There’s a whole community behind the #LatinxPitch event and we want you to be a part of it!
One common question that new writers and illustrators, or even writers and illustrators who have been around on Twitter for a while, ask is how to make more connections and build a stronger presence within the publishing community.
A way to do this is by making the most out of Twitter pitch events like #LatinxPitch.
So how do you do that?
#LatinxPitch is a great way to find critique partners! You can search the day of and connect with others who write in your same genre and for the same age group. Simply comment on their tweets and mention that you want to connect. It’s normal to start by exchanging three chapters (or a PB book draft) of a work in progress with a potential/new critique partner to see if you both connect with one another’s work and critique style.
If you end up with minimal or no likes during the event you can still connect with agents or editors by searching for other projects/artwork they liked that are similar to yours. This is a great way to build a cold querying list. Even if you get likes from agents or editors this is still a way to supplement your list and cast a wider net when querying (and when you eventually go on submission to editors).
A third way to make the most out of the event is to connect with established writers and illustrators beforehand. Or even during the event when many writers and illustrators hop on to uplift and support those who are pitching.
Have a question? Use the hashtag #LatinxPitch or send a tweet to @LatinxPitch and we’ll help!
Beyond Twitter, we also have other online resources on our blog where you’ll find lots of useful information to help build your industry knowledge base. Some of our other blog posts include the agent call as well as how to put together a strong query letter.
We hope that #LatinxPitch is as social as it is helpful for Latinx writers and illustrators of all levels. Our aim is to not only make it easier for editors and agents to connect with Latinx writers and illustrators, but also to make it easier for the Latinx publishing community to find each other, unite, and move toward more kidlit books being published by Latinx writers and illustrators.
We’re excited to share Anna Orenstein-Cardona’s success story today on the #LatinxPitch Blog. Anna answered some of our most pressing questions about her experience with #LatinxPitch and her amazing PB debut, THE TREE OF HOPE, which was acquired by Beaming Books after the 2020 pitch event, and will be published in summer 2022. Congratulations, Anna!
1) Tell us a little bit about your experience with #LatinxPitch – where did you hear about the pitch event from, how did you feel the day of the event in terms of expectations, and how did the event lead you to sign with your agent?
The summer of 2020 was very difficult because I lost my beloved Mamá, after a brave fight against cancer. It was a period of deep mourning, but also a time of reflection. A period of renewed appreciation that we must live each day to the maximum, follow our dreams, and consider the legacy we wish to leave in this world.
My mother’s legacy was her love of familia, culture, and having the courage to live our values. I was blessed to have a successful career in finance for more than two decades, but the cost of it was silencing my creativity. I had put my writing in the back burner for a long time. My soul was telling me that it was time to give it another go.
That’s why when I heard about #LatinxPitch via a group of writers on Twitter, I immediately penciled in the date of September 15th 2020 in my calendar. I didn’t want to miss it!
I also applied via #LatinxPitch & won a critique from the lovely Rene Beauregard Lute for my MG manuscript, which ended up being super helpful for both projects that I wanted to pitch that day – my picture book THE TREE OF HOPE and my middle grade novel BORICUACATS.
On the day, I was both nervous but also hopeful. My picture book received various likes from a mix of editors and agents.
Naomi Krueger, who is the acquisitions editor from Beaming Books, was amazing. She really loved the story from the start but suggested a few edits. So, I did an R&R (revise and resubmit). The process took almost a full year, but I am excited to share that my debut picture book will be published in August 2022. Wepa!
It’s been such an incredible experience and I am full of gratitude to Naomi and all those that championed this story. I am also hopeful to find an agent in the future who can represent my other work.
2) What is your recipe for the perfect pitch?
I really think there is no such thing as a recipe for the perfect pitch because at the end of the day it is very personal. However, my advice would be to get to the heart of the story in the simplest way possible.
The way to achieve this is by letting your creativity flow. Write numerous pitches without giving it too much thought. I even recommend using Post-it notes and placing them up on a wall. Then choose the ones that you believe stand out the best, read them aloud, and go with your gut.
I also understand that using book comparables (comps) is helpful, however I did not use them for my picture book pitch because my story is inspired by true events.
3)What would you say to writers who aren’t sure if they should pitch?
This reminds me of when I was 21 years old and received a job offer to move from New York City to London. I was excited and petrified at the same time. You see, I didn’t know a soul in the UK and the job was demanding.
My mother said to me, “echa pa’ lante”, which means just go for it. It was the best decision of my life, both professionally and personally. I’ve come to realize that by setting our fears aside and moving forward boldly that we can accomplish great things, for ourselves and for others.
So, that’s my advice for all those writers who may be hesitant, echa pa’ lante!
4)What does an event like this mean to you as a Latinx writer?
I have dreamed of not only becoming a published author, but also representing my beautiful Puerto Rican heritage through my writing. Thanks to #LatinxPitch my dream has come true.
I am deeply grateful to all the hard work that the #LatinxPitch team does. I am also thankful to the numerous agents and editors who participate and the writers who support other writers with their critiques and advice. Together, a more equitable world is being created. One in which children will find a reflection of themselves and their culturas. This is not only beautiful, but much needed in a world where demographics are rapidly changing. ¡GRACIAS!
5) Finally, tell us all about your PB, THE TREE OF HOPE!
When Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, jagüey blanco, the banyan tree that had stood guard by the historic San Juan Gate was uprooted and fell into the sea. For locals, the ancient tree, which weighed over 30,000 pounds and measured over 50 feet in height, symbolized the indomitable spirit of the Puerto Rican people and its fall was a shattering blow.
The TREE OF HOPE is inspired by the tree’s miraculous rescue and regrowth; a reminder of the power of community and the importance of never giving up.
Anna Orenstein-Cardona was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is an alum of Faber Academy (Writing a Novel and Writing for Children). She is active in the Society of Children Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI).
She is an NFEC-certified financial educator (CFEI) and coach with over 22 years of experience working in global financial markets. In 2020, she founded Wear Your Money Crown® to help close the gap in financial literacy.
Currently, Anna is working on developing various projects, including more children books. She lives in London with her two very special furbabies and her Southern Gentleman husband, although spends as much time as she can in Puerto Rico, where she regularly gets involved in rescuing abandoned animals and supporting local charities.
If you are pursuing traditional publishing, your road to signing with an agent will likely begin by writing a query letter. But what should you include in your query letter?
Read on for all kinds of query letter help!
PARTS OF A (TYPICAL) QUERY
Your first paragraph should include your character’s age if you are writing for kidlit, something about their personality, and what they want and are dealing with at the beginning of your story.
The body section of your query letter should include your inciting incident, turning points that progressively up the story’s stakes, and finally, what’s at stake if your character fails and what do they get if they succeed that ties back to growth from what they want from the first paragraph.
Your final paragraph(s) should include information about the manuscript, including your title, age group it’s written for, word count (rounded up or down to the nearest thousand), comp titles, and any other fact about it you would like to highlight. This includes if you want to highlight that you share a marginalization with your main character. You can also include a couple of sentences for your biography, though, your biography usually shouldn’t be longer than any of the body paragraphs. Finally, don’t forget to thank the agent for their time!
SAMPLE QUERY LETTER
13-year-old Gabe doesn’t care about being a brujo protege when he rather be reading and engaging with his followers on book TikTok. But when his mama becomes seriously ill from an ailment that seems to be coming from the commission dedicated to protecting brujx, he must shelve his TBR list and dust off his wand to save her.
With the help of his followers, he gets closer to a cure and the truth—the commission headmaster, Antonio de la Rivera, is seeking to be the only brujo left standing. Now he must band together and meet some of his long-time followers and friends in person to defeat the brujo. Including his TikTok crush, Ruby, who turns out to be a seasoned bruja.
Though success is easier said than won when they must fight off fantasmas, evade a nosey detective trying to show that brujx are real, and make sure Gabe’s little brother doesn’t fall under the curse as well. If Gabe doesn’t succeed, all of humankind might fall under the brujx spell, not just brujx. But if he can save the day, he might just realize his abilities aren’t the curse he’s always thought they were and finally find a home within the brujx community, offline.
BRUJO is a middle grade contemporary fantasy featuring a Mexican American main character. It is 45,000 words long and will appeal to fans of WITCHLINGS by Claribel A. Ortega and Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova.
Like Gabe, I am Mexican American. I live in California with my husband and newborn. Per your submission guidelines, please see the first ten pages of the manuscript below.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
14 QUERY LETTER TIPS
1. ELIMINATE THE WHY?/HOW? Eliminate any chance for an agent to ask why a certain fact is how it is. Or why a certain character makes a certain choice. i.e. Luna is a vampire with a soul who goes on a secret mission. Well: Why is she going on a secret mission? And what is this secret mission? A better sentence would be: After vampire Luna loses her soul going after a human slayer who curses her, she ends up on a secret mission on behalf of the slayer who promises to give her back her soul in exchange for a leaf from the tree of life.
2. DON’T BE VAGUE: This one definitely lends itself to cracking Tip #1. There’s no reason to be vague in a query. Being mysterious isn’t really a good thing. It’s okay to reveal some juicy info that a reader won’t find out until the last chapter to an agent/editor you’re trying to hook. And you want to be as specific as you can so that your query makes sense.
3. IT’S OKAY NOT TO INCLUDE EVERY STANDARD PART OF A QUERY: Don’t stress out about a bio. It’s okay not to include one at all! Focus on telling an agent about your story. Especially if you’re submitting through Query Manager, there will likely be other other sections in your submission that you will be able to talk about yourself. You also don’t have to include a note on why you’re pitching said agent unless it’s on their submission guidelines. Always follow their guidelines!
4. ASK A FEW PEOPLE TO READ YOUR QUERY LETTER: Feedback can be vital to getting your query ready to send off. You may think you’ve written the perfect query and then someone will spot a mistyped word you’ll be shocked you missed!
5. FOCUS ON YOUR STORY: A query is a professional cover letter. Don’t make strange comments to the agent you’re querying. And don’t be rude or mean or demeaning to someone you’re asking to consider you for a business partner. Even if they pass.
6. COMP TITLES: Comp titles will not make or break your query! You do not have to include comp titles at all unless an agent has asked for them in their submission guidelines. If you do have to include them, or would like to, you’ll be surprised how comp titles start coming to you when you read and keep track of books within your genre. You can also compare your writing to that of another author. Even a feeling another book gave you, a movie, show, or even a song. It’s perfectly okay to say your MS is written in a similar voice as X, Y, and Z.
7. ONLY USE THE NAMES OF THREE CHARACTERS: Only using the names of three characters tops will help agents keep up with what your story is about more easily. These are usually your MC, your antagonist, and your romantic lead. This helps you figure out Tip #8!
8. CHOOSE ONE STORYLINE: How do you condense a novel that’s 35,000-120,000 words down to one page? UGH! So hard sometimes! The biggest thing is to focus on your turning points. Set the stage with your MC, who they are, and what they want. Then describe the turning point that sends your MC down their path and mission. And then describe the challenges your MC faces to get their mission done. And finally, describe the consequences your MC will face if they fail. And what they’ll get if they’re victorious.
9. IT’S OKAY TO DESCRIBE YOUR WORLD FIRST: A lot of people will tell you to start with your main character. But there are times when you NEED to describe your world first so that the rest of your query to make sense. That’s OKAY!
10. LOOK AT YOUR QUERY LAYOUT: It might not be something you’ve thought about before, but the readability of your query in terms of how daunting it looks can make a difference in the way it’s read! Try keeping each paragraph only a few sentences long, and breaking long paragraphs up, so that they’re easy to follow for agents who are very much overloaded.
11. FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES INCLUDING QUERY MANAGER SECTIONS: If you’re sending a query through Query Manager, you might notice that some agents also ask miscellaneous questions! Adding a couple of sentences into these sections (even if you are querying as an illustrator) might go a long way if an agent decides that they’re interested in learning more about you and your work. These are areas outside of your standard query that you can use to talk more about yourself and your work!
12. KEEP TRACK OF WHO YOU’VE QUERIED: In the age of Query Manager, if an agent is on the program, they can easily tell when someone has sent in the same submission already. Using a spreadsheet, folders, or even notes to keep track of what agents you query, what the status of each query is, and what agencies you’re querying at once, can help aviod any mishaps.
13. ILLUSTRATORS: If you’re querying a picture book, be sure to have your dummy for that project ready to go. In terms of your portfolio, don’t miss out on getting feedback from friends and other industry professionals before you query to make sure you’re putting your best work in your sample. And make sure that your sample shows inclusivity. For graphic novels, it’s always great to have a few spreads of sample work to show. And even though illustrators don’t have to do a general query as much, writing a paragraph or a few in your submission through email or Query Manager, will help agents get to know you.
14. USE YOUR QUERY TO REALIZE YOU MAY NOT BE READY TO QUERY: If you’re finding you can’t make your query concise enough any way you turn it, it’s time to relook at your manuscript. And it’s a good thing to do this before your start to query!
Querying can be one of the most challenging and stressful things for writers since it’s such an important factor to achieving representation from an agent. We hope that this blog post has given you the confidence to refine your query for #LatinxPitch and beyond!
We’re excited to be able to share Rebecca Carvalho’s #LatinxPitch success story! The Brazilian author answered some of our most pressing questions about her experience with #LatinxPitch and her amazing YA rom-com debut, SALT AND SUGAR, which was acquired by Inkyard after the 2020 pitch event, and will be published in fall 2022. Congratulations, Rebecca!
1) Tell us a little bit about your experience with #LatinxPitch – where did you hear about the pitch event from, how did you feel the day of the event in terms of expectations, and how did the event lead you to sign with your editor?
September 2020 was such a stressful month. A few days prior to the #LatinxPitch event, we had that Blade Runner, apocalyptic looking day in the Bay Area, when the sky was blood red with wildfire smoke. I couldn’t believe my own eyes. The birds didn’t sing that day. It got eerily cold. I couldn’t bear to venture outside. We were also in the thick of the pandemic and I feel like there was so much going on, my anxiety was at an all-time high.
We’d gone on sub earlier in 2020 with SALT AND SUGAR, but editors didn’t connect. At that point, my agent Thao Le and I were wondering what to do next.
I was standing at that crossroads with my book when I first saw a tweet about the #LatinxPitch event. It honestly felt like a breath of fresh air. I was surprised to see that it was open to agented writers pursuing editors, too. I discussed it with Thao, who was super supportive and encouraged me to participate. We worked together on my pitch, scheduled it, and it’s cheesy to say this… but the sky finally cleared a lot on the day of the event, enough that it even looked blue again.
As exciting as Twitter pitch events are, I still didn’t know what to expect. I just knew I had to give SALT AND SUGAR one last try—writing the book had been such a significant experience for me, following my mom’s passing—and I just felt like I owed it to the story. I believed in my book, but I really wasn’t expecting #Latinxpitch to change my life.
I got so much support from so many people. I was speechless. As editors started requesting my book, Thao and I kept track of everyone and we later put together a list she was going to contact. I think one week later, an editor had already scheduled a call with us. It all happened so fast. I couldn’t believe how quickly the editor had read my book. She wanted to discuss her editorial vision for it and she was so enthusiastic, it all felt surreal. Other brilliant editors started showing just as much interest, too, and so Salt and Sugar went to auction. You can imagine how dizzying this whole thing can be… I’m grateful for my husband, who kept me sane throughout it all. I’m grateful for all the editors, who were so thoughtful and kind. And I’m extra grateful for Thao, who virtually held my hand throughout it all.
Rebecca Kuss (who was at Inkyard Press at the time) was my acquiring editor. It felt like a dream come true, honestly. Everyone at Inkyard Press showed so much love for my Brazilian story, and they all assured me they’d take good care of my career and my book. A book that had been a dream I dreamed together with all my loved ones. Many thanks to Bess Braswell and Claire Stetzer (my current editor)! Thank you, #Latinxpitch, for putting the right people in my life at the right moment!
2) What is your recipe for the perfect pitch?
I don’t know if I have a perfect pitch formula. It’s honestly so subjective. But if I were an agent combing through all the pitches, I’d look for the more straightforward pitches that tell me right away the problem the main character is facing (or how they’re stuck) and how they’re going to take action to solve it, or at least what’s the journey the reader will go on with the main character, so I know what’s at stake. Seeing comp titles helps, too, but I don’t think they’re absolutely necessary.
My pitch for Salt and Sugar was “17yo Lari Ramires and Pedro Molina were born enemies. Their families’ bakeries have always been at war with each other, but when a supermarket preys on their community and corners the bakeries, together they must create the perfect recipe.”
One pitch that’s my favorite EVER was Dustin Thao’s #DVPit pitch for You’ve Reached Sam: “Heartbroken after her boyfriend’s death, Julie calls him to hear his voicemail—but he picks up. It’s their second chance at goodbye, but the connection’s temporary. The longer they talk, the more impossible it is to let him go. YOUR NAME meets IF I STAY.” I teared up reading it and I felt so emotionally invested right away.
3) What would you say to writers who aren’t sure if they should pitch?
I’d say go for it. You have nothing to lose. I’ve participated in other pitch events in the past (I’ve been pitching different projects on Twitter and querying since 2012, actually!) and I know how hard it is seeing your pitch sitting there without any likes, but you’ll at least make new friends, meet potential beta readers and CPs excited to read your work, and network with agents and editors.
Participating in a more focused pitch event like #LatinxPitch is an even better opportunity, because the founders of the event advocate for different cultural backgrounds in publishing and they attract like-minded agents, editors, and writers.
4) What does an event like this mean to you as a Latinx writer?
It means the world to me. I was born and raised in the Brazilian Northeast, and I traveled alone to the United States with a scholarship to study English at Lawrence University. My mom was a single parent and she was unemployed, dreaming I’d one day achieve all my academic plans. Things were so tough back then, it wasn’t until after graduation that I reunited with her in Brazil, because all those years we just didn’t have money for me to fly home on Christmas. We wouldn’t have had enough to send me back to school, you know?
Writing has been a constant throughout my whole life. It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember—back when I was in first grade, getting in trouble with a kid who thought I’d named a character after her—but as much as I believed in my work, I didn’t know if it would ever be published. I’ve encountered so many people who doubted my writing because English isn’t my first language. I’ve always felt like I had to prove my worth as a writer the moment I stepped into a room.
Things like getting an agent, finding the right editor, and getting a book deal, at times, sounded like winning the lottery. I felt some of it relied on luck, too. On meeting the right people at the right time… so an event like #LatinxPitch was like suddenly finding an open door. I’ve received so much love and support from the Latinx community on Twitter, and for the first time in a while I felt like my words were celebrated and needed.
5) Finally, tell us all about your YA novel, SALT & SUGAR!
SALT AND SUGAR is a telenovela-esque YA rom-com debut that follows the grandchildren of two rival Brazilian bakeries who fall in love despite their families’ feud while working to win a contest that would save both of their bakeries from being driven out by a predatory supermarket chain.
If you like stories that feature multi-generational feuds, enemies-to-lovers romance, childhood neighborhoods, and characters that bond over food, add SALT AND SUGAR on Goodreads. Publication is planned for fall 2022 (Inkyard Press).
We’re excited to have gotten a chance to ask Jemiscoe “Jem” Chambers-Black, a participating agent in this year’s #LatinxPitch, some questions regarding what she’s on the lookout for and what an agent typically needs to see in pitches to have them click that “like” button.
Thanks so much for your time Jem!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your experience last year with #LatinxPitch and any successes you might have had connecting to writers or illustrators because of it.
A: I have participated in LatinxPitch, but it didn’t result in me signing any clients. However, some of those author’s manuscripts that I read went on to sign with other agents, and seeing that was awesome!
Q: Why do you participate in and what do you like about Twitter pitch events? What do you like about #LatinxPitch in particular?
A: Twitter pitch events can be a lot of fun. For agents, we get to read pitches and let a creator know that we have an initial interest in their manuscript’s premise/portfolio. From the creators’ side, they get exposure. It also allows an author or illustrator to choose whether or not they want to query a particular agent. But there are certain pitch events that I keep a lookout for, and #LatinxPitch is one of them. When I became an agent, I never hid my purpose of amplifying marginalized voices. We’ve all seen the percentages of who, on average, gets published, and those percentages still don’t reflect the United States demographics. In saying that, I look to organizations like #LatinxPitch that help put a spotlight on creators who are deserving and have been deserving of agents’ and editors’ attention. It serves as a virtual meetup and makes it easier for us all to connect, and I really am grateful for that.
Q: What tips can you offer to writers or illustrators that might be planning to participate in the next #LatinxPitch event?
A: Like I said, Twitter events are fun and can get you exposure, but before you participate, make sure that your manuscript/portfolio is ready should any publishing professional request it. Having an awesome pitch is only the beginning, and to be honest, not the most important. If you don’t have a complete and polished manuscript, your pitch won’t matter. And for illustrators, if the art pieces you pitched with are your only samples, my first thoughts will most likely be that you aren’t ready for representation. Take your time because, in most instances, this is your one-on-one moment with an agent or editor. We are paying attention to you, so make sure you’re ready for that spotlight and that your work reflects that readiness.
Q: What Tweets normally catch your attention during pitch events? What do you think makes a Tweet stand out?
A: A creator should know that their value or the value of their writing, story, or artwork has nothing to do with the attention of an agent or editor during any Twitter pitch event. From our side, a creator’s pitch might not even show up in our thread even if we do a search. Because I’m on the west coast, I wake up at 5 AM during those events, and my coffee-needing brain struggles to wade through the extensive thread of people saying they will retweet and the actual pitches.
However, to answer your question, the pitches that grab my attention are where the author doesn’t forget to post about the main character, their main conflict, the stakes, and the obstacle the character faces. You’d be surprised how many creators forget to give a central conflict and set the stakes. Without these main elements, I have no idea if I’m interested. For illustrators, make sure you’re sharing a range of what you can do. If you want to work on different age groups, showcase it. If you have artwork that features day or night scenes, show one of each. If you draw animals and humans, again, show one of each. Versatility is key here.
Q: What will you be on the lookout for this year? Tell us a little bit about your current manuscript wish list.
A: This year I am on the lookout for more MG and adult work. In the MG space, I’m looking for contemporary, fantasy, horror, and graphic novels. And in the adult space, I’m looking for romance, women’s fiction, and/or literary fiction. That doesn’t mean I am not open to everything in between, but that is what I have less of in my inbox. I love grounded fantasy, and I will admit I’m looking for that in MG and YA. I am always open to illustrators, and I am always down to look at portfolios with a great range.
About the agent: Before Jemiscoe “Jem” Chambers-Black joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2020, she was an assistant director for film and television. Her love for books prevailed, and she went back to school to study English Literature and creative writing in fiction and earned her MFA. She represents illustrators, picture book authors (by referral only), MG, YA, and adult authors. In picture books, she enjoys laugh-out-louds, tight rhyming, and heartfelt books that deal with family, friendships, and emotional literacy.
Although workshopping your #LatinxPitch tweets doesn’t guarantee any likes from agents and editors, paying special attention and spending some time on including basic information about your manuscript in your tweets might help an agent or editor gather enough information to know whether or not they want to click the Like button.
Whether you end up with one like, thirty, or zero, all amounts are absolutely okay. The important thing is that you tried using this one avenue to get an agent or editor. There are dozens more available! Keep querying, keep pitching, keep your chin up.
But let’s face it. We put the event together because we want everyone to have the best odds possible. Thankfully, like writing a manuscript, creating a good Tweet is somewhat formulaic:
With any kidlit pitch, it’s always good to start with your character’s age, and then go into what makes your manuscript and your character’s voyage unique. In the case of #LatinxPitch, you might also include your marginalization if your main character shares it. And, if there is room in your pitch, you might add in comp titles at the end or beginning! Don’t forget to leave plenty of room for your hashtags, too!
17-yr-old Honduran Alma doesn’t take things sitting down. She tricks her divorced parents into a shared vacation of her dreams. And their nightmares. But when her parents start falling for other people on the trip she’ll have to go above and beyond to stop them. #LatinxPitch #YA
13-yr-old Gabe is a brujo protege who doesn’t care about learning magia. But when his mama comes down with a strange ailment spread by the brujx commission that’s supposed to protect them all, he must bust out his wand before time runs out to save her. #LatinxPitch #MG #Fantasy
5-yr-old princesa-de-la-casa Viviana thinks camping is totally gross. But when she’s forced to go on her first camping trip ever, she starts to learn that it’s only out in the wild you find osos y venado y cascadas de agua. #LatinxPitch #PB
Although there isn’t a one-fits all formula for success, we hope that if you’re stuck building your pitches for September 15th, this is a formula that will help you write tweets that include everything an agent or editor might be looking for in terms of story details.
Do you have your pitches ready to go and want some feedback on them? Join us for our pre pitch event on September 1st, when members of the #LatinxPitch team will be giving feedback on practice pitches!
Your querying journey will likely culminate in “The Call,” which is when an agent that you’ve sent your full manuscript to invites you to hop on a phone call or video chat with them, which most often leads to an offer of representation.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! It’s no small feat and should be celebrated to the fullest.
Although The Call can cause all kinds of jitters, it doesn’t have to be stressful. During The Call, you’ll likely hear the agent gush about your project, want to know more about what you’re working on next, and overall sell you on themselves and their agency.
It’s important to note that even if an agent invites you on a call and offers you representation, you do not have to accept it. Be ready to interview them as much as it might seem they’re interviewing you. Before the end of The Call, be sure to ask to be connected to two or three of their clients prior to making your decision to sign with them and their agency. It is also standard practice to ask for two weeks to consider their offer of representation (you can ask for more time as well, if necessary) during which you can reach out to other agents with your fulls, partials, or query and see if they’re interested in offering representation.
A few ways you can prepare for The Call include knowing about the agent and agency in terms of who they represent that you’re familiar with and any recent deals they might have brokered, thinking about what future projects are on your queue you can chat about, and preparing questions.
Below are 10 questions to consider including in your list:
Are you planning to represent just this project or my career? How do you typically develop a writer’s career? And are you willing to represent books I write for age groups and genres outside of your norm? Career building and planning is definitely something that your agent should have some idea on. A lot depends on what happens with project one, etc, but you can get an overall idea from them. These questions will give you an idea if the agent usually represents writers per project or for their career. If an agent will only represent you on a project-by-project basis, having a long-term idea of when you will need to possibly start looking for a new agent can save you lots of heartache in the future.
Are you an editorial agent? Why or why not?Meaning, will they revise the manuscript with you beforehand or just do small edits and send it off to editors. Both have their pros and cons, and one might matter to you more.
How many clients do you have and how do you juggle your workload with your clients?You can also ask: On average how long does it take to get a project on submission?
What is your communication style? And how fast are you able to reply to client emails? If you’re someone who expects day-of answers on questions or issues that might arise, asking a potential agent how quickly they respond to requests from clients will give you an idea on whether their communication style matches your expectations.
How does your agency support you?Feeling supported by your agency is just as important as feeling supported by your agent. Especially if the agent you’re speaking to is newer to the industry, knowing their support and mentorship system is important!
What are some projects you’ve recently sold or signed? If you write sci-fi and all they’ve sold recently are contemporaries in a different age group that’s good to consider!
What changes do you think my manuscript needs, if any? If there are things you are not willing to change that the agent mentions, better to have the conversation before. Many agents won’t tell you everything, so you can always mention some things you don’t want to change, too.
Do your clients talk to one another? Does your agency do any type of conferences or events for writers within the agency to meet?Are you a social person? Networking within your agency can always be helpful.
How does your agency handle foreign and television/movie rights?This is a business and knowing that a potential agency has access and experience with other avenues that can make you income is awesome!
How does your agency support marginalized writers/writers of color?Knowing beforehand how your agency supports their Latinx clients, can help you feel more at home even if the agent you sign with isn’t Latinx.
There are many other questions you can ask based on what’s important to you as a writer. These can be regarding an agents list, editorial eye, or even contract questions.
Now that you’re more familiar with The Call, whether it ends in an offer of representation or not, we hope that you’re feeling better prepared to take a massive and important step toward reaching your traditional publishing goals.
You’ve saved the day to your calendar, you’ve finished your manuscript(s), but what else should you have ready before participating in #LatinxPitch?
A QUERY LETTER AND A SYNOPSIS
Most of—if not all of—the time you’ll need to submit a query letter with your manuscript sample pages. We recommend having a few people read and offer feedback to help you with a final version.
Although less commonplace, some agents might also want a synopsis, or a short version of a story outline that shows your character’s complete arc. Having one already handy that has also been read by a few people is also a good idea!
A WAY TO KEEP YOUR QUERIES ORGANIZED
If you’re participating as a writer looking for an agent, whether you get one like from agents or thirty, one easy (and free) way to keep track of requesting agents is to organize a folder on your desktop for the event. Inside of it, you can add a folder with the names of each requesting agent and add in copies of the materials they’ve requested. This will help keep varying requests separate from one another and help you avoid sending the wrong files. Having this type of filing system also allows you to keep track of who you’ve queried by color tagging files and folders and it gives you room to move agent folders around as you hear back. Even if you’re participating as an unagented writer, it’s also good to have a file that includes the names of any editors that interact with your pitch for the future!
A FULL MANUSCRIPT AND A 50-PAGE PARTIAL
Having these two files prepared before participating in #LatinxPitch can save you time later on—a full manuscript and a 50-page partial (the most common partial). Spruce up your manuscript files up by adding in a placeholder page for your query letter addressed to each requesting agent at the beginning of your file, making sure your pages are numbered, and ensuring that your manuscript uses standard fonts and colors (you can never go wrong with Times New Roman).
PREPARING AND SCHEDULING YOUR TWEETS
You’re allowed to pitch each manuscript once in the morning and once in the evening during #LatinxPitch. Like your query and synopsis, be sure to try to get feedback on your Tweets before sending them out to get the most out of your experience. Once you’ve finalized the two (per project), you can always use a scheduling tool like TweetDeck to have them ready to go on September 15th if you won’t have time to send them out in real-time the day of.
Now that you have a good idea on what you might need after #LatinxPitch is over, make sure to join the community during our pitch practice day on Wednesday, September 1st. Members of #LatinxPitch and the writing community at large will be able to offer comments on your Tweets, so be sure to take advantage of any chance to get feedback!
One of the biggest steps a new writer will take on their path to publication is finding an agent to represent their manuscript and/or career. It’s exciting! But it can also be stressful to make such an important decision without a whole lot of information regarding agents available. And without having met someone who will become your business partner before, and sometimes even after, you sign with them.
How do you research agents prior to querying? Or after you’ve queried and have gotten a full request or offer of representation?
Here are five ways you can learn more about an agent before signing with them:
Look at the agent’s track record
Some agents will have the books they’ve represented on their website or available elsewhere like on Publisher’s Marketplace (though PM is a paid option). If you’re looking for something unpaid, you can also do some research on an agent’s clients (if that list is available) and gather information on their client’s releases. This is a wonderful way to see if your project will fit with the projects they represent. Worth noting, however, that new agents might not necessarily have made a lot of deals. In this case, you can always take a look at the agent’s agency.
The agent’s agency (especially if they are a new/newer agent, this can be super handy)
Signing with a new agent isn’t a bad thing. There have been many new agents that have excelled in their field in a matter of a couple of years and now have sizable lists and great track records. It might also mean that your project and career will have more attention from an agent that doesn’t have a wide list yet. What you might want to look at is whether or not a new agent who is interested in representing you has the resources, toolkit, and mentorship available to them at their agency. Are they being taught the trade by a senior agent that has experience in your age group and genres? Is the agency that they’re at legitimate, well-known, and without red flags?
Reach out to current clients or to writer friends
There has been some controversy the past year on whether or not querying writers should reach out to an agent’s clients outside of those an agent connects them with after The Call. Although it’s true that different writers will have different experiences with the same agent, therefore, a writer might critique an agent based on personal business preferences, it’s also important to be as comfortable querying an agent as possible. If this means talking to current clients (respectfully so) or seeing what information is out there about an agent, you are completely within your right to do so.
Look at QueryTracker
QueryTracker is a paid yearly subscription database that allows you to keep track of the agents you’ve queried and your query status for each. Because it’s a shared database, it also gives you a timeline of responses per agent and lets other writers share their statuses and experiences with you. This is a great way to see how long an agent usually takes to respond, where you might be in their queue, and see if there are any negative notes from other querying writers left regarding the agent.
Find interviews online
Some agents will participate in cons or panels that are later posted on YouTube or made available online. Seeing an agent and getting to know them on video is at least second best to getting to meet and pitch to them in person. You might also be able to find online interviews that don’t contain videos but will still allow you to learn more about an agent, their style, and what they’re looking for!
It’s important to remember during any pitch event that you don’t have to send your query or manuscript to all the agents who request it. When it comes to choosing representation, remember to go with your gut and to do your due diligence. Only query the agents who you would be happy about getting an offer of representation from. And who you are sure are legitimately in the business. Knowing how to learn about agents prior to querying can help you narrow down your list and make signing with an agent so much less stressful!
You’ve done it! You’ve sent away your first queries (or are planning to send some soon) and are now patiently (or not so much) refreshing your inbox for any news from agents.
What are some of the responses you might hear back?
Read on for some of the most common.
Let’s get the not-so-fun responses out of the way first. You might receive a pass on your query within a few hours, a few days, or even months down the line after sending your pitch to agents. The majority of agents still respond to every query, but some don’t have the bandwidth to do so. Likely these agents will have a timeline posted on their submission guidelines that will let you know how many weeks after you submit to them can you consider their response a pass. Passes at the initial querying level are typically generic, with the agent simply stating that they didn’t fall in love with the project, that the pitch just wasn’t for them, or even that they already have something similar on their list. It’s important to not take passes to heart. Though this is difficult, publishing is a very subjective business. All it takes is one yes, so keep querying!
PASS WITH AN INVITATION TO SUBMIT MORE
There might be times when an agent passes on your manuscript but invites you to submit your next project to them. Or even asks you if there is another project that they can look at from you at the moment. Among the many reasons you should be professional when messaging agents after passes, this is a big one! Agents don’t offer to look at more projects from you unless they’re truly interested. This kind of pass might also keep you motivated to keep writing and working on your next project.
PARTIAL OR FULL REQUESTS
Based on your query and sample pages (if applicable) an agent might ask for a partial of your manuscript, which is usually fifty pages or so, or they might go straight to requesting your full manuscript. It’s a good rule of thumb to include your query letter at the start of the Word document before sending it to agents. And make sure that your manuscript is a standard, 12 pt., black font. A partial might also turn into a full request, so be prepared to send your full manuscript in a timely manner.
REVISE AND RESUBMIT (R&Rs)
You might have heard the term R&R before but haven’t been entirely sure what it means. R&R stands for Revise and Resubmit. This is when an agent passes on but also invites you to revise your manuscript based on their feedback (which could be extensive or a sentence or two) and send your manuscript back to them if you choose to make their changes. An R&R is completely optional! You should definitely believe in the changes being offered before tackling an R&R. If you choose to complete an R&R, it’s also good to keep in mind that it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive an offer of representation, but it is an opportunity to potentially make your manuscript stronger with the feedback from an agent!
REQUESTING A CALL
The most exciting thing that can happen once you’ve sent an agent your full manuscript is hearing that they’re interested in hopping on a call! This might be a phone or video call, the latter of which has become more commonplace since the pandemic started. The Call might be an offer of representation, which the agent might tell you about beforehand, or it could be to discuss changes before offering representation. Rarely, but it does happen, The Call might be a pass with the intent of offering feedback on a more personal level. It’s important to not jump to any conclusions about The Call, but to also be prepared! The Call is as much about you as a writer getting to know a potential agent and interviewing them as it is the other way around. Have questions ready to go, and maybe a celebratory meal planned for the best possible outcome.
Although this isn’t a full list of agent responses you might hear on your querying journey, we hope it has helped prepare you for five of the most common. Whatever responses you receive from agents, remember to celebrate that you have gotten this far. Querying is not an easy road or process, and just having the confidence to send out your work is a major step in becoming a traditionally published writer!