Tell us your name and any fun facts about yourself or your writing!
My name is Sarah Pounds and I write MG/YA Fantasy/sci-fi. I’ve written off an on for years, and have always been an avid reader (my first job was at our local library) I live on a mini-farm in Eastern WA state with my husband and two children. When I’m not writing, I manage the bookkeeping side of our electrical business.
How many projects did you query in the past?
In 2017, I queried my first book, an Adult sci-fi. I didn’t get a single request. In 2018, I wrote and queried two more adult fantasies, which garnered some interest.
What were some of your rookie mistakes when you first started to query?
Looking back, there were so many silly mistakes I made, mostly because I was naive. My first two books had prologues (strike 1), they also were too short for age and genre, the first one capped at 65k, and second was 72k (strike 2), and strike 3, I didn’t use ANY beta readers which I think truly hurt my chances (strike 3).
At what point did you decide it was time to stop querying your project(s)?
My first two, I received nothing but form R’s or silence, so I knew something wasn’t working. I also started beta-reading other querying author’s MS as well as participating in workshops and realized my books weren’t near ready to query.
What do you wish you had known and could tell your past self about your very first query?
I would tell past Sarah to find writer friends, and get their valuable feedback on your materials. I’d also tell myself to get as many eyes on my book as I can as well as read, read, READ. Sign up for writing workshops as well as use Querytracker to keep track of which agents you’ve queried, and when.
What advice would you give new queriers?
FIND your tribe!!! Connect with other writers, no matter their writing journey, there is much to learn. It is a very lonely journey while querying, and so much of it is viewed from the outside. It seems like EVERYONE is getting an agent but you. But I can promise you that is NOT true! A tremendous amount of work and effort goes unseen. Trust me, no one is above rejections.
I also recommend participating in online contests and critiques (there are so many on Twitter these days). It’s nerve-wracking putting your work out there, but hey, isn’t that the whole idea of querying? Might as well rip off the bandage and go for it. 😉
How do you pass time during all the waiting of querying?
WORK ON A NEW PROJECT (not a sequel!) It might feel like the LAST thing you want to do, but trust me, it’s vital to keep busy for your mental health. Diving into a fresh, shiny project will not only keep you occupied (and off querytracker) but also give you a confidence boost that YOU are indeed a moving forward in your author journey even when those rejections roll in.
Lastly, tell us about the new project you’re querying–if you’re querying. What is it about this project excites you?
I am currently querying a Middle-grade portal fantasy set in 1970. I have read (and follow) the advice of craft books including Save the Cat, Stephen King’s book On Writing, and Story Genius. I have CP’s and read widely as well as books in my genre/age range.
This book has gone through many revisions, including changing it to MG from YA. Thankfully, the feedback I have received (from CP’s and agents alike) has all been positive! I really feel it’s unique and I love how the societal issues are mimicked of those still present today, of which I feel is important for kids to be aware of.
Querying is a scary business. Don’t go at it alone! Use the #amquerying hashtag on Twitter, or DM me @Sarahjp22 on Twitter if you’d like to join our Query Support Slack Group!
Feel free to comment with any book/query questions you have. Writing is such a difficult, isolating world, find your tribe and love them hard!
If you’re interested in reading other QUERY PROS posts I’ve posted the links below.
These questions were graciously put together by the amazing Catherine Bakewell and the link to her awesome blog is www.catherinebakewell.com