Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Submission Story with LEVEL 2 Author Lenore Appelhans

Today's guest for the SHIT (Submission Hell - It's True) is Lenore Appelhans, the blogger extraordinaire behind Presenting Lenore who stopped by last week for a BOA. Lenore's experience in the submission process certainly wasn't hellish, but a good dose of optimism never hurt any aspiring writers, either. And it certainly didn't hurt that her debut, LEVEL 2 sounds like it's made of everything you ever wanted, wrapped up in paper and topped off with a glorious cover.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

BBC: How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?

LA: I did know a bit, mostly from scouring the blue boards (community at Verla Kay’s website) or from SCBWI resources/conferences.

BBC: Did anything about the process surprise you?

LA: My agent walked me through the process and he was incredibly confident that it wouldn’t be on sub long.  He told me he was pitching it on a Friday and that we’d probably hear first reactions mid-week the following week. So when he forwarded me some feedback on Saturday already, I was elated, but my anxiety level also rose considerably. I might not have slept that whole weekend.

BBC: Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?

LA: I had the submission list, and I googled all of their names, but I found precious little info about them. The main way to find out about which editors edit which books seems to be reading acknowledgement pages. So I did a lot of that to pass the time while I was waiting!

BBC: What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?

Well, we heard that the first editor had interest in less than one day. We also got a couple of rejections by Monday. By Tuesday, my agent indicated that it would likely go to auction on Thursday, but then the preempt came in from S&S and we eventually accepted that.

BBC: What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?

LA: I wish I knew! Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with that specific anxiety for very long, but I’m sure if it had been much longer I would have developed some coping strategies.

BBC: If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?

LA: The rejections we got were basically of the “this is just not for me, but I’m confident you’ll sell it elsewhere” variety, and the face of so much positive feedback, they really didn’t register much. You can’t expect everyone to love your book.

BBC: When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?

LA: It was all via phone calls on a chilly Tuesday night in March. It felt really, really surreal because I just couldn’t believe I would soon have an actual book published. By the time the deal was agreed to, it was nearly midnight here (in Germany I am 6 hours ahead of New York) so my husband and I celebrated by going to the grocery store and buying sparkling wine and Snickers ice cream bars.

BBC: Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?

LA: Because the publishing contract and the movie option with CBS happened at the same time, broke the news the next day and S&S sort of had to scramble to write a press release.  The deal was announced in PM and PW on Thursday, so it really wasn’t too bad of a wait.


Em-Musing said...

Wow, publishing contract AND a movie deal? So awesome. You give hope.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Em - I know, right? It definitely serves as a light at the end of the tunnel.