Much like my Friday Morning FYIs, I’ve slacked as far as writing this post, but this one is for good reason. Since signing with the amazing Kaitlyn Johnson, I’ve been writing the second book in my MG ghost series and working with Kaitlyn on revisions for book 1. To say these are exciting times is an understatement 🙂
BUT I always love reading these kinds of posts, so wanted to do one, too. I hope it inspires some of you struggling in the slushpiles like I did for so long.
Okay, enough preamble.
I started writing seriously back in 2011, with a Middle Grade modern fairy story. After pitching that at Writers Digest Conference in 2014, I queried it to almost fifty agents. For those who don’t know, querying is when a writer sends a pitch letter and sample pages to a literary agent in the hope they’ll love the book and agree to represent it to publishers.
I didn’t receive an offer of representation (because that book was terrible–which I can laugh about now) so moved on to another MG book, but instead of fairies, I had a ghost story to tell. I was still green, but learned and grew with every new page written. The ghost book turned out miles and miles better than the fairy book, but ultimately with the same result: no representation.
Initially. Dun dun DUUUUUUUN!
Fast forward two more books, several years of developing as a writer, and a pile of rejections later (which is the norm, by the way) to when I came across Kaitlyn’s manuscript wish list, which mentioned MG ghost hunter stories. Having gone back and sharpened that book using what I’d learned while writing the latter two, I felt good about it. After reading Kaitlyn’s profile on the agency web site, I thought my book could be a good match, so did another read through for voice and typos (some of which still snuck into my submission because typos are persistent jerks). Once done, I verified she was still open to queries, prepared my submission package according to the guidelines, and sent it off.
I recently saw someone tweet that publishing has 2 speeds: Wait and Panic. As someone who’d queried for years, I was prepared for the waiting, so went back to working on my robot book. Two months later, Kaitlyn emailed me and asked for fifty pages. A week after that, she requested the full manuscript.
Hella-exciting! A month later, I was thrilled to chat with Kaitlyn and to learn we had similar visions for my book and characters. She saw what I hoped readers would see, caught the humor as well as the scares, and brought such great energy that when she offered representation I agreed right there (note: it’s professional courtesy to inform other agents that you’ve received an offer so they can review your submission and potentially offer as well, but I’d only queried one other agent for that book recently, and she’d politely passed). Editorial, responsive, and so supportive, I couldn’t have asked for a better match. We’ve had great communication since, and continue to prep my book to go out on submission.
Now, for those of you looking for some querying tips to go with the details, here’s a few I employed in my time in the trenches. I hope they help:
- If you’re not already, get on Twitter and follow hashtags like #amwriting, #amediting, #writingcommunity, #amagenting, #askanagent, etc. You’ll join a great community and gain exposure to tons of publishing professionals
- Writing queries is just as important a skill as writing a book when looking for representation. Spend time learning the Dos and Don’ts. Same goes for synopses
- Follow submission and communication guidelines to the letter. Agents have them in place for any number of valid reasons, and we shouldn’t ignore that
- Always be professional and respectful
- Write something new while you’re querying. That helps take your mind off your inbox and furthers your craft
- DON’T GIVE UP!
That’s all I got 🙂 . If anyone has any questions, please drop a comment. Happy querying!
Thx for reading,