Query.Sign.Submit. with Liesl Shurtliff

Liesl Liesl is the author of RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN, available now from Knopf/Random House! She is represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary, Inc.








To connect with and learn more about Liesl . . .


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


What advice would you give to querying writers?

Learn the rules. Follow each individual agent’s submission guidelines. Learn how to write an effective query letter. Research the agents you query. Do your homework. There are so many reasons agents say no. Don’t hand the reasons to them on a silver platter.

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

I queried about 5 or 6 agents initially, just to see what kind of response I would get. I got a request within 5 minutes! That seemed like a good sign, so I sent out a handful every day after that until I’d queried 30 agents.

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

I remember the chirp of my Blackberry every time I got an email. (I can hear it in my head now.) I remember constant anxiety, hope followed by despair, but most of all, I remember the incredible surge of excitement when my agent emailed to say she was in love with RUMP and when could we talk? I slapped my hand on my leg like a crazy person.


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

My agent took me on for my career. Most agents work that way, I think.

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

My agent it pretty editorial. She gets highly involved in my projects before they go on submission, but once I’m working with my editor, she takes a step back and only chimes in if I ask for it. It’s more than I expected. My agent has such a keen eye for what’s working and what isn’t, and she knows how to word things in such a way that not only helps you recognize the problem, but also the solution.

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

I share new ideas when I’m fairly certain I want to pursue them.

Do you send sample chapters to your agent or do you wait until the manuscript is finished?

I send her sample chapters, mostly because I now sell my books on proposal, so it’s necessary. But I actually appreciate getting her feedback earlier on in the process, so she can point to potential pitfalls.


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

If varies depending on the agent and the book in question, but I’d say sending to about dozen the first round is fairly typical, and you can expect initial responses to trickle in within a couple weeks to a month. If you get interest from one house, that can spur the other houses to read faster to see if they want to fight for your book. Otherwise it can be pretty slow, and lots of authors remain in their “first round” for several months. Welcome to the business of slow.

Do you see the feedback from editors?

Yes, I do. My agent keeps it to herself for a while, in hopes that we get some good news before delving into the bad. She forwards it when she feels it will be helpful.

What is the next step if an editor shows interest?

If they’re really interested, they take your book to committee, which means they have to convince their team why this book is worth publishing. After that, they usually request a phone call with the author to discuss possible revisions and make sure you’re not a complete nut-job. (Partial nut-job, fine. Complete, no.)

How much contact do you have with your agent when you are out on submission?

Not much. I always assume that when she has news she’ll contact me. If I feel like it’s been a while and I’m getting antsy, I check in.

Thanks so much, Liesl!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Find out about agent-judged contests

Posted November 2013


  1. Nice interview about how you work w/your agent! Thanks!

  2. Love reading these (and I loved Liesl's book RUMP!)

  3. Helpful to hear what your submission process was like. Thanks for sharing, Liesl, and congrats on RUMP!

  4. These interviews are great. Thank you!


Please note: ALL SPAM COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED without being posted. If you're here to add a paid link, save yourself some time and skip it. Actual blog reader comments are happily accepted. :)

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.