be on audio.
    Still in awe of your daily word count...

    1. School visits work for some people, but I didn't realize so many authors were doing them just to make $$$. I run my own freelance writing business, so I have to push my clients aside to do it, which can cost me money long-term if I do that too much. It has to sell books for me to even come close to taking that risk.

  2. I'm a Sweet Valley girl. OM, I didn't know this about you.
    Oh, the journey was long but it's worth it! Good job on not giving up on your gift and passion.

    1. I had a lot of fun doing those. The bonus is they send you free books to read to get a feel for the line!

  3. Wow! Living proof that persistence does pay off, and to have a thick skin. I'm glad you had an agent who was observant and honest enough to notice your talent and voice. This is a fascinating story, and so glad you shared it. Hugs...

    1. I got very lucky with my agent. It's vital to have an agent who gets excited about your work!

  4. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Jessica! I had so much fun answering these questions.

  5. This is a fascinating journey, Stephanie. Thank you so much for sharing it. And thank you Jessica for hosting!

  6. I did not know the full story, so this was great to hear. Sometimes you get lucky, but hard work and perseverance will always pay off in the end.

    Thanks for sharing, Stephanie, and thanks to Jessica for hosting such an educational series.

  7. Wonderful interview. I love how you snagged your agent. That's the American Writers Dream.

  8. It was interesting to learn how long it took to get a publisher once you had your agent. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey Stephanie. Have a great rest of your week :)

  9. Great story of how you got started, Stephanie. And look at you now. I'm so happy for you. The latest book is on my list to read. Wish I had some young daughters to read it with. Congratulations on your success.

  10. Hard work paid off. You are proof positive of perseverance and talented writing. Good interview

  11. Seventeen years! That's a long time to reach any milestone. Congrats on sticking with it.

  12. I'm looking forward to this one.
    See you Monday, Steph.

  13. Love finding authors this way! I also really like reading about their journey. I'm so glad I found your blog!

  14. It's so interesting to find out Stephanie's backstory and her journey to becoming a successful published author.

  15. Wow, what patience! That was wonderful to hear about your journey. My small publisher was great at first but now I'm happy to be self-publishing, and I agree that every author's journey is unique. Congratulations on your success!