Great Guy, Great Book, Great Advice: Part 2

When Ty Roth started to query his fourth manuscript, So Shelly, he wasn’t expecting instant success. He’d been writing for five years, and had queried three previous novels without securing an agent. The third had gotten close, generating requests for six fulls, but nothing had come of it. 

In August 2009, Ty joined AQConnect to utilize their agent database. Ten queries later, he had an agent. Only 2% of querying writers will actually land an agent, and only fifty percent of those writers will ever be published, but just a few weeks after getting repped, Ty beat the odds again. His agent contacted several publishers about the manuscript, and all but one wanted to look at it. There ended up being so much interest that his agent thought they would need to have an auction. Then Random House (Delacorte Press) made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and in September, Ty ended up with a two book deal and a healthy advance.

So Shelly will be available at bookstores in February, 2011. Although considered the ‘off season,’ (the holidays and summer being the peak times for blockbuster releases), late winter is actually a good time for an author to debut. There is only so much space devoted to reviews, and established authors are going to get the lion’s share. In February, the competition is lighter, and a book released at that time will get more attention.

Now that all of the editing has been completed, Ty is in the process of developing a webpage, has started a blog (, and is working on a Facebook Fan Page. He has no plans to quit his day job as a high school literature teacher, which he loves. Being around students all day keeps him informed about the likes and dislikes of his target audience. He knows what teens are talking and thinking about, and it helps guide his writing.

Some things about Ty’s publishing journey surprised me, such as the fact that he has never met his agent or his editor in person. Other than email exchanges, he has only actually spoken with each of them three times. Also, he was able to keep his manuscript’s original title, and has had some say on the cover.

When I asked if he plans to devote any of his advance to marketing, he said that he doesn’t know yet what the publisher will provide, but he is more than willing to invest. He believed in the agenting system and the editorial system, and it served him well. He believes in the marketing system, too. “If it’s good, it will sell.” He also has confidence in word of mouth, which is highly influential in the reading choices of Young Adults.

Ty thinks that he was really lucky, but is happy to share what he may have done right. About writing a query, he says, “A good hook is crucial.” After that, “it’s all about the story.” It’s fine to briefly mention yourself, but that’s not what agents care most about. He has great faith in the querying process, generally believing that if a book is well written and interesting, an agent is going to respond. 

What Ty really wants people to know is, if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. He just followed protocol, and everything worked out. 

Sometimes, you just get lucky, but this time, I’d say that the system worked.


1 Comment

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One response to “Great Guy, Great Book, Great Advice: Part 2

  1. Shalene Shimer

    Ty was my English Lit teacher my junior year of high school, good on him!

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