Guest Author: Chloe Neill (Pt 1 of 2)

Today, Literary Escapism is excited to welcome back Chloe Neill, author of the fabulous Chicagoland Vampires series – Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites and the soon to be released Twice Bitten.  However, today, we’re celebrating her foray into the young adult genre with Firespell.

When Lily’s guardians decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia’s. Lily’s ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke, and on top of that, she’s hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building.

The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout’s a little weird—she keeps disappearing late at night and won’t tell Lily where she’s been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster.

Scout’s a member of a splinter group of rebel teens with unique magical talents, who’ve sworn to protect the city against demons, vampires, and Reapers, magic users who’ve been corrupted by their power. And when Lily finds herself in the line of firespell, Scout tells her the truth about her secret life, even though Lily has no powers of her own—at least none that she’s discovered yet…

Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of Firespell – to one lucky winner.


Hi, everyone! A couple of weeks ago, I invited readers of my blog to identify their questions about publishing or writing. Here are five of the Top Ten questions. I’ll answer the remaining five right here next week–same bat time, same bat channel.

5. Should you submit to an agent or publisher first?

There are two potential answers here–the practical (CAN you?) and the normative (SHOULD you?).

The practical answer to this question will depend upon the publisher.

First, figure out the type of manuscript you’ve written. Science fiction? Romance? Urban fantasy? Contemporary women’s fiction? If you can’t tell, browse your book shelves. Most books will identify at least a suggested category on the spine or the back cover near the UPC symbol.

Second, when you’ve identified your category, identify the publishers who publish in that category. The best way to tell? Scan the shelves at your bookstore. You’ll see one set of publishers in the sci fi area, and a different set of publishers (or imprints of publishers) in the romance area. Make a note of which publishers are publishing your kind of book.

Third, when you’ve narrowed down publishers who publish your category of books, go to their web sites and check their submission guidelines. (Most, if not all, publishers have them online.) In addition to the basic details of submission–what, when and how, the publisher will state whether they only accept agent submissions or whether they also accept agented manuscripts. If they accept unagented manuscripts, you can submit directly to them. If not, you’ll need to submit through an agent. (And agents typically have submission guidelines and preferred categories just like publishers.)

Now, that only answers the question of CAN you submit directly to publishers. It doesn’t get to the other issue–SHOULD you submit without an agent. In the interest of full disclosure, I submitted Some Girls Bite without an agent. (I subsequently got an agent after I had the contract). So it’s definitely possible to get published even if you don’t have one.

That said, my agent has been invaluable, explaining complicated contract terms, negotiating the cash monies (something I’m not comfortable with), and providing support for international sales. (And, she’s a lovely person to work with!)

Unless you have a lot of industry experience and information on these kinds of issues (and you’re willing to do your own negotiating), an agent can serve as an expert guide to the world of publishing.

Ultimately, you need to do your research on both agents and publishers to determine (1) what they take and (2) if they’re legitimate. If something smells off (i.e., either wants you to pay them before anything happens), it might actually be off.

Good luck!

4. Word count, word count, word count

In my experience, it’s perfectly acceptable to use the word count tool in Microsoft Word to determine the length of your manuscript. In fact, it’s what my (fabulous) editor uses to determine the length of mine.

The preferred word count depends on the genre. My Chicagoland Vampires novels, for example, (urban fantasy) are all between 95,000 and 100,000 words. The Dark Elite novels (young adult fiction) are about 70,000 words. There are lists of estimated word counts on the web, and a publisher’s submission guidelines will often include them.

When I’m on a deadline, I have a goal of 1,000 words a day during the week, and 3,000 words per day on the weekends. This is probably a much lower average than a lot of writers, but I have a day job, so it’s the amount I’m able to write and still stay sane (and get all the other normal life stuff done).

3. Do I submit an outline? A manuscript? The outline for a second novel?

A publisher’s or agent’s submission guidelines will tell you exactly what they want you to submit. FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS TO THE LETTER. You don’t want to risk rejection because you sent them stuff they didn’t want (or failed to send them things they did want.)

A typical submission is the first three chapters (called a “partial”), a cover letter, and an outline, but it really depends on the publisher (or agent).

But note — even if you only have to submit the first three chapters, do finish the manuscript before you submit. :) In the event a publisher or agent requests a “full” (the rest of your manuscript), you want to have something to hand over.

2. What is Merit’s name.

Not telling. But you will find out. And interestingly, she isn’t the one who tells us. :)

1. How hard is it to get published? How can I get published? Is it possible to get published?

This was by far the most popular of the questions so far. The short story is — it’s hard work, but it’s possible.

The long story is, it’s a looooooooooooot of hard work, but it’s possible. (For more details on the publication process, see my answer to No. 5 above.)

I figure publishing is (1) a smallish chunk of luck (example: did you write something fantastic about the Land of Whim when editors are snatching up books about the Land of Whim like crazy?) and (2) a hugeish chunk of did-you-put-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-get-the-thing-written-and-edited.

The act of writing a novel can take weeks or months or years. Generally, my advice is not to think about “publishing” until you’ve written your story. Not just written a manuscript–but really told your story.

There are, however, a couple of general exceptions to that rule:

First, do pay attention to general guidelines regarding word count. If you’re writing a Land of Whim novel, and those novels are typically 100,000 words, try tell your story into approximately 100,000 words. That’s not to say there aren’t fabulous stories that are a little longer or a little shorter, but generally you want to hit the word count for your genre.

Second, if you’re writing about something that’s HOT RIGHT NOW, think about the fact that the submission-to-publication process can take years. Some Girls Bite took about 22 months from submission of a partial to release date.

Other than that, get the butt in the chair and get the words on paper. Next week, we’ll talk about editing . . .

I hope this has been helpful. Thanks for dropping by today!


Wait a minute…we haven’t seen what Merit’s first name is yet? I thought I saw that somewhere, guess not though.

Thank you Chloe for sharing your words of wisdom on the publishing industry.  I know of a certain husband who is going to be interested in your answers.

Contest Time! Chloe has graciously offered to give away a copy of Firespell – to one lucky winner.  Recently, Chloe asked her readers what they wanted to know either about writing, research, publication, the Chicagoland Vampires and/or the Dark Elite series.  In order to get your name in the drawing, all you have to do is answer this question: What question didn’t get asked?  Was there something you wanted to know and no one brought it up? Now is the time to do that.  Chloe will be back again next week with another top 5 questions her readers have asked.

As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat:

  • +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
  • +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
  • +1 Join the Literary Escapism Facebook page and/or follow LE on Twitter
  • +1 subscribe to Literary Escapism – either via a reader or email (see the RSS button at the bottom of the sidebar)
  • +10 Purchase any of the Chicagoland Vampire novels – Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites or preorder Twice Bitten – or any print novel through LE’s Amazon store sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: myjaxon AT gmail DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries, but it has to be through the LE Amazon Link.

The winner agrees to post a review of the novel someplace.  Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter.  Just help get the word out.

The contest will stay open until March 25th, at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer and the List Randomizer.

I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. Hi chloe!

    My question is do you ever have writer’s block? and if so how do you over come this obstacle.

    Haven’t read your YA series yet but looking forward to reading it. :)

    +1 fan of the Literary Escapism Facebook page
    +1 subscriber to Literary Escapism newsletter

  2. Hi, Chloe! My question is, will Merit end up with Ethan? And also, how can you know you’re doing a good job editing your own work?

    *please don’t enter me in the giveaway, I already have Firespell* :)

  3. I totally forgot my question :0(

    I wanted to ask what is required of you for PR after the book is published. Do you have to make a certain amount of appearances or book signings? What about interviews? And who arranges this for you? If you have to travel to a book signing do you pay travel expenses?

  4. Just stopping by to show some love, no need to enter me as I’ve already read Firespell and LOVED it! :D I also am loving the Chicagoland Vampires books and can’t wait for Twice Bitten.

    When does the 2nd YA book come out?

  5. Chloe, I am impressed with your article and book and wish you all the best in the future. What a big step you took and I am proud of you. I am telling my reader’s group about you and your books and I am sure you will have a few new fans..we all like vampires and this sure sounds good. susan L.

  6. I’d like to know what goes into writing each book. What amount of research do you do before even thinking about writing? Do you plot? If so how (post-its, pen and paper, excel spreadsheet)?

    +1 I’m a subscriber (Lisa M. Basso)

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