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WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Welcome, you are listening to a 2022 WriteOnCon podcast. This is Rebecca King from the WriteOnCon team. I’m excited to talk today with author Clara Swinarski about juggling contracts and obligations. Claire, thanks so much for joining me.
Claire Swinarski: Thanks for having me. I am super excited to be here. I love WriteOnCon, so this is a lot of fun.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Well, we love you too! Claire is the prolific author of the middle-grade novels What Happens Next, The Kate in Between, and the soon-to-be-released What Happened to Rachel Riley She also publishes adult novels and is the creator and host of two podcasts – one being the wildly popular “Catholic Feminist” – all while momming three munchkins. Claire, it seems like you do know how to juggle; teach us. Can you begin by explaining what happens when a manuscript is sold and help us understand what involvement if any, you had as the writer during the contracting process?
Claire Swinarski: Sure. So when a manuscript is sold, the first thing that happens is that the editor will actually put together kind of like a sheet of offers like ‘this is what we’re thinking for an advance, this is what we’re thinking for movie rights, this is what we’re thinking for language translations,’ all of that and they’ll send it to your agent. And if you’re anything like me, you will look at it and say, ‘I am not a lawyer. I know none of this. I have no idea what this is saying.’ And that’s where it’s important to have a great agent because they’ll walk you through it step by step; ‘this is what this is, this is more common, blah blah blah,’ and at that point, you just kind of have a conversation with your agent. Like yes, that sounds good, or here’s where I have more questions, and then they kind of go back to the editor and do a lot of that negotiating process for you. So luckily, it’s not like when you’re buying a car, and you have to argue with the car guy. You kind of have the perfect middle person to handle it for you. And so at that point, your agent and the editor – or honestly probably a lawyer from both of those things – kind of go back and forth and really narrow down the specifics of the deal. And you don’t really have to do that much, to be honest. It’s a lot of waiting on the author’s part, which is obviously difficult in some situations, but yeah, that’s kind of the breakdown of how it goes.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Excellent. So when you were selecting your agent, did you predict any of this? Did you ask any special questions?
Claire Swinarski: When I was choosing my agent, really the main thing to me was I need someone who’s not going to make me feel stupid if I have a lot of questions because I will have a lot of questions because I’m not from publishing land. You know, some people are in these writing groups with all these author friends, and they live in New York, and they go to cool bookstore events – no offense anyone who lives in New York, that’s awesome, you go – um, but I live in small-town Wisconsin. I know zero authors in my real life, so I didn’t know anything about the process. So when I was speaking with, I got offers for representation from three different agents, and I was speaking to them. I was really trying to suss out like who is making me feel a little nervous to talk to? Like I would guard my words, and who do I feel like I can just be super straightforward and say things like ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, or ‘you need to explain that to me again. And that’s kind of why I went with the agent that I have is because I felt super comfortable and confident talking to him, and that still comes through when we have to talk about contracts. And he’s explaining to me the pros and cons of going back and asking for a two-book deal instead of a one-book deal or why things that don’t seem important actually are important. And yeah, I think it’s really important to go with someone you feel comfortable with. Because really, too, even if you are super in the publishing world, you’re still going to have questions, and you want to understand. I mean, this is your job and your career. You don’t just want to walk around trusting everybody with your eyes closed. You want to have a firm grip on what you’re being compensated for.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Yeah. And it sounds like, it sounds like that’s, that’s the moment when the agent really kind of earns their money, right? That’s the moment we understand, okay? That’s why you know we want them in our life is to guide us through this piece. So then, um, was there anything about the contract terms or the contracting process that surprised you when you got there?
Claire Swinarski: I think I would say just how important everything my agent seemed to think was because there was a lot of stuff I would be like, ‘well, that’s not that important, and he’s like, ‘yes, it is here’s why.’ And I’m like, ‘does that really matter’? So like, your contract may have things like theme park rights, and I’m like, ‘nobody is making Claire Snarky Land.’ I mean, believe you me sounds awesome, but then he was explaining to me, you know it’s extremely small that like Disney would want to buy your book in some way or this character in some way. But if they do, you need to be compensated for that, and so this actually does matter. Or something like movie deals. I was like, ‘that seems crazy.’ Like only really big name authors get movie deals, and he’s like, ‘most movies were books first. And they weren’t necessarily these huge books. You have no idea when a random movie producer is going to read your book and fall in love with it. It does not have to be a New York Times bestseller. And so I think for me, it was just realizing how important every single thing was. When especially if you’re a first-time author. You’re so excited to get the book deal you’re like, ‘I don’t care. Pay me ten bucks. I don’t need anything; just get that book in Barnes & Noble, and I’ll be happy.’ But really learning the different aspects of a contract and how important it all is.
And then I would also say, something that surprised me is how long it takes, which is kind of a tale as old as time. Everyone knows that publishing is a dinosaur. Everyone knows that it crawls around extremely slowly, but I didn’t realize it takes literally months in some cases. I mean, for my new book What Happened to Rachel Riley, they were doing contract negotiations for, I want to say, six months. It was a really long process, and that kind of surprised me because, in other industries, it’s simply not like that. I mean, my husband’s in software, and if they need to sign something, they do it like that day, so it’s, you need to be prepared for these things to take a really long time. As slow as you think publishing is, times it by seventeen, and maybe you’re getting close to how slow it actually is.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): And how interesting that it felt slower, and this isn’t your first book, so the further in you’re going, the more the focus was on that contract then.
Claire Swinarski: Yeah, it was wild. I think they’re, to be honest, I’m trying to even remember what it was that they were arguing over. I think it was about like, world rights versus North American rights, which again, to me is like ‘who cares? I just want the book to be signed’. My agent’s explaining to me, well, if they get world rights, then we can’t take it out and resell it. This is its only shot. And then that made a lot of sense. So these small things make a big difference. And then, of course, you just have so many people involved. It’s like my agent, my editor, me, the lawyer on this side, lawyer on that side. And so, if someone’s on vacation, it gets pushed two weeks. If someone just misses an email and then you have to follow up a week later. And so it’s also just a lot of moving parts and a lot of moving people. But yeah, I would say each contract has actually progressively gotten longer, which is kind of wild.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): That’s interesting. So then, obviously, a piece of the contract is the compensation piece. So can you talk to us, you know, I mean not specifically about your compensation, but how the compensation piece works? Because it is a little bit atypical. And how that affects the obligations that then spin-out from the contract?
Claire Swinarski: Yeah. The compensation for publishing is really atypical. A lot of people probably already know this, but I do find it always important to discuss because I think a lot of times when writers are getting a book published, it’s like their lifelong dream coming true, and that kind of blinds their business brain a little bit. Like they don’t really necessarily want to push back or think about their value or their worth because they just think, ‘Oh, I’m so lucky that someone’s publishing me.’ On the one hand, that is kind of how it works. You are so lucky someone’s publishing you because so many people want to be writers. But on the other hand, you put hours and hours and hours of your life into this book, and you deserve a paycheck for it, and you deserve at least a negotiation over it. So how payments work in publishing is that you typ – and this is typical. I’m sure there are scenarios where this doesn’t happen. But typically, you’ve got an advance, and that’s just an advance on royalties, like literally what it means. They’re paying you in advance “x” amount of dollars, and that “x” can be, I mean, wildly different people get paid a million dollars per book when they’re someone huge. And I’ve also heard of people getting paid like $500, so there’s a massive range. And that payment often gets broken up into small chunks, and different publishers do it differently. So I’ve been really lucky my payments have all just been in two, so I get half when I sign the contract and then half when we’re all done with edits, and it’s accepted for publication. But other people do it in fours, in threes, where you’re getting some when it gets published, and you’re getting some when it comes out in paperback. I’ve heard like all of these kinds of crazy systems that different houses can do it, but for me, it’s always been two. And then, if you’re lucky enough to earn out that advance, you start getting royalties. So again, that’s them paying you in advance, and then if you make all that up to them, then you start getting the royalties that your agent negotiated for you in your contract. Earning out is actually kind of rare. I think that surprises people, but a lot of books never earn-out, and the only thing you get paid is your advance. But luckily, even if your book doesn’t earn out, you never have to pay back your advance, which I didn’t know until my first book came out, and I was petrified because they saw the amount of money they wanted to pay me. And I’m like, ‘what if it doesn’t sell, and then I have to write them a check for this much money? My agent is like, ‘no, that is not how it works. They just would lose money on you, which is just part of the publishing game’. So it’s a very, very odd system. I really wish that it were different sometimes. I think about like, the way artists get paid. Like, they get commissioned to make a painting for “x” amount of dollars, and it’s very straightforward, and then they get paid, and they go make the painting, versus publishing just seems really overly complicated. But that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s been, and I don’t really see it changing anytime soon. So it’s good to know.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): So then talk to us about how you schedule your time because you do; I mean, you must be doing a lot of juggling. You have a lot that’s out there that you have going on. So how um, how much of your day is you know I’m writing my next book versus okay, I’m doing edits, or you know talking through contract negotiations or whatever it is? Like can you kind of break down how that affects your schedule?
Claire Swinarski: Sure, It is very seasonal for me. I typically have about three mornings a week of child care, and the whole rest of the time, I’m a stay-at-home mom. So I am not the person who’s like, ‘I just write while my kids are playing Legos at my feet.’ My kids are maniacs! There’s no way I can do that. I can really only work when I have child care. So for those three mornings a week, it can look really different depending on the season. I mean, there are seasons where I’m super focused on writing a book, and I’m just doing a little bit of promo here and there for some of my older books. And then there’s seasons like I’m in right now where I have a new book coming out in January, so it’s very promo heavy. It’s talking to my editor about cover copy and sending the book out for blurbs, and planning cover reveals, and all those kinds of things. And writing is like a little more on the back burner. I like to always be in the middle of a project, but I’m not a write every single day person by any means. So there’s times when I go like a week or two without writing because I’m just so in the thick of promo. But I really try to focus all of my work into those childcare hours. So it requires a lot, a lot, a lot of planning ahead and a lot of discipline as well.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): I bet. I bet. So is that the way it was before you sold your first book, or has it changed for you?
Claire Swinarski: Absolutely not. So before I sold my first book, I was a freelance writer doing very random things. If you would pay me to write it, I would write it. So I was editing resumes, I was doing product descriptions, I was doing blog posts. Like anything that someone would be like, ‘here’s a couple hundred bucks to write this, I would be like ‘sure.’ And I had my first baby during that time as well, and I had a podcast. So um, at that time, you know, when you only have one baby, it looks a lot different than when you have three kids. All the parents listening are like ‘hallelujah amen’ because when you have one baby, you can get a lot more done. They’re napping; they’re distracted for a little bit. Now that I have three kids, and they’re school age, and they have extracurriculars, I have just a lot less time. So it needs to be a lot more focused. Before I sold my first book, I was waking up at like, 4:30 in the morning and trying to write before the baby got up. That was when I did a lot of my like fiction writing. Yeah, I don’t do that anymore. Not that I don’t want to, it’s just that like the Lord only knows when these children are going to wake me up, so I’m not like losing precious sleep or trying to write. Especially because now that I do have a couple books under my belt, I just can hustle a little less? You know, when you’re first starting out, there’s just so much hustle and hunger, and you have to be querying, and you just have to be really giving it 200% in a way that now I would say I’m giving it like 110%. You know, still going all out but not quite waking up at 4:30 in the morning kind of thing.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Right, right. So um, in the past, I remember, I remember an old interview with you where he was talking about trying to read through middle-grade comps, and your goal was to read one a week. So is that still higher on the priority list? Like, do you feel like comps is something that, um, is still important, or do you feel like you’ve kind of moved past that point?
Claire Swinarski: Comps are still really important actually for a couple reasons; first of all, I just love middle-grade books. I mean, that’s why I write them. Like, I don’t, I don’t read them because I write them, I write them because I read them. Like I write them because I love them, so I really enjoy reading great middle grade. Also, I think if you’re not reading in your genre, you don’t know, I don’t know like first of all, you don’t know what’s popular in the market but then also you really don’t know like, what kids are talking about these days. You know, if you read a middle-grade book from 1998, it could be an amazing book for sure, but if that’s all you read, you might be missing out on a lot of important cultural touch points and conversations that are in the more modern published middle grades. So I like to read a really wide range of middle grade. I would say I cannot do one a week anymore just because of the above-mentioned children’s situation, but I probably read, I don’t know. I’d say I read like two a month for sure of middle grade. Again I just really love it. It’s very relaxing to me and enjoyable. Like some people go to the gym. I don’t do that, so I read a lot of books, and yeah. Middle grade just I, it just fills me with hope, and calms me down, and inspires me to read and write great stories. So yeah, I still think comps are super important. If you don’t have time to read, you probably don’t have time to be a writer, which sounds really harsh, but I’ve never met a great writer that wasn’t also a very, very prolific reader.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Yeah, Yeah. So, what percent of your time, or actually, let’s take a step back from that. How many books do you aim to write in a year? What’s your goal with that?
Claire Swinarski: I would say I probably aim to write two a year, which sounds like a lot, but I think I’m a pretty fast writer, and I don’t say that in like a judgmental way. Like I’m a better writer because I’m fast, that’s not what I mean at all. People just have different speeds and different temperaments. I’m also not the kind of writer who is super obsessive. Like, I have some writer friends who want their book to be just like 100% tip-top shape before anyone else sees it, and I’m a lot more like we’ll handle that in edits. Like, this character seems kind of weak, but I have a feeling an editor would actually be really helpful in pointing out ways that I could maybe make them stronger. So I’m not afraid to send things out knowing that they’re like 90% there. Like, I don’t need them to be 100% there, which I think makes me a little different. So that’s why I can write things out pretty quickly. And the other thing is that I do; I don’t think we’ve even mentioned this but actually do some ghostwriting, and that is something that they give you very detailed chapter breakdowns for. So it does not take a lot of time. Like, I can whip out a ghostwritten book in like a month, probably like maybe like two, because you’re not doing the really heavy lifting of character development and plot and all that. They already did it for you, so you just need to kind of whip it out and so that I can do pretty quickly as well. But yeah, I think for middle-grade books, I could probably do one to two a year.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Okay. So your ghostwriting, are you doing that direct with the publisher, or are you working through an agent for that?
Claire Swinarski: I actually connected with the editor over Twitter, which sounds very strange. I don’t like Twitter. I’m not the author who’s on Twitter all the time, but I just happened to see a tweet that was like, ‘does anyone know anyone available for middle-grade ghostwriting who knows a lot about the online world?’ and I was like, oh I have two podcasts, and I’m obsessed with Instagram; I know the online world. I have like an army of 13-year-old babysitters who always tell me what’s going on, so I always feel like I got the middle-grade drama down pat from them. So I actually sent that tweet to my agent in a Twitter dm, and I was like ‘ME!” I wrote in all caps and he’s like, ‘okay, I’ll reach out for you,’ and so I was working with her for a while, and then she left. So I’m working with the other editor there, but that’s, that’s how I got connected with them, and it’s really fun and enjoyable. It’s definitely not for everyone because you’re not really using that much creativity. Again, like you’re not getting to pick the plot, and I do love doing that, but if you just love writing and you want to, like, make enough money writing so that you can stop doing other things, ghostwriting is a lot of fun.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): And I think I think there’s a value there too in the stage in your life with you know your focus is on your kids, and so it allows you to still be very active with writing, but not necessarily have to dedicate so much time to you know the plot development and all of that. So that’s awesome, yeah.
Claire Swinarski: I mean, I have to pay for their daycare, so the more money I can get from writing, the better, you know? So I can ghostwrite and then get paid for it, and then be able to have child care for me to write my own stuff. It’s kind of an ideal situation.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Yeah, so then, um, we’ve talked a bit about editors, the editors coming back with requests, so can you tell us, um, how that kind of fits into the schedule and what sorts of obligations you’re up there – what that really means?
Claire Swinarski: Yeah, so after you get the contract, signed the contract, you kind of think like ‘great, we’re jumping in.’ No. It can take editors a really long time to get you that first round of edits. So you have a couple months there where you’re kind of like twiddling your thumbs. I keep emailing my agent like, ‘did I drop the ball somewhere? Did I miss an email? Am I supposed to be doing something?’ and he’s like, ‘no, this just takes forever like everything else.’ So finally, you get your edits from your editor, and it’s basically like a long, this is how my editor does it; it’s basically a long letter saying like here’s the things that are great about your book, here’s the holes I see that we need to work through, and then your manuscript with all the little nitty-gritty things in it. The first time you see an edit letter, I cry. I have cried every time. I have been like, ‘I am a terrible writer. Why did she buy this? Who paid me money for this flaming hunk of garbage?’ It’s just like weirdly emotional to me every single time to see written out all the problems with your book, but I usually give myself 24 hours to cry, go buy some Taco Bell or something and just calm myself down. And then I open it with fresh eyes and remember, like, this is why you have an editor. Even your favorite book in the world went through edit letters. No one writes a book and has to be perfect. So then you work through your edits, and that can take a really long time. That takes me maybe like a couple months, and then you send it back. Then you might have multiple rounds; you might not. I mean, if you got it all in the first round – that’s happened for me – and then I’ve had books where it’s been like four rounds. So it kind of just depends on how aligned you and your editor are in seeing certain things and how much like conversation needs to be had over ‘well, why would this character act like this?’. ‘Well, this is what I was thinking.’ ‘Well, I don’t really think this makes sense, so you’re kind of going back and forth, and then after that, it takes a couple more months. Well, copy editors look over it, and some people really don’t like copy editing because it seems kind of boring. It’s like a lot of grammar and blah blah blah, but I actually really like the attention to detail that they pour into it. I think it’s kind of cool like they give you this long list of names of everyone who appears in your book just for consistency, so it’s like this teacher, this neighbor, and it’s like wow, I made up all these people that’s kind of cool the level of detail that they go into emailing me like, ‘actually Target doesn’t have slushies, they’re Icees,’ and I’m just like ‘oh my gosh does that matter’ but it does you know? So that’s really cool. Or like in What Happened to Rachel Riley, one of the subplots is that the main character Anna is working on a science project about penguins. She’s learning all these penguin facts, and the copy editor literally had to go make sure all my penguin facts were correct. At one point, she lists the 19 species of penguins, and the copy editor had to go look up all these penguin species. Like, I just think what an interesting job they have, to be so nitty-gritty in the details. So I quite enjoy copywriting. Then after that, you’re kind of off to the races. Again, it takes forever. It’s like, quite a few months before you’ve got your advanced reader copies and really dive deep into marketing. But yeah, it’s a lot of like hurry up and wait, you know? Hurry up. I have three weeks to finish these edits, and now wait, I have like three months where I do absolutely nothing. Oh, and then I got an email, and I gotta hurry up, and I have two weeks to get this in, and then wait, I have like five months from doing nothing, so it’s very hot and cold and temperamental.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Yeah, so do you feel motivated to, um, to work with an editor that you think is gonna have a good process for you, or are you just kind of open to any of it? Has that changed your experience at all?
Claire Swinarski: You know, what’s funny is that I have only had a couple of editors, and they all have very similar processes, so I don’t know. If someone had a very different process, maybe it would bother me because now I’m so used to this one, but I feel like when, for What Happens Next that – my most like, traditional book situation, that was my first fiction book that I sold to Alyssa Miele of HarperCollins. I adore her; she is the best. And with What Happens Next, I’ve gone to auction, so I had a few different editors kind of telling me their plans for the book, and Alyssa just seemed the most excited about it. To be honest, that’s why I went with her. I mean, I don’t want to lie to you; the compensation matters too, but when I was speaking to Alyssa about the process and the things she loved about the book, that to me seemed like the most important thing. You have to love the same things about the book because there’s some things about the book where it’s like, ‘well, if you change that, it would be that big deal if you want to get rid of that character like ‘okay, kill your darlings,’ I get it, but there’s some characters where like no you could not get rid of that character. They mean so much; they are like central to the book. You have to agree on that kind of really heavy-hitting stuff with the editor, I think. And you can have those conversations before you sign the contract before you accept an offer. I mean, I certainly did, hearing about what edits they want. One editor who put forth an offer for What Happens Next wanted to change the ending in a way I really didn’t like at all. She told me that straight up, which is good, because if we would have gotten into edits and she’s like ‘you have to change this ending,’ we would have, you know, had some hard conversations about it. So I think the fact that she was so clear about what she loved about the book, that was kind of what sold me on Alyssa. I think great editors love books, and they get offered a lot of books, so if they want to buy your book, they love it. And just remember that when you’re reading that edit letter. Like, wait, they actually do love this book.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Right, that’s a good way to put that. So now you’ve also been able to extend your contracts internationally, right? You’ve sold to, um, outside the United States. Has that, it has not created any additional work or obligations on your part?
Claire Swinarski: No, not at all. Yeah, not yet. What Happens Next sold in Turkey, and I didn’t even know it was going to a children’s book fair. That’s another kind of weird thing about the publishing industry is sometimes you have to ask for this information. Like people don’t realize, like, oh maybe the author of this book would want to know if we were going to just sell our books to other countries. I think that it’s just so commonplace to them that they forget. For a lot of authors like ‘this isn’t what my normal life looks like, you know um, but yeah, no, I just signed the contract, and that was it. It was copied over exactly, so I’m not sure if that’s different for different countries besides Turkey or different publishers or different genres or anything like that. But for me, the work was absolutely no work at all. It was me signing a piece of paper and getting a check, so it was great.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): That’s perfect; do that over and over again. Right. So invariably, things are gonna happen, right? Deadlines are gonna be missed, that sort of thing. Have you had this situation come up where you’ve had to go back and renegotiate a timeline or anything along those lines? Can you kind of speak to us, if you did, about how you think it’s best to approach that?
Claire Swinarski: Right. I don’t think people realize that a lot of these timelines are built with wiggle room included because they know they’re working with human beings. This isn’t their first rodeo. They know that human beings are human beings, and things are going to get missed, balls are going to get dropped, and kids are going to get sick. I mean, I think that that happens for everybody. I would say the best way to avoid that is actually avoid it on the front end. So if your editor asks, you know, ‘can you get these edits back to me in two weeks? My answer is absolutely not; I can’t. I cannot get the book out; it’s back in two weeks. I have three children and a thousand other things to do, and like again, I love Alyssa, but she takes months to do her stuff. So I’m like, ‘I’m not doing this in two weeks. I think just having that open, clear communication at the beginning is gonna solve a lot of problems. Even if you think, ‘I probably can get this done in two weeks, you should really be building in that extra cushion. So I always try to make a deadline later than I need it because life is life, and I am an adult, and I know that things are going to come up. You don’t have to be a parent or have other jobs to have things come up. Every single person is going to have stuff happen, so I think first and foremost, just build it in at the beginning. Make sure you’re just being realistic and giving yourself enough time. It’s a negotiation, it’s a conversation, it’s not like a homework assignment where your teacher is telling you, ‘no, this is when it’s due.’ There are going to be some hard deadlines. Like surely, you couldn’t extend it like eight months because that would mess up the publishing timeline, but a few weeks is not going to hold up the already very slow process. Then second of all, I would say if something is going to come up and you’re going to miss something, just let someone know as early as possible. Like if it’s if you’re looking down the road and you have something huge due in five days that you have not started, and your kid has strep. Or your kid has COVID, or their school is closed or whatever, let them know now. Don’t think, ‘oh well, I’ll just try really hard to get it done, and then be emailing them at 8pm the night before. Nobody likes that. Everyone likes the courtesy of being told as early as possible. So I think again just that communication. And then I would also say if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation where you’re feeling nervous to tell your editor after an extension, that is what your agent is for. You pay them like actually kind of a lot of money. Like, I’m not saying they make a lot of money, but like they take 15%. Like that’s what they’re there for is to have those hard conversations, so if it’s something where you feel uncomfortable, just ask your agent to do it, and they’ll do it. I make Alex do my dirty work all the time. Not like make him do my dirty work, but I just remember like that’s what he’s there for. Just to keep that in mind because I think a lot of times again as I’ve just seen a lot of writers kind of over-personalize everything. Like, ‘oh, now this person is going to get so mad at me.’ Like bro, you know your editor has kids, or your editor has dropped balls. Surely plenty of times, Alyssa has had to get things back to me later than was originally said, and I get it; she’s working on a thousand books. She’s, you know, probably overworked, and that’s just kind of what happens. So I think communication is just so key. And try to just try to fight it off at the beginning by giving yourself extra time on the front end because, again, all of these things are negotiable. Even your pub date’s negotiable. Like when you get your contract, and they’re like, ‘we want to publish it in the winter,’ that’s a conversation. I’m not saying you can always push it back or move it up, but you can certainly always ask if you want that. So yeah, talk early, talk often, don’t beat yourself up, but by a professional. If I could sum it up with a bow.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Perfect, that’s perfect. Okay, so, unfortunately, that is all the time that we have available today but tell us, tell us what where we can check you out? Where we can find you, where we can follow you?
Claire Swinarski: Yeah, my favorite place is actually Instagram, so if you’re on the bookgram, I actually get a ton of book recommendations from Instagram. I love talking about books over there. I do a #whatclaireread that I’ve had going for years, and I just love to talk books over there. So I’m just @claireswinarski and claireswinarski.com for everything else. All the links and the newsletter and all that good stuff is all just on claireswinarski.com.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): Perfect, and you have a fantastic podcast about making a middle-grade book, so I think that was really cool. I checked that out.
Claire Swinarski: Yeah, Making a Middle Grade was so fun to make. I made that about the publication of my first book just because I love podcasts, and I love making them, and it’s like my favorite medium. I did not know when I started that, but it was mostly going to be about publishing in the time of ‘Rona, but yeah, you don’t know what you don’t know. So yeah, I hope people enjoy it. I made it for people like me out here in small-town Wisconsin who have no idea how publishing works but want to write a book one day.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): I thought it was really well done, bravo.
Christine Swinarski: Thank you.
WriteOnCon (Rebecca): And to all of you listening at WriteOnCon 2022 thank you so much for joining us. If you’d like to take part in the discussion, we’d love for you to do so in the comments of this podcast page. Enjoy the rest of the conference and happy writing.
Claire Swinarski is the author of multiple books for both kids and adults. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Seventeen, Milwaukee Magazine, and many other publications. She lives in small town Wisconsin with her husband and three kids, where she writes books, wears babies, and wrangles bread dough. You can follow her on Instagram @claireswinarski.