Monday, July 23, 2018

My Query and Successful Pitches

Hey everyone!

As a Pitch Wars mentor and previous mentee, I thought it would help to share my query and the PitMad pitches that led to several offers (and ended with me signing with the amazing Janet Reid of New Leaf Literary).

First, if you're interested in what my PW 2017 Agent Round pitch and first page looked like, click the image below.


Second, to be completely query wasn't all that successful. It helped get me my mentor, but when I went into the query trenches, I got ZERO cold query requests.

What can I say? Some books query well, others pitch well. Mine pitched well, which is why I linked to my Agent Round page and Twitter pitches below.  If you're curious about my experience and stats, read my post about how I signed with my agent.

Caveat: I only sent out like, 10 cold queries, which is NOTHING in the world of publishing. So make of that what you will.

Here is the initial query I sent out:

Dear [AGENT]: Imagine Veronica Mars as queer, Asian-American, and all grown up, and you’ve got Sunshine Salinas, geek girl extraordinaire.
Obsessed with the cult favorite Samurai Surfer Squadron since she was a child, all Sunshine wants to do when she visits Chicago ComiKon is meet the show’s biggest star, Xavier Rhodes, and her childhood heroine, Cassandra Wu.
 Instead, she stumbles upon Xavier’s dead body, and Chicago PD seems determined to pin the murder on Cassandra.
To right this wrong, Sunshine calls on her geek squad to help her investigate, but her not-so-subtle snooping soon has the police ready to cast Sunshine as Cassandra’s faithful sidekick and accomplice to murder.
In an effort to clear their names—and maybe even get into Cassandra’s good graces/pants— Sunshine delves deep into the twisted world of ComiKon, chasing down cosplayers, comic book writers, and other D-list celebrities in her attempts to dig up the truth. Sunshine’s nosiness and Scooby Doo-esque shenanigans have gotten her in trouble with the police before, but this time her antics may cost more than her freedom. It may cost her life.

Written as a standalone, but with series potential, Death Comes to ComiKon is a 71,000 word mystery that would appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and Max Wirestone’s Dahlia Moss series.  
The story draws on my experiences attending anime, comic book, and pop culture conventions for over ten years, and being a female geek in a male-dominated sphere my entire life. This manuscript has won me the 2016 Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America Scholarship and the 2017 William F. Deeck – Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers. It was also recently selected for the 2017 Pitch Wars competition. I’m part of several writing organizations, including the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Chicago Writers Association.

As per your guidelines, I’ve included [INSERT AMOUNT OF PAGES]. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

I underlined the first sentence in the bio section because, knowing what I do now, I'd remove that line. It's unnecessary and clutters up my bio.

As for PitMad pitches, I think I got somewhere between 7-9 requests off these two pitches:

VERONICA MARS X THE POWER RANGERS. Obsessed with Samurai Surfer Squadron since she was a child, Sunshine must crack the case when the show’s star turns up dead at Chicago ComiKon and her childhood heroine/crush becomes the prime suspect.

Pitch #2

When her childhood heroine/crush is accused of murdering a washed-up action star at Chicago ComiKon, Sunshine Salinas jumps at the chance to solve the case and finally be the hero of her own story.

Hope these examples help even a little bit. For more Pitch Wars-related posts, click the image below.

Good luck out there in the trenches!


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Check Out My Official Website!

Hey everyone!

I'm all fancy now and have an official website! I might still make updates here, but the majority of news will likely be on my new site.

Check it out! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

How I Got My Agent

I have been wanting to write a post about this before I ever even finished my story. I LOVE reading blog posts on this topic, and they never get old since everyone's journey is so different.

For me, I had what many referred to as a "good problem to have": I was offered representation by multiple agents, all of them legit and wonderful and with completely different strengths and weaknesses (for what I was looking for in an agent; what I considered a weakness in one agent might be a strength to a different writer).

The hardest choice in a kid's life
So how to choose? Bear with me, but just like in choosing your starter Pokemon, with an agent, you have to take into account your personal style (business, communication, personality, goals, etc). You have to make sure you have a connection. And you have to be sure they believe in you and are ready to fight for you.

I first met Janet Reid at Malice Domestic 2017 after I won the William F. Deeck - Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers (blogged about here).

Harriette Sackler, the chair of the grant committee, set up a lunch meeting so I could have a chance to meet a real agent and ask questions about the industry and what my next steps should be. I didn't know the agent would be Janet; Harriette just referred to her as "an agent."

When she introduced herself, I was like, "OMG, you're the Query Shark!"

In case you're wondering, yes, I'm always that smooth.

She was so kind and patient as she explained what her job entailed and what to look for in a good agent and answering all my questions. She also gave me her business card, inviting me to let her know if I had any more questions and to query her when my manuscript was ready. I took her up on both offers and each time she responded promptly.

She was also the first agent to offer rep. When I got her email asking to set up a call, I stared blankly at it for a second having lost all reading comprehension (both from the shock and also because I was sick and on cough syrup with codeine in it). 

I showed it to both my husband and my mentor to make sure I wasn't reading it wrong. Once it sank in that THIS WAS REALLY HAPPENING, I fired off a quick email to set up a time and was like,

After our call, I told myself, "That's it, we're good. How could I say no to the Shark?"

But then I came to my senses and remembered that I had quite a few fulls and partials out with other agents and it would be extremely rude (and foolish) to not inform them of the offer.

So I fired off a bunch of emails informing agents of the offer, and sat back to see what happened.

Rejection happened. LOTS OF IT. In that first week after the nudge, I got about ten rejections.


I also got two more offers in that same week. And so began three weeks of agonizing, and emailing agents and clients, and more offers/rejections, and talking on the phone (which I HATE. I talked on the phone more in those three weeks than I have in the last three years).

Who knew having multiple people love your story could be so stressful and anxiety-inducing? And to make it even harder, a fourth agent threw their hat in the ring two days before my deadline, after I thought I had already made up my mind. And a fifth sent an email after I'd emailed Janet to accept (that agent acknowledged that she was late and understood if I'd already accepted), which made me feel terrible, even though I knew it wasn't my fault.

Honestly, this was a very tough choice for me. There was one agent in particular who kept me hashing out the pros and cons right up to the last day.

But in the end, I decided to go with my head and my gut (my heart wasn't very helpful in the matter. It kept wondering why I had to reject all these lovely people who really liked my story and were just so nice and helpful).

Janet had been on my "Dream Agent" list for so long, and her clients provided such enthusiastic yet balanced references for her, I knew I'd be crazy to turn her down. Plus I love how she dedicates herself to helping up-and-coming writers, giving out invaluable advice on both her personal blog and also Query Shark. She's extremely tough and savvy, yet kind and approachable. I must've emailed her at least five times during those three weeks and asked a million questions, but she was always patient with me and gave honest, fair advice.

There's a shark Pokemon! (of course there is) I choose you!
It took an additional week for all my questions to be answered and the paperwork drawn up, but it's official! I'm so, so thrilled to be part of New Leaf Literary and Team Janet!


My Stats:

Pitch Wars Requests: 13

PitMad Requests: 7
Conference Requests: 3
Cold Query Requests: ZERO (it was...yikes)
Referrals: 2
Cold Queries: 11 (all rejected or CNR'd)
Rejections: 21
CNR (Closed, No Response): 9
Offers of Representation: 4 (5? another possible offer came AFTER my deadline)

My Query and Successful Pitches

Hey everyone! As a Pitch Wars mentor and previous mentee, I thought it would help to share my query and the PitMad pitches that led to sev...