Query. Sign. Submit. Debut! with Dana Davis

Dana DavisDana L. Davis is a young adult author and her debut, Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now,  is now available from Harlequin TEEN! She is represented by Uwe Stender at Triada US.

Connect with Dana . . .

Website * Twitter * Goodreads

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now

Get the book . . .

Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Query into


What advice would you give to querying writers?

I’d say to make sure your work is polished and as perfect as you can make it before you start submitting to agents. This means possibly hiring a copy editor. Getting sensitivity readers and beta readers. Definitely do your homework. This is your shot… your chance to shine. You don’t want to blow it because “your” should’ve been “you’re” or an agent can’t get passed all of your grammatical errors. It might seem tedious but it’s worth it in the long run!

What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?

This is such a great question! Happy to offer my thoughts on this. To me… an agent’s accessibility is key. You want an agent who has time for you. So many writers long for the big, prestigious agencies but if an agent is representing J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and John Green…do you really think they’d have time to help you hone your craft? Don’t necessarily think big. Think practically. What agent fits your style and/or personality? Follow them on Twitter or Instagram. Maybe get to know them and see if they’d be a good fit for you. I get so sad when writer friends of mine tell me their agent won’t return their calls or emails. You want an agent who respects writers and has a passion and respect for them.

What resources and websites did you use when querying?

To be honest this was quite some time ago, so I don’t remember the name of the book. But it definitely was a lit agency book that I picked up at my local Barnes and Noble. I remember my friend and I sat on the floor together and excitedly researched agents. It was the best purchase of my life.

What was your method for querying?

I don’t believe in sending out mass e-mailings. I say start with 3-10 and see what the response is. You might get feedback that your manuscript needs work. But hey, if you feel you have a perfect product and are anticipating a fight to acquire your manuscript…then by all means…send to however many you can! But if you’re still trying to figure things out and aren’t quite sure… I say stick with smaller batches for querying.


How did you know your agent was the right one for you?

His honesty. Uwe was so complimentary and genuine. I remember I was driving and had to pull over and just got this amazing feeling that he was the real deal. He also wasn’t afraid to tell me the manuscript needed work. I trusted him completely.

Once a writer has signed with an agent, what’s the next step?

The next step should be revisions. An agent’s job is to sell your manuscript, sure. But his/her most important job is to give you the feedback you need to make your manuscript shine. It’s those edits that will make it stand out and sell. If an agent can’t guide you properly they’re not a good agent.

What is the revision process like between you and your agent?

It can be tough. Especially if you’re the type of person who is set in their ways. I once had my agent tell me the entire last 100 pages of a manuscript I was working on was tough to read. “Unreadable” I think is what he said. LOL. I can laugh now, but at the time I was pretty frustrated that all that work was going to be deleted. Like I said before, you really need to trust your agent so that when you get notes that are contrary to what you want, you’re on board to make changes. If you think your agent doesn’t have a clue what he or she is talking about…might not be the right choice and could mean it’s time to find a better fit.

At what point do you share new story ideas with your agent?

Immediately. I never start drafting if I don’t run an idea by my agent first. Because my agent reads so much, he can tell me if my idea is already out there. I once pitched to Uwe at Triada this “amazing” idea I had. I was so geeked out about it. It involved a magic mirror and another dimension. He listened and didn’t say a word. And then when I got done he listed about TEN books with the exact same plot! So he told me if I was going to write it, I should try hard to be very different than what’s already been done. It was great info to get because instead of writing that book, I wrote Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now.


What is a typical first round like once a writer goes on submission?

Think Slow. Then think slower. Then even slower than that. Now that you’re asleep. Wait two months and you’ll get your first reply.

Do you see the feedback from editors?

I always asked for editor feedback! I want to grow as a writer. And many of these editors know a thing or two about writing. So their feedback is invaluable. And sometimes it’s nice to see why they’re passing. I had one editor pass on a manuscript of mine because they had one almost identical to it coming out soon. Totally helps you to not take things so personal. Plus they may pass for whatever reason but love your writing. So it’s encouraging!

What is the next step if an editor shows interest?

Believe it or not it’s a slow process too! They need to show it around to the other editors at the pub house. And if everyone is on the same page…it’s time for acquisitions. Which is basically a presentation to the sales and marketing team about why they think this book would fit their particular imprint. It can takes weeks or even months after an editor says they want to make an offer on your novel. Publishing is so slow!

Did you ever have a Revise & Resubmit? What should a writer consider when deciding whether or not to take one on?

I had a few revise and resubmits on TSLHN when we first started sending the manuscript out. First of all, a “revise and resubmit” is HUGE. No agent or editor is going to want to be bothered with having to read your manuscript a second time if they don’t really love it. They’re so busy and on average get 200 emails a day. So if they actually have taken the time to give you notes and want to read your manuscript again…take advantage. This is what ultimately led to me selling my debut novel. We sent TSLNH out to about 3 editors and all three said “please revise and resubmit.” So we took the book off submission and I rewrote the entire novel. It was the best decision!


What is the best thing about being a debut author?

The free books! Lol. Kidding. I’d say the interviews. I really love chatting with people about my experiences as a writer or a parent or what inspired me to write TSLHN. It’s been so lovely getting to know other debut authors as well! I’m a part of a group of debut authors and we keep in touch daily and even have get-togethers. I have made so many wonderful friends over the past two years leading up to publication.

What else are you working on along with all the promotion?

I do a lot of animation. I’m a voice over artist. That’s currently my day job. I’m also working on my third novel! It’s a fantasy and I’m outlining as we speak. I can’t wait for this story to be out in the world. I love writing so much. When I envision my retirement, I see me at my laptop still. I will always be writing.

Thank you, Dana!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
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Ten Tips for WriteOnCon 2018


Write on Con is an online writing conference (that only costs between $5-15!) and it’s INCREDIBLE. You won’t believe the resources, insider tips, and feedback available for writers. Here are ten tips to help you get started.

*(If you're not registered yet, there's still time! http://writeoncon.org/)

To get the most out of the conference . . .

1.  Follow on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for the forums. You should do this before the conference even begins. You can even start posting in the forums ahead of time. Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WriteOnCon) Twitter (https://twitter.com/WriteOnCon)

2. Set up your profile. Once you're in the forums, go to "Profile" at the top and "Edit Profile" on the right. Fill in as much as you want, and upload a photo under "Avatar" if you want more than the generic avatar. (More below on what to put in "Signature" box under "Personal")

3. There are threads in the forum to post your query, first 250 words, and first 5 pages. This is a great chance to get feedback on your work.  If you choose to, you can edit based on comments and get additional feedback on the new versions. *If it’s not a complete ms, you can mark it as a WIP so agents/editors know. It does not have to be complete.

4. Read the "PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE POSTING" post at the top of the category. It will tell you how to format your subject line and post, and gives you some general rules.

5.  You can add links in your signature and you should. That means people can find all of your work, whether it’s your own post or when you comment on someone else’s. Because, let’s face it, when you read a great query or sample, you want to read more! You can also add your title and pitch if you’d like, or your social media links.

Here’s how- (option 1)

Once you have your posts up, copy the urls and paste them on Notepad or in Word. Go to Profile, then Edit Profile. Under Personal, add the links in the signature box. Here’s a sample signature line (obviously there would be different urls).

MG Query: http://www.writeforapples.com
MG First 250: http://www.writeforapples.com
Website: http://www.writeforapples.com
Blog: http://www.writeforapples.com

Type whatever you want linked, and put the url next to it.

Here's how - (option 2)

If you want things listed so people can simply click on them, you can embed the link in your text. For example,

YA Query ~ YA First 250 ~ YA First 5 pages


Query ~ First 250 ~ First 5 pages

Once you have your posts up, copy the urls and paste them on Notepad or in Word. Go to Profile, then Edit Profile. Under Personal, use the code below and replace YOUR URL HERE with your link and YOUR TEXT HERE with the text you want to link. (Adjust for however many links you need.)

[url=http://YOUR URL HERE/]YOUR TEXT HERE[/url] ~ [url=http://YOUR URL HERE//]YOUR TEXT HERE[/url] ~ [url=https:YOUR URL HERE/]YOUR TEXT HERE[/url]

Whenever you post or make a comment, your signature will appear below your post.

6. Comment in the forums and make friends! It’s so much fun to read everyone’s work and you get to help out other writers at the same time. Again, make sure you link to to your query, first 250 words, first 5 pages, and website/blog/twitter handle so people can find you and return the favor.

If you want to follow someone, click on his/her name and click "Follow" over on the right on the profile page.

7. Find a critique partner. There's a place in the forums called "Critique Partner Connection." Post your own info or respond to other posts to connect. Or if there's a query or sample you love that you'd like to read more of, you can always message that person and ask if he/she is looking for a critique partner. (Keep in mind that some people are all set with critique partners, so don't be offended if they say no thank you.)

8. Check the schedule. There are so many great things that go on on during this conference.  Seriously, there are plenty of chances to learn.

If you signed up for the extended registration, it'll all still be available later if you can’t be there for it.

9.  Take a few notes. This is a great opportunity to get that personal first line when you send out your query letter. Look for those tidbits from agents during chats and forum posts and let them know you learned a lot from them at Write On Con! It’s also a good way to help you find agents that might be interested in your work.

10.  Have fun!


More of Ella and Skyler's story will be here in 2018, but for now . . .

How about a first look at the cover?!

© Anabelle Metayer

Twelve-year-old Skyler is in for a summer of adventure in Venice, Italy, as she pursues a dream opportunity in this hilarious MIX novel that’s a companion to The BFF Bucket List.




Thanks for stopping by to celebrate! :)

book birthday

No Place Like Home final without MIX

watch the book trailer 2

Just in case you want your very own copy, or if you want one to give to a kid (or adult) in your life . . .

Amazon * B&N * Simon & Schuster
IndieBound * ​My local indie- Monkey See, Monkey Do

About the book . . .

Kenzie Rhines doesn’t have a home—she has too many. Her dad’s job keeps them flying around the country, which means “home” is whatever fancy hotel they’re currently staying in and “school” takes place 30,000 feet in the air. And since it’s just the two of them, she has no choice but to be his travel partner. Kenzie loves the constant adventures, but she wouldn’t mind planting her feet in one place for longer than two seconds, having her own bed, and maybe even finding a best friend she can talk to.

When Kenzie’s dad surprises her with the news that they’ll be in Las Vegas for an extended business trip, she’s thrilled he wants to enroll her in a local middle school while they’re there. And even though it's the longest she’s been in one place in years, Kenzie knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s on the move yet again. So, for the first time in her life, she decides to take some risks: why not let the cutest boy in school know she’s got a bit of a crush on him, give it a shot and audition for the school musical--The Wizard of Oz (her all-time favorite movie), and run for VP of her class?

Thanks to her plan, Kenzie discovers a courage she didn’t know she had—and finally feels like she belongs somewhere. But when things start to get complicated, Kenzie discovers that she’ll have to face the consequences of everything she’s done since her arrival--and that maybe home isn't necessarily a place on a map, but where your heart is.

More info here! Visit my website at deeromito.com.


NO PLACE LIKE HOME releases tomorrow! To kick things off, I invite you to watch and enjoy the book trailer . . .

Available for Preorder …
No Place Like Home final without MIX
Amazon * B&N *
Simon & Schuster * IndieBound 
​My local indie- Monkey See, Monkey Do


It’s BEST. NIGHT. EVER.’s Book Birthday!!

BestNightEver_cvr[2745]“This eventful middle school dance is told from seven points of view by seven different writers. Under Malone’s editorship, they pull it off with seamless chemistry and strong character building. A fun, fresh take on a classic theme.” – Kirkus

”Readers will laugh as they learn of the misgivings, revenge, and eye-opening revelations that ensue. VERDICT Tweens interested in funny friendship drama will eat this one up.” - School Library Journal

* Get the book     

* Add it on Goodreads

Writing BEST. NIGHT. EVER. with middle school photossix friends required some reminiscing about our own middle school dance memories . . .


IMG_9481I loved middle school dances. It was something fun to do with friends, and there was always a plan to go out to eat after or sleepover at someone’s house. There weren’t as many shenanigans as there are in BEST. NIGHT. EVER., but there certainly was always drama. I’m not sure why these two moments in particular stand out, but what I remember most is dancing with a boy I liked (you know, like-liked) and singing “I’ll Be There for You” with my friends in the middle of the dance floor. Because maybe I didn’t end up with that boy, but I certainly found one I love to dance with. And my friends . . . well they’ve always been, and still are, there for me. <3


My first dance was in eighth grade, and I rachele alpine author pichad been looking forward to it for weeks.  I chose the perfect hairstyle, outfit, purse, and even got some makeup that I was going to wear for the first time.  Newsflash..trying out new make-up for the first time and making a major fashion shift might not be a good idea for a middle school dance!  I still bust out laughing when I think about all the make-up I caked on my face and the outfit I wore.  I planned it out a week in advance and laid pieces of it on my bed as it all came together.  It consisted of jean shorts worn over black tights, a flannel shirt that I borrowed from my grandpa (FYI...I was 5’4, my grandpa was 6’5), a black belt that went around the shirt, white sneakers, and a black cowboy-like hat.  Uhm, yeah, I’m not sure what I was thinking!  My friends all showed up in jeans and tee-shirts, but I remember walking into the dance and owning that outfit, every last crazy bit of it! 


I remember being invited to a “sock hop” in the school gym in Stephanie Farisfifth grade and thinking that meant we’d be hopping around in our socks. Instead, it was a fun dance with 50s music. We couldn’t summon a poodle skirt on command, so we had to settle for rolling up my jeans and wearing my stepdad’s Oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up. From fifth grade on, I loved everything 1950s and even worked at a 50s diner in college. I’m pretty sure my love for all things 50s started with that sock hop!

Read more middle school dance memories from Jen, Ronni, Alison, and Gail over at Kidliterati!

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Enter to win a book from one of the seven BEST. NIGHT. EVER. authors! (Best. Night. Ever. not included)

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Cover Reveal!! THE FORGOTTEN SHRINE (Bounders 3) by Monica Tesler

A First Look at The Forgotten Shrine (Bounders 3) Cover

I am so excited to share the cover of The Forgotten Shrine, the third book in the Bounders series, my middle grade science fiction adventure series from Simon & Schuster.

One of my favorite things about writing a series is watching my characters grow up in the pages of the books. Their world views evolve, their friendships deepen or take different turns, and they start to edge farther from childhood and closer to young adulthood.

It’s been especially cool to see Jasper and his friends age on the book covers. That part of the process is largely out of my hands, so I’m always excited and a bit nervous to see the finished product.

BOUNDERS High Res coverI adored the cover of my first book, Bounders. It was illustrated by Antonio Caparo, an incredibly talented artist. The first time I laid eyes on the cover illustration, I gasped. It was so moving to see an artist’s interpretation of characters that once existed only in my head. I loved that the illustration included all five kids, the core characters of the series. Antonio really captured each of them. Mira especially is so spot on. Look at the way she’s tuned in to the lights she’s manipulating!

When it came time to illustrate the second book in the series, things took an unexpected turn. The first book was retitled Earth Force Rising for its paperback release, and Bounders became the name of the whole, five-book series. Also, it was decided that the first book would get a new cover.

EF Rising high resThe supremely talented illustrator, Owen Richardson, was brought in to work on the first two books. I love the sense of action and adventure (and aliens!) captured on the Earth Force Rising Cover. Plus, it’s fun to see Jasper on the move! I really appreciate some of the artistic choices that bring continuity between the hardback and paperback covers of the first book, like the color scheme and the same Earth Force uniform design.

Tundra Trials high resThe cover for The Tundra Trials, the second book in the series, features Jasper, Mira, and a space elevator, something I decided to include in the series ever since reading a science article on the concept. The illustration perfectly captures how I conceptualize the space elevator in my mind. I love the color scheme of the cover and the image of Jasper and Mira gazing down on Gulaga. Doesn’t that planet look cool? Also, take another look at Jasper. He’s looking older, right? There’s my guy, growing up.

So that brings us to the cover for The Forgotten Shrine, also illustrated by Owen Richardson. I absolutely adore this cover (and it’s my kids’ favorite)! There’s lots of action and danger and intrigue! In fact, there’s so much intrigue I can’t even tell you exactly what’s happening on the cover. Are they underwater? What are those scary creatures with the sharp teeth? You’ll have to read to find out! Now glance back at The Tundra Trials. See how Jasper and Mira are looking older on The Forgotten Shrine cover? The kids are really growing up before our eyes!

Forgotten Shrine High Res

With awesome illustrators and my talented in-house designer, Karin Paprocki, I’ve really lucked out in the covers department. I can’t wait to see what they’ll dream up for the fourth and fifth books in the Bounders series. I guess that means I better get back to writing so I can provide some inspiration.

The Forgotten Shrine releases on December 12, 2017. It’s now available for preorder at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many other retailers. You can also preorder a signed copy of The Forgotten Shrine (or order a signed copy of any of my books) from my local independent bookstore, Buttonwood Books and Toys.


Jasper can’t wait for his sister, Addy, Forgotten Shrine High Resto finally join him at the EarthBound Academy. But as soon as they arrive at the space station, Jasper and Addy are separated when Jasper’s pod is sent on a secret mission to the underwater planet of Earth Force’s shady new allies, the Alkalinians.

At first, Jasper and his friends are excited by the incredible virtual reality technology that the Alks use, but the kids soon realize that this technology might be masking a sinister agenda. Jasper and his friends are certain that the Alks are laying a trap for Earth Force. But with Admiral Eames blind to the danger, Jasper and his pod mates must take matters into their own hands.

Will Jasper’s pod disobey direct orders to uncover the Alks’s true plans? And if so, will the kids be able to stop them before their treachery ripples across the entire galaxy? They need to act fast or it could mean devastation for Earth Force and death for the Bounders—including Addy.


Monica Tesler lives outside of Boston with her husband and their two boys. She can be found online at monicatesler.com, and on twitter and instagram as @monicatesler.

Learn Scrivener at Midwest Writers Workshop!

Hey, Scrivener fans . . . What’s that? You’re not using Scrivener yet? Not to worry, this is for you too!

join me mww17_Scrivener is a writing program that makes it easy to stay organized AND it saves you time! Want to learn more about it? Check out my tutorials here.

OR . . . you can come to an amazing conference and join me at Midwest Writers Workshop in July! Okay, okay, I understand you might be there to see Angie Thomas (THE HATE U GIVE) or Becky Albertalli (SIMON VS. THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA) or all the fabulous agents and editors who are attending.

But if you’re interested in learning Scrivener, or making sure you’re getting the most out of it, I’ll be teaching a beginner session, an intermediate+ session, and an intensive. The intensive is best for those with a basic understanding of the program, but savvy beginners are welcome to come see what it can do! Find more info at http://www.midwestwriters.org/.

I hope to see you there. Smile

Behind the Book with Jenn Bishop and her agent, Katie Grimm

Behind The BookFor almost four years now—wow, time flies!—I’ve been represented by Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates. I found Katie the traditional way—good old cold querying—and now that two books are out in the world, we’re entering a new phase of the agent/author relationship.

jenn_054JB: For many authors in their initial agent search, it’s all about getting that first book deal. But it’s what happens after that probably makes the difference between a career author and someone who publishes one book. How do you guide your authors to keep them in the game?

KG: There can be so much focus on and online support for agentgetting an agent that I completely understand the inclination to post “success stories” about getting one, but it’s the very first step! And selling your book is another great accomplishment, but only the next one on a hopefully very long journey – things don’t magically fall into place for authors with agents or even with book deals (or three!).
First of all, it’s important to be proactive about finding the audience for your first book in ways you can control as well as staying receptive and thoughtful about what you can do differently next time. For example, you can’t control what PW or Kirkus reviewers say, but you can encourage your nearest and dearest to leave Amazon reviews. It’s so important (and hard!) to keep stepping back and analyzing the data your first novel presents. Regardless of where you are in your journey, you’re also part of a greater community and ecosystem, and you need to find a way to meaningfully interact with it in a way that gives you strength and hope, not just feelings of inadequacy and jealousy – which even the most seemingly successful authors experience at some point.
Beyond finding excitement in the community of peers and readers, it’s also vital that you tune out the noise of the business and keep tapping into the passion for what brought you here in the first place: writing. Whether you have several projects you’re juggling or just focusing on the next novel, you can’t grow your career without putting your butt in the chair to work on your next project. I also think it’s so helpful to keep seeking out critique groups and beta readers who will grow with you throughout your respective careers – even though you have your agent and editor, there’s so much value in fresh eyes and support from fellow authors.

JB: How do you find your relationship with a client changes as they move past their first deal or two?

KG: In a lot of ways I’m the “expert” in the relationship, and for things like handling submissions and negotiating contracts, that will remain my sole responsibility in representing a client. However, I do really enjoy ways that the agent/author relationship grows into even more of an equal partnership with both of us bringing our own expertise to the table. So as my authors gain experiences from things like book fairs to Skype visits (which I’ll never get to do myself, alas!), I look to them to communicate their new knowledge to me so we can both critically look at their careers and problem-solve together. Looping back to the original question, I think authors are most successful long term if they can gain competency if not mastery in areas that they initially needed help with (or if they can forge new ones completely!), as a sort of feigned incompetence or sense of entitlement for book two and three is a way to lose the goodwill of even their staunchest supporters.

JB: What challenges do you face advocating for your authors as they establish a track record of sales, etc.?

KG: There is a sort of (dangerous?) optimism that comes with debuts – this is how we’ve seen six and now even seven figure advances become more common, but the real answer is no one truly knows how well a book is going to do – books that changed your life don’t get the requisite attention while others somehow never budge off the bestseller lists. So the treatment of book two can feel sobering not because it’s necessarily worse, but because (with very few exceptions) there’s no way for true sales history to compete with the previously imaginative profit and loss statements editors create for calculating the advances for debuts. In other words, you will often have to push yourself even more on book two to catch up to reality. Many authors don’t break out until books three and four, and you best believe it’s because they used every book they wrote to grow as an artist and business person.

JB: What types of projects are exciting you right now?

KG: Recent favorites of mine have been THE HATE U GIVE and FEMALE OF THE SPECIES. I always talk about “necessary” fiction or “books with a heartbeat,” but I feel an even higher level of urgency to not just entertain and create worlds readers can get lost in, but to reflect reader’s own experiences as well as expand their understanding of those around them – inspiring them to be more empathetic, reflective, and arbiters of change in their own world.
This doesn’t mean I’m only looking for books that are political or socially pointed, just that I’m more cognizant of the level of responsibility and power we have to make truly lasting emotional change in young lives. I have been asking authors and myself about “takeaways” more than even before, and the books I’ve been excited about have helped me unpack emotions or see our current world in way that gives me both insight and hope.

JB: Has the role of agent changed since you first started at Don Congdon? How do you see it continuing to evolve in the coming years?

KG: Yes, just as so much of the publicity is now on the shoulders of the author, the agent must be there to at least guide authors initially if not help directly along the way. So I’m continuing to learn aspects of the business and gaining contacts in ways that weren’t necessary before.
To take this a step further, I’ve also watched agents become hype machines in their own way which I’ll admit I’ve had a harder time coming into (it’s also a much bigger phenomenon in kidlit than adult, for what it’s worth). To put it in perspective, once upon a time it was looked down upon to “advertise” as an agency as it was seen as predatory or just backwards to put the agent before the author. So we never used to announce our deals (and I do so now only sporadically), and we didn’t even have a website when I first started (the one we have now took a couple years of convincing on my part!). As much as that this has changed even in my time here, it’s also a friendly reminder that there are very good agents and agencies that are not online at all! Agents will always be advocates for their authors in whatever form that takes, and even as more of this moves towards online publicity, agents too are choosing their own style given their strengths and the type of books they represent.

JB: Realizing that there are some aspects of publishing that are not in our hands, what can authors do to put themselves in the best position possible to stay in this competitive industry?

KG: I always have the same advice: read every day and write every day – it’s the only way to become a better writer and remind yourself of the joy of the written word! Every one of us – author, agent, editor, publicist – can only enact change in very specific ways in our own sphere. The only thing we can’t do once the book is finished? To force readers to enjoy it and recommend it to friends. We can be personable online and publishers can give away crates of galleys, but the only thing that matters in all of this industry is readers’ actual level of enjoyment that happens when we’re not even in the room.
So while it is important to follow fellow authors and publishers and watch how they interact with their audience, truly the only way to stay competitive is to read and read widely. You might not like everything, but it’s your job is to understand what aspects of craft the author excels at to have made the book successful at whatever level – critically, commercially or both. Then get writing! It will always come back to the strength of your words and story, and (for better or worse!) it’s the one thing you do have control over and hopefully… it’s the thing you enjoy the most too!

JB: Thanks so much for taking the time, Katie. This has been enlightening for me. It’s so true that it all boils down to a person connecting with a book. (Or, hopefully, a lot of people forging individual connections with the same book.) Time to get back to writing!

14 Hollow Road_jkt_3p.inddJenn Bishop is the author of 14 Hollow Road (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House). Her first middle grade novel, The Distance to Home, was named a Junior Library Guild selection and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book (2017). She lives in Cincinnati, OH.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

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Read more BEHIND THE BOOK posts here!

Query.Sign.Submit.Debut! with Rachel Bateman

RachelBatemanRachel Bateman is a young adult author and her debut, Someone Else’s Summer is now available from Running Press! She is represented by Liza Fleissig at the Liza Royce Agency.

Connect with Rachel . . .SomeoneElsesSummer

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Instagram * Pinterest

Get the book . . .

Amazon * Apple * Barnes & Noble * Books-a-Million * Google * Indiebound * Kobo * Powell’s 

Query into


What advice would you give to querying writers?

Take a breath, go for a walk, close your inbox. It's so easy to drive yourself crazy checking for responses and updates, but these things usually take a bit of time. Common advice is to get working on the next book - and I definitely don't disagree with that, but if query anxiety makes it too hard to write, it's okay to take a break for a while. Live life and try to focus on some non-writing things for a bit. Whatever helps you recharge, do it.

But seriously, don't check your email for a while!

What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?

Do they have a good sales record in your genre? Recently? Talk to a few of their current clients and see what their working style is like. They could be the best agent in the world, but if their style and personality won't work well with yours, you won't be happy partnering with them.

If you can, find out who a couple former clients are and talk to them. Current clients tend to want to sell their agent to you - as they should, because hopefully they love working with the agent and want to sing their praises. Former clients may give you more of the gritty reality, though. Find out why they are no longer working together. Learn of any issue they may have had, then take some time to decide - really decide - if those issues are something you are able to work with. What is bothersome for one person may not be an issue for you at all, but it also may be a deal breaker.

Now. All that said, sometimes you just know. Don't discount your gut feeling. Try to do due diligence and make sure you're going into a great partnership, but a lot can be said for following your instincts.

What was your method for querying? Small batches? Query widely? Wait for feedback?

My situation was a bit unique in that I never really queried. I have always been almost hesitant to share my story with other writers because it is so not the norm. I self-published my first book, having never queried it, because it felt like the right thing to do with that book. When I wrote Someone Else's Summer, I always figured I'd eventually query it, but in the end...

I'd been sitting on the book for more than a year. My fabulous critique partner kept telling me I needed to get my butt in gear and do something with it - whether that be query, or submit it to Swoon Reads, or self-publish. Just something.

I happened to be on Twitter for the first time in forever on the day Pitch Madness submissions opened, and I thought, 'Why not?' So I took five minutes to write a quick pitch, uploaded my first 250 words, and promptly forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when, not only was I selected, but I got five agent requests! My lovely agent, Liza Fleissig, has loved Someone Else’s Summer since those first 250 words.

In the end, while my story is very exciting, and I'm thrilled how well everything has turned out, it's probably not terribly helpful to other writers.


How did you know your agent was the right one for you?

I just knew, if that makes sense. Liza was super enthusiastic about my book from day one. She won the Pitch Madness round, which meant I got to send the full book to her two days before sending to anyone else. Well, she came back before that two day window was over telling me how much she was loving it, so I went ahead and sent to the other agents early to give them time with it. Sure enough, Liza offered representation the very next day.

Now, I was a good little author and did things right. I told her I needed two weeks then told the other agents that had it (there were five others who requested the full) that I needed to hear one way or another within those two weeks. I talked to a couple of Liza's other clients. And I waited - the waiting part sucked. I talked to my husband and my critique partner for what seemed like forever, weighing all the options.

One day, they both said essentially the same thing: "I think you've already made your decision, and you're just waiting because that's what you're supposed to do." And they were totally right. I knew in my gut that I wanted to sign with Liza - I'm pretty sure she loves my book even more than I do! - so I emailed the other agents to thank them for their time, and the rest is history.

Did you sign as a client of a career agent or on a book-by-book basis?

I signed for my career. The contract, officially, is actually worded for Someone Else's Summer, but then left open-ended after that book. Much like a lease agreement where you're locked in for a year then go month-to-month, I contracted for the book but the agreement goes on after Someone Else's Summer unless one of us terminates it. It was understood from the start that the official contract being worded for the single book was just legal mumbo jumbo and that both Liza and I were in it for the long haul. I want an agent who wants to nurture my career, not just shop a single book, and Liza is thrilled to do that.

Once a writer has signed with an agent, what’s the next step?

This varies so much for each scenario, really. Some agents are highly editorial and want to go over the book a few times before taking it to editors. And some books need that extra bit of attention before going on submission.

For me, the next step was to send Liza over a list of editors I was interested in working with, and she sent a list of editors she felt were a good fit for my book. Together, we came up with a submission plan, and went at it. It was all a whirlwind!


Do you see the feedback from editors?

I did get to see all my editorial feedback. Not all agents share that - and not all writers want to see it - but Liza is very straightforward about everything. It's one of the things I love about her. So she sent along any editorial feedback we got, good and bad. I'm the kind of person who wants to know the details, but if I didn't, I could just say so and she'd only tell me the basics of who passed and who wanted to see more.

Can you check in with your agent if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

Absolutely! We’ve never gone terribly long without news, and Liza tends to check in just to say hi if it’s been a while, but every author should be able to check in. I mean, try not to pester and nag, but if you've not heard anything, send a quick email. You're in a partnership here; you should 100% feel comfortable asking for an update from your agent, and if you don't, that's a big red flag about your relationship.

Sometimes agents get busy, and almost all the time publishing is slow. There will be times when you don't hear anything for a decent stretch of time. But if you're curious to know what's going on, reach out and see!

Did you know there was interest in the book before you got an offer or was it a surprise?

I knew there was interest. All the editors we submitted to were very positive about the book, even when they were passing. But Liza had a feeling about Julie from the start. When we were putting the list together, she sent me a note saying, “I’d really love to send this to Julie Matysik at Running Press. I think it’s perfect for her.” I was unfamiliar with Julie, so I did a bit of searching to see what else she’d worked on, and agreed. Shortly after, Liza let me know that she was getting good feedback from Julie and that she wouldn’t be surprised to get an offer soon. It was still crazy exciting to get the official call, but I was expecting it.

How did you celebrate when you got the news about your book deal?

Liza called me with the news while I was on my way to meet my sister and a friend for dinner. Nothing was official yet, so I couldn't make big announcements, but I was allowed to tell them. I get to the diner, and I figure I'm about bursting with excitement so of course they'll notice and ask why, but they don't. So I just sit all giddy-like trying not to say anything. Then the diner owner comes out and asks me if there's any news with the book. I try to play it all cool and say, "Well, since you asked...," but pretty much I just gushed everywhere. She tried to give me all kinds of desserts to celebrate, but I had just started a zero-sugar challenge, so I celebrated with a delightful bowl of cherries.

Later, it's silly, but I got a new audiobook (The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, which is SO GOOD), got in my car, and drove into the night. It was my normal writing group night, which means my six-year-old and my husband had a planned boys' night anyway, so I took off for the evening. Me, my book, and a bit of sugar free ice cream. Because what's an impromptu road trip without snacks, and what's a better snack than ice cream? Except maybe when you're driving, but whatever. And I drove and drove and drove, through a bunch of little towns north of here, listening to the book and enjoying the evening.

The next day, we went out to dinner and had a real celebration, but that was my mini celebration.

Now, a year later, that little diner where I first shared my news is hosting my launch party.


Have you done any conferences, book festivals, or events as an author? What was it like?

I had planned to do several fun events (LDS Storymakers! YallWest! BookExpo!), but then instead I had a baby, so timing was super bad for all of them. Boo. :( Running Press had a fun time with my book without me at BookExpo, though!

Here in Montana, I had a super fun event for my book launch. A local hamburger joint, The Roadhouse Diner (you may have seen Tara, the owner, on Guy's Grocery Games on Food Network - she totally won!), hosted a party for me, which was a complete blast. We had burgers and talked books. The local news was there, and if you're wondering if signing books with a giant camera in your face is awkward, it is. It was so great seeing all the excitement and support from people in my hometown.

What was it like to see your cover?

Oh my gosh, so amazing. I was very nervous about this, I won't lie. I come from a self-publishing background (both with my own work and with helping others get their books out), and I'm used to having complete control over things like this. Giving away that control on something as huge as cover design was nervous making. But I totally shouldn't have worried at all. The designer, T.L. Bonaddio, nailed it on the first shot. (Well, the first shot I saw at least.) I had one tiny suggestion, and Running Press was super happy to accommodate it. I am still so ridiculously in love with the cover.

What advice would you give to writers who are working hard to get to their own debut year?

Enjoy it! Keep working hard to get published and reach your goals, but don't forget to slow down and really savor how amazing this all is. It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of promotion and all the work that always has to be done, but you only get your debut once*. Take time to soak it all in.

*I guess, technically, I got my debut twice. Once as a self-pubbed author and once traditionally publishing. The two can be SO different, though, that I still feel like a brand new baby debut with this book.

Thank you, Rachel!

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