Twitter Q&A

I’ve been receiving lots of follow-up questions to my last two posts—and a good amount of them have been similar questions—so I decided to do a Q&A. Being transparent and helpful through this process is important to me since there’s so much uncertainty with the writing and publishing world.

Here are the questions Twitter moots submitted—

What about your query and book got you an agent?

This is a great question but a super difficult one to answer. I think my query had a solid hook and fun details worked in that made it stand out. Standing out to an agent who goes through hundreds of queries is important, so add in your own personality and take the opportunity to show your voice as a writer.

As for my book, my agent had a lot of good things to say but some things that I’m personally proud of are my characters and their relationships, the anxiety and queer representation that’s personal to me, and that I think that it has a lot of heart. Maybe I’m biased because I put my heart into it but I feel like it shows. I like to think that was important in getting an offer, that my agent could feel my love and passion for the story when she read it and when we spoke, and that I was really willing to put the work in to get it to the point where it could be published.

How do you give your query a good hook?

I think the first thing to consider is that the agent you’re sending it to is probably reading through dozens and dozens of queries that probably feel fairly similar since the recommended layout doesn’t allow for much wiggle room. At that point, what you need is something to catch their attention and make yours stand out. A good hook is key, and in my opinion, your personality/voice showing through in your query is what’s going to make the agent want to actually read your story.

An example I’ve given some querying friends asking how to show their voice or add some personality into their query is this—

(A line in your query)— “Though they have to work together, Miles and Gabriel don’t get along” would be turned into “Forced into an uneasy alliance, Miles isn’t thrilled to work with Gabriel—he’s snobby, stubborn, unfortunately attractive, and his ugly sweater vests probably cost more than Miles’s car—but he’s the only one who can save him from the grisly death that fate has planned.” In this example, you’re still getting the important plot points across (the two characters working together and clashing personalities) while giving it more spice, more fun details. In my opinion, this is how you hook an agent into wanting to read more. Be wary of going too over the top though and the recommended word count for a query.

How did you not give up on querying after 8 months?

I mean, I pretty much did give up tbh. I was just calling it a break but oof, I was struggling big time. And I’m not embarrassed of that—querying is one of the most difficult, draining, emotionally painful things I’ve ever done. If you need a break, take that break. if you need to vent to a friend, vent away. Find your community, your support system, your ways of coping and practicing self-care. Just don’t let the querying process destroy your passion or determination to get your book out there into the world.

How can you prepare for the call with an agent?

Research! I read a lot of articles on questions to expect and ask, and wrote up a whole list of answers that I kept in front of me during the call in case my brain went blank. My goal was just to be enthusiastic and sincere which probably meant I was a bit of a mess, haha. But it worked out in the end! And both agents who made me offers said during our discussion that they weren’t just investing in my book but me as an author, so make sure you’re being yourself!

What happens after you get an agent? Specifically, revisions, communicating with your agent, going on submission, etc.

First, you scream and cry and have a bit of a crisis. Maybe that was just me, haha. But after accepting the offer of representation, we signed all of the contracts and got that out of the way then my agent set up a Google Sheet for WIP ideas, the revision timeline, and the submission list once we get to that point. I’ve only had an agent for a month but in that time I’ve been working on a new WIP while waiting for my first round of edits back (which I’ll be getting in the next day or two). These are going to be developmental edits and then we’ll do a round of line edits if needed after. We’re hoping to be at the point to go on submission in a few months. As for the actual submission process, I can’t say since I haven’t gotten there yet but I’m very excited!

I’m fortunate to have an agent who is very big on communication. The Google Sheet keeps me up to date and she’s checked in a few times over the last month and is always quick to answer any questions I’ve had so far. We communicate mostly through Slack, which works very well for me.

What do revision and submission timetables look like?

The only information I have on this is hypothetical at this point since I haven’t officially started either yet but it sounds like revisions will take anywhere from 3-5 months and I’ll go on submission after that. From what I’ve heard, being on submission can take really any amount of time and I haven’t thought much about what to expect/hope but I’ll definitely ask my agent once we get there.

What is your revision process like? How do you handle your agent wanting to change a lot of your book?

I’ll be getting my first round of agent revisions back in the next few days so I can’t give specific details but my goal is to tackle them with lots of focus and enthusiasm. It’s something I’ve been excited about since I started querying—I know my book isn’t perfect and having help getting it as polished as possible is thrilling to me—so I’m ready to dig in and get to work. As for handling a lot of changes, that’s something I asked my agent during our call, what she thought needed work, so I knew what was expected going into this. But it’s a question I asked myself before getting an offer, how much of my book I would change if an agent asked, and for me, the things I wasn’t willing to compromise on were the characters and the heart of the story itself. Only you know where your line is but it’s definitely something to think about.

How do future projects work with your agent?

Another question I asked my agent during the call! Her answer was to tell me what genres she represents and to generally be enthusiastic about my WIPs. Right now, we have the Google Sheet for my WIPs and I’ve been working on one for Camp Nano while waiting for revisions. I imagine that when I go on submission/during that downtime, we’ll discuss what project I should start next, aside from book two of my duology.

Are you writing more or more motivated now that you have an agent?

Yes and no, haha. I still have days when my muse has abandoned me and I can’t write something halfway-decent to save my life. But, the feeling of working on a project and realizing like, oh hey, I have an agent now so this project might actually like, amount to something??? is unmatched. It’s given me a huge boost in motivation and excitement that I really needed. Querying for eight months really drained me and I don’t think I realize how much until I felt that boost.

How do you feel about self-publishing?

I think self-publishing is awesome and I have nothing but respect for those who do it—the amount of work that goes into it is insane and self-pubbed authors deserve more recognition in my opinion. I think picking between traditional publishing and self-publishing is really up to you, since both have pros and cons. As with most things, just put in the research, speak to those with experience, and trust your gut.

As a newly agented author, how do you feel about all of the current drama in the publishing world?

I’m not going to lie, of course it makes me nervous. How could it not? At the end of the day, I have to just give it my all and hope that a publisher sees the value in my story about anxious queers and spooky stuff. My agent believes in me, my writing friends believe in me, and I believe in myself (most of the time).

If you want more in-depth information about my query process (with my query letter as an example), check out my previous post—The Query Letter That Got Me An Agent.

Hopefully I got to everyone’s questions! Feel free to reach out on Twitter if you have any others, I’m usually pretty good about answering my messages. And, as always, thank you all for the continued love and support. Joining the writing community has been one of the best decisions of my life and you all inspire me daily!

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