Thursday, June 21, 2012

Behind Shut Up + Giveaway: Two Signed Copies of Shut Up!

 “Behind Shut Up
By Anne Tibbets

          My book “Shut Up” didn’t start out with that title.  It actually had several.  At one point I called it “Shades of Grey,” which in retrospect, would have been pretty funny in light of the recent erotica sensation, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
“Shut Up” was also called “Mary’s Truth,” but I felt it lacked any real kick, and wasn’t particularly snappy.  There were several months, and perhaps even years, when I wrote the book thinking the title was something else entirely.
          It wasn’t until I started shopping the book around to literary agents, and received numerous rejections, that I began to question the title, but there were many additional factors that were impeding it.  For one, “Shut Up” has a non-traditional Young Adult word count.  Mainstream publishers like Young Adult Contemporaries to be about 65,000 words long – or longer!  That’s about 200 pages.  “Shut Up” was short, and I didn’t want to make it any longer.  I felt the timeline was suspenseful and emotionally radioactive at its current length, and adding “fluff” in between would have killed the impact.
Also, “Shut Up” has a twelve-year-old protagonist, and that’s considered a big No-No in traditional publishing.  A “traditional” Young Adult heroine needs to be AT LEAST fourteen years old, and despite the fact I played with the idea of making Mary fourteen, it would have changed the entire point I was trying to make, which was that Mary was emotionally unprepared, out-gunned, and out-matched in all aspects of her personal life, whereas, a fourteen year old would have been able, like Paul, to handle it a bit better. So, despite very strong and knowledgeable advice from Ellen Hopkins at a writer’s conference to make Mary fourteen, I ignored her advice. 
I’m stubborn like that. 
In addition to all these broken “rules,” the then title, “Mary’s Truth,” was vague.  No one would understand it unless they’d actually read the book, and it wasn’t intriguing enough to snare people in…So, I wracked my brain for a few weeks and tried to come up with something that would entice, evoke emotion, and then it came to me…What were they really asking Mary to do?  They were asking her to “Shut Up” and take the abuse quietly, which then, in turn, caused Mary to shut herself up into a little ball of depressed emotion.  She was shut up, and told to shut up.
I have a personal weakness for double meanings.
But, this title was very provocative and many-a-traditional publishing house would have been afraid to touch something so, well, rude.
All this led me to my only logical choice: “Shut Up” had to be published by a small press who was willing to go against the traditional grain.  I’d broken too many rules to do otherwise.
          It’s one of my many flaws. J
          Mind you, unless “Shut Up” sells millions of copies, you won’t find it on the shelf at any bookstore, and for now, that’ll have to do.  It was the price I paid in order to leave the story exactly as I wanted, to have the title exactly as I wanted, and to reach my readers, exactly as I wanted.
          Now, we just have to spread the word.

Giveaway: Two Signed Copies of Shut Up

Thanks to Anne, two of you guys can win a signed copy of Shut Up. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form!

About Shut Up:

Mary's older sister, Gwen, has royally screwed up her life. Not only is Gwen pregnant at seventeen, but she's also decided to marry The Creep who knocked her up.

Now Mary is powerless to stop her family from imploding. Her parents are freaking out, and to top it off The Creep has a gross fascination with Mary while Gwen enjoys teasing her to tears for sport.

Despite her brother's advice to shut up, Mary can't keep her trap closed and manages to piss off Mom so much it comes to blows.

Mary doesn't know what to do, and all her attempts to get help are rejected. When she finally plans her escape, she fails to consider how it could destroy them all.


Open to US and Canada (you can join if you have a US/Canadian address)
Follow Fragments of Life.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I can see how having such a short story and a young protagonist would make marketing this book to the young adult audience would be a bit problematic, but I like that she stuck by the story she wrote and let it be the exact way she wanted it to be:)

  2. I imagine the cover to this novel exactly!!! They did a great job.

  3. It sounds like either someone is talking too much or there's someone very bossy in the book! Or both.

  4. An angry person telling another person to be quiet in a mean way

  5. When I read the title SHUT UP it makes me think that the MC will have some type of social issues like dealing with bullies or something internal, like hearing voices. I also feel teen angst vibes.

    ~P.S. I think I'm glad you ignored Hopkins' advice. The story is still appealing to me with a 12 year old protagonist, and I usually don't like to read YA unless the age is 16/17 and up. :P

  6. The first thing.. To answer: I won't shut . lol