I can't believe we're back around to another Tuesday From the Trenches! How time flies!
Except for when you're waiting for news and refreshing your inbox ever 2.7 seconds... then it drags like a sloth in molasses.
But other than that, it flies.
Thank you so much for joining me for another wonderful interview! I'm excited to welcome Andrew Hacket to the blog today. His whirlwind story is one for the books!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Andrew! I’m thrilled to share your query story with my readers.
Thank you, Kailei! I can’t believe that I get to be a part of this series! I have learned so much from reading each week and I hope my story can do the same for others.
Wow, thanks so much Andrew! I love hearing about people reading and gaining insights. I truly would have devoured this series when I was in the trenches. I was a googling champ trying to hear about as many query journeys as possible. I know your story will absolutely help others! Can you share your query stats with us? (Brace yourselves, readers... this is unbelievably amazing!)
Time Spent in the Query Trenches: 1 month
Number of Agents Queried: 6
Number of Requests for Additional Work/Full Manuscript: 1, but this was from a live pitch event, not a query.
Number of Twitter Pitch “Likes”: 1
Number of R&Rs: 0
Number of Rejections: 5
Number of Offers: 1
Agent and Agency: Dan Cramer, Flannery Literary
Only 6 agents?? Wow, Andrew!! Rock star! I know you didn't end up with much you needed to keep track of, but for the sake of consistency, tell me...how did you keep track of it all? What was your method for organizing queries? Spread sheet? Query Tracker? Etc.
I ended up not needing to keep track of much, but I was prepared to. First I made a spreadsheet to organize who I would like to submit to and color coded each agent based on how good of a match he/she was for my work. Greens were my top choices. This was saved for agents whose MSWL directly matched with my manuscripts and whose personalities I felt I would connect with. This could be from Twitter, interviews, or videos. Anywhere I could glean a little insight. Yellow was reserved for those agents whose MSWL wasn’t a perfect match, but had enough in common that I wouldn’t be totally wasting my time. And red was for no-gos. The MSWL for these agents did not match my writing at all. I had no plans of querying this set of agents, but kept them on my list to remind me I had already researched and written them off. Agents I queried were moved to the top of the spreadsheet, where I kept track of the submission date and their response.
That is really amazing organization! I know you only had a handful (literally), but how did you handle the few rejections you received? Did any sting more than others?
I knew rejections were going to be inevitable. With that in mind, I shipped off my first query to a well-known and respected agent who had just reopened to queries. I obviously was hopeful when sending my query, but at the same time I knew there was no way around rejections and was ready to just get it over with. My wishes were granted and in less than 24 hours I had my first rejection. But I had done it, I was officially in the query trenches.
Each rejection stung a little. Even when trying to separate my emotions from it, they still chipped away at my confidence and introduced a bit more self doubt each time.
My hardest rejection was from an agent who requested multiple manuscripts. It was the one I allowed myself to get my hopes up for. I envisioned the call. My reaction. All the things that, for self preservation, I had decided I wouldn’t do.
I tried to view each rejection as proof that I was putting in the work. I had thought about writing for so many years without taking any observable action and now I had the evidence that I was doing the work and committing the time and effort to try and achieve a goal I always thought was unobtainable.
My best remedy for dealing with rejections was either to dive back into my creative process and get lost with a character for a while, or go for a hike and explore nature, or to go play with my kids and let them take my mind off of it. Building forts, racing toy cars, and playing play-doh are all wonderful distractions from rejections.
That's a really good point about distracting yourself/taking your mind off of it. I also have to say that it's so hard not to get your hopes up. I think we've all had those moments visualizing "the call" and really feeling like it would be "the one" to have it end in rejection. I love hoe completely normal that is and that you experienced that even in a month. I think you handled it extremely well.
How did you find agents to query/how did you decide who to query?
I spend a lot of time on MSWL searching through profiles and keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t scroll to the bottom of the page and find they were closed to queries. I also looked at who was “liking” pitches or participating in giveaways for various online contests.
Diving into agency websites, videos and interviews were all research methods I used when trying to decide who to query.
Those are great ways to find agents! So from those, how did you ultimately connect with your agent? Did you cold query? Participate in a twitter pitch event? Or connect in some other way?
Though I did participate in pitch parties and cold querying, they were not how I found my agent.
I happened to see that Dan was offering first page or query critiques to the first 5 people to comment on his Twitter post. Always up for a Twitter giveaway, I made my comment and crossed my fingers. Luckily, I was one of the 5 chosen to receive a critique.
I was just beginning to query a different story and I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some agent feedback. I sent off my query and was pleasantly surprised when, in addition to constructive feedback, Dan also mentioned that my story was intriguing and he’d love to read it if I wanted to query him.
That's so exciting!! And proof to take all of the different opportunities that come your way!
How much time passed between querying Dan to getting “the call”?
About 24 hours passed between sending the query to the actual call, but it was a matter of hours between the query and setting up the call. I was in shock! I wasn’t expecting a critique would lead to representation or that it could happen so quickly. When the email came through to set up the call I was piled under two of my three kids and I am pretty sure I launched them off of me, as I began pacing the house and frantically rereading the message to ensure I had read it correctly.
Oh wow!! That's really incredible! How exciting to have such a quick response.
Can you tell us more about “the call”? How did you know Dan was the right choice?
The call was great. Dan was calm and easygoing, which made it so comfortable. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous. I had a page full of questions and felt this enormous pressure to make sure I was making the “right” choice. Dan got started and answered the majority of my questions before I had the chance to ask. Through his responses to my remaining questions, Dan displayed his knowledge of the industry and I felt confident that I was getting a true sense of his personality. Dan also loved my manuscript and understood and believed in my vision for it and had a clear plan for going on submission. Having the opportunity to reach out to his clients and listen to their experiences, only further solidified that I was making the right choice.
That sounds so great. I love hearing all of these stories about "the call" just clicking. I absolutely know what you mean there. It's so good when an agent can answer your questions in a way that puts you at ease. And a wonderful reminder to still do your homework and check in with other clients.
Could you tell us a little about your book that landed your agent?
I owe so many thanks to Kaitlyn Sanchez, Lydia Lukidis, and Fall Writing Frenzy. The story that landed me my agent was a slightly longer, revised version of my entry for their contest.
The inspiration behind it was a combination of a night hike my children and I went on this past summer and my own pondering about memories and the types of childhood experiences that stick with us into our adulthood.
That sounds so lovely. And I love all of these snippets about your time with your kids. Parenting is such a blessing. Sounds like you have a lot of joy in fatherhood and that it rings out from your books.
If you could give querying authors a piece of advice, what would that be?
My advice would be to stay open to any and all possibilities. Keep cold querying. Participate in pitch events. Enter giveaways for ms/query critiques. You never know what step will be the one that lands you representation, but each step is helping you build connections and opportunities that will eventually pay off.
That is such great advice. And your story proves that you never know when one of those opportunities will lead to something more!!
Where can we connect with you online?
I am on twitter @AndrewCHacket and my blog series, The Backstory, can be found on my website at www.AndrewHacket.com/blog. This weekly series features interviews with published authors sharing the inspiration behind their latest releases. Each week we have a new author and a new giveaway, so please check it out!
I've been loving your new series! I hope all of my readers jump over to your blog and check it out!
Andrew, thanks so much for joining us today! I’ve had a blast chatting and learning more about your journey. Best of luck on this journey! I can’t wait to see your books in the world.
Thank you so much for having me, Kailei!
About Andrew Hacket
Andrew’s background of being surrounded by children, both at work and at home, has been a treasure trove of inspiration. A nature lover, Andrew can be found exploring the woods of Massachusetts with his wife and three kids. While often witty and imaginative, Andrew’s stories can also delve into the more serious and emotional topics that children can experience.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Flannery Literary.
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 picture books that help kids see they can do anything they set their minds to.
Kailei can't wait to get her stories into your hands.