Seriously, every author has answered these questions a thousand times.
1. Where do you get your ideas?
I get a lot of ideas from other art, especially when I dislike it and want to write my own version. People get ideas from lots of places. What you really need to be asking is—where do I get my ideas. And no one can answer that question but you.
2. Do you do your own illustrations/cover art?
The general answer here is no. If you publish traditionally, this isn’t something you either worry about or get much input on. If you publish yourself, then yes. But I advise finding a professional.
3. How do you get an agent?
You go to Literary Marketplace at your local library and look at the long listings of agents and write down their addresses and send them a query letter or whatever it is they ask for. Or you can go on-line to Writers Market and pay a monthly fee to get a list of agents interested in your genre there. But as a warning, it may take you a long time to find the right agent, and you will probably not find the right one with your first book.
4. How do you find a publisher?
Go to the local library and look at Writers Market. It takes a long time to look through all the listings. There’s no good shortcut in my opinion. Many publishers are closed to unsolicited submissions. You will either need to get an agent to get around this or go to conferences where editors give you a special code to get around it. Truth.
5. How long is a MG or YA novel?
Really, the length can vary widely, but I would see a MG is about 50-60,000 words and a YA is 60-80,000 words, but genre fiction can be about 20% longer. Also, if you use bestsellers as a guide (which I don’t recommend), then you will think your books should be a lot longer than a debut author can usually get away with.
6. Do you have to know someone to get published?
No. Most authors I know get found either by the slush pile or by meeting editors at conferences and wowing them with a first chapter.
7. What is the new trend in YA/MG/adult right now?
It doesn’t matter what the new trend is now, because it will already be over by the time you’ve written something good enough to be published. So write what YOU want to see published, and hopefully you will find someone who is in sync with you, and you will convince other people that you’re brilliant. And write another book, and another one, until you find the right match.
8. Should I send my son’s manuscript in for him?
No, please don’t do this. I strongly believe teenagers’ manuscripts shouldn’t be published and that parents shouldn’t push this. When your kid is ready to submit, they’ll figure it out on their own. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t write or try to be published.Only that they should do the driving themselves, and that they should be judged the same way anyone else is, and not as cute kids who are prodigies.
9. Why are terrible books like Twilight published?
If you want to get into a rumble with me, start saying misogynistic things about Stephenie Meyer or her fans. If you want to have a genuine conversation about problems with Twilight and you’ve actually read the book (preferably the whole series), I’ll happily sit down and talk about it. However, please remember that different people like different things in their books and that any author who has found so many readers is doing something right that you probably need to learn from.
10. Do you have to have romance in your books to get published?
No. But there’s nothing wrong with romance, either. I personally love romance, especially when done well. I love that publishing has realized that there is a significant teen girl market out there and that they love romance. I was a teenager who read a lot of adult romance because there wasn’t anything else. I would have adored teen romance.
11. Why aren’t there any good books for boys being published today?
Ha! There are lots of good books for boys being published today. Just because every book isn’t for boys doesn’t mean there’s a problem here.
12. How much do you get paid for a first book?
To be honest, I would say $5,000-$10,000 is a decent advance on a first book. I don’t recommend going with a publisher who pays no advance at all. I think at least a token is nice. But on the other hand, I also think that it’s not very polite to ask about how much money someone makes in public. Maybe the simpler answer is to say—don’t quit your day job when you sell your first book.