Earlier this week, just after I got from a week’s trip to NYC for BEA, I had a chance to sit and chat online with my three newest clients: Susan Adrian, Elizabeth Briggs, and Krista Van Dolzer. Since I signed them, they’ve bonded as fellow writers at the same stage in their careers, and it was fun to compare, contrast, and chit-chat about book stuff (as well as dogs, songs, and nerdities). Today, we’re posting that chat online for your enjoyment, and, possibility, your education. It’ll go up in four parts, on each of our blogs, and if you like what we’ve got to say, I invite you to poke around and read some more. And of course, let us know what you think! Without further ado…
Triplet Talk: Ask Daphne chats with Susan Adrian, Elizabeth Briggs, and Krista Van Dolzer
Susan: First, let’s actually talk about the way you signed all three of us so close together. I know I queried in November, you asked for a partial at the end of November, and a full in January, and offered at the end of March. You said we were all part of one batch?
Kate: Well, sort of. Let me explain…
When I’m going through my query inbox, I tend to do so very quickly, to weed out the queries for genres I don’t represent, queries where I know immediately they’re not for me, etc. While I’m doing that, if I come across something I do want to take a closer look at, I move it to another folder to look at later–I’ve found that this way, I don’t turn down stuff that’s actually good because I’ve been burned by so much that’s truly bad, and I don’t say yes to things that aren’t good enough, just because they’re better than the worst.
I then go look at the true possibilities at another time, ideally when I haven’t just read 100 queries that were definite no’s. I do think I may have asked for all of your partials at around the same time.
Krista: Yep, I queried on 11/14, and you requested my partial on 11/21. (I have a thing for remembering numbers.)
Susan: Mine was 11/21 too!
Liz: Mine was 10/13 so I was a little earlier.
Susan: So I noticed that all three of us are from the West, like you are. I’m in Montana, Krista’s in Nevada, and Liz is in L.A. And you’re in Denver. Wondering if it’s a plan for Western domination of publishing. 😉
Kate: Heh! It wasn’t deliberate, I swear! But I want to get back to the prior question. I mean, yes, you all came in around the same time, but reading you all, and loving you all, and SIGNING you all, that was different. That was unique.
The truth is, it had been a while since I had signed anyone new, and it’s almost just kismet that I found the three of you all at about the same time, and wanted all of you.
And it’s to your benefit, I think, or at least to mine, that you are writing pretty different books. I might have had a harder time convincing myself I could take on three authors with debut contemporary YA novels at once! But to be able to say, OK, female-driven sci-fi, historical MG, and boy YA spy thriller, that I could do!
Susan: We certainly have bonded, as “triplets.” It’s great to have instant sisters in the same spot you’re in.
Krista: We’re nothing if not diverse:)
Liz: I was going to ask about that–if you saw our books as competing or if they were so different it didn’t matter?
Kate: I think there is some overlap with yours and Susan’s, Liz, which is perhaps why I was grateful Susan and I needed to do a bit more revision before we went out, so I could space out my submissions.
Susan: It must be interesting trying to balance, especially if the schedules are close.
Kate: It can be, yeah. As I’m sure I told all of you, I try not to submit multiple clients to the same editor, unless they’re very different.
Liz: I bet Kate has some crazy spreadsheets!
Kate: I have QUITE an extensive spreadsheet. It’s got pivot tables and everything. Very fancy.
Krista: Ooh, nice. Jinx, Liz! (Did you guys do that as kids?)
Liz: Spreadsheet nerds!
Susan: I think we all appreciate spreadsheets.
Krista: I took a whole class in college on using spreadsheets to teach kids math…
Liz: My agent one was ridiculously complicated.
Susan: Speaking of which, Kate, I think your clients all do have some similarities…at least what I’ve seen from interacting with them so far. Kind, generous, welcoming, and a bit nerdy. 🙂
Kate: Well, I know what I like. And look, let’s be honest, an agent/author relationship is, ideally, a long partnership, so I seek out partners I feel I can spend a LOT of time with, comfortably.
Liz: Kate likes the nerds.
Susan: Thank goodness. I think we’re all in it for the long haul!
Krista: Yes, we are!
I have a question for Liz and Susan. Since we all climbed out of the slush pile, our queries were obviously pivotal in finding our agent. How did you guys go about writing yours?
Susan: I write a blurb as I’m writing the book, to try to condense the plot down to its summary. Then when I was ready to query I put that together and threw it out to a few friends. Scott Tracey is a genius with query-tweaking.
Liz: I write my queries before I write the book and then tweak as needed. I’m weird, I like writing queries.
Krista: I like writing queries, too, Liz! (Although I write mine after the fact…)
Liz: I wrote a query for the new book even though I knew I didn’t have to query anymore!
Susan: I like writing them too! And blurbs. But hopefully I will NEVER have to write another one.
Krista: Oh, you will, Susan.
Susan: No, no, I mean for agents. 😉
Krista: Some editor’s going to want to buy THE TUNNEL, like, tomorrow, and she’s going to say, “What else does she have?” and Kate’s going to say, “Susan, I need a query ASAP!”
Kate: Well, even if that were to happen, there’s actually a bit of difference between the query an unagented author would write to pitch an agent, and one that an agented author would write to describe their next book. I mean, you get to leave out the bio, and the why-I-came-to-you stuff.
Susan: Straight blurb?
Kate: It’s much closer to a synopsis than a query.
Liz: Good to know.
Krista: You took the words right out of my mouth, Liz. (Er, my fingers?)
Liz: That’s because we are twins.
Susan: Kate, can I ask what drew you to our manuscripts? What made you set them aside?
Krista: Good question, Susan!
Kate: It was actually something different for each of you.
With Krista, I’d liked her previous partial, but I didn’t think it was for me. When she told me about the MG she was working on, and I knew I liked her writing, I wanted to see what she could do in a different age range. And once I did, I just fell in love with Ella Mae and Steve. Ella Mae’s voice was the kicker for me–so authentic, so alive.
With Liz’s novel ALTERNATE, she had a good pitch, but the first five chapters just rocked my socks off. I had to know what happened next, and where we took the characters she’d introduced.
Susan, I think, must have known, subconsciously, that I would fall for Jake as I did for a certain nerdy Buy More clerk. And I could look at my list and see how THE TUNNEL was a good fit for it, how it took a genre I liked but hadn’t represented yet, combined it with a POV that was also unique, and just worked.
Ultimately, with all of your manuscripts, they just spoke to me. I knew at least one editor I wanted to send your books to before I’d even finished reading them, which is always a good sign for me.