8-House Publishing Auction!

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but last week I found myself in the middle of an auction for ANZ rights to my new YA fantasy series!!!

I still feel like I’m living in a dream, so let me rewind and tell the story from the beginning.

About six weeks ago, I finished writing a new book called The Prison Healer. (Wow, it is SUCH a relief to finally be able to say the name!) I’d recently signed on with a new agent (which you can read all about here), so the following weeks after finishing the draft, I worked with her on a few rounds of revisions. The turnaround was really fast, and suddenly TPH was in submission shape, and my agent — Danielle — and sub rights agent — Jenny — said it was time to start sending it out into the world.

Cue me rocking in the corner, especially when, within a week, I found myself in an 8-house auction.

EEEK.

As in, ALL THE EEEKs.

Out of nowhere, I had people from each of the publishing houses wanting to jump on the phone/Skype with me (and even an in-person meeting) to share their vision for what they could do with the series, while trying to convince me of why I should go with them.

Honestly, it was the most amazing (but also the most stressful) week of my life.

As far as the actual process goes, all it took was one offer to come in before Jenny was able to go back to the other ANZ houses she’d submitted to, telling them they had 24 hours to offer a counter bid. Every single house came back with their own offer within that time (preliminary bids to get them into the auction), and that’s when things started to get really crazy.

Over the next few days, I spoke with a heap of people, and every time I got off the phone/Skype, I’m not kidding that, without fail, I sighed happily and said, “I LOVE THEM!”

This, obviously, made it an IMPOSSIBLE decision.

While all this was happening — the calls, I mean — the publishers had just under a week to send Jenny their “best and final” bids (ie. the highest $ amount they could/would offer) along with a rough marketing plan and, in some cases, a written pitch document as to why I should go with them over the others.

All of this information — the best/final bids, pitches, and marketing details — came to me in the early hours of last Thursday morning. So, a week ago today. And then, I had to decide.

One thing that kind of threw me for a loop was that the highest bidder ended up being someone that, until that point, I hadn’t spoken with. (And I’d spoken with most of them during the week.) So that day, I jumped on the phone with that publisher to get a sense of what their thinking was, which again, just made everything even harder, since like all the others, I LOVED THEM.

This was clearly a problem for me.

Since Danielle and Jenny are both based in NYC, we set up a Skype call for that night, because there was no way I could make this decision without help. During the day, Jenny had gone back to two of my “favourites” to see if they wanted to offer counter bids to the new highest bidder, and both of them did just that… so now I was down to three that I had to decide between. (Hey, give me some credit, at least I’d managed that much!)

I should also mention in here that I had breakfast with my author friend, Jessica Townsend (if you haven’t read her Nevermoor series, stop reading this right now and go grab a copy!), and I was also emailing back and forth with Sarah J. Maas, who is my go-to person when it comes to big decisions like this, and both where insanely helpful and I’m so grateful to them. (BUT it’s also worth mentioning that they were gleefully like, “Ha! Sucks to be you!” — as in, they knew how hard the decision was and were glad that they weren’t the ones in my position. Great friends, they are. *Eye roll*)

After speaking with everyone and Skyping with Danielle/Jenny, I had to confirm who I wanted to go with. The truth is, any one of the eight publishers in the auction would have been brilliant, including my current publishers who I’ve been with since the start of my career. That was why I struggled so much to choose — because there was no wrong decision. So it was a matter of who I/we thought was the best match going forward in regards to passion and enthusiasm and author care, but also for really important things like strategy and marketing/publicity and audience reach.

SO.

*Drum roll please*

I’m absolutely DELIGHTED to share that I’ve accepted an offer from Penguin Random House for ANZ rights to The Prison Healer series! I’m so, so, SO excited for all that’s ahead in my new partnership with them!!! Plus, I’m flying to Sydney to meet the team tomorrow (or, the Sydney-based team, at least), and I can’t WAIT!!! (I hear there’s going to be cake, and we all know that cake is the BEST!!!)

I’m including the official press release below to finish off this super exciting post, and I can’t wait to share more about TPH and my experiences with PRH as things continue to develop!

OH! And you’ll see in the press release that while all of this was happening, auctions and deals for other territories were also going on during the week, which is insane. My mind is officially blown!!

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WHISPER WON THE GOLD INKY AWARD!

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A week ago today, the most AMAZING thing happened — WHISPER won the Gold Inky Award!!! As timing would have it, I was in Melbourne for the Melbourne Writers Festival when the winner was announced, so I was able to accept the award in person, which was amazing

For context, the Inky Awards are Australia’s only teen choice book awards. 20 books are selected for the longlist (10 national, and 10 international):

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… and then a panel of teenage judges whittle those down to a shortlist of 5 books in each category:

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After that, voting is open to the teenage public (people aged between 12-19 years). At the end of the voting, a Gold Inky winner is selected for a national book, and a Silver Inky winner is selected for an international book — this year’s winner being THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black.

I’m honestly still speechless and so ridiculously honoured that WHISPER was voted as the winner. It’s such a beautiful thing to know that “Jane Doe’s” story has resonated so strongly with teens — I’m truly humbled. 

As an added note, it was also my birthday the day that the winners were announced, so I’m sure it goes without saying, but OMIGOSH, IT WAS THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!!

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My (New) Literary Agent

Yikes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged on here! It’s hardly an excuse, but life has been pretty hectic over the last 18 months, what with having released 4 books since the beginning of last year, and my next one coming out in like 8 weeks. So, uh, sorry? *Awkward apologetic face*

I do, however, have news! In amongst all the craziness, I made the tough decision to part ways with my agent of nearly four years. Believe me when I say I basically gave myself a stomach ulcer over it since she was a wonderful agent, but for a number of reasons, I realised that I needed someone else in my corner going forward into the future.

SO! Thus began a stress-inducing time of chatting with a number of other agents, many of whom could be considered “dream agents”… and most of whom offered representation on the spot.

Cue hyperventilating.

You know, once upon a time, I dreamed of a single agent saying “yes”. I mean, for three years I received rejection after rejection, and even when I got my first publishing offer (for The Medoran Chronicles), I was a “slush pile” baby — I didn’t have an agent at that point, and it wasn’t until 6 months after the first book was released that I was offered representation (thanks to Whisper). So to suddenly have multiple agents raise their hands to rep me, I’m sure you can understand when I say I was overwhelmed to the extreme.

There are three people who I owe HUGE amounts of gratitude to for helping me through that time — Sarah J. Maas, who dealt with my “OMG WHAT DO I DO, SARAH!?!?! AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!?!?” emails and texts at all hours of the day and night, especially when I kept back-and-forthing over agent possibilities; Jessica Townsend, who was literally on the first holiday she’s had since publishing Nevermoor, and she was on a beach in Fiji answering my multiple DMs of OMG HELP!! questions and fears; and Sulari Gentill, who helped me with the agent-saga while also offering advice on another publishing-related crisis I was juggling at the same time.

Clearly, it was “fun times” for me. *Eye roll*

But truly, without those three amazing authors having my back and offering advice and encouragement, there’s NO WAY I would have made it through those few weeks with my sanity intact. 

SO! To make a long story short(er), I was 99% sold on one agent (to the point that I’d turned down all the others), and I was just about to accept, but then another one asked for a Skype call the next day.

To be honest, it was an unanticipated (even unwanted) curve ball, because I’d contacted a different agent at that agency and — you know what, this’ll be a lot easier to explain if I use names. BUT that means my “short” story will be a tad longer than planned. So here goes:

One of the agents I queried was Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency. Kristin represents some incredible YA authors, like Marie Lu, Ally Carter, Sherry Thomas, Scott Reintgen, Simone Elkeles… and many others, whose books I love. Plus, she has a great reputation as an agent. When she showed interest in talking further about representing me, of course I was delighted (aside from the hives now covering every inch of me at already having a number of offers on the table).

The thing is… after I quickly drafted up some sample pages, Kristin mentioned that one of the other agents at NLA was showing more passion for my proposed book, and it was that agent, Danielle Burby, who wanted to have a chat over Skype — with Kristin in on the call as well.

By that stage, you have to remember what I said about being 99% sold on another agent, so I truly thought the call was going to be a waste of my time (and theirs). I’d done my research on Kristin, but not on Danielle, and I didn’t know anything about her other than that she was based in NYC. To be honest, I wasn’t even looking forward to the call at all, but my people-pleasing tendencies kept me from just saying “no” to it. Instead, we figured out how to wrangle the time difference (Kristin being in Colorado, Danielle in New York, and me in Australia), and then we had The Call.

I don’t quite know how to describe what happened next other than to say I was devastated.

No joke.

I was so ridiculously distressed after chatting with Danielle and Kristin, because they stuffed up my plan. I thought I had everything figured out. I thought I was going to waste some time doing the polite thing by chatting with the two of them, then do the whole, “thanks, but no thanks” respectful decline of the offer.

Instead, I was blown away by Danielle’s passion and ambition and drive. And more, this was on a mere sample of a book that I’d only drafted a few pages for — while on a freaking airplane to one of my events. The pages were beyond rough… but I could tell that Danielle believed in the book, and also in what she could do for me and my future as an author.

Even so, I was terrified. The other agent — the 99% one — was almost guaranteed as a sure thing. Her track record showed just how many internationally bestselling authors she represents, not to mention, that she’s made a career out of helping Australian authors become global sensations. That was what I thought I needed.

But… while that 99% agent had all the dot-points of my “dream agent”, there was no passion, no excitement, no “we’re in this together”-ness. Working with that agent would have been a strong business decision… but it wouldn’t have been a partnership.

I can admit it — I’m pretty needy as an author (and as a human being). At times, I need nurturing and hand-holding. This industry is hard, and sometimes I really just need to know that I have someone fighting with me (and for me), someone to cry with and celebrate with. BUT I also need someone who’s not afraid to tell me if I’m overreacting or being dramatic or if I just need to chill the fudge down. When talking with Sarah and Jess, they both told me the single most important thing they have with their respective agents is a relationship. It’s not just about business; their author–agent partnerships go beyond that. (Needless to say, they were both Team Danielle from the get-go, even when I was still vacillating over the decision.)

Obviously, since I’m using names here, I ended up going with Danielle. (Seriously, it should have been obvious to me the moment she sent me a Harry Potter gif to sign off an email. Like, as if there was any doubt after that, haha.)

Ultimately, I went with my gut. And I’m not kidding when I say it was a seriously, seriously hard thing for me to do, since I have terrible trust issues and I knew I was turning down the 99% agent who basically guaranteed she could get me everything I wanted next in my career, and instead I chose the unexpected “risky”-but-passionate agent. 

And now? Well, it’s only early days still… but I can honestly say I am so freaking excited for what the future holds. The moment I made my decision and chose Danielle, I felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I just knew that I’d made the right decision. Obviously, we still have a lot to wade through, since I have so much publishing history (and, let’s face it, baggage), but I’m truly delighted with my decision and how things have been shaping up between us so far. I really, truly, can’t wait to see what happens next, especially since I’ve just finished drafting that new book I mentioned, and, once it’s cleaned up a bit, we’ll begin submissions for it. I guess that’s when the real test begins, but I also know that no matter what happens, we’re in this together — and that’s what I’m most excited about. 

***INSERT ALL THE HAPPY DANCING HERE***

Woooooohoooooo!!!!

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Exciting news! For anyone who has been following my social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook), you’ll already know this…. But for everyone else, I’ve been invited back as a guest author to Supanova in November for the Adelaide and Brisbane legs of the conference! How amazing is that!

If you’ve been with this blog for a few months, you may have read all about my starstruck adventures with the amazing people I met (fans and famous people alike) at both Melbourne and on the Gold Coast… So I’m sure you can understand just how ridiculously excited I am to be heading there again! And, boy, the lineup of authors is INSANE, including:

  • Sarah J. Maas (whose ‘Throne of Glass’ series I absolutely adore)

 

  • Isobelle Carmody (whose ‘Obernewtyn Chronicles’ inspired my early love of the fantasy genre)

 

  • Juliet Marillier (whose ‘Sevenwaters’ trilogy is gosh-darnit-beautiful and a total fantasy tear-jerker to boot)

 

  • Trudi Canavan (whose ‘Black Magician’ trilogy is an epically thrilling page turner)

 

  • Melanie Casey (who is also with my publishers and I can’t wait to meet her and get her to sign my copy of ‘Hindsight’)

 

  • C.S. Pacat (who I got to hang with at Supanova Melbourne and I’m stoked for a repeat because she’s ridiculously awesome)

 

  • Kate Forsyth (who is an Australian fantasy author Wonder Woman – nothing else needs to be said!)

 

I am so incredibly honoured that I’ll have the chance to brush shoulders with these talented authors and, even more, that I’ll have the chance to meet some more readers, sign some books, speak on some panels, and share more of ‘Akarnae’ with the world. So if you happen to be in Adelaide or Brisbane in November, mark it in your calendar because believe me, a trip to Supanova is guaranteed to be one amazing adventure!

To find out more about the conference, including some of the other VIP guests who are currently confirmed (including stars from ‘I Dream of Jeannie’, ‘Smallville’, ‘Stargate’, and ‘Get Smart’), head on over to their official website here: http://www.supanova.com.au

And lastly, I have a few more excitingly big events coming up within the next couple of months, so stay tuned (especially on my social media) to find out where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing. I hope to see some of you as I travel around and share the awesomeness of this journey with you!

Radio Interview Fun!

This post is a little delayed, but when I was in Tasmania a couple of weeks ago to give a writing workshop for National Youth Week (in between the Melbourne and Gold Coast Supanova events), I was invited along for a last minute interview with Hobart’s ABC radio. We talked about all kinds of things from writing in general to my own publishing journey (including how AKARNAE came about) and everything in between. We touched on science fiction and technology, we chatted about Supanova, I gave some writing advice and shared some memories… All in all, it turned out to be a great interview and a lot of fun!

I know a number of people have followed this blog for a while, so I thought perhaps instead of reading my voice you might actually like to hear it for a change. The interview is just over 11 minutes long (let’s face it, some of my posts are novel-length and take that long to read, anyway) so if you have a few moments to spare, feel free to have a listen!

You can find the link on the Pantera Press page here:

https://www.panterapress.com.au/news-and-events/4811/

Checking In From The Beautiful Gold Coast

I’m writing this post from my incredibly awesome hotel room at the QT Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise. It’s amazing here. I’m on the 13th floor and this is my view:

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Sooooo pretty! There was even an electrical storm tonight which was super cool! Here’s my (lame) attempt at trying to take a good pic of it:

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But anyway, this isn’t an advert for the awesome hotel (but believe me, it really is awesome!)… Instead, it’s just a quick update on the author events I’ve been attending for the last two days (and the ones I still have left for the next three days…)

First up, I had a surprise (aka: super last minute) live-to-air radio interview with ABC Brisbane in drive-time yesterday arvo, which was insane! I’ve never been on radio before, so needless to say, I was a tad nervous. (*cough* Hyperventilating *cough*). Despite all the questions Ali (Pantera Press CEO) and Susan (my publicist) helped prep me with, none of the ones we practiced were actually asked! Including anything about my book! It was all about the events I’m doing over the next couple of days, and also questions regarding the YA genre, whether teenagers (and other people) actually read these days, and other teen-related stuff in general etc. When the first question was asked, I practically heard my brain scream out, “PLOT TWIST!! ROLL WITH IT (AND TRY NOT TO SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT)!!!”

Anyway, it ended up being a lot of fun and I got to talk about something I’m extremely passionate about which was such an incredible honour. So, yay! I actually can’t wait for the next one!

Oh, here’s a pic of me while waiting for them to call me into the studio:

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I spent last night in Brissy (at this really nice apartment place in South Bank, right in the CBD), and I travelled to the Gold Coast this morning to give a talk at Robina Library. That was a lot of fun, too! Just chatting to aspiring authors about writing to a teen audience – and talking about stuff like world building and character development. Again, all stuff I’m crazily passionate about, so I loved it! Here’s me just afterwards sitting in front of the marketing sign for the event:

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After that, I moseyed my way towards Surfers Paradise and spent the afternoon walking up and down the beach and Cavill Avenue (*happy sigh*). It was awesome.

Just to clue you in, I’m staying here because for the next two days I’m an attending author at Readers and Writers Down Under. Tomorrow I’m actually speaking on two panels – one at 10am to chat about blogging, and one just after lunch to talk about the fantasy genre. They’ll be the first panels I’ve ever been on, so I’m definitely looking forward to the experience! Then on Saturday it’s an all day book signing event (and then a red carpet awards ceremony that night, too!). I finish my time on the Goldie on Sunday with another library visit (Elanora branch) for a repeat of today’s writing-to-a-teenage-audience discussion. Fun times!

Oh, before I sign off, I have to mention the coolest thing that happened this morning! So, until today, I hadn’t actually seen my book in stores – it’s either been sold out every time I go into a bookshop or it hasn’t arrived from the distributors yet. But when I was in Robina on the Goldie today I saw it in a QBD and I may have become a little excited about it (read: I think I actually jumped up and down and clapped my hands), but you wouldn’t believe what happened! There was a girl there perusing the YA section with her mum and, caught in my excitement, I think I had an “Omigosh, that’s my book! How cool! This is the first time I’ve seen it in a store!” moment. Thankfully, they were both lovely and somehow managed to resist shuffling away from me (aka the crazy girl grinning like a lunatic and clapping her hands). In the end we got chatting and it turns out the girl (who’s in grade nine, I think) writes book reviews for the Gold Coast Bulletin – how cool is that! Anyway, they ended up buying my book (and I felt really awkward because I was like, “No, no, you don’t have to buy it just because I’m here grinning like a lunatic and all excited about it – I promise that’s not my intention!” but then at least I got to sign it for her, which was, again, really cool!

The only bummer is that I forgot to take a photo of the first sighting I’ve had of my book in a shop! Nooo! I’ve had a few friends/family send me pics – and a few book bloggers who have read it and loved it and gone to grab additional copies in stores… and it’s been awesome to see all the different places people are seeing it. So, if you happen to be in a bookshop and you happen to stumble by the YA section, pretty please do me a favour and take a happy snap and send it through to me telling me where it is – the more exotic the better! (My parents are in Tasmania at the moment and my mum visited a little independent bookstore in the middle of nowhere the other day and even they had a copy available, which is awesome.) So keep me and AKARNAE in mind the next time you visit a bookshop and snap a selfie!

Okie dokie, I have a big couple of days ahead. I’ll update again when it’s all over!

Front Page News!!

I know, I know – I still owe you all a massive write-up about the magical book launch I had this time last week. It’s coming, I promise! I’m just waiting for the final photos to come through from my amazing publishers so that I can do the story justice (at least visually!).

Until then (which will hopefully be realllllllly soon), guess who’s on the front page of my local newspaper today!? I’ll give you a hint…

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How beyond awesome is that! But omigosh, I burst out laughing (with mortification?) when I read the intro paragraph on the front saying, “Growing up on a farm in the middle of New South Wales, Lynette Noni says her childhood could have been spent one of two ways – reading books or talking to sheep…” EEEK! Good thing I chose the books then, huh?

I think it’s safe to say that I definitely have a strong case of foot-in-mouth when it comes to making flippantly casual comments to journalists! I’ll chalk this one up (yet again) to a “practice makes perfect” moment and hope that I don’t become known as the weirdo who communicates with woolly farm animals. (Yikes!)

Anyway, aside from those hilariously embarrassing few words, there’s a really cool article inside the paper…

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And then later on there are two more pages with a few more photos from my book launch…

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I seriously can’t believe how much coverage they did! I’m honestly stunned! But it’s sooooo cool!

Exciting Updates

Oh, boy, soooo much has been happening lately! I figure it’s about time I give you all an update on the current state of events in my life.

So, first up, there are only TEN SLEEPS TO GO until the release of AKARNAE – how exciting! That’s February 1st, just so you know! And my book launch is on February 5th – TWO WEEKS TODAY!!! It’s a public event, so if you live near the Sunshine Coast (Australia), or if you happen to be travelling near the area, please stop by and introduce yourself! Here’s the official invitation:

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(How pretty is the invite, by the way! I love it!!)

I also found out today that AKARNAE is already on a couple of lists on Goodreads – how cool is that! If you’re a Goodreads user, I would sooooo love it if you would take a second to vote for it to help bump it closer to the top and effectively spread the word! You can find it on YA Debuts 2015 (it’s currently number 88 but the more people who vote, the better the number will become!) and it’s also number 31 on 2015 YA Covers. I would be so super appreciative of anyone willing to take a quick moment just to click on the “vote for this book” tab next to AKARNAE – that would be so awesome of you to help me with this!

Right, moving on!

I’ve recently added a page here with all the info on how you can pre-order a copy of AKARNAE if you’re interested (or purchase it once it’s released). You can find all the links here.

Some other exciting news is that my amazing Marketing/PR Manager has already confirmed me as an attending author at a number of events locally and interstate over the next few months (and the list continues to grow at an amazingly cool rate!). You can keep an eye on where I’ll be headed by checking my News & Events page.

Okay, I think that’s all update-wise for the moment! There are a few other things happening but I’ll save them for another post! In the meantime, just believe me when I say everything is go-go-go right now which is so amazing! I had my first ever newspaper interview this afternoon which was beyond awesome and so much fun! (I’m not sure if interviews are actually meant to be fun, but, well… *shrugs*… It still was!) I can’t wait to see how the end result turns out!