Wednesday, March 21, 2012
An SAT with Jill Hathaway, Debut Author of SLIDE
BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?
JH: I'm definitely a panster, although my agent and editor are trying to whip me into a planner. Synopses are the devil. I'd much rather sail along and discover the story as I go, but (with mysteries especially) that makes for a whole lot of rewriting.
BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?
JH: The rough draft usually only takes me 4-6 weeks, but then I spend months and months revising (see the rewriting comment above).
BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?
JH: I prefer to work on one project at a time; otherwise, I lose my focus. Normally I draft a story during the summer (because, as a teacher, that's when I have free time) and then revise throughout the school year.
BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?
JH: I was very much afraid that I wasn't capable of finishing a novel. I'd write lots of beginnings and never see them through. It wasn't until NaNoWriMo that I learned to let my first draft suck because I could always go back and fix it. So now I go full steam until I get that first draft finished.
BBC: How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?
JH: I have one trunked novel from before I was agented and one trunked novel that I wrote the summer after signing with my agent.
BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?
JH: I'm not sure I've completely given up on any of my stories. It would just take a lot of time and effort to resuscitate them, and I'm not sure it's worth it if no one's interested in buying them.
Querying and Agent Hunt Process:
BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?
JH: I'm represented by the practically perfect Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency. She plucked me out of the slush pile.
BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent?
JH: I queried about 100 agents with my first (now, trunked) novel before giving up. Then I wrote a better story and landed an agent within a few weeks. I think it's all about finding the right story and never giving up.
BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?
JH: Well, like I said, never give up. If no one wants your first novel, write another one. And another one. Until you write something awesome enough that everyone wants it.
On Being Published:
BBC: How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?
JH: Seeing SLIDE on Amazon for the first time was cool, but I can't even imagine how it will feel to see my book on the shelf at a bookstore.
BBC: How much input do you have on cover art?
JH: None on my first cover. I got to see a cover comp for SLIDE, and then the first cover, and then (when marketing didn't go for that one) a NEW cover. I did give a little feedback on the IMPOSTOR cover (but not much). Really, design isn't my thing, so I'm fine with it.
BBC: What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?
JH: Everyone says this, but it's true. It's sloooooooooooooow and then it's superfast! Like I'll wait months for something to happen and then a million amazing things (cover! ARCs! reviews!) happen all at once.
Social Networking and Marketing:
BBC: How much of your own marketing do you?
JH: I do quite a bit, but it's because I enjoy it. If I'm bored, I'll pop on Twitter and chat for a while. Blogging has become more of a pain as I don't know how much I can really share, but I try to keep up on it. Facebook is just plain fun.
BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?
JH: If by "platform" you just mean building connections, I say before. Connections always help--with other authors, bloggers, readers, agents, editors. It's really a community. You help others and rack up good karma points.
BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?
JH: I'm not far enough along in the process to be able to say definitively, but I have seen friends of mine with thousands of followers go really far (like the NYT bestseller list), but others with lots of followers have moderate success. I think publisher support really makes all the difference.
Thanks for having me and congrats again on your debut!