I have a secret. Kind of.
Because so many are asking (and really, I love you all for it!) here’s why I can’t tell you what my Secret YA project is, and why I can’t tell you when I’ll be able to tell you what my Secret YA project is:
Because it’s a secret. It’s right there in the title.
Kidding, of course.
Okay, so here’s the real deal. I’m writing the Secret YA project on speculation.
According to Merriam-Webster (and that guy usually knows what he’s talking about), speculation in this instance is defined as, “[an] assumption of unusual business risk in hopes of obtaining commensurate gain.”
What that means, in practical terms, is that I am writing this book without having sold it first. The business risk, in this case, is the chance that no publisher will want to buy the book, which will mean I’ve wasted months of my life and of my career that could have been spent writing books that did sell, thus helped me pay my bills. The “commensurate gain” is the possibility (I like to think of it as a probability) that the book will sell, once I’m ready to send it out.
How is that different from how I usually do business? Well, I’m no superstar, but after five years in publishing and seventeen novels sold (to publishers) I’ve been fortunate enough to sell fifteen of my seventeen sold novels sight unseen. Some on proposal. Some on…well…my track record of writing (and finishing!) books on time and in reasonable condition.[The two I sold based on full manuscripts were Stray (my very first) and My Soul To Take (my first YA), each of which sold as the first in a three-book deal.]
Could I have sold Secret YA on proposal, without having to write the whole thing first? Maybe. Probably.
Why didn’t I? Because, much like with Stray and My Soul To Take, this Secret YA is a departure for me. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever written. New world. New characters. Possibly a new (for me) genre–but I’ll let my agent have the final say on what genre this is. Because of all that newness, and because it isn’t enough like what I’ve done before to be judged by my previous work, my literary agent and I agree that the best way to present this new idea is in its finished form.
So why can’t I talk about it yet? Because it isn’t finished. And because my agent hasn’t seen this book yet. She knows what it’s about, but she hasn’t actually seen any of it, and I can’t tell you guys what I’m writing before my agent has even seen it. That’s just how this works. In fact, I can’t tell you guys what this book is about until it sells, if it sells. (This is the part where you all cross your fingers for me!)
No one has seen any of this book except for my critique partner and my husband (and he’s only read the first chapter). Only four people in the world know what this book is about. My agent, my CP, my husband, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes, because she looked interested at a moment when I was just dying to tell someone what I was working on.
I’ve been working on this book for more than two years. The ideas have evolved drastically since then. I’ve had setbacks and moments of true elation, when I realized how certain parts are meant to be written. That’s a great feeling. I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to take notes on my phone. I’ve scrapped nearly 50,000 words in a total of three previous versions of this book, and every single one of those word-dumps hurt like you would not believe. This book hasn’t yet made me a single dime. It hasn’t paid any portion of any of my bills. Yet, even fit between my existing deadlines, it’s taken up more time than anything I’ve ever written. I would love for all this work to pay off. I’m doing my best to make sure that happens, which is why I’m not sending it to my agent for submission until it’s as close to perfect as I can get it.
Here’s what little I can tell you: It’s a young adult book, but most of the characters are in their very late teens. It contains intense, detailed world-building, but is much easier to understand than the Unbound worldbuilding. It’s grittier than Soul Screamers and contains action more along the lines of my Shifters series. It contains paranormal elements, but in this particular case, I’d hesitate to label it only as “paranormal,” because that doesn’t capture the book at all.
Having said all of that, I promise to let you all know what this book is as soon as it sells and I have permission to announce that sale. Assuming that happens. But before that can happen, I have to finish the book and possibly go through a round of revisions with my agent. Then she has to sell it. So…it could be a while. I truly, honestly don’t know how long. I have no way of answering the “When?” question. It takes as long as it takes, which is the beauty of writing on speculation–there’s no deadline! Except that ticking clock in my head, constantly reminding me that if I don’t get this book finished and out into the world, someone else is going to write my idea, and it’ll be too late for this book!
That’s a terrible feeling, by the way. But it never goes away.
So…anyway…there you go.