Monday, August 18, 2014

Queries: When Literary Agent Sarah Davies Called Me...

When I got the email announcing I'd won a 15 minute phone call query critique with literary agent Sarah Davies...I pissed myself. Sarah Davies is literally the only agent I've had my eye on. After changing my outfit, I got prepared. Sarah and I discussed dates, times, and kissing British Guards over several emails. I nervously awaited what she thought of my query for Living RunAway.
(literally redid query before hitting *send*)

Then...RIIIIIINNNNNGGG
 (heart twerk)
"Hello? This is Tammy."
 British accent: "Tammy? This is Sarah Davies!"
"Sarah? THE Sarah??? OH MY GOOOOSH!"
(kidding!! That was just my inner thoughts)
 
The rest will remain forever embedded. A 15 min win became a 45 min convo, and I would have kept going if she wasn't so busy. (sigh) Luckily, she liked my query as we went line by line discussing where to tighten and emphasize. (her eyes are geniuses!) She hoped to hear from me again, to which I replied "ohhhh, you will!" 
 
 SARAH DAVIES' GOLDEN QUERY ADVICE!

1. FIND AGENTS - gather 10-15 agents. Get to know them, what they represent, what you have to offer them, and especially what they're guidelines are. (always follow the guidelines!!!) If you cut and paste agent names, at least do the correct one! (Sarah's #1 pet peeve) Send it how they want it sent and at the appropriate email.

2. QUERY INTRO - make it an easy, quick read. Include if it's a story, novella, or novel after the genre and title. Do add in a condensed pitch and if able - a comparison. (comparisons should not be best sellers just like average people should not sing Celine or Whitney! Comparisons ex: Gone Girl meets 13 Reasons Why...) Two things to avoid: stalker talk and bragging.

3. QUERY SYNOPSIS MEAT - 2-3 paragraphs in length. Make it have karate moves with quick sentences, punchy, and tightened. (she took three of my sentences and converted it to one with listing events by commas instead - genius!!)

4. QUERY ENDING - talk about you!! That one surprised me, but she wanted to know more personal things! I work full time (nope!). Okay... I'm a site leader working full time (nope!) Oh! I work full time as a site leader with mentally disabled adults providing state mandated care. I'm also a full time mom of 4, and so my writing hits the keyboards mainly at night. (yes!) See? Now she can see if I'm "interesting" to her. (but don't TMI) Next, list anything published and if you're an administrator/co-administrator to a writer's blog group, FB group, etc. Or belong to a writer's group. (If not, don't sweat it. Not everyone is!)

5. BONUS SUGGESTIONS - if you're writing a series, each book has to be able to stand alone. Don't write book 2 if book 1 hasn't been picked up. (you may waste your time) Take your time!! Don't rush and get hurt quick because you turned in your test too early and didn't check your answers. Be certain it's everything you hope represents you! Get on social media! Sarah said I should join Twitter to see what publishing houses or agents are looking for at certain periods. (I signed up that day).

6. INTERESTING OPINION - don't rely on writing to pay the way. Sarah said she's pleased to see when someone has a job. I see what she means. And it's a polite way of saying take care of yourself, what ever that looks like, and don't solely rely on a dream to be published. Be realistic. I know for me, I have to work. It's not an option. I would never quit my job on a whim that I think I'm sitting on a gold mine story. I have a family to care for and until that gold mine story hits movie status (sigh)...I'm gonna keep working. I know everyone will differ on opinions about this, but again, it's what taking care of yourself looks like for you. (thinking starving artist but for the writer. don't starve!!)


I'd like to thank Natalie Aguirre for hosting Jessie Humphries and Sarah Davies on her blog, which in turn allowed me to enter for this contest. Hugs to you ladies!! And especially to Sarah. May our paths cross again!
 
So...did you learn anything new????

22 comments:

Murees Dupé said...

Wow, what an amazing experience. Congratulations on winning and making the best of such a wonderful opportunity.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing! It sounds like you had such an awesome experience. I hope to do more of these if I can get agents and authors willing to do them.

And I'm so with you on the need to work. I'm grateful for that because my full-time job supports us and is a much more stable way to support yourself than writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a great opportunity. Yeah, books don't pay the bills. Not all of them, anyway. Interesting she'd want to know personal stuff.

Pat Hatt said...

I hope you cleaned up the piddle lol and very true, have to have another job most times as certainly can't live off of books.

ilima said...

What a cool opportunity!

Jessie Humphries said...

I'm glad this was such a positive experience for you. Sarah is truly one of the best in the biz :)

Connie Keller said...

YAY! What a wonderful opportunity!

Elephant's Child said...

WOW. What an experience to hug to yourself.
Congratulations (and happy dances).

Mark Means said...

Very cool and I'm glad you shared such great advice. :)

Leandra Wallace said...

From 15 mins to 45 mins? I'd say that was a conversation that went very well! =)

Annalisa Crawford said...

She sounds great. And thanks for sharing the advice - I'd never have thought to put so much detail about myself.

Loni Townsend said...

Wow, sounds like an awesome and educational experience. It's always great when you can pick the brains of the pros. Nice write-up!

Morgan said...

Oh my gosh! This is AWESOME. Holy priceless, Tammy!!!!!

The Silver Fox said...

Congratulations, and thanks for sharing!

Suzi said...

Wow. So totally jealous.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hey, Tams,


HOW AWESOME!!!!!!!! I'm so jealous/excited of you/for you...

When I first saw your title I thought you were signed! I WAS THRILLED/ ENRAGED... LOL. Sara just rejected me last week.... Damn! I so wanted to have her as my agent. Then again, who doesn't.

She is sweet and AMAZING. I actually received a PERSONAL note from her with some good advice about my story, so as far as rejections go, this was one of my finest....

Thanks for sharing your news~ AND THESE GREAT TIPS!!!!!

Stephanie Faris said...

GREAT tips. Plus you shared her advice with everyone else, which makes you awesome!

Romance Book Haven said...

Congratulations! What amazing experience!

Crystal Collier said...

Super awesome. Sarah truly has some excellent advice, and I'm slightly jealous of your conversation. She's definitely a veteran of the industry.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I think that's some awesome advice! And I am so glad you changed your pants.

cleemckenzie said...

She sounds like someone who would be wonderful to work with. What a great opportunity you had.

Carrie Butler said...

I love this! :)