Sunday, August 11, 2013

J. E. Shannon and her Path to Publication

Today I'd like to welcome J.E. Shannon to YAtopia chatting about the path to publication for her newly released YA novel, Awakenings.

J. E. Shannon currently lives in Florida, but is a Missouri native. She spends most of her time reading, writing, and taking care of her small child and two crazy dogs. Visit her at:

Path to Publication
by J.E. Shannon

I will openly admit that when I first decided to become serious about being an author I knew very little about the publishing world. I didn’t really know any other authors that I could get advice from or even where to start. So, while I was writing my book, I began to research paths to publication. I found some great advice, as well as some...ummm...rather incorrect information.

There are many, many, different ways to publish a book these days. Mine was a bit unusual so I thought I would share my personal experience so maybe another confused author can find a little enlightenment.

One of the first things I found about trying to publish a book was writing a decent query letter was essential. I scoured the internet for examples. I bought books on the subject. Basically, I did what every new author does when faced with that first query letter. I panicked. I think I must have changed that letter a hundred times. Finally, I thought I had a great one...I was pretty much wrong.

But I didn’t know that at the time, so the next thing I did was scour Querytracker. At least  I knew enough not to blindly trust Querytracker’s information on agents. I checked each and every agent website, carefully checking to see if they fit my genre, and following the submission guidelines to the letter.

Then I waited. Then I waited some more. I kept track of all of the agents I submitted to in a detailed notebook, including the dates I submitted to them. If I received a rejection, I marked it off. About two months of lukewarm responses later, I was thoroughly dejected.

While I was waiting I decided to try out Twitter. I didn’t know much about it at the time, but kept hearing good things. One day, some random person tweeted about a contest called Pitch Wars. Basically, you submitted your query letter and a portion of your book. At this point I thought, what the hell? So I submitted.

Then the stalking began. I was watching every tweet the judges made. When they talked about a book they loved, I thought, is it mine? When they talked about a book they put aside, I thought, is it mine? When they...well, you can see where this is going.

When they announced the winners I was shocked to see that mine was picked. So shocked that I went back to the website three times to make sure I was seeing my name clearly. But there it was, in big bold letters, Awakenings by J.E. Shannon. Needless to say that the victory dance I did was immense and highly embarrassing.

But then the work began. My mentor Fiona McLaren, basically shredded my query letter and book. Together we carefully reconstructed a cleaner better version. After about six weeks of work, the new query letter and better opening lines went on a blog. Several agents and publishers were invited to cruise through and request the pitches they liked. Awakenings received three full requests. I was ecstatic. Months of sluggishly plowing through the slush pile seemed to be at an end.

The day after Pitch Wars ended, there was another Twitter contest. This one was called PitMad. This one, you crafted a 133 characters. Same principal applied though. Agents and publishers were cruising the hashtag making requests from the pitches they liked. I had a couple more requests from that.

Then the waiting began again. More stalking of agents Twitter feed ensued. In the end, it was the 133 character pitch that got me a contract with Entranced Publishing. I contacted the other people who still held my books fate in their hands. After I had all of their decisions, it was time to make my own. In the end, I thought that Entranced seemed like the best fit for me. I signed the contract and sent it back.

My victory dance that day was epic.

Evie Shepard awakens to a nightmare. She's been buried alive and has no idea how or why. As she struggles to remember what happened, she begins to notice changes -- heightened senses, as well as increased speed, agility, and strength. And her heart no longer beats. She soon makes a disturbing discovery: she wasn't buried alive; she was murdered. Somehow, she has come back...and she wants revenge.

To celebrate her new release, JE Shannon is giving away a Kindle with an ecopy of Awakenings (US only). One runner-up will win an ecopy of Awakenings (open internationally). You can enter here!


  1. Great post! I loved hearing about JE's path to publication~ the excitement of those contests can't be beat :) Congrats on the book~ it sounds super suspenseful and I love the cover!

  2. Shredded? Oops. Your ms has always been awesome. And I repeat: BOOK TWO! :D Can't wait until the second one is done. I miss your emails! :-)

  3. What an inspiring story. Congrats - I LOVE your cover!!! And, I know that Fiona, she's tough, but BRILLIANT! ;)

  4. Thank you everyone! Maybe shredded was a harsh word Fiona. I meant it in a completely loving way. :)