Wisdom from the Publishing World with Liza Wiemer
Welcome to the May installment of the 2021 Author Series, where a published author takes the stage and tells us what they wish they had known before they published their first book along with what advice they would give their pre-published self.
I know many of you already know Liza Wiemer! I am a big fan of her novels The Assignment and Hello?. (You can read my most recent interview with her along with a review of “The Assignment” here.) If you do not yet know Liza, here's a quick biography. (But I recommend that you also head over to her website and read the fun "how she met her husband" story.)
Liza Wiemer is an award-winning educator with over twenty years of teaching experience. Her second young adult novel, The Assignment, was published by Delacorte Press on August 25, 2020. To date, The Assignment will also be published in Russia, Poland, Italy, and South Korea. Hello?, her debut contemporary YA novel, was named a Goodreads Best Young Adult Novel of the Month. In addition, Liza has had two adult nonfiction books published and several short stories included in the New York Times bestselling Small Miracles series. She has had articles published in various newspapers and magazines. A graduate of UW-Madison, Liza has two married sons and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, Jim.
If I could go back and talk to my pre-published self, what advice would I give?
Get more sleep! Ha! Yes, I’ve sacrificed sleep for writing on many occasions, but I probably wouldn’t change that.
I would have told myself to stop obsessing over perfection. It’s unattainable for us mere human beings. There were times when I obsessed over my mistakes—simple things like typos. I wasted a lot of emotional energy on beating myself up with such impossible expectations. I still occasionally face moments were I have to confront it, reminding myself that I work hard and give my very best to everything that I do. Being aware is a key component to moving forward.
What do I wish I had known before publishing my first book?
I wrote two books that publishers struggled to put into a specific category. Was it MG? YA? One was about an eighth grade boy transitioning to high school and the other was about transitioning between high school and college. I wrote these books because those transitions are hard for many. Unfortunately, the books were rejected over and over again. Looking back, I’m not sure I would have written them or devoted so much of my time to them. I had to learn the lesson twice before making sure to have a clear age group designation as defined by the publishing industry. (P.S. I know that books DO get published that are set between the summer after high school and college for YA. My manuscript included that summer and freshman year of college. I was often asked, “Is this YA or NA? This time period is confusing. What do you want it to be?" I don’t want to discourage people from writing what they’re passionate about, but know that it may not as easy of a sell…)
It's been less than a year since The Assignment's release, and the book has a long list of accolades already, having been honored as a:
- YALSA/ALA 2021 Best Fiction for YA nominee
- 2020 Nerdy Book Club Best Young Adult Novel winner
- 2021 Milwaukee County Teen Honor Book Award
- Sydney Taylor Book Award 2021 Notable for Young Adults
- 2021 Wisconsin State Reading Association Recommended YA Novel
You can add it to your Goodreads TBR list or write a review: The Assignment
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Inspired by a real-life incident, this riveting novel explores discrimination and antisemitism and reveals their dangerous impact.
Would you defend the indefensible?
That's what seniors Logan March and Cade Crawford are asked to do when a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution--the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people.
Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand, and soon their actions draw the attention of the student body, the administration, and the community at large. But not everyone feels as Logan and Cade do--after all, isn't a school debate just a school debate? It's not long before the situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result.
Based on true events, The Assignment asks: What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail?
You can purchase The Assignment wherever books are sold.
Keep up with Liza’s writing adventures at these locations:
I also highly recommend that you check out her debut YA novel, HELLO?--a Goodreads YA Best Book of the Month! It’s available everywhere books are sold. (I loved this book, too. Read my review and earlier author interview.)
Submitted by Sandy Brehl (not verified) on May 14, 2021 - 4:47pm
Such a terrific interview, Valeria and Liza. This is a book that should be read by teens though BOOMERS (so there, publishing industry!).
It is clearly YA, and yet the significant and powerful content NEEDS wide attention, and a fictional story that is so brilliantly told should get readers doing what i do- recommending it widely!
Submitted by valeriebiel on May 14, 2021 - 11:58pm
Sandy - I agree completely with how important this book is!! - Val
Submitted by Joyce Uglow (not verified) on May 15, 2021 - 9:55am
Many times I read a novel and move on to the next novel. The Assignment is a book that tugs at me and has kept me thinking long after I finished the last page.
Submitted by valeriebiel on May 15, 2021 - 3:03pm
I agree, Joyce! Still think about this book often. :)
Submitted by Anuradha Rajurkar (not verified) on May 15, 2021 - 2:28pm
I was blown away by THE ASSIGNMENT, and I adored HELLO? as well. Both books handle incredibly important topics of our times and with such kindness, nuance, and wisdom. Loved this interview, Val and Liza!
Submitted by valeriebiel on May 15, 2021 - 3:07pm
Thanks, Anuradha! Love both of these books so much, too!
Submitted by Christine Keleny (not verified) on December 1, 2021 - 7:32pm
I have to put both of these on my to read list!
Submitted by valeriebiel on December 2, 2021 - 11:56am
They're both so good--but in very different ways! The Assignment has been getting some lovely accolades/awards since its publication. It's fun to see someone you know get that kind of praise for their great writing. Way to go, Liza!!
Add new comment