Like our workshop, these faculty interviews focus on youth novels. To read all years’ faculty interviews, see our Directory.
MEET OUR 2006 FACULTY
I. SUBMISSIONS and PUBLISHING
Joy Neaves and Jennifer Rofe are among the faculty offering offer keynotes, focus sessions, and critiques at The Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Workshop (PCCWW), August 11-13, 2006. These amiable presenters are very receptive to talented (published and aspiring) writers with manuscripts for all ages. Like PCCWW, our interview focuses on middle grade and young adult novels. For more information, including submissions guidelines, check our interviewees’ websites.
What are your submissions guidelines for novels?
Jennifer Rofe: Please send a query and the first three chapters. (You can also just send a query letter for all materials; however, when material is included, we usually can’t help ourselves and start reading.) Be sure to include an SASE with appropriate postage for materials you would like returned.
Joy Neaves: Three sample chapters, synopsis, and cover letter. Front Street accepts unagented, unsolicited manuscripts for ages 0-18. We prefer e-mail submissions. If you send by regular mail, please be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage for return of your materials. Please know in advance that we will reply with a form letter.
How many MG and YA novels do you plan to acquire or publish in the coming year? What percentage are by first-time authors?
Rofe: Roughly 80 percent of what I acquire is by first-time authors. This year, I expect to represent 4-6 new clients.
Neaves: We will publish 15-20 MG/YA novels at most; 50 percent by first-time authors.
How many manuscript pages do you usually read before deciding whether to continue?
Rofe: If the first two pages of a manuscript really capture me, I typically read through page 15. At that point, I decide whether or not to continue.
Neaves: Anywhere from 1 to 25.
Any pet peeves or warnings re: openings?
Rofe: Too much telling, too much exposition, and not enough showing.
Neaves: Many stories start, but have no beginning. Openings must captivate. A story begins because something has happened that has changed all that has come before. It’s a beginning because something will necessarily follow it, something that will convey precisely to a reader the nature of thingsthe nature of the character, the place they are in, the place they come to. All the elements of a storycharacter, scene, setting, plotmust be working from the very start.
Do you generally read the synopsis before or after reading a manuscript? What tips do you offer for writing one?
Rofe: I rarely read the synopsis. If I’m still interested in a manuscript after reading 15 pages, I will look over the synopsis. My recommended length for a synopsis is, at most, one page.
Neaves: I read the synopsis after reading sample chapters. It helps me to see if an author knows how to plot. A synopsis should not be more than one page. It should include only the highlights and defining moments of your story. Be sure not to leave an editor hanging about how the story ends.
What are your usual response and production times?
Rofe: Because ABLA receives such an exorbitant amount of mail, it can take me up to three months to review queries. If I find something that interests me, I’ll request it right away. It can then take me another six to eight weeks to review it. If I love it, I’ll offer representation fairly quickly.
Neaves: From query to contract: three to six months. From contract to publication can vary widely; we aim for 12 to 18 months. Our response to queries is between 2-3 months.