Melissa is a young adult author and her debut,
ARROWS, is now available from Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House! She is represented by Carrie Howland from Donadio & Olson.
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Insight from Melissa on querying, signing with an agent, going on submission, and being a debut author!
What advice would you give to querying writers?
I think I really learned you need to query widely, but in batches. Try new things, like #PitMad, a twitter pitch contest hosted by Brenda Drake. That’s how I met my agent!
How did you keep track of your queries?
I made an excel spreadsheet that included the agent name, what I sent them, the date and the most exciting or depressing column—their response. (For those who like to know numbers, I sent 63 queries before meeting my agent, 22 of which were for ARROWS.)
What do you wish you’d known back when you were in the query trenches?
Don’t send out work that isn’t ready. Too often, we want to skip the good writing part and move straight to the amazing contract part. It never works that way.
Are there any specific questions you’d suggest writers ask an offering agent during “The Call”?
I mean, if you Google “what to ask an agent during The Call,” you’ll find a lot of ideas. I think the most important thing to consider is if you like your agent. Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do you have anything in common? Do you think she’s nice? Or badass, if that’s important to you? Does she “get” your work and your plans for future works?
Did you sign as a client of a career agent or on a book-by-book basis?
My agent said outright she wanted to rep me for my career. I’m really happy to have her on my team! She’s amazing.
Once a writer has signed with an agent, what’s the next step?
For Carrie and I, the next step was revising ARROWS until it was ready to go out on submission. We went through two rounds.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Keep writing your next book. Seriously, let your agent do her job and you do yours—which is writing.
How did you celebrate when you got the news about your book deal?
The next day, as the deal was officially in the works, I went out for breakfast with my sisters and niece.
What have you learned about being a debut author?
You need to work really hard on your own publicity. Yes, you, because you are your book’s greatest advocate. While your publisher and agent have multiple titles to worry about, you only have one. Use that to your advantage. The sooner you implement a plan, the better you’ll feel about your debut year. And make sure you bring your agent, editor and publicity team into that conversation!
What’s involved in promoting a book?
*falls over dead*
Is there a lot of support among debut authors?
Ohmigosh, the debut community is SO supportive of each other. I’ve seriously made some lifelong friends through The Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2k16 author groups. They’re my peeps!
What was it like to receive your ARCs?
I made a video capturing the moment. See for yourself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oveOamV-MlA
What advice would you give to writers who are working hard to get to their own debut year?
You make your own luck. Focus on craft, write the best book you can at the time, and keep moving forward.
Thank you, Melissa!