Query. Sign. Submit. Debut! with Dana Davis

Dana DavisDana L. Davis is a young adult author and her debut, Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now,  is now available from Harlequin TEEN! She is represented by Uwe Stender at Triada US.

Connect with Dana . . .

Website * Twitter * Goodreads

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now

Get the book . . .

Amazon * Barnes & Noble



Query into

QUERY

What advice would you give to querying writers?

I’d say to make sure your work is polished and as perfect as you can make it before you start submitting to agents. This means possibly hiring a copy editor. Getting sensitivity readers and beta readers. Definitely do your homework. This is your shot… your chance to shine. You don’t want to blow it because “your” should’ve been “you’re” or an agent can’t get passed all of your grammatical errors. It might seem tedious but it’s worth it in the long run!

What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?

This is such a great question! Happy to offer my thoughts on this. To me… an agent’s accessibility is key. You want an agent who has time for you. So many writers long for the big, prestigious agencies but if an agent is representing J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and John Green…do you really think they’d have time to help you hone your craft? Don’t necessarily think big. Think practically. What agent fits your style and/or personality? Follow them on Twitter or Instagram. Maybe get to know them and see if they’d be a good fit for you. I get so sad when writer friends of mine tell me their agent won’t return their calls or emails. You want an agent who respects writers and has a passion and respect for them.

What resources and websites did you use when querying?

To be honest this was quite some time ago, so I don’t remember the name of the book. But it definitely was a lit agency book that I picked up at my local Barnes and Noble. I remember my friend and I sat on the floor together and excitedly researched agents. It was the best purchase of my life.

What was your method for querying?

I don’t believe in sending out mass e-mailings. I say start with 3-10 and see what the response is. You might get feedback that your manuscript needs work. But hey, if you feel you have a perfect product and are anticipating a fight to acquire your manuscript…then by all means…send to however many you can! But if you’re still trying to figure things out and aren’t quite sure… I say stick with smaller batches for querying.

SIGN

How did you know your agent was the right one for you?

His honesty. Uwe was so complimentary and genuine. I remember I was driving and had to pull over and just got this amazing feeling that he was the real deal. He also wasn’t afraid to tell me the manuscript needed work. I trusted him completely.

Once a writer has signed with an agent, what’s the next step?

The next step should be revisions. An agent’s job is to sell your manuscript, sure. But his/her most important job is to give you the feedback you need to make your manuscript shine. It’s those edits that will make it stand out and sell. If an agent can’t guide you properly they’re not a good agent.

What is the revision process like between you and your agent?

It can be tough. Especially if you’re the type of person who is set in their ways. I once had my agent tell me the entire last 100 pages of a manuscript I was working on was tough to read. “Unreadable” I think is what he said. LOL. I can laugh now, but at the time I was pretty frustrated that all that work was going to be deleted. Like I said before, you really need to trust your agent so that when you get notes that are contrary to what you want, you’re on board to make changes. If you think your agent doesn’t have a clue what he or she is talking about…might not be the right choice and could mean it’s time to find a better fit.

At what point do you share new story ideas with your agent?

Immediately. I never start drafting if I don’t run an idea by my agent first. Because my agent reads so much, he can tell me if my idea is already out there. I once pitched to Uwe at Triada this “amazing” idea I had. I was so geeked out about it. It involved a magic mirror and another dimension. He listened and didn’t say a word. And then when I got done he listed about TEN books with the exact same plot! So he told me if I was going to write it, I should try hard to be very different than what’s already been done. It was great info to get because instead of writing that book, I wrote Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now.

SUBMIT

What is a typical first round like once a writer goes on submission?

Think Slow. Then think slower. Then even slower than that. Now that you’re asleep. Wait two months and you’ll get your first reply.

Do you see the feedback from editors?

I always asked for editor feedback! I want to grow as a writer. And many of these editors know a thing or two about writing. So their feedback is invaluable. And sometimes it’s nice to see why they’re passing. I had one editor pass on a manuscript of mine because they had one almost identical to it coming out soon. Totally helps you to not take things so personal. Plus they may pass for whatever reason but love your writing. So it’s encouraging!

What is the next step if an editor shows interest?

Believe it or not it’s a slow process too! They need to show it around to the other editors at the pub house. And if everyone is on the same page…it’s time for acquisitions. Which is basically a presentation to the sales and marketing team about why they think this book would fit their particular imprint. It can takes weeks or even months after an editor says they want to make an offer on your novel. Publishing is so slow!

Did you ever have a Revise & Resubmit? What should a writer consider when deciding whether or not to take one on?

I had a few revise and resubmits on TSLHN when we first started sending the manuscript out. First of all, a “revise and resubmit” is HUGE. No agent or editor is going to want to be bothered with having to read your manuscript a second time if they don’t really love it. They’re so busy and on average get 200 emails a day. So if they actually have taken the time to give you notes and want to read your manuscript again…take advantage. This is what ultimately led to me selling my debut novel. We sent TSLNH out to about 3 editors and all three said “please revise and resubmit.” So we took the book off submission and I rewrote the entire novel. It was the best decision!

DEBUT

What is the best thing about being a debut author?

The free books! Lol. Kidding. I’d say the interviews. I really love chatting with people about my experiences as a writer or a parent or what inspired me to write TSLHN. It’s been so lovely getting to know other debut authors as well! I’m a part of a group of debut authors and we keep in touch daily and even have get-togethers. I have made so many wonderful friends over the past two years leading up to publication.

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

I do a lot of animation. I’m a voice over artist. That’s currently my day job. I’m also working on my third novel! It’s a fantasy and I’m outlining as we speak. I can’t wait for this story to be out in the world. I love writing so much. When I envision my retirement, I see me at my laptop still. I will always be writing.

Thank you, Dana!

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