Continuing the month of inspiration is Jeanmarie Anaya with a lovely call story. This will lift your heart on a dreary winter day! And thanks for the plug about contests, Jeanmarie!
I started querying--SLOWLY--in June of 2014. I'm a big believer in the magic of online pitch contests, and hoped to test out my query and short-form pitch before diving headfirst at full speed into cold-querying. Special thanks and a huge shout-out to Michelle and all the experienced writers who host these contests and sacrifice so much of their own time to support other writers who are seeking agents. Whether or not you're selected to move on to the agent round, entering contests is a great learning experience and a way to hone your query and to see what works and what doesn't. And even if you don't feel ready to enter (that's okay, we've all been there!), reading the entries that are selected is helpful too.
I pretty much stopped querying completely in early September when I was selected as an alternate in this season's Pitch Wars hosted by Brenda Drake. I had a few manuscripts "out there" from my first batch of queries and contest requests, but I was too busy plugging away at my WIP to obsess. (That's a total lie, btw. I obsessed frequently and religiously. Ask my CPS.) I participated in September's PitMad pitch party and got a request from an agent I greatly admired, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. I was over the moon and sent the full manuscript immediately. Within days, I got an email from one of the very first agents I queried back in June: "I'd love to set up a time to talk." I'd heard that phrase before, and been mortally wounded when the call turned out to be informational and not an offer, so I wasn't inclined to expect too much from the call. But the agent did indeed offer me representation. She was lovely and kind and excited about my story, and I finally had that feeling that all writers crave, "Someone 'gets' my book!"
I sent off nudges (but not before prancing around the house like an idiot for the better part of an hour). Just one day later, I got an email from Jessica Sinsheimer: "I finished IN BETWEEN THEM this morning, and I can't stop thinking about it. If you haven't already made your decision, I would love to speak with you." Oh my goodness, the heart palpitations. SHE COULDN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT. If that wasn't a hint that she'd like to offer, then I don't know what is. Our call was everything I dreamed "The Call" would be. Jessica was so enthusiastic and passionate about my book. And what really got me was how she spoke about my characters--like they were real! They are to me, so it was such a wonderful feeling to find someone who feels about them as intensely as I do. We spoke a lot about things unrelated to writing too, so I felt a connection to her as a person, as well as a professional.
While waiting for responses from the other agents reading the manuscript, I spoke with one of Jessica's clients, a YA and picture book author named Veronica Bartles. Veronica was instrumental in helping me make my decision. She answered every question I had and even entertained the general ones about publishing that had little to do with the world of agents. By the time I was done hammering her with information, I'd scored a new writer friend and had a crystal clear sense that Jessica was the perfect agent for me. I'll always be grateful to Veronica for her guidance.
Finally being able to say, "I accept your offer of representation" to Jessica Sinsheimer was a milestone in my writing career that I dreamed of for many years. For those of you in the query trenches, KEEP GOING! It happens when you least expect it, and when it does, it's pretty rad.
Jeanmarie Anaya is a YA Contemporary writer represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Mother to three little girls, wife to a surfing addict. Beachgoer with sandy feet. Unashamed book lover who will never, ever crease a beautiful page.