Hello! This has been a long time coming, and I’m happy to welcome you to my new home on the internet, tracichee.com. I’ve got a lot of exciting things to share, so please settle in, take a look around, and join the conversation!
FIRST NEW NEWS
I have an agent!
I’m now represented by the incomparable Barbara Poelle, literary agent extraordinaire and all-around gloriously talented badass. She’s VP at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency and represents incredible authors like Lauren DeStefano and Renée Ahdieh. Also I am pretty sure that when she rides into the office on Monday mornings, she looks something like this:
In case you’re wondering, yes, she’s riding a dragon. Because she’s that awesome.
I am so lucky and so grateful to be working with such an amazing agent, and I’m excited to tell you how it all went down, so here’s the story of How I Got My Agent, separated into episodes for easy digestibility.
EPISODE ONE: THE QUERY TRENCHES
In June 2013, I began work on a book I’d been wanting to write for three years. It took me about eleven months to finish, and I started querying it on April 21, 2014. The manuscript was 121,000 words at the time, which I, oh naïve little thing that I was, thought was fine. As I soon found out, it was not. In about two months, I sent out 23 queries, racking up one request for the full manuscript, three requests for part of the manuscript (also known as partials), and 18 rejections, most of them form rejections that offered little guidance on what I could do better.
This was not what I’d hoped for.
So I kept working. While the rejections trickled in with agonizing sluggishness, I got help with my query.
I submitted to Query Drill, which is an online resource run by slush pile interns who read queries every day. The great thing about Query Drill is that they’ll not only tell you what they’d do (full request, partial request, or rejection), they’ll also give you a brief paragraph on their reasons, which is invaluable when all you’re getting are form rejections.
I also entered a query critique giveaway by YA authors Adam Silvera and Jasmine Warga, who agreed to read and critique my query if I followed them on Twitter. They’re both agented with books coming out in 2015, so they’ve been through the wringer themselves and have a lot of insight into what makes a good query.
Finally, I asked for help from a literary agent I know. She doesn’t represent my genre, but she asked some of her fellow agents for tips and tricks and gave me some great ideas for how to make my query punchier and more concise.
Every single one of these people told me that the word count was too high.
So I kept working. In mid-July, I stopped querying altogether, buckled down, and set out to cut 21,000 words from my manuscript. During this time, I learned that Pitch Wars, an online pitching contest for aspiring novelists, was starting in September.
Hosted by the inimitable Brenda Drake, Pitch Wars is an online contest in which industry insiders (published/agented authors, editors, interns) choose one writer each to mentor for a period of two months, during which time they hack, slash, burn, revise, rewrite, and regrow their manuscript until it’s pretty-as-a-picture. During those two months, the mentors also work with their writers to spit-shine their pitches and first pages for the agent round, when a whole slew of agents traipse by, making requests.
I’d been wanting to enter Pitch Wars for over a year, because unlike many pitch contests I’ve seen, this one isn’t just about getting your pitch in front of agents, it’s also about getting better as a writer. So I cut down my word count to 107,000 words, squeezed in under the deadline, and alongside over 1,200 other aspiring authors, I waited for two long weeks to see who the mentors had chosen…
Go here for the SECOND NEW NEWS and the conclusion of my “How I Got My Agent” story!