The Key To Writing YA Horror: Chelsea Bobulski

Mindy:             Today's guest is Chelsea Bobulski, who graduated from the Ohio State University with a degree in history. As a writer she has a soft spot for characters with broken paths, strange talents and obstacles they must overcome for a brighter future. Her debut young adult novel, The Wood is available now. Her next release, Remember Me, releases August 6th. Chelsea joined me today to talk about querying for five years, the stress of breaking up with her first agent and the importance of maintaining a polite professional attitude while in the query trenches.

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Mindy:             My listeners are always interested in learning more about the agent hunt. A lot of my listeners are aspiring writers, so tell us first of all who your agent is and how you landed them.

Chelsea:           So my agent is Andrea Somberg with Harvey Klein and she is just amazing. She's everything that I could ever want in an agent and more. She's the perfect cheerleader. She always gets back to me right away when I email her with anything, whether it's like an irrelevant question or me just freaking out about some random author things, she's always right there to answer me. So I love everything about her. Very thankful to have her. But it took a long time to find her. The Wood, which is my first book to come out, was actually my fifth book that I wrote in pursuit of publication. And that happened over a span of five years. And so in those five years and those five books, I probably queried several hundred agents, at least with the first two books. At the time I thought they were really great for what they were.

Chelsea:           And now I'm like hoping no one ever sees them. But you know, I did get some agent interests with both that ended up going nowhere. But they would say, if you ever have another manuscript, make sure to query us again. And so I would keep track of those responses. And then with my third book, I actually never even queried it because I wrote it and I loved the whole foundation of it. I loved the story behind it, but I just knew from both, like a marketing standpoint of what publishers were looking for that it really didn't fit any mold at the time. And I also just knew that even though my voice was becoming stronger as a writer, it wasn't quite there yet. So I was like, instead of querying this, I'm just going to take it as a learning experience. I don't think I'll ever pull that one back out either.

Chelsea:           Just for the same reason as I don't think it really has a place and I don't know that I'd go back to it, but it was a good learning experience. And then my fourth book was a young adult steam punk romance that I still love and someday I might go back to it and try to do something with it. It got a lot of attention. I entered it into several different contests, one of which was Miss Snark's, First Victim Baker's Dozen, which I don't think she does anymore, but at the time I think I got like, I can't remember the exact number of agent requests off of that. I want to say it was like nine to 12 and then I also at the same time I did the very first Pitch Wars contest. I was a mentee in that and I got 12 full requests off of that as well and so really great responses.

Chelsea:           I did end up getting my very first agent through Pitch Wars and he was really great. But I noticed as we went on in our relationship that we had just different professional styles and also different visions of what I should be writing and how I should be writing and different things like that. It just didn't mesh well. He's a great person, just we didn't work well together and so we ended up splitting, which was very difficult. After four books in four years you finally have this and you think this is it, it's finally happening. And then to have to pull that plug and start again was really difficult. And at that time I actually was thinking that I was never going to be an author. It just wasn't in the cards for me. And so as I'm writing my fifth book, which was The Wood my first book to be published, I was at the same time like looking up law schools and like trying to figure out how to get my life back on track.

Chelsea:           I ended up querying only my top five agents at that point because I really was in this like horrible place where I just thought this isn't meant to be for me and I wrote this book because I had to, because the characters were there and they wouldn't let me not write it. Thankfully Andrea Somberg was one of my top five. I think she got back to me within like three weeks with representation. And so to go from my first couple of books, querying hundreds of agents waiting months upon months to hear anything to get an agent within like three weeks of leaving my previous one. I think it just goes to show the importance of never giving up first and foremost, but then also just keeping up professional demeanor with agents throughout and just being a nice person because they remember that and they'll want to work with you again in the future. Hopefully.

Mindy:             They absolutely do. I love your journey because mine was very similar. I also, my fifth written finished novel was the first one I got published. I also had hundreds upon hundreds if not a thousand rejections. I like what you're saying though about maintaining that professionalism because while it is true that agents receive two, three, four or 500 queries in their inboxes a week. If you have been at it for years - and you were and I was as well - they will remember your name. If you are in front of them often and I had multiple agents that would email me back and say, I remember you, you have queried me before. Thank you for your continued interest. This book is not for me, but please keep reaching out because they see your determination. They remember that you are professional and that you are trying to write a query correctly and you're really putting the work into it and you're paying attention to their submission guidelines. And if you are continuous with your attempts, it's not necessarily means that you will succeed, but it does mean that they will notice you and they will remember you. They also will remember you if you are rude and not in a good way.

Chelsea:           Yes, definitely. Never be rude because that doesn't help you at all.

Mindy:             I want to talk to you a little bit about rejections. I don't think I've talked about this on the blog before, but one of the reasons I kept writing, I was at it for 10 years. I didn't achieve representation, but I did come very close in that I had an agent respond to me. It was Jennifer Laughran. Jennifer responded to my query and said, you can really write, this is a great book. If you had queried me with this book (because it was urban fantasy) if you had queried me with this book four years ago, five years ago, I would have signed you and it would have sold. Right now, it's not going to, you need to keep writing and keep querying me. And that rejection made me keep writing. I was ready to quit. I was ready to say just like you. I was looking at masters degrees. I was getting ready to enroll myself to go get my master's of library science because I was going to throw in the towel and say, I've been doing this for 10 years. It's time to quit. It was a rejection that made me keep trying. And I want to follow up a little bit more on what you were saying about letting your first agent go because yes, that had to be terrifying when you had been trying to get an agent for so long you managed it, and then because of professional differences, just not meshing personality wise, you had to let that person go. Yeah, I mean terrifying. So how did you finally make that decision?

Chelsea:           It was so hard. I remember sitting in front of my computer, I had written an email to actually like terminate the contract and my husband was standing there and I had to like have him help me push the button to send it because it was terrifying, you know, to, to have gone so long trying to get an agent for me to decide to split ways that was really, really tough. You do it and you think, I have no guarantee that I'll find another agent. Like this could be the end of my career, right here. Is what you're thinking to yourself. Now, of course, if you're determined, especially in my case, like if you've built up those relationships that you can then reach out to, then that does help. But still you're thinking, is this the biggest mistake of my life? And thankfully when I had signed with him, I had had other agents interested at the time from those different contests, all of them including Andrea sent back to me, you know, because you have an offer of representation on this right now.

Chelsea:           I'm not going to offer just because I feel like it still needs a bit of work before moving forward. But they were like literally, if you part ways at any point, please contact me and let me know. So I think they may have even been interested in hearing from me just off of that steam punk romance. But I had already written The Wood at that point. So I sent that one out. I don't know that they would've taken it on, but they would have at least remembered and acknowledged and that would have also continued to give me that push to keep going, I think. Um, so that's why that professional demeanor and being nice and just maintaining those relationships is so important.

Mindy:             Yes, absolutely. That's why you don't respond to that email saying, well I found somebody else that wants this without the work, so ha ha, I'll see you on the New York Times bestseller list, you know? No, it doesn't work that way. I want to follow up to on what you said about contests. You mentioned Miss Snark's, First Victim. That was a very popular blog about 10 years ago and no longer in operation I don't believe. But I also participated with Miss Snark and the Baker's Dozen. I did get nibbles off of that. And of course you mentioned Pitch Wars, which is very popular. Talk to me about contests and how to use those and the boost that you get from them.

Chelsea:           I think the best thing about writing contests is the fact that you can so easily network with so many different people at different stages of their writing careers. Um, cause I think you have to go into it with that attitude. I think if you go into the attitude of I'm going to get in this contest and I'm going to get a bunch of offers of representation, something amazing, like you're most likely going to have those hopes dashed at some point. Not because it doesn't happen, but just because the likelihood when there's so many people trying to get in the same contest, I think it's better to just think to yourself, okay, I'm doing this with the hope that I'll be accepted into this contest and I'll get agent requests and everything. But even if all that happens is I connect with other writers who can be possibly future critique partners or just cheerleaders along this journey, like that's such an amazing thing all on its own. So I definitely think contests are amazing things do. Um, for both of those reasons that it can get you visibility, but it can also help you network in a career and where, you know, there's no water cooler that we all go to to talk. So it can be very lonely career. And so to meet those people online is amazing. You can talk to somebody across the country who is going through the exact same journey as you and they'll understand what you're going through in a way that your family and friends just can't.

Mindy:             If you want to have a community that actually understands what it's like to be rejected when you wrote a novel, yeah, it's gotta be another writer. That's all there is to it. Coming up, learning how to balance writing the next book against the time investment of marketing, your backlist.

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Mindy:             So Remember Me is your second book. Your first was The Wood, which you mentioned, and I had a guest earlier this month that I talked to about the phrase sophomore effort, which is often used when it comes to second books or second albums, whatever the medium is and rarely is it used as a compliment. So what do you find to be the specific challenges of the second book?

Chelsea:           It definitely is a challenge and it's across the board. It's something that you hear all the time. I don't think I experienced it quite in the same way as other people do just because since The Wood was my fifth book that I'd written when it got picked up, I had already kind of gotten into this mentality of just keep writing, like just keep working on the next one. So you don't think about what's happening with the one that's on submission. So even before The Wood was picked up, I'd had Andrea as my agent and she was shopping around, but it hadn't been picked up yet. I wrote a middle grade that I loved. It was very like Tim Burton esque. I may go back to it at some point and try to polish it up. I don't think it was quite primetime ready at the time, but that kind of got me to continue writing.

Chelsea:           And then even when The Wood had been picked up before it was published, I wrote, Remember Me, I wrote the next book before The Wood was published. So I wasn't thinking about how many copies did The Wood sell and can I ever do this again? Like I just kept that mentality of keep writing and I think that that has really helped. So if I did go through the sophomore effect, I think I went through it earlier, like even before I got an agent because I just told myself to not get too wrapped up in expectations of other people. Whether it's publishing, people are readers, you know, at some point you have to remember why you love what you do and just keep doing it.

Mindy:             When it comes to expectations. Also managing your own is a really big thing. Obviously you went through five years and five novels of trying to get published. So you, your expectations had already been managed for you, right? Yeah, and I think that's really healthy, you know?

Chelsea:           Yeah. I think I'd gone through so much rejection that to me just getting published was like I'd hit my dream just in that alone. So anything that happened after that was the cherry on top moment. So to me it was like I got published, I'm good. Even though of course you want your book to be like a New York Times bestselling book, I was at a place, I was like, if that doesn't happen, I'm just thankful that this dream came true. And I think that helped a lot with that too.

Mindy:             It's funny that you mentioned that because I was just thinking earlier today, for whatever reason, in my own publishing journey, because I was querying for like 10 years, my first book that got published was a post-apocalyptic survival novel, Not A Drop to Drink. I was fortunate enough that it just slipped into that tail end of a post apoc era, but it really did just squeak in. I was on submission for six months and people kept saying, yeah, this is great. But that genre is done, so we're not gonna pick it up. I was already having conversations with my agent about the next thing. We got to write the next thing because this one isn't going to be what gets published first for you. And at one point there was an indie publisher that had expressed interest, they no longer exist. They folded shortly after, but they had expressed interest and my agent said to me, well, So-and-so is interested, but I've heard rumors about authors having difficulty getting paid and it's in the wind that they're going to be going under. I don't think we should pursue this. My first reaction was just, I don't care if I don't get paid, I just want a book published. And my agent was just like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You get paid.

Chelsea:           Yeah. I think sometimes you can get into this mentality especially when you've been trying for so long to get published and you've gotten rejection upon rejection where maybe your expectations are too low. So it does help to have your agent be like, no, your work is worth getting paid for.

Mindy:             And I really was just thinking about it this afternoon because I just remember being that naive that I was just like, no, just put a cover on it, please. They have good covers. I like that company. Going back to that idea of the sophomore experience, what about marketing appearances, social media efforts? What did you learn the first time around that helped you on the second time or was there anything that you learned that you were like, okay, I'll never do that again. This was something that was a waste of my time or just didn't work?

Chelsea:           Yeah. I was really fortunate because I had several author friends who I'd met through things like those contests. They were 2015 debuts, so their books debuted two years before The Wood did. They were very open with me about their journeys, their experience especially with marketing. And so I was very fortunate in that I got to kind of learn from them a little bit before even going into my own. And one of them was very open about the fact that she worked really hard at marketing. Like she did literally everything you could ever think to do and more marketing wise and took on so much onto herself. And in the end she couldn't tell if there was really a difference. Like if she hadn't done everything under the sun, if it would've sold any better or any worse. And in that time because she was focusing so much on marketing, she wasn't writing anything new.

Chelsea:           And so she wasn't able to do the number one piece of advice, which I think is extremely true, which is nothing sells backlist like frontlist. She had nothing to put out there for frontlist cause she'd focused so much on marketing. And so seeing her go through that already put me in a mindset of marketing is important. It's not that it's not, but it shouldn't be something that consumes you to the point where you're not working on the next book. And so I already kind of was going into it thinking, okay, I'm going to market it, but I'm not going to go too wild with it. And then I think the biggest thing I learned from marketing The Wood is that there's a lot of advice out there on everything you should do, but I think you need to find what works best for you and what doesn't drain you.

Chelsea:           So for example, Twitter and Instagram come very naturally to me. Those are fine. Facebook, I want to get better at. I'm trying to get better at it for some reason. It just doesn't come as naturally to me to check Facebook, so I'm working on that. The one thing that I know from many authors is very important is the newsletter. I would love to be amazing at newsletters. Again, I'm going to work on this, but I learned that for me it just does not come easily or naturally and I can spend half a day or even a full writing day trying to put a newsletter together and I realize that's a full writing day I just missed out on. And especially now that I'm a mom, my time is so limited that I can not be spending writing time trying to put together a newsletter. You have to figure out what works for you and it's draining you, and if it's keeping you from writing the next book, then maybe that's not the particular thing you should be doing right now. As long as you have other things that you're doing that are working for you. Like don't try to do everything.

Mindy:             Don't try to do everything. I personally used to be on every single platform out there and for the life of me, I couldn't make Tumbler work. Nobody gave a shit about the stuff I was doing on Tumblr, it didn't matter. I don't know why I couldn't figure out Tumbler. Whatever I do, whatever works for me on every other platform. On Tumblr, no, it was just this big void for me and I tried for like three years and finally I was like, okay, you know what? I'm wasting my time. Tumbler doesn't work for me and I deleted my account because whatever the magic is that works on that platform, I don't have it.

Chelsea:           I haven't even tried Tumbler just because even as somebody like just looking at Tumbler, I don't always understand it so I just haven't even tried it. I'm sure it's amazing. I just, it doesn't come naturally to me.

Mindy:             No, me neither. And Pinterest is the same way. I don't have any interest in figuring out how to use Pinterest as an author. I know some people have luck with it. It seems to me like if you're going to do that, you're going to have to really lean into it and give it a lot of effort and I'm not going to do that. I have a really healthy Facebook page. I don't know why, but for whatever reason Facebook - cause I always hear everybody saying Facebook is pointless. Now I have a really effective Facebook author page and I guess it's just, I think maybe the librarian outreach that I've done and from being a librarian for so long, so it's not a teen crowd. It's an adult crowd that I have on Facebook. But Facebook and Twitter and I'm starting to understand how a wonderful Instagram is. So that is my bread and butter.

Mindy:             You mentioned newsletters and I'm going to tell you, I just spoke with another guest right before I started talking to you and we had a long conversation about email newsletters. I told her, and I'll repeat the story, that I have been doing it wrong for a very long time. For years and years I've been doing newsletters wrong. Everyone kept saying you have to have a newsletter, you have to have a newsletter, and my newsletters were just bombing. Every time I would send one out, my open rate was like 5% my click rate was like one, it was terrible and I'm like, why? Why do people say you need to have this? And finally a friend of mine who was a fellow author who is on my mailing list, emailed me back like off of my email, my promotional email list, and was like, Mindy, you are doing this wrong.

Mindy:             I was just like, oh I am? And she said yes. And she recommended a book to me called Newsletter Ninja is by Tammy Labrecque. She's like, buy this, read it. You will be amazed. Read it in like an afternoon and applied the things that she recommended. And now my newsletter has like a 50 or 60% open rate and like a 20% click rate. Like it's insane and they're very, very simple steps. So I highly recommended to you. And once you learn the really simple steps, you're just like, oh, it really makes a difference. So I highly recommended that to you. Newsletter Ninja.

Mindy:             Lastly, the key to writing horror, especially for younger audiences.

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Chelsea Bobulski.png

Mindy:             So I want to talk to you for a little bit about genre and specifically about horror because that is the area that you write in. And I think it's a tricky one because I always see readers clamoring for it, shows like Stranger Things have millions of watchers. But horror has yet to be the thing in publishing. I've never seen it blow up the way that other genres have. And in fact I even see publishers veering away from it and commenting that it's difficult to market. So as a horror author, what is your take on that? Like specifically as a YA horror author? What's your take on that?

Chelsea:           Yeah, I'm glad we're talking about this cause I have so many thoughts. To use Stranger Things as an example because it is huge - I think the biggest thing is that horror, while it's at the center of Stranger Things, I don't think that's actually what draws people in. I think the very first people to watch it when it probably were for the most part fanatics who saw it and thought, oh great, like something for me. And then they told all of their friends about it, whether their friends were into horror, not, not because of the horror aspect. I think the majority of people pushed it as you have to see this show. I've never seen a better representation of the 80s. So it was the nostalgia of the 80s and how beautifully they captured it I mean down to every little detail that I think drew most of the audience in.

Chelsea:           And then the fact that horror was a part of it for people, whether they loved horror or not, they just went with it. They were like, this is great, I'm into it. You also have the human element that's so important of people relating to these characters and wanting to see where these characters go. But I think it is important to have something else that your readers outside of your horror audience can really grab onto. So for example, with Remember Me, we pitched it to editors as the horror of The Shining meets the romance of Titanic. So while horror is a big part of it, the romance is actually just as big of a part and so it can actually reach larger audiences in that sense. Another big thing in terms of marketing that genre that can be so difficult is I think you have to get your cover design right.

Chelsea:           So for example, The Wood, I love the cover, it's everything I could have ever wanted to be in more. But the thing that surprised me was when I was doing school visits, the number of middle school readers who were reading up, who tend to say this to me. They would look at the book cover and say it looks too scary for me. The cover, it's a white cover with an autumn leaf on it. And it looks like there's blood dripping off the leaf. The blood is actually kind of metaphorical. Cause if you read the book, you'll know that the wood is this magical place where instead of out of like the leaves just changing color in the autumn, it's almost like they're painted and the paint rolls off the leaves. And so it's red paint rolling off this autumn leaf. So that's like what it actually is.

Chelsea:           But it's also alluding to the fact that the wood has this sinister side. So I would explain to them, well it's more of an atmospheric creepiness as opposed to really scary. But that just opened my eyes to the fact that a cover in the horror genre can turn off a lot of readers who might think, oh that's too scary for me. Even if it's actually isn't. It was really important to me that my Remember Me cover convey the fact that there is this darker element to the book, but that that's not all there is. And when I actually got the first cover concept it was exactly the same as it is now. It has these beautiful chandelier's, it's a little dark, it feels very like gothic Romancey but the girl on the cover who is kind of see through, so you can tell she's kind of ghostly.

Chelsea:           She looked a lot more like the ghost from The Ring, which is very creepy. So I emailed my design team back and I said, this is amazing. I love it. I'm just worried that people are going to see it and assume it's like a collection of ghost stories or that, that the horror aspect is all there is because it really takes away from the romance aspect. My cover designer came back with five brand new covers including the same cover, but with the ghost girl changed to be less, less creepy. And that's the one we ended up going with. So I was very happy with it cause I love the cover overall. I just wanted to make sure it didn't turn people off who might think, oh that's too scary for me. So I think it's important to have more than just horror as a part of it.

Chelsea:           So for example, like Stephen King I think is the big name, you know, an adult horror that everyone knows. And I think the reason, there's several reasons he was so successful and I think part of it was just timing. When his first books came out, I mean that's when I'm pretty sure like The Exorcist and Poltergeist and all these huge movies were coming out. And so it was kind of perfect timing. But he's also very edgy and at the same time very literary. And I think that that drew a larger crowd into his books than maybe would have otherwise. And then on the opposite end, you have young adult in between, you have Stephen King on the adult end and then in the middle grade end you have authors like RL Stine who were very popular when I was a kid. I'm not sure if he's as popular now.

Chelsea:           I think he is, but I think that horror for younger markets works well because a lot of kids have a lot of fears. And to address them in a fun way is actually very appealing to them. I think the young adult market is harder because you need something special about it to really push it over the edge to reach those audiences who otherwise wouldn't pick it up just like Stranger Things did. It had this special nostalgia for the 80s that really captured audience attention and I think you need that in young adult market too. So I do think the next Stephen King of young adult is out there. I think they just need to figure out what makes their book special. Just like every author has to do that across every genre.

Mindy:             So the thing that gets me about Stephen King is that yes, he is the iconic horror writer and I love him and I've read everything he's written, but his first book, the one that broke through is Carrie. And that is technically YA.

Chelsea:           Yes, very true.

Mindy:        And I think that's really funny because I hear so often - and I do think it's true -that why YA is a difficult place for horror and I think it's hilarious even though it is true because the iconic horror novel from the King of horror is a YA novel.

Chelsea:           Definitely. I think that, you know, at the time I don't think they even had the category of YA. And even today, I don't know. I mean it might get placed with YA if it came out today, but I don't know if it would have just because some of the content of it. Publishers might've pushed it into the adult realm. I'm not quite sure, even though it centers on a teenage girl.

Mindy:             No, I definitely think that, um, at the time adult was the place to go, but I think it could work as as YA today. The other thing I want to follow up on, you mentioned the covers for horror, which is very true. It is tricky when we're talking about marketing. Your cover is the face of your book. That is the first thing people are going to see and decide whether or not they're going to pick up and actually look at the writing and the blurb on the inside covers. I've always heard, and I don't know if this is true, but I've always heard that if you have a horror novel and it is a creature feature that you never ever put the monster on the cover.

Chelsea:           I haven't heard that, but it makes sense just for the same reason of you don't want to alienate those readers who might look at that cover and think, oh, that's too scary for me because there might be other things in the book that they would really love and then they would kind of jump onto the creature feature train, and be like, oh, this is actually kind of cool. So I can definitely definitely see that for sure. I mean I think it's totally fine if as long as you specifically want to hit that horror market, or like I don't care whether it reaches a broad audience or not. Like I want to take care of the readers who actually really love the genre, then I think it's great. But I think in order to cross over into other audiences, I could see why you wouldn't necessarily want to feature that. And for my personal writing, my horror aspects of my books tend to be more atmospheric than like jump out and scare you. I mean I certainly have a couple of those moments, but because of that it's really important to me that the cover conveys that it's, it's more of that atmosphere at core just so that readers know what they're getting.

Mindy:             What are you working on right now and where can readers find you online?

Chelsea:           I have a middle grade that's finished and then I also have one young adult book that I'm plotting, so it's in very beginning stages. Who knows if it'll go anywhere. And I have another young adult that I am in the beginning stages of drafting with a co-writer. Um, so that's really exciting and fun just to try something different. And then I have an adult Edwardian Romance, which is so different from what I typically write, but I'm really enjoying it just as something to just have fun with. I think sometimes you need a pet project that's just for fun and that's kind of what I'm doing with that one and we'll see where it goes. But especially right now I have one child and I'm preparing for my next baby to be born in August. And so I think it's good for me to have several different projects that I can just kind of pick up or leave because my brain is just not in that space to like really dedicate to one book. So I have several different projects up in the air right now. Where people can find me, they can find me at my website, as well as on Twitter or Instagram and Facebook all under Chelsea Bobulski.


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Mindy:             Welcome to Writer, Writer, Pants On Fire. Where authors talk, craft, the agent hunt, query trenches, publishing industry, marketing, and more. I'm your host Mindy McGinnis. You can check out my books and social media at and make sure to visit the Writer, Writer Pants On Fire blog for additional interviews, query critiques, and more, at If the blog or podcast have been helpful to you or if you just enjoy listening, please consider donating. Visit and click support the blog and podcast in the sidebar. Today's guest is Lori Goldstein, former journalist and current author, an editor who has a bachelor's in journalism and previously worked for technology publications in the East Coast, Silicone Valley City of Boston. Laurie joined me today to talk about how the query process actually works, even though we all know how painful it is.

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Mindy:             Listeners are always curious about how my guests got their agent. So the query trenches are really tough place to be. But I've found through talking to writers over years and years that the majority of my guests on both the blog and the podcast found their agents by writing those cold queries. So what about you?

Lori:                 I am fitting writing with the majority of the people that you've talked to. Uh, I've been fortunate in my career to have two agents. I'm on my second agent right now and I found both of my agents through the query trenches. The first time it still was through the query trenches, but it wasn't for the book that became my first book, Becoming Jinn. I had written an adult book, many problems with it. One of those was I didn't know how to write a query and I was fortunate to get help from some writers online. People that were very generous on Twitter and offered to read my query and give feedback on it. And without their help, I probably wouldn't have gotten an agent because I really just had no idea how to put that query together. So when I was querying that first book that I had written, I'd finally gotten to the shape where I thought I could, could query it.

Lori:                 I wrote that query and I started to get hits on it. Unfortunately, no one offered representation on it, but the agent who became my first agent had really liked my writing, said very complimentary things and said, send me your next book. So I did, I finished Becoming Jinn and I wrote the query for it and I put it out there to, you know, a wide array of agents. And one of them was that first agent who requested my first book and she became my agent. There were other people in the mix, but we had a great connection. So then the next time when my agent and I mutually decided to part ways - she was no longer going to be representing kid lit, and I was continuing to write in the young adult genre - so I found myself needing another agent and I did it again through the query trenches.

Lori:                 By that point I had been fortunate to meet a lot of other published authors and speak with them about their agents and what they liked about them and not liked about them and I got many referrals from friends, which is always a great thing. And I think people think that's how you get an agent. You have to network, you have to do it that way. And I did send queries with referrals and I sent ones I would just call cold calls into the slush pile and the woman who became my agent was from the slush pile

Mindy:             And it's amazing to me that the slush, it works. People hate it. I understand why they hate it. I was there for 10 years. I know that when I was an aspiring writer and I would see published writers saying," don't knock the query process, it works. That's how I got my agent." I'm sitting there going, "well that's easy for you to say." I was querying for 10 years before I got an agent. It was a decade. I have four novels that I queried and were rejected continuously. A lot of that is because I didn't know how to write a query or a book. I would just become so angry and when I would see people saying "the query process works, you just have to do it right." And I'm like, well, I don't like you because you're successful. You know? And then now I find myself in that same position where I'm telling aspiring writers, look, I know it sucks, but the truth is that it does work.

Mindy:             Even though it feels like the doors are closed and the windows are shuttered and the curtains are drawn, you can get in there. You just have to write a good query. And I want everyone to know that when I say those things I say at as someone that was just tortured for 10 years in those query trenches, I mean I remember, I know what it's like and I'm still telling you that it does work. I got my agent through cold queries. I like what you're saying too about having referrals. It is a business where knowing people helps. Any business is that way, but you do not have to. I tell people, I am a farmer's daughter from a tiny town in Ohio. I did not know anyone. I had zero references. Yeah, I sent a cold query into the slush pile and I got an agent that sold my book to Harper Collins and now I am a full time writer and it is because I took the time to learn how to write a query and write it well. And I also like what you're saying about finding people online to help you with that. I was a member of and a moderator for a long time of a forum for aspiring writers called Agent Query Connect. It's not as active as it used to be, but 10 years ago that was a really great place to be. If you were looking for people, other aspiring writers, and also people a few rungs ahead of you on the ladder to help you with that query. So you mentioned Twitter. Were there any other places that you looked online for help with that query writing?

Lori:                 When I was querying, it was around the time of 2012 2013 and at that time we had some very unfortunate natural disasters. I believe that was Hurricane Sandy at that time and a couple of other things that happened. And what happens around these unfortunate incidents and still happens now is often there are auctions that writers get together and sometimes there are agents involved as well to raise money for, to help support the cause. And a lot of times people will give away critiques and query critiques. And that was something I remember being a part of my learning process, was participating in some of those auctions, donating some money, which was great. And then in return I was able to get feedback from other published writers as well as agents. And I made it a priority to get that feedback on my query because I knew that was where I really needed to get the right work done and I really needed it to shine, to represent the book in the best way. And that was a great resource for me and I know those kinds of things still exist

Mindy:             And follow agents, follow editors, follow published writers on Twitter. There is a lot of good advice out there. I mean Twitter can be a quagmire sometimes, but if you are active on Twitter you can find a lot of good advice on there. I also want to add that I do free query critiques on the Writer, Writer Pants On Fire blog every Saturday. It's called the Saturday Slash. Those are free, so if you want to check that out, go to and click on editorial services and that will pop up and that is free. Coming up. Lori's first book series, writing loss leaders like prequel novellas and preorder campaigns. Are they worth it? Also creating swag that works.

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Mindy:             So let's talk about your first book that was Becoming Jinn. It is part of an urban fantasy series that deals with the magical world of Jinn. It was followed by a sequel and then a short story prequel. The short story is free and it's available as a download. When you are creating content like that, is that a strategic marketing choice and more importantly, does it work?


Lori:                 It was absolutely a strategic marketing choice. I had seen other authors doing short stories. Sometimes they were part of preorder campaigns. Especially when you have a series and you have the sequel coming out to offer a short story in the world or maybe deleted content or something like that. I had seen a lot of other authors doing that at the time and I said, well, you know, I love these characters. I'd love to write more about them and why don't I do the same thing and create some extra bonus content. And it was something I could have just put on my website and pointed to. I decided with Macmillan's approval that we could make it a short story and have it as a Freebie online that people could download. Whether you're an existing fan of the series and you want more or you're kind of browsing through the free content on Amazon and come across this story and see if maybe it whets your appetite for the full series.

Lori:                 So that was definitely a marketing decision in order to write it. I had a lot of fun doing it. It was fun to return to the girls and put them a couple of years earlier. So it's set a couple of years before Becoming Jinn begins and I had a lot of fun doing it. Does it work? I don't think it works. I don't have hard numbers because you can't get hard numbers for ebooks. In this free category, at least in in my current situation, I can't get hard numbers for it. But I can see the Amazon rank and you can compare that to the book's rank and look at it that way. And also, you know, look at numbers on Goodreads and how many ads it has on Goodreads. So there are some metrics that you can kind of use and I don't think it gave a bump to the series. So that is the honest truth. I have met people at festivals or at book events asking if there was going to be another book in the Becoming Jinn world. And I said no, but there is this free little short story and they were excited to get, you know, another glimpse into the world. So for that purpose it's enticing readers to go back to the story world and read it when they're existing fans. But I do not see it as a way to garner new fans.

Mindy:             Well and that's something that we're all still looking for. That magical key that brings people in and grabs their attention and FREE makes people click. But the audience that you are attracting when you use the word FREE as an advertising or marketing ploy typically is not the audience that is going to shell out money for a book.

Lori:                 Yeah, exactly that that was some of the problems that some authors were finding by putting content on Wattpad, which I think is just a great resource for young writers and new writers and teen writers. I have an author friend who put in a complete story, a novel, you know, week by week uploaded chapters hoping that that was going to drive content to her existing books. And for the exact reason you said it did not, she had a lot of reads, but there was absolutely no correlation to the books that were published because if someone is looking to read in a certain way and a certain format and that format being free, it's not a good translation to purchasing a book. It doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. If you love doing it and you'd like to get different kinds of content out there that perhaps you wouldn't publish with your publisher. Strict marketing is much more involved and something to really be thinking about to understand what works and what doesn't.

Mindy:             It's very true. The free audience is out there and they are ravenous but they typically are not going to pay for their content. There is so much content out there, you can read for free for the rest of your life if you want to. But you know one thing that I have done - for my listeners, when you are talking about marketing and you have something that you're offering like that for free, it's called a loss leader - and what I have done is created a short story that is tied into my newsletter. And so if you sign up for my monthly newsletter, you get the free short story and that has boosted the newsletter subscriptions. So I'm accessing that free audience by offering them a short story and then they will get my newsletter and hopefully something in the newsletter will catch their attention, perhaps draw them into something more.

Mindy:             Or at the very least, I use the newsletter to advertise when I have a kindle daily deal or a 99 cent offer on one of my books, whatever the case may be. And maybe some of that audience will translate into a dollar 99 deal or something like that. Something else that I want to add is that when we're talking about marketing, a lot of people use giveaways to drive adding people, or getting people to sign up for things like a mailing list or subscribing to a podcast or a blog. I have found that when you do a giveaway, you are getting the same audience. You're getting that free audience. So you might get a sudden glut of followers on Twitter or additions to your mailing list, but they're just there for that free whatever you're giving away. And then over time they're going to trickle away from you.

Mindy:             So they're going to unfollow you on Twitter, so that they can follow you again with the same account when you have the next giveaway. So it's actually not benefiting you at all. And then the other thing, especially with a mailing list, once you reach a certain level of subscribers you are paying, I use MailerLite. I just switched over from MailChimp and I started using MailerLite. And right now I've got room for about, I think maybe 500 or a thousand more before I get bumped up and I have to pay a higher rate because my subscriber list is decent size. It's about 1500 right now. But I did a giveaway a very large giveaway twice in this past year. I did one in December with another group, a large group of YA writers and then I did one in March with a group of Sci-Fi and fantasy writers and I got a ridiculous amount, something like 2,500 new subscribers each time.

Mindy:             It was insane. And then the next time I sent out a newsletter I had like a thousand people unsubscribe, as soon as the news letter went out and then people forget. I mean that's the other thing, they forget that they signed up. So I would send out a newsletter and then I would get the stats on my site, people were marking it as spam. People were marking it as "I didn't sign up for this". And it's like, no, you did. You just don't remember doing it. And now I've got like a flag on my account that I'm a spammer. So it's something that I have definitely rethought about how I want to market and who I want to market to when you're working with giveaways because you are attracting a pretty large audience there that may or may not actually be interested in what you have to say.

Mindy:             They just want what you're giving away. And when you are paying for their email information through a service like MailerLite, you're paying to have them on your list. You don't want to be paying people that aren't ever going to open your emails, are going to unsubscribe immediately or are going to mark you as a spammer because they forgot they signed up. It's such a difficult tight rope to walk because you want to grow that list really fast and giveaways are a great way to do it, but it may not be the most actual productive way for a healthy and interactive list.

Lori:                 I agree and I think the one problem is, even in the time that I've started - you know before publication, through publication and awaiting my next book being out - the the market of authors and especially the market of authors promoting themselves on social media and on Twitter and on Instagram, I feel like has grown exponentially and early on doing a preorder campaign or doing a giveaway, you seem to be engaging more real readers or bloggers or people who really had an interest in the books. And with the proliferation of more people entering and more people marketing this way, that has gotten worse for the author in being able to promote to their actual readers through giveaways and through promotions and retweet and follow kind of things. I feel like it's very different now than it was back in 2014 or 2015

Mindy:             Very, I used to host a giveaway every Friday on my blog. I would have a giveaway. The entrants would be just like you're saying, follow me Twitter, subscribe to me on Youtube, you know, all those things. And I would get like a healthy, it didn't really matter what the book was, I would get healthy entry numbers and now it's like 14 or 20. So many people doing it that you've got to have a book that everybody wants. Like you have to have the eighth Harry Potter book, You know, cause it's like you gotta be giving away something that people are going to beat each other over the head for. Or you have to be part of a large group giveaway where somebody is going to be receiving 15 books, you know, something like that in order to actually get attention. You're also totally right about preorder campaigns.

Mindy:             I started doing some, just to kind of experiment. I think I got maybe 12. I mean it was just, it wasn't worth it. It's just not worth the effort that you put into it, the organization, everything that you do. There's so much free content and there's so many extra special bonus lists and things that you can be a part of that it's so hard to make your voice heard in the echo chamber anyway. The amount of effort you're going to put into something like a preorder campaign or a giveaway, it's going to get lost and it's not going to be worth your time. That's my current opinion.

Lori:                 I agree. And I'm actually in the middle of a preorder campaign right now for, for my new book, Screen Queens. I did a preorder with Becoming Jinn. That was quite successful and it was a lot of work. It was a giveaway of gift cards. It was a reader and writer preorder campaign. So if you're a reader, you could be entered to win gift cards to various places. If you were a writer, you were able to enter it and you automatically got either a query or a first page critique if you preorder it. And then I picked one person and I did a full manuscript critique. So that was a lot of time to put together and quite some time after the fact, because I, I forget my exact numbers, but between the two, I know I had at least 125 preorders and there were probably split equally between the editing and the gift card giveaway.

Lori:                 And so that was a lot of work after the fact for me to edit all these queries, first pages and then a full manuscript critique for free. That's something that I don't even know if would still work now. I didn't have the time to kind of do that kind of promotion again and my preorder campaign now, it's just started. My expectations are reasonable along the lines of what you're saying. But I think the benefit for me at least is, it was content to put in my newsletter and my newsletter is made up of readers and librarians and teachers who signed up that I've met at places. But it's also a lot of family friends, older acquaintances who wanted to be updated on my books and my book going on. But they're not actually that active on social media. So they needed a way to be aware of that, I have a new book coming out and so that was content for my newsletter to kind of reach that segment that will want to hear from me and will want to know I have a new book. So it was a combination of let me run the preorder campaign, get it out there, but also have content and have a way of reaching a segment of audience that I don't have another way to reach. So depending on where you are, you can evaluate if something like that is worth it. Or you just do the newsletter announcement without the preorder campaign attached that that's a way to do that as well.

Mindy:             That's super smart. I'm impressed. Back to your Becoming Jinn preorder giveaway, you said you mentioned you were giving gift cards away to readers. How much money were you investing then in gift cards?

Lori:                 You know, I, I should have looked back on it. I don't remember specifically. I think I had a variety of a couple of in like the 15 and $25 and I think my biggest one was a hundred so it was certainly probably $200.

Mindy:             Wow. So you had not only your time with the critiquing, but you also had quite a bit of your own money wrapped up in the preorder campaign.

Lori:                 Yes, definitely. It did help with my preorders. The question is how many of those people would have preordered without the giveaway. I don't know. That's something we'll never know. So it's a decision that each author has to make.

Mindy:             Marketing's a pot shot.

Lori:                 It really is. And you know, what works for one book might not work for another. One thing I did want to say that was actually a helpful marketing tool that again, was not used as much early on when I did it with Becoming Jinn and I've seen it a bit more now. First chapter booklet. And a lot of times publishers are putting these together for their biggest lead titles. They'll put a little package together. It's like, oh, like a pamphlet. Sometimes they're smaller size of the first chapter or the first couple of chapters of a book that they send either to bookstores or they have out for promotional purposes. And I created one with the designer of the first chapter of Becoming Jinn. The first chapter had a good first page and it ended on a nice little cliffhanger at the end of the first chapter. Chapter one was about eight pages when it was laid out.

Lori:                 It had the cover on the front and information about me and, and blurbs and things on the back. And that was something I paid for. It is not an inexpensive item of swag, if that's what you want to call it. But I found that was one of my most successful marketing efforts. I had gone to a lot of festivals. I did a lot of bookstores, I did a lot of events with fellow authors that we had books coming out at the same time. And you're sitting there at a table and someone might be buying the book of the author next to you, but they're not buying yours. And you know they may only have money to buy one book that day but they're interested in yours. Or maybe they just don't think your book is interesting for them. When you have the chance to hand them something that has actual content, not just a bookmark but they can take that home, read through and you might entice people who ordinarily weren't going to buy your book.

Lori:                 I've even been at festivals where I handed it out at a, at a table and someone comes back later that they read the first chapter and they wanted to buy the book. So that's a tool that I feel like was actually worthwhile to do and to spend the money on.

Mindy:             That's a good tip. I like it. I've never done that myself, but I've seen a lot of people do it. Maybe I'll try that for my next one. I like the Idea. You mentioned Screen Queens, which is your next release. It is pitched as a teen girls invade Silicon Valley story. So what made you interested in telling this type of tail?

Lori:                 I have to say probably the first thing is that I am married to a huge tech lover, so he infuses that into my life, whether it's appliances that turn on and off, a voice activated or the latest new device or gadget that he wants. The side benefit of that is when I have computer problems, he's always around to fix them.

Lori:                 So it's a good thing that he's this into tech and this tech savvy. I kind of developed my own interest in in the tech world and one of my favorite podcasts to listen to aside from yours is called Startup. It detailed starting a podcasting company. It was very meta, but the second season of that podcast was about three women starting a dating app and it followed them from the time that they were coming up with the idea, through launching it, through going to what's called YC, which is a technology incubator, very, very coveted place to go. And it followed their whole process to the unfortunate end of the company dissolving and the founders leaving. Listening to that podcast really affected me because these women put so much into this and what they were finding when they reach the stage where they were going after funding was offers of funding offers to invest in their company and take this app that they've been building to, to the next level often came with an invitation to drinks or dinner and these were things that they were talking about openly on this podcast, their male counterparts in the tech field were not experiencing these same things.

Lori:                 So that was one of the things that really kind of stuck in my mind as I was thinking about what I would like to write and kind of the the story I'd like to tell, the message I'd like to tell, and translating that down to an audience for young adults. It got me really thinking about my own experiences with science and math and technology and I was always the English major. I loved English and writing and down through high school. Junior high science and math were never my strong suit. But as I thought about it, what's interesting is that was okay with my parents. It was never expected that I would do great in math or science. When my SAT scores came and they were very low on that side, but sky high on English, that was okay and I never was encouraged nor had the confidence to kind of pursue anything like that.

Lori:                 Yet now as an adult kind of into this tech world and learning a little coding on my own to do my website or things like that, I realize it's something I probably would have been interested in. If I had either the encouragement or the confidence to pursue that. So all of this kind of was swarming in my head and came out in these three girls who have very different backgrounds but are all very much into tech, into coding and into wanting to create a new app or a new business or found something that is going to have a significant effect on the world that we live in now, which is obviously very tech driven. So that's kind of how what influenced me putting this story together.

Mindy:             That's fascinating. I love what you're saying about the inferred sexism of course in technology. Also in, of course, we all know the gaming world and math. My father, he is a farmer. We're ninth generation farmers over here, but he did teach math for a period of time in the 70s when he graduated from college. He graduated with a degree in mathematics education and he did teach math for quite a while and then ended up just deciding that farming was where he fit best and has of course been doing that for his entire life. And that's not a profession that you ever retire from. I can tell you that. It's so interesting to me now as an adult because I struggle with math. I'm just, it's just not there for me. You're talking about the tests, like your graduation tests and all those things and, and I was the same.

Mindy:             It's like I was happy to pass my math ones, you know, and everything else, would be like, yeah, you're ready to go to college. As an adult, I look back at my dad helping me with my math homework and just being like, Mindy, you can do this. You can do this. Like never ever referring to my gender as being an impediment. Never ever inferring that there was a reason why I couldn't. I can appreciate that so much now as an adult because it's like he was, you know, a teacher in the 70s it wasn't exactly the least sexist time. You know, that was never anything. He never ever referred to my gender being an issue in my math capabilities.

Lori:                 Good for your dad.

Mindy:             Yeah. He's a good guy. I love the title Screen Queens.

Lori:                 It's great and I can't take credit for it. There was a period of about two months of my editor and I going back and forth with ideas and list them and nothing was hitting. There was a couple, we floated Girls Club for a little while because a play on the idea of Boys Club. And as we were kind of talking about that and I was testing it out on the, on some friends, girls teens, the age of who will be reading the book and they had no idea what we were talking about and I realize that's not translating. I just don't know anymore. The team at RazorBill got together and had several meetings to come up with a title, so I give them all the credit for it. They worked hard and they came up with something great.

Mindy:             I find it encouraging that teens today don't know what Boys Club means. That's awesome. You were talking before about your giveaway and your preorder campaign for Becoming Jinn and how you offered editing services. That is something that you offer still through your website. You have a background in journalism and you have been an instructor at Grub Street in Boston. So all of that obviously boosts your editing credentials. So tell us a little bit about the services that you offer and where listeners can go to find that.

Lori:                 I've kind of come 100% full circle, and one of the things I love to do most is help people with their queries. I have worked as an intern at a small local children's publisher in the Boston area, and through that I was reading the slush, that was part of my job and I saw a lot of the same mistakes I would make in queries and things that could have been done better. Combined with working as a Pitch Wars mentor, the big contest, Pitch Wars, I was a mentor for three years, and over the course of that, I have read, and I'm not exaggerating, 500 queries. I've given feedback on almost all of them because as I'm mentoring Pitch Wars I said, if I'm going to do this, I want to help people like people helped me. And so I would give feedback on everybody's query.

Lori:                 So through that I've really kind of gotten this down of like what a query needs to do and more importantly what a query shouldn't do. So query editing has become one of my favorite things to do and I offer what I call a submissions package. That's your query, your synopsis and your first page to kind of get those things that get right in front of the agent right away in the best shape possible. And because I think it's important to grow and not just get feedback once because you don't know if you've implemented it in a way that is working. So I always offer two passes on that. So you get an edit on each of those pieces twice. So you get to see if the way you reworked it is resonating. That's one of my favorite things to do. The submission package. And I also do manuscript editing for all genres, including adults. I just finished a spy thriller. I've done several memoirs and I do copy editing, line editing or big picture editing. If somebody wants all three, I do all three and I have packages for each of those and that's right on my website at editing services.

Mindy:             That is awesome, especially the submissions package offering. That is incredible.

Lori:                 It's great and people, they love the fact that they get to see if what they've done works and I will say by the time we get to the that final second pass, people are well on their way to having like a great query. It's great to see people be able to hone in on really what their story is about, just by asking a few key targeted questions. No matter how many queries you read, if you read success stories online and you read queries on Writer's Digest, I believe has queries that have gotten agents, it's hard to apply it to your own story because we're so close to our own stories and talking about what are the stakes and consequences that really must come through in a query. You know them in your head and they're not translating to the page, but when somebody from the outside is pointing that out, you can see it and you can get to it in a way that would be really hard to do on your own.

Mindy:             Absolutely. It's called manuscript blindness and it is the truth. Putting together a new website for myself, I've been going back through my appearances and my guest posts and my interviews that I've done all over the internet. I will see an interview or a guest post that I did in 2013 and there's a typo like in the first line and I'm like, oh my God. You know, and it's so hilarious to me because I had read it so many times in 2013 that I didn't see it. And in 2019 I go back and I'm like, boom, oh my God, there's a typo in the first line. Sometimes you need either space or the long period of time to be able to get the distance, to actually see the words. And then also of course just fresh eyes, fresh eyes. If you don't want to wait six years to make sure you got it right, just you know, fresh eyes. Hire Lori.

Lori:                 Fresh eyes are really important. Another tip that one of my journalism professors had said was when you're trying to do that final edit on something, read it backwards. So then you're reading every word individually for itself and your brain has this tendency to insert missing words or you know, go over that Typo that you couldn't see. But if you read it backwards, you've tricked your brain into looking at it a different way and you'll often find the mistakes that way. So it's hard to read a full manuscript that way, but you can definitely do it with a query letter.

Mindy:             I have heard that before that that's a copy-editing trick to read it backwards and it'll really help you catch those little mistakes. I'm working right now on putting together just a little a loss leader to get people to sign up to follow the blog. I'm putting together a little quick printable of, you know, how to write a synopsis. I was just kind of scrolling through StoryFix and looking at some of the information that they had out there and there was a typo in highly trafficked article - Beat Sheet 101 - writing up a beat sheet and explaining what a beat sheet is and using bulleted points. And then it said "your bulleted points once you begin to flush them out will quickly become a synopsis." But it said "it will quicky become a synopsis." They didn't mean quickie. That's not what they mean. It just, the particular font that they were using, that the lower case "l" was just lost and I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't been, I highlighted the paragraph, you know, like to copy it so that I could post and then of course credit them, because I copied and pasted it and went into a different font. I saw it right away and I was like, oh my gosh, look at that. So I've heard that. That's another trick too that you can, if you change the font, it can help you see things.

Lori:                 Definitely a trick. And you can also do it if you, if you have a device, a tablet or a kindle or something. I always read my manuscript in different format, so I read it on screen, I read it printed and I read it on my kindle. And you'll see things each way that you wouldn't have seen in another format.

Mindy:             Yup, that's absolutely true. Last question, tell us about what is up next for you. What are you working on and tell us also where listeners can find you online.

Lori:                 I'm working on my next young adult novel that I cannot say all that much about, but I am on deadline for it. So that probably tells you a little something that is going to happen with it, but I cannot really give details. It follows in the same vein of the idea of Screen Queens of capturing something that is timely, putting it into the world of young adults. I get to use some of my journalism background, and we were looking at politics and the intersection with the media, social media and journalism, what journalism isn't, what journal journalism is becoming. So that's kind of the little, the little nugget, but I can't share details as of yet, hopefully soon. So my website, which I just redid it, so go check it out and let me know what you think, is and I am most often these days on Instagram. Was a huge lover of Twitter and I still enjoy the format, but with less time I'm finally, I only have time to really focus on one. So while I can be found on Twitter, not as often. Instagram @LoriGoldsteinBooks is where I am and I think it's partly when you're so in this world of words you need a break and the visual break of of Instagram, whether it's posting my own pictures or reviewing the people I follow is actually a nice mental break to go into a different kind of creative world that I'm really kind of enjoying lately.

Mindy:             That's very cool. That's a wonderful way to think of it. I like that a lot.

Mindy:             Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire is produced by Mindy McGinnis. Music by Jack Korbel. Don't forget to check out the blog for additional interviews, writing advice and publication tips at If the blog or podcast have been helpful to you, or if you just enjoy listening, please consider donating. Visit and click support the blog and podcast in the sidebar.

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Selling Your Novel Yourself & The Marriage of Business And Creativity in Publishing With Beth Kander

Today’s guest is Beth Kander, an award-winning playwright and author, the second book in her dystopian epic Original Syn comes out this fall from Owl House Books. Beth joined me today to talk selling a novel to a smaller publishing house on her own, and the risks of writing to the trend, if the trend might stick you in a niche. Also covered: the marriage of business and creativity necessary to make it in publishing, also, how to know which creative medium your story is best suited for.