Before we get things started with the BSD agent round I thought I'd share a fun and inspiring interview with you. It's with Tristina Wright who was also one of our Kissing Experts. She's repped by the fab Danielle Chiotti.
Here we go...
Hi, Tristina! What do you write and how long have you been writing?
Currently, I write YA, but I have an Adult manuscript my agent is reading. I've been writing since I was 12 years old, when I pulled out a spiral notebook and wrote an entire sequel to the movie Newsies. I even "queried" Disney to ask them if I could publish it. Their reply was an extremely polite no, but hey, they wrote back!
Yes, I still have it. No, you may not read it.
Tell us a little about your manuscript(s):
My YA is a mythology-based romance, I guess. It's hard to put it in a genre. Those who have read it, help? Anyway. It's an alternate history of the earth where the Greek gods were real beings and populated the planet with their own offspring. Thousands of years later, the opposing races (Olympians and Titans) live in a modern world but separated by segregation. The Moirai (the Fates) have issued the death penalty for interracial relations. But that doesn't stop Lucas and Pandora from hooking up.
My Adult is a romance about long-lost love and second chances. It's a tug on your heart strings, make you cry, make you fan yourself whole lot of book that has a cowboy hero and a dreadlocked, tattooed heroine.
What can I say, I love to write kissing.
When did you write your manuscript that landed you your agent and how long did it take to write?
I wrote Lucas last summer when I was querying another book that I ultimately drawered. It had the rare quality of being a book that just flowed out and, start to finish (including revisions), it took only about four months to write.
Did you have any struggles? And if so, how did you get through them?
Well, beyond the normal "ugh, everyone is going to hate this, why am I writing?" struggles, I dealt with attempting a book solely in male POV. But I had a lot of readers of both sexes and various ages read it as I wrote, read revisions, and give me so much feedback that I was able to (hopefully) craft a believable character in the midst of some truly life or death situations.
What part of writing this novel was your favorite?
The kissing. No, seriously, the kissing.
How did you know when this novel was complete and it was ready to query agents?
I took a chance and went with my gut. Originally, the plan was to write Lucas' POV then write a completely separate book of Pandora's POV. I finished Lucas and WriteOn Con was starting so, at the urging of my critique partners, I submitted him. Then I proceeded to scrape myself off the floor when comments started rolling in asking to read more and complimenting the voice. I got a partial manuscript request off of it and so I decided to take the plunge into querying.
How did you find your agent?
My first manuscript, I sent out about 100 queries and got, all total, 12 requests. I received an offer from a small press who requested my work via a contest, but ultimately declined them because I wanted an agent.
With my second manuscript, I sent out roughly 50 queries, one of which was Danielle Chiotti at Upstart Crow Literary. She was one of about 10 requests total (partials and fulls and upgrades). She was the only offer from queries. My other offer was from a contest.
Did you ever enter online contests? And if so, how did it go for you?
Yes! I'm a big believer in doing both because you never know what will happen. This manuscript actually did really well in contests for the most part. There were a few I didn't make it past the gatekeepers (raises an eyebrow at Cupid) but, on the whole, my contest experience was pretty favorable. My other agent offer came from a contest ninja. She saw my entry, asked for 50 pages, then proceeded to read the entire manuscript in about four days and offer on the fourth day. Crazy whirlwind.
Do you have any advice for other writers in search of their "dream" agent?
The sage advice is "don't give up" and "keep going" but, honestly? Don't be afraid and never forget why you are doing this. You love to write. That's it. That's all. I remember just losing myself in writing a story when I was little - never wanting to "be a famous author" or anything like that. I just wanted to tell my stories. And I told them to my family, to my classmates, to my friends. Keeping a hold of that feeling kept me going through rounds of querying and more rejections than I can count.
You're a storyteller. You were born to do this. Weaving tales is in your blood and you're part of a time-honored line descended from generations of storytellers. Tell your stories. Don't ever stop telling your stories.
If you could go back and do anything different, would you?
Hmm, that's a hard one. Yes, I made mistakes in the past. I let others' words get to me to the point where I gave up writing for a while. My first manuscript wasn't as good as it could have been before I started querying it. However, all of those choices and mistakes led me to where I am right now. If I hadn't given up, would I be published today? Would Danielle be my agent? Would I know all the amazing and wonderful writers that I do today? Maybe. Maybe not.
Anything else you'd like to share with writers searching for agents?
Don't be a dick. No, seriously. Just because you have access to an agent's email or Twitter or Facebook doesn't give you carte blanche to say anything you want at any time. Don't pitch your book on Twitter unless you've been invited to do so. Don't ask questions that you can easily find the answer to on your own with a little bit of typing in ye ole Google search box. Remember, agents are real people (gasp) with real lives and real emotions just like you. If what you're doing would annoy you if someone else did it, then you probably should stop.
And, please, have fun. Storytelling is amazing and fun and incredible and such a gift. Play with it. Writing is brain candy.
Amazing! And the part where she raised her brow at me? Only proof of how subjective this is and a rejection doesn't mean you don't have great things in your future.
Thank you so much Tristina!!
And good luck everyone in the upcoming agent round and remember Tristina's wise words as you go. :)