Writer John Corey Whaley on Finding a Literary Agent and Getting Published

Goodgodbird_publication In October, John Corey Whaley submitted his book Good God Bird
to Agent Ken Wright through AgentInbox. The last three months have been an amazing ride. Over Thanksgiving, Corey incorporated some suggested edits from Ken, and in December the book went out to editors. Just a few days after the New Year, Corey got word from Ken that
Good God Bird had received its first offer. Over the next few months, Corey is going to share his exciting path to publication, right here, on this blog.  

Like many writers out there, I had almost given up hope that my novel would ever see a bookshelf other than the one in my own apartment. However, over the span of just about two and a half months, I have seen that it’s possible to go from being a completely unknown writer to a published author.


My story is a common one among writers: I wrote a book, I sent out query letters, I got rejection after rejection, and I sent more out.  Then, I got discouraged. I stopped sending out letters. I told friends and family that “maybe this just isn’t the right book” and “I guess I’ll just let that dream go.” Then a funny thing happened. A little over three years after typing the last sentence of my novel, I, on a whim, submitted a query letter and some sample chapters to AgentInbox (which I’d learned about through the WEbook’s newsletter).  A few days later, Ken Wright, from Writers House, asked to read my entire manuscript. He spent Sunday evening reading my novel and was on the phone with me Monday afternoon. Now, I had an agent.

And so, after some minor revisions and interest from several publishers, Simon & Schuster’s children’s imprint, Atheneum Books, has purchased the rights to my debut novel, a coming-of-age story for young adults. I am awestruck at the enthusiasm with which my novel has been met. I have also been forced to very quickly begin learning all there is to know about publishing a first novel, or any novel for that matter. So, I’m going to take you all along on this journey with me. As the next few months pass, I will be writing about my experiences with the publishing world and, hopefully, help prepare all of you, future novelists and writers, for the journey ahead. I will also be answering any and all questions you may have, so I encourage you to leave comments or follow me on Twitter (@corey_whaley).

Happy writing,
John Corey Whaley

Read more about Corey's path to publication or sign-up at WEbook today and get started on finishing your novel. Today's the day!

First Lines

PW.orgThe first sentence of your first serious novel can be a kind of torture. You know it’s important, but you also have a full story to tell. So to do? You tear through your bookcase, yanking out tomes to see again how they begin, hoping upon hope that inspiration will arrive.

In October we announced our content partnership with Poets & Writers (the organization, which publishes the magazine) and posted excerpts from Page One, a regular feature in Poets & Writers magazine which presents a smattering of first sentences from newly released books.

Here's part of the newest selection, see old our ones here, or click through to Poets & Writers to read more.

"On certain autumn days in New York City, the light seems to come from every direction."
Little Boy Blues (Pantheon Books, January 2010) by Malcolm Jones. First book, memoir. Agent: Chris Calhoun. Editor: Dan Frank. Publicist: Katie Freeman.

"There were two kinds of truths, good truths and hurtful ones."

Wild Child and Other Stories (Viking, January 2010) by T. C. Boyle. Twenty-first book, ninth story collection. Agent: Georges Borchardt. Editor: Paul Slovak. Publicist: Holly Wats

"Outside his Cincinnati windows, a street game in full swing."
Approaching Ice (Persea Books, December 2009) by Elizabeth Bradfield. Second book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Gabriel Fried. Publicists: Tressa Canaday, Stephanie Kartalopoulos, and Latisha Linder.

Check out more at Poets & Writers, then add your favorite—from books new or old—in the comments area below to help inspire your fellow WEbookers.

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