I have a special treat for you today as we welcome author and agent, Kaitlyn Sanchez to the blog! I've been lucky enough to connect with Kaitlyn on a few projects now, and I am always so impressed by her dedication, drive, and determination. She is sure to go far in this industry, and is definitely one to watch! She recently announced her first sell as an agent (CONGRATS!!) and is working with one amazing team of authors. Though she's currently closed to queries, make sure to subscribe to her blog to be the first to hear when she reopens. Also, make sure to read to the end and check out an awesome giveaway opportunity from Kaitlyn!
Just to give you an idea of how supportive Kaitlyn is: When I received a couple of offers of representation, I emailed Kaitlyn to let her know. She literally called me less than 1 minute after I sent the email, screaming in excitement for me. She let me share some of my thoughts and the back and forth I was going through on choosing and agent and had some stellar advice. She even followed up with me to see how I was doing while making my decision. She's become a dear writing friend and I'm glad to know her. So I'm super excited to share this interview!
And now, help me welcome to the blog Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Kaitlyn! You are such a light to the KidLit community, and I’m thrilled to share your query story with my readers!
Aw, thank you so much! One of my favorite nicknames as a kid was sparkplug and that comment made me think of that, thanks for that wonderful memory! And it's been just a delight working with you on so many wonderful adventures for this Kidlit community, thanks for including me!
Aww, thanks so much! I always love connecting and so appreciate your willingness to always jump on board with my new ideas. My goal with #TuesdayFromTheTrenches is to share that there is no "one right path" to representation. I love your story and can't wait to see how it inspires readers.
To get started, can you share your query stats with us? (as far as you know/remember. It’s okay if some of these numbers are zero):
Uh...all of these are going to be approximate because at one point I stopped keeping track because it was too depressing to keep adding LOL.
Time Spent in the Query Trenches: Probably about a year for my first agent, then when she left the business about a month to get my soulmate agent!
Number of Agents Queried: too many, probably over a hundred but I stopped keeping track
Number of Requests for Additional Work/Full Manuscript: off the top of my head, double digits but never kept track
Number of Twitter Pitch “Likes”: at least a handful but never kept track either lol
Number of R&Rs: none
Number of Rejections: too many to count, hundreds for sure
Number of Offers: one the first time, two the second
Agent and Agency: the amazing, the spectacular, my agent soulmate: Joyce Sweeney at the Seymour Agency
I love that you stayed aware of your mental health in the process and stopped counting when it became overwhelming. Very smart. I'm also so glad you connected with your perfect agent!
How did you keep track of it all? What was your method for organizing queries? Spread sheet? Query Tracker? Etc.
I used a spreadsheet that I started to despise. I even started using orange for rejections because red was too harsh!
Haha! I feel that for sure. I also came to dislike my spreadsheet... more of a love-hate relationship maybe? haha. Loved that it kept me organized. Hated all the red! How did you handle rejections? Did any sting more than others?
It was much harder getting rejections after requests from pitch events/parties. In fact, one time after yet another close call but not quite, I decided to step away from picture book writing in general for a while. Ironically, it was then that I wrote a picture book story for a call that landed me my first contract.
Those close calls were the most painful for me as well. And I agree that sometimes you have to step back from it all for a bit. What a perfect example of stepping back and taking some time away in order to foster new ideas and write that story that gets the yes! In the middle of all of this, how did you find agents to query/how did you decide who to query?
Everywhere! But one of my favorite places is my friend Heather Aryis Burnell's Monster List of Picture Book Agents.
Yes, yes, yes! I also used Heather's list! Love it so much! It sounds like you took advantage of lots of opportunities to find an agent. How did you ultimately connect with your now agent? Did you cold query? Participate in a twitter pitch event? Or connect in some other way?
Mindy Alyse Weiss!
I asked her how she liked her new agency and as a wonderful friend she asked me what was going on and when I explained my predicament—my agent leaving the business (and because she knew my writing from PBParty) she thought Joyce and I might work well together, so she recommended me :)
That's fantastic! I love wonderful writing friends! How much time passed between querying Joyce to getting “the call”?
It was about a month. Joyce loved my newest voice. It was only found in the story I queried her with, so she tasked me to write more like it before having a talk :)
Very cool. And amazing that you could turn around more great stories in a month! Way to go!! Can you tell us more about “the call” with Joyce? How did you know she was the right choice?
I knew from the first email she sent the same day I queried her that she would be perfect for me! Her response was EXACTLY how I would have reacted to a story I loved. But, overall it was more complicated than that as I had another offer as well, so it wasn't the call that eventually won me over (though it was fantastic!) it all came down to which stories I wanted to focus on because each agent wanted to focus on a different side of me (I may be a little eclectic lol).
I love that! And I totally understand being eclectic. I feel like I am bouncing around from idea to idea and wanting to write all types of PBs. It's nice to have my agent to help ground me and show me my strengths and where to focus. It sounds like you and Joyce are a wonderful match! And as a now agent yourself, do you have any additional insights on the query trenches from “the other side?”
Oh, definitely! I had heard from freelance editing friends that they would see certain topics often and I didn't see that side until I started receiving queries. I think another great way to get this insight is to observe pitch events. You can see all the different (and similar) stories that are being written and the creative (or lack thereof) spin people are putting on them.
Great advice to watch the trends and make sure you're standing out! If you could give querying authors any other piece of advice, what would that be?
Keep learning, growing, and trying new things, but most of all, have a great writer support system. A critique group or check-in buddy where you can share your frustrations and achievements and they can commiserate with you in a way non-writing support systems can't.
I couldn't agree more! Having that support system has been invaluable to me!
Kaitlyn, this has been so much fun! Thank you so much for joining us!! Before I let you go, where can we connect with you online?
https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/ (I'd love for all your readers to subscribe to my blog)
Thank you so much, Katilyn!! I can't wait to see your books on my shelf!
Kaitlyn will be giving away one PB MS critique and one Query Critique to two lucky readers! To enter for your chance to win, follow Kaitlyn and Kailei on twitter, and retweet this post! For an extra entry, subscribe to Kaitlyn's blog and tell me in the comments below that you did! Good luck, everyone! Winner will be announced next Monday on Twitter.
About Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez:
Kaitlyn Leann Sachez is a writer of humorous picture books and an active member of SCBWI. She's a proud finalist of the 2019 Picture Book Party event. Kaitlyn is the co-creator and co-host of the many contests including: the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy, and Kidlit Zombie Week. Kaitlyn is also an associate literary agent, helping writers achieve their dreams of publication.
She was born, raised, and has always stayed in California's Central Valley, where she lives with her family and teaches junior high school math. When Kaitlyn isn’t writing, teaching, or agenting, you can find her eating cookies, laughing with her hilarious family, or out on the soccer field, but you'll never find her cleaning. She would definitely rather be sucked into a vacuum than use it!
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KaitlynLeann17/
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.