Jill is a middle grade author and her debut, LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE MURAL MYSTERY, will release from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on October 18, 2016! She is represented by Jennifer Rofé of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
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What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?
First and foremost, consider whether the agent represents the type of book that you’ve written. People always say this, but it’s crucial! Also important is whether your voice and style will resonate with the agent. The agent’s website may be a starting point for determining if you’d be a good match, but reading other books that your agent represents is also a great indicator!
If querying was a long time ago for you, what do you remember most?
My obsessive checking of email and querytracker! I wish I could tell my past self to relax a little, but honestly my present self isn’t very good at that either.
Are there any conferences you attended that really helped you move forward as a writer during this stage?
I attended the Big Sur Writing Workshop and thought it was immensely helpful. It was where I met my awesome agent, Jen Rofé, who facilitated one of my workshop critique groups. I knew very little about the querying and publication process when I went to Big Sur and the workshop demystified this for me. I also met some wonderful fellow writers!
How did you know your agent was the right one for you?
I felt like my agent really “got” my book and would be a strong advocate for it. A bonus was that I had met her and I liked her personally.
How editorial is your agent? Is it what you expected?
My agent is very editorial and this is definitely what I expected. It was really important to me as a debut author to have an editorial agent to help me polish my manuscript before it went out on submission.
What is the revision process like between you and your agent?
I did multiple rounds of revisions with my agent for my first book, similar to the ones I do with my editor. My agent gave me notes, we discussed on a call, I revised, and we repeated the process until the manuscript was ready. For book two in my series, I haven’t done as extensive revisions with my agent because I have an established and very positive relationship with my editor, Grace Kendall. However, my agent still gives me excellent feedback and is available to look at anything I send her way.
Do you see the feedback from editors?
My agent passed a lot of the feedback along. It was interesting to see different opinions and interpretations of my book, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with them all!
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
Commonly given advice is to write your next book and I wholeheartedly recommend that. But I also suggest doing anything else that will keep your mind from obsessing over the submission process. Focus on other work, your family, your cat, your hobbies, your list of ice cream flavors to try, anything besides submission!
Can you check in with your agent if there hasn’t been any news in a while?
Yes, definitely. My agent kept me updated, but I always felt like she was accessible if I wanted to check in.
Did you know there was interest in the book before you got an offer or was it a surprise?
I did know there was interest and I actually had a call with my editor before I received my offer. I appreciated this because even though the call was fairly brief, it gave us both an idea of whether we would work well together. (We do!)
What is the best thing about being a debut author?
The thrill of seeing my art become a reality. And the amazing community of other debut authors who have become my friends and cheerleaders!
What have you learned about being a debut author?
The hard work doesn’t end once you sell and complete your book. Promotion is exciting, but it takes a lot of time and energy!
What else are you working on along with all the promotion?
The next book in the Lou Lou and Pea series, which comes out in winter of 2017.