You’ve got a long climb ahead of you, so wear a comfy bra! Young adult author of novels in verse, Ellen Hopkins, began her keynote speech at the SCBWI 2009 LA Conference with this phrase. The following is her advice on how to persevere and get published!
Climbing the Mountain:
- It takes a long hard journey to make it to the publication mountain. Not everyone wakes up with an idea, writes it in a few months and sells it right away (like Twilight). Most of us have a long hard climb ahead of us.
Examples of the Long Hard Climb:
- Harry Potter (the first book) took six years to write.
- Dust of 100 Dogs – took 14 years of submissions and rejections before getting published.
Put Your Pain Into Your Stories:
- Put your pain into your stories. Ellen’s breakout book Crank is about her daughter getting addicted to Crystal Meth.
- When you are alone you become someone else, who is that person you become?
Develop Your Craft and Your Resume:
- Write and publish in smaller venues – magazines, etc. The goal here is to create a publishing bio.
- Editors do not want to deal with amateurs.
Once You’re Published the Climb Doesn’t End:
- You need to promote your book. It took Crank two and a half years before it made its way to the top ten list.
- Send out postcards, do library visits, school visits, radio shows. Get the media out on your first book.
Other Interesting Facts about Ellen Hopkins Shared in Her Speech:
- She’s adopted.
- She was given $8000 for the advance on her first book Crank.
Ellen Hopkins is a New York Times Bestselling Author of books for young adults and novels in verse. Her books include: Crank, Impulse, Glass, and Break. Hopkins considers her fifth grade teacher to be the first person to encourage her to become a professional writer, and she herself spends up to 100 days a year educating writers at conferences, school visits, and festivals.