QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Agented Angle

Today we're taking a jaunt across the fence to see if the grass is really greener on the other side of the fence. The agented fence. So many of us are working hard to perfect that query letter, research agents and hoping to find that one industry believer who can get our book into the hands of an editor. But what really goes on after you sign with an agent?

Well, Lisa and Laura Roecker (hitherto known as L&L) are here to give us a glimpse. These sisters-turned-authors signed with Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management earlier this year and were kind enough to give me a few minutes to answer some questions. They run a killer blog and you can check out their website too. I'm ElanaJ (aka EJ. You're disappointed it's not Oprah, aren't you? Dude, that's on my other blog.) and I'm totally going to hit them with my best shot.

EJ: Okay, you’ve signed with an agent. Many of us might be asking: “Is the grass really greener on the other side?” So…is it?

L&L: Oh yes, it’s just gorgeous over here. We’re kidding…kind of. We’ve had the most amazing experience with Catherine. She’s incredibly talented, hardworking and communicative. We feel like we’re her only clients and yet she works with tons of authors, many who are NYT Bestsellers. We feel incredibly lucky that she saw potential in the two of us and has invested so much time and energy into our work.

EJ: Let’s start with revisions. Did you need to complete revisions for your agent before going on submission? If so, how intensive were they? How long did they take? Were you able to ask Catherine for feedback and advice along the way?

L&L: When Catherine offered representation she mentioned that she’d want us to do some revisions before going out on submission. About a month after signing with her we met her in NYC and were lucky enough to get our revision notes live. I will never forget going to Starbucks afterwards and looking at each other, like “Oh, crap. That’s a lot of work.”

But Catherine has this knack for pointing out strengths and weaknesses in your manuscript and really forcing you to make it the very best it can possibly be. She reminded us that you only debut once and it needs to be spot on. So, the revision ended up taking us about a month, but it was an intense month.

We definitely had to ask for advice in regards to the title. We came up with list after list and Catherine would provide feedback. It all comes down to the fact that we suck at thinking of titles. But we all loved THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN, so that’s something.

EJ: Okay, the day comes. Book is revised. Agent-approved. Then what? Give us the low-down on what happens next on your end. On Catherine’s end.

L&L: After Catherine read our revised manuscript she told us she wanted to put it out on submission the following week. We did a little happy dance and then immediately started to freak out. While Catherine was busy writing up her pitch and figuring out who we should submit to, we wrote up bios, took an author pic, created an author website and continued freaking out.

By the next week Catherine sent us the list of the lucky editors and we immediately went into cyberstalking mode. It was sort of amazing to read about all of these uber talented editors who were going to be reading and (hopefully) talking about our work. It was also terrifying.

Catherine kept in touch in regards to who was reading, if/when she’d nudged them, if/when we were going to acquisitions, etc. Every time an email would pop up in our inbox or Catherine’s number would pop up on our cell phones, we’d about pass out. But it was fun. In a terrifying, exhilarating kind of way.

EJ: How did you endure the wait? The rejections? How did having an agent help with both of those?

L&L: We certainly had our fair share of rejections, but Catherine never ever let us give up on THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN. We honestly can’t imagine going through the submissions process without an agent. Whether it was an encouraging e-mail or the constant updates on the status of our submissions, Catherine kept us informed and (somewhat) sane throughout the entire process.

EJ: Did you start a new project while your first was on submission? If so, were you able to bounce ideas off Catherine? How helpful/instrumental was she in what you decided to write next?

L&L: Catherine was extremely open to us bouncing ideas off of her. About a month into the submissions process, the waiting was driving us crazy, so we told Catherine we’d like to start working on something new. She told us to put a few pitches together, so we sent her some of our best ideas. She was on vacation at the time, and while we were waiting for her response we got a completely new idea for a project. By the time she came back, we were already 15,000 words into SHE’S LEAVING HOME. We just fell in love with the characters and the concept. So basically, Catherine didn’t have much of a choice, but I think we’re all really happy we decided to write what we did!

Whew, sounds like it's a thrilling ride, no matter which leg of the publishing journey you're on! Thanks so much for sharing with us. Oh! And Lisa and Laura recently sold their book to Sourcebooks, with a publication date of Spring 2011. Further proof that hard work pays off, no matter which field you find yourself grazing in.



Stina said...

Great interview! A month for revisions. Eek! Those must have been some revisions, but they obviously paid off. Can't wait to read the book. :D

Jewel Allen said...

Fun interview, Elana. I loved getting behind the scenes like this. Although I think I'd have a hard time giving up control of a book idea collaborating, it would be good some days when I am stuck or just not feeling motivated.

Congrats to Lisa and Laura on selling their book!

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for a fun and informative interview, ladies! I love to hear what goes on AFTER you get an agent.

Stephanie McGee said...

Great post! Very interesting to read. Very encouraging for those of us still on the unagented side of things.

Unknown said...

Thanks for an informative and insightful interview - I can't wait to be involved in that process someday!

Rebecca Knight said...

Very cool behind-the-scenes peek! Thanks, LiLa & Elana :)!

There's more great info on Lisa & Laura's blog (i.e. posts they wrote while waiting... panicking... writing new stuff). It's all very witty, charming, and informative!

lisa and laura said...

Thanks for the interview Elana and QT! Please feel free to shoot us an e-mail at lisa-laura (at) live.com if you have any additional questions. Goodness knows we couldn't have gotten this far without amazing friends like Elana and resources like QueryTracker!

Laura Bickle said...

Congrats - thanks for giving us a peek on the other side of the fence!

Suzette Saxton said...

Ooo, fab interview! I do so love L&L and look forward to watching them soar!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great interview, Elana! Lisa and Laura crack me up. It's been fun to follow their journey. This interview was perfect. Look out, Oprah!

Donna Gambale said...

Great interview - really comprehensive, and Lisa and Laura are entertaining as usual!

Bethany Wiggins said...

Thanks for sharing with us L&L!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I liked hearing that Catherine was such support during the editor submission period. It's great to know that an agent has your heart, as well as your back.


Great interview, and congrats to Lisa and Laura! (I'm totally jealous of course, but I'll try to put my green hat away for now.)