Amy is a young adult author and her debut, DIG TOO DEEP, is now available from Albert Whitman & Co. She is represented by Danielle Chiotti, Upstart Crow Literary.
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What resources and websites did you use when querying?
I used Querytracker, and found it to be incredibly helpful in keeping track of who I queried, when, and what their responses were. I also used the SCBWI Market Guide to select which agents would be a good fit for my writing.
What was your method for querying? Small batches? Query widely? Wait for feedback?
I made a global list of all the agents I wanted to query, and subbed to about ten at a time. Sending out queries is time-consuming, and that kept the time invested to a manageable chunk. It also allowed me to tweak my query letter with each batch. If I didn’t get any full or partial requests the first time, I knew my letter wasn’t strong enough, and I had the chance to fix it before sending out the next batch.
Did you ever have a Revise & Resubmit? What should a writer consider when deciding whether or not to take one on?
I’ve had a couple requests for R&R’s over the years. I think the most important thing to keep in mind before deciding whether to work with an agent or editor is whether their vision for your book is something you’re excited about. I had an R&R request from an amazing editor on DIG TOO DEEP, but the direction she saw for my manuscript was really different than the story I wanted to tell. In the end, I decided to pass.
Are there any specific questions you’d suggest writers ask an offering agent during “The Call”?
Yes! So many! Are they editorial agents that can help with revisions prior to submittal? Are they willing to represent all your work, or just this one book? If you write several genres, make sure they represent all of them (or realize that you’ll need a different agent for those other works.) Do they have revision ideas for the book they’re offering on, and what are they? Make sure their vision matches your vision. How accessible are they, and how do they prefer to be contacted? You want to make sure you communicate well with your agent. If you don’t, working together may make you both unhappy. Also, talk to a couple of their existing clients to see what they have to say.
What was the week surrounding your offer(s) of representation like for you?
Crazy! I had seven other subs out (on two different books) when I received my first agent offer. I gave the other agents a two-week deadline to finish reading and get back to me. Two weeks later, I had three offers on the table for DIG TOO DEEP, and two days to make a decision. It was a really exciting, happy, crazy time!
How did you know your agent was the right one for you?
Danielle is incredibly easy to talk to, and I felt like she and I really connected. Her vision for my book felt like “my-book-but-better” instead of a massive rewrite. She’s extremely hands-on, editorially. Plus, all her clients raved about her. (And now, so do I!)
At what point do you share new story ideas with your agent?
Early, just to get a feel from her whether the idea feels fresh, or if she’s seen thirteen similar manuscripts in the past month. Then, she checks in regularly to see where the book is going, how it’s going, if I need any input or brainstorming sessions. Truly, Danielle is awesome!
Do you see the feedback from editors?
Yes, Danielle forwards any emails she receives (as a once-a-week packet, unless there’s solid interest.) And if she’s had verbal discussions with any editors, she passes that info along as well.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
WRITE THE NEXT BOOK. (Which is not what I did, and I regret it.) It’s so much better to have something you’re excited about to focus on as the inevitable rejections start coming in.
Can you check in with your agent if there hasn’t been any news in a while?
I can check with Danielle anytime at all, though I try not to bug her too much. She’s so good about updating once a week, that I usually feel like I’m in the loop.
Did you know there was interest in the book before you got an offer or was it a surprise?
I knew there was some interest from a publisher and that they’d be taking the book to acquisitions the following week. They ended up making an offer then. After that, another publisher expressed an interest, and it took them thirty-five days to get their offer together. That was a long, stressful month!
What have you learned about being a debut author?
That you will spend nearly all of your advance on postage. Mailing ARCs, books, swag, postcards, etc. It’s crazy how much stuff there is to mail. For a while, I was at the post office every freaking day.
What other 2016 debut books have you gotten to read? Did you get to read them early?
I got to read so many of the Sweet Sixteen’s ARCs. It was great to see books I loved start getting hype and wonderful reviews as they released!
Is there a lot of support among debut authors?
Tons! I feel like I have 200 new friends!
What was release day like?
Release day was nuts. By the time it came around, I was pretty burnt out and so ready for it to be over. I think it was a good lesson for me. I have a full time job, a family, other commitments, and it’ll be important for me to remember, going forward, that I’m not going to be able to devote the same about of time to promotion that some other authors are. I’ll need to pick the strategies that give me the most bang for the time I can spend.
Thank you, Amy!