April 7th marks exactly TWO MONTHS until my debut is published so I’m celebrating with a Q&A!
Two months is honestly not a long time, so I’m only mildly freaking out. And I know you might be sitting there moaning, “Cait, it IS a long time…” then, oh oh you sweet summer child. I’ve been working towards being published for 7 years so I’ve gotten so good at waiting. *
* A phrase here which means “is really good at screaming for hours into the void which sometimes screams back and then we harmonise and that’s how I pass the time waiting to be published”.
Now this is a special Q&A for two reasons being: (1) I’m going to talk about publishing and writing, and (2) these are questions YOU actually asked!!
Wild, right?! Usually I ask my own questions and interview myself because I’m a blogger and that’s what we do. BUT NOT TODAY! I did a call-out on instagram and also last week on my recap post and thanks for the MASSIVE response. I love you too. Even though I unfortunately can’t answer all the questions or this post would be longer than my debut. (I’m really honoured though.) So I’ll just answer the publishing ones this time, OK!?
also if you want to know what’s up with the tropical theme these days… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I LITERALLY HAVE NO IDEA. I’M JUST GOING WITH IT.
if you could pick one song to be the soundtrack to your book, what would it be?
A combination of Chopin Etudes and Beethoven symphonies! READ THE BOOK AND YOU WILL KNOW WHY.
Is publishing a book everything you dreamed it to be?
Will you ever do signings and go to book events and such?
As of now, probably not, but…ya know…”never say never.” Things are complicated by me living in a tiny tiny town in Australia but being published in the UK, as well as I have pretty severe social anxiety. But I’m online. Literally all the time. Isn’t that nice.
what do you think is the no #1 thing all writers should keep in mind when writing a book?
Write something that means a lot to you, like a lot of a lot. Write what’s gnawing away at your heart. Because you’re going to be rereading this darling 801 times if you’re publishing, so you want to love it loooool. (And also because writing on your heart makes an authentically amazing story…minor details there.)
do you still plan on continuing book reviews after A Thousand Perfect Notes and your other secret project? If so, are you going to change the way you review somewhat?
Yes I am still reviewing! The only change is that I’m no longer going to do 2 or 1 star reviews. I’M PUTTING AWAY THE SALT. This is my choice because I would feel weird seeing a favourite author of mine insulting a book. However I won’t lie! I just won’t review books I don’t like, #easy.
when you wrote ATPN, how much chocolate was murdered? And what kind?
You are NOT going to believe this but…literally zero chocolate was harmed in the making of this book. My family had just started doing this Paleo-version-diet for health reasons and we were on this stage where you basically eat pumpkin and boiled chicken and this is 50000% the reason there is so much frikkin’ food in ATPN. I was dying. I’m still damaged.
how did you decide to pursue traditional publishing rather than self-publishing?
Traditional was always my dream! I want to be in a bookstore. I want to have a contracts and career. I want to work with professionals who make my books 100 x better and kindly say “NO CAIT” when I make my characters kiss and then throw them off a cliff. (This has happened 2 x now. I sense a theme.) I’m not saying indie authors can’t do those things and I respect them! But it wasn’t the route for me at all.
what’s something you love about traditional publishing? what’s something that frustrated you?
I love the advice, the edits, the support, an entire professional house organising your book. I love having my editor say I made her cry. (SHOULD I ADMIT THIS.) Frustrations are definitely: waiting and waiting and…you know. wAITING! Because things move slowly. And if I have a cool piece of news to share I will be waiting 6 to 12 months to tell you.
tell us a secret about your book.
what kind of cake will you celebrate your book release with?
how much say did you get in picking the title/cover.
I am really bad at titling (insert tragic laughter) so my title is actually thanks to my agent! And I didn’t pick the cover, but Orchard said: “What do you think?” And after I finished petting my laptop screen, I said: “I LOVE IT.”
did you get a final say in what stays and what goes in the book itself? (I’ve hear authors don’t, so I’m wondering)
I hear people say this aaaall the time and at this point I’m like, “IS THIS A MYTH RIGHT AFTER THE KRAKEN???” My experience has been full collaboration with my agent/editor! Of course they want changes, they want to make the book better! And I want that too?! I don’t understand writers who refuse to change with advice…how else do we grow? (And I suspect if you end up with an editor that 100% wants to change the entire theme/message of your book, thennnn they’re not really suited to your vision, hmm?)
did you have to literally sign a contract?
how long did you work on ATPN before you began query lettering?
I didn’t query ATPN! It’s actually my second book. My agent signed me for a fantasy and it went on submissions and got rejected. So I wrote ATPN and my agent and I went on submissions again. This time: 2-BOOK DEAL. I wrote the first draft of APTN in June 2015 and it sold in June 2016. The actual story is set in July. The perfectness of all this pleases me. (And it only went through 2 drafts before selling!)
what was it like when you first held a copy of it in your own hands?!
which Hogwarts House do your main characters belong to?
what has been the most difficult thing about the editing process?
The technical stuff has been so hard?! Like catching typos and inconsistencies! After you’ve changed so many little things over all the edits, you get to a point where you DON’T KNOW WHAT VERSION STAYED OR WENT. help.
could you talk us through the querying process please?
I queried back in 2013 which was like…so…long ago. I don’t know how things have changed, because they change constantly! But for me it was: write a query —> find agents who fit my criteria —> submit it to them (also following their submission guidelines) —> stare at inbox for 10 months —> get absolutely no rejections or acceptances —> UNTIL THAT ONE.
how do you write when you have Depression and Anxiety AT THE SAME TIME?
It’s actually what helps me the most! Escapism, too probably?! When I’m focused on a project and basically living 80% in my head…life is pretty good. Also the more anxious I get, the faster I work. I’m like a frenzied office worker after too much caffeine but without the caffeine and more typos.
As an Australian, how did you go about looking for agents for your book? Options in Australia seem limited compared with elsewhere in the world, but I assume there are challenges with having an agent from overseas.
So like I said, I was querying back in 2013 and I think I found 2 agencies in Australia to send to?!? Curtis Brown only took envelopes for goodness sakes I time-travelled back to 1984. Anyway. I queried in the USA and UK more extensively and ended up working with Greenhouse UK! (WHOM I LOVE.) I guess the only drawbacks are (A) I’ve never met my agent in person, (B) timezones often suck for emailing because office hours is when I sleep, and (C) it takes 89 working-years for mail to get here (THANKS AUSTRALIA POST).
HOW ARE YOU SO EPIC???
the hardest part about writing a book that deals with the topics that your book deals with?
My book features a lot of abuse and low-self-worth which are pretty hard-hitting topics, right?! I think one of the hardest things was writing that a way that wouldn’t make the reader close the book and say, “Everything is depressing.” Because it is, but that’s not the point of the story. The point is believing you are worth something and I hope readers get to the end
and bawl their hearts out and get that.
what is your favourite part of book publishing?
Holding my ARC! Reading editorial notes where my editors !! love !! my work !! (This is ridiculously surreal and awesome I can’t even explain.) SEEING MY BOOK IN THE WILD. Having a reader told me I made them cry! Realising I am an author now….and I just???? I’ve wanted this for so long.
does it have a swoon worthy romance???
how do you get over writing block?
Actually I’ve had very bad writers’ block this year…more like an epic slump. (I blame it on reading negative reviews oops + the general nervousness of my book coming out + general panicking about the future etc. etc.) I work through it with devouring as much art as I can, so music, TV shows, reading and reading and reading. Refill the creative take! PS. I also force myself to work anyway.
how do you get through your insecurities about your writing? I’m afraid my writing isn’t good enough, that everyone will hate it or tear it apart!
I think I’ll always be somewhat insecure?! That’s a bit of the writer’s life and it sucks, but it can also help keep you grounded. But seriously, also tell yourself YOU’RE GOOD. Write and write and write. Write a million words. Write several books. Edit. Work hard and it pays off, so when the niggling voice comes telling you that you suck: slam your paperwork on the desk. YOU HAVE DONE THE WORK. YOU DO NOT SUCK.
how did you start writing?
I was 12 and my little sister started and got way too much attention for her little stapled-together stories so, obviously, I started. I got serious about it at 15. I was agented at 19. I sold my book at 22.
do you have a favourite genre to write? I feel like its not contemporary cause you love epic battles and magic etc.
I actually love writing contemporary. I used to be solely into fantasy, but I do enjoy characters who can use toasters and WiFi. It’s very helpful. But magical realism and epic fantasy are also VERY high on my love list. I will write them too someday!! Watch me!!
how do you stay motivated to write?
It’s amazing how motivating a publishing deal is. SO motivating. Also this is my job, this is what I want to live of (someday!!). And I’m also really competitive with myself. So ohhh I wrote a book in 4 days? *SLAMS FIST ON THE TABLE* HOW ABOUT IN THREE.
are you planning to translate the book?
As a writer, is it just me or after a while you start hating the novels your currently writing? Does that feeling change when you get published and have editors to help you out, or get positive feedback?
I think we all end up hating our books a little at some point (laughs until cries and dies). But underneath it all, I always passionately adore my book. If I didn’t, I don’t think it would be a good story?! You go through so much rejection and setbacks and it’s such a slow process, that you do need to be your #1 fan.
And will we see more books from you in the near future?
how to go from drafts to querying? At what point do you stop drafting and send queries? Maybe just what exactly querying looks like?
It’s definitely hard to know when your book is DONE. But I do think you’ll know instinctively? You have to have rewritten and edited that little beast within an inch of its life and have it polished as shiny as you can make it. (Get help with this! Critique partners and betas are invaluable to tell you where the problems are because often we writers are too close to a project to see them all.) Querying just looks like: writing a hooky letter, use your characters voice, show the highest stakes and what there is to lose, and make it 2-3 paragraphs. Know your genre. Know your audience. KNOW THE AGENT YOUR QUERYING. Don’t self-depreciate, but don’t be arrogant either.
something that has surprised you so far about the publishing process?
how did you come up with your characters’ names?
They are ALL special names with multiple meanings! Most of them are spoilers though so I have to smother myself (I’M SORRY). Except I will say August’s name came from the movie, August Rush, and Beck’s full name is his embarrassing secret.
what is your advice for an aspiring author? I’ve always loved to write, but within a few chapters I feel like my writing is terrible and I never finish.
Keep going KEEP GOING KEEP KEEP KEEP GOING. You have to finish and learn to edit and rewrite and write another book and then another. I seriously can’t stress this enough. It took me about 16 books to find my voice and feel confident about my writing…hopefully it won’t be that long for you (!!!) but practise. It is the secret.
how do you sit and write SO much in a day?
I can hyper-focus! I think this is a huge perk of being on the autism spectrum, but writing is my obsession so just leave me alone in my invented world in my head and I will write for 8+ hours a day. Occasionally I take a break and look for a spoon in the fridge but YA KNOW. WHAT IS REALITY.
what books were your inspiration for your own book?
You mentioned you had a different title for your book. So…what was it? I’ve been curious ever since you said that.
Awww! I can’t wait for my heart to be shattered.
You can preorder via: Book Depository, Amazon, Booktopia, Hachette Australia, Hachette UK, Waterstones, Wordery! And it’s not coming out in the USA as of yet, folks. But Book Depository and Wordery have free world wide shipping!