I love an author with a sense of humor. Even though the rejections come, they joke about it and then move on. I think everyone could learn a lesson from today’s featured author, Bethany Crandell. She is very candid about the ups-and-downs of getting an agent, but spreads over the rough patches with great levity – which I really appreciate. Her debut novel, SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS, went through many revisions before attracting the attention of an agent, and through it all she kept the whole publishing process in the proper light. Her journey is inspiring and I hope, that like her, I can keep the entire submission process in the right perspective, even if I do feel like a chimp scribbling with crayons sometimes (yes, I know odd, but read on and you’ll understand!)
Amy: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Bethany: I think there’s a big difference between loving to write, and wanting to be a writer. I’ve loved to write since I could pick up a pen, but I didn’t know that I wanted to pursue writing as a career (complete with rejections, beta reads, critiques, rejections, rejections…) until I was thirty-four. Maybe that’s when my thick-skin finally grew in.
Amy: Was SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS your first completed manuscript?
Bethany: No. It was my first good, completed manuscript, but not the first.
Amy: How long did it take to complete?
Bethany: I finished the first draft in about five months. Then, after some many failed query attempts, put another couple of months into heavy revisions. So, all together I’d say seven months.
Amy: Did you use critique partners for SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS?
Bethany: No. Not officially, anyway. At that point, I was still big-toe-dipping my way into the writing pool. I didn’t have any writer friends, and the thought of someone actually critiquing my work was beyond terrifying. I relied on the opinions of a couple of trusted friends, and my mom and sisters. Of course, friends and family mean well, but they’re impressed that you can parallel park your car—their opinions aren’t always as subjective as they need to be. Ironically, the best critique I received was from an agent who rejected my work, but was kind enough to give me honest feedback and direction, not to mention an abundance of encouragement. To this day she’s still cheering me on, and I will forever be in her fan club. *Nods to the amazing Nicole Resciniti*
Amy: When you first wrote your query for SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS did it come easily or did it go through many drafts?
Bethany: That depends…is 1,000 considered a lot? Ha.
Yeah. Many drafts. Many, many, many drafts. Condensing your 60,000 word book into three paragraphs isn’t easy. You can usually tell if you’ve got something that’s going to work after 10 submissions. If nobody bites—it probably needs reworking. I queried almost 90 agents, so I guess you can tell I didn’t get it right on the first try.
Amy: What was your call like with your agent, Rachael Dugas? How did you know she was a good fit for you?
Bethany: Ah…that was a good day. Rachael had emailed me several days before we spoke (the day before my birthday!), informing me that she loved the book and would like to represent me. (That was smart on her part. Had she called me out of the blue, I likely would have wet myself). Until that call, I had received lots of praise for the book but never from someone who could actually do anything about it. Hearing that she believed in my book as much as I did was an incredible feeling! Besides that, she answered nearly every question I planned to ask before I could even ask it, and did so in her Disney princess voice.
There was one other agent who was interested in representing me; however she had a different vision for the book than I did. In the end, that’s what sold me on moving forward with Rachael. It’s important for your agent to believe in your voice and the story you’re trying to tell.
Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what helped you push through that moment?
Bethany: Uh…yeah. Plenty of times. And still do.
There are definitely days when it feels like stepping away from writing would make my life easier, but those moments are fleeting. Of course, it’s hard to dust yourself off after 10 rejections in two hours (seriously, do agents have a rejection schedule they all work under?!) but deep down, you just know you can’t give up. It might be easier for the moment, but when you’re infected with a passion for something—there’s no escaping it.
My amazing writer friends keep me going through the darkest, scariest times. And trust me, those continue even after you have an agent and a publishing deal. Beyond that, I spend a lot of time on my knees. Prayer is a writer’s greatest tool.
Amy: If you met a fellow writer on the street and they told you they were on the brink of giving up on their publishing dream, what advice would you give them?
Bethany: I guess I’d say, “IF IT WAS EASY, EVERYBODY WOULD DO IT.”
Rejections are hard SUCK! They can strip you of your confidence, and have even the greatest of writers feeling like a chimp scribbling with crayons. (A smart chimp, but a chimp none the less). But I can honestly tell you that all those painful NOs fly out the window the very second you get that one YES.
Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell.
Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there’s life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she’s ever had
Bethany and her husband Terry live in San Diego with their two daughters and a chocolate Labrador who has no consideration for personal space. She writes Young Adult novels because the feelings that come with life’s ‘first’ times are too good not to relive again and again. Bethany eats too much guacamole, thrives on tear-inducing laughter, and is still waiting for Jake Ryan to show up at her door. For more information on Bethany check out her website, or follow her on Twitter – @rookieriter.