From NLA Literary Assistant to Author: An Interview with Rebecca Taylor
Rebecca Taylor is the author of six novels, the winner of a Colorado Book Award, and a RITA Award finalist. Learn more about her at rebeccataylorbooks.com.
This month, Nelson Literary Agency honors one of our own. Rebecca Taylor, our former literary assistant, recently celebrated the release of her debut women’s fiction title, HER PERFECT LIFE (Sourcebooks Landmark, June 2, 2020). We couldn’t wait to talk to her about it and share her words of wisdom and encouragement with you.
Congratulations on the release of HER PERFECT LIFE! Tell us a bit about the book.
It’s about two adult sisters, Eileen and Clare, and their very different lives. Eileen is an overwhelmed mother of three who is navigating a troubled marriage and financial insecurity. Clare is a world-famous, hugely successful novelist, living with a husband who worships her. At the beginning of the book, Eileen learns that Clare has killed herself despite her outwardly perfect life. Eileen flies to Clare’s cliffside mansion north of San Francisco in hopes of learning why her sister would take her own life. The book is told from the perspectives of the two sisters, past and present.
As a writer, what surprised you the most about working for a literary agency?
First, the data management required for even a single author can be tremendous. For example, think of one author with five titles, each of which sells into twenty foreign-language markets. That’s 100 contracts and revenue streams that must be monitored and tracked, not to mention sales numbers, manuscript files in their various stages of drafts, edits, and final-final versions, marketing info and data for each author, each title, each market… Way more work goes on behind the scenes than most authors even begin to imagine. The management of all that information is exponential. Because of this, agents really do need to LOVE and believe in a title before deciding to invest all this very real sweat equity trying to get a book into the world… [read more]
How did working for a literary agency inform your writing?
Working for a literary agency made me more aware of the industry as a whole, not just what I felt passionate about writing in the moment. I had always heeded the advice about writing the story you wanted to tell, the story you’re passionate about. With my five YA books, that is exactly what I did—and I was never able to find a traditional publisher for those books. That awareness helped me to think more critically about a project before I began writing it… [read more]
After you published five YA books, HER PERFECT LIFE is your debut women’s fiction. Tell us more about what prompted the switch. Will you continue to write YA?
First off, my reading habits changed. I’ve always read widely, but as a reader, I found I was losing interest in the YA market. This, I am certain, was because my own children were moving into their teenage years. As a parent, I found it increasingly difficult to get into the teen headspace in a way that would genuinely resonate with a teen audience. As a mom navigating the parental world of setting expectations, defining boundaries, and taking away privileges, I found I was a living, breathing antagonist to that entire shelf space… [read more]
As a full-time school psychologist and busy mom, how do you carve out the time you need to write?
It is definitely getting easier now that the kids are older. Much less feeding, dressing, and entertaining is required for teens than two-year-olds. At this point, it’s mostly balancing writing with working… [read more]
Do you have a writing community or support system? If so, how has that helped you work toward and achieve your goals?
I have belonged to a few different professional writing organizations, both local and national, over the years. Through these, I have met many wonderful writers and taken countless classes that have both inspired me and helped me improve my writing. But by far, the most helpful support system has been… [read more]
What are you working on now?
A second book of women’s fiction that is due to my publisher very, very soon. I’m nearing the end of the first draft, but I have found it difficult to focus over these past few months. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of June, if not sooner.
What advice do you have for writers who are working toward landing an agent or their first traditional-publishing deal?
1.) The waiting and rejection, rejection, rejection can be hard. So hard. But realize this: Even when you connect with that agent and finally sell that book, the waiting and rejection do not end. They just look different and tend to be more public… [read more]