Thursday, November 4, 2010

What I've learned from some pretty awesome authors!

by Brittany Geragotelis

I have a pretty cool job. I get to run photo shoots, help choose our cover girls, spend at least six times a year at Disney World on business trips and meet some of the coolest Hollywood starlets and singing sensations to hit the stage, all in the name of “work.” But one of my favorite things to do is write our review section. And you know why?

Because I get to read books before everyone else and then interview the authors I want to learn more about.

That’s right. My job rocks!

Sure, I get excited and flustered around celebs—sometimes even tongue-tied. But when I get the chance to talk to an author I admire, I get totally starstruck!!! Over the years, I’ve had the honor of interviewing dozens of authors about writing, the publishing industry, their motivation and inspiration. This is especially interesting to me because I hope to have my own YA fiction published one day.

Over the years, I’ve picked up little nuggets of wisdom from each of the fabulous authors I’ve talked to. Here’s what I’ve learned:

photo credit: Simon Pulse
1. Inspiration’s all around you.
“What inspires me? Eavesdropping! Seriously, inspiration is everywhere, even when you don’t realize that you’re looking for it. The other day, I spied the cutest teen boy, all decked out in a Snuggie, in the middle of Starbucks. He was happily texting his friends. I know there’s a story in there, somewhere.” —Charity Tahmaseb, co-author of The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading

2. Write what you love.
“My agent told me to write what I love and I said, ‘Well, I love cheerleading and hip-hop.’ She said ‘That’s it. Now put them together.’ And I was like, ‘You’re right!’ Two great tastes, that taste great together. It was like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup—so crazy it just might work. So I took the two things that I’d talk about for free and made money writing about them. Write what you love and live what you love.” —Jessica Bendinger, writer of Bring It On and The Seven Rays

photo credit: Delecorte
Books for Young Readers
3. You never know what's going to be a hit.
“There’s a strange thing that goes on with books, movies, television shows, albums—anything created along those lines. And this is it: you never know what’s going to be huge. All you can really hope for is to write something that you want to write and that it will find an audience.” –Deborah Gregory, author of The Cheetah Girls and Catwalk series

4. Don’t give up.
“The publishing industry is made to weed out people who don’t want it badly enough. It’s hard to figure out how, who and when to query; hard to figure out the market; hard to figure out the seven million “do nots” when you’re first starting out. The good news is, all that becomes easier. The bad news is, you’ve got to navigate through it before it gets easier. If you want it, don’t give up.” —Jackson Pearce, author of As You Wish and the upcoming mega-hit Sisters Red

photo credit: Razorbill
5. Set goals for yourself.
“My writing process is very methodical and goal-driven. I set word goals for each day and work my hardest to meet them. I always tell my kids that a dream isn’t something that comes true because you sat on your rump wishing for it. I try to be a good example of that—though I do have to sit on my rump to type…” —Stacey Jay, author of You Are So Undead to Me and Undead Much?

6. Write something for everybody.
“Books with characters that appeal to both males and females have a better chance (i.e. Harry Potter). The more you narrow something down to a smaller audience, the smaller the chances are of it selling more copies. In the end, it’s all about the numbers. Book fact: There are 65,000 books published every year. That's what you're up against.” —Deborah Gregory, author of The Cheetah Girls and Catwalk series

7. Write, write, write.
“Sit your butt in a chair, hands on keys. There’s no magic secret to becoming a published author. The only way to do it is to write a book that people want to read. And the only way I know how to do that is to write, write, write!” —Charity Tahmaseb, co-author of The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading

photo credit: Simon & Schuster
Books for Young Readers
8. Find a process that works for you.
Whatever works, is my number one rule. I dont answer the phone, I dont look at the paper or watch TV. I just sit at the computer, go to my office or somewhere with really good coffee, put on my headset so I dont get distracted, and just write. Once Ive met my goal for the day, Im done. As a writer, Im the instrument and I can only do so much. You really have to take care of your body and mind. I try to be gentle with myself and make the computer a place where good things happen.” —Jessica Bendinger, writer of Bring It On and The Seven Rays

9. Read and write.
"Read everything you can get your hands on—each book will teach you something about storytelling. Write every day—because you cant get better if you dont practice." —Stacey Jay, author of You Are So Undead to Me and Undead Much?

photo credit: Little Brown
10. Rejection can make you a stronger writer.
“I had a book that was rejected everywhere—76 times, to be exact. I dealt with it by writing another book—I wanted something to distract me from being so depressed about the first one. My second book ended up being the one that sold. I think I had to write the rejected book though—it was my “learning how to write” book, and I wouldn’t change that experience for the world.” —Jackson Pearce, author of As You Wish and Sisters Red



Denise said...

Good advice. I look forward to any of your books being published.