Thursday, August 12, 2010

Michele Young-Stone author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors

I had the pleasure of reading this book several months back and was thrilled that Michele agreed to guest post! For all aspiring writers out there I think Michele offers some practical advice -- speaking from experience and her heart.  Please share your stories with us about your road to publication in the comments section! 

Practical Advice from a Debut Novelist by Michele Young-Stone

How to publish your first novel in just five easy steps:  (This is like a recipe.  You might want to write it down.)

Step 1:  After you’ve revised your manuscript until you can’t stand the sight of it, set it aside for six months to a year and then revise it again.  (This is the most important step!)
Step 2: Research the best agents for your book.  I recommend  You don’t want to query literary agents who aren’t accepting manuscripts or who don’t represent what you are writing. 
Step 3:  Write and revise a knock-out query letter one page in length that “sells” both you and your novel to the agent.  It should zing and pop and make the agent WANT to read your book.
Step 4:  Wait and wait and wait.  When the rejections come, and they will… think of it this way:  “I am one step closer to being published.  Rejection is a part of the process.”  For each rejection, compose and send off a new query letter.  Don’t give up!
Step 5:  If, after a year, you aren’t able to find an agent passionate about your manuscript, it’s time to revise again.  (Oh, and while you are doing all this waiting, work on something new.  Paint.  Join a band.  Write another book.  Even after your novel finds a home, there’s a lot of waiting.  Keep those creative juices flowing!)

That’s it.  Looking back, I guess none of these steps are particularly easy, but with faith and perseverance; with a vision and passion, you can publish your book.  If an agent reads a manuscript that’s undeniably great, he or she won’t reject it no matter the economic climate or any other factors.  Keep writing!

*Michele Young-Stone is the author of the debut novel The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors (Shaye Areheart/Crown, 2010).  A fan of the underdog, her characters have been described as “endearing losers,” “complicated, nuanced and sympathetic.”  Publisher’s Weekly listed The Handbook… as one of the top ten fiction debuts of the season, and The Boston Globe called it, “an exceptionally rich and sure-handed debut, full of complex characters, brilliantly described. . .”

Michele earned her MFA in fiction writing at Virginia Commonwealth University.  Currently at work on a new book, Michele resides in Richmond, VA with her husband, her son, a sweet dog, some hermit crabs and a showy fish.  A very long time ago, Michele was struck by lightning and survived.

Visit her at    

1 comment:

  1. So true, Michele!
    I like your emphasis on how darn long the process takes-- I don't think people realize that. Unless you are some insanely brilliant (or lucky) wunderkind, it will takes years and years between pen first hitting paper and the glossy book on a shelf. Of course writers need talent, but I'd say they need a dogged preserverance above all else (ok, I'll say it, we need to be ridiculously stubborn bastards).