I write this blog for several reasons : I love to talk about writing and enjoy sharing stories of authors who have honed their craft until they were finally agented. What I’ve found through all my interviews is that many of the W.O.W. authors are all about giving back to their fellow writers.
My featured author today, Michelle Krys, is one of these people. Not only does she share her own successes and failures on her own blog, but she does query critiques to help aspiring authors hone their own pitch – a gift many writers can benefit from.
Michelle was kind enough to take time out of her own busy schedule to answer my questions. Here is her journey…
What drew you to write a Young Adult novel?
I wrote a book before The Witch Hunter’s Bible that I was never really in love with. It was literary, which is something I don’t read a whole lot of (it was also sucky). For my second attempt at a book I decided to write something that I’d actually enjoy reading myself. And as I have a mad love affair with YA, that’s what I wrote.
How long did it take to complete HEXED (formerly THE WITCH HUNTER’S BIBLE)?
It took about 3-4 months to complete the first draft and a few weeks to edit. Don’t get me started on editor revisions. I’m still tackling those!
Did you use critique partners for HEXED? If so, how did that affect your writing process?
I used to use more critique partners for my work but I’m down to just two main CPs whom I love and trust. Ruth Lauren Steven, who happens to be a fellow YA author, and my twin sister. Together the two of them have read and critiqued every single word I’ve ever written. They’re both so insightful in completely different ways, and constantly challenge me to be better. Author Amaleen Ison also critiqued the first 13 chapters of The Witch Hunter, and let me tell you, that girl does not pull any punches. The book is better for it.
When you first wrote your query for HEXED did it come easily or did it go through many drafts?
I wish I could say for the sake of fellow writers in agony over their query letters that is was difficult. I wrote it up on a slow night shift at work and edited it very little from there as it had a solid amount of positive responses and I felt good about it.
How many queries did you send out for HEXED?
Hmm, consulting my Querytracker spreadsheet, I’d say roughly 90, 62 of which were rejections. So yeah. In retrospect, maybe I should have edited that query letter a bit more!
Did you receive immediate response or did you have to twist your hands and wait a while?
There were a few fast-responders, like within days. Most took anywhere from a few weeks to a month or so. And sadly many didn’t respond. Boo to that.
As many writers know, the publishing world is very hard to break into. What was the one thing you did to help garner agent attention?
Writing a good book! That sounds snobby, but it’s true. Tricks won’t really help in the long run if the book isn’t what it needs to be. But aside from that, I’d say writing a voicey query letter is a good thing. Having hosted an agent-judged contest on my blog, I’ve had the opportunity to get a glimpse inside the slush pile, and voicey is definitely what made a query letter stand out the most.
What was your “call” like with your agent, Adriann Ranta?
I was a complete bag on nerves! Horrible. Just horrible. I got a babysitter for my son for the time that Adriann was to call. I had a spreadsheet open on my computer with pointers in case I froze, and I paced around the house with sweaty palms. When the phone rang I got heart palpitations. It was practically a panic attack.
But happily, once we started to talk, I calmed down a whole bunch. Adriann was so crazy enthusiastic about my book it was impossible not to love her. I asked maybe one question, because she answered everything on my list besides that, and then I let her know I’d contact her within the week as I had fulls out with other agents (knowing that it was very, very unlikely anyone else would knock my socks off like Adriann had).
You do query critiques on your website and try to reach out and help aspiring writers. What was one piece of advice you received before being agented, that helped you forge through some of your low writing periods?
One piece? Well someone once said that the odds of the slushpile aren’t really one in a bazillion, like what us writers are led to believe. The slush pile is often full of, uh, not that great of stuff, so if you’re a good writer and have done your research than your odds are much better. More like one in a couple hundred. Which is strangely comforting.
Thanks for having me, Amy! It was a pleasure to be a guest on your wonderful blog!
Michelle Krys lives, write, and consumes absurd amounts of queso cheese sauce out of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Her young adult debut, HEXED is slated for publication with Random House/Delacorte March 2014. You can follow Michelle on twitter (@MichelleKrys), like her facebook page and add The Witch Hunter to your Goodreads to-read list!