Query.Sign.Submit. with Christina Lee

Author Christina LeeChristina Lee's NA debut, ALL OF YOU will be published on September 17th, 2013 by Penguin/InterMix! BEFORE YOU BREAK releases in February, 2014. She is represented by Sara Megibow of the Nelson Agency.

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literary agent and author
Now for Christina’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!

QUERY

What advice would you give to querying writers?

Gosh, querying can be so daunting. I’ve queried four different novels and it’s tough to keep your chin up and take rejections in stride. So it’s important to have a support system of other writers. People who get it, because writing can feel so solitary.

But querying absolutely prepares you for what’s to come. Because there’s waiting and rejections at every stage in the industry. You wait when you’re on submission to publishing houses and receive rejections from editors. And then once you get a publishing deal, you wait until your book is finally released. And then your rejections come in the form of reader reviews.

It’s just part of the business. So that very first stage of querying really helps prepare you.

The most important thing I did while query was begin my next novel. Doing so gave me hope. Hope that if this novel wasn’t it, the next one might be. And that aspiration kept me going—and helped me learn the craft of writing.

What resources and websites did you use when querying?

I primarily used Query Tracker.

How did you keep track of your queries?

Old-fashioned pen and paper. LOL! No, really.

What do you wish you’d known back when you were in the query trenches?

That agents have subjective tastes—as do editors and readers. A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean your book sucks. If you’ve been querying for a long time and been told your writing is good, other factors may come into play, such as the market and timing. I took a risk after years of writing YA. I wrote something for me. I stepped outside the box and it paid off—maybe because the timing was right, the risk paid off, or I found my niche.

SIGN

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

My agent is Sara Megibow. The next step was getting feedback from her on revisions. Once the novel was ready based on her suggested changes, we discussed sub list strategy and off we went.

Do you have input on the pitch to editors or does your agent take care of that?

I did, but I also let Sara do her job. I knew she had an amazing business sense just by speaking to her that first time on the phone. She knew the market and had amazing contacts with editors and pub houses. If I was stepping all over her feet then we’d have a problem.

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

Sara keeps a file of her client’s ideas. We sold two books right away to Penguin so I’ve been crazy busy these last few months on deadline. But soon we’ll discuss what’s next for my career.

SUBMIT

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

This was my second novel on submission. The waiting and stress level is typical of how you feel with querying—except now you have an agent in your corner, supporting all of your highs and lows.

Do you see the feedback from editors?

That depends on your agent and something you should discuss upfront. Some authors want to see the feedback, others don’t. Most editors gave me specific feedback regarding what did and didn’t work with each novel.

What is the next step if an editor shows interest?

When the first couple of editors showed interest in ALL OF YOU, phones calls were set up to make introductions, discuss the book and goals—much like you would in your agent phone call. I ended up accepting a pre-emptive offer from Penguin before going to auction with six other houses and those phone calls helped me listen to my gut.

Thank you, Christina!

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