Gia Cribbs On Being A Big Time Planner

I'm lucky (or cunning) enough to have lured yet another successful writer over to my blog for an SAT - Successful Author Talk. SAT authors have conquered the query, slain the synopsis and attained the pinnacle of published. How'd they do it? Let's ask 'em!


Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is Gia Cribbs, author of THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SLOANE SULLIVAN, which will be available in May of 2018 from Harlequin Teen.

Are you a Planner or Pantster?

I’m a big time planner, which is not a surprise to anyone who knows me! Before I write a single word, I know everything I want to happen in the story and how I’m going to get there. It’s easier for me to set up all the twists and turns when I know what’s coming. Outlining also helps me get to know my characters better. But of course as I write, sometimes a character does something that surprises me and that’s great! When that happens I just go with it and find a way to work it into where I want things to go.

How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?

I typically spend a month or two outlining and researching first (see my definitely-a-planner answer above ☺). As for actual writing time, I wrote THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SLOANE SULLIVAN fairly quickly, in a little over three months. I tend to revise as I write, so there weren’t many big changes I needed to make to that first draft of SLOANE. I probably spent about a month revising before I was ready to enter it into some contests and start querying. I can only hope all my books get written that quickly!

Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?

I prefer to work on one project at a time, but that’s not always possible. I think having outlines and planning things out helps me jump between projects a little more easily when I have to.

Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?

Not really. No one other than my immediate family even knew I was writing a book, so I didn’t feel any pressure or expectations from anyone other than myself. I had the typical I don’t know what I’m doing type of doubts you get whenever you try something new, but I wanted to tell the stories bouncing around in my head and the only way to do that was to try. Being able to sit and write just for me was a really great experience. 

How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?

I wrote one book before SLOANE, but I never tried to query it. It was more of an experiment to see if I could really write a whole book. But I don’t completely consider it trunked because I love those characters. Maybe one day I’ll be able to come back to that one!

Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?

I do have a partial manuscript hidden away on my computer that I stopped writing when it wasn’t any fun to work on anymore. I figure if I’m not having fun writing it, no one’s going to have any fun reading it!

Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?  

My agent is Steven Salpeter with Curtis Brown, Ltd. When I was searching for an agent, I tried both entering online YA writing contests and the traditional query route. I queried Steven and knew as soon as I talked to him that he was the right agent for me. For those in the query trenches, slush piles do work!

How long did you query before landing your agent?  

Not counting the time I spent entering SLOANE in various contests, my query process ended up being super quick. I queried for a little over two weeks before Steven offered representation. I queried him one afternoon, he asked for the full manuscript almost immediately, and he read it that night and called me the next morning to offer representation, which was amazingly fast on his part! There were other agents that had the full, and I ended up receiving one other offer, but I picked Steven and it’s been the best decision!

Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?

Don’t give up! Rejections suck and it’s okay to let yourself feel that for a little bit. It always takes a few hours (or maybe a day or two, who am I kidding?) for a rejection to work its way through my system. But the important part is to keep going and don’t let the doubt take over! Publishing is subjective. Not everyone will like your manuscript but it really does only take one yes. While I was querying, the one thing that really helped me was to send out another query every time I got a rejection. That way the hope helped block out the sting of rejection.

How much input do you have on cover art?

My publisher has been great about asking for my opinion on the cover. When I saw the first cover concept, I was blown away. I can’t wait to be able to share the cover with everyone!

What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?

The thing that’s probably surprised me the most so far is how publishing can feel both super slow and really fast all at the same time. Sometimes it seems like nothing much is happening, then all of a sudden everything is going on at once. It’s a wild ride and I’m so excited to be on it!

How much of your own marketing do you?  Do you have a blog / site / Twitter?

I’m on Twitter (@giacribbs) and I’ve got a website in the works that hopefully will be up and running in a few months. As my publication date gets closer, I’m definitely planning on doing more marketing myself.

When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?

I didn’t have a platform at all until after I got my book deal, which is definitely not the usual way of doing things. So while I don’t think you have to have a platform before you get an agent, being on social media to connect with other writers, find out what agents are looking for, and see what’s going on in the YA world is definitely something I’d recommend doing sooner rather than later.

Do you think social media helps build your readership?

As a reader myself, I love seeing what other people are reading and recommending on social media so I can find new books to read too. From that word of mouth basis alone, I think social media can help build your readership.