Lori is a YA author and her debut novel, The Gates of Thread and Stone, releases in August from Skyscape! She is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.
What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?
Does the agent have a sales record? If so, are they sales to reputable publishers, i.e. publishers you would want to be published with? If the agent is new and has no sales record yet, then find out whether she’s formed the necessary connections to sell your book. Does she work for a reputable agency? If she’s recently formed her own agency, did she intern with a reputable agency? If the agent has no history of working with agents and/or editors to learn the business, then avoid at all costs.
Other things to consider might be who else the agent represents and whether the agent is editorial.
What resources and websites did you use when querying?
I used agentquery.com, querytracker.net, the absolute write forums, Preditors & Editors, and Literary Rambles agent features. I found them all simply by googling.
How did you keep track of your queries?
I’m a fan of spreadsheets. They’re basically the only way I stay organized. I made a huge list of potential agents, recorded when I queried them and when I received a response, and color coordinated all of it. I’m, uh… kind of obsessed. Hehe.
Had you queried other books before the one that got you your agent?
Yes, I queried another book that garnered a lot of interest but ultimately didn’t work out. Interestingly enough, on that ms, I got the best rejection with lengthy editorial notes from my now agent.
What was the week surrounding your offer(s) of representation like for you?
Insanity. I went from dramatically flinging myself onto my bed while crying, “NO ONE WANTS MY BOOK!” to fielding multiple offers. It kind of feels like seeing a punch coming while unable to dodge, only to have the punch pulled at the last second and replaced with sparkles and rainbows.
Did you sign as a client of a career agent or on a book-by-book basis?
My agent made it clear when she offered that she’s interested in cultivating her authors’ careers. I definitely wanted a career agent, so that was great.
Did you have any previous contact with editors that you shared with your agent? For example, from conferences or workshops.
I did have a waiting editor request when I began querying. I’d won a writing contest, and one of the judges was an editor, who wanted to see the full ms when it was ready.
At what point do you share new story ideas with your agent?
When I’ve got an outline ready. She’s usually on board with whatever I want to try. Then I’ll write the first few chapters and send them along for her to read to see if I’m on the right track.
Do you see the feedback from editors?
I wanted to see the feedback, so yes. But this is something the author should discuss with her agent. Some authors don’t want to see anything unless it’s an offer. Others just want their agent to summarize feedback for them so they don’t have to see the actual rejections themselves.
What is the next step if an editor shows interest?
Really depends on the publisher, but in general, the book is taken to an acquisitions meeting in which the editor will have to convince a bunch of other important people to love the book as well.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Write something new. Loving a new story will help take your mind off the one on submission. Plus, having that new book lined up helps to take the sting out of the book on sub not selling.
Did you know there was interest in the book before you got an offer or was it a surprise?
My agent kept me updated every few weeks. Even if there wasn’t any news, she would email to tell me so. So yes, I knew there was interest. It was all very nerve wracking!
Thank you, Lori!
Posted May 2014