An Interview with Elana Johnson

Elana Johnson is the author of Possession, her debut novel from Simon & Schuster. She is also a founding author of the QueryTracker blog, blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers and co-organizes WriteOnCon. Elana has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to writing and publishing, which she shares at her personal blog. (If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.) Elana is generous and entertaining, and we are pleased to have her as our guest author today. 

PLC: First of all, congratulations on Possession! What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

EJ: I hope readers are glad they spent the time to read it. That the hours were worth it. If that’s the case, then I’ll be happy.

PLC: For those who don’t read your blog, will you share a bit about your journey getting this book published?

EJ: Oh, man, I don’t think we have enough time for that. And I don’t really blog about the behind-the-scenes of how I queried and stuff. Also, people aren’t reading my blog??? I’m shocked. 😉

Anyway, I wrote POSSESSION in April of 2008—which was before The Hunger Games was published and before I even knew what Publishers Marketplace was. I’d been a writer for about 3 months, and POSSESSION was my third novel.

I wrote it and put it away, and sort of worked on it off and on for the next 8 months. During that time, I was querying my first novel, which failed epically. In December, I was looking for the next book I would try to query, and I chose POSSESSION. So I revised hardcore for about 4-5 months and started querying.

8 months later, I’d done two agent-requested revisions, sent 189 queries, and been rejected a billion times. Then I got an offer of representation. I did a few more revisions and the book sold fairly quickly after that. That was February of 2010.

Now it’s June 2011, and my book baby is about to be born!

PLC: What has surprised you the most in the process of getting Possession published?

EJ: Actually seeing the book. I know that sounds lame, and I know it’s a book, but to actually see it? That was holy blow-my-mind weird. Surprising. Like, “Hey, it IS a real book!! Wow.”

PLC: You’ve written a book for aspiring authors entitled From the Query to the Call. Will you tell us a bit about this book and how our readers can get a copy?

EJ: This book stemmed from my time writing for the QueryTracker blog. I’d spent a great deal of time studying and perfecting the query writing process, and I’d been blogging about it on QT. And I like writing query letters, which is a bit on the psychotic end of the spectrum.

I’d queried my brains out, had many experiences, and decided to put it all together in a guide for aspiring authors to use and learn from. So I did. The eBook is free on my website:

PLC: We are continually amazed by all the things you’re involved in (writing, WriteOnCon, Query Tracker, League of Extraordinary Writers, family life, social media, etc.). What’s your secret for getting so much accomplished and doing it all so awesomely?

EJ: I find what I can give up, and I give it up. Usually it’s sleep. I try hard not to give up the time with my family, friends, and co-workers. Something has to give, so yeah. I’m tired most of the time. Or at least my clone is…

PLC: What’s once piece of advice you have for aspiring authors?

EJ: I’ve given so much advice, and I hate to repeat myself, so I’ll see if I can come up with something else…

Listen to your gut. If it says you’re not ready, you’re not ready. Get back into the MS and revise some more. If it says you’re ready, chug the Pepto Bismol and get submitting. I really think the gut knows.

PLC: As fellow fans of bacon, we’d love to know your favorite concoction. What in the bacon realm really brings you to your knees?

EJ: Okay, so you know I’m not hoarking back at every meal, right? I mean, I want to, but yeah. Doesn’t happen. For me, there’s no better pairing than bacon and hamburgers. A good thick slice of bacon on a hamburger… Yum.

Thank you, Elana!