Each week on Thursdays, we’ll be featuring an author and their journey. I do this to help you get a realistic picture of what it will take for you to get your story from concept to publication and beyond, so you know what to expect and what the obstacles are that stand in your way so you can prepare for them.
Introducing A.J. Cattapan!
This week’s selection is Amy “A. J.” Cattapan. A.J. Cattapan is a bestselling author, speaker, and middle school English teacher
living in the Chicago area. Her debut young adult novel Angelhood won a Gold Medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction—Religion/Spirituality and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Book Awards.
She’s also been a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights, Pockets, and Hopscotch for Girls. Her second novel, a middle-grade mystery titled 7 Riddles to Nowhere was released in August 2016.
Her First Book
Her very first book was written as part of a class and has never been published. That took about a year to write. Her first published book was written in about a month, but it took several months of critiquing and refining before it was ready to submit to a publisher.
Her book writing process is fairly straightforward: brainstorm, plot, rough draft, let it sit, revise, find critique partners, revise some more, let it sit again, revise again . . . submit!
It wasn’t until after she’d had several critique partners read it and she’d revised it yet again that she decided it was ready for submission.
Three Years Later
It took almost three years from the point where she felt it was ready to begin submitting to publishers to the point where it actually was published. She chose the traditional publishing route because she knew she didn’t have the time to devote to all of the things that have to be done when self-publishing, such as researching and finding your own editor, proof-reader, graphic designer, and every other thing that goes into it.
Two of the years between finishing the book and publishing it were spent searching for a publisher. She wrote the book in late 2011 and it was ready to be submitted in spring of 2012. She found her publisher in early 2014 and it was published in April 2015.
Along the way she received too many rejections to count. She found her publisher through her network. She met a woman through the Mystery Writers of America who recommended them to her. A woman through the Mystery Writers of America recommended them. Another writer had sent an email to our group loop asking for a small or niche publisher who would publish a children’s book that had some faith elements but wasn’t too preachy. The other author mentioned Vinspire, so she checked their website and saw they were looking for YA books at the time. She sent her manuscript and had an offer just a couple months later!
While she’s not at liberty to discuss her publishing contract, she can safely say she has not brought in the kind of money that allowed her to quit her day job from writing the book. Her primary job is teaching middle school English. Her books have led to speaking engagements, which can be a good source of supplementary income.
As to how much of the job of marketing the book was her responsibility, here was her response:
“Honestly, all publishers expect authors to do their own marketing these days. That’s why they want to see that you have a platform. (How many people subscribe to your newsletter? How many social media followers do you have? Do you do any speaking engagements?)”
Her strategies for book marketing include every single one she can think of including social media, speaking engagements, launch parties, my monthly newsletter, giveaways, and book signings.
Her advice to those who are looking for a traditional publisher:
“Join a lot of writing groups, read a lot in your genre, and don’t give up!”
Connect with A. J. Cattapan
Instagram: A.J.Cattapan Twitter: @AJCattapan
Facebook: A.J. Cattapan Pinterest: A.J. Cattapan
Want to Be the Next Featured Writer?
Send an email to brandy at 40daywriter dot com with the title of your published book and Writer’s Showcase in the heading. I’ll be happy to speak to you about that possibility.