Thriller 101

How to Find the Right Agent & Develop a Writing Process with Author Jessica Payne (Season 2 Ep. 5)

June 21, 2022 David Season 2 Episode 4
Thriller 101
How to Find the Right Agent & Develop a Writing Process with Author Jessica Payne (Season 2 Ep. 5)
Show Notes Transcript

17 Things to Think About When Talking to an Agent/Publisher
Jessica's Website
Connect with Jessica on Twitter
Connect with David on Twitter


  1. How to write a great plot
  2. The importance of community
  3. What she looked for in an agent and what the relationship with your agent should be like
  4. Tips for when you finally get that publishing contract

Last time on the interview series I talked to author and literary agent Paula Munier. She shared amazing information about her writing process, what agents are looking for, and how to burst out of the slush pile!

Today, we're talking about how to find the right agent for you, why it's important to keep writing, and how to build suspense into your work.

Jessica grew up in Kansas City, later moving to the Pacific Northwest where the mountains and Puget Sound became home. Beyond writing, she loves to run, rock climb, and explore the great outdoors with her daughter and husband. She is also an RN. When holding still, which isn’t often, you’ll find a book in her hand and a cat or dog in her lap. Jessica writes suspense and thriller and is the host of #MomsWritersClub on Twitter and YouTube.

Tweet me @DavidRGwyn

WLIS 205 Jessica Payne

David Gwyn: [00:00:00] was there anything in your writing journey that made you write better scenes or write more tension or suspense? Was there anything along the way that , feels like it maybe shifted from a book that wasn't quite there to one that obviously was..

Jessica Payne: That is a fantastic question. And I know the answer to it. I'm so proud of myself actually. Yeah. I know exactly what it is

imagine you're querying and you get a full request than an agent asked to get on the phone with you. What should you do? What question should you ask? What should you think about. What should you even look for in an agent? And how will you know, when you see it? I'm David , a writer with a messy first draft, wondering how to make it shine. So it's ready for submission. 

During season two of the podcast, I'm asking agents, editors and authors, how they suggest writers go from the end on a first draft to signing a publishing deal. 

Today, we're talking to Jessica Payne. Jessica is a debut author with not one, but two books coming out this year. She's taking the thriller world by storm and her new book make me disappear is [00:01:00] out now. And it is an absolute must read. 

 In this episode, Jessica walks us through how she landed her agent. 

So when you get on that phone call with an agent, will you know what to ask. How will you approach that conversation? Do you have to say yes to the first agent who offers you representation? 

If you're looking for more information, I linked to free download below inspired by this conversation with Jessica Payne about things to consider when getting on a phone call with an agent or a publisher. 

David Gwyn: Jessica, welcome to the Writerly lifestyle interview series. I wanted to start by saying, congratulations on the launch of your day, your novel make me disappear. It's only one of the few weeks in, at this point.

How do you feel 

Jessica Payne: thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here and I feel great. I I wasn't really sure how I would feel after publication and I'll be honest. It kind of. The same as before publication, except more people are reading the book, but it's been great. I've, I've gotten some really wonderful comments from people and people who have messaged me.

I had someone tell them [00:02:00] that the book like deeply affected them and it was just, it's been really lovely. Just having people read my book and seem to enjoy it. That's been fantastic. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, that's awesome. I love the title. Is that the one you queried with?

Did it change at all? Was there any conversations around titles? 

Jessica Payne: Yeah. So that's always been the title, which is not as common and will probably not be the case with my second book. But yeah, make me disappear has always been the title. That's what I queried it with. And then my publisher from the beginning said that they really liked it and that they thought there was a good chance they would use it.

But they're really good at looking at all angles and looking at the market and making sure. The best fit to hopefully sell the book and make it successful. So I think that they did look at some other titles, but eventually, we all just really liked make me disappear and felt like it fit best.

And yeah, I'm very, very happy with it. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. It was one of those that when , I read the title on it. I wonder if that was hers or if a panel of people picked up on that, because we were, I'm like terrible at I'm [00:03:00] absolutely terrible at titles.

Jessica Payne: You want to know the best advice I've gotten on picking titles. And this is from my friend, Sarah it's from my friend, Sarah Reed. And her book comes out next year, but she said that she makes a list of 50 bad titles. She purposely makes them bad. And she said, by the time you get to 50. You kind of ran out of bad titles and you start thinking of like different words to use and different combinations.

And it actually works really well. I've I've done that for a book since then.

David Gwyn: That's so interesting. That is such a good tactic that I will be trying immediately because I need, I need , all the help I can get in that category for sure. So tell us a little bit about make me disappear

Jessica Payne: yeah, I'd love to. So make me disappear is a psychological thriller with a little bit of domestic suspense thrown in it is about a woman who will do anything to escape her sociopath, narcissistic boyfriend, including arranging for her own kidnapping. However, nothing goes as planned and she soon realizes that [00:04:00] she is still within his grasp.

She comes to the realization that there's really no way to get away from him. So if she wants her freedom, she is going to have to beat him at his own game. And you'll have to read the book to know more. I will add it's in dual point of view, which was a lot of fun. So you get Noelle, she's a Seattle-based nurse and she's dating like the Seattle.

Most charming doctor and his name is Daniel. And so the, the second point of view is actually his point of view and he's very kind of dark and twisted. And if you're a fan of Dexter or Joe Goldberg, then this book is for you. So you get her point of view and his, and I just love the idea of having a. Kind of the antagonist and getting a view into his mind and why he thinks it's okay to be so sociopathic and narcissistic.

So it's just really fun going back and forth between. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, it is such a fun read. So if you're listening to this, I'll, I'll link to it [00:05:00] and please check it out. It is so much fun to read, and it is such an interesting point of view. And I did want to ask you about that because you use Noelle, you use first person and, and for to use, is it second person, a pistol area?

Is that what they call it? So I'm 

Jessica Payne: not sure what it's technically called. And I've actually had this debate with several friends who are much more like literary than I am. Some people say it's first person. He's technically like in his own head talking to someone. So the argument is that it's actually first-person and then other people will say that it's second person, because he's, you know, using the the pronoun you to talk to her.

So I always say it's like, it's like, you know, first slash second person and I call it whatever. And that kind of snuck up on me. I wasn't planning on writing them that way, but I started writing him and it was like, I was channeling him and he's like, no, no, I'm super creepy and want to talk to her. Okay, dude, whatever you say.

So that's just kinda how it happened. And I did not have an agent when I wrote this book, so I was a little scared, [00:06:00] but yeah. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, it's funny. I was talking to Paula Munier from Talcott notch literary., and she said that she advises her clients take one risk per book. And I like immediately thought about your book.

And that was the one risk that you took was like switch up the point of view a little bit, give it that. Different field and then other thrillers that are out there. And I was like, Ooh, I'm going to ask her if that was her wrist. And it sounds like it was, it 

Jessica Payne: totally was. So I also had never written dual point of view, but that felt like that, you know, people do that, but yeah, that was definitely my risk.

And I even thought about it and talked it over with my critique partners at the time. And ultimately it was like, well, this is the way the book needs to be told. And, and yet, you know, since then I've taken a risk with every book. I would completely agree with her. It's a great idea. And you really stress yourself as an author and you'll surprise yourself with what you can do.

David Gwyn: Yeah. Super cool. So why the thriller genre? Cause I know you didn't start out writing thrillers. 

Jessica Payne: Yeah. So my first couple of books that I [00:07:00] did not get an agent with and that will never see the light of day or kind of more urban contemporary fantasy. And I see. Those books were largely about learning how to write a book and how to, because I could always like, write, well, you know, I was a kid that growing up, I was like, oh, you're such a good writer.

The problem was nobody taught me how to write a plot that made any sense. So first two books was figuring out how to do that. And a lot of it was, I was actually in grad school at the time and I hadn't had a whole lot of time to read. So I was kind of just. Writing what I knew, you know, I I'd grown up like through the two thousands reading urban fantasy, which was so big at the time.

And I loved it and I still, I still love it, but I just realized that I didn't really have anything new to add to the genre, like the way contemporary and urban fantasy is trending now is very different than what I read and. You know, it's not as much my thing anymore. I still really like it respected.

 So in between there, I had my daughter I actually took some time away from grad school and suddenly had lots [00:08:00] of time to read and started listening to audio books. And I found myself really leaning towards thrillers. I loved how they were a puzzle. I loved how I would like mentally try to solve that puzzle and how.

When the author did a good job, there would be this twist and you'd look back and you'd be like, oh my gosh, how did I not see that coming? And it's like this magical dance that the author does with the reader. And I just loved that. And I. I wonder if I could ever be good enough to write in that genre. So my third book was my first attempt at writing in the genre, and I ended up writing more of a mystery, I think, but I learned a lot and it was the first time I had written halfway decent plot.

And that one very, very, well, it did not give me my agent, but then my fourth book. I felt like I had a better feel for what the genre was. But as far as like directly answering your question, I love the dance that as the author you get to do with the reader, giving them some information and they don't know which bits of information actually are important to figuring out, you know, the who done it at the end.

And then the twist that when you [00:09:00] look back, you're just like, whoa, how did I not see that coming? I love that. It's just the best. 

David Gwyn: I'm glad you started us there because I'm going to ask you a hard question and I know that it's hard, so I'm sorry in advance, but for specifically, for like thriller suspense, mystery people out there, was there anything in your writing journey, along the way, was there something that.

Clicked that helped you kind of go from this mystery, but you know, it's not good enough, right. That, that third book you said, and then like, was there something that clicked in between those two that made you write better scenes or write more tension or suspense? Was there anything along the way that feels like it maybe shifted from a book that wasn't quite there to one that obviously.


Jessica Payne: That is a fantastic question. And I know the answer to it. I'm so proud of myself actually. Yeah. I know exactly what it is. It's the plot behind the plot. The thing about thrillers is that [00:10:00] there is the plot you see on the surface, and then there's the plot that's happening behind the scenes that you get little hints of along the way that you try to put together by the end, that leads to that big twist.

So basically there are two stories going on and you don't get to see the whole backstory, like what the villain's up to, but you have to know it as the author for everything to add up and make sense. In addition to that, and kind of how I really came to understand the idea of the plot behind the plot, there is a YouTube channel and I'm sure a lot of your listeners have heard of this person.

Her name is Alexa, dun D O N N E. She has a fantastic YouTube channel and she has a series on writing thrillers. And I found that the way. She explained how she does. It worked very well for me, for other people, it might be reading a book. It might be studying thrillers, certainly reading in my own. genre helped a lot, like just understanding genre norms, but I also found her, she has like a whole channel on or a whole playlist on how to write a thriller.

And I found that to be incredibly helpful for [00:11:00] me. 

David Gwyn: Super cool. All right, good. So I'll have to check that out cause I've heard of her, but I didn't realize. You know, a lot of this stuff I see from her is like query letter mistakes and things like that, which I know she does too.

Jessica Payne: Yeah, she's got a lot of instructional stuff about query letters, but she also, at some point switched from writing kind of fantasy to a thriller. She writes in the world, but she kind of talked about how she figured out how to write thrillers. And I don't do everything that she recommends, but it it's just kind of like.

You absorb as much information as you can. And, you know, you take what works for you. And for me, her videos have worked pretty well. That, and then again, just reading more in the genre and also understanding the plot beats I think save the cat is great for that story. Genius really helped me as far as characters and all of that culminates over time to make you a better writer.

David Gwyn: Yeah, I feel like it is. It's one of those things. Like you, you can't always point to one moment. It's like that culmination of, of things that that shines. And I think [00:12:00] too, it probably has to do a lot with what you're writing and for you whether it was Noelle or Daniel, like those voices it feels like they kind of struck you and you just, you just ran with it.

I know you write fast. So how long was your. Process for make me disappear from idea to first draft. 

Jessica Payne: Well, I had a vague idea of who Noelle was and I knew that she. Was going to arrange for her own kidnapping. And I spent some time thinking about that first, as far as actually writing the book, it took somewhere between two and three months.

I don't remember exactly for the rough draft. I did not spend a ton of time revising the original version. I think maybe one to two months, which is not as long as it usually takes me. This was the first book where I was like, I feel like this one's actually pretty good. I did have a few critique partners read it.

And then I started querying. And then it took about six months to sign with an agent. It took honestly just that long for people to get around, to reading full requests. And [00:13:00] then I did spend several months revising with my agent once she offered. People ask, like, how fast do I write?

And I always kind of hesitate to answer because I write pretty fast, but then I also might spend six months revising. So maybe you take six months to write, but only take a month to revise. You know? So this book was fast for me. Not every book is that fast. This one was just like, ready to. 

David Gwyn: Nice. And so we're, we're on the topic.

So I'm going to ask you for your, your agent shout out. I always try to ask the authors who are on here to just talk a little bit about your agent, how you found them, and then why you, why you chose Kimberly Brower when it was your agent and what made her so great for you and it kind of a good fit.

Jessica Payne: I would love to talk about my agent because she has wonderful. So I was in 

David Gwyn: actually obligated to say that 

Jessica Payne: I'm not, I'm not I was in a position where I had a few choices of agents and I knew within like five minutes of getting on the phone with her, that I was going to [00:14:00] sign with her. Kimberly is just very upfront and honest while also being kind.

I feel like our kind of our working style in that way is very similar. I don't want anything to be sugarcoated. I mean, I want to know what she likes, but I also want her to like, be really honest with me. If something's not working, then just, you know, tell me, I'd rather just know. And she's also I'm a pretty fast writer and she's been really great at like getting things back to me quickly, which allows me to continue to be a fast writer.

And I really. I appreciate that we just work really well together. As far as well, I, I guess I kind of told you why I chose her. I just got on the phone and I just, like I said, I knew within five minutes, . So one of the things when you have that offer call is that if an agency's revision.

They sometimes won't be very specific about them because they don't want you to take those revisions and then sign with someone else. And I totally understand that. But some of the other people I spoke to were so vague that I kind of felt like I didn't even know what I was getting [00:15:00] into. And with Kimberly, she kind of just laid it out pretty bare.

And I liked that I knew what I was getting into and that she was so upfront about that. I don't know, I just felt really comfortable with her. There's definitely something about having a good rapport with your agent. It's just like meeting someone at a party. You might know that you are going to be good friends with this person after talking with them for 20 minutes, or you might know that like, Hey, I'd probably be okay.

Now if you're talking to this person again and there's nothing wrong with that, you know, that's just how we are as humans. And we just get along really well and work together really well. I had actually queried her. And then she also liked my pitch during pitch dark. So that is how she ended up with my full manuscript.

And then when I got the offer from someone else, I let her know and she offered about a week after that. . 

David Gwyn: And so what was it, I mean, you were in that, that awesome position where you had like all these agents, when you were going into that phone call, did you have, or those phone calls did, did they ask, what was that [00:16:00] conversation like?

Were you asking questions more to them because you were kind of in that position, we're trying to figure out which agents should go with or were they asking you questions about. Your process, like what, what were some of the content in that conversation? 

Jessica Payne: It was a little bit of both. The calls kind of started by just a little bit of small talk to get to know each other.

They told me what they liked about my book. I did get some questions like, you know, what's your process? Like how long does it typically take you to write? And then as far as questions, I asked them, I wanted to know what their communication style was. I wanted to know how long it was likely that it would take them to get back to me.

 Whether it was just an email or like, Hey, I've sent you a new manuscript. How long is it going to take you to read it? Are you editorial? Kimberly's extremely editorial. Which I really like. She reads my whole manuscript. She gives me developmental edits. And then reads it again. And we do some line edits together before we you know, send it on to an editor or if we're like when we went on [00:17:00] sub before.

So she's really really great to work with in that respect. Something that was really important to me was knowing that the agent was familiar with my genre. One of the agents didn't really seem to know my genre very well, and I really wasn't sure how they would, no, if my work was good enough or know how to maybe help coach me to improve as a writer, because I think we all have room for improvement and while Kimberley, at the time didn't represent my genre.

That I'm aware of. She might've had another client. I'm not sure. I knew that she was well-read in the genre and that's what was really important to me. We actually have the same favorite authors. So it was really fun to talk about that. But yeah, I just like how honest and forthright she was about everything.

And I just felt very comfortable, and to this day I feel this way we've been working together for about 18 months, but I can ask her anything and she will give me an honest answer, even if it's not what I want to hear. And that's really important.

Okay, let's pause for a second. Building tension. Suspense is so important. [00:18:00] If you're looking for ways to build tension and suspense into your writing, I attached a resource that might help you. Keep readers reading. So check that out in the description. 

It's important when you're looking for an agent that you don't just take the first person who offers you representation. Instead remember that this is going to be a really important lasting relationship that will ultimately affect the quality of your work , and it should be someone who helps you build your career. 

If you missed last week's episode with Paula Munier, be sure to check that out because she shares a lot of great information from the agent side of things. Plus, don't forget to check out that list of things to think about and questions to ask agents and publishers. That's linked in the description as well. 

And the next part of the interview, we talk about what Jessica is working on. Now, what she learned during the publication process, her thoughts on the writing community and her top advice for aspiring writers. Let's head back to the interview. 

David Gwyn: Let's shift a little bit. Let's talk about what you're working on now.

I, I think if I remember correctly, you're in draft [00:19:00] process or an out of draft process of your, your second book. And so what does that look like? 

Jessica Payne: My second book is actually in line at right now. I've actually decided line edits are my least favorite part because they're not where you can like really dig in, but like sometimes you're still finding things that need to be fixed.

And you're like, ah, I thought I fixed this already, but you're not quite at the part where you're like, just making it look prettier, which actually copy edits, which is next is my absolute favorite part. Copy editors are so. Freaking incredible. They will like look something up and be like, actually the sun would not have set at this time of day.

So just to make sure you're accurate or in make me disappear, I reference this donut store and. And they like corrected the way that the name of it is like they like double checked. I had the name. Right. And I did not. And anyway, I just think that that's so cool. Like I have no desire to do that job, but I so, so appreciate that.

I'm getting back to the point. Yes. I'm in line [00:20:00] edits on book two. My publisher actually had an opening in their schedule. So that's coming out in September of this year. We're doing two back to back. So things are really busy, but it's been, it's been really fun too. And my editor is really lovely to work with.

She has been super supportive. I should have a cover and a for sure title any day now, but it is about, okay, so everybody in the world is obsessed with true crime right now. And I heard this incredible episode on I'm not sure which podcast it was on. I'd like to find it. If anybody, if this sounds familiar to anyone, please reach out to me.

Cause I can't find it. And I want to listen to it again, but it was about this woman. Who was taken by a serial killer and tricked him into letting her go. And I thought that that was just like, so bad-ass, and I always wondered, like, who would that person become? Because like, I don't remember how old she was.

Let's say she was between the age of 18 and 25. Like who do you become after [00:21:00] that? Because that completely changes your life. And then I also am pretty interested in. The way we, as a society treat true crime. On one hand, I really enjoy these podcasts. I think they're really interesting to listen to, and they're like kind of terrifying, but we consume them like entertainment, but these are these horrific things that have happened to people for real.

And sometimes these podcasts have led to people being. You know, the criminals being cut, they have led to people being smarter and more self-aware and like avoided being victims. So like, I do think some good can come out of them, but I just have to imagine, like, as a person who maybe has been in that position, like how awful that must be.

So anyway, this woman tricked her serial potential serial killer into letting her go. And I just wondered who that person. Would become, so I decided to try to fictional version of that. So my character is named Nora, Nora, silverton, and she became a mixed martial artist because she was never [00:22:00] gonna let herself become victimized again.

But it's it's 10 years later and she gets word that her father has died. So she has to go back to her hometown, which she has not been to since she was nearly made a victim. And she goes back. Somebody dies. And then 

David Gwyn: thrillers. 

Jessica Payne: Right? Exactly. So the plot kind of kicks off from there, but I'm still working on it and it should be out in mid-September 

David Gwyn: that's so cool. And when, when did you start that project? Has that been an idea that's kind of been in your head since you were querying make me disappear or was it something afterwards that came out? Like when, when did that, when did that idea happen?

And then when did you actually start. I listened 

Jessica Payne: to that podcast quite a while ago, but the story had stuck with me. So I started writing it after, make me disappear. I actually was working on a couple of different things, but that idea really took hold and like kind of move forward with it. And yeah, I just, I couldn't write anything else until I finished that one.

So [00:23:00] that's when I moved forward with. 

David Gwyn: Kind of depends on the, the working relationship with the writer and the, and the agent, but , did you submit an early first draft to Kimberly or was it something that you were like, here's the actual whole first draft, or did you get something like approved by her?

How was that process? 

Jessica Payne: Kimberly is editorial, but she's not controlling about what I want to do at all. I just sent her the completed manuscript and said, here you go. And then she reads it and offers different, you know, ideas on how to improve it. Or she's really big on not necessarily changing things, but strengthening what's already there, which I think is really fantastic.

But yeah, and with the book after. I did send her a couple of different ideas. I had to get her opinion on them, but ultimately, like, I always get to decide what I work on next, which I think is, you know, a really good working relationship to have. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. That's great. And so is there anything that you learned by going through publication of your first book that helped you even fix issues [00:24:00] before sending this second manuscript to your agent.

Jessica Payne: Well, I actually asked her what's one thing I could do better as an author after we finished, make me disappear. And she's like, you could consider plotting a little bit because I am like such a pantser. And I can see her point. So yes, I did do a little plotting. I have found that having a vague idea of what your one-third twist is going to be your mid point turn, which is usually like the middle of the book is usually when something big changes.

Having an idea of what that might be, although that changes sometimes, and then a vague idea of what the ending looks like does help you, especially in a thriller kind of weave in the twists and the turns and the secrets and the clues. So I would say I'm still a, pantser maybe a planter, but I have found that that really helps.

I've actually gotten a big corkboard and I put like butcher paper on it and I take a big Sharpie and I mark out my plot beats kind of according to save the cat. And [00:25:00] then I have strips of paper where I write different scene ideas down. And a lot of those scenes never end up in the book. And a lot of scenes are very spur of the moment, but I, I will just put them on that.

What's your paper about where I think they need to go. And it's kind of a great way to really get a big picture of what your book might look like. And that's really helped me a lot. And I started doing that after make me disappear. 

David Gwyn: So kind of pulling back the veil a little bit for aspiring writers.

Is there anything that you learned along the way of publication that surprised you or that you didn't expect? 

Jessica Payne: So, I'm not sure when I would say this was new for me, but I have been consistently shocked at how freaking wonderful the writing community is. They're just wonderful. Like I'm not saying every single individual in the writing community is like someone who wants to be your best friend, but. People are just so supportive and I would extend that to even include Bookstagram.

So like the book and writing community on Instagram, I had my big cover reveal coming up and I, I like kind of [00:26:00] found out about it last second. And I didn't know. And like, I mean, I know people on Instagram, I have. 5,000 people I follow and who follow me back, but like, I didn't have a good setup for it. And I wanted it to kind of be a big deal.

It was my cover for my debut novel. And my friend hooked me up with one person who hooked me up with another person who hooked me up with like 50 books to grammars. And it was just wonderful. And within like 72 hours, like all these people were just chipping in and helping and ended up being a really big day.

And you know, it's not that I wouldn't have. X, I don't know, not that I expected anybody to be bad or be a poorly, I just was really overwhelmed with how wonderful everyone has been. And and the same with the writing community. And I, I am largely speaking about like the Twitter writing community. When I say that I started this group called moms writer's club and I just, I came into this knowing no other writers.

So let me say this to the audience out there. It's okay to not know other writers, but [00:27:00] there is such a good writing community and. You just have to start posting and like commenting on people and you will make so many friends. I've met two of my three critique partners through Twitter, and it's just wonderful.

And I just, I never would have expected that when I, when I first started writing, there were no there's, there's one local writing group, which was a wonderful group. They, their middle grade and. They adopted me anyway, because Fredericks are wonderful. And they read my murdery adult books, but, it's just such a great community.

And I know a lot of people who are like, oh, I don't really have any writer, friends, but they're, they're out there. You just have to kind of embrace it, which is hard. I know that. Here's three, a monitor and a keyboard be okay. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. It's so funny. I was going to ask you about community, cause I know you're, you're part of a few, .

I know you're active on the, in the writing community, on Twitter and, and with moms writing club and, I can just echo your sentiment there that the, the writing community is, I don't want to say surprising there. It's surprising how. Friendly and outgoing and embracing they are. It's just, it's just such a great community.

[00:28:00] So if you are listening and you haven't jumped in yet, please do. Because it is, it is so much fun to be a part of that community. And, and you really do. You make, you make friends who then you can then support.

Someone in my writing group, was part of your launch team for her make me disappear. And so like, she was like, like tweeting and retweeting and, and I was like, wait, wait, you just got a debut. I was like, I got to reach out. And, and so shout out to Deena from my writing group, it was already a volunteer was yeah, she is.

And so it was so funny that like, that's, again, that's just how these things come together which I think is great. So, and kind of in that, in that same vein, I'm curious as you're in this kind of like coveted debut year moment here as what you're going to have, like two books happen.

So maybe this is like a good, maybe this is a good question for you to, to, to answer. And you can reflect on. Is there anything leading up to the release that you thought either went really well and you're glad you did, or something that you plan on doing [00:29:00] differently the second time around,

Jessica Payne: I think, well beyond surrounding yourself with a great writing community and reaching out and connecting with critique partners, I'm really glad. So if anyone has like a book launch, I really love doing the lunch group. And for me, that meant asking for volunteers on social media, which is a little intimidating to do.

I was so scared. Nobody would sign up besides like my best friends who felt obligated. And so then I had this group of people and this started around three months out who. We're just there to cheer me on. They got to read early copies of my book. They left reviews on good reads for me. And I asked for honest reviews, like, I'm not, you know, I wasn't trying to like play the system.

Like I wanted honest reviews. They posted about my book. They promoted it with their own social media circles and friends and family. And they've just been wonderful. And I started a Facebook group with them and a couple of times a week I would post and everybody. And so [00:30:00] supportive and excited for me and helpful.

And then like the day my book came out day they like made sure that they posted on Amazon. A bunch of them bought my book, even though they had already gotten a free copy of it. And it's just been wonderful. It's just nice having this kind of insular group where nobody is like, Judgey, they're all there because they're excited that your book is coming out.

They are there specifically because they choose and want to support you. And that was a really fantastic thing to do, especially as a debut. And I do plan on continuing that moving forward. I thought that was, I got the idea from my friend Peyton, who is another. And mom's writer's club. And she came out on our, on our mom's writer's club, YouTube channel actually, and like talked about it a little bit and how she did it.

And it was just a great thing to do. And I would highly recommend it to anyone with a book. Nice. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, that's awesome. So as we kind of wrap up here, I'm interested three more questions, which my first one is are there any books, movies, or resources you suggest for [00:31:00] aspiring writers, things that either worked well for you?

Or even, even just books that you recommend? A lot of, a lot of the people who follow me are thriller writers are in that kind of genre tends to be the people I gravitate towards. So even if you have. A book recommendation or it's just something that's lingering. Anything along those lines. , 

Jessica Payne: , the number one and two books I recommend for all writers, regardless of genre is, and people are, someone's going to roll their eyes at me.

And that's fine if it's not your thing, it's not your thing. But save the cat, writes a novel. I just have it. It's literally on my desk right in front of me. Have it folded open. There's like. Graph pretty early in the book of the plot beats. And I'm not saying you have to stick to those perfectly, but being aware of them will help you write a better book.

The other book I really love is story genius. That also looks at kind of the format of the book overall, but as it pertains to your character and what they want and kind of, but also what they need. And it talks about like external and internal. And I, that was a game changer for me between my second [00:32:00] and third book.

That's the book that happened. And I don't think I would be agented without that book. I really liked the Alexa done YouTube channel for all the genres. And there is a playlist specific to thriller authors. 

 There's a book called how to write a mystery and it's, it's a handbook from mystery writers of America. And I think Lee child is the main editor and there's just some good advice from really experienced thriller and mystery authors. I'm actually doing that one as an audio book.

And then there's also a book called writing and selling your mystery novel by Hallie Efron. And that one's pretty good too. I haven't read that whole one, but I thought that was kind of interesting, but otherwise my biggest piece of advice for thriller authors is to like consider what's going on behind closed doors, because that is where the story is at. , 

David Gwyn: I love that that's such a good piece of advice so what is, if, if you could have one thing that you think [00:33:00] people should take away from this conversation who are listening, just one thing that you would want them to remember going forward, what do you think that. 

Jessica Payne: I feel like this might be a repeat from the episode you recorded yesterday, but to not be afraid to take risks, like take the risk, try the thing, write the book that you're a little bit afraid to write and you know what?

You probably don't know how to write it right now, but you're never going to figure it out. If you don't try, I'll bet that you figure it out along the way. And that is how we grow as writers. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, that's great. That's a great message to end with. So my last question is just where can people find you?

Where can people. 

Jessica Payne: I am. My website is Jessica And then I am also basically everywhere on social media on Instagram. I am Jessica Payne dot writer, and then on Twitter, I am at author Jess payne. And on either of those, if you click on the, the main link on my profile, it'll link you to anything [00:34:00] and everything else, including tick talk and good rates and, and all of that.

David Gwyn: Nice. If you're, if you're listening and you want to get in touch with, with Jessica, I'll link to some of that stuff below, so you can find your way to her, but Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I really appreciate it. I feel like I learned so much about the business, but also about writing.

And so I can't thank you enough for taking the time. I really appreciate it. 

Jessica Payne: Thank you. It's been a true pleasure coming on. I really enjoy your podcast. So it's really fun to get, to be, get to be. 

Okay, so there you have it. Take. Risks. Don't be afraid to write the book you want to write and be smart about how you go about finding representation. There's so much we can learn from Jessica Payne, , but I think the thing that will stick with me the most is her ability to write with urgency, get feedback, focus on improving and being fearless in her storytelling. 

Remember, I've shared two free resources for you in the description one for building tension. And the other is what to think about when getting on that phone call with an agent or publisher. If you're still here and you're [00:35:00] someone who isn't super active in the writing community. I want to invite you to reach out to me on Twitter. Let me know you listened to the podcast so I can follow you and cheer you on during your writing journey. 

And be sure to subscribe and stick around because this season is packed with helpful information to get you from first draft to publication. 

Here's a few clips of what we've heard already and what's still to come. On this season of the writerly lifestyle interview series. 

Paula Munier: I am looking for writers who are in this for the long haul, because it's a long haul business

Annie Lisenby: do be bold. Put your work out there. And if you believe in it, put it out there, but also do be prepared for the rejection.

Paulette Perhach: There are a thousand ways that someone might not accept your piece that has literally nothing to do with the quality. And just knowing, like, there are a ton of good writers. It's not, you it's that, we're all in here doing it together. And sometimes it's someone else's turn and sometimes it's your turn and that can be really hard.

Zulie Rane: I've always wanted to be a writer. I always [00:36:00] thought I would be a fiction writer a novelist. I still remember, I don't know how old I was, maybe like seven or eight opening the book, looking at the back cover and realizing books.

Don't just to, they don't spring into being fully formed. Somebody writes them. It's somebody's job to create those. And I was like, oh, amazing. That could be me.

Ericka Baldwin: Because we grow your book can grow. And because we learn almost every day. And if we, if we task ourselves to learn something new, right, then we can always apply and continue to apply to the same manuscript.