Hello wonderful readers and welcome to another Tuesday From The Trenches! I am so excited to be here and can't wait to share Gabriela's story! Before we dive in, have you seen that I'm gathering data about the submission process? I'll continue to share weekly stories about the query trenches, but I am super interested to share more about the submission process... because it is really not super transparent and I would love to shine some light on the submission experience. There is no "normal" on sub, but I'm hoping to gather some data that helps people know they are not alone. If you have ever been on submission (sending manuscripts to editors/publishers with or without an agent) please consider filling out this anonymous form HERE.
And now, please join me in welcoming Gabriela to this week's Tuesday From The Trenches!
Hi Gabriela! Thank you so much for joining us today! I’m thrilled to share your story with my readers, so let's jump right in. Can you share your query stats with us?
Time Spent in the Query Trenches: One year, three months
Number of Agents Queried: 25ish?
Number of Requests for Additional Work/Full Manuscript: 1
Number of Twitter Pitch “Likes”: 3 #DVPit 2 PB Party
Number of R&Rs: 2
Number of Rejections: 24ish
Number of Offers: 1
Agent and Agency: Alyssa Jennette at Stonesong
Wonderful!! Huge congrats on signing with Alyssa! How did you keep track of it all? What was your method for organizing queries? Spread sheet? Query Tracker? Etc.
I had a notebook that I would write down each query and the date and I was keeping a tally sheet for the rejections when a friend asked why I did that. She pointed out that if any of my children kept a rejection tally, I would tell them not to keep track of rejections but just keep trying, so I took it out. I did move all my query emails into a folder so I could look back, just in case I had to.
That's a really great perspective. I like the idea to keep moving forward rather than keeping tally of the rejections. But event though you learned to not tally them, how did you handle the rejections? Did any sting more than others?
We have a 24-hour rule in our house, you get 24 hours to throw your pity party and then you have to get over it and/or do something about it. I had a few of those 24-hour pity parties. The query rejections never stung as much as the mentorship rejections did. Those hurt!
That is a fantastic rule. Give yourself space to feel your authentic emotions but then get yourself up and move forward. And that's a really great point... those mentorship rejections do sting.
How did you find agents to query/how did you decide who to query?
Query tracker, #MSWL, Twitter.
All wonderful resources. I think those MSWLs are really great so that you make sure your work is a good fit for a particular agent. 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?
For my 40th birthday, I gifted myself Ten Minutes With an Expert with The Manuscript Academy. I poured over the agents and chose Alyssa. Our chat was amazing! We talked about the manuscript that I submitted for the meeting and she asked if I had other manuscripts. We talked about one that I was working on and she loved the concept and asked that I send it to her when it was ready.
Oooh! That's an exciting story. I love unique ways to connect. Goes to show you that you should put yourself out there as much as possible. And what an amazing birthday to you!! So tell us a bit about getting that manuscript ready and then prepping for the call... how much time passed between officially querying Alyssa to getting “the call”?
I worked on that manuscript for a few more months and sent it to her in June. She asked for some revisions to that manuscript plus the one I sent to her for our Ten Minute meeting, which I sent back to her in July. Early August, my husband and I dropped off our first born at college and we were on our way to our final meal with him, my email notification pinged and there it was! I’m not sure if leaving him at college kept me from being so nervous about the call or if the call made me more nervous than leaving him at college but either way it was a lot of emotions!
Wow, that is definitely an emotional time! Things seem to happen all at once, don't they? I love that you took your time getting the MSs ready and then again on the R&R. Sounds like you've really honed your craft and I love that. Can you tell us more about “the call”? How did you know Alyssa was the right choice?
Since we already talked before and she knew the stories so well, it was such an easy conversation. I knew Alyssa was the right choice because of her love for the stories and the characters.
That is so wonderful. That feeling of comfort and confidence is everything. Could you tell us a little about your book that landed your agent?
It’s a bilingual picture book about family, trust, and learning how to appreciate all the fun differences that come with a new place.
That sounds fantastic! I love bilingual books and yours sounds wonderful.
If you could give querying authors a piece of advice, what would that be?
Celebrate the small victories, a champagne rejection, a positive critique, great feedback, all of those victories will lead to greater victories.
That is fantastic advice! I love your focus and that goes right along with your earlier advice of not tallying rejections... I think as authors we can be so hard on ourselves and often focus on the negative. But you are so right. There are many "small" victories along the way that should truly be celebrated. I love that.
Before I let you go, Where can we connect with you online?
Fantastic! Thanks so much for joining us today. I’ve had a blast chatting and learning more about your journey. Best of luck on the submission path! I can’t wait to see your books in the world.
About Gabriela Orozco Belt
Gabriela Orozco Belt is a children’s book author who lives in a small town in the Mojave Desert. She was born in San Pedro, California, to Costa Rican immigrants. Raised in a Hispanic community, she was one of a handful of people from Central American descent. She never realized how different her Spanish was from other Spanish-speaking regions until she unintentionally used an inappropriate word while talking to her best friend’s mom. Since then, Gabriela has been fascinated with the differences in Spanish that exist among Spanish speakers.
Gabriela received a B.A. in English Literature from California State University, San Bernardino and an M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of California at Riverside. She has taught high school English for fifteen years and loves to bring her love of picture books into the classroom.
Gabriela is a wife of twenty years and a mother of three, whose oldest is in his first year of college, whose middle child is in her first year of high school, and whose youngest child is living her best life in fifth grade.
When not writing, teaching, or chauffeuring children to activities, Gabriela can be found directing the high school play. Giving them some crazy twist like an ’80s themed Wizard of Oz or a Dia de los Muertos Alice in Wonderland. She can also be found checking off a destination from her travel bucket list.
About Kailei Pew
Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and children's book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary. Kailei's debut Middle Grade Book, KID MADE will be coming to you from Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan Summer 2023