Katrina’s positivity is contagious! We are so happy to share in Katrina’s good news because as 12 x 12 members, we know how hard she’s work to make this happen. I love how Katrina stayed optimistic throughout the process of finding an agent and chose to control the only thing she could. Please help us celebrate Katrina Moore!
How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?
I wrote my first picture book draft in 2012 and submitted it to publishers. I knew nothing of the industry or market except that I loved reading picture books and wanted to write them. Not surprisingly, I did not get any responses. Over the next year, I spent time revising that draft and sent it out, again, after doing more research. In 2013, I signed with the publisher that seemed to be the best fit, still not knowing much about the industry. Well, my experience working with that publisher through the production and marketing of my book made me realize how much I needed an advocate (expert) in the industry and also made me realize what I wanted…not just a published book (or two), but to build a career of writing and to send my best work into the world. So I knew I wanted an agent, and began searching in 2014, around the time my book was released.
What kind of research did you do before submitting?
I talked to the authors I met through conferences about their experiences with agents, and they got me started in the right direction. I also joined SCBWI in 2014, which was pretty life-changing. All of a sudden I had all the resources and answers I needed all in one place. I looked at authors I admired, or styles of writing I thought were similar to mine, researched who represented them, and began a list of agents to query. I also read lots of agent interviews on the web to get a better idea of what each agent was looking for, and if they’d be a good match. Literary Rambles was probably my go-to site. And, of course, I looked at the agencies’ websites and read the agent bios to see which one might be the best fit for me.
The dreaded questions: How many queries? How many rejections?
I am a glass half-full, look towards the sunshine type of person, so I did not keep count of the number of queries, or rejections, though I did reflect thoughtfully on the feedback from agents, when given. I probably sent around 20 queries. I did receive rejections— some personal, some form, some in the form of no response, as well as some requests for full work, and ended up signing with a terrific agent about a year later (2015).
Unfortunately, even though I had a truly terrific agent, it turned out to be an almost-terrific match. So after a year and half, I amicably parted ways and began the search for my next agent.
This time, I knew exactly what I wanted. I sent 12 queries, and over the course of 8 months, had multiple requests for full work, a few offers of representation, and, of course, some rejections.
Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?
Not really. Though, there were agents I was interested in that only represented author-illustrators as their picture book clients.
Who is your new agent? Tell us about getting the news.
Natascha Morris of Bookends Literary! When I got the call, it was the most pleasant surprise on a Friday afternoon after a long week of teaching. I literally had my baby in my arms and my toddler was running around the garage (we just got back from daycare pickup).
How did you know your agent was “the one”?
When I queried Natascha, I was hopeful she’d be a good match because she came from editing, so I knew she’d be savvy about the industry and have a keen editorial eye (both important qualities I was seeking), plus her taste in books matched my writing style. But, I didn’t really know she was the right agent for me until we talked on the phone and I was able to gauge what our working relationship would be like (we shared the same vision for communication style, submission strategy, development of manuscripts, and branding). It really felt like the right fit, not just by my “check-list,” but those intangible qualities that are just as important, too!
If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )
Though I didn’t meet my previous or current agent directly through 12 x 12, it has helped me get where I am today. This community is so resourceful, generous, and supportive. During the search process, it was helpful to share resources and get critiques on pitches, query letters, and manuscripts. I received feedback on an early draft of a manuscript through the 12 x 12 manuscript critique forum, which later was the manuscript I submitted to my first agent. I’ve also found critique partners through this community. And I learned of my current agent switching over from editing to agenting through a post from one of the 12 x 12 members. So, yes! 12 x 12 has been helpful to my writing career.
Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?
Yes. One way is that after I finish writing a draft, I’ll think about the marketability. Is there a very strong hook? Is there more than one? Is this fresh enough? If the answer is no, I’ll go back and see how I can change that. Because I know that’s what is needed for it to sell.
What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?
Research. Find agents that may be a good match for your writing, and then tell them why (succinctly) in your query. If an agent knows you specifically took time to think of them because xyz, they may be more excited to consider your submission.
Also, don’t take a rejection personally (I know, nearly impossible). But, it really is about being a good fit for each other, otherwise the agent won’t be able to best serve you. So if they’re not passionate about your work, they really shouldn’t be your agent.
Finally, the 3 P’s.
Patience – It’s about the journey. It’s a long, long (rollercoaster of emotions) journey. But have patience and faith that you will find that great match. It’s worth waiting (and researching).
Perseverance – There’s so much you cannot control in this process. I kept my mind off the waiting by focusing on the only thing I could control: my writing. I continued to hone my craft so that every time my work was viewed, it was my best.
Positive Thinking – Eye on the prize! (The prize being that you continue to grow into a better and better writer. There are so many different paths to take. What is perfect for someone else will not be perfect for you. But you will get where you want. Keep going!
Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?
It didn’t help as far as making me more visible to my agent. But, it did help in connecting me with people in the industry who post news about the kidlit world. I found out about Natascha becoming an agent though someone posting it on social media.
Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )
I’d love to travel more (internationally). Especially to China. I am Chinese, but I was born in the U.S. and I’ve never been. It’s a dream I’m working towards to go with my family…hopefully soon!
What’s up next/what are you working on now?
Picture books, picture books, and more picture books. Stay tuned. 😉Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Queries, Writing