Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J - Interview with Author and Query Expert Elana Johnson

Deirdra: What made you decide to become an author?

Elana: Writing brought me out of a dark place in my life. It started with a personal history the year I turned 30. I realized how therapeutic it was, and ended up pouring my emotions into the computer. 3 years later, it’s still my emotional outlet.

Deirdra: When did you start writing?

Elana: December, 2007.

Deirdra: What genre(s) do you write?

Elana: Young adult, because who experiences emotion more intensely than teenagers? Seriously. I like dystopian/science fiction and fantasy, but have been known to pen contemporary novels as well.

Deirdra: Is there anyone who has inspired or influenced you in your career?

Elana: I adore everything Scott Westerfeld writes.

Deirdra: What is the most exciting thing that has happened in your career?

Elana: Selling my book to one of the “big 5” publishers. That pretty much blew my mind. It still does, actually.

Deirdra: For you, is writing a full time job, part time job, or a hobby?

Elana: I have to think of it as a hobby. If I don’t, I’ll start to hate it. I work as an elementary school teacher, and that’s my “job.” I make money from writing too, but it’s something I do for fun.

Deirdra: Writing a novel is time consuming. What is the most effect method you have found for managing your time?

Elana: I wear a lot of hats at the same time. I write near my family so I can still be part of their lives. I work in snippets of time, and mostly after they’ve gone to bed to minimize the time spent away from them.

Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about being an author?

Elana: The sacrifices you make. Sometimes it’s sleep. Sometimes dinner. Sometimes social events. Sometimes the family. That’s the hardest.

Deirdra: What is the best thing about being an author?

Elana: The emotional release. And the fabulous online community.

Deirdra: What are your goals as an author for the next three years?

Elana: Write more books, sell more books, publish more books.

Deirdra: Is there anything that gives your writer’s block? How do you solve that problem?

Elana: Outlining. I hate it. I can’t think of my whole book before I write it! I mean, come on. I solve the problem by doing mindless activities. Cleaning, showering, playing video games. Once I’m in a relaxed, calm state, my mind can work on things.

Deirdra: Do you have a favorite writing snack food?

Elana: Chocolate chips or sour patch kids.

Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to write?

Elana: I have a little card table set up in my kitchen, which is near the living room. So I can work or be on the computer while my family is in the same room.

Deirdra: How do you come up with your character’s names?

Elana: Pretty much my character’s names just have to have a cool nickname. That’s the name I really want to use, and I work to a longer name from there.

Deirdra: What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?
“I couldn’t stop reading your book.”

Deirdra: If you have any books published what are they and where can readers find them?

Elana: POSSESSION is my debut, and it’s coming out on June 7, 2011.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your job with Query Tracker.

Elana: QueryTracker is an amazing site, and I used to blog for them. Basically, we wanted to be the go-to place for information on agents/publishing on the Internet. Many other blogs have sprung up and give a lot of the same info QT does. But it’s still the best. *wink*

Deirdra: How can Query Tracker help authors who are looking for agents or publishers?

Elana: QueryTracker has a database of both literary agents and publishers. It is the central location you need to find mailing information, email addresses, websites, blogs, twitter accounts, and sales of an agent. The user comments are also fabulous. As is the data that comes with a premium membership. You can find out if someone who queried at the same time as you has received a response.

Deirdra: What is the worst mistake authors make on a query letter?

Elana: Oh, there are many. I think the worst is to be so vague that no one can pinpoint what the main conflict of your story is.

Deirdra: What is the best time of year to query an agent?

Elana: My personal opinion is that any time of year is a good time to query an agent. I haven’t seen a particular time emerge as better than another.

Deirdra: What is a realistic time frame to sell a manuscript?

Elana: I don’t really know. Some sell in 2 days. Some in 2 years. It’s all about getting the MS in front of the right person at the right time.

Deirdra: What is a realistic price range a new author’s manuscript will sell for?

Elana: Again, this varies like the weather. Some debuts sell for over 500,000. Some at 25,000. It’s all about what the publisher is excited about.

Deirdra: How do you think the growing popularity of e-books will affect the literary market?

Elana: I think e-books will continue to perform well. People like them, they’re convenient, and most of the major publishers are offering their print books in digital form.

Deirdra: If authors want to know more about query do you have any workshops or online articles about this?

Elana: I have an entire page dedicated to writing a killer query letter on my blog. (http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/writing-query-letter.html)

I’m also presenting at ANWA on February 25, and at LDStorymakers on May 6, both classes are on writing a killer query letter. You can see all my appearances on my blog.http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/appearances.html

And my e-book, FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL, is now available for free on my website. (http://www.elanajohnson.com)


  1. Fabulous interview. I will definitely be checking out Elana's site.

    Thanks Deirdra for the powerful woman writer award. You made my entire month. :)

  2. Wow what a fgabulous number of interviews you have on your blog. I just wanted to say another HIGE thank you for my award. Bless you :O) x

  3. Excellent interview, these interviews get to know the people behind their books better,


  4. Great interview! Also, thanks for t he award. I do believe it's the prettiest award I've received!

  5. Best interview ever! Was so excited when I saw you had Elana Johnson on your site - I'm also a little jealous :)

    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

  6. Deirdra, first of all, I was mesmerized by your blog, your creativity and your ability to communicate feelings so well! Second of all, I feel honored that you selected by blog to receive the "Inspiration Award." From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for the recognition...:)JP

  7. Great and interesting interview, Deirdra, and congratulations to Elana on her debut. 2 months to go!

    I also wanted to thank you for the 'Creative Blog Award'. I appreciate the time and energy you put in supporting people.
    It's also a beautiful drawing, and so appropriate! :-)

  8. Very inspiring blog you have here. There are so many interesting interviews and insights to be found.

    Along with the above commentors, I too would like to thank you for the "Medieval Madness Award". You've really captured the spirit of the "A to Z" challenge; it's not just about posting, but to get to read new blogs and meet new writers.

    Thanks, and keep up the fine work!


  9. Great interview! Thanks for dropping by on my blog and giving me an award, I really appreciate it. I've become a follower and look forward to reading more of your posts.


  10. I love Elana's blog and her book! :D (And Elana, too, of course, LOL!)

    NICE interview!

    Deirdra, you've got a LOVELY blog--thanks for stopping by mine so I could find yours. Yay!

  11. Deidra, thanks for your visit to sixtyfivewhatnow, and for leaving me an award. I'm grateful for your interest and generous response. Good luck on your writing. I too write, mostly memoir pieces, at another blog.

    I wish much success!

  12. Lovely interview.

    P.S. Nice to meet you Deirdra (and thank you for the award on my blog today)

  13. I must check out Elana's site because I've only heard good things about her. Thank you.

    And many many thanks for my Powerful Woman blog award. Best thing that happened yesterday. Hugs!

  14. Great interview, I wish her the best with her book.

  15. Excellent interview. Can't wait to see who is next.


  16. Thank you for the award, it is really an honor. I'm so glad you are enjoying my blog and I hope you come back to see me again. I have actually been here before and read interviews, but I am not sure if I signed up to follow, but I did now. I was working on a children's book, but then stress set in with all kinds of issues, so I put it aside. I believe if I visit here, my inspiration will come back. Thank you, Inger

  17. A very good interview...thanks for the visit and award...I will be posting something related to it soon.
    Enjoy your week.

  18. I apologize for not getting around to thanking you sooner but you blogged me at a rough time! but THANK YOU for the lovely award!

    On a related note, I love Elana's answer about writing about young adults- so true!

  19. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. thank you so much for the award. Great blog and your interviews are awesome!


  20. Elana Rocks! I bought her e-book last year and it is useful and informative. I've also read POSSESSION and cannot wait to see readers reviews... awesome voice.

    Thank you Deirdra for the blog award! Loving this A-Z blogfest for finding new online friends.



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