Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thursday's Children 11/28/12

Perils of Querying

As some of you know, I've been querying TENDRIL. I was trying to approach the whole process cautiously and scientifically. By that I mean entering pitch contests to get feedback and help on my query, querying in batches, testing the waters with various incarnations of my query letter, and not blanketing AgentLand all at once with a desperate cry for representation. 

Rather unexpectedly I got a request from an agent for a phone call.
I can't go into details, and this isn't a THE CALL post. Though, I would LOVE to be doing one of those...

This is more about a deer in the headlights experience.

Based on her email, I thought we would be discussing her suggested revisions-and we did. 
I hoped she would tell me what she liked about TENDRIL-and she did.

I was worried that I would have technical difficulties using Skype-which I didn't.
I was worried that I would involuntarily start imitating her accent, because I sometimes do that when I'm talking to someone whose accent isn't like mine-but I didn't, THANK GOD.

Unfortunately I was not prepared for her to ask me why I queried her specifically. 
I mean, I had reasons, but  I didn't explain them eloquently. AT ALL. It was more like...
"Um, well, I saw you on Twitter. And then I went to your site. And your bio said stuff that seemed as though TENDRIL would be right up your alley..." 
See what I mean? Sounds more like a lame convo.

Perhaps even more tragically, I was not expecting her to ask me how I came to write the story, what INSPIRED me (here's the tie in to Thursday's Children) to write it. 
I, who have been spending nearly a dozen Thursdays rambling about inspiration, drew a complete and utter blank. Damn pathetic.
What I came up with was something along these lines...
"Uh, er, I have always liked fairy tales, and I liked the movie Tangled a lot, but of course because I wanted to write for a YA audience, and not copy anyone else's work, I had to make it different. So, uh, I..." 

Well, I'll spare you the rest. It was lame. And not even true. Because what really inspired TENDRIL was my love of old cemeteries. That's what got me started. Thinking about a girl who discovered she could communicate with the lost souls in a graveyard. I didn't even realize I was writing a retelling until I was a good halfway through the first draft.

Hopefully you've gotten a laugh at my expense, and if an agent wants to discuss revisions with you, bear in mind that he/she might also want to discuss INSPIRATION and other matters. 
Thankfully for me she was still expressing interest by the end of our chat.
If it all ends up going nowhere, at least I'll be ready next time. 

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  1. I'm sorry it didn't go as well as you'd expected, but it sounds like it was a great learning experience. Thanks for putting it out there for the rest of us to learn from, too. You'll get 'em next time!!

    1. In spite of my less than stellar performance, she still seemed interested at the end of our talk. We'll see.

  2. Eeep! I have to admit, I wouldn't have expected those questions, either. o.O But, I think you handled it well under the circumstances - especially since she's still interested! I'm crossing my fingers and toes for you! :D

  3. LOL wow thanks for sharing! What a scary experience. I don't think many of us are used to being put on the spot about our work like that—it seems like you handled it well to keep her interested, which is a job well done, too.

    I guess these phone calls are akin to job interviews, no? The more you have experience with, the better you do.

    Btw, your pitch "a girl who discovered she could communicate with the lost souls in a graveyard" is great, and I'm sure you'll find an agent that connects with it.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. So where the hell were you when I was struggling through all those pitch contests and not getting very far??? LOL, that probably is a much better pitch than any I came up with.

    2. Struggling with my own pitch ;)

      Seriously, it's a great line. Definitely gets my attention, and I think you'd either connect with it and read on, or it's not your thing.

      Good luck with this potential agent!

    3. Oh alright, that's a pretty decent excuse, I'll let you off the hook (hook, get it???). And thanks :)

  4. I think the fact that you got a phone call is amazing. And super exciting--that's a really big thing to get. I seriously doubt you screwed it up as badly as you thought, I'm sure the agent has talked to many nervous authors.

    I've heard that agents generally call someone if they're really interested because they want to make sure the person is all there. You to carry on a coherent conversation that doesn't include their cats. haha.

    I've got my fingers crossed for you!!

    1. "Able to carry on a coherent conversation that doesn't include their cats", lol. Well, I don't have cats so at least half of that isn't a problem. I did almost have to explain that the loud chewing noises were coming from my two dogs though (I'd given them bully sticks to "keep them quiet"). And thank you for dropping by-now why aren't I seeing a link to your post about inspiration???hmmm???

  5. Now that there is straightup funny. And cool. Getting to that stage is like, just pre-boss-fight level. Sounds like you're very nearly there, and you learned stuff to boot. How many agents have you queried so far (probably poor taste to ask such things, I know, but it's St Andrew's Day so deal wi' it ;)?

    1. Happy St. Andrew's Day. I'm not sure how to celebrate it, but maybe drinking some Scotch or listening to bagpipes on YouTube? I'm emailing you privately about that "other stuff".

  6. You, m'dear, are a master of understatement––I'm sure she thought you were awesome, and perhaps a little artsy. In my "real" life as a journalist, I've done dozens of artist profiles and I've found that when you ask them what inspires them that they rarely have an answer. At least, not a coherent one. On the rare occasions that they do, it usually sounds pre-canned, like a publicist wrote it for them (because they probably did.) I think being authentic is the way to go, and if an agent doesn't "get" you then it's not meant to be. is a very relevant analogy, I think. We are basically auditioning a partner for a small business with very little real information and lots of expectations ;-)

    1. Well, there was definitely nothing "pre-canned" about my answers, more like "half-baked", lol.

  7. first off, congrats on the call!!! so, so, so cool! secondly, i was laughing my ass off when i came to the line about you imitating other people's accents. that. is. awesome. glad you were able to control that urge though :p

    can't wait to see where this goes for you!

    1. Glad I made you laugh, and thanks for dropping by. I owe your blog a long overdue visit!