#Writers: One Author’s Path to Publication for her #NewAdult Book

Molly Zenk is the next guest blogger in my New Adult guest blog series. When I heard the title for her YA/New Adult romantic comedy 90 Cats and No Litter Box in Sight I thought it sounded hilarious. The cover is adorably cute too. Molly is here to tell us about her path to publication — and how hard it was. Things may be starting to change, but not so long ago, no one had ever even heard of “New Adult” and trying to sell a story with characters aged 18-24 was pretty darn difficult. (Molly’s also giving away one e-book version of 90 Cats and No Litter Box in Sight. Comment below to enter to win.) Welcome, Molly!
90 Cats and No Litter Box in Sight

The Long Road to New Adult Publication by Molly Zenk

In 2009, after many revisions, I finally finished what I considered a marketable draft of a romantic comedy titled 90 Cats And No Litter Box In Sight. The characters were eighteen, so I queried it as Young Adult, but the catch was they were freshman in college instead of seniors in high school. After three offers of representation, I signed with my choice and entered the fray of submission to editors. We waited. . .and waited. . . .and waited. . .Feedback trickled in. “Love the voice, humor, and characters but there’s no place for this in Young Adult. Maybe try Adult.” Pitching it as Adult got the same response. “Love the voice, humor, and characters but there’s no place for this in Adult.” It became clear that editors didn’t consider the novel Young Adult but they didn’t consider it Adult either. So what was it? I didn’t realize it then, but it was part of a newly emerging genre – New Adult.

The term “New Adult Fiction” was coined by St Martin’s Press in 2009. They wanted to address the need for books readers 18-25 could relate to with issues such as college life, dating, moving away from home, being independent, and finding jobs post college. While a great idea, and definitely buzzworthy, it didn’t catch on as quickly as St Martin’s Press hoped. It took three years for New Adult to really come into its own.

My novel, 90 Cats, was on submission for a year and a half before I finally ended my working relationship with my agent. When you love and believe in something as much as a writer believes in their manuscripts, it’s hard to reconcile it may never see the light of day. After my agent on record clause expired, I submitted directly to smaller presses. Eleven days after my initial query, Etopia Press offered me a publishing contract. Three years of believing in the novel and the New Adult genre finally paid off. 90 Cats And No Litter Box In Sight was published June 2012.

More About 90 Cats

They’re perfect for each other…even if she doesn’t know it yet.

Glynis Kirby’s love life stinks. Her boyfriend dumped her for another guy. Her next-door-neighbor held her hostage on prom night. And now she’s been trapped in a Porta-Potty by a monkey with a switch blade. And she’s not even going to talk about her date with the poly sci major with the Pocket Ouija Board. Maybe she really is desperate enough to take everyone’s advice—including her mother’s (ugh!)—and date the dashing Daniel Bond.

Corin Lancashire runs the popular blog site mydreamgirl.com where he chronicles his less than stellar attempts to get noticed by his dream girl, Glynis Kirby. After taking the “all girls think stripteases are hot” advice from a reader, and discovering that “all girls but Glynis think stripteases are hot,” Corin disables the comments feature on his blog and takes matters into his own hands to build a friendship-crawling-toward-relationship with his dream girl. But competing with the charming, suave, and well-dressed Daniel is a hazard Corin didn’t anticipate, and neither is the information he digs up on Daniel that could threaten Glynis’s life…

Where to Buy

More About Molly

Molly Zenk writes Young Adult and New Adult historical fiction and romantic comedy.  90 Cats (Etopia Press, 2012) is her third novel.  Chasing Byron (Highland Press, 2008) and Unheard Melodies (Wings Press, 2008, reprint Highland Press, 2013) are also available. She lives with her husband, three young daughters, one dog, and one cat in Arvada, Colorado.  She can be found online at her website and on Facebook.

Writers/creators, what about you? Have any inspiring tales of sticking with a project and seeing it finally pay off? Readers, do you think the cover for 90 Cats is as cute as I do? Leave a comment to enter to win an e-book version of  90 Cats and No Litter Box in Sight. Congratulations on bringing this book to market, Molly! Thanks for guest blogging today. 🙂

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

9 thoughts on “#Writers: One Author’s Path to Publication for her #NewAdult Book

  1. First, I have to say that I think two cats is enough.

    Second, now that I’m thinking back, I wish the NA genre had emerged when I was in college. That was when I really started reading a large number of books. Of course I was reading in high school, too, but not the number I went through in college. It would have been interesting to have characters I could relate to more easily, I think.

    Third, I’ll let you know about the benefits of perseverance when I either succeed or throw in the towel. I’m glad to see it worked out well for you, Molly. Congratulations.

    1. Whereas I think two cats aren’t nearly enough. 😉 Seriously, we had three when I was growing up. I love cats.

      Interesting that your reading picked up in college. I remember hearing one theory about why NA was so hard to sell was that publishers didn’t think college students read as much as adults or high schoolers. I’ve been a lifelong reader, although I had a massive dry spell in law school and the immediate “aftermath” years. 😀 (And I think the potential audience for New Adult is much broader than the character age range. Look at how many adults enjoy reading YA. In the end, it’s all about the story. As a reader, does the story appeal to you and, if so, what label will help you find more books like it?)

      Stick with it! I started writing ten years ago and my first book was just published in September. It can be a long road, but as Molly said, if you believe in your work, worth it!

  2. Molly, I’d love to hear more about how you came up with your title. Are you able to tell us a little bit about the 90 cats? Are there really cats in the story or is the title an expression for something the character’s dealing with?

    1. The title is a reference to a dream, Glynis, the main female lead has. Even at 18, she’s had horrible luck with men (her HS boyfriend used her as a ‘beard’ for 4 years before dumping her a week before prom from a guy and her prom date held her hostage in the after-party hotel room). She doesn’t want to get back into the dating pool so has what she calls “the crazy cat-lady spinster dream.” “You can’t be a proper spinster without at least 20 cats. I’ll have 90.” The number of cats in her dream fluxes depending on who she is dating and how much she likes/trusts them. Eventually the number decreases to just 2. It’s a metaphor for her trust in relationships/guys. A lot of readers comment that they like that I use blog posts and Facebook in the narrative.

      1. I love it! Clever that you used the number of cats as a metaphor for trust. I just downloaded it to my Kindle. I’m interested to see how you worked in the blog posts and FB.

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