Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview with the Book Babe--and the most awesome critique giveaway EVER!

Get ready for this guys--I have something EXTRA special for you today.

See, I've met a TON of amazing, inspiring, awesome people throughout the publishing industry (reason #1 why being a children's writer is one of the best jobs out there). But today I get to introduce you to someone who is--hands down--one of my favorites. In fact, she's sort of been my secret weapon, helping me behind the scenes over the last year (which is why a *tiny* part of me doesn't want to share her. Then she can just be MINE MINE ALL MINE!!!!!!!) (ahem).

But she's too awesome to hog all to myself. And so I give you the lovely and fabulous Faith:


Who a small portion of you may know as "The Book Babe" (you can read the story of how she got that incredibly appropriate title HERE). She is arguably the most kind, loyal, enthusiastic author supporter around--and a close friend to incredible authors like James A. Owen, Lisa McMann, and Stephenie Meyer. (And I do not use the term "friend" lightly there, people.)

Part mentor, part book promoter, 100% cheerleader, and known for her impeccable taste (and no, I'm not just saying that because she happens to like my book--though I am eternally grateful to have her on my side) she is an amazing asset to any author lucky enough to have her support.

Don't believe me? See for yourself how awesome she is. I give you, the Book Babe:

S: You and I first *met* because of an event called Project Book Babe back in April of 2009. I've mentioned the event--and the effect it had on my writing--on my blog before. But for those who don't know, can you tell my followers a little bit about what the event was, how it came to be, who was involved, and why?


BB: I don’t remember much of the actual event, it was two days after my third chemo treatment and I was not involved in the planning (in fact I did not really know about it until after the planning was well under way) so I might get the order of things wrong so bear with me…

Project Book Babe was an event to raise money so I could “afford” to have cancer. At the time of my diagnosis, I was uninsured. There was a ton of worry about how I would pay my bills since my doctors were recommending that I not work while in chemo. My mom had the idea of auctioning off signed books, but I believe that Jon Lewis had the initial idea for a big event. 


I knew that Jon had started planning something with PJ Haarsma, Frank Beddor and some others; I just did not know the extent of what they were planning. So when I called Stephenie to tell her about the diagnosis, I mentioned that “Jon and Frank and PJ were planning something” and before I finished my sentence she said “Faith, I will do whatever you want.” Her reaction was similar to everyone’s reaction. Although, the fact that she was able to set aside her busy schedule and concentrate on the event was more than I could have asked for. I know Steph has a lot of haters out there but if they only knew her, no one would be able to dislike her. 

Anyway, I passed her contact info along and she started helping with the planning.

By the time the event rolled around, there were 75 volunteers, 5 comic book artists, 11 authors (Frank Beddor, Chris Gall, PJ Haarsma, Shannon Hale, Jon Lewis, Dean Lorey, Stephenie Meyer, Brandon Mull, James Owen, Janette Rallison and Laini Taylor) and two bands as part of the event. And over 50 additional authors who donated books or other items to be auctioned off online. All the authors in attendance donated a ton of stuff for auctions and raffles at the event. But the items Stephenie donated were beyond incredible. She donated her Eclipse Prom Dress, the one-of-a-kind manuscript of Forever Dawn, early manuscripts of some of her other titles and much more.

I am still not quite sure why they all did it. But I am glad they did, even though I don’t remember much, there are tons of pictures and I still cry every time I look at them. I will never be able to thank them enough and I will never ever forget just how much everyone did for me. And, I will never be able to thank the audience enough. The sheer selflessness of everyone involved is a testament to the fact that people really do have an amazing capacity for generosity

S: I can definitely testify that it was an AMAZING event and I'm so glad I found out about it through Shannon Hale's blog and was able to attend. It was truly a turning point for me and my writing. And I can't believe it's been more than two years since I went. Can you tell us how you're doing health-wise at this point, since I'm sure many people are wondering?

BB: I am currently in remission. Yay! Cancer recovery is a long road to walk and I am still on it, but most of the hard stuff is behind me. My immune system never fully recovered so I have to take more medication than I would like and I absolutely detest the blood work, but I have two amazing surgeons (they are both hot, too) and my primary care doctor is wonderful. All in all, I am blessed.

Also, I joined a roller derby league 18 months ago, which I LOVE! My surgeons sort of balked at the idea but they have come to understand how much I love it and are supportive.

S: Hee. Gotta say, I love that you are strong enough to roller derby. *I'M* not even strong enough for that. :)

After PBB you decided to keep a blog, which I was SO excited about because then I could keep up with your progress--and see all your awesome book recommendations (you have introduced me to so many of my favorite authors!). And it was through your blog that you and I REALLY met and got to know each other. So tell me--what was it that made you reach out to me? (as opposed to getting a restraining order against your new cyberstalker...)

BB: I am not really sure why I decided to reach out to you. Maybe it was our mutual love of Disneyland, or maybe it was that your blog made me laugh. For some reason, there was a little voice telling me that we needed to be friends. I don’t completely know but I am REALLY glad that I did reach out to you because you are one of the most amazing people I know! Your friendship is one of the many reasons I would not change a thing about the last two years.

S: (I swear, I did NOT pay her to say that!) (But don't worry, Faith--your present is on the way! :D) 

One of the best things that came from our friendship (beyond the fab book recs, hilarious emails, and never-ending industry advice you give me--seriously, you are a SAINT!) is that I've been fortunate enough to have you read my drafts and offer insight into them. Your notes are always spot on--and I've noticed that you often have a slightly different reasoning behind your comments, likely because of your background as a book buyer. Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to a critique?

BB: I approach a critique from three ways. I first look at a manuscript as someone who loves to read YA/MG. That perspective tends to be more emotional. I think about things such as how the book makes me feel, which characters I am attached to, what parts were hilarious or heart-wrenching and how can they be made better without being generic.

Then I look at it from a Book Buyer perspective. That perspective tends to be a bit more clinical. I think about who the audience is. For example, not every YA/MG book is going to appeal to the adult market. I have gotten really good at understanding that while I may not love a book as an adult, I would if I was 15. I also think about other books that may be similar. I have read scenes that were almost exactly like scenes from bestselling books. When that happens, I steer them in a different direction. The last thing an author wants is to have people think their story is a rip-off of another author’s work. I also think about how I would market the book, how I would hand-sell a book and how I would display the book. It may not seem relevant but trust me, it is.

Then I look at it from an educator perspective. What might appeal to an educator or what might turn a librarian away from carrying it in their library. I think about which students the book will appeal to, will boys like it as well as girls? Teens are fickle readers but they can also forgive a lot if the writing and characters are authentic. Books that have a message without being heavy handed go over well, not only with teen readers but with teachers and librarians.

All these things pop into my head constantly as I am reading a manuscript. I always try to be gentle yet direct when giving critiques. I understand that most authors think of their books as their children and no one likes to be told they have an ugly kid. :)

S: Trust me guys--her notes are AMAZING. You wouldn't believe the things she's caught and helped me fix (and yet her notes aren't scary or painful at ALL). I am SO incredibly grateful for her help--and I wish every writer could have the chance to have her read their drafts. Which is why I was so excited to hear Faith was branching into freelance editing! Can you tell me a little about the reasoning behind that decision, Faith?

BB: Part of my decision is based on how much fun I have had working with you on your manuscripts as well as the work I have done with Robin Brande and Barry Lyga. But mostly I love the idea of being able to help authors get their stories to that point where everything falls into place and the story turns the corner onto amazing street. One of my favorite things about reading is that moment when I am finished and I can finally breathe and my first reaction is “OMG! That was incredible!”. Or that moment when it’s a week later and I can’t stop thinking about the story. Or that moment when all I want to do is tell everyone I know. The more visceral the reaction, the longer the book stays with me. And books that make me angry (ahem Karsten Knight) stay with me the longest. Those usually end up being my favorites! I want to be able to help authors get their books to that perfect point where the story insinuates itself into the life and mind of the reader and does not let go.

S: What an awesome motivation! And since I'm sure many of my followers are now super excited to hear this--they really, really should be--can you give us a few details on how the process works, what services you offer, where they can find pricing info, etc?

BB: Of course!

Here are the services I offer:

Content Editing: I will proofread a finished manuscript and make content and re-write suggestions to improve the story and ready it for publication. Cost:$40 per hour. (And a 50, 000 word manuscript usually takes me 1.5 - 2 hours, depending on how much work it needs.) I don’t really advertise that I do copy editing since that is not my strength, but I will make copy edit notes for obvious mistakes. And I prefer hard copies of manuscripts but sending me a word document works too!

Consultation: All writers get stuck, and sometimes all it takes is a little push to get them back on track. I will consult with anyone on their unfinished story and make suggestions in an effort to make it the best it can be. Cost: $35 per half hour, $60 for a full hour. This can be done in person if they are local, or over the phone if not. Consultations can be done without my having read anything. 

Event Consultation: I will consult on unique events tailored to their novel if the writer wants to be able to increase presence at a book signings and make them more memorable. Debut authors and authors who have less publisher backing tend to be the ones who benefit the greatest from event consulting. Cost: $45 per hour. I also bundle Content Editing with Event Consultation for a flat $60 per hour rate.

All the information is available on my website iamthebookbabe.com.
Anyone can contact me at iamthebookbabe@gmail.com
Or follow me on twitter @iamthebookbabe


S: Awesome all around. Thank you so much for taking the time to come hang out--and for ALL the help you've given me (and the many ways you've inspired me). I can honestly say I would NOT be where I am today without you. ((cyberhug))

Obviously times are hard financially and not everyone can afford to pay for critiques. But I can say that Faith's critiques and marketing/promo advice are worth every penny (not to mention her prices are super reasonable--trust me, I've seen some other pricing and WOWZA!)

But once again, Faith has proven just how amazing she truly is by offering to also give away some free partial critiques to some of my followers, to help as many out as she can. Trust me you guys, you want to win one. And she's giving away not one, not two, but FIVE 25-page content critiques. 

To enter, make sure you follow my blog and simply leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, November 26th. I'll draw FIVE winners and post their names on Sunday, November 27th. International entries welcome. (And if you have any questions, leave them in your comments.

Ready?
Set?
GO!

53 comments:

  1. Wow, Shannon and Faith, this is an incredible contest! It is so inspiring to hear what Faith's friends and fellow authors did for her during her chemo treatments. Yeah for remission! (My mom is a cancer survivor, so I totally get it!) :)

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  2. That's a really sweet story! Thanks for sharing. :) I love hearing about the book community pulling together.

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  3. Faith, so happy you're in remission. My mom and sister both had cancer, so I know what it's like. So happy for you.

    Good luck in your new freelance services. They sound awesome.

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  4. Oh wow. That journey is so inspirational. It's so nice to hear about the book people helping each other out rather than all the cat fights we're used to hearing about.

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  5. I enjoyed this post. Thanks. And thanks Faith for offering to do this. :)

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  6. Faith, glad to hear you're in remission. Thanks so much for offering to do this, and Shannon, thanks for thinking of this.

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  7. Aw! It's great to have a face to go with the name--I've always heard such awesome things about Faith (many of them from you, Shannon)!

    I love hearing that about Stephenie M. And how amazing that all those other authors helped out as well. Faith, congratulations on the remission!

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  8. Holy crap. That's incredibly cheap for professional editing (even if it's not really copy-editing, and is more like storytelling advice).

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  9. Wow, how generous of Faith! And anyone who's earned that much love and adoration from you, #1, must be pretty spectacular. I love her already! :-)

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  10. You sound like a very strong woman . . . congratulations for beating cancer and hope you are able to get off all the meds soon.

    How wonderful that all those people stepped up to help you and very nice of you to be giving to others now. You are quite the inspiration . . . and it sounds like a good editor to boot.

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  11. What an amazing story - Faith I'm so glad you're in remission and thanks so much for the critique opportunity.

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  12. Great, inspiring story. Once again proving how awesome writers are.ha

    Great contest, count me in!

    Although I am totally going to check out this Content Editing when I am done with current wip. I'll be talking to you in a about a month, Faith.

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  13. Great interview! So glad to hear Faith is in remission!

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  14. Great interview and awesome giveaway!!!
    I hope I win :)

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  15. THANK YOU so much for sharing! This post couldn't be more timely. YES! PLEASE enter my name in the crit contest. Elizabeth :-)

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  16. What a great interview, and those prices are awesome!

    And the contest!!!

    Pure awesome

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  17. Oh wow, what an amazing and generous offer! :oD Faith, you sound awesome already, hehe

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  18. Shannon, I follow you on FB, which led me to this blog. Happy to hear that Faith has beaten cancer. I just lost my beloved aunt to that disease a few days ago, and I hate it more than words can say. Always love to hear when people are able to beat it. We have to be grateful for every victory over it.

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  19. Faith, so great to meet you! I'm happy to hear your cancer is in remission--I hope you continue to feel well.

    I love your three-fold approach to critiquing and would love to hear your feedback.

    Thanks!

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  20. Wow, Faith, your story is so inspiring, and Shannon, you were so right about having a cool contest coming up. This is a fabulous opportunity!

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  21. I've kind of been lurking on your blog for a while, but I have to enter this contest! Yay for Faith on the editing and remission!

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  22. Thanks Shannon and Faith--for the inspiring interview and amazing opportunity!

    -Jessica

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  23. What an incredible, inspirational story. I love being a part of such a community like this. Congratulations to Faith for being in remission. May the ugly C monster stay away forever!

    Thanks for the contest, too, Shannon and Faith. Uber fantastic!

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  24. What an incredible, inspirational story. I love being a part of such a community like this. Congratulations to Faith for being in remission. May the ugly C monster stay away forever!

    Thanks for the contest, too, Shannon and Faith. Uber fantastic!

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  25. What an inspirational story! Made my morning.

    And Shannon, you always come up with the best contests.

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  26. Thanks for such a great post, Shannon. Faith is simply the best and I am blessed to know her. She's inpiring in both her outlook on life and her will to battle, on the derby floor and off :) Anyone who hires Faith to edit is a winner!

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  27. Thank you Shannon and Faith for this WONDERFUL opportunity. ;) I would be thrilled to get to know you Faith as I long follwed you through Project Book Babe and Facebook. :)

    Pick me... and the cheescake comes too! Just Ask James how 'dirty' it is... ;)

    (Oh, and I'd just love to share my stories with you too)

    Vicky

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  28. This is the COOLEST contest ever!! Thank you, Shannon and Faith, for making it possible. Book people are the best. :)

    I would like to enter the contest.

    Thanks!
    -Melissa

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  29. Oh wow, this is incredible! Great post, great contest! I'm off to check out Faith's blog now...

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  30. First and foremost, what an inspiration! It amazes me to see how strong people truly are - and not to mention giving. Not only the people that helped you, but those that you are now offering to help! I thank both of you for sharing the story!

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  31. What a fantastic contest! Thank you!

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  32. I love when people make a difference. Friendship is powerful! Thanks for sharing your story. I'm excited to enter your contest. Yeah!

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  33. I love how you like to help author's polish their stories. Lots of people think that writing is a solo event but it really isn't. We need just as much support and guidance as anyone else doing any other job.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    mistyATlg2DOTcomDOTau

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  34. That is so inspirational... and generous too! Thank you both <3

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  35. I'd love to have her invaluable thoughts. So incredibly awesome and generous!!! :O)

    estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

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  36. Thanks for sharing your story and offering this contest. Wishing you many, many more years of good health and friendship.

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  37. O good golly! Five's my lucky number. (Also 44, and 63, but who's counting?!) I am totally sending pick-me vibes (as well as cupcakes) to random.org

    You do like cupcakes, don't you, random? What? You like bytes not bites. As one presidential contender might say: "Oops!"

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  38. Ohhhhh. I need some polish about now! Thank you for hosting the contest, Shannon, and thank you, Faith, for doing what you do!

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  39. Thank you for the post! I remember that event and how struck I was by everyone's selflessness. Thanks for the update about Faith also. She sounds like an amazing person.

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  40. Wow, this is such a weird coincidence. I was just remembering the other day how amazing the Book Babe Project was. I live in Arizona, and I was lucky enough to go to the event and the signing afterward. It was such an inspiration for me as a writer, and the first time I had the opportunity to talk to published authors. So I really relate to your experience, Shannon. Congratulations on the upcoming publication of your book!

    And Faith, I am SO glad to hear you are in remission! Thank you for your generous offer with this contest. Even if I don't win the drawing, I'm sure I will be contacting you soon for your editing skills. I will also be following your blog. (I can't believe I didn't realize you had one!)

    Both of you are such an inspiration. Thank you for reminding me why I keep writing!

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  41. Great interview, ladies, and BB sounds like one inspiring gal! Good to hear you're in remission!

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  42. Hi, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work!

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  43. Terrific giveaway and thanks for such an wonderful interview!

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  44. She sounds incredible! What a lucky bunch of five!

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  45. Wow! Sounds like an awesome contest! I am definitely putting my name in the hat. I've just done lurking in the past.
    So happy you are doing well, Faith. And I will probably be contacting you after Christmas (hopefully) when my current WIP is finished and had a few weeks to age.

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  46. Congratulations on being in remission. :D Thank you for sharing your story with us, Faith. Your critique offer is so generous!

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  47. Um, this is amazing. Thank you both for the opportunity! And Book Babe, you are an inspiration.

    XO,
    Gina

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  48. I love inspiring stories about wonderful people. Which is why I follow your blog Shannon. Seriously! I'm going to use Faith's freelance services, whether you pick my name or not. This post couldn't have come at a better time for me. So THANK YOU again!

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  49. You both are amazing and generous! Kid lit is fortunate to have you.

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  50. What a frickin' crazy story!!!! I have total chills right now. And not just because I'm a huge TwiHard (proud member of the Los Angeles Twilight Lovers Group). This really inspired me and re-energized my tired work day :) (I work Sat's)

    I'll keep my fingers crossed that I too can experience the genius of Faith.

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  51. Wow, this is just beyond awesome. And the price isn't even that high! :O That's just... like, an opportunity of a lifetime. Wowza. Thanks so much!

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Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Friendly debate is fine, but always be kind to each other). <3