Sarah is a young adult author and her debut, ASSASSIN’S HEART, is now available from HarperTeen! She is represented by Mollie Glick.
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Now for Sarah’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, going on submission, and being a debut author!
What resources and websites did you use when querying?
Oh QueryTracker almost exclusively, with some spot checks at Literary Rambles. I love QueryTracker and think every querying writer should be using it. And I still spend a lot of time over in the QT Forum.
What was your method for querying? Small batches? Query widely? Wait for feedback?
My method was send a few queries, 2-3, wait to see if I got a bite so I would know that the query was working. And when I did, send a full batch of ten. Then, whenever I got a response (a request or a rejection) I would send another query so I always had ten queries out at a time.
Had you queried other books before the one that got you your agent?
Yep! I queried two other books. I got a lot of full requests for both of them, and some R&Rs but not an offer. But that was okay. I just kept writing.
What helped you get though the query trenches? Inspirational posts? Writer friends? Writing another book?
Writing another book for sure. This is another thing I think every querying writer should be doing while querying. Because if you’re working on a new book that you’re excited for, then the rejections on the other book tend to go easier. And, if you do get The Call, you’re also in a great position with a new book, too! Also, if no call ever comes, by the time you’re done querying the old book, you’re ready to query the new one. Rinse and repeat.
What was the week surrounding your offer(s) of representation like for you?
Crazy. So, so crazy. I had just started my MFA and was actually at a ten day residency when the first offer came in. Other offers quickly followed, so I kept having to duck out of lectures and presentations to take calls and check my emails. I took calls pretty much up until the day I had to make a decision. It was both really exciting and really stressful.
Did you have any previous contact with editors that you shared with your agent? For example, from conferences or workshops.
I had gone to a MN SCBWI conference the month before I started querying and had a critique session of the first 5 pages with an editor from Harlequin Teen. And she mostly just said that she loved it and wanted to see the full when it was on submission and told me I could put her name in my query (that she wanted to see it) and I certainly did. I think that helped with my high request rate.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Oh man, I don’t even know. I mean, logically, you should start another book. I think it’s the same thing as when querying. Writing another book is never a bad idea, I think. But I was only on sub for two weeks and I spent a lot of that feeling super stressed about a lot of different things, and so if you’re in that situation I think my advice is to breathe, talk to someone who will listen (who’s maybe been there before) and know that submission will not last forever.
How much contact do you have with your agent when you are out on submission?
So, my submission period was only two weeks, but we were in contact pretty much daily. She let me know everything that was going on and what her plans were.
Did you know there was interest in the book before you got an offer or was it a surprise?
I knew there was interest. There was actually interest before we went on sub, so my agent was actually going to set up an auction until it sold on a pre-empt. But before that pre-empt deal came through, my agent emailed me and let me know they were putting an offer together. Still, though, when the offer email came through, it was both surprising and so, so exciting.
How did you celebrate when you got the news about your book deal?
I honestly don’t quite remember. I’m sure I went out to dinner with my family, since that’s how we celebrate most things. I know I called my mom and sister right away. And I bought a piece of jewelry with a portion of my advance.
What other 2016 debut books have you gotten to read? Did you get to read them early?
Oh, so many. I have read (to date) 33 of the 2016 debuts, all due to arc tours. There are so many great books coming out this year. I can’t wait until they’re all out so people can snatch them up.
Some of my favorites (so far! I have a lot more to read) are: Kali Wallace’s SHALLOW GRAVES, Parker Peevyhouse’s WHERE FUTURES END, Rahul Kanakia’s ENTER TITLE HERE, Katie Kennedy’s LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA and Christian Heidecker’s CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE.
Have you met other debut authors through the process?
Yes! I’m a member of the Sweet Sixteens debut group and have “met” (via the internet) so many of them. They are a great bunch of writers and I’m super glad that I joined the group. I’ve also gotten to meet a few of them in person, too! One of them moved to the Twin Cities (where I live) and one of them I met at AWP when it was Minneapolis. I would really love to meet more (or all!) of them if I could.