Laura Howard: Six Questions with PJ Young


Six Questions with PJ Young

It's Saturday, and you know what that means- Time for Six Questions!

Today's esteemed guest is the lovely PJ Young. PJ, author of the YA novel To Be Honest is here to share some gems that you're sure to love.

Welcome to Finding Bliss, PJ!

How did you edit your book?

I wrote To Be Honest in the space of three months, mostly just hand writing in a notepad on the tube and walking to work and back in Shoreditch, London. I managed to survive, despite rainy, dark close encounters of the car and hipster cyclist kind. The editing was a bit painful, as I showed my close friend who was ruthless, but tremendously helpful. Then I did the 'final stripping' myself.

Did you attempt to query agents/publishers after you'd finished your book?

Yes, and I had several 'bites' but, as with the first book I wrote, although I had many positive responses, ultimately no publishing deal was struck. It's a cliche, but you really do have to keep picking yourself up and carrying on, even when you think you have an agent - as I did - because they can let you down, sadly.

What marketing mistakes would you avoid if you could start over?

I would concentrate more on engaging readers. Much effort went into producing content for my website; engaging authors, etc. which is incredibly important, but it's the readers who matter and I have been humbled by the response from some of the teenagers who have read my book.

What are the main advantages and disadvantages of self versus traditional publishing?

If you are prepared to work hard - which, 9 times out of 10, writers are, I believe the advantages of self publishing outweigh everything except upfront budget, as far as I'm concerned. The freedom to be able to price your books as you wish, conduct imaginative activity and brand yourself the way you want are all positives. The merger of Random House and Penguin this week shows just how much of a threat self publishing poses. The author has been the underdog for too long and it's time we took center stage and called the shots for the first time.

What problems did you run into when publishing your work?

I was naive. I thought I could press 'publish' and that would be it: the promotion side of things wasn't that important. But of course, like anything, if you don't get your message out to readers then no-one will know you're there. The other thing is that you must not be too autobiographical: it's easy to base characters on people you know but you must ensure you don't base too much on real life events.

How do you connect with readers?

Apart from the usual suspects: Twitter, FB, book groups, Goodreads, etc. I stay in touch with my friends who work in the teenage world: teachers, social workers, etc. and read a lot of young adult literature myself. I am lucky in that have a long train commute each day, so I make sure I use that time wisely to catch up on what's going on in the world of fiction. I can quite easily get lost in books and if I read something good, as well as enjoying it, I hope it will only help me become a better author too!

Thank you so much for joining us for another Six Question Saturday! Are you following me on Twitter? If not, I'd love to connect with you!


  1. Great interview. You're right, PJ, it's easy to focus on writerly promotions and forget to connect with readers in your target market. I've got my thinking cap on at the moment re the best way to connect with my market - older teens.

    1. It's true. Writers are great, but readers need love, too!

  2. Rock on, PJ! Great advice, and I completely agree. Indies are taking over the world :)

  3. Love this post! Very inspiring & I'm looking forward to her books : )

  4. Three months? That is real committment and extraordinary focus PJ, you are an inspiration!
    Great interview Laura, keep up the great work with Finding Bliss!
    Here is a nice place to find authors [I'm there too :)]#



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