Monday, October 13, 2014

Getting the Call

As we get ready to mentor our Nightmare on Query Street contestants, we thought we’d post a little bit about our journey to representation, in case it helps inspire a few writers to Keep Calm and Query On.

One Halloween, while on a ghost tour of Greenwich Village, we came up with an idea for a YA Paranormal novel. We passed chapters back and forth, just for fun, over the next two plus years. Once we had written about 40,000 words, we decided it was time to get serious about finishing the book and enrolled in a MediaBistro class with writer Micol Ostow, which started in January 2013. The class pushed us to finish and revise the manuscript. Plus, we met fellow writers and learned a lot about the business of children’s lit. It also showed us just how much more work we had to do.

After a few more re-writes, we began to contact agents. We even made it into last year’s Nightmare on Query Street contest. In total, we probably queried 30 people and received 10 requests. Most of the agents were pretty positive in their rejection emails, but one theme stuck out over and over. Paranormal was a hard sell at that time. A couple of very nice agents told us to write something else and to be in touch.

We could have kept querying or quit altogether, but deep down, we knew they were right. It was time to move on, but instead of getting depressed, we got excited about taking what we learned and writing something even better.

After a crazy brainstorming session in August 2013, we came up with a wacky idea, to write a YA contemporary romance about Bigfoot hunters. This time, the whole process was much easier. We drafted, revised, and worked with our critique partner and a couple of beta readers, until we felt it was ready.

That’s when we heard about Query Kombat and jumped at the chance to get some valuable feedback and make some new writer friends. That was the extent of our expectations. Fast forward a few months and not only did we get into the contest, but we kept winning. Before we knew it, we were the grand champions and had received 10 agent requests!

During the contest, we also sent a handful of queries to other agents who were on our short list. Within a few days of the contest we had an offer of representation on the table from Agent A who loved the manuscript. We quickly went back to everyone who had a full, partial, or query, because you never know (and it’s the polite thing to do). Most requested the full and said they would read our manuscript before our deadline. Only a couple bowed out right away, and a few said they really liked it, but weren’t quite in love. Then two more offers came in from Agents B and C!

We had a long phone conversation with each agent who offered. All of these agents were great in different ways, but we were undecided. Then, two days before we were going to make a decision, we got a fourth offer. We quickly set up a call with the Agent D, knowing our decision deadline was around the corner. However, before we even ended the call, we just knew, “the way you know about a good melon,” to quote When Harry Met Sally. This was our agent, the one we wanted to represent us.  She really seemed to get what we were trying to do and had great ideas to make our manuscript even better.  We knew we would enjoy working with her and that she would be a rock star champion for our novel.

So now, we are thrilled to say we are represented by Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis, who was one of the agents who requested our manuscript during Query Kombat.

If we had to offer some advice, based on our story, we would say to keep writing. You never know if the manuscript you are writing now is the one that is going to get you an agent, or the one that is going to teach you how to write the one that gets you an agent.

Thanks as always to contest gurus Michelle, Mike, and SC for playing literary matchmakers and for creating such a wonderful community!

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