Okay, so Kristin is a writer friend of mine and a wonderful critique partner who just recently joined forces with an agent (can we include Sandy's name?) to help her get her book out into the public.
I thought some of my writer friends might be interested to hear about the process that Kristin went through. So, Kristin, if you don't mind answering a few questions, we'd all appreciate it.
1) How long have you been writing?
My whole life! But I started writing seriously right after I got married, fourteen years ago.
2) What made you think about linking forces with an agent and why?
Though I’ve been writing for quite a while, I am pretty new to the marketing side of things. I knew I would need help navigating the submission process to all the different writing houses, and later, hopefully, negotiating a contract.
Also, like all writers, I prefer to spend my time writing, rather than submitting, and an agent’s expertise will certainly help with that.
2) Was it a long process for you to find an agent - can you tell us a little bit about your journey?
It was a long process. I submitted each novel in waves, to five agents or editors. I got some good feedback but also some rejections that didn’t tell me very much. Eventually I realized I had no idea how to write a strong query or synopsis. Once I learned to do that, I got more positive responses.
I attended conferences through SCBWI and Whidbey Island Writers and met editors and agents that way. It helped me to find out what individual agents and editors are looking for, and their preferences for submissions.
I used Agent Query to find agents who were looking for certain styles and genres.
Finally, I learned about Sandy Lu through word of mouth and through various writing circles, and I thought she would be a good fit for my writing and style.
So yes, it took me a while to connect with a good agent, but luckily I kept writing throughout that time and have several novels that I can continue to submit. I also think I improved a lot as a writer.
3) Can you describe "the call" and how you felt?
Sandy Lu, at L. Perkins Agency, emailed me to ask if she could call me sometime that week. Of course I was thrilled but I wasn’t sure she was going to offer representation. So when we spoke and she told me she’d love to represent me, I was over the moon! I could barely speak. I try to create a mood with sensory details and use a lot of specific imagery in my writing, and she let me know how much she likes my style of writing. It’s great to find someone who appreciates your technique.
I think it’s going to be a great fit!
4) Can you give writers any tips on how to find the perfect agent?
Research! It’s true what’s said, that many rejections are due to your work not matching what the agent is looking for.
In the first few lines of the query, be sure to state that you are sending this specific project to them because you’ve read that it’s what they’re looking for, whether it’s genre or style of writing.
5) Can you give any advice on pitfalls to avoid?
Try not to send your work out indiscriminately. Really research where you’re sending your manuscript and make sure it’s what they’re looking for. Rejections can get really discouraging and make you want to give up on something that has a lot of potential.
6) What did your husband/parents say when they found out you signed with an agent?
My husband is so proud. He told all the neighbors and everyone he sees. He also feels validated, because the time I take to write and meet up with my critique group and all the other writing activities I do have paid off.
My parents are really excited, too. They’ve always known about my lifelong love of writing, and so they are happy for me.
6) Can you give us any hints/teasers about your novel?
It’s grounded in history, in Colonial America in the 1600s. For sixteen year old Anne, magic is mixed with every day life. Her village lies at the foot of an enchanted forest; ghosts and witches are among her acquaintances; and she discovers she possesses mysterious powers of her own. When her life, and the lives of her loved ones, become endangered, she tries to turn her back on this dark world, but the magic of the forest will not let her go that easily.
9) Do you have any tips for perfecting the craft for wanna-be writers out there?
It’s a cliché, but write! Write because you love it, and write the genre you love, whether it’s hot right now or not. Make it a priority every day like you would exercise. Find some readers; join a critique group. There are some good online resources as well, such as Critique Circle. They will encourage you to keep going, and also point out things you might not have seen for yourself.
10) Are there any last bits of advice I haven't covered here that you can share?
I think it’s important to remember to love writing, and not lose sight of why you started in the first place. That will come through in your writing.