Query.Sign.Submit.Debut! with Elly Swartz


Elly is a middle grade author and her debut, FINDING PERFECT, releases from Farrar, Straus & Giroux on October 18! She is represented by Tricia Lawrence at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Finding Perfect Cover SwartzConnect with Elly . . .

Curriculum Guide * Finding Perfect audio trailer * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Website (www.ellyswartz.com)

Get the book . . .

Amazon * Indiebound * Barnes and Noble


Query into


What advice would you give to querying writers?

My biggest piece of advice for querying writers is to do their homework. Be sure the agents you are querying represent the type of work you do and are open for submissions. Be sure you know their specific submission requirements, what conference you met them at, what advice they gave. Read interviews they’ve given and talk to writers who they represent. Know why you want to work with them. Not simply why you want an agent. Be sure you are a good fit.

What helped you get though the query trenches?

Family, community, and Twizzlers got me through the no’s/maybes/almosts. My husband and sons were my rocks through this entire process. And for me, that spanned 15 years. They never wavered in their support or belief in my ability to get to YES. Along with my family, was my writing community. These friends and I shared this journey and all of its travails. We supported, inspired and encouraged each other along the way. And in those moments when friends and family were not enough, I added a healthy dose of Twizzlers.


Are there any specific questions you’d suggest writers ask an offering agent during “The Call”?

Before the call, I would have a list of questions written down. When you are excited and in the middle of a call you have been eagerly awaiting, it’s easy to forget. As to the questions, my biggest suggestion focuses on communication. As we all know, there is much waiting in the publication business. And, waiting can feel, well, long. So in those weeks/months, how can you and when should you connect with your agent? Will there be regular check-ins, and if so, what’s the expected time frame? Or will there be correspondence only when there’s news, and if so, will it be via email or phone? And, what if you have a question. What’s the best way and time for you to reach out? Remember, agents are busy people. Be gracious and respectful.

Did you sign as a client of a career agent or on a book-by-book basis?

I am a loyal gal. With everything. So, I signed as a career agent. I wanted a relationship with my agent that would allow us both to grow together.


What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

While you are out on sub and waiting, waiting, waiting, my one piece of advice is write your next book. Picture book, middle grade, young adult. It doesn’t matter which genre. Just pick one and write something new.

How did you celebrate when you got the news about your book deal?

I celebrated with my family when I got my book deal. With 2 sons in their 20’s, we are often in different directions that land us in different places. But the day I got my deal, we were all together. Being able to share that very moment with them was a gift. We toasted with champagne and the rest, as my mom would say, was gravy!


What is the best thing about being a debut author?

Everything! Honestly, I love being a debut. I love the community of debut authors I’ve met though the Sweet 16’s and through the Emu Debuts (my agency’s debut group). I love the excitement of the yes, the shiny newness of every single thing I am doing, and the sense of unending adventure. Truly, it’s an honor.

What else are you working on along with all the promotion?

I am in the middle of a few new projects. I am revising a middle grade novel about an 11-year-old named Frankie. A story about family with a splash of mystery. I am super excited about this project, and while I can’t share more at this time, I can say, stay tuned. Good news coming!

I am also diving into the picture book world and kicking off another new middle grade.

What was it like to receive your ARCs?

Receiving my arc was like a dream come true. This journey started 15 years ago for me. I had imagined this moment a dozen times. Actually holding the arc of Finding Perfect with a real cover and real pages and cool font, was one of the those inexplicable moments when everything felt possible.

Thank you, Ellly!

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