Young adult writer Kiera Cass has spent the last few years in the dystopic world of The Selection. The final book, The One, will be released on May 6th. We sat down with Cass to discuss the differences between self-publishing and working with a traditional publisher, writing, and more. Check out the highlights from our interview below…
Q: How does self-publishing differ from working with a traditional publishing house?
A: Self-publishing and traditional publishing differ in three main ways: control, timing, and (to an extent) effort. In traditional publishing, all I can really control are the words on the paper, and sometimes, even those have to be changed. It also takes years to make a book happen. In self-publishing, your cover, your story, and the general vibe around your book is completely yours. And, if you happen to be writing something time sensitive, a book can be produced in months, maybe even less if you choose to do e-book only.
The main drawback is not having a support team of professionals there to make your story the absolute best it can be and present it in a way that attracts readers. You will have to do a lot of self-promoting either way, but it certainly helps to have some pros there to guide your efforts. Having done both, I’m not sure I could self-pub again. Besides everyone I’ve worked with being absolutely brilliant, they’re also just stellar human beings and I adore them.
Q: How did you land your book deal?
A: I got my deal the boring way, I guess. I queried, got an agent (the glorious Elana Parker), and she did the leg work. It was a little funny though. Looking through all the books on my shelf, I realized that a lot of my favorites were from Harper Teen, so I was crossing my fingers, hoping to get them. And then, when everything started rolling, they were on summer hours, so all the different levels of approval it had to go through happened in one day. A few months of waiting, and then BAM! All in one day.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: You know how cats chase laser pointers on the wall, and it kind of looks like they’re having a choreographed seizure? My writing process looks a bit like that.
Q: What do you think is the best way to connect with readers on social media?
A: I think if an author (or anyone) is going to use social media as a promotional tool, they also need to use it as a means of connection. Young adults in particular are all over these sites, and I think it’s really special to them to be able to talk to the people who make the books they love. So, if you’re going to talk about your book being on sale next week, also talk about your bad hair days, that awkward thing you said that’s keeping you up at night, and the new music you just fell in love with. It’s about being genuine. If you can’t do that, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the best way to self-edit?
A: I am not the best self-editor. I feel like I could go on for days in some scenes or like to have a lot of buildup that not everyone would appreciate a much as me. Having a great editor has helped, and I think I catch things she would before I send them to her, but that might change completely if I had to work with someone else. Basically, I’ve come to terms with the fact that no one gets it perfect the first time out, and I try not to over think it.
Q: Any predictions about the future of the young-adult genre?
A: The future of YA…I feel like there’s tons of room to grow. It spans a pretty wide age range, which means there are varying levels of maturity. I think young adult readers are pretty savvy, and I’m just hoping that as the genre continues to grow, they’ll have wider options. I’m not completely sure what that means, but I’m a little tired of teenagers as an audience being undervalued. They’re smart and cool, and I feel fortunate that I get to interact with them.
Q: Given the way The One ends, it feels like there could be more story to tell. Is a spin-off series possible? Or maybe more novellas?
A: The world of The Selection grows every time I look at it, and I am crazy in love with the characters. As far as there being more books or novellas…well, if I was asked to write more books in the world, I’d consider it. This question comes up a lot from readers actually, and the thing that makes me happiest is that they’re excited enough about the story to want more. I’ve got great readers!
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m always writing, so there are some new projects on the horizon. I can’t say too much at the moment, but you’ll be hearing about them soon enough!