Bethany is a Young Adult author and her debut novel, Summer on the Short Bus releases April 1, 2014 from Running Press Teens! She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services.
To connect with and learn more about Bethany . . .
What advice would you give to querying writers?
Don’t worry about other people’s stats. There will always be someone who gets signed by dream agent after one query (yes, we hate that person), but that’s not the norm. The norm is slogging it out in the trenches while you wait for your turn. And you will get that chance, so long as you don’t give up. It may take a week/month/year but this is your journey, and it will play out the way it’s supposed to.
What resources and websites did you use when querying?
How did you keep track of your queries?
Again, Query Tracker. Patrick and the rest of the crew at QT have made it easy to track your queries, commiserate/celebrate with other authors, and get the most up-to-date information on agents. With all the tools made available to you, free of charge!, there’s really no excuse not to manage your submission process.
If querying was a long time ago for you, what do you remember most?
It seems like all literary agents work on the same calendar—a calendar the rest of the world doesn’t have access to. They all agree that one day every month will be designated as REJECTION DAY. It’s a mind-boggling phenomenon (no doubt orchestrated by the government *shifty eyes*) but you can go for 45 days without hearing a peep from an agent, and then one day you’ll get bombarded with 27 rejections all within a one hour time block. I used to think all the agents I queried were on the same teleconference cackling about me and my manuscript—“Let’s do it at 1:30 Eastern time, okay? We all hit the send button on our standard rejection email at the same time…” but it turns out it was the whole government-inspired, calendaring thing. Who knew…
What do you wish you’d known back when you were in the query trenches?
Querying is much like the first few weeks at home with a newborn baby. You wish you had a nanny to cover for you at night, or at least change a few diapers, but looking back you realize that you earned major mommy points during those sleepless hours. Querying isn’t fun, folks, but it is a rite of passage. Your skin will grow rhinoceros thick and your commitment will be tested, but you will get through it—and you’ll get a gold star at the end to show for it.
Did you sign as a client of a career agent or on a book-by-book basis?
A career agent. When the personal stakes are this high, I cannot imagine signing with someone who wasn’t in it with me for the long haul.
Do you have input on the pitch to editors or does your agent take care of that?
My agent handles the pitching, but yes—she runs the initial query by me so I can have an idea what we’re putting out there. Also, she does this because it’s as important to have a bit of my voice in the pitch. A little tweak here or there can make all the difference, and potential editors should have a glimpse of what makes your voice unique from their first introduction to you.
Do you send sample chapters to your agent or do you wait until the manuscript is finished?
I wait until the MS is finished. I find that sharing incomplete work with people other than my crit partner can slow me down based on their feedback. It’s important for me to carve out the meat of the story before I start sharing and seeking input.
Do you make suggestions or share a wish list when it comes to which editors/imprints to submit to?
Absolutely! My agent is a busy lady, and while I know she’s always on the hunt for a good home for my kids, I’ve got lots of drive to get my book babies adopted, too. If I find an interesting article, PM announcement, whatever, I’ll forward it her way.
What is a typical first round like once a writer goes on submission?
The first round of submissions is a lot like going to Disneyland.
When you first get there, it’s awesome…even magical. There’s no shortage of exciting things to do, see, eat... it truly is the happiest place on earth. Then you fast forward to about…two in the afternoon. That’s when you realize you just stood in line for three hours for a thirty second ride, dropped $9 on a slice of frozen pizza and that your kids are officially the most annoying creatures on the planet.
Going on submission is exciting, but it can also be a long, frustrating process. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth it (I have an annual pass to Disneyland, guys) but for most writers it’s not a free pass to the front of the line. It’ll be another test of your patience and commitment to this process.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Write! It’s really easy to lose your sanity while you wait, so create some new characters and keep yourself busy telling their story. Then, after the book sells and you dive into the editorial process, you’ll be excited to get reacquainted with the old gang, and beefing up their story will feel fresh and fun.
Can you check in with your agent if there hasn’t been any news in a while?
You bet. Rachael was great about keeping me informed as things happened, but because I’m neurotic I couldn’t go more than a couple of weeks without touching base with her. Even if it was just to hear her say, “Sorry, nothing to report,” it made me, and the voices in my head, feel a lot better.
Thanks for joining us, Bethany! And for entertaining us. ;)