Olivia has agreed to let me torture interview her. Here’s how it went down…
B says: So let’s get this party started. What made you decide to enter Pitch Madness, and how did you feel during the contest?
Olivia: I finished my manuscript in February and wanted to try for Pitch Madness as well as Pitch Plus 1 (on Adventures in YA Publishing) to get some feedback and hopefully some agent eyes on my pitches before I started querying in full swing in April. (That was the plan anyway.) I always wanted to do Pitch Madness, but the timing had never worked out with my previous project. Because Pitch Plus 1 turned out so well for me (I won and got two full requests out of it) I began querying right around the Pitch Madness deadline. I wasn’t too too anxious to see if I would get picked because I knew I had put a lot of feelers out there. That didn’t stop me from obsessively checking the feed, but I enjoyed myself. Of course when I found out I was picked, I was so so happy!
B says: And I’m so SO happy you did, too! Which blog were you on and what was the title of your entry? How many requests did you get?
Olivia: I was on Team Ballsy on Becca’s blog. My entry was LEAVING PEACESYLVANIA. And, okay, Carrie’s was the only request. A couple of the agents participating had my full or at least a query already, so I tried not to sweat it. And I was thrilled to have that request, but…well…I was hoping for a few more. (Goes to show you that you only need one!)
B says: Right? It’s not a crock … YOU ONLY NEED ONE! So you sent in your request to your agent. Was it a partial or a full? Tell us the details of the submission and wait time you had before Carrie Howland with Donadio & Olson, Inc. asked for the Call?
Olivia: I sent the full almost immediately. Well, first I researched Carrie since I hadn’t got that far in my querying. And there weren’t that many interviews out there, but the one I read, she seemed totally great. So I happily sent my query letter and my full and sent out the last couple A list queries. One of those queries turned into a full request and an offer of representation in 24 hours. (Which is crazy! and crazy awesome!) That was the Wednesday after Pitch Madness. It was so fast, I thought for sure other agents who had my manuscript would not have gotten to it. So I made my nudges and Carrie emailed me back almost immediately in the vein of: “Darn! I wanted to offer first. When can I talk to you?” She was so enthusiastic in our few emails, I couldn’t wait, so we scheduled the Call for the next morning. (here’s where I did a lot of nervous and excited squeeing. As you can imagine.)
B says: I did an excited squee when I heard you announce it on Twitter! Okay, this is my favorite part *sits at the edge of her seat*. Tell us about THE Call.
Olivia: Honestly, this was one of the best phone conversations I have ever EVER had. She “got” and loved the book. She was so friendly. And her suggestions for revisions were spot on and made total sense to me. What writer doesn’t want to hear that someone in the industry loves their book and wants to make it the best possible book it can be? It was awesome. More than just having great things to say about the manuscript, she actually has some first-hand knowledge of some of the more unique elements of the story. The Call lasted 2 hours and 19 minutes, according to my phone. And I was smiling the whole time. And I knew we would work really well together. She already read through the book twice and had tons of notes that I wanted in my hand as soon as we were talking. She had plans for the book, plans I wanted in on.
B says: That is one long call! Can you tell us a little about your book?
Olivia: It’s a YA Contemporary about a girl who has grown up on a modern-day hippie commune. She decides to go to public school and shake things up. She’s letting go of a first love, and falling for a mainstream (Republican!) boy. She’s dealing with stresses she’d never had in her tight-knit, like-minded commune family. But things on her commune get complicated as well (her brother got the commune busted for drugs) and she starts to realize she might have some mental health concerns. She has a lot to figure out.
B says: This is just like my hubby’s story. I kid you not. He grew up in a commune. Love the premise! How long had you been querying before you got your agent?
Olivia: This book hadn’t been in the query trenches for very long at all. But I’d been seriously going for the goal of publishing traditionally for about 2 1/2 years.
B says: Okay, let’s have some fun. Coffee or Tea?
When writing: tea. English breakfast with milk and sugar or Earl Grey, hot. Although I love coffee too. But especially chocolate covered espresso beans.
B says: Coffee is the life blood for me, but I will go for Earl Grey at night. Potato chips or chocolate?
Do any writers say potato chips? Chocolate X100.
B says: Ha! I know some writers who need the salty. I’m definitely both! What’s your favorite cookie?
I was just talking about this on twitter. Here’s the recipe. You all can thank me later.
B says: In all that is holy, I MUST have this cookie! My mouth is watering at the thought of it. Ahem, sorry, where were we? Oh, yes, so which vacation would you prefer: camping out in the wilderness or shopping in a quaint town?
Camping. But I want an air mattress. I can do without plumbing, but I need a comfy bed.
B says: I’m with you–I must have a mattress! Where do you write?
In bed next to my snoring children.
B says: Nice. And the big question, are you an outline or panster type?
Total pantser. But I percolate as I go. I don’t always know where scenes are going. And I don’t make any notes about plot stuff ahead of time.
B says: Before I untie you from the chair, do you have any advice for those seeking representation? Anything you wished you’d done differently?
Please, please, learn from my mistakes: don’t query someone unless you are sure you would want them to rep you. Don’t settle for less than total enthusiasm.
DO CONTESTS! Seriously! I would not have discovered all my writerly friends without them. And I need my twitter friends; it’s the camaraderie that keeps you going when you’re waiting on those precious response emails and trying to draft something new.
This time around I don’t wish I had done anything differently. Seriously. (Can’t say the same about the other times…but that’s a whole other blog post.)
Don’t make yourself crazy. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself positive and moving forward.
The big one: go with your gut! My CP said that to me and she was so so write. My gut said Carrie and I couldn’t be happier.
B says: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I can’t wait to hold the actual book when it comes out. Congratulations to you and Carrie. Here’s hoping you sell tons of books.
And now it’s time to dance!