Query.Sign.Submit.Debut! with Shannon Parker

 
Shannon is a young adult author and her debut, THE GIRL WHO FELL, releases from Simon & Schuster March 1, 2016! She is represented by Melissa Sarver White of Folio Literary.


Connect with Shannon . . .


To get the book . . .


Insight from Shannon on querying, signing with an agent, going on submission, and being a debut author! 


QUERY

What advice would you give to querying writers?

Don’t let rejection define your querying experience. Rejection only means your work has not found its perfect agent yet. YET. Remember the positives: 

-you wrote a novel
-you perfected your query letter
-you took the frightening leap of introducing your work to the big bad world of publishing.
These are things to celebrate through rejections.

What resources and websites did you use when querying?
 
There are a TON of websites that can help you prepare your query letter, but the single most helpful resource you can have during this process is an agent’s feedback. If an agent provides specific comments on your character, plot, pacing, conflict…LISTEN. I don’t advise changing anything yet. Just listen to feedback. If several agents say the same thing about one or two aspects of your novel, use that advice. Go back to your manuscript and revise. 

How did you keep track of your queries?
 
I’m an Excel spreadsheet nerd. 

What was your method for querying? 

I queried in small batches and waited for feedback. Some of that feedback pointed me toward revisions. 

Had you queried other books before the one that got you your agent?
 
I was very lucky to get an agent for my first two novels. She was lovely and loved my work. Unfortunately, industry editors didn’t agree. My agent wasn’t able to sell my projects and then she retired. I was so happy I had her support, but I wasn’t ready to query again. So I didn’t. Instead, I became a Lit Agency Intern. I learned the ropes from behind the curtain and I LOVED IT!

What helped you get though the query trenches? 

My writer friends are the best for helping me through the exhilaration and heartbreak of this industry. Non-writer friends help me to remember there is life outside of writing. 

SIGN

Are there any specific questions you’d suggest writers ask an offering agent during “The Call”?
 
Okay, so I didn’t get “the call” from my current agent. I had worked with her for about a year and never mentioned that I was a writer. When she found out, she asked to see my current contemporary YA project and she was really intrigued by it. It was dark and edgy, which is the kind of YA she liked. And I liked her. So it was not your “normal” offer of representation, if there is such a thing. 

How editorial is your agent? 

My agent gives excellent broad notes that are spot on. She knows the industry so well and I trust her instincts.  

Did you have any previous contact with editors that you shared with your agent? For example, from conferences or workshops.
 
Great question! I had feedback from several editors who had rejected my first projects. The editors stated that the project wasn’t for them, but they loved the writing and would like to see my next project. I think that helped my agent with her starting point. Although, in the end, the book sold to an editor who was seeing my work for the first time. 

At what point do you share new story ideas with your agent?
 
I always discuss the concept with my agent once it is fully fleshed out in my mind and I’ve given her the opening chapters. We have a phone chat about the concept and the execution and it’s an ideal way to make sure we are both on the same page. 

SUBMIT

What is a typical first round like once a writer goes on submission?
 
For me, my work went to five or six initial editors.

Do you see the feedback from editors?
 
From my first agent, yes. From my second agent, no.

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
 
Hang out with your non-writer friends when you can. It is good to step away. J And write your next project. Always focus on the next work. 

Can you check in with your agent if there hasn’t been any news in a while?
 
Yes. I can always check-in with my agent and I treasure that about our relationship. When I went on sub with THE GIRL WHO FELL, I checked in at about Week 4. There had been some initial interest by then, but nothing concrete. I appreciated my agent sharing that interest with me, even though I knew that the initial interest could come to nothing. I was fortunate that an offer came through during Week 5 of the first round of submission. So lucky. Because I knew what it was like to get zero offers while on submission. 

DEBUT

What is the best thing about being a debut author?
 
Other authors, readers, bloggers. There is so much support for the words we write, and our crazy brains. It’s humbling. 

What have you learned about being a debut author?
 
Expect the unexpected.

What else are you working on along with all the promotion?
 
I have another YA that will release in 2017. I can’t say much more than that now, but soon. 

What was it like to see your cover?
 
A total rush. Seeing my 90k words distilled down into one image was one of the trippiest parts of this whole ride. 

What was it like to receive your ARCs? 

Like eating ice cream by the sun-warmed salty shore with your BFF as you discover you’ll be starring in the next Bridget Jones movie. Pretty much.  

What was release day like? 

I’ll let you know after March 1, 2016! :)

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

Be hard on your characters.
Be easy on yourself. 

Thanks, Shannon!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Learn about Tools for Writers- like Scrivener 
hank you, Lois!
See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Learn about Tools for Writers- like Scrivener - See more at: http://www.writeforapples.com/2015/05/querysignsubmit-with-sarah-marsh.html#sthash.bwWRRT6z.dpuf
- See more at: http://www.writeforapples.com/2016/02/querysignsubmitdebut-with-lois-sepahban.html#sthash.5emyi2Gx.dpuf

Insight from Lois on querying, signing with an agent, going on submission, and being a debut author! - See more at: http://www.writeforapples.com/2016/02/querysignsubmitdebut-with-lois-sepahban.html#sthash.5emyi2Gx.dpuf


Connect with Lois . . .

Query.Sign.Submit.Debut! with Lois Sepahban



Lois is a Middle Grade author and her debut, PAPER WISHES, is now available from Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG. She is represented by 
Kathleen Rushall of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.



Connect with Lois . . .
Website * Twitter * Goodreads

 To get the book . . .


Insight from Lois on querying, signing with an agent, going on submission, and being a debut author!

Now for Sarah’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission! - See more at: http://www.writeforapples.com/2015/05/querysignsubmit-with-sarah-marsh.html#sthash.D5bPwjUu.dpuf

QUERY

What advice would you give to querying writers?

Be considerate, of course: research who is open to queries and how they like to receive them. Don’t rule out agents just because you haven’t made personal connections with them. But do trust your intuition. I knew which agents would be a good match for me and my book. Querying anyone else would have been wasting their time, as well as mine.

How did you keep track of your queries?

I kept a spreadsheet with the name of the agent and the date I sent the query. 

What was your method for querying? 

I queried four agents with my debut novel. Two were agents I’d queried before and two were agents I’d met a few months before at a conference. 

Are there any conferences you attended that really helped you move forward as a writer during this stage?

Yes! I’m a member of SCBWI (Midsouth Region) and I’ve found the Midsouth conferences and retreats to be a wonderful support for me at all stages of my writing career.

SIGN

Are there any specific questions you’d suggest writers ask an offering agent during “The Call”?

When the phone rang, all of my intelligent thoughts fled. Fortunately, I had made a list of questions beforehand, so I was able to sound somewhat articulate. It’s helpful to know what your goals are: for the phone conversations, for your relationship with an agent, and for your dreams for your book. My goal for the phone conversations was simply to get to know the agents—to discover if they were the kind of people I would like to work with long term. I asked the agents what their goals and dreams were for my book, and I asked what kind of writer they wanted to work with. I listened. And I shared my goals and dreams.

What was the week surrounding your offer(s) of representation like for you?

I was on a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from elation to worry. For me, the worry was that I was going to hurt people’s feelings by not signing with them. I dreaded telling people that I had decided to sign with someone else. Once I made my decision and signed with my agent, though, everything was bliss. I felt like the whole world was celebrating my happiness—my favorite songs were always on the radio, my kids and animals were healthy and happy, lines at the market were short.

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

During our phone conversation, we connected on so many levels. We are both animal lovers and, even now, we share rescue stories and trade rescue advice in most of our conversations. Aside from that, I could sense her compassion and kindness, and these are qualities I value above all others. By the end of our first conversation, I think we both knew we were going to make a good team.

SUBMIT

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

Before my novel went out on submission, my agent emailed me a list of editors she wanted to send it to. We discussed the merits of each of these editors in a couple of emails, and then she queried them. Once I knew they had been sent, I tried (unsuccessfully) to keep my mind busy with other things. We started to hear back from editors within a week.

Do you see the feedback from editors?

Yes, my agent sent me all of the feedback she received. This was reassuring to me.

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

Everyone says that writers should get busy with their next novel when they’re out on submission. This was difficult for me because I had too much emotion going on to be able to focus on writing. I did (and still do) find meditation to be helpful. Doing barn work was also helpful, and I think my barn has never been cleaner than it was during those weeks.

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

Hearing that an editor wanted to talk to me or was planning to take my book to acquisitions meetings was a wonderful surprise.

DEBUT

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

I’m working on a couple of new stories. I also spend time helping to promote fellow debut friends’ books. 

Is there a lot of support among debut authors?

Yes! The 2016 debut author community is amazingly supportive. We celebrate each other’s successes, and cheer each other on. I’ve loved seeing new book covers and reading ARCs.

What was it like to see your cover? 

The original cover image I received is the same one that became the final cover. I love it. Seeing it for the first time brought tears to my eyes. The artist, Julia Kuo, perfectly captured the main character and her longing for her lost pet on the cover.

What was release day like?

It was by far the busiest social media day I’ve ever had—I spent every spare minute catching up on Twitter and Facebook and email. But I’m a working mom. So, other than social media, release day was a lot like every other day—take the kids to school and after-school activities, go to work, make dinner, help with homework, and so on. For me, the routine was grounding—a reminder that, yes, I’m an author. But I’m also a person, just like everyone else.

Thank you, Lois!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Learn about Tools for Writers- like Scrivener - See more at: http://www.writeforapples.com/2015/05/querysignsubmit-with-sarah-marsh.html#sthash.bwWRRT6z.dpuf