Thursday, July 4, 2013

Guest Post + Giveaway: Derek Taylor Kent, author of Scary School!


Hello bookish friends, and welcome to another guest post featuring another awesome author!

As you know, I'm a huge fan of Middle Grade books. I adore the giggles, the life lessons, and all the characters that I meet whilst I travel these adventures. It's no lie that I especially love those books that are able to captivate readers of all ages and Scary School does this perfectly! 

I'll stop rambling now and let Derek take the wheel! He's here to share a guest post about his path to making his Scary School adventures a reality that he was able to share with all of you. Enjoy, and don't forget to scroll to the bottom for a giveaway!

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The Scary Path to a Book Deal

By Derek Taylor Kent (AKA Derek the Ghost)



My name is Derek Taylor Kent (AKA Derek the Ghost). I recently received a three-book deal for my YA horror-comedy series Scary School, which comes out June 21, 2011 (scaryschool.com). How this came to be is a bit of a horror-comedy itself.

March 1994. At the age of 15, I undertake writing an epic illustrated fantasy series. It’s an ill-conceived cross between Dr. Seuss and Lord of the Rings, but I spend six long years trying to get it published. Nothing ever comes of it.

April 2005. Painfully abandoning the illustrated book series and inspired by Harry Potter, I spend a year writing my first novel: Scary School, Book 1: My Homework Ate my Dog. After completing the first draft, I submit it to a few agents and publishers. All rejections.

Confused, I gave the manuscript to readers. I receive notes that suggest a heavy rewrite. Reluctantly, I spend months doing exhaustive rewrites, but I had to admit the book was greatly improved.

Early 2007. I feel the book is ready to submit once again. But I had a relentless day job and my spare time was filled with other projects. My Homework Ate My Dog goes on the backburner.

Another year passes.

July 2008. There’s a brief window of time off from my day job. I decide that it’s time to go full-out toward finding an agent or a publisher. If it doesn’t happen, it will probably be the end of my YA writing aspirations.

The task before me is daunting. I have the Guide to Literary Agents and the Children’s Marketplace books. It would take me a year to reach out to every agent and publisher, and I only have a window of a couple weeks. So, I hire an assistant. His job is to send out packages to every single YA lit agent in America. I spend my time focusing on online querying.

Responses start coming in. I’m getting bites. About one in every ten I sent out is asking to read my manuscript or sample chapters. Most are rejections, but if you have a 10% positive response rate to your query, you know that you probably have something good.

August 2008. Eric Myers from the Joe Spieler Agency requests sample chapters. A week later he requests the complete manuscript. On September 20, 2008, Eric Myers is my agent. He is very enthusiastic and has a great track record.

December 2008. Every publisher my agent has submitted to has passed.

The only glimmer of hope is from a junior editor at HarperCollins who says that she “really likes my writing and the humor of the book, but what I was expecting from a book called Scary School: My Homework Ate My Dog was not what I got. I was hoping for a light, funny book about a Scary School for a young audience.”

She was exactly right. My title was screaming: silly/funny book for 8-year-olds, but I had given her a darker Harry Potter fit for 12-year-olds.

The editor concluded with: “I do feel there is a market for a Scary School book series for a younger audience should he feel inclined to write it.”

There it was. A bite from a publisher. The only problem was my “bite” felt like an orca whale. I’d have to write a whole new book for her, and I’d have to write it fast so she didn’t forget about me or buy another book in the same genre.

I sequester myself and complete the first draft of a new book series, just called Scary School.

The first draft is done by January 2009. I send it to my agent. He’s a little shocked that it’s not a linear story like My Homework Ate my Dog, but we agree to send it to HarperCollins as is.

March 2009. The junior editor writes back: “This is exactly what I was hoping for. I love it! I think we really have something here!”

A few weeks later HarperCollins offers me a three-book deal for Scary School.

I dance around my apartment and weep with joy.

The advance is not enough to quit my day job, but it’s enough to create a website, hire a publicist, and print thousands of Scary School T-shirts.

As I write this, I am exactly one week away from the Scary School release date on June 21, 2011. I had to wait another two years before it was scheduled for release.

It was agony.

Over that time I have self-published what is now called Rudy and the Beast: My Homework Ate My Dog! There’s still an issue with the title, but I won’t surrender it. I also self-published an illustrated book called Simon and the Solar System.

This year, I finished a new YA novel called Principal Mikey about a kid who becomes principal of his school. I think it’s my most well-written novel and is absolutely hilarious.

No bites so far.


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Derek is an eleven-year-old ghost who haunts the classrooms and hallways of Scary School, writing down all the spine-tingling often hilarious things that go on there. Despite his ghostly state, Derek still enjoys reading comic books and hopes to one day become a master ninja. If that doesn’t work out, he will continue to share the fun of this very special, very secret school, so all kids can experience the scariest school on earth. Derek the Ghost communicates through the first-time ghost whisperer Derek Taylor Kent, who is a writer and performer in Los Angeles, California.
Visit Derek: Goodreads / Twitter / Website




Enter to win a copy of the first Scary School book for your very own! Copy will be an ebook, and this giveaway is open everywhere!

Ends July 12, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

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