Hello wonderful readers!! Welcome back to Tuesday From The Trenches! I am THRILLED to tell you that we are fully scheduled through the end of the year. I'll be sharing a new author interview every Tuesday through the rest of 2021! These authors range in time wading through the query trenches from 1 Month to 15 YEARS and I am just so excited to share every single story. I hope they inspire you all to keep pushing along and keep putting yourself out there. You only need one yes!
Today, I'm excited to share Juli Beck's story with you all. I love this story and I love that she is hosting a giveaway specifically in honor of PRIDE Month. As we round out these last two days of the month, I hope you know that I stand as a true ally to all of my LGBTQ+ friends and hope you can find a safe place in me if ever you need it.
Read through to the end to find details on Juli's giveaway.
And now... here's Juli!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Juli! I was so excited to see that you recently signed with Hannah! I’m thrilled to share your story with my readers!
Thank you! I am so excited to share as well!
Can you share your query stats with us? (as far as you know/remember. It’s okay if some of these numbers are zero):
Time Spent in the Query Trenches: From first query ever to last, it was 1 year 11 months, 15 days. I took a few breaks in between to work on craft and queried multiple PBs.
Number of Agents Queried: 47
Number of Requests for Additional Work/Full Manuscript: 6 across 4 different MSs
Number of Twitter Pitch “Likes”: In ~10 Twitter pitch events, I received 8 agent likes, 8 editor likes.
Number of R&Rs: 1
Number of Rejections: 46
Number of Offers: 1!
Agent and Agency: Hannah VanVels at Belcastro
I love that you know the very specific year, month, day of time! That is amazing. I also think it's so wise to take time to work on craft between query batches. I did that myself and really saw a difference in my responses. How did you keep track of it all? What was your method for organizing queries? Spread sheet? Query Tracker? Etc.
Query Tracker was my serious tracking tool. But for fun, I made my own little color coded visual query tracker that stayed on my refrigerator! (R = rejection, PR/FR = partial/full request, O = offer, Q = query, RR = revise & resubmit)
That is so fun!! I love the hand drawn, color coded visual! But also using query tracker. I haven't had a lot of guests on the blog who used it, so it's fun to hear of someone else who did (I loved it myself, paired with an excel sheet).
How did you handle rejections? Did any sting more than others?
What helped me the most to handle rejections was knowing that in the end, an agent is making a business decision and that does not make my story or my writing are any less valid.
I think the earliest queries stung the most because I started querying WAY too soon (like only one “polished” PB, no critique group too soon!). And when I was in that place of still developing as a writer, I didn’t have the perspective or information that I did at the later stages of querying.
I feel that querying too soon thing. But perhaps it's all part of the process! haha. How did you find agents to query/how did you decide who to query?
I found many agents via Query Tracker or through a deal announcement on the free PW Children’s Bookshelf newsletter. I decided who to query using the Manuscript Wishlist website, searching the #MSWL hashtag on Twitter, and by directly researching the agent on their personal or agency website. If they had a public Publishers Marketplace page, I’d check that out too!
I love all those resources! There truly are so many places to find agents. How did you ultimately connect with Hannah? Did you cold query? Participate in a twitter pitch event? Or connect in some other way?
We ultimately connected through #PBPitch, though it was not my first time querying Hannah!
That's so great!! I am also a pitch party success story myself, so I'm a big believer in putting yourself out there. Could you tell us a little about your book that landed your agent?
I think that #PBPitch for it sums it up best:
LITTLE CHEF x MASTER CHEF JR.
For Passover, Maya gets sugar-coated rotten reviews from the ultimate food critics — her family. When matzo meal turns to matzo mess, she learns that a true chef’s talent can shine even in the toughest moments.
That sounds absolutely amazing!! I can't wait to hear where it takes you!! If you could give querying authors a piece of advice, what would that be?
1. Consider setting yourself a checklist or goal for what “query-ready” looks like to make sure you aren’t querying too soon.
2. Practice self-compassion. If you are ever in a spot where you receive a rejection and think “I give up” or “I’m a terrible writer,” ask yourself, “What would I tell a friend of mine saying that?”
That is really great advice, Juli! I think we are hardest on ourselves for sure.
Where can we connect with you online?
You can find me on Twitter @juli_writes!
Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
To all the writers in the query trenches, I am cheering you on! Hitting “send” on a query is a huge achievement. Not only does it mean you’ve written a book (!!!), but it also means you are putting yourself out there—and that can be one of the hardest things to do.
So true. Readers, you should be truly proud of yourselves.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Juli! 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 again for having me, Kailei!
Would you like to offer a giveaway with your interview?
In honor of PRIDE month, I would love to offer a query critique to a fellow queer author.
Wow, thanks so much, Juli!! And happy PRIDE month!
To allow for all to enter in a safe way without the potential of publicly outing anyone who is not ready for that, we will not be hosting this giveaway on Twitter like we have in the past. Instead, please enter by filling out this Google Form HERE.
NOTE: This giveaway is ONLY open to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Please only enter if you are LGBTQ+. Happy Pride!
About Juli Beck
Juli is a kid lit author and an aspiring fancy-braided challah baker. She currently works as a copywriter, though she used to work as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). This is where she discovered her love for picture books and began to write her own. She is a member of SCBWI, 12x12PB, and ASHA (American Speech-Hearing Association).
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.