Wednesday, September 26, 2012

News Teen Writers Can Use

by Stephanie Morrill

I'm back home from Dallas, where I attended the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference. It delighted me to meet several girls who I knew through Go Teen Writers and to hear how well their meetings with editors and agents went.

Jill Williamson, Roseanna White, and me heading into the awards dinner
Here's the great news. Editors - at least in the Christian market - are excited to meet with young writers who are talented storytellers. One of girls had requests from Harvest House and Bethany to see more of her historical manuscript. Another had a request from AMG and the editor was so excited that an agent took notice of her as well.
Gillian Adams (how darling is she???) and me at the awards dinner


Roseanna White, Amanda Barritt (teen writer extraordinaire!), and me in the book store
I have a couple potential publishing opportunities I want to bring to your attention. Jill Williamson came acrossa Publisher's Weekly article which talked about YA in the Christian market. OakTara, apparently, is specifically looking for teen writers:


Ramona Cramer Tucker, cofounder and editorial director, OakTara
Looking for: fantasy, sci-fi, realistic fiction; medieval fantasy series aimed at boys; issues fiction; teen writers. “One reason we launched OakTara in 2007 is because there was very little Christian YA fiction being published; sci-fi and fantasy especially were missing. Our passion is to go where the readers go and offer fiction that will tantalize their interest. We aim at the mainstream reader but from a Christian worldview.”
Details: Especially looking for teens who are really good writers, and for fiction that will attract male readers. “We’re looking for fresh, unique novels with the broadest audience, and we are passionate about meeting the needs of the writer as well as the reader.”

And at the conference I sat in on a "spotlight session" for Zondervan where the editors talked about what they're looking for, what they're excited about, new things at the company, etc. One of the things they talked about is Zondervan First, a digital imprint "dedicated to publishing new e-books each month, rapidly delivering the best in Christian content to today's e-savvy readers."

How it works is you submit your manuscript - your entire manuscript - on their website. They stressed that they're looking for very clean manuscripts that don't require much editing. Their editorial staff will still be copyediting and all that, but they don't want to have to invest a lot of time in tightening the story. Right now they're looking for adult fiction (though they eventually want to do a YA line as well) in the following genres: Contemporary, Historical, Suspense, Romance. And any combination of those, I would assume. (Like "Historical Romance")

Honestly, I think it looks like a really good opportunity to break in. There's no advance, but you do get 50% royalties on all sales. You get the Zondervan name and the prestige that's tied to it. You have an editor and cover designer and all that. They say they'll market them, though it looks to me from the literature I'm reading on it, that they're really going to marketing the digital imprint as a whole rather than specific books. It looks like they'll feature totals on the homepage and stuff, but that the bulk of the marketing responsibilities would fall to you. Which these days is true regardless of how you choose to publish.

Anyway, you can find tons more details on the Zondervan First website. Their launching the line with Dina Sleiman who's a friend of Go Teen Writers, and I'm sure will be happy to share her experiences with us.

I tried to squeeze these pictures into the post, but it just wasn't working well, so I'll just post them at the bottom.


Me, fellow YA writer Betsy St. Amant, and my new bud, Lori Chally
Jill and me in a Friday night class ... trying to stay awake.
Erica Vetsch and me, heading into breakfast

31 comments:

  1. That's such exciting news - especially about Zondervan First!
    Beautiful pictures from the conference, Stephanie! Attending a conference is a big-time dream of mine, but it may be a few years before this stereo-typically strapped-for-cash college kid can make her way to one. Looks like y'all had a great time! :)

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  2. Looks like you had a great time! :) Thanks for letting us know about the publishing opportunities!

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  3. I love seeing all of these pictures! The more I read about the conference, the more I wish to go to one. Hopefully I'll get the chance to attend ACFW in a few years. :)

    Thanks for telling us the exciting publishing news!

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  4. That looks like so much fun! ;) Thanks for sharing, Stephanie!

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  5. Hm... I always assumed I'd self publish my WIP, but it *is* a Christian Sci-fi book by a teen writer with a male MC...
    Since it's my first book it doesn't really stand a chance, especially since it's far from done, but it since OakTara does just happen to be looking for a book pretty much just like it, maybe I'll try if I get it done any time soon. (I say "pretty much" because it may appeal to boys less because it has a female author and there's not actually all that much technology). Haha, but other than that it seems almost meant to be. XD

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    1. Hey, I write YA with male protags and I do okay. You can do it!

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    2. From Amo Libros: as long as the characters are strong and the storyline is compelling (and there's plenty of action), boys will go for it. I even got my brother to read a series with a female hero, because she was spunky and determined (oh, and there were dragons and fighting. Nothing like fire and weaponry to attract a boy's attention!). Seriously, though, see if you can find some male friends or older cousins to give it a read when your story is a little more together. I think you'll be surprised (in a good way.)

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  6. I hope this makes someone's dream come true. :)

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  7. OakTara sounds perfect for what I was looking for!! However, I do have one question. I assume that we don't need an agent for OakTara? I looked over the website several times and didn't see anything talking about agents.
    Thanks so much for letting us know about those wonderful opportunities!

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  8. Loved meeting you in Dallas, Stephanie! Attending the conference was such an amazing privilege. A young writer like me getting to meet and hang out with so many wonderful authors! It was a dream come true.

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  9. The Zondervan line sounds like an awesome answer to the e-book revolution

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  10. Sounds like you all had a ton of fun! And I think that's great that people are actually looking for teens! I was under the opinion that most publishers rather wrinkled their noses at the thought of teens trying to submit work. Maybe I shouldn't assume things.

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    1. Maybe not, Ms. Nickname Giver. But then again, I assumed the same thing...so maybe I shouldn't either. xD

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    2. You should have seen Rick Steele from AMG gushing over Gillian. The Zondervan editor loved Gillian's idea too. I was dancing.

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    3. From Amo Libros:
      Gushing??!! You have filled me with so much hope!! Thank you!

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  11. The title of this post made me chuckles. Guess you read the Steve Laube Agency Blog. ;)

    That OakTara opportunity sounds amazing. I have a friend with a book that might be perfect for it.

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  12. Thank for the post!! I don't know where to write this, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to keep a book from being to depressing. I have bad things happen, then good things happen, back and forth. However it generally spirals into tragedy before triumph. I've just had people comment on how it seems a bit overly "sad". My issue is, it's suppose to be sad, she's kidnapped, gets involved in a rebellion etc.
    I have a funny character, my MC has a positive/unique view, and funny things do happen, but people still tell me it's sad. Any ideas?

    PS: Although it's bad, good, bad, good.... The bad kind of eats up the good and sometimes causes one to forget the good. (at least in this case) I'm really stuck!

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    1. Some books are sad, Lex, but as long as you end the book with hope--and as long as she has some sort of story goal--it should work fine.

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  13. May I step in here?

    There has to be something redemptive about your character ... doesn't there? What is your market? What is your audience? Focus on that, then decide if your MC is redemptive in the final chapter.

    Or write the final chapter first. Some well known authors do that to help them keep their focus. Then, they adjust as they write. That is how I write. It helps me know where I want to go.

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  14. These conferences sound like a lot of fun! I was looking at OakTara's website and they have different conferences on there. But they also had different kinds of meeting on there. On top of conferences, there were seminars and colloquiums. The last two I honestly have no idea what they are. Could someone shed some light on this? I've never been to a meeting like this and from the looks of this, it seems really productive.

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    1. Hmm ... I have no idea. I can find the conferences section on there, but I don't see the other stuff.

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  15. This looks really fun!
    I'd love to go to a conference someday, though I'm not sure how many there are here in NZ.

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  16. Loved meeting you in Dallas, Stephanie!! Informative post as always. :) That's great news about OakTara and Zondervan!

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    1. I missed seeing you this year, Amanda! :-(

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  17. From Amo Libros:
    You should also know about this site: http://kingdompen.org/ It's a Christian email magazine run by teen writers for teen writers, and they take submissions! And in addition to being really nice, they're very uplifting and gifted. Check them out!

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  18. Such fun! Great pics and good news! :)

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  19. :( This makes me kinda disappointed because my book that I'd love to publish is far from done. It's actually written, but it needs a lot of cutting sewing and mending with the storyline. Is this like a limited thing or will they still be looking over the next few months? (I won't finish it by then, but still.)

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    1. Usually they're still looking they're looking for awhile. And Zondervan First, from what I understand, is only going to grow in demand of fresh material.

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