From Imagination To Publication

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

MY PUBLISHING JOURNEY: Author Jessica Therrien

Hello IWSG friends! For this month's post I decided to feature myself for "MY PUBLISHING JOURNEY". For those who don't know "MY PUBLISHING JOURNEY" is a blog segment where I interview other authors about how they published their books. 

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

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?

Today's Featured Author

ME! Jessica Therrien
Best-Selling Author of
The Children of the Gods
Carry Me Home

After posting interviews with all kinds of authors (self-published, traditionally published, best-selling, etc.) I figured it was time to post my own publishing journey.

Back in 2011 I took my first manuscript to a writer's conference. There I got lucky. I caught the eye of a small publisher out of LA and left with a handshake publishing deal. The contract came later and things took off. As with most publishing experiences there was good and bad. They required extreme edits (which ended up for the best), got me a foreign agent who sold my series to multiple foreign MAJOR publishing houses, I got advances and contracts, the whole deal. Upon releasing my first book I hit the Barnes & Noble best-sellers list (looking back I should have been checking the USA Today list but I didn't know any better...). Then things started to fizzle a bit...

I can't really get into the details (non-disclosure and all that) but things weren't going as well with my publisher. Their business wasn't doing great, less promotion, less communication etc. and I felt my books weren't being given the opportunity to do as well as they could.

I got my rights back and started brainstorming...I didn't want to self-publish. It felt like going backwards for me, but I knew trying to land a publisher for a series that had already hit its peak was unlikely. So, my bestie-author-friend and I took all the benefits of traditional publishing (guided support, a branded logo, marketing efforts, the vetting process, etc.) and combined them with the benefits of self-publishing (the author gets to keep control & rights without paying a percentage to a publisher, agent, etc.) and formed a hybrid publishing company called ACORN PUBLISHING.

                   *click logo for our brochure*


Do you have an agent?
No. Prior to signing my first publishing contract I did ALMOST sign with an agent. They were based out of San Diego where I lived at the time. I had the contract and called in to hopefully meet with her before I signed it. She refused to see me, so I didn't sign. Might not have been the best Live and learn.

After that I was with Marisa Corvisiero for a while. She shopped around the 3rd book in my series before I had the idea for Acorn, but as I suspected, selling the 3rd book in a series was hard (and my prior publisher made transferring rights difficult). I only signed with her for that series.

Since then, I've been Acorn all the way. Acorn Publishing doesn't require an agent for submissions.
How many queries did you send?
I've sent out hundreds of queries over the years. I've had plenty of full requests, but have never landed "a dream agent" or anything. As I mentioned, I've kind of moved on from that process. It's so discouraging.


How did you (or your agent) find your publisher?
Southern California Writer's Conference.

How long did it take to find a publisher?
I think I was querying for about 6 months before I went to the conference.

What do you like about your publisher?
I liked that they were easy to contact, they got me foreign rights deals, they nailed my first cover, and were really open to working with me and letting me have a voice in the process.

What do you dislike about your publisher?
They didn't have a solid business structure...I guess. If they had successfully run their business and continued to do well, I'd probably still be with them.

Did you or your agent hit any snags along the way, and if so how did you overcome them?
Yes. They had never published a book that did as well as mine, so the demand grew higher than they could keep up with (or at least that's the way I understood it). People would go into Barnes & Noble to get the book and the system would say they were sold out. As in, my publisher needed to get more books to the distributor so they could be delivered and/or purchased.

Did traditional publishing get your book(s) in Barnes & Noble or other bookstores?
Yes. I was fortunate enough to have that wonderful experience of walking into Barnes & Noble and seeing my book on the shelves. However, I think it was only on the west coast. I remember searching or asking friends on the east coast and it wasn't over there. Still, I was happy :)

Did your publisher produce a hardcover of your book or just paperback?
Just paperback.

Did your publisher create an audiobook for you?
No. I did that through Acorn Publishing.


What made you decide to publish through Acorn Publishing?
Acorn Publishing is the best of both worlds...a publishing company started by two authors who know what other authors want in a publisher. 

Did you do everything yourself (such as cover design, formatting, etc.) or did you hire out?
I learned to format myself. I hired out for my covers. If I can do something myself, I will...I don't like waiting on people, and I'm a real perfectionist.

Which platform (such as Createspace) do you self-publish through?
CreateSpace, IngramSpark, ACX, Draft2Digital, and KDP

Have you researched or considered getting a hardcover printed of your book? What about audio?
Yes. I published a hardcover for Oppression, and Carry Me Home will be out in hardcover as well. They're pretty and IngramSpark works like createspace so you don't have to invest more than around $30 up front.

What do you like about self/hybrid-publishing?
Much like everyone else who self-publishes (whether with a company like Acorn or on their own) I love the control. I also feel like I'm reaping 100% of the benefits of all the marketing I put in. I also like being able to check sales every 5 minutes and getting paid every month instead of twice a year. 

What do you dislike about self/hybrid-publishing?
Well, because I own the company, I do ALL the work, lol! But...they say do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. So true.


What marketing tactics worked for you?
A newsletter is key. If you can get a BookBub deal, AWESOME! I think I sold 2,000 ebooks or something crazy like that the month I got mine. I've recently started trying AMS (Amazon Ads) and Facebook Ads...we'll see. Blog tours have worked for me because there is a really great online YA reading community.
If you are traditionally published, what did your publisher do to market your book?
They took me to book events and we do the same at Acorn. LA Times Festival of Books, WonderCon, SD Festival of Books, OC Kids Book Fest, LB ComicCon, etc...
Also a lot of social media promotion and giveaways.


Looking back would you do anything differently?
I probably would have signed with that first agent. At the time, I didn't realize how hard it is to land a publisher. She might have done better for my series.

What lessons have you learned? Any advice for those about to go down your path?
Traditional publishing is over-rated. It can be awesome and everyone should try for THE DREAM, but you can be successful on your own if you don't get lucky in the traditional pub world. And you need LUCK...seriously, plenty of amazing authors get rejected all the time.

Also, write because you love it, not to make money. Writing for money is a really hard career path. It's stressful and not fun. Enjoy the process before deadlines, just the freedom of writing when you want.

Can you provide names and/or contacts for the following?
Agent: Marisa Corvisiero Literary Agency
Publisher: Acorn Publishing (
Formatter: Me
Cover Designer: Carrie Butler/Forward Authority
Audiobook: ACX
Promotion and/or marketing:
Xpresso Book Tours
Blog Tour Organizer, etc.: 
Bewitching Book Tours
Website Designer: Me

“A riveting page-turner…Jessica Therrien broke my heart into a million pieces—and then put it back together again. This book will haunt and uplift readers long after they turn the last page.”

-KAT ROSS, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea

CARRY ME HOME is a fictional novel inspired by the true story of a teenage girl’s involvement in several Mexican gangs in San Jose and Los Angeles. The members of her crew call her, Guera, Spanish for “white girl” and it doesn’t take long for her to get lost in their world of guns and drugs.

                                               * * *

Lucy and Ruth are country girls from a broken home. When they move to the city with their mother, leaving behind their family ranch and dead-beat father, Lucy unravels.

They run to their grandparents’ place, a trailer park mobile home in the barrio of San Jose. Lucy’s barrio friends have changed since her last visit. They’ve joined a gang called VC. They teach her to fight, to shank, to beat a person unconscious and play with guns. When things get too heavy, and lives are at stake, the three girls head for LA seeking a better life.

But trouble always follows Lucy. She befriends the wrong people, members of another gang, and every bad choice she makes drags the family into her dangerous world. 

Told from three points of view, the story follows Lucy down the rabbit hole, along with her mother and sister as they sacrifice dreams and happiness, friendships and futures. Love is waiting for all of them in LA, but pursuing a life without Lucy could mean losing her forever.

Ultimately it’s their bond with each other that holds them together, in a true test of love, loss and survival.


Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than average people, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's well over eighty. 

Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. 

After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. 

Or so she thinks. 

Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Some are waiting for her to put an end to centuries of traditions that have oppressed their people under the guise of safeguarding them. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning-and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.


  1. You found what worked for you.
    Bummer I never did the newsletter thing...

  2. This is fascinating to me! I've never met anyone who started a publishing company. As I tell my blog readers, you're a great writer to know!

  3. Really interesting journey! I hope you have many more successes. I'm co-hosting this month, and I wanted to pop in and say, "Hi!"

  4. I enjoyed learning more about your journey and Acorn Publishing, especially how it got started. You had great successes, and I foresee many more. :)

  5. This information is like gold. There is a lot here to consider based on the telling of one who's been through the start of a process and more. Thanks for this.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out