Friday, March 26, 2010

Author Spotlight on: Beth Revis

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?
Lightning 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?

Five.

How many trunk books do you have?
*oh, this one's painful*
Ten.

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?
Two months.

How long have you been blogging?
Three years.

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?
No!

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:

Website: bethrevis.com
Blog: bethrevis.blogspot.com
Twitter: twitter.com/bethrevis
Facebook: facebook.com/bethrevis

37 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Nice interview. And again, congratulations Beth!

Candyland said...

Dreams DO come true

Kelly said...

Wow! That is quick from agent to sale to publication!!! So fun to hear the journey! Great interview and congratulations, Beth!

MeganRebekah said...

I love Beth!!
Great interview :)

Yat-Yee said...

Sherrie : I know what you mean by front row seat. I was "there" when she announced her getting an agent and a short time later, the amazing book offer.

Beth: you go girl!

JEM said...

Thanks for the great interview! I love to see success stories like these, makes the world a little brighter of a place :)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Yay Beth! Great interview! Beth is such a sweetheart! I'm so happy for her and inspired by her story.

Elana Johnson said...

Great interview! Beth gives hope to all of us that our 10 trunked novels are for practice and that we all might make it with our 11th.

Thanks Sherrie and Beth! (And congrats, B!)

Susan R. Mills said...

Awesome interview! Congrats to Beth.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This. was. awesome! I loved learning so much more about Beth and her writing. I want one of those fun readers! :-)

Lori W. said...

Wonderful interview. Hooray for Beth! 10 trunk novels! I love that she shared that bit of information. Thanks to you both!

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome! So nice to hear about other trunk novels!! And I love the new look of the blog!

Lady Glamis said...

So wonderful! I loved this interview and learning more about Beth's journey. Thank you for great questions, Sherrie!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

i love it that BFFs (Blogger friends forever) are getting book deals now! :)

BTW - love the new look :)

YOu going to LA this year?

Carolyn V. said...

Wow! Great interview! I'm so excited for Beth. Whoop! =)

Mary McDonald said...

Great interview. Congrats to Beth. I can't wait to see the book in the bookstore. I'll buy it for my daughter. :-) (and I'm sure I'll read it too)

Jenna said...

Great interview! Congrats to Beth! :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Bish: Glad you enjoyed!

Candace: Yes they do :)

Kelly: Amazing, huh?

Megan: Me too!

Yat-Yee: It's been fun to watch, hasn't it?

JEM: Beth has a great story. It encouraged me too!

Terry: I feel the same way :D

Elana: No kidding! And it's good to know the practice can really pay off!

Susan: Thanks :)

Shannon: Beth has an awesome story and those e-readers look fun, don't they?

Lori: Yes, you've written those trunk novels for a reason!

Laura: Knowing she wrote that much before getting published is a wonderful tidbit, isn't it? And thanks for noticing the new look -- I was ready for a change!

Glam: She's had an amazing journey. And I'm so glad she was willing to share :)

Shelli: Isn't it great? Glad you like the new look. I plan to be in LA again this year. Hope you're there celebrating a deal of your own!

Carolyn: I told Beth I've been smiling ever since I heard the news. It's pretty awesome.

Mary: In less than a year we'll all be reading it. Woo-hoo!

Jenna: Thanks!

annerallen said...

Great Interview. I love success stories! And I love your blog!

beth said...

Thanks for having me over!! :)

@Bish: Thank you!

@Candyland: I *so* feel that way.

@Kelly: It really did feel that way! Thank you!

@MeganRebekah: I <3 you, too!

@Yat-Yee: I feel like I should still be in the audience...it feels a bit strange up here on stage :)

@JEM: Aw, thank you!

@Terry: Thanks!

@Elana: Honestly, I still feel like I'm practicing...

@Susan: Thanks!

@Shannon: I'm *SO* going to get a reader ASAP!

@Lori: That really is a painful thing to share! :)

@Laura: I'm trying not to be ashamed of it. There's such a stigma with trunk novels, but there shouldn't be...

@Glam: Thanks!

@Shelli: :) BFFs Forever!

@Carolyn: Thank you!

@Mary: Oh, I hope you do!

@Jenna: Thanks!

@Anne: Thanks!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats Beth. It couldn't happen to a nicer person. I can't wait to watch the rest of the journey

Christina Farley said...

Oh I love all the spillage of details. Can't wait for all the future books. Congrats Beth.

Tess said...

It is a fantastic and inspiring and wonderful example of where our writing can take us. congrats, Beth! I am so happy for you :D

PJ Hoover said...

Awesome interview! I love Beth!

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the interview! It's great to hear success stories, especially when they've been working at it for so long.

Katie said...

Great interview and I LOVE the new look of your blog :) Awesome! Thanks girls!

Casey McCormick said...

Such a great interview! Love all the details. It's wonderful seeing my blog buddies find success. There's much more to come, Beth. I know it! : )

Barrie said...

Congratulations to Beth! Great interview!

Corey Schwartz said...

I am not a big fan of interviews in general, but LOVED this one! Fascinating!! Great job both of you!!!

storyqueen said...

This is a great interview! Love how she reflects on her journey.

Well done.

Shelley

Tiana said...

Thank you for posting this! It's so nice to see bloggy friends hit the big time! And her answers sound a lot like mine ... I'll have nothing in my bio really except for my blog, and I have a lot of trunk books. Sigh. Congrats Beth!

Lisa and Laura said...

Beth's story is fascinating! Thank you so much for bringing her over!

Becky Levine said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read her book & it's going to go on my son's to-read list, too, I just know.

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, and forgot to tell you... your new blog look is AWESOME!

Crimey said...

Great interview. Beth, your story's such an inspiration.

Vivian said...

Yay for Beth! Wonderful interview!

Nishant said...

So fun to hear the journey! Great interview and congratulations,
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