Over time I’ve learned the writing community is a very warm and inviting place. There are numerous blogs I’ve discovered that encourage camaraderie among aspiring writers. Many of these teach about the craft as well as providing opportunities to present to agents in the hopes of making publishing dreams come true.
One of the blogs that encourages this sense of community is Mother.Write. (Repeat.) hosted by Krista Van Dolzer. While providing informative agent interviews, Krista also opens up regularly about the status of her WIP and her ongoing quest to sell her current manuscript.
Her writing odyssey is filled with many ups and downs, but she continues to remain a positive spirit and a powerful force in the writing community. If you haven’t checked out her blog, I highly recommend it. Her regular feature, “The Agent’s Inbox,” is not to be missed.
Here is Krista’s journey…
Amy: When did you begin your first novel?
Krista: I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was eight years old, but I didn’t start writing for the national market until 2007, a few months after my first baby was born.
Amy: How long did it take to complete?
Krista: I believe I started that first post-college novel in October of 2007 and started querying it in April of 2008, so about six months.
Amy: Did you use critique partners for THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME? If so, how did that affect your writing?
Krista: Yes, I used critique partners! I didn’t use critique partners for my first two manuscripts, but one of the main reasons I picked up blogging was to find other like-minded writers who might be interested in exchanging. I’d figured out that I could only take my stories so far:)
My writing ability improved by leaps and bounds after I started exchanging feedback with my critique partners, both from the critiques I gave and the ones I received. My CPs didn’t let me get away with inconsistent plot points, flaky characters, or even awkward-sounding sentences. I’d always known I was a good writer, thanks in large measure to the kind compliments my English teachers had paid me over the years, but I didn’t realize how much better I could be until I started incorporating my critique partners’ advice.
Amy: When you wrote your first query for THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME did it come easily or did it go through many drafts?
Krista: THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME was the fourth manuscript I queried, so I considered myself to be a seasoned veteran by then:) That said, I did have to go through quite a few drafts before I found one I felt confident querying with.
I highly recommend getting feedback on your query from fellow writers who’ve never read your manuscript. Forums like QueryTracker and Absolute Write are great places to go to get those unbiased critiques.
Amy: How many queries did you send out for THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME?
Krista: I sent 77 queries for this manuscript.
Amy: Did you receive immediate response or did you have to twist your hands and wait a while?
Krista: Looking back at my records, I started querying on November 14, 2011, and received my first offer on March 16, 2012, so I queried this manuscript for almost exactly four months. Some agents responded to my query quickly (like, within a day or two), and some never responded at all. But in the end, the very first query I sent also turned into the first offer I received–and the offer I accepted–so good things can take time.
Amy: As many writers know, it is very hard to break into the publishing world. What was the one thing you did to help garner agent attention?
Krista: I was lucky enough to find a way to build my platform and boost my visibility among agents at the same time by launching the “Interview with an Agent” series on my blog. Kate was actually one of the first agents I interviewed back in 2010, and that started a dialogue that persisted off and on through our blogs and Twitter feeds for the next two years.
But you don’t have to launch an interview series to have meaningful conversations with agents. Talk to them at conferences. Comment regularly on their blogs. Let them see that you’re an interesting, confident human being who lets his or her writing speak for itself. I think that goes a long way.
Amy: What was your “call” like with your agent, Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary?
Krista: It was jump-up-and-down exciting, but it was also unexpected. I’d known she was reading my manuscript that week, but I’d convinced myself she wasn’t going to offer. Then she e-mailed me a few hours before she left for the Bologna Book Fair to tell me she wanted to discuss representation. I e-mailed her right back, of course, and said I could talk anytime, then spent the next thirty minutes walking the floor with my two-month-old and hoping, hoping, hoping he wouldn’t erupt into baby screams. (I shouldn’t have worried. Monster–NOT his real name–is a champ.) It was a little weird to actually talk to her that first time, but I distinctly remember I couldn’t stop smiling:)
Amy: You have done many agent interviews on your blog, “Mother. Write. (Repeat.)” What is the one critical thing you have learned about writing after interviewing so many agents?
Krista: That everything about writing is one-hundred-percent subjective. That no two agents are looking for exactly the same thing. That one agent’s junk is another agent’s treasure. I received dozens of form rejections for THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME, and yet two agents ended up loving it enough to offer. And that’s true of every book that eventually finds its way to a bookshelf.
Krista is a stay-at-home mom by day and a writer by naptime. She holds degrees in Mathematics Education and Economics from Brigham Young University but tries not to talk–or write–like a mathematician. If she’s not typing away on the computer, she’s probably watching college football or wiping someone’s nose. She lives with her husband and three young kids in Mesquite, Nevada, and is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary.