Hello to whoever is reading this! First of all thank you so much for coming to my website and for checking out this post, I truly appreciate it!
I decided that I wanted to create this blog post, as well as other posts to come (and possibly videos) to explain my querying journey of finding my agents as well as to try and bring, whoever is interested, along with me on my writing voyage.
I also want to put a quick disclaimer here and at the end of this post that basically says; every writer is different! What is one person’s journey will not be the next person’s journey. Don’t feel discouraged, feel empowered, and know that you have a story that is meant to be told!
Now, I want to apologize if I jump around a bit, this story has a lot of back and forth that is not the easiest to explain at times! I also apologize for the fact that I am going to give you a brief background on me as a writer before we start – feel free to skip ahead if you are just here for the HOW!
Let’s get started!
In the Beginning:
To give you a bit of a backstory on myself, I first started writing when I was around five-six years old like I’m sure, most of you! I still remember my first story being something about a magical land filled with talking horses all coincidentally named after myself and my friends at the time. Obviously, since then my stories have become a bit more complex but who doesn’t love talking horses? Anyways, aside from my apparent love of animals I also fell in love with vampires and monsters at a young age thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and strong encouragement from my mom. Not too long after, I fell in love with reading, also thanks to my mom and Ellen Schreiber.
As the years continued I found myself constantly daydreaming in school, hell, I still do. I know for some teachers day dreaming and zoning out is frowned upon but in my case, it’s how I get my best ideas. Often in my day-dreaming and regular sleep-dreaming travels I stumble across some new and interesting characters – some that excite me, some that haunt me, and some that hold a soft spot in my heart.
I was around maybe twelve when the idea for one of my manuscripts, currently titled Vampires Are the Worst, stumbled into my head. I remember being the odd one in the library with my Ed Hardy notebook writing about vampires and a young Puerto Rican girl who was always the star of the show. This main character always had the same name, Delila Ramos. So, if you think about it, now that I’m twenty-five this girl has been a part of my mind for about thirteen years. Sorry it took so long!
Now, for my other manuscript, currently titled Sever My Soul, this story and MC (main character) has been with me for eleven years possibly. He joined my character roster around my freshman year of high school when I began falling quickly for Edgar Allan Poe. I always knew I wanted to write a book centered around a work of Poe’s but including my own twists and turns. I have so many other characters and story ideas that I am excited to put down on paper that I hope to update this site with when I can!
I will be making a separate post regarding details of how high school can sometimes be a hell hole for writers in terms of teachers who bully and students who hate to see competing writers – LONG STORY!
Aside from the craziness of this pandemic, fear of the health of our loved ones, and the constant fear of death, these have been the most productive few months of my life. I, like most of the world, was without a job since mid to late March until about June. So, with that being said I decided that I was going to do the only logical thing possible, finally go on the journey of becoming a traditionally published author. Solid plan, right? Question was, where do I start?
I had written short novelettes before of less than 5,500 words and published them through Amazon but I have never been able to sit there and write a whole book. My body and brain hasn’t had it in me for all of these years, why would now be any different? Well, because now I knew my characters inside and out. I was older, wiser, I could relate to their age, understand them, be their friends. I was able to sit there and dive into my first manuscript. I wrote my first manuscript in about two months, I believe. I gave the copy to my mom since she’s the most honest person I’ve ever encountered – which is both good and bad if you’re wondering. My mom is also an avid reader and loves YA books and sometimes the Adult genre.
At the time, this manuscript was created for the Adult/New Adult genre and I thought, this is sick! All adults will love this, I know I do! I then started to feel like a mom at a pageant cheering on her child, not everyone is going to love it. I learned this the hard way by doing the rookie mistake everyone talks about, querying too soon! I am still obtaining my bachelors at 25 (I took a long hiatus from school), and both of my writing classes that were supposed to address querying their final week BOTH got cancelled – one due to a snow storm, the other because of the pandemic!
I had sent out query letters for this manuscript thinking, I’ve got this NAILED! Everybody’s going to love this and fall in love with my characters as much as I have! Every agent is going to want me. Reality struck me like a freight train and all I had in my mind was Danielle Victor from the Bad Girls Club saying to me:
I was crushed! Rejections or unanswered queries came piling in to the point that I thought it was me! Was I on a black list somewhere? I then began to realize the amount of people out there who have been querying for years; some who have been shopping around the same manuscript or some who have written four or more manuscripts before one stuck with an agent. I figured, I guess my one month wasn’t that bad…at least they’re answering and being incredibly kind in their responses, especially since I had leaped without looking.
As time pressed forward my mom continued reading my story and tossing in her comments on scenes or characters. She was my only ‘beta reader,’ if you want to use the ‘professional term.’ While mom was reading continuously, I felt enough time had passed for me to dive in a begin tweaking with a fresh pair of rested eyes and ideas. I had adjusted my first ten or so pages, revamped my query letter (which I’m sure was still not the greatest), and threw caution to the wind once more. It was in early August, perhaps two weeks or so into querying that I had received my first full request. I screamed at my phone and threw it.
Now, because I was still editing my manuscript I didn’t send it ASAP like my urges pleaded for me to do. I instead continued through my edits and went from 73,000 words to about 80,000 words – hell I’m sure even now I could add even more since it’s been a little while. I sent my full out the next day and waited. I then refreshed my email every hour, every day since.
For awhile, this agent was the only person who had requested my full for my first novel, which is still tentatively titled Sever My Soul. The only other person to request my full for this manuscript is one of my current agents now, Analieze Cervantes, which I will get into more down below.
To give you a break down for this manuscript total queries sent (to date), rejections, and so on:
Queries Sent: 48
Fulls Requested: 2
Partials Requested: 3
Rejections: 46 (these rejections also include 2 agents that I had let know I had received an offer of rep and they did not have enough time to finish reading.)
It is now no secret that I am Puerto Rican. So with this being said, I saw the pitch event for LatinxPitch on Twitter. The guidelines were specific, and they wanted works for kids i.e. PB (Picture Books) through YA (Young Adult), no Adult works. I had been debating already between making Sever My Soul a YA series as opposed to an Adult series already so I figured, what the hell! Let’s give it a shot!
I started off LatinxPitch as I did for PitchWars – thanks to advice from the Writing Community to post my pitches ASAP and not wait too long. Most agents, from what I’ve read, are usually surveying early in the morning as all of them have such a crammed schedule already. Some agents even peruse the event before their official working hours because they’re so excited for the potential out there! So, I started off with my pitch for Sever My Soul which was the following pitch:
I had received little interest, but I appreciated whatever came my way! It was here that I had received interest from one of my now agents, Analieze Cervantes. She had been tagged in this pitch by another kind soul and I believe someone else tagged me within her comments for when she was asking for pitches, if I am remembering correctly. Funny enough, I had already sent her my query for this manuscript just 3 days prior to this event, she hadn’t even seen it yet!
As the event continued I remembered my idea for my other manuscript from middle school. I had just begun to write this story again, the day before. As I stared at my Twitter screen, I called my mom (which happens regularly) and I said, “I have a potentially bad and dangerous idea.”
Of course she said, “What else is new? What is it this time?”
I said, “I’m going to pitch this book idea I was telling you about yesterday.”
“Have you written any of it?” She asked.
“There first five pages.” I smiled.
“You’re an idiot.” She sighed
“So what you’re saying is I should post it and if someone likes it you know great and if they don’t whatever, right?” I clarified.
“No, I think you should wait, don’t be stupid.”
“Got it, I hear you loud and clear, I’ll post it.” I said while hanging up with her.
I then sent her my pitch which she called me back and said, “You know I think it’s great, I just think you’re an idiot.”
“So you think it’s great?”
She hung up on me. I, like the impulsive queen I am, posted the pitch to twitter which was this:
I didn’t expect for my pitch to take off the way that it did and I am forever grateful for anyone who enjoyed it, shared it, commented on it. I was truly blown away and for context, this is how the conversation went with my mom after through texts:
In case y’all are wondering that GIF is supposed to be this one:
Then there was this message:
In case you don’t know what that is, that is the incredible Gordon Ramsey calling a fake cook an idiot sandwich on James Corden’s show. That was me, I was an idiot sandwich.
So, you know, getting all those likes, the agent and editor interest was DOPE. Like super dope! I had then seen that Analieze and Jennifer Herrington, who is my other agent, both liked my pitch. When I asked Analieze if I should send her the pitch for this manuscript and pull the other one, she instructed me to send the first manuscript to her and the second to Jennifer. Obviously I was screaming internally at the sheer thought or possibility to be represented by not just one but maybe two agents if that was route they were going to take!
I then went home that day, sat down, and began pouring my soul out. I wrote the first maybe fifteen or more pages in about an hour or sent it straight over to my mom who, though thought I was crazy (which is nothing new by the way) was beyond excited for me and wanting to help in anyway possible. She read the first 15 or so pages and said, “I think you got something here. I think this better than your first manuscript, I think this is gonna be good babe.”
All bets were off.
Immediately I sat there and thought to myself, well, f***, what am I going to call this thing? Vampires Suck? NO, that’s a movie! Vampire, Vampire Town, AH A Vampire, “One thing about living in Santa Clara, I couldn’t stomach all the damn–” NO! That’s Lost Boys! I then thought to myself this is just the worst — that’s it…that’s the title. Vampire’s Are the Worst.
I wrote all evening and created the first maybe 50 or so pages. The next day, I sent my first fifteen pages to Jennifer as well as queried a couple of the other agents, taking my time just in case my pages or synopsis sucked so I could revise and not destroy all of my chances at once. Then, later on that evening I received two full manuscript requests – one from Analieze and one from Jennifer. SCREAMING! I could spit fire if I felt so inclined. Then, I realized, the books not done! I sent my manuscript for Sever My Soul ASAP to Analieze and braved waiting to send my second manuscript to Jennifer – I had sent her a message letting her know I was making edits and would send it ASAP.
The day after that, the seventeenth I received my first rejection on the manuscript from another agent which was bound to happen! I waited another few days and continued my querying journey with this manuscript as I continued writing. To sum it up and move along in this story, here are the numbers for Vampire Are the Worst:
Full Requests: 5
Rejections: 8 – including rejections on fulls
Offers of Rep: 2
To back track for a quick moment, I completed this manuscript in exactly one week. I would go to bed late, wake up early, write during my break, and powered through the weekend writing. With this manuscript, I sent out my first and only draft with little to no edits. Needless to say I was disgustingly nervous! So nervous to the point that I posted a question on Twitter asking for guidance from other writers and without giving too much background I basically asked something like, “Should I tell an agent who has my full that I am open to all edits on this manuscript?” The responses I received by some weren’t exactly the kindest of responses, there were maybe one or two helpful individuals but others that were quite rude and said, “Why would you send it if it wasn’t your best?” And so on.
I was so NOT in the mood to be hearing all of that so I deleted the post and said to myself, well, that’s the last time I ask for help on the internet.
Why did I post that question to begin with you might wonder? Well, I have horrible anxiety and wanted what I did to be known whether it helped or destroyed me so they could understand if it was lacking in some areas that that was the reason. Also, I had just received my first agent offer and this was brought up. Let’s jump into it.
Being Offered Representation
The day had finally arrived. I received that email, that beautiful, glorious email. The one that says, are you free to jump on a call and talk about your book? It was a fantastic email to receive and I’ll never forget the feeling, that first breakthrough feeling. It didn’t matter to me that this could be a Revise & Resubmit, hell, I welcomed ANYTHING that would possibly grant me an agent!
This agent and I spoke for a little while, and she was fantastic. She was kind, knowledgable, and had a great vision for my book. She explained to me that she hadn’t read the entire manuscript because she wanted to ensure that I was open to revisions – OF COURSE I WAS! It was a miracle she was even on the phone with me for this being only my first draft! We spoke at length about myself, herself, and what she would do for the book. We spoke about the changes and edits, there were a lot more than I had expected but I understood and respected them all.
By the end of the of the call, I was offered representation – from all the research that I had done, I had at least learned to not accept right away and to inform any and all agents of the offer I received, allowing them time to respond. Of course, I read the wrong article that day that advised me one week was typical…DO NOT DO THIS! A typical response time is two weeks at the least!
The most recent agents who had my fulls were incredibly kind and read through my manuscripts as fast as they could! Others who had my partial from my first manuscript as well as that first full request had backed out fairly quickly as they had very tight schedules and hadn’t gotten the chance to fully read anything yet which I completely understood and was SO grateful for their kind and encouraging words! As agents that had Vampires Are the Worst were reading, that’s when my fear kicked in. I knew that even if all these other agents rejected my manuscript that would be okay because I had ‘vibed,’ with the agent who had made the original offer but as selfish as this may sound (because I know I was lucky to at least have one agent interested), I was hoping that I would have at least another agent interest.
So here is part two of why I asked this question on Twitter. I posed the previous question because in my initial meeting with the first agent I told her what I did that I pitched this book last minute without writing it to see if anybody was interested and how it, in my opinion, took off a little bit leaving me to write only one draft in a weeks time. She sat there and from what it had sound, she was almost surprised or stunned and said if I remember correctly, “I was going to ask how many drafts you wrote before sending me this.” It was almost a feeling (from what I perceived) of, I can work with this for sure then. Because of this conversation, that made me want to write every agent back saying just a heads up, I wanted to let you what happened and that I wrote this in a week etc, etc.
I held my tongue as the feedback on twitter was not great and all the other articles I had read said not to do this. I sat there for a few days waiting in misery. Analieze had sent me an update online on October 5th (the deadline was October 8th) letting me know of the status and that she was still discussing with Jennifer. At this point I thought, what do I have to lose about being honest? If they reject me, I’ll be crushed but I’d rather be crushed than let them think this is my perfectly polished manuscript.
I wrote Analieze a long message back for her to share with Jennifer with fingers crossed and a prayer that they would understand. You know what happened? I didn’t hear back from her until October 7th. My stomach was in knots that entire waiting period thinking I BLEW it! But, on that glorious day of the 7th, I heard from Analieze and Jennifer who wanted to meet with me that day ASAP!
Needless to say they were both just more than fantastic. They brought their A game to that call! I was a nervous wreck but I tried to keep my composure as they spoke. I sat their and watched as Jennifer, who read Vampires Are the Worst, and in the words of them, fan-girled over my manuscript, my characters, my ideas, my future concepts, etc. Analieze, though we could not speak in depth over Sever My Soul – since we were there to discuss VATW – mentioned how she enjoyed that manuscript as well. They presented their game plan, their ideas, and how they want to tackle this book. I was speechless. I could hardly ask any questions because well, they answered them all!
I hadn’t decided at that exact moment because I needed a bit to digest everything. I needed to speak to the homie first before I decided on anything. The homie being my mom. I video chatted with her the moment I hung up with Analieze and Jennifer and told her everything that happened, dad at this point had come into the kitchen with my mom and discussed with me as well. We spoke about everything, the differences between agencies, agents, ideas and views on my book, the list goes on.
To summarize that long story, needless to say it did not take long for me to make the decision. I had loved the first agent offer but I felt as though my vision was seen more and that Analieze and Jennifer were just a little bit more passionate about this manuscript. I am so happy to be represented by the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency and even more excited in particular to be represented by two incredibly talented, bright, and passionate agents like Analieze Cervantes and Jennifer Herrington.
What Did I Learn?
I learned a few things throughout my querying journey and before I list them I want it to be known that what I am about to say are my own PERSONAL experiences and view points. This is MY querying journey and NOBODY’S will ever be the exact same way!
So, what I now understand:
- The rejection letters are right, Publishing is very subjective.
I know, we all hate this term, it’s the kiss of death, but you know what? It couldn’t be more true. Take my experience for example. The first agent who offered representation did not finish my manuscript and felt like the entire piece needed to be strongly re-written/heavily edited where Jennifer enjoyed my manuscript and fell in love with the characters, she still feels it needs to be edited as all manuscripts typically do, but she truly enjoyed the story and all of my different characters. I believe, again if I’m remembering correctly, Jennifer and Analieze had said that it was near perfect but needed a little bit more love. Two people – the first Agent and Jennifer – who enjoyed and saw the potential in my piece but carried two different perspectives/ideas. The same goes for all of the other agents who rejected this manuscript and Sever My Soul. What works for one or interests one may or may not interest another.
2. It doesn’t hurt to be honest
Agents are people too. Feel out your situation. If you feel like there is something worth mentioning to an agent, what’s the harm? Who knows what the outcome would have been had I not only explained my situation to just Analieze and Jennifer? Either other agents would have been interested OR I still would have been exactly where I was meant to be, with two incredible people.
3. Every Querying Journey is DIFFERENT!
Nobody’s journey is ever going to be exactly the same thing! Sure, they could be similar but never the same! It’s hard to be on social media nowadays as we compare our successes to others. The only reason why I am sharing my journey today is because I know it’s not of the norm but my journey is basically written here to tell you that you can do anything you set your mind to. You may have some hiccups, some fails, some rejection, and whatever else along the way but if you keep at it, you are bound to find your YES!
4. All it Takes is One Yes!
Remember this, all it takes is one YES to change everything! That one person who is down to take the ride with you! Keep striving for this!
Differences in my Journey as Compared to Many Others
- I did not hire an editor.
For my two manuscripts that I sent out, I did not hire an editor. I so did not have the money for all of that so I did the best I could with my own eyes and ideas. Editors are AWESOME if you can find one. I will be linking, by the way, Analieze’s website down below, she does offer editing services but just know that if you have her edit your manuscript you CANNOT query her.
2. I did not have a critique partner
Another thing I didn’t have. I think this all stemmed from high school when the kids were just gross about my manuscript. Ever since then I had kept my writing to myself and my mom. So, I mean, I guess mom was my critique partner again. Also, I had this incredible stranger who I met on Twitter (whom I now deem as one of my friends) offer to read my query letter and opening ten pages, so does that count? I’m still not sure. If you have the opportunity to work with a critique partner that you trust, do it if you can.
3. My ‘beta reader,’ was my mom.
DUH! Same as above, I don’t trust many people. The only person who was not an agent to read my entire first novel has been my mom. Funny enough, mom hasn’t even read Vampires Are the Worst as of yet – ink is expensive to keep printing it out!
4. I Queried an Unfinished Manuscript
Let’s be real, I got lucky! Yes, I know, writing skills, knowing your characters, etc also comes into play but again…I queried an unfinished manuscript…don’t do that!
5. My Manuscript was Obviously Not Edited nor Perfect
Know this, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! I do NOT recommend sending out a manuscript that you haven’t edited tirelessly, just because I don’t recommend this doesn’t mean that I didn’t do this as we know. Try your best to edit your manuscript to the best of YOUR ability. Remember, YOU are the writer of YOUR story so do your best and stop obsessing over the small things/little things of your manuscript. Every agent is different. Some agents yes, want a perfectly clean and polished manuscript with little to no errors, some agents don’t mind a few errors, some agents go based off of instinct and may not even read your full manuscript, while some other agents may read your whole manuscript and go based off of potential. Long story short, edit your manuscripts as best as you can and send out your queries. You never know what could happen!
ALL WRITERS QUERYING JOURNEY’S ARE DIFFERENT! What happens to one will not happen to another in the exact same way. Do not get discouraged especially when you read of others successes! Feel inspired and strive to create and share your own success story to the world! Be kind to others, especially your Writing Community! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to give help when you can. Recently I offered to read through any opening pages of a manuscript and offer my thoughts – I feel like I will still keep this option open even for query letters but not too sure. for pitches as I now feel pitches should be written from the authors perspective. I gave guidance for a pitch recently and created a mockup of what I would for this authors pitch as their story idea was AWESOME, I thought this person would add more details/words of their own within their pitch – as it is their story and would know better than me what to fully put in there – but unfortunately this person just copied and pasted what I wrote for them into a pitch contest. So, with that being said, I am happy I was able to help this individual in anyway but for future reference for anybody – a mockup that is done for you out of the goodness of someone’s heart shouldn’t be taken word for word, it even discredits you, now any requests you receive on a pitch are due to somebody else…that’s not exactly a good thing.
So, long story short? That was just one hiccup that I have now learned from so I will still be offering any help/guidance for my fellow writers in the querying trenches. If anyone wants you can either send me a DM on Twitter for my email or submit an email to me through my Contact Me page with any type of questions you may want me to answer or if you want my thoughts on your query letter/opening pages/pitch – I will try to help in anyway that I can but I need you to know two things. One, I AM NOT AN EXPERT! I don’t have my degree (at this moment), my opinion may not be the right one, my edits/thoughts on what you write will NOT guarantee you an agent, this is just friendly advice writer to write as I wish I had someone there to help me through my journey – my answers were Google and my college advisor/professor whenever possible! Two, please, this is YOUR story so I need a couple of things from you – any edits that I may mention, explain, or suggest for you to do, just because I give an example/mockup doesn’t mean you should use that exact example, you know your story better than anyone so have the confidence to make it all your own. Another thing I need you to know, my ideas are from an outside perspective – the readers perspective and remember what I said, publishing is subjective! I may have a different opinion than another person who reads your story so do what YOU feel is right for your book!
Please continue to remember that EVERYONE’S JOURNEY IS DIFFERENT! You are still an incredible writer with a story that needs to be told! Your story is bound to become somebody’s favorite to tell. Rejections are bound to happen and will always be there – it unfortunately comes with the territory. However, that ‘no,’ or rejection, gets you closer to your yes! In the words of one of my favorite villains of all time, 1984 Karate Kid’s John Crese, “Defeat does not exist in this dojo, does it?” Granted, in our case it’s writing, but you get the point.
I hope this LONG story was helpful and gave you more of an inside look into my journey, what worked for me, what didn’t, etc. I plan on posting here regularly and would love to answer any type of writing/querying questions that I can, especially in blog form so they can be a little more detailed. Please do not hesitate to leave a comment, DM me on Twitter, or send me a contact form. Make sure you’re subscribed to this site and follow me on Twitter for more updates on me, my journey, and so on!
Analieze Cervantes’ Twitter and Website:
https://analiezecervantes.com – this is Analieze’s personal website which includes her MSWL, Submission Guidelines, as well as her Editorial Services
As of 10/30/2020 Analieze is open for queries!
Jennifer Herrington’ Twitter and Website:
https://www.jenniferherrington.com – this is Jennifer’s personal website that includes her MSWL and submissions info!
As of 10/30/2020 Jennifer is open for queries!
Harvey Klinger Literary Agency:
Check out their agents and submission guidelines!
Thank you for reading this if you’ve made it this far! I hope this helped you in some way shape or form!
Amanda C. Badillohttps://ko-fi.com/widgets/widget_2.jskofiwidget2.init(‘Support Me on Ko-fi’, ‘#29abe0’, ‘U7U13DB1Z’);kofiwidget2.draw();