3 S.R. Johannes: Guest Post by Jessie Harrell (author of Destined)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Post by Jessie Harrell (author of Destined)

Today Jessie Harrell gives us a break down of her road to indie publishing. She is the author of Destined that debuted this week.

My first response to this guest post - was "HOW DOES SHE REMEMBER ALL THIS? Then I remembered "oh yeah she is young and I am old. I barely remember anything past yesterday.


Assuming you don’t want to hear my entire life history in his post – and frankly, I have no interest in recounting it since it’s pretty mundane stuff – I thought maybe I’d give you the timeline version.

Early spring  2008 – Husband makes an offhand remark that we should write children’s books, because “how hard can that be?”  He proceeds to buy things like Writing Children’s Book for Dummies and never read them; I sign up for an online writing class.
                  After the class, I realize that I have too many words in my brain to write picture books.  I move on to young adult and decide to retell the Cupid & Psyche myth.  It starts out with the tentative (and horrible!) title, the Vengenace of Venus.
                  Immediately join SCBWI and decide I must attend the Winter Conference in NYC (a place I’d never been), if I was going to “make it” in this business.

Late spring/Summer 2008 – Buy a refurbished laptop so I can ignore my husband from the same room.
                  Give up all TV.  Except True Blood.            
Take my laptop to all my DD’s gymnastics classes on Saturday mornings. With iPod rolling, this turns out to be productive writing time.
                  Start sharing early chapters with a teen beta reader. She likes the crap I’ve written and I’m encouraged to write more! Crap for everyone!

Fall 2008 – Register for the 2009 SCBWI Winter Conference and tell everyone I know that I’m going.  There’s no turning back now. I’m going to be a published author come hell or highwater.

Winter 2008/2009- Attend the SCBWI winter conference. Meet Kimberly Sabantini who agreed to beta read my not-quite-as-bad-but-still-not-great crap.  Note, I’m only about ½ way done with the novel at this point and it’s coming up on a year.  But I’ve been poking around online and learning a lot. Or so I thought.
                  Get some encouraging feedback during the breakout sessions at the conference.  Learn WAY more than I expected to. Walk away with the advice that I must sign up for facebook and twitter. (WTH is twitter?)
                  Join FB and twitter and immediately become addicted.
                  Became involved with #yalitchat and met some awesome people.
Proceed to write some and screw around on twitter a lot.  Oh, started a blog too. And finished the novel now known as Destined

Fall 2009 – love conferences so much now, I attend another one in Jacksonville.  It had this cool feature where we could submit a logline for our books and agents agreed to accept the collection and make requests based on those.
                  The collection works – I get my very first request for a partial.  OMG!
                  Promptly send off my partial to show that I really was prepared and ready to go when I queried. (See, I’ve been paying attention.)  Later find a spelling error in the first sentence.
                  Receive a rejection.  Follow this pattern a few more times.
                  Undertake editing with vigor. Figure editing MUST be done by now.

Winter 2010 - Attend the regional SCBWI conference in Miami.  Meet more cool people. Learn more and am totally energized and ready to get published.
Start querying with a vengeance.  Destined gets lots of requests. 
And lots of rejections.  Some very favorible comments come in on my writing though, so I figure I’m on the right track. 

Spring 2010 – Time to write the next novel.  Convince Nikki Katz (who I met on #yalitchat, but who lives out in Cali, so I’d never “met” her), to co-write a novel with me.  We plot and outline and character sketch.  The writing goes quickly and effortlessly.
                  Forget Destined, I’m in love now with Beneath the Surface!

Fall/Winter 2010 – Finish BTS edits and collect beta reader comments.  Everything’s looking good.  Get ready to query after the first of the year.

January 2011 - Queries go out, requests roll in.
                  So do rejections. And lots of waiting.  SUCK.
                  Enter Destined in small pub contest.

Late spring  2011Destined does well in the contest, but ultimately I get the review and resub letter.
Get some advice from Georgia McBride not to let go of Destined.  Self-publish it if I have to and start building a fan base.  She also tells me to think of a way to put a fresh spin on the myth.
                  Starting to consider Indie publishing and potential edits.

Summer 2011 – Meet cover designer, find perfect cover photo, design dream cover.  Oops. No turning back now!
                  Release cover into the wild to start building some buzz.
Edit with vigor. I’m on a  schedule and making some major changes.  Get the manuscript to Georgia McBride by late July for her editorial insights.
                   I LOVE THIS STORY ALL OVER AGAIN!!
                  Try to figure out how I’m going to sell paperbacks and where.  Hire typesetter so I don’t have to be bothered with techy stuff.
                  Produce & distribute ARCs.

Fall 2011 - Find typos in the ARCs and correct them.
                  Pull my hair out trying to communicate with Amazon.
                  Get amazing support from all the friends I’ve made in the writing community over the past 4 years. SO worth the wait!
                  Reviews start rolling in.  People start adding Destined to their TBR lists on Goodreads. Strangers are posting about my book on their blogs.  Bloggers are agreeing to be on my blog tour.  Surreal.

November 17th – LAUNCH PARTY!!
                  It’s been almost 4 years in the making.  I’ve sent more queries, researched more agents, and learned more than I ever could have imagined.  The rejections suck.  The friends I’ve made along the way are AWESOME!

Winter 2011 (i.e., the future) – back to editing BTS
                  Start writing Destined companion novel – Oracular.
And there you have it.  The long and winding road.  The book was nowhere near ready when I started querying. But I didn’t know enough then to realize that.  So I took my knocks like everyone else, learned, grew, and became a part of the online community of YA writers.  It’s been awesome and I wouldn’t change a single thing.  If you’re still traveling on your own road, don’t give up!  The only way to assure you are never published is to quit.  (Someone cool said something that, but I don’t know who, and so I can’t give you the actual quote. Oh well.)

Destined Synopsis from Goodreads and Amazon:
When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.

As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she's come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined.

Twitter: @JessieHarrell
It will also be available for Nook and Kindle.


Jessie Harrell said...

Thanks so much, Shelli, for letting me guest post on your blog! I love seeing all the great reviews for Untraceable roll in -- it's so fun that our launch dates are close together. And no - you are NOT old. It took me some time to reconstruct that time line, I assure you.
oh -p.s. Nook and Kindle versions are now available ;)

Theresa Milstein said...

Jessie, what a nice and supportive husband. How cool to see your timeline.

Shelli, thanks for letting me get to know Jessie more.

Heather said...

I'm so excited for Jessie and this book! It's fantastic to hear her full story. Thanks for sharing it!

Elle Strauss said...

This is fascinating--I love hearing about the journey of other writers. Thanks for sharing!

Jamie Burch said...

Thank you Jessie and Shelli! I enjoy reading posts like this. They give me hope and inspire me to keep going.

Again, thank you both so much!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Jessie for sharing your story and how you decided to independently publish. Love your advice not to quit.

Good luck with your debut. Your book sounds great.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

What a journey!

I love the cover. Good luck!

Katy said...

This was fascinating! Congrats to Jessie on all her hard work AND the release of her book. DESTINED sounds amazing!

J.C. Martin said...

What an adventure that as been, and it's only just started! Good luck with DESTINED. I love Greek mythology and this sounds like an intriguing read!