When I first read about Beth Revis' book deal, I got goosebumps. I'd heard before about random strangers being signed in a pre-empt, first time novelists scoring a three-book deal. But Beth wasn't a random stranger. She was someone I was familiar with, a blogging buddy.
For those who aren't familiar, here is the announcement from Publisher's Marketplace:
High school teacher Beth Revis's debut, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, in the near-future, a reluctant teenage girl and her pioneer parents are cryogenically frozen for a 300-year trip to a new planet; she awakens 50 years early on a vast spaceship with a murderer on board, to Ben Schrank at Razorbill, in a major deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in spring 2011, by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House.
Her story gave me hope, even more so when she dished a few more juicy details in this interview. I think she'll inspire anyone who has been struggling for years to become an overnight success.
First off, congratulations! You must have had a lot of interest in Across the Universe for it to be sold in a pre-empt. But some people might not be familiar with what that is. Can you explain how that worked with your book?A pre-empt basically means a publisher makes an offer that they hope is so good the agent and author will take it instead of going to auction with other publishers. Which means, for me, that Razorbill made an early offer we accepted before taking the manuscript further.
That is so amazingly cool. And I have to say, from my front row seat here, it seemed really fast. I mean, the publishing world is notoriously slow, but you got your agent in December, sold the trilogy in March and the first book comes out next year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that seem fast?
I know there were a lot of years and hard work leading up to your “quick” sale. Let’s talk numbers:
How many years have you been writing seriously?
*oh, this one's painful*
How long did it take you to write this book?
One semester of writing (I'm a teacher, after all!) So, basically, from Christmas break to mid-June.
And how long did you spend in revisions?
Summer break (June-Aug).
How long did you query this story?
How long have you been blogging?
Do you think blogging played a part in your writing journey?
Actually, yes. I had NOTHING to go in my bio section of my query...except my blog. One of the agents who offered for my manuscript found me through my blog activity, and I know it's been read by publishing professionals. But more than that--it taught me discipline to write every day, kept me up to date on the publishing world, and gave me a tool to network with other writers.
Did you query any of your trunk books?
Oh, yes. *ducks head in shame*
At what point did you decide to shelve them and move on to something else?
1st trunk novel: Queried right away. Back then, I thought "revisions" = changing the grammar.
2nd trunk novel: This was a sequel to the first one. Never queried.
3rd trunk novel: Queried. And came VERY close to winning with this one. Eventually retired it after a heartbreakingly-close-to-the-finish line rejection.
4th-8th trunk novels: Sequels to the first one. Yep. I wrote the whole series. All never got queried.
9th trunk novel: Wrote this one after my brother died. After I finished and queried once or twice, I pulled it--it was too close to home for me to really think about letting it out there in the world.
10th trunk novel: I wrote this novel for everyone else: agents, editors, my perceived audience. And it sucked.
11th novel: I wrote this one for me. And it sucked less. Queried it...and it became ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.
Do you think any of your trunk novels might have a chance now that you’ve sold the trilogy?
Not the way they are. But I plan to rewrite the one that came close before, and I plan to rewrite the one I wrote for my brother. With revisions and rewritings, they *might* get ready.
Did you always envision Across the Universe as a trilogy?
How did it become a series?
When I was interviewing agents, Merrilee, the agent I picked, started brainstorming ideas with me on the possibility of sequels. I really liked her ideas, which broke off into new ones from mine own...and before the week was out, I had two more synopses!
How far are you on the next books?
Not very far at all! But the next books are rough-outlined in synopses and I've got an idea where they all go, which is half the battle.
Did the move to make it a series change things in this first book?
Yup! Basically in layering in more clues. Nothing big, but observant readers should see clues for the second and third book hidden in the first one.
I loved that on your newsletter you thanked your beta readers. How much did the story change based on their input?
They mostly helped in what I cut. I tend to have terrible beginnings coupled with the inability to know they are terrible. So I need five or more beta readers to tell me to cut the first fifty pages before I actually believe them and do it. :)
Have you told your students yet?
I didn't make a formal announcement, but I did post it online and on my Facebook. Word spread.
How have they reacted?For the most part, this has meant only that they have begun saving the tardy forms I sign in case they can sell it on Ebay later :)
Ha! Not a bad idea :)I know you're hosting a massive giveaway to celebrate on your blog. Do you plan to buy yourself a treat as well?
Oh, YEAH. It's going to be this e-reader with a LCD screen on the other side.
I remember when you posted about that cool gadget. Well, I'm so happy for you that you are on the way to getting that e-reader. And how cool to think that a year from now you'll be holding the first book in your hands!
Thanks for doing the interview, Beth!Thanks for having me!
You can find Beth around the web at these spots: