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Tuesday From The Trenches: Melissa See

Hello wonderful readers, and happy October! October is my favorite month of the year, and I am SO excited that we made it. I hope you're all enjoying crisper weather, all things pumpkin, a little bit of spooky, and some cozy clothes. I love this time of year so much.

I am SO excited to be interviewing one of my amazing agent siblings, Melissa See. Melissa was super welcoming to me when I signed with Emily a few weeks after she did, and I was SO grateful to have someone helping me navigate the new experience. Melissa is an incredible person. She has been gracious enough to read and critique some of my work, always hypes me and my agent siblings up when we are down, and is a lot of fun at our agent-sibling zoom parties. Plus, her writing is amazing and I cannot wait to have all of her books on my shelf! I know you will all adore her, so join me in welcoming Melissa to Tuesday From The Trenches!

Hi Melissa! I'm so excited that you're here with me. Let's jump right in, shall we?

Can you share your query stats with us?

Time Spent in the Query Trenches: For the book that got me my agent, I was in the query trenches for 66 days. But I was in the query trenches with 3 books total over the course of 7 years.

Number of Agents Queried: A lot!

Number of Requests for Additional Work/Full Manuscript: I’m not sure, but I did get a good amount!

Number of Twitter Pitch “Likes”: Not a lot!

Number of R&Rs: 2

Number of Rejections: I’m not sure of the exact amount, but since getting my agent took 7 years, a lot!

Number of Offers: 1

Agent and Agency: Emily Forney at BookEnds Literary!

YAY! I love your dedication and perseverance to not give up with those first two books didn't land you the agent. And then to have the fast 66 day success on book three is so exciting! How did you keep track of it all? What was your method for organizing queries? Spread sheet? Query Tracker? Etc.

I created a color-coded spreadsheet where I had categories like Agent, Agency, Contact Info, Status, etc. (The colors were so I could see who had a query, partial, full, etc.) It was so helpful!

I love spreadsheets and I love color coding, so this sounds like the organization of my dreams! So as you began filling out that spreadsheet, how did you handle rejections? Did any sting more than others?

For my first two times in the query trenches, the rejections stung the most. But, by my third time around (which was also the shortest time in the query trenches), they didn’t sting. They became water off a duck’s back because I knew what to expect.

I think that's really important for people newly in the trenches to realize. Those early days are the hardest. It does get easier though, so hang in there.

How did you find agents to query/how did you decide who to query?

Since this book was my third time in the query trenches, I reused spreadsheets I’d made. I also went on websites like QueryTracker and MSWL.

Those are such great resources. And the nice thing about more time in the trenches with new books is that you have done the research and you are prepared to go again. Love that. So how did you ultimately connect with Emily? Did you cold query? Participate in a twitter pitch event? Or connect in some other way?

One night, I saw that BookEnds was announcing new people had joined the agency. (My agent was one of them.) I decided to cold-query her, and she requested my full within hours!

YAY! That is so exciting! I love that fast turn around. How much time passed between querying Emily to getting “the call”?

I believe it was about a month or so!

That's so great. Can you tell us more about “the call”? How did you know Emily was the right choice?

I was a bundle of nerves the entire day! But when Emily and I get on our Zoom call, I knew I’d met someone who was endlessly kind. Within five minutes, she offered representation and we dove into my book.

I knew she was the right choice for me because of how much she loved my story. My protagonists, their romance, everything. She was determined to be the best agent for me she could be—and that meant getting my YA contemporary romance starring disabled teens hopefully out into the world.

That is so exciting, Melissa! You and Emily are such a good team. And I couldn't agree more about Emily being such a kind person. She really knows how to put someone at ease and make you feel so good about yourself and your work. I love that you found someone who is such a good champion for you and your work. Speaking of... could you tell us a little about your book that landed your agent?

YOU, ME, AND OUR HEARTSTRINGS is a YA contemporary romance starring Daisy, a violinist with cerebral palsy, and Noah, a cellist with generalized anxiety disorder. They find each other through music, and as they fall in love, they also find themselves contending with unwanted viral fame.

AH! Hearing about this book never gets old and I am seriously SO excited to read the entire thing. And for anyone who missed it, please please please check out the cover reveal for YOU, ME, AND OUR HEARTSTRINGS here because it is just absolutely gorgeous and the whole world really needs to see it.

Melissa, If you could give querying authors a piece of advice, what would that be?

Rejections can sting but getting to the point where they are water off a duck’s back. Knowing that an agent rejected you not being a personal thing helps a lot. Good luck!

That is really such wonderful advice. I think getting to that point where it isn't as painful is so important. Thank you so much, Melissa for joining me today and for your great insights. Before I let you to, where can we connect with you online?

You can follow me on Twitter @melissasee.

Wonderful! Thank you again for joining me today. I’ve had a blast chatting and learning more about your journey. I can’t wait to see your books in the world. And speaking of seeing those books... Hugely excited that:

YOU, ME, AND OUR HEARTSTRINGS is releasing in summer 2022! You can add it to Goodreads here:


Melissa is generously offering a query critique to one lucky reader. Just retweet this blog post and follow Melissa on Twitter to enter. The winner will be announced Monday on Twitter!

About Melissa See

Melissa See is a disabled author of young adult contemporary romances. She currently lives in the New York countryside where she’s pursuing her education to work in children’s publishing. When not writing, she can be found reading, baking cookies, or curled up with her cat, most likely watching anime or 90 Day Fiancé. Her work has previously appeared in Anime Impact: The Movies & Shows that Changed the World of Japanese Animation.

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


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