Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My twisty, turny, loop-de-loop filled publishing road so far

[excerpted from my interview on Lorna Suzuki's blog]

My publishing road has been one twisty-turny loop-de-loop-filled tangle (and I foresee many more twists, turns, and loop-de-loops in the future). It took me something like 81 queries to land my agent (the talented, fierce, and altogether amazing Lana Popovic)—though not all for the same book or at the same time. I first queried agents with Artificial Absolutes back in early 2012. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I read enough agent blogs, etc., to know what a query looked like (even had a friend of mine who was interning at an agency validate that at least I had the idea right), but didn’t know anything about how the publishing industry or book markets worked. I just scattered a bunch of queries to the wind. Around rejection number thirty, I realized there were some small presses out there that took un-agented authors and started querying them too. Miracle of miracles, Red Adept Publishing wanted my book, and I did my happy dance.

While I love RAP, I still wanted a shot at the big houses. So I started working on a new, unrelated book and posted the opening on Authonomy for feedback. Much to my surprise, a staff member from another small press, Glass House Press, stumbled upon it and liked what they saw, so they asked for a full submission. Problem was, I hadn’t finished the book yet. So I scrambled to get the thing done (the most intense three weeks of writing in my life) and sent it to them. While I was excited at the prospect of working with these guys, I figured while I was waiting for a reply, it couldn’t hurt to try querying agents again. I only sent out a handful, but they were all got immediate passes. I became convinced Glass House was going to kick my poor manuscript to the curb. When they said yes—another happy dance!

With contracts from two awesome small presses under my belt, I thought I was done with the whole querying thing for the foreseeable future. Especially since I was working on series. But the thing about inspiration is that it strikes when you least expect it to. Shortly after Artificial Absolutes came out 2013, I had an idea for a YA sci-fi romance that I really had no business writing but couldn’t let go of. I got the first draft down pretty quickly, but between editing and marketing my other books (not to mention writing sequels), I didn’t get a chance to edit it for months.

I decided to do the querying rounds again around September 2014. It was back-to-school season, and I was feeling energized. I’d spent several months—almost a year, actually—obsessing over publishing blogs, reading potential comps, and fine-tuning my query and manuscript. At this point, my efforts to market Artificial Absolutes and my other books had taught me a lot about the book market in general—genres, audiences, trends, etc. And my online agent stalking… I mean, research… had taught me more about what they sought in a query and what individual agents were looking for. I put together a list of agents based not just on what genres they repped (which was what I did for the last two rounds), but also based on what they said in their bios, interviews, and blog posts.

I also decided to query in waves this time—wait for the first 10 or so rejections before sending the next 10, etc. That way I’d have time to tweak my query, synopsis, and opening pages again. There wasn’t any particular order to my list—I just added agents to it as I discovered them (through Writer’s Digest features, for example). I was fully prepared to send out upwards of 100 queries this round. Luckily, I didn’t have to.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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