Laurie is a young adult author and her debut, FIRSTS, is now available from Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Griffin! Laurie is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
To connect with Laurie . . .
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Now for Laurie’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, going on submission, and being a debut author!
What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?
I think it’s important to do a lot of research before starting to query. There’s the desire to get your shiny query out there as fast as you can, but don’t rush yourself—you owe it to yourself to be informed before you make any decisions! Familiarize yourself with what agents are looking for, and be organized—I made a spreadsheet in Excel to keep track of who I wanted to query, the dates I sent query letters, and the responses. Ensure that your information is up to date, because agent websites can change frequently. Twitter is also a great resource, and the #MSWL hashtag in particular. It’s a fantastic way to get a feel for not only what an agent is looking for, but his or her personality too!
What helped you get though the query trenches?
Querying is so many things. It’s exciting and terrifying and frustrating, and you experience a whole range of emotions—hope, elation, disappointment. Sometimes it’s an unrelenting cycle and feels utterly exhausting. The worst habit I got into was waiting for emails to magically appear in my inbox. I felt so much better as soon as I started working on a new project. My head was in that space instead of waiting for an email that might never come. I also made friends at Agent Query Connect who were going through the same process as I was. Writing is often a solitary activity, and being able to share what I was feeling with other writers at similar stages was a powerful thing.
What was the week surrounding your offer(s) of representation like for you?
It was, in a word, insane! My husband and I were moving into our new house, so I was living in shambles during a few of those calls. The whole week was a whirlwind, but I never stopped thinking about Kathleen’s words and her excitement for my manuscript.
How did you know your agent was the right one for you?
I had no idea what to expect during that first call with Kathleen. My heart was pounding so hard I was sure she could hear it through the phone! But she was so kind, smart, and insightful. Her suggestions for what Firsts could become really resonated with me. But what really stuck with me from that first call was Kathleen’s fearless attitude. Firsts is an edgy book, and Kathleen didn’t give me false promises—she just let me know that she was willing to go there with me. I’ll never forget that faith she had—and continues to have—in me.
Do you see the feedback from editors?
I like to see the feedback from editors. I think it’s really helpful. However, this is a personal preference—some writers choose not to receive the feedback. Just be honest with your agent about what level of feedback you want to see!
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Always be working on something new. When your heart is with a different project, you’ll obsess less about the fact that you’re on submission, and it’ll stop your mind from wandering to scary places!
How did you celebrate when you got the news about your book deal?
I was at work when I got the call, but when I got home, I celebrated with pizza and champagne!
What is the best thing about being a debut author?
The best part, for me, is hearing from teens who loved my book or saw themselves in the characters. That means more to me than anything. It’s also truly amazing to go into a bookstore and see your friends all over the shelves. It’s a feeling of pride and amazement!
Is there a lot of support among debut authors?
The level of support and friendship between debut authors has been incredible. We all cheer for each other and help share the love for each other’s books. I truly adore this group of people and I’m so proud to be part of it!
Have you done any conferences, book festivals, or events as an author? What was it like?
I was able to attend ALA Midwinter in Boston, and the OLA Super-Conference in Toronto. Getting to meet other authors, teachers, librarians, bloggers, and people in publishing has been an absolute highlight of my year. There’s an amazing energy in the room with so many passionate book people! When you have been talking to people online for months or years, being able to meet (and hug!) them in person is a great feeling.