Abby is a middle grade author and her debut, STICKS & STONES, is now available from FSG/Macmillan! She is represented by Rebecca Sherman at Writers House.
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What was your method for querying? Small batches? Query widely? Wait for feedback?
I sent them out in batches, and I’m really glad I did. My strategy was to send around 5-10 at a time, then wait a couple of weeks to see what I heard. Of course there was a lot of silence, but sometimes agents would respond – especially if they had requested a partial or full – and give a little bit of feedback, and I incorporated that into my manuscript before sending out the next round of queries. By the time my agent saw my work (she was one of the last I queried), my manuscript was in the strongest possible shape.
Did you ever have a Revise & Resubmit? What should a writer consider when deciding whether or not to take one on?
I think you need to consider whether you truly agree with the agent’s suggestions. I didn’t have an official revise and resubmit, but my agent did mention several ideas for revision. Luckily, I totally agreed with her suggestions and was excited to make the changes. You have to remember, though, that it’s ultimately your book. As much as you may be dying to have an agent, if you and the agent have completely different ideas for revision/the direction of your book, it’s probably not the best match.
What helped you get though the query trenches? Inspirational posts? Writer friends? Writing another book?
I think you just need to not make it your entire life. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking and you want to think about it all the time, but it shouldn’t be everything. Have you ever had one of those friends who totally disappear off the face of the earth when they start dating someone new? It’s like that. Don’t be one of those friends. You can be excited, but don’t be obsessed. Do your regular life. Go to work. Write. Eat. Sleep. Read. Hang out with friends and family. And check your e-mail when you normally would and only a teeny bit more. ;)
What was the week surrounding your offer(s) of representation like for you?
It was awesome! I was floating on a cloud of agent-y excitement. I sent out notifications to the other agents who had my full manuscript and didn’t hear back, so I figured that was that and my decision was done and easy. Except – on day ten, AKA the last day people had to respond – BAM! Two agents were interested and wanted to chat on the phone and offer rep. THAT DAY. It was a lot of phone. Since I had to make my decision right away, I was honestly kind of hoping I would completely disagree with their revision ideas or dislike their personalities or something, but no such luck. Both agents were absolutely incredible in every way. And just like that, my easy week became incredibly stressful. I mean, great problem to have, right? But still. Not a decision you want to mess up.
How did you know your agent was the right one for you?
I tried to do pro/con lists and all that jazz, but it really just came down to a gut feeling. I had 100% faith in my agent, and I knew she would make me a better writer. Plus, her love for STICKS & STONES practically oozed out of the phone.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Same thing you do while querying: YOUR LIFE. I know it’s hard when all you want to do is stare at the phone/computer, but for the sake of your sanity, you have to walk away and do normal things.
How did you celebrate when you got the news about your book deal?
I went out with family and friends, but honestly, I kind of sat there like a happy zombie. It really didn’t sink in that day, or for a long time after. I just kept staring at the e-mail. I still stare at it, sometimes, and try to truly take in that this happened. THIS HAPPENED!!!!!
What else are you working on along with all the promotion?
I’m finishing up edits on my summer 2017 book, BUBBLES. I’m so excited about this book and can’t wait to share it!
What was it like to see your cover?
Totally surreal. I was sitting in my car about to drive to the dentist when I saw the e-mail, and I was so excited that I couldn’t calm down long enough to actually drive, so I just sat there and stared at it and squealed for a super long time. I was way late to my appointment, but whatever. WORTH IT.
What was it like to receive your ARCs?
Another surreal, incredible moment. I sat in my building’s lobby and waited for the UPS guy for approximately two hours. Totally normal behavior, right? Once again: WORTH IT. So worth it. All the ups and downs along the way – everything. Worth it.
Thank you, Abby!