Georgia-based author Lindsey Ouimet believes that Young Adult literature has something to offer everyone. We chat to her about drawing inspiration from great stories, the power of perseverance and finding the perfect publisher.
What made you want to be a writer?
I think this answer is common for most writers as I was a big reader before I ever had the idea to tell stories of my own. With my siblings all being at least a decade older, and being a little on the quirky side as a child, I often found myself turning to my favorite books as if they were friends. I admired my favorite authors and their ability to transport me to a world other than my own, and eventually I wanted to do the same. I didn’t realize it until I was much older, but it was the books I read during my teen years that helped me to better understand the things I went through and the emotions I felt. I can only hope the books I write help others figure things out in the same way.
What inspires you to write?
I draw most of my inspiration from the great stories I’ve read. Nothing makes me want to create more than finishing a book that’s changed the way I think about something, no matter how small that something is. The talent exhibited by fellow writers never ceases to amaze me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Just write. Even if you think it’s going nowhere. Even if you think it stinks. Even if you’re convinced that no one in their right mind would ever, ever want to read it. Because you certainly can’t prove yourself wrong unless you try.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
Do your research. Decide what’s right for you and the best for your book well beforehand. Before my first book, What’s a Soulmate?, was published, I was determined to go the traditional route. I queried my butt off, had multiple phone calls with several different agents, and eventually signed with one. My dream of being published by one of the Big Five was well on its way to happening! Unfortunately, the agent I had clicked so well with over the phone and through email ended up not working out.
I was upset. There had been agents who loved my book, but I’d passed them by. I’d taken a chance, one that felt right, but hadn’t been. I felt like I’d wasted months. But I still had a manuscript I loved. There was still so much that I could do with it. I just had to take the time to do what I should have in the first place - figure out exactly what route was best for me and for my book.
There really are so many different ways to go about getting your work out there these days. I’m far too lazy for self-publishing, so I decided to look into smaller presses. I did my research this time. I narrowed down my list of publishing houses, looked at their numbers, how they marketed their releases, and even reached out to several of their authors before hitting send on my own submission.
My publisher, Evernight Teen, has been a dream to work with and I’m genuinely happy with the results I’ve gotten with them so far. The journey to get to them was long and winding though, and could have been made much more succinct if only I’d made up my mind in the first place.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
For indie authors and authors associated with smaller publishing houses, getting your name out there is hard work. You have to walk a fine line between being persistent and just plain annoying at times. Talk to other authors in similar positions - find out what’s worked for them.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
Services like NetGalley work wonders for new authors looking to have their books reviewed. Again, it’s not about initial sales, but about building an audience if you don’t already have one, or expanding the one that you do have. Book bloggers also do wonders for the Young Adult genre specifically, so it helps if you can connect with those as well.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
I allow a short period of self-pity. I bitch, I moan, I might even cry a little. And then I shake it off the best I can and remind myself that even the best writers and some of my favorites have heard no multiple times. No does not equal never.
How do you deal with isolation?
I’ve always been a fairly introverted person, so this aspect perhaps doesn’t bother me as much as it does others. I do have to remind myself to take breaks, though. Push the work aside and have a conversation with my husband that doesn’t involve me whining and/or gushing (depending on the day) about my manuscript. I’m lucky enough to be married to the most patient man on the planet in this regard. I also make a conscious effort to reach out to friends and fellow writers through social media and texts. It’s surprising how often these little breaks can lead to recharging my interest in what I’m working on or influence it to head in a different direction.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Comparison will kill you. Try to keep in mind that someone else’s success in no way affects your own.