Hello, friends! Happy August! I really can't believe that it's already August... here in Arizona, that means that school is back in session! Can you believe that? So apologies for the late night post... my kiddos had their first day of school today and it was a bit of a mad house around these parts.
I am so excited to welcome Allen Wells to the blog today! Allen's story is one of determination and dedication, ending in extreme success. I am just amazed by this story. Plus, Allen is so funny! You are in for a treat. Join me in a very warm welcome for Allen!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Allen I was so excited to see that you recently signed with Erin! And I’m thrilled to share your query story with my readers.
Can you share your query stats with us?
First off, thank you so much for thinking of me! And of course I can share!
Time Spent in the Query Trenches: 13 years seriously querying agents. 13!! LOL!
Number of Agents Queried: Whew! I have no idea but I’m pretty sure its over 100 give or take repeat submissions. LOL!
Number of Requests for Additional Work/Full Manuscript: Hmmm, off the top of my head I would say…10 or so.
Number of Twitter Pitch “Likes”: Maybe like 6, but only b/c I was reluctant to participate and put myself out there like that. I started late. In that 13-year time frame, I only started pitching on that “Bird App” 3 or 4 years ago. LOL!
Number of R&Rs: 6 maybe 7 R&Rs
Number of Rejections: A LOT! A WHOLE LOT. But who keeps up with that. *wink* *shrug*
Number of Offers: Oooouuuiii y’all nosey…LOL. But 5. *shhh*
Agent and Agency: I am currently repped by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. I’m thrilled to be working with her!
Allen, that is AMAZING!! And yes, I am super nosey around here! haha. I ask the *good* questions ;) But seriously, thank you so much for sharing! So over the course of 13 years... How did you keep track of it all? What was your method for organizing queries? Spread sheet? Query Tracker? Etc.
I used an excel file for all of agents that I have queried. I also use Google Sheets, which I share with my agent of all of my works in progress.
Ohhh... that's a really good idea. To share the doc with your agent! I like that. So, over those 13 years... How did you handle the rejections? Did any sting more than others?
Their loss…LOL. I kid. I kid. In the beginning, I would get upset and say, “I will never write again!” But then like a breakup, I kept coming back. Writing loves me, and I love writing. *sigh* The ones that stung the most were the requests for more work and then getting the pass. *ugly cry*
Ha! Yes, absolutely their loss. You have proven that, Allen! And Oof. Those requests that ended up in a pass stung the worst for me too. So how did you find agents to query/how did you decide who to query?
Whew, well let me tell you. My creative writing professor in college recommended that I pick up a copy of the Writer’s Market, this was back in 2008. I started with that. Then two years later, I joined SCBWI and was introduced to “real querying” and how to get agents attention.
I love that you've played the long game and never gave up. I bet you've seen a lot of changes in the past 13 years. So how did you ultimately connect with your agent? Did you cold query? Participate in a twitter pitch event? Or connect in some other way?
So, I connected with my agent after she spoke at one of our Black Creators in Kid Lit sessions. Erin had always been on my radar prior to the session. But her agency was closed to submissions unless you met her at a conference or workshop. At the time I was associated with Midsouth Region and being in school at the time, it was hard to get away. But the pairing was worth the wait.
That is so wonderful! I love watching all of the good that has come from the Black Creators in Kid Lit! What a powerful group of creators. And I'm so glad that you connected there with Erin. So once you did query Erin, how much time passed between querying to getting “the call”?
In retrospect, it didn’t take long, although I did find myself refreshing my inbox daily…hourly…by the minute. But four/five months had passed since I first queried my agent and “the call”. Only because I wanted to be sure that the additional manuscripts I submitted were in their best.
Good for you for taking your time to put your best work forward. That's a great thing to do and I know for myself, so hard to do. So after those months of refreshing the inbox (been there), can you tell us more about “the call”? How did you know your agent was the right choice? Whew, I was a nervous wreck. I remember the call being over Zoom. I just remember stumbling over my words. Not to mention, I do this thing with my eyes where I bat them excessively when I’m nervous. But through all of my nervous shenanigans, she saw me and understood passion for writing and the stories I wanted to tell.
I think we are all so nervous on those calls. At least I know I was. So you weren't alone there. I think agents are some of the most gracious people. Could you tell us a little about your book that landed your agent?
So, I sent my agent a manuscript about finding joy in midst of change and that’s about all I can say at the moment. More news to come…LOL.
I cannot wait to hear more, Allen! I know we're going to see such great things from you.
If you could give querying authors a piece of advice, what would that be?
Don’t give up. One of my author-friend’s, JP Miller, always tells our critique group that “we are one no closer to our yes”. And I believe that 1000%.
You are so right! And this interview is the perfect example of that dedication and persistence. I am a firm believer that there is space in this industry for all of us. We just have to keep putting ourselves out there until we find that yes.
Where can we connect with you online?
You can find me:
FB: Allen Wells
Thanks so much for joining us today, Allen! I’ve had a blast chatting and learning more about your journey. Best of luck to you! I can’t wait to see your books in the world.
Thank you so much for thinking of me and including me!
My pleasure, absolutely! Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers before we say goodbye?
Go forth and write, revise, and realize your dreams. Never give up!
Allen is generously offering one lucky reader their choice of a query critique or twitter pitch critique! (Remember... he had 5 offers of rep! You don't want to miss this chance). To enter, retweet THIS tweet and follow both Allen and Kailei on Twitter.
About Allen Wells
Allen Wells grew up in Jackson, MS where he spent a lot of his time with his head stuck in a book or creating worlds through his words or solving problems and puzzles.
When he isn’t writing, he’s trekking across the world, designing building engineering systems, in Atlanta, GA where he currently resides.
About Kailei Pew
Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and picture book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary. She is an active member of SCBWI, a 2019 Write Mentor Mentee, and a finalist in Susanna Leonard Hill's 2019 Holiday Writing Contest. She loves writing books that help kids see they can do anything they set their minds to. Her debut Middle Grade, KID MADE, will be out from F&F Macmillan Summer 2023.
Kailei can't wait to get her stories into your hands.