Julie is a young adult author and her debut, THE SOUND OF US, is now available from Entangled TEEN! She is represented by Beth Phelan of The Bent Agency.
Connect with Julie . . .
Get the book . . .
What resources and websites did you use when querying?
I went about querying like it was an equation I was trying to solve. I used all the resources! I consulted all the websites! My favorites were Query Shark for drafting and QueryTracker for keeping tabs on the queries I’d already sent out. Twitter is also a great tool. I made a secret, private list of all the agents I was thinking about querying. This was a great way to get a sense of what they were really looking for, book-wise. And they I had no idea I was watching them…
What was your method for querying? Small batches? Query widely? Wait for feedback?
I did small batches. If the query got some quick, positive responses, I sent a few more.
What helped you get though the query trenches?
Writing is always the answer for me. Querying can feel a lot like internet dating, so it’s easy to become all-consumed by the process—checking email, dissecting tweets, analyzing QueryTracker. Distractions are a must. Oftentimes the best, most productive distraction is starting a new book.
How editorial is your agent? Is it what you expected?
Beth (Phelan, of The Bent Agency) is very editorial. When I first spoke with her, she was upfront about the changes we’d need to make before sending the manuscript out on submission. I suppose the “dream” is that your agent reads your book and says, “It’s perfect! I’m sending it to editors five minutes ago!” but that’s not always the reality, and I did go in assuming I’d have some revising to do.
Do you send sample chapters to your agent or do you wait until the manuscript is finished?
I wait until the manuscript is finished. My first drafts tend to be messy, and sometimes I’m not sure where I’m going, story-wise, until I get there. Though that’s not a hard and fast rule. If I were feeling stuck or if I were feeling really excited about something, I might send her a few chapters just to show her what I’m working on. And I’ve pitched her a few stories just on concept and/or synopsis.
Do you see the feedback from editors?
I do. I asked Beth to send me everything, even rejections, unless she thought they were really harsh. I like to be in the know, and I like to think I have pretty thick skin when it comes to my writing.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Again, more writing. Or at least do something to keep your mind off of it. The editorial submission process moves way slower than the query process, and editors are way less interesting on Twitter. You need to distract yourself in some way—write a new book, paint a room, organize your entire house, lather, rinse, repeat until book deal.
What other 2016 debut books have you gotten to read? Did you get to read them early?
This has been one of the best things about being a debut author. I love getting to read the other debuts—many of them early, thanks to the Sweet 16s’ ARC tours. So far I’ve read GIRLS IN THE MOON by Janet McNally, TREASURE AT LURE LAKE by Shari L. Schwarz, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US by Ami Allen-Vath, FRANKIE AND TRU by Karen Hattrup, SUFFER LOVE by Ashley Herring Blake, THE BFF BUCKET LIST by Dee Romito, FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, SOUTH OF SUNSHINE by Dana Elmendorf, LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA by Katie Kennedy, and MY KIND OF CRAZY by Robin Reul.
I feel like I’m in great company with the Sweet 16s. There is so much amazing talent in this group.
What do you wish you had known about being a debut author?
I didn’t realize it would be such a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes you’re up; sometimes you’re down. Sometimes you feel like you’re a talented writer, deserving of the honor of being published; sometimes you feel like a pathetic hack.
What advice would you give to writers who are working hard to get to their own debut year?
Just keep going. Keep learning, keep adjusting, keep reading, and, most of all, keep writing.