First Novel Advice from Jack Conner

Corinne, I’m happy to answer any questions I can, and to give you any pointers I can. First, it’s very impressive that you finished a book at 11. I actually began writing my first novel at 11, too, but I never finished it, although mine was planned to be a longer, full-length novel. I probably did manage to get to the 27k mark, but I’m not sure.

Either way, it’s very cool that you finished a book, what I would term a novella. Books aimed at younger audiences tend to be shorter, and the younger the shorter. I would tend to think 27k would be on the low end of what might be acceptable to a publisher, but I’m not an expert on books aimed at that demographic.

And I would TOTALLY recommend pursuing traditional publishing before indie publishing. I have managed to make a career in indie publishing, but it took a lot of time and effort, and many novels to put out before I got it right. If you only have one book, the chances of being successful are greatly diminished. But an 11-year-old who wrote a book about magical spies? That’s awesome! That’s the kind of story an agent would love to sell to a publisher, and it’s the kind of publicity a publisher would love to put out.

So what I’d recommend is getting the work edited and perfected, as much as possible, then looking for an agent. I was represented by a big-time New York agent for ten years, and although he was unable to get me published, I do know something about the New York publishing scene, and how to get an agent. You can start by sending query letters to agents (after looking for agents that are interested in that sort of book) — sometimes that works. Probably a better way to find an agent is to meet one in person. I found mine at a convention, and that’s worked for others, too. But I don’t know about dragging an 11-year-old to conventions, so maybe emailed queries would be better. At any rate, I always recommend pursuing traditional publishing before indie publishing.

I hope that helps. If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to field them if I can. Good luck with the book!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jack Conner lives in Austin, Texas, a city of sunshine, live music and great Mexican food. He’s been reading and writing all his life, always gravitating toward the fantastic. Inspired by the great fantasy writers, from Howard to Tolkien, from Lovecraft to Martin, he writes stories of constant tension, unrestrained longing, looming darkness and danger. You can contact him directly at .