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A Pitch Madness Success Story!

Sunday, 21 October 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

I am beyond delighted to announce another Pitch Madness success story. The crazy talented Janet Sumner Johnson signed with Victoria Marini of the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agentcy! Deana Romito (@writeforapples) pulled her The Peanut Butter and Jelly Friendship out of the Pitch Madness slush pile and my BFF/CP Erica M. Chapman (@ericamchapman) chose it for her team. And that is why I have talented readers and hosts help me with the contests!Β 

It’s so exciting to have someone who I used to compete against in contests here for a success interview. Janet barely put up a struggle as I coaxed her into the interview chair.

B says: So let’s get this party started. Β Where did you find your agent?

I found my agent right here, through your Pitch Madness contest. *big grin* I’d read interviews with Victoria Marini before, and in fact, I’d queried her with a previous version of this book, but it was a form rejection.
B says: So participating in Pitch Madness gave you another chance to present your work to Victoria. That’s so cool. How did it all go down? Did she request a full or a partial? Give us the deets leading up to “The Call”.
So like I said, Pitch Madness . . . Victoria had “shot” my pitch and first page, but she didn’t win the request since I was lucky enough to have been hit by several agents. Fortunately for me, you guys sent bonus requests a few days later, and Victoria requested the full.
I sent it off the same day, and six days later I got an e-mail requesting a phone call to discuss representation. (I might have screamed a little. πŸ™‚

B says: Ha! I think we’d all scream if we got an email like that. Okay, this is my favorite part *sits at the edge of her seat*. Tell us about THE Call.
Honestly, it was short because I had to go pick up my kids from school, but she told me what she loved about PB&J . . . that she’d read it in one sitting and that she’d love to represent me. It was so cool to hear an agent rave about my work and to realize she got it. She had my same vision. I asked a few questions and promised to get back to her as soon as I could, but I felt confident she’d be the one.
B says: Wow, that was a fast read. Can you tell us a little about your book?
THE PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY FRIENDSHIP is a middle grade novel about two friends finding a way to deal with the threat of foreclosure. Annie tries anything and everything to keep her friend from moving away, landing herself in all kinds of trouble in the process.
B says: I love this story and the characters are so cute together. How long had you been querying before you got your agent?
I started querying about a year-and-a-half ago, and had pretty much stopped querying as of last April (Uh, yeah. Can we say “mistake”?). I also took time off to do a major revision, so all in all, I only queried actively for about 9 months. Though it feels like I queried it forever!
B says: I think you and I went along the same path for a while. I, too, stopped querying to do a major revision before going back into the fray. You’ve participated in contests before, what did you get out of participating in contests? What made you decide to enter contests, and how did you feel they helped you get your agent?
Okay, I LOVE contests (and not just because that’s how I found my agent). I originally entered because I’m a contest junkie. I love the excitement of it, and I may be a tad competitive. πŸ˜‰
But I kept entering because I felt like I got so much from them. I got to test my pitch to see how it was working. I got an indication of how the plot in general was received by others. Also, I got interest from agents I wouldn’t have queried otherwise (because I didn’t think PB&J was their type based on the “what they are looking for” blurbs). It was very enlightening! But most of all, I was able to connect with other writers.
In fact, the slush-pile judge in Pitch Madness told me she pulled it because she’d seen it in previous contests and loved it then. You never know when one of these connections will bring you an opportunity you wouldn’t have had otherwise. If I hadn’t entered Pitch Madness, I would not have my agent (who I LOVE), because she’d already rejected my query. Seriously! Go. Enter contests.
B says: Yeah, what she said! I love contests for the same reasons and that is why I host them. Okay, let’s have some fun. Coffee or Tea?
I don’t drink either so umm . . . hot chocolate? πŸ™‚

B says: Dude, caffeine is a must. But I do like a good cuppa hot chocolate with marshmallows in the winter. Potato chips or chocolate?
Potato chips. *ducks the rotten fruit being thrown*
B says: Ha! No ducking needed. Salty or sweet, it’s all good! Favorite cookie?
You make me choose ONE?!! This is like asking me to choose my favorite child. But since it’s Halloween, I’ll say soft molasses cookies. For now.
B says: Hmm … I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted one of them. Oh, and I can always pick a favorite child (hint: it’s the one that isn’t in trouble at the moment). My favorite cookie is Oatmeal and Raisin, in case you were wondering. Anywho, which vacation would you prefer: camping out in the wilderness or shopping in a quaint town?
Quaint town! I wish I were more the outdoors type (as do my husband and kids), but nope.
B says: I am so a quaint town kind of person. Where do you write?
Mostly in a corner of my room by a window (at the computer).
B says: I hope there’s a great view by that window. I have to have a view for all those times I get stuck and have to stare at something. And the big question, are you an outline or panster type?
Outline for sure. I’ve tried pantsing, and I just end up having to rewrite the whole thing with an outline.
B says: I knew you were going to say that, but I have no idea why I did. Before I untie you from the chair, do you have any advice for those seeking representation? Anything you wished you’d done differently?
The big thing I’d have changed is that I would have kept querying longer. I gave up on this book too easily because I let rejection get me down. I never stopped writing, but I did stop querying, and if you want to get published, you have to do both. Yes, the rejections hurt. Yes, it’s hard to believe that anyone could possible love your book enough to represent it when the rejections pile up, but every agent is different, and you just never know.

B says: Yeah, but you did get to regroup and that is always a good thing. Thanks, Janet, for taking the time to let me torture you!

If you have a contest success story and would like to have me interview you on the blog, give me a shout-out in the comments. We love to hear about successes! For the rest of you, show some love to Janet in the comments. Until next time…



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