Query.Sign.Submit. with Anne Blankman

Anne Blankman author

Anne is the author of Prisoner of Night and Fog, available April 2014 from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins! She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

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

QUERY

What advice would you give to querying writers?

Don't give up! Rejection can feel personal, but it isn't. If an agent doesn't make you an offer of representation, that doesn't mean you're a terrible writer--it just means that particular agent isn't the right match for you.

And keep moving! Don't send out a batch of queries and check your email account every five minutes, hoping for good news. Start working on something else right away. The key word here is "else". It might be tempting to work on the sequel to the manuscript you're currently querying, but guess what? If nobody's interested in the first book, then nobody will be interested in the second book and you've just wasted a lot of time. So jump into a new project. Have fun with it.

What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?

Follow the agency's submission guidelines. This might sound obvious, but if you disregard the guidelines and send your entire manuscript to an agent who asks for the first three chapters, chances are she won't read it.

Remember that your agent represents you and your work. She's the person who submits manuscripts to publishers, negotiates offers, and checks contracts. So she needs to be someone who's reputable, trustworthy, and communicates well with you.

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

While I finished up revisions on my first book, PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, I started researching agents. I organized them into groups of ten--the first group being my top choices, the second group my second choices, and so on. I compiled information on about thirty to forty agents, and wrote a paragraph on each person, noting what she was looking for, which authors she represented, and any anecdotes I'd learned. I planned on sending out queries in batches of ten and starting a new ms while waiting to hear back.

But I decided to wait before I queried PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG since I was attending the SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Conference in a couple of weeks. My dream agent, Tracey Adams of Adams Literary, was going to be there, and I'd been lucky enough to snag a fifteen-minute critique session with her. Of course, I hoped that she'd fall in love with my ms, but I knew, at the least, I'd get great editorial advice from her, which I could use to polish PRISONER before sending it out.

What happened next was every writer's dream: Tracey loved the first chapter and requested a full exclusive submission. I signed with her about a week later. Obviously, I was incredibly lucky! But I also had a plan, in case Tracey hadn't been interested.

SIGN

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

Career agent. I wanted an agent who believed in my writing, not just one project.

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

That depends on your agent. She might want you to revise your manuscript first or she might send it out on submission right away. Either option is exciting because it means you're really getting started!

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

Nope, and I don't want to. Tracey's a professional, and I trust her completely. Selling books isn't just her job; it's her passion, and I don't want to get in her way!

SUBMIT

What is the next step if an editor shows interest?

That depends. Terrible answer, I know! But it really does vary. Sometimes an editor will ask you to revise and resubmit. Sometimes she'll take your manuscript directly to her publishing team. A lot of people need to get onboard before you get an offer, and often editorial and acquisitions meetings happen a week apart or more. There's a lot of waiting involved.

In my case, I spoke by phone with the editors who were interested. I really hit it off with the woman who has since become my editor, and we ended up talking for almost two hours. Having the opportunity to speak with an editor BEFORE you work together is an amazing gift, so if you get the chance, take it!

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

Write SOMETHING ELSE. Not a sequel, not a companion novel, but something new. Don't obsessively check your phone every time your email alert rings. Go for long walks. Spend time with friends. Eat chocolate. Be kind to yourself because being on sub is stressful. Do the activities that make you happiest. I found coloring with my three-year-old to be very calming. Find whatever works.

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

I've only been on sub once so far and everything happened very fast. I think I heard from my agent at least once a day, sometimes more! On the day that PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG went to auction, we spoke several times, and by our last conversation we had a three-book deal.

Thanks so much for having me, Dee!

We’re thrilled you joined us, Anne!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
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Posted December 2013

3 comments:

  1. LOVE your story, Anne and I can't wait to read PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG!!! :)

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  2. I stumbled upon your blog pretty recently...and am hooked. I lovelovelove the idea of Query, Sign, Submit! Thank you so much for sharing all these fantastic stories!

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    1. Thank you! It's good to hear they're helpful to writers. :)

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