My friend Taylor Simonds answered some questions about her experience with a boutique publisher, her upcoming book, and her author dreams. I can’t wait for you to meet her!
Taylor Simonds is a YA author, professional editor, and infrequent Disney World performer who loves cosplaying and coffee and is very concerned with the general well-being of the non-superhuman background extras in Marvel movies. Her YA novel, COLLATERAL DAMAGE, addresses these concerns and is out June 25, 2019.
In ten words (and unlimited emojis), tell us about COLLATERAL DAMAGE!
TS: The Avengers, but narrated by a sarcastic teenage background character.
So, COLLATERAL DAMAGE is going to be indie published. Can you tell us what the process was like to work with Parliament House?
TS: Oh god, wonderful. I don’t know what other small press experiences are like, but I so lucked out with Parliament House. It’s a boutique house that does its best to carry itself to traditional publishing standards, so there’s a marketing and publicity team, cover artists, formatters, multiple rounds of editing, everything. I literally can’t fathom a better debut novel experience. I’ve got a book trailer, a full-cast audiobook, we’re talking about a potential coloring book (??), the physical copies are going to have illustrated comic book page chapter dividers. It’s dumb how creative the Parliament House team is. And so supportive and collaborative–there’s been so many instances of me texting Shayne Leighton–the head of PH, who might be the coolest person I’ve ever known, go look her up–at two in the morning like ‘Hey, I had an idea, can we do this?’ and her being like, ‘Yeah, we can absolutely do this.’ I seriously could not imagine working with a more passionate, driven, caring, creative group of people. And their online branding is just absolute goals–you can check them out on Instagram and see what I mean. They’re just a bunch of book witches. I’m making them all hats for BookCon.
What’s next for you as a writer?
TS: Right now, I’m chaotically screaming my way through a first draft of AN INFINITE PULL, which is a The Little Mermaid x Treasure Planet x Castle in the Sky sort of space fantasy with lots of pastel galaxy imagery and space teens who are Trying Their Best.
Can you tell us about a time in your writing, revisions, or querying when you were starting to lose hope? Did you query this novel or go straight to presses?
TS: Okay, so I’d been querying agents for *checks notes* I don’t know, like eight months when I got the offer from Parliament? And I wasn’t losing hope, per say, so much as I was getting concerned that the feedback I was getting was something I wasn’t capable of changing–I kept getting request after request, and the rejections were less “I don’t like this work” and more “I want to like this but I don’t know how to market this/I don’t know where this fits into the industry.” And sure, everyone is impatient to see their work on shelves, but I was, like, EXCEPTIONALLY TERRIFIED, because I was working with a concept that had a definitive expiration date in terms of freshness. I mean, what if Marvel or DC came up with their own movie or show that was a comedy about the background characters in their own franchises struggling to not die? It had already been experimented with briefly with Powerless on NBC, but it could happen again. Would the fact that mine was focused on teenagers be enough to differentiate it, or would it be considered a ripoff? What if, after the long process of potentially getting an agent and going on sub and actually getting to publication, the current wave of superhero fandom had recessed too much, and even satire of the genre was considered oversaturated?
Parliament actually requested my manuscript through the June 2018 #PitMad, and within a week I had an offer. I honestly thought it was too good to be true, like I was taking a weird shortcut in the process. I spent probably a month doing research and negotiating the contract, making sure it was the best choice, but I’m so glad I went with them. Now, the book is coming out right in the middle of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is SO IDEAL, and I’ve honestly never had any regrets or what-if moments. Timing was just really important to me, and publishing through Parliament has let me maintain control over that.
Who or what do you turn to when you start to doubt yourself?
TS: Lately, Twitter, honestly. I didn’t even have a Twitter while I was writing Collateral Damage, and I’m pretty sure that’s why it took me six years. I’ve grown so much as an author just from interacting with other people working their way toward publication, and it’s so inspiring to watch other people succeed, and sometimes even more so to see that other people are struggling. Like, even people I idolize like V.E. Schwab will sometimes post about how they’ve been lying on the floor for an hour trying to figure out a scene, and it’s like STARS! THEY’RE JUST LIKE US! Doubting yourself is okay, because it’s just part of the process–and it’s a part of the process that everyone goes through.
What advice do you have for other writers, especially for those who might be considering indie publishing?
TS: If you receive an offer from an independent house, do your research!! Before signing with Parliament, I read four books they’d put out to check on the quality, talked to other Parliament authors about their experience, had a Skype meeting with the CEO, acquisitions editor, and senior editor, and had a lawyer help me negotiate the contract. There are lots of vanity presses out there that prey on new authors, so do everything you can to make sure you can trust the people you’re sharing your book with.
Do you have any fun author goals? Seeing fans cosplay your characters, make fanart, or having your book turned into a movie, for example?
TS: All of the above?? I’m in love with cosplaying and go to probably seven or eight cons a year, so if I ever saw someone I didn’t already know personally cosplaying my characters my soul would probably leave my body.
I’d also like someone who isn’t me to make a meme account on Twitter, @IncorrectCruelP-style. That’s when you know you’ve made it.
Lastly, do you have any links you’d like to share?
TS: You can read the first chapter of Collateral Damage on hypable.com!
You can add Collateral Damage on Goodreads!