August 31, 2011

After The Call: Interview with YA Authors Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver

"After the Call" is a regular 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 see the "After The Call" sidebar to the right.

It has been awhile since I've tackled an "After The Call" post and so I'm excited to bring you guys an interview with the lovely Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver! A few months back, Lindsay and Trisha (who are writing partners) received an amazing six offers of representation for their YA speculative novel, SILO. They are now repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, and I'm hoping for a quick sale 'cause I'd love to read this book! 

1.) Hey guys! *Waves* Can you tell us a little about the book that landed you with your awesome agent Ginger Clark? What's the genre? What's it about?

Sure! Our book is a YA Speculative Fiction piece titled SILO. It’s written from a male POV and follows three boys living in a defunct missile silo after a massive solar storm wipes out communication systems around the globe. Grounded in reality and set in a contemporary environment, SILO walks that fine line between complete fiction and oh crap, that could really happen. To me. Tommorrow!

2.) Creepy! These sort of books scare me the most because, like you said, they can really happen. Eep! So what was your querying process like for this novel? How long were you and Trisha querying before your first offer?

We did a ton of research. Literary Rambles is awesome as well as sites like QueryTracker. And never underestimate the value of Twitter! Following agents you are interested in to watch for their personal tastes, wish-lists, and turnoffs is a great way to get to know who might be a good fit for your manuscript. We plotted our queries pretty carefully and queried about 30 agents total. I’d say from the time the first query was sent to the time of our offer, roughly 4 weeks elapsed.

3.) Now that you guys are all done with the query-go-round, do you have any advice concerning process?

Ah, good question. We created our query letter together, which naturally gave us an advantage in that two sets of eyes are better than one. It also helped that we both believe in minimalist queries. That is, provide enough information for the agent to know what you are pitching them, but not so much that you’re outlining your book. Queries and synopsis are two very different things and a query is really your shot at getting their attention. Short, concise and engaging. . . that’s what we were going for!

Be sure to do your homework. Agents receive hundreds of queries a week so it is important to do your homework, make sure the MS/ genre you are querying them with is one they actually have interest in representing. Also, don’t be afraid to query your top-five dream agents; you just may be surprised. We were!

4.) Oh, I especially liked your last piece of advice! It's best to go big, right? 

So you guys get your first offer...what did you do? Scream in elation? Jump for joy? Faint? :)

Would it make us sound completely crazy if we told you that between the two of us, we probably did all of the above? Seriously, we were thrilled. The first agent who offered on SILO actually emailed us the moment she finished it – in the middle of the night! Her email offered representation and I can’t tell you how thrilled we were to hear an agent tell us they couldn’t put our book down. After all, we were in love with it, but it’s another hurdle entirely to find an agent who is as well.

5.) You eventually received a whopping five offers of rep! How did the agents offer rep? Via email? Or a cold call? How did you and Trisha handle the phone calls as writing partners?

Actually at the end of the day, it was six offers of rep. We gave the asked the initial offering agent for ten days to let the other agents respond. We then quickly emailed those agents who had full/ partials of our manuscripts as well as those we had queried informing them that we had a formal offer of rep.

Because there are two of us, it wasn’t very realistic for any agent to cold-call us (thank goodness). We had plenty of time to line up our questions for the various agents and simply used conference calls so we could both be on at the same time. Everything we’ve done since day one has been as a team, and we needed speaking with the agents to be the same.

6.) What sort of questions did you and Trisha ask them? What questions did you guys find to be the most helpful in making a final decision?

So we know you are supposed to pre-plan your questions, and have a general idea of what answers you are looking for. We did, but I can tell you, once you are actually on that call, the best-laid plans go to hell! That’s where it helped to have a partner. When one of us lost our train of thought, the other was right there to jump in!

For the most part, we asked the agents what their vision for SILO was, what types of revisions they would like us to do if we signed with them and what kind of submission plan they had in mind for the novel. We made it a point to ask about their previous sales history and what their preferred style of communications was. We also spoke about our solo projects, and whether or not these would be a good fit for the agent.

7.) Haha, I know the feeling of getting utterly tongue-tied during those calls! It's like your brain stops working. Eventually, how did you and Trisha end up choosing only one agent? Sales record? Client referrals? Phone conversation?

I think that when it came down to it, Ginger’s confidence and complete understanding of SILO was what drew us to her (not to mention her kick-butt sales record and reputation. . . those sure don’t hurt!). She was very honest about her vision for the book, about what tweaks she wanted to see us make and we both loved her straightforward communication style. Overall, she blew us away. We’ve been fortunate to not only have very similar writing styles, but to have similar taste as well so making the decision was shockingly easy.

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?

First: don’t panic! It’s easy to get really stressed out if/when you get multiple offers. We all fantasize about what it would be like to see several agents interested in your book, but when it really happens, it can be much more nerve-wracking than you ever imagined. When you’re making a decision that large, it is to TAKE YOUR TIME! There’s nothing wrong with asking for a week or two to evaluate your options. If you get an offer, notify the agents holding a partial or full of your book immediately. Give them a timeframe in which you’ve promised to answer offering agent A and ask them politely if they could give you a response on your book by then.

Also, if there are agents that you would love to have representing you who are holding only your query, there’s no reason not to let them know as well. In fact, Ginger had not yet reached our query in her massive slush pile when we notified her of the offer. She responded to our update immediately and told us she’d get back to us by our deadline. When she emailed us to ask for a phone call, it was simultaneously exciting and terrifying! Fortunately, the conversation went well and she offered us representation. . . a dream come true for the both of us.

Thank you so much for this interview, Lindsay and Trisha! It's so cool to hear how you chose your agent and to see how things roll when you're working with a writing partner. Congrats!

4 comments:

  1. I seriously love this series, Caroline. And thanks to Lindsay and Trisha for sharing their story. I think when I finally get to the querying stage I might have to go on an After the Call binge. Such great advice!

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  2. I spoke w/ Trisha and Lindsay last week and they're always full of helpful advice. Great interview!
    Stopping by from the campaign! *waves*

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  3. What a fascinating interview. It must be amazing to get multiple offers!

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  4. Tracey -- Aw, I'm so glad that this is helpful!

    Melodie -- *Waves back* Hello, hello, campaigner! Welcome!

    Kate -- Thanks so much! I couldn't even fathom getting SIX offers and having to talk to all of the agents on the phone! Yep, I'd definitely faint.

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