Remember how I mentioned that good things come in three?? WELL HERE IT IS PEOPLE!!! HERE IS THE THIRD GOOD THING!!!!!!! My beautiful friend and CP, Katy, IS NOW AGENTED!!!!!!!!! She is signed with the amazing Alexandra Machinist of ICM!!!!
I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. I love Katy and her work and I’m so so excited that she is now agented!! (OMG GUYS!!! THREE, THREE, OF MY BEAUTIFUL WRITER FRIENDS ARE NOW AGENTED!!!!!) I met Katy through some mutual CPs and I’m SOOOOO glad that we did!! Katy is genuinely such a cool and chill person with such a great personality. Plus she cracks me up with her jokes. And also, she has the best laugh ever! Oh! And, she is the best Sorting Hat ever (Yes! After a life of House-Ambiguity, I’m in Gryffindor!) and she is so wise (not joking, guys!) I’m so grateful and amazed that I get to call her my friend!!!!!!
Kay!!! Onwards and upwards! Here are the wonderful answers Katy imparted upon us!!!!
1.Hi, Katy!!!! Tell us a little bit about your beautiful self, what you write, and how you came to be a writer!!!
Is it very telling that I left this question until last when answering these? I am very bad at talking about myself, but here goes — I grew up in LA, now live in the Bay Area where I consume an unreasonable amount of coffee and spend way to much money at all the local independent bookstores here (shout out to Books Inc, Pegasus Books, and Laurel Bookstore!)
I have been writing since I learned how to hold a pencil (or sit at a computer, actually). I used to play elaborate pretend-games with my sister (think Sailor Moon but with unicorns, and also magic school?) and then I would go into my parent’s home office and continue our adventures in story form. I now write YA fantasy (more on that in a second), so my taste in stories hasn’t changed too much. I still love magic, adventure, and impossible things, but I’m now more interested in the people who inhabit those stories. I love characters who do the unexpected, whose capacity for love (or for evil!) surprise even themselves. I love stories where the choices start out hard, and only get harder. And the great thing about fantasy and sci-fi is that there’s so much opportunity to change and raise the stakes for your characters.
2.What is your favorite part about writing?
I love a lot of things about writing, but process-wise I definitely enjoy revising more than I like drafting. My internal editor is such a burden while I’m writing a first draft. There’s this great Ira Glass clip that pops up on the internet every so often, about how beginning to create art can be so challenging because your taste is so much more sophisticated and fine-tuned than your talent. I definitely feel the pain of that most acutely while I’m drafting, when what I’m putting on the page isn’t close enough to my vision to satisfy that internal critic. It’s only later, going back through a draft, that I’m able to really dig in and find the gems that reflect what I want the story to really be, and chip away until I find it.
3.How many books did you write before you got your agent?
This was the first book that I completed, revised, and actually queried. Before this, I had written thousands of words of stories as a kid (as mentioned), lots of fanfiction as an adolescent, and a couple half-finished manuscripts here and there. But this was the first one that actually came together, and that I was serious enough about to actually finish, revise (and revise again…and again…and again) and start querying.
4.Did you know this book was The One?
I remember at one point telling my sister (during my first or second draft) that I was finally writing the book I had always wanted to write. So in a sense I think I did know that there was something special, or at least I knew that I loved this book enough to push through all the difficulties and challenges that come with writing. And I think that was really the key — it wasn’t that there was anything particularly trendy, or hook-y, or whatever with this project, it was just that I loved the characters and the story so much I was willing to do whatever it took to bring them to life.
5.How did you know Alexandra was The One?
It was two main things. The first was that, believe it or not, I pitched this book as an adult fantasy. And the first thing Alexandra said to me when we talked was “I love this — and I think it’s YA.” We had a long discussion about it, and everything she said made so much sense and I realized that I really did want to be writing YA (I read mostly YA, all of my CPs write YA, all of my prospective future projects were YA). So when we hung up I had this moment of realizing that she had seen something about this book that I hadn’t, and that she was totally, 100% right about it. It also made it clear that she loved my writing enough to really put in all the work it would take to get this book where it needed to be.
The second thing was that in talking to her, and a couple of her clients, I saw how amazing she was at her job. When an agent talks to you on the phone, she’s really trying to sell you on working with her, the same way she’d try to sell an editor on buying your book. And I could tell right away that she was amazing at it. She was so charming, smart, and funny, and underneath all that I could tell that she was a TOTAL BADASS who would fight like hell for her authors.
6.How did you celebrate signing with your agent?
Haha, unfortunately nothing too exciting. I had just gotten back from Yallwest in LA and I’m getting ready to leave on another trip this weekend, so I took it easy. I hung out with my sister and caught up on Jane the Virgin. I did buy this fancy bottle of wine a few weeks ago in Napa with the intention of drinking it when I officially signed, so I still have that to look forward to!
7.What was the hardest part about querying?
Writing the dang thing! I wrote and re-wrote it probably around 20 times — no exaggeration. To be honest, I actually really enjoyed the query process itself. I mean, obviously there’s a lot of waiting, and rejections can be disheartening, but regardless of the outcome, querying this project meant taking a HUGE step forward in my writing career. Rejections and requests alike both made the whole thing feel more real, and I learned a lot from the whole experience.
8.What advice do you have for writing slugging it in the query trenches?
Ok, so first the nitty-gritty advice: you can never do too much research. I started researching agents loooooooong before I had anything remotely queryable, so by the time I did have a finished, polished manuscript, I already knew a ton about the agents I wanted to query, about publishing in general, and about the process itself (it is not always 100% super straight forward! Many strange –sometimes wonderful– things can happen in the query trenches!)
And my other piece of advice, especially for those querying a book for the first time, is to remember that the fact that you’re querying means you’ve already done a LOT of hard work (you WROTE A BOOK), that you’re brave for putting yourself out there, and that you’re taking a real, concrete step toward your goals. So regardless of how many rejections and requests you get, you should be proud for taking yourself and your work seriously.