02 May 2012

Jen Nielsen tackles princes, pixies, goblins and... in her spare time, the 6th Infinity Ring book

Jennifer Nielsen
Today's Q&A features Jen Nielsen. She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE (Scholastic Press, April 1, 2012) and The Underworld Chronicles (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), including ELLIOT AND THE GOBLIN WAR (Oct. 2010), ELLIOT AND THE PIXIE PLOT (Aug. 2011) and ELLIOT AND THE LAST UNDERWORLD WAR (April 1, 2012). She will write the sixth book of Scholastic's Infinity Ring series (other authors writing for the series include James Dashner, Carrie Ryan, Lisa McMann, Matt de la Pena and Matthew Kirby… Jen's book will be published in Dec. 2013). 

To learn more about Jen's work, visit her website: www.jennielsen.com.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your path to publishing?

A: The Teen Lit Authors forum is actually central to my path to publishing. I had been writing on and off for nearly ten years, between full time mommying and part time employment. Then a few years ago I submitted a manuscript to an agent who really liked it but asked for a pretty significant rewrite. So I posted a question to this list asking if anyone else had been in this situation. Several members here gave me excellent advice (pausing here to send out hugs for that), but even more exciting was that a newer agent was quietly lurking on the list, Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Agency. She emailed to say that the project I had described sounded very interesting to her and if things didn't work out with the agent I was querying, that she'd love to see the manuscript. Well, things didn't work out with him, but by then I had researched Joan and already knew of her agency. I couldn't get pages to her quickly enough, and when she called to offer representation, it was a very happy day.

Q: I'm curious about the process involved in publishing a trilogy, the timing and juggling of it all. Could you tell us about your experience with your first trilogy, THE UNDERWORLD CHRONICLES?

A: I actually enjoy working with series books. I tend to think in bigger story concepts and so I love the freedom that comes with knowing I can explore a character's arc in a wider format. But you're right; there is a lot more juggling involved.

For example, there were a few weeks last summer when I was finishing up writing the final UNDERWORLD book, working on copyedits for THE FALSE PRINCE as a new series with Scholastic, and writing the second book in THE FALSE PRINCE trilogy. It was um, a little crazy.

Q: The first book in your new trilogy just came out, and is receiving kudos from readers, book bloggers and reviewers, including Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly. How important are those reviews as a part of a successful promotional effort?
A: The response so far to THE FALSE PRINCE has really been wonderful and exciting. Not only the places you mentioned, but also very kind reviews in places like the LA Times and Hollywood Reporter. Scholastic did a wonderful job early on by sending out bound manuscripts signed by their entire sales team to targeted booksellers to get them excited for the release, and I can definitely see the results of those efforts now.

Book marketing can be very competitive, and the reality is that there are many great books that somehow pass under the radar. But I really believe that authors ought to consider the Serenity Prayer whenever we work on self-promotion. We need to accept the things we cannot change (Whether a book gets a "big" mention, or a starred review, or some celebrity has their picture taken with our book in their hand), and gather courage to work on the things where we can have an impact. Above all else, I believe this means always working on our writing to deliver the best possible book.

Q: You posted covers of some of the foreign editions of THE FALSE PRINCE on your blog. Gorgeous! What's it like to see your words in print in other languages? And what have you learned about the process of publishing internationally… what's involved?

A: I love the foreign covers that I've seen so far, and there are a few more covers yet to be revealed. I can't wait to get copies of them all because I'd love to find a way to display them. The idea of having my words move to an international audience is incredibly exciting. Already, I'll see a blog or Goodreads post in another language and wonder what they're saying about the book. At times I've tried plugging it into a translator, but I can't always figure out the language, and even when I can, it doesn't always do a great job.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have three projects ahead of me right now. The first is to continue writing the rest of the FALSE PRINCE trilogy. The second is working on a proposal for another series for down the road. And finally, I'll be one of six authors writing for Scholastic's new multi-platform series INFINITY RING, a middle grade time travel adventure. I'll be writing book six and am buried now in research for that project.

Thank you for the interview Sharon!

And thank YOU, Jen. Keep us posted on THE INFINITY RING and perhaps you can visit the blog again when it comes out!