Author John Corey Whaley: Back in NYC



I recently returned to New York City to meet with my agent, editor, and the publicity director from Simon & Schuster. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss some of the many things that we can do, both locally and nationally, to get the word out about my book. As I continue to experience every aspect of being published by a large publishing house, I find myself a bit surprised at the kind and enthusiastic treatment I’ve received. I, like many writers, have often heard horror stories about big publishing houses ruining the lives, and works, of young debut authors.

But, I couldn’t be happier with my current situation. My editor seems to be able to read my mind, and I’ve been assigned an extremely enthusiastic team to head up the promotions for my book. But, what does any of that say about how successful my novel will ultimately be? On the one hand, having an enthusiastic, experienced team behind it helps tremendously. One of the reasons I decided to go back to New York over the Thanksgiving holiday was to meet with everyone face-to-face and make sure they know me and know how hard I’m willing to work to get the book out there. I knew immediately that this group of people genuinely care about the novel and will work hard to see it reach as much of an audience as possible.

On the other hand, the book business can be fickle. What’s popular today can be played-out tomorrow and I think this fact is even truer in the realm of young adult fiction. We did discuss the universal appeal of Where Things Come Back, citing several ways we could try and earn it the attention of adult readers as well as teenagers. Because it’s classified as Literary YA, it should be easier to promote as a novel that adults and kids alike will enjoy. As my original intention was not to write a YA novel, this is something that I find to be of great comfort. Our first mission, of course, is to generate some buzz over the novel at the first of the year from early reviewers and other authors.

Where Things Come Back
I also got to see, and take home, the actual book jacket for Where Things Come Back and, let me tell you, it is impressive.  As an added surprise, the uncoated stock it is printed on (a first for my publisher, Atheneum) actually mimics the texture of the wood grain background (see photo of cover). I also met the designer of the cover, whose enthusiasm for the novel was quite humbling. 

Everyone seems pretty excited about Where Things Come Back and traveling to New York for the second time this year has only further enhanced my impatience for the release date. May 3rd isn’t that far away, so I think I can manage to hold my breath a bit longer. 

Also-I’ve somehow managed to surpass the halfway mark on novel #2!

Happy Writing,


Corey Whaley hails from Shreveport, LA, where he teaches sixth grade english. He signed with Ken Wright, a literary agent at Writers House, last fall using WEbook's AgentInbox query service. His debut novel, Where Things Come Back, was purchased by Simon & Schuster early in 2010.

Read more about Corey's amazing story.


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  1. I'm so excited to read it! Congratulations for everything!

  2. Thanks, Stephanie!

  3. Great job, Corey. I'm glad for you.

  4. Thanks, Steven.

  5. Is your second novel YA as well? And how does that work once you’ve signed with a Publisher - is there some negotiations regarding future works as well? Or is each work a new journey?
    The reason I’m asking is because I’ve sort of created a catch-22 for myself. My first novel is completed and the second was ‘completed’ as a NaNo project (which means it needs major editing). Each book can stand alone, or book two can be viewed as a sequel to one.
    What’s the rule of thumb in a situation like this? Hold off on book two until one has been signed - in case the publisher would be interested in two? Or should I just go full steam ahead with both - and market them individually?

  6. This seems very interesting, and it's great to hear that everything is going well!
    While I'm a young author myself, I've never been a fan of writing young adult novels, though it always ends up that way. I've found that my best work seems to revolve around my age group and under, as frustrating as that may be at times. My main problem is that I'll write something that has young characters but explicit content (not in a sexual way, but just in the general themes, and often violence in horror pieces) that wouldn't, to me, fit a YA novel. I can't stand finding a novel advertised as YA at the library, reading it, and then finding that the content was really above that rating. Do you have any suggestions for how I should label it, or just anything in general that may help in some way?
    Also! Good luck, congrats, and I can't wait for the release date.

  7. Ah, and one other thing (I'm sorry). What's your view on what makes a piece of writing YA or adult? Or, no matter what it's rated, is it just known that, if it's suited for the other age group, that they'll read it?

  8. WordsAndMusic,
    As far as I know, there is no one "rule of thumb" regarding second novels from newly signed writers. With me, I was offered a one-book contract (typical of the current publishing market, as it, too, has been effected by the recession) and talk of a second novel has not had anything to do with the publication of the first. Steps I have taken, however, have been to discuss ideas and share samples with my agent, as I trust him to provide honest feedback. I've also discussed my second novel with my editor and, although nothing can be official at this point, she has, since buying my novel, expressed interest in garnering a career of books for me, not just one.
    So, your situation could go in many directions and I won't pretend to be an expert on something I haven't personally experienced yet. For now, I am waiting to see what the first book does, sales and critically wise, and then, I'm assuming, talks of the second book and its purchase will arise.
    Also-my second novel is a YA novel, but this, in no way, was due to any pressure placed upon me by my agent or publisher. I simply wanted to stay in the arena with which I have found a comfortable home, at least for the time being. Also-writing high YA (for 14/15 and up) of a literary feel seems to be what I find most enjoyable.
    You asked some very good questions.
    First, understand that the book business is extremely subjective at times. What counts as YA to one editor, may seem explicitly non-YA to another. For my understanding, YA novels are usually told from the perspective of a teenager or child, or focus (if third person) on a similar main character. A lot of times these novels will, in fact, include strong language and scenes of violence. I've read several YA novels with content that I would never allow some of my 14 year old students to read.
    But, like I said, it's subjective. I never considered WHERE THINGS COME BACK to be YA, until my agent acknowledged it as such. Then, well, it just sort of clicked. There are a few things in my own novel which, to me, speak more to older audiences that not.
    The thing to remember is that YA isn't a stigma. I think people have the tendency to focus on the "young" aspect of it, and not the "adult."
    My suggestion would be, when submitting your novel to agents or editors, to keep an open mind and not try to focus so much on labeling it as one thing or another. I think that is the safest, most practical way.
    I hope that helped.

  9. That did help, and I think I'm getting a clearer understanding of it. I'm sure I'll fully understand it in time, or at least when I decide to go into the publishing aspects of the writing scene. Thank you soo much. I've been asking this question quite a bit, but you're one of the first people to truly reply to it, and it means a lot to me.
    Thank you!

  10. I'm so glad I could help.

  11. Corey,
    Remember you mentioned possible ways to promote your book? Well, considering it’s YA and kids are highly electronic now days - how about an online book signing? On the right forum, people could log in and participate in a chat with you (and maybe your Agent and Publicist as well), and all participants could be registered by email for a signed hard copy of the book.

  12. That's a pretty good idea! We have talked some about online video talks, etc., as some authors are starting to do this at schools, libraries, etc. I will definitely keep that in mind and see what the publicity team has in store for me.

  13. How cool! I've joined so many online community writing sites in hopes to be in your shoes someday. Still working,though, and this is the kind of thing to see that makes it easier to keep trying.
    All the best!

  14. Harmoni,
    I'm so glad my story can inspire you. Keep on trying-let the ride be fun.

  15. Or, no matter what it's rated, is it just known that, if it's suited for the other age group, that they'll read it?


  16. Will surely read it, Corey.


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