Query.Sign.Submit. with Janet Gurtler

Janet Gurlter

Janet is a young adult author whose books include I’m Not Her, If I Tell, Who I Kissed, and How I Lost You. Her latest novel, 16 Things I Thought Were True is now available from Sourcebooks Fire! She is represented by Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Agency.

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

QUERY

What advice would you give to querying writers?

Don’t query too early. Make sure your work is ready!

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

Basic research is essential! Make sure the agent represents what you write.

What resources and websites did you use when querying?

I’ve had an agent for a few years now, but when I was querying I used query tracker.

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

I’m not the most patient person but I did the small batches method. That way if things need to be tweaked you can still go ahead and do so.

Did you ever have a Revise & Resubmit? What should a writer consider when deciding whether or not to take one on?

I never had a revise and resubmit for an agent, but I did for a couple of editors. I absolutely went ahead and did so because they were suggestions that I felt made the story stronger. Neither got picked up, but it was an amazing learning experience and another step closer to the ultimate sale.

I would say that you really have to trust yourself in a situation like this. If it’s not a change you are comfortable and agree with, it’s probably not the best thing to do. Ultimately your name goes on the book so you should probably like what’s going out there!

SIGN

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

Well, for me, my current agent signed me on a partial (unusual yes, but I had already sold one book) So I had to finish the book (I’M NOT HER) When it was completed and edited and revised my agent started the submission process and then….waiting happened.

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

My agent was a little more editorial when I first signed with her, but then I got a three book contract and the relationship of editing is now more between me and my editor. With a contract I have to write books on a deadline. My editor wanted proposals to approve rather than full books. The approved proposal then becomes the outline for the next contracted book.

Did you have any previous contact with editors that you shared with your agent? For example, from conferences or workshops.

Yes! Ultimately it always comes down to the writing, but relationships can get you looked at more quickly. Plus if someone knows your work, they know that you’re capable of the revisions etc. involved in the final stages of a book.

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

Again, my situation is a little different because of the contracted books but when my contract is over (I’m currently writing the final book in my 3 book contract) I will probably write a proposal for the next book I hope to submit.

SUBMIT

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

The book goes in and usually there’s some fast responses and then more waiting. In my case with I’M NOT HER, I had some interest right away and then we had to wait for the book to go to acquisitions.

Do you see the feedback from editors?

Sometimes. I like to see it if it’s feedback that is constructive and can help me with revisions. I don’t like to see the feedback where the editor points out the reason why it’s not for her/him. One has to remember that sometimes when the writing is at a certain level, the decisions become quite subjective.

What is the next step if an editor shows interest?

Depending on the seniority of the editor and the publishing house, the book will usually have gone to acquisitions. I actually got to see the acquisition room at Sourcebooks where I’m published. You’d think there’d be strobe lights and drum solos and guitar riffs, but it was just a plain old boardroom.

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

Try to stay as busy as possible and not stalk the editors you’re on submission with online.

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

My agent would send me feedback as she got it.

Can you check in with your agent if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

Absolutely.

How did you celebrate when you got the news about your first book deal?

Chocolate cake. Huge chocolate cake.

Once you have a book published, how does submission change for an author?

Depends. Usually you have a clause that lets you publisher look at your next (similar genre) book first. They’ll usually have a certain amount of time to accept of decline. But if it’s an entirely new publisher the submission is similar. Your agent queries and the editor asks to see the book or not.

Have you written companion books? How do you decide what the next story will be and how it will connect to others?

My books are all stand alone. I think there’s a similar style or feel to them but they’re not connected. For my books on contract, I subbed several proposals for the next book and my editor chose the book she wanted me to write. There’s a deadline and stages of revision.

Thank you, Janet!

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Posted March 2014

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