Looking Back on CWIM: The 1997 Edition
An Interview with Rob Thomas...
Ah, the one with the lime-green dinosaur cover. It really popped on the bookstore shelves! Weighing in at just over 360 pages and in it's second (and last) hardcover edition, this CWIM included a new and short-lived section of Multimedia markets with submission information from children's software and CD-ROM producers.
What I love most about this edition is that it turned me on to what is still my favorite YA book ever, Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas. (I like the original cover illustrated by Chris Raschka much better than the updated version I linked to.) Thomas followed up his first book with several others then turned to TV, writing for shows I loved like Dawson's Creek and Veronica Mars which he produced. Every few years I pick up his debut novel and re-visit Steve York, Dub, dadaism, and the astronaut. Here's an excerpt from Thomas' First Books interview by my former assistant editor and frequent muse Anne Bowling:
"Getting published for the first time opens a lot of doors. I think the first deal is the toughest," says Rob Thomas, author of the young adult novel Rats Saw God. "Once you've got a book out there, you're in better shape--it's just a lot easier to get publishers to read your work."
With Rats Saw God, Thomas had his work more than cut out for him. Not only was he pitching a first-time novel, but his included substance abuse and explicit sexuality--not the usual territory for the more routine Sweet Valley High-style young adult fare.
"My book is edgy in terms of drug use, and language, and sexual content, and I think it really kind of pushes what can be done in young adult fiction," Thomas says. "I was really considering trying to market the novel as adult fiction."
To young adult novelists, Thomas says focus on the product and write the best book you're able to write. "The best I felt about the process was when I was writing, and not thinking about getting published, or about the audience, or about what was selling or not selling, " he says. "People who talk to me about publishing seem to be putting the publishing cart before the writing horse. So many writer who talk to me about publishing haven't written. Or they've started writing, and they already want to know who to talk to to sell the book. I think your first effort needs to be write a really good book. And selling it will take care of itself."