Even though Rebecca Podos is an industry insider–she’s not only a published young adult author, but also a literary agent with Rees Literary Agency–she said she learned that she would have to advocate for herself when it came time to promote her book, The Mystery Of Hollow Places. Speaking at Kid Lit Universe/Portsmouth Public Library’s September Author-To-Author series, Podos said that her publisher, HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, set up a couple of events for her, but cautioned the audience not to expect your publisher to do much.
She said you have to put yourself out there to do promotion, but said not to try to do everything if you’re not comfortable. She felt that Facebook is better for connecting with other authors than with readers and thought Twitter connects with both. “All platforms have something to offer,” she said.
As a debut novelist, Podos found the YA community to be welcoming and supportive of her book. She encouraged helping authors by giving reviews because promotional opportunities increase the more reviews a book has on Amazon.
Podos talked about the “sophomore slump.” She said the benefit of signing a two book deal with a publisher is that your second book has a home. The drawback is that the publisher does not have to accept the manuscript you give them. They can ask for another…and another…until they find one they want to publish. Often, they want the second book to fit well with the one they already published.
Her second book took her twice as long to write. “The sophomore slump can paralyze you, if you let it,” she said. Writing her third book was easier, she added. “I’ve crested the wave of that pressure.”
As an agent, Podos said there are general guidelines that need to be followed when writing YA. The word count should be 60 thousand words and up, but 90 thousand is long.
Her wishlist as an agent includes “own voices” books featuring marginalized characters that are written by an author from that group so that their experiences align with their characters. She’d also like to see diverse stories within genres such as fantasy, horror, and science fiction.
Podos’ second YA novel, Like Water, will be out in the fall of next year.