I'm lucky (or cunning) enough to have lured yet another successful writer over to my blog for an SAT - Successful Author Talk. Even more special - this is a WoW! Edition of the SAT - We're Ohio Writers! Yeah - cause we grow 'em here.
Even cooler, today brings us something unfathomable to me: a sister-writer team! As such, they get an extra special SAT question at the end of the interview.
SAT authors have conquered the query, slain the synopsis and attained the pinnacle of published. How'd they do it? Let's ask 'em!
Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters and co-authors of THE LIAR SOCIETY, which was released in paperback last month.
BBC: Are you Planners or Pantsters?
L&L: We are most definitely planners. Because we write together, we have to have some idea as to where the book is headed. Granted, this changes quite a bit as we get deeper into the story, but it makes us feel better to have a jumping off point.
BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?
L&L: If we really buckle down, we can complete a novel within a couple of months. This does not include the massive revisions we inevitably end up doing. We do prefer to write this way--NaNoWriMo style--our families, however, do not.
BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi taskers?
L&L: We are one project at a time kind of writers. We can read a lot of books simultaneously, but writing is much more personal. One world at a time, please.
BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?
L&L: We have many fears as writers now compared to when we first started out. We completely miss our naivete of the early days. We just wrote and though it was AMAZING. Now we know better.
BBC: How many trunked books did you have before you were agented?
L&L: We have one trunked book from before and one from after.
BBC: Have you ever quit on a ms, and how did you know it was time?
L&L: YES. We've quit on a few! It's usually a joint decision and most often because the plot is too complicated or the characters aren't flowing.
Querying and Agent Hunt Process:
BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?
L&L: Catherine Drayton. She plucked us out of the slush pile, baby! It was super-exciting because she was one of our top agents for the first trunked manuscript, but we got the big fat 'R.' The second time around went much better!
BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent?
L&L: We sent out 10 queries to our top agent choices for THE LIAR SOCIETY, which was then called FINDING GRACE.
BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?
L&L: Believe it or not, there are days when we miss querying. There was so much possibility and excitement involved in the process! Will we get a request? Will an agent want to see more? Will they offer? Will they email? We kind of loved every second. I think our main piece of advice would be to query in small chunks. If you aren't getting a good response, perhaps your query needs a makeover. If you're getting requests that turn into rejections, perhaps your book isn't quite ready. Testing the waters is kind of a nice way to test out your query and/or manuscript.
On Being Published:
BBC: How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?
L&L: So exciting! It felt like all of our hard work had finally paid off. It was also surreal at the same time.
BBC: How much input do you have on cover art?
L&L: Not much at all. We have a whole cover art drama story. Basically, Kate did not have pink hair until we had to go back in and change it based on final cover art. It all worked out in the end, but not without a few tears along the way.
BBC: What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?
L&L: We learned that a lot of publishing is out of your control. No one can predict what kids will buy or what they'll love or which cover will call to them. We are not the target market, but we try our best!
Social Networking and Marketing:
BBC: How much of your own marketing do you? Do you have a blog? Twitter?
L&L: We do pretty much all of our marketing. We have an incredible publicist who supports us, but marketing the book is kind of our baby. We've come up with contests, organized our blog tour and have attempted to spread the word using social networking. Jury's still out on whether or not it worked!
Lisa & Laura’s Blog
Lisa & Laura on Twitter
Lisa & Laura on Facebook
THE LIAR SOCIETY Homepage
Lisa & Laura’s Site
BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?
L&L: As soon as you begin writing, if you feel comfortable, plug yourself into the community. Not only is it great for networking, but you'll make valuable friends along the way. The business is tough so if you have trusted friends who will support you, you're golden!
BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?
L&L: Yes. At least we hope so! We work very hard to spread the word online, so it'd be a shame if it didn't contribute to sales. BUT, we've made friends who are incredible, so really, it doesn't really matter!
And the Extra Special Sister-Writer Duo Question:
BBC: How the heck did you manage to work together to write? My older sister chairs the English Dept. in the school where I work. We love each other, but there’s that “Stop touching the stuff on my desk!” and “Are you really eating that?” factor to working together that makes me think if we wrote a book together it would be carnage!!
L&L: HA! You'd be surprised how much fun it is to write a book with someone else! The whole two brains thing totally works to our advantage. Basically, we just switch off chapter by chapter--Lisa writes one, Laura edits and writes the next, Lisa edits hers and writes the following. Until finally, we have a finished book and have had the chance to be both readers and writers. We don't know how people write books ALONE!
Extra Special Fun - L&L Share Their Winning Query!!
Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was before this message from Grace appeared in her inbox:
I shouldn't be writing.
They'll hurt you.
Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.
But Kate isn’t most girls.
Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.
The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a dangerous turn when her confrontation with Christian, Grace’s addict brother, almost gets her killed. Good thing she finds a couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth.. Armed with her newfound sidekicks, the investigation continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school that threatens to destroy them all.
Kate knew finding Grace wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who to trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.
After all, everyone’s a suspect.