BY CAMERON BOLTON
Drake University Law graduate Laura Snider has recently come out with a new young adult novel Witches’ Quarters. The plot of the novel is that four children discover enchanted quarters that, once placed in a coin bank, take them to an alternative universe that resembles the setting on the back of the quarter. Once the children arrive, they realize that there are locals at war with a group of witches. This discovery leads to the children having to decide who to trust.
“Some people plot and plan everything out before and then they piece it in,” Snider said. “I really just kind of sit down and go. So, that’s really kind of my style. I think it ultimately ends up with extra editing doing that because you have to go back and make sure that everything’s cohesive, whereas when you set a plan and planned it out all from the beginning, you don’t really have to do that.”
As Snider wrote, she shared some of the things she had written to a few family members, who in turn were very supportive. However, Snider noted there were some downsides in receiving too much support.
“The problem with family is they’re so encouraging that they think that everything is great and they don’t necessarily give you the critiques that you need as a writer because the first draft of anything, no matter how great you feel like it is, it’s not as great as it needs to be—there are changes that need to be made,” Snider said. “So, I remember sending stuff to my twin sister and her reading it and saying, ‘This is great, this is perfect, I love it,’ and thinking that’s not very helpful.”
She also showed some of her writing to her husband, Chris Snider, an associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Drake. According to Laura Snider, he was an ideal person to read it because he is good at critiquing.
“I read it at different times in the process, but you know, she was making edits so fast and furious that I hadn’t read the final version really before it went to print, so I’m kind of reading it now and there are parts that I’ve read before and parts that I haven’t read before as I go through it now,” Chris Snider said.
According to Laura Snider, her first draft took her about three to six months to write, but factoring in all the editing, it was at least a couple of years before finally going to print. She also noted that if you want your book published, it is important to get an agent first before you even go to a traditional publishing house.
Getting an agent is something that you can do in a number of different ways. Most people send out query letters to agents and each agent then has their own specific requirements for what they want along with a query. Some agents require including a synopsis of your book, the first ten pages or the first fifty pages. According to Laura Snider, an agent may respond with more information or never will.
“I didn’t do a lot of that traditional query lettering stuff, because I think it’s better to meet people in person, because … you can connect better with them,” Snider said. “And you can have a personal connection with them.”
Laura Snider was able to meet her agent at the Kansas City Writer’s Conference, where people could sign up for pitches with different agents. Snider signed up for three different agents, all of whom asked for her manuscript, but there was something about two of them that she didn’t favor.
“One of them seemed to me kind of lazy, he didn’t really—I mean, one of the things he said to me was, ‘How much of the book do I have to read through before I get the gist of what’s happening?’” Snider said. “And my natural reaction would be, ‘Well, all of it, I would hope that you would read all of it.’”
Snider commented that she had been lucky because finding her agent and editor happened relatively quickly for her. For some authors, the process could have been far more extensive. According to Snider, it could take years or most of the people’s lives to get through that process. This is an attributing factor as to why a lot of people go through the self-publishing route.
“You can get rejections for all kinds of reasons, not just because your book isn’t good,” Snider said. “You can get rejections because an agent is too busy or just because they’re not really reading through things carefully. Or they’re only taking clients that are well known. Or they need someone who has a high social media following or something like that.”
Snider herself didn’t consider self-publishing. The print version of her novel was released on Oct. 9, but the electronic version didn’t come out until the following Friday, Oct. 12. It is now currently available on Amazon.
PHOTO OF LAURA SNIDER WITH HER BOOK, COURTESY OF LAURA SNIDER