Query.Sign.Submit. with Anna Staniszewski

Anna Staniszewski

Anna is a Middle Grade author and her next book, My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, will be available from Sourcebooks in November! (Also watch for The Dirt Diary in January 2014!) She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

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Connect with and learn more about Anna . . .

Website
Blog
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Watch the My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending book trailer!

 

QSS banner Now for Anna’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!

QUERY

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

I found that querying in small batches worked best for me. I would send out a handful of queries at a time, and then if I got feedback, I could apply that to my manuscript before I submitted to new agents. The overall process felt eternal and frustrating, but it also helped make my manuscript much stronger in the end.

If querying was a long time ago for you, what do you remember most?

I queried for over a year with a few different manuscripts before I signed with my agent. I remember that time being an emotional rollercoaster: the optimism I felt when I sent off a new query; the excitement when I got a response; the soul-crushing agony of that response being a rejection; and the tiny grain of hope when an agent gave me encouraging or helpful feedback. If I hadn’t had my husband there to hug me and feed me chocolate along the way, I’m not sure I would have survived it.

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

I don’t think I realized just how much agents have to love and connect with a project before they sign it. They take on so few clients that the project needs to really click with them. I took some of my rejections very personally, but in retrospect, I realize that the agents who rejected my work just weren’t the right people for my particular projects.

SIGN

How editorial is your agent? Is it what you expected?

Thankfully, my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, is very editorial. She’s the person that pushes me to dig deeper into my stories and find ways to make them more emotionally charged. I’ve learned to always trust Joan’s feedback because it’s always right!

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

I use my agent as a “final checkpoint” before I send anything to my editor. I work on a manuscript, get feedback from critique partners, revise revise revise, and then when I think it’s almost ready to send to my editor, I sent it to Joan. Only after I’ve revised based on her comments do I feel comfortable sending the manuscript to my editor.

The exception to this is picture books. I tend to send those to my agent pretty early on in the process. For some reason, I need a little more hand-holding when I’m writing so few words!

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

I can’t even count how many “I’ve got a new idea” emails I’ve sent to Joan. I always thinks she’s going to yell at me to focus, but surprisingly, she’s always supportive. What I especially appreciate is that she’s able to give me guidance on which ideas are worth pursing, particularly if I’m not sure which project to work on next.

SUBMIT

What is it like to work with the same editor/publisher on multiple books?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with Aubrey Poole at Sourcebooks for several books, and I’ve really loved the experience. It feels amazing to work with someone who really gets my sense of humor and who knows my writing so well.

I’ve also sold three picture books to Sally Doherty at Henry Holt (though the first of those won’t be out until 2015) and I predict that relationship will be very similar to the one I have with Aubrey. I think it’s so important to find editors who really understand your work and can help you make it as strong as it can be.

Now that you’ve had several books published, how is the submission process different for you? How is it the same?

The submission process has changed somewhat in that we can potentially sell books on proposal. This most likely wouldn’t be true, however, if I ventured into a different genre. If I wrote an upper-YA novel, for example, I’d probably have to write the whole manuscript before we submitted it since my published books are for a younger audience.

Were your books bought as a series? How does that work?

My first book was bought as a standalone with series potential. (I think they wanted to see how the first book did before they bought others.) Right around the time the first book came out, my editor asked for summaries of potential follow-up books, so I quickly wrote those and we sent them off. I was beyond ecstatic when they bought two sequels. With my next series, the first book was written and I had an idea for a follow-up, so we were able to sell the two books together. As for what comes next…we’ll have to wait and see!

Thanks so much, Anna!

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Posted October 2013

6 comments:

  1. Great interview. Thanks for sharing your experience, Anna.

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  2. Great interview- thanks for sharing! Dirt Diary is loaded on my Nook and I'm looking forward to a fun read:)

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  3. Fun interview! I loved hearing about Anna's relationship with her agent/editor :)

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  4. Wonderful interview from Anna!

    I saw on the Boston Book Festival schedule that she will be hosting the Kid's Keynote speaker: Tomie dePaola! How marvelous!

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  5. Very nice interview with Anna! I always enjoy these.

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