In episode 6, Jeni and Melissa talk to author Jessica Lewis about what happens after you sign with an agent.
You can listen to the audio podcast here: EPISODE 6 - Signing With an Agent
Welcome to the Indie Chicks show! I’m Melissa Koberlein, an author and professor of publishing and she’s Jeni Chappelle, a freelance novel editor.
Indie Chicks celebrates and supports independent women in publishing. We’re a place for writers at all stages of the publishing process. So, whether you’re on the traditional route to publication or self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place for advice.
On this episode:
We’re talking about what happens after a writer signs with a literary agent.
End with an author tip of the week
This week we’re joined by Jessica Lewis. Jessica is a black author from Alabama. She loves writing YA and adult fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Her books always have a dog in them and she spends most of her free time sleeping or watching HGTV-type shows (they’re really relaxing!). You can usually find her on Twitter.
Here's the Q&A
Can you walk us through your experience with signing with a literary agent?
Yes! I participated in Pitch Wars (class of ‘18). I spent four months revising my book with my mentor, Brittney Morris, to get ready for the agent showcase in February. After the showcase, I sent my fulls to the agents who requested and agents who had been waiting patiently while I revised. About two weeks later, my now-agent Holly Root emailed me to ask for a phone call. I was so nervous!! I prepared a list of questions to ask, and Holly and I talked for over an hour. I instantly felt at ease with Holly, which was a big plus for me, and I felt like she really got the core of my book. I asked for two weeks to decide, and though I received two more fantastic offers, I chose Holly to be my agent!
What were your expectations for after you signed?
I expected to revise a bit, and then go on sub. And that’s what happened lol! One unexpected thing was learning to navigate a new partnership. I think a lot of authors spend so long looking up to agents and hoping, praying to find a good match, that they get a bit shell-shocked when it happens. That happened to me for sure! At first, I was very shy. I never wanted to bother Holly, because of course she was super busy! But Holly is always so kind and thoughtful, and never makes me feel like my (hundreds of) questions are a burden. So now I know we are a team, and I’m less shy about emailing her (even if it’s just to ease some of my anxiety haha!).
It must have been exciting. What has happened since then?
Well, talk about a lot haha! I signed with Holly on March 15th, and then took the month of April to revise my book. After getting the thumbs up on edits, we went on submission in mid-May. I asked for zero updates on submission. I have pretty severe depression and anxiety, and I knew I couldn’t function hearing rejection after rejection. So I asked Holly to let me pretend it wasn’t happening, and she did! I settled in to wait for a while. But, to my great surprise, Holly called me in late June and said we had an offer!! We waited a week to give other editors a chance to respond, and then accepted the offer. My book is now part of the Delacorte/Penguin-RH family, with tentative publication in Spring 2021!
It’s been a whirlwind of a year, and truthfully I’m just now catching my breath. I am so, so lucky and I know my situation is far from normal.
What advice do you have for querying writers?
Get a separate email address that’s ONLY for querying. Seriously, this saved me. I made sure my query email wasn’t on my phone and I was strict about only checking it once a day. When rejections got me down, I would say “okay Jessica, you can have a piece of candy/ice cream/something nice if you can just make it through checking your email.” I made it through, one day at a time. Querying is awful, demoralizing, and if you have depression like me, it can even be life threatening if you get too many rejections on a bad day. Take care of yourself, and do not be afraid to take extra steps to protect yourself. Do what works for you!
Tip of the week: When you get The Call from an agent, don’t be afraid to ask all the questions. Talk to querying authors to find out what questions they’d ask; talk to agented authors and find out what they wish they’d asked. And google is your friend. Remember that an agent is your partner, and you always need to be your best advocate.
On our next podcast, Melissa and Jeni are talking with Elizabeth Rago about self-care for writers. We will also have another Tip of the Week.
And don’t forget where to find us! Find our podcast at indiechicks.net or follow us on Spotify or subscribe to Indie Chicks on Apple Podcasts. We also have the Indie Chicks channel on YouTube where you can subscribe. You can follow us on Twitter @Indie_Chicks or Facebook.com/TheIndieChicks.
So, remember, we’re all part of a publishing community, be kind and review your fellow authors’ books! Thanks for joining us!
Indie Chicks out.