Monday, April 22, 2013

A Huge Thank You & Answers to Questions


First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who commented on my blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed all of last week, congratulating me on my book deal news. It was one of the most exciting moments in my life and sharing it with all of you was the icing on the cake! And thank you as well to all of you who "liked" my Facebook Author page. I guess this is all real now and not some lovely dream I was having. So to all of you:



At the end of last week's post, I offered to answer any questions anyone had on how I got my book deal, querying, or whatever else anyone thought I might have the answers to. Here's a few questions I received:

Q: How many agents did you pitch to before you found (and knew you'd be happy with) Sarah Davies?
A: Well I only "pitched" to five agents in person, at two different conferences. I received full requests from each. However, I queried 30 other agents via their regular slush pile. I kept a color-coded spreadsheet containing date of query, date of response, list of clients, what each agent was looking for, etc, with a separate list at the top listing my "dream agents," who I was really holding out for. Sarah Davies was at the very top of that list for four reasons: 1) she was consistently one of the top three best-selling agents in the industry for my genre; 2) after regularly reading her website and blog I developed an affinity towards her style and demeanor; 3) she has a stellar list of clients who all spoke highly of her; and 4) she had a great online presence in terms of interviews and participation with blogs and twitter. Several other agents fit most of these descriptions as well, and I targeted them. Basically what it came down to, was research. Lots and lots of time spent on researching which agents would be the best fit for me.

Q: Did you get your manuscript professionally edited before you started querying?
A: Yes. I asked my friend, Natascha Jaffa of SPJ Editing to give my manuscript a basic copy-edit before I queried. But I also had fifteen beta readers before that point, so the work she did was more grammatical, overuse of words, and consistency issues. She helped me clean it up pretty good. And then...Sarah Davies and I spent four months working on big picture issues that required more revising. So yeah.

Q: What's the biggest tip you have for writing query letters?
A: The one biggest tip I would give in regard to queries is to go big with your hook. Get the agent's attention right off the bat. For KILLING RUBY ROSE, I wrote my hook before I even started writing the manuscript. I actually wrote in during Elana Johnson's 2011 Storymakers class called, "How To Write A Killer Query." During Elana's one hour presentation, I conceived a new idea for a book and wrote the one sentence that started it all: "In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks, her killer SAT scores, and even her killer taste in shoes—but only her victims will know how killer she really is."I guess I was really inspired by the word "kill!" My point is to spend a lot of energy on your hook OR attend one of Elana Johnson's live or online query classes so she can help you come up with supa'hott hook line!

There were a few more questions to answer about the book deal itself, but I will tackle those this week because today's post is long enough!

Thanks again everyone. xoxo  

21 comments:

  1. Did I miss this? If not, awesome! If yes, then you deserved a huge congratulations in all caps. CONGRATULATIONS! :)

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  2. Yeah those queries are tough, loved your hook I can see why it caught an eye.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Jessie. Congrats once again too :)

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  4. So excited for you. And I love your advice about writing the hook or query before the book. I've found that really helps me see if I've got a good idea or not.

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  5. Go big with the query huh? Okay! Congrats again Jessie.

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  6. It is always exciting to hear when writer's sell the books they have so painstakingly toiled over. Congratulations!

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  7. Glad you had a great week announcing your sale. You deserve it!

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  8. Thanks for the advice, Jessie! Congrats again!

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  9. I know I've said it already, but still...CONGRATULATIONS!!!

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  10. *wipes tears from eyes* Your book is all grownup!
    Seriously, CONGRATS! I'm ssooooooooooo excited for you!

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  11. Wow, 15 Beta readers. I've done about 15 revisions and had lots of critiques but only 5 beta readers. Maybe I need to revisit that.

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  12. Lovin' the inside info, Jessie. Keep it coming.

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  13. Great answers! You're a rock star.

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  14. Thanks for the "two cents" on my blog! When I publish my first novel at 80, it will be so momentous I'll have to throw myself a rager (and invite any friends who are still alive at that point) ;p
    Congrats again and thanks for the tips. I'm off to work on the hook for my WIP!

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  15. You're awesome. And you're book was awesome when I read it, so I'm sure it's AMAZING now. You rock. :)

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  16. I like the description of your hook, because it definitely made me raise my eyebrows and wonder who Ruby Rose's victims are. And I like the idea of writing the hook beforehand; that makes a good writing prompt and helps you develop a structure for the story.

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  17. Great questions and great answers, still super happy for you :)

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  18. Thanks for sharing this! Congrats, I'm really happy for you.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  19. Now that *is* a KILLER hook. Haha. lame pun. But seriously, awesome book idea. Congrats again!!

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