After The Call: Interview with YA Writer Kate Hart

"After the Call" is a new feature on my blog! It chronicles what happens after an agent offers you representation: how to choose the right agent, how to communicate with your new agent, what the revision process is like, etc. For previous posts in this series, please click hereherehere, and here.

Today at Adventures in Space, I'd love to welcome the fabulous Kate Hart! I've been a fan of Kate's blog for awhile now and I also love her posts at YA Highway. (Haven't read YA Highway? Go read it right now!)

I thought Kate would be the perfect writer to interview for the "After The Call" series because she received a whopping SEVEN offers of representation a few months ago! Holy cow! How in the world did she choose between them?!

Read on to find out!

1.) Can you tell us about the book that landed you your agent?

After The Fall is a contemporary YA. It's my second book, about a girl who's in love with her best friend but sleeping with his brother.

2.) Oh, cool premise---I'm really intrigued to find out how your novel all plays out! So what was your querying process like for this book? For instance, how many queries did you send out? And what was your request rate like?

I actually have a long blog post on the process here, but the short answer is ten full requests. I ended up with seven offers, one "this would have been an R&R," two "no thanks but good luck"s, one query rejection and one no response.

3.) Now that you've found representation, what kind of advice do you have for writers looking for an agent?

Definitely avail yourself of the many, many resources out there. For finding agents, Publisher's Marketplace is worth the membership fee. For queries, Query Letter Hell on Absolute Write is amazing-- even if you don't put your own query up for critique, you can learn a ton from what's there. 

It's helpful to get feedback from people who both have and have not read your book, and I had a lot of help. The girls at YA Highway went above and beyond the call of duty. I bet they looked at fifteen drafts, at least. Several other wonderful writer friends also pitched in, as did an intern friend. 

A lot of agented and published writers post about their query process, and Twitter chats like #askagent taught me a lot. I also had the advantage of writing the Friday round up at YA Highway, which meant I saw a ton of advice. (And speaking of YA Highway, we have a series that features our real queries along with commentary from our agents. /shameless plug)

I'll also say that having a visible online presence helps. Before my first book was even finished, two agents contacted me to request that I query them-- one found my blog through her client, and the other through Absolute Write.

4.)  Huh, interesting! I can see how blogging and getting involved online can really help in landing representation.

What was your reaction after you got your first offer? Were you jumping your joy? Or jittery with anxiety? (I was so anxious when I got my first call!)

I was on a plane, coming home from the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles, and was fairly sure an offer was coming. My seatmate and I had been talking, and as soon as we touched down in Dallas, she was like, "Check your messages! Check them!" So I did, and lo and behold, I had a message. When the agent said, "And yes, I am offering representation," I did a spastic little dance in my seat, and my seatmate joined me. We may have gotten some odd looks.

I had to race around the airport because my connecting flight had changed terminals, but finally I got to make some breathless calls at the gate to my husband, my mom and my best friend. That's when the squealing started. Then I still had another hour-long flight and an hour's drive home before I could celebrate! I may or may not have had a dance party in the car though. 

5.) Oh man, that's awesome! I love that you got your first offer on a freakin' airplane! So how did the agents offer rep? Via email? Or a cold call? 

Everyone set up a phone call. Some made it clear they were offering, and some waited until the end of the call to say it.

6.) Ah, neat! My agent actually called completely out-of-the-blue, which floored me! It's interesting to compare and contrast. Anyway, what sort of questions did you ask the offering agents?

I have a post on that too! The most revealing question was about revisions. Always, always make sure your vision meshes with theirs.

7.) With seven great offers, how in the world did you end up choosing only one? Sales record? Client referrals?

All of those things went into consideration, but in the end I just had to trust my gut. Michelle and I talked on a Thursday, and she obviously just got my book. She also offered to fly out to Arkansas, so her enthusiasm was definitely not in doubt (Arkansas in August is not an offer one makes lightly. Unless one likes 100 degree weather + humidity.) 

Anyway, over the weekend, she read my other book, Refuge. When she sent me suggestions for it a few days later, my jaw dropped. My best friend was across the room and she asked what was up, so I forwarded her the notes. She read them, looked up and said, "So you're going with Michelle, huh." 

8.) Looking back now, what sort of advice do you have for writers who find themselves with multiple offers? What should they do? What shouldn't they do?

As soon as you get an offer, notify everyone who has your manuscript, as well as anyone who hasn't responded to your query. After all, you only queried agents you really wanted (right? right??), and you don't want to miss your chance. I actually notified two agents who had fulls of my other manuscript, and ended up with offers from them. You just never know.

Give the agents a reasonable amount of time to read your book-- I said ten days, which gave them two weekends. Also, I can't stress enough the importance of a phone call or face to face meeting. You wouldn't marry a blind date (at least I hope not). Don't choose your agent that way either.

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Kate! Best of luck to you while you're on submission!