Did You Know?

Erin L. Schneider is native to the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Honolulu - and although Hawaiian - should never be allowed on a surfboard. With more than twenty years in corporate merchandising, she’s now a full-time writer living in Seattle with her husband, Neal; their baby boy, Kellan; a rowdy German shepherd named Ronin; and two crazy cats, Ono and Poke. She’s a member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SCBWI, and is also co-founder of the YA Buccaneers.

SUMMER OF SLOANE is her debut novel, out May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion.

Erin is represented by literary agent Lisa Grubka of Fletcher & Company.

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Entries in Querying (3)

Friday
Oct252013

Finding An Agent: My Road Less Traveled

Oh what a year this has been.

2013 started off with so many unfortunate events. At first it was one thing, then another, and then another -- so many craptastic things just in the month of January, I actually had to laugh. And then after all of that, I parted ways with Mr. Agent Man in February after working with him exclusively for almost two years.

Oh, but it gets better. Because in March, I was laid off from my job after six years of service (along with 150 others). Seriously. What a grand year, right? I was afraid to even ask what more could happen.

It took months for me to realize that getting laid off was a huge blessing in disguise. I was so unhappy with some of the turns I'd taken in my career and even more saddened by a job that slowly stopped being the amazing creative adventure it once was. But when I sat back and looked at it for all it was worth, I realized I finally had the time to write. Hours every day, be it two in the afternoon or two in the morning...my time was finally mine

So I wrote. I picked back up on WHERE THE WATER FALLS after putting it on the back burner in 2010, when I started working with Mr. Agent Man on THE LUCKY FEW. It only had four chapters under it's belt, but it kept pecking at the back of my mind to get in there and finish it. And so I did.

It took a couple of months to complete, revise, and send out to all of my wonderful CP's -- only to start the revision process all over again, once I'd received their feedback. When I finally felt it was in a good place, I took a break away from it all around the beginning of August...and then I started to query -- the first one went out on August 29th and I heard back within a few hours, with a request for the full.

I was beyond ecstatic. Beyond

Because my journey - while not nearly finished - has been an incredibly long road. After all, I sent out my very first query on September 27, 2009 -- yep, that's over four years ago. And since then, I've wrote three more novels and started in on sequels for a few of them. But it was WTWF that snagged Super Agent Lisa, thanks to something on Twitter called #MSWL.

But let's back up to September: After the first request, I received three more for full's right off the bat, which was AWESOME. But then I received three rejections in one day, from big agents I'd queried and had my fingers crossed on. Then a fourth one came in. And then a fifth. And then I started to think maybe this pattern was indicative of what was to come.

I even emailed a few of my CP's letting them know I was considering throwing in the towel -- you can bet all of them told me I was nuts and most of them threatened me with the dull end of a spoon if I ever thought that way again. But it was all so exhausting, like querying usually is...and the sudden slew of negative responses was getting the better of me. Especially after four years of it.

I decided instead to take another query class from Writers Digest with agents Kate McKean and Jim McCarthy. I rewrote my query based on their feedback -- and sent it out. And then I jumped on Twitter and realized it was #MSWL day. For those not in the know, #MSWL stands for manuscript wish list: a day when literary agents Tweet their wish lists for manuscripts they hope will find a way into their slush pile. It happens only a few times a year and was started by Agent Jessica Sinsheimer and on 9/24 it was lighting up the Twitter feeds. 

A few agents were looking for YA Contemporary, so I queried them. And received four new requests within a day -- one of them was from Lisa. Then another request came in based off my new query letter prior to #MSWL. Then another. And soon I had submissions out with FIFTEEN agents and TWO smaller publishers.

Holy shit. Best querying EV-VER.

And then I leave for Mazatlan, Mexico on 10/3, to celebrate my 8th anniversary with my husband. No phone reception, no internet connectivity, no nothing but sunshine, pool time, the beach, and plenty of mai tais. Of course being the person I am, I have the hardest time unplugging...so when we were walking by the small deli on our hotel grounds - the only place with free wi-fi - I connected my phone for a few minutes, just to see.

And low and behold not only was there a letter of intent from one agent, but I also received an email from another agent a few hours later, with AN OFFER OF REPRESENATION!

Me. An offer. !#$%!#!!#%@#$!

But of course I'm in Mexico...and the connection is reminescant of the old AOL dial-up days, if that. And my internet goes down. And then I get it back up again, but for some reason I can't reply to any emails. And the deli is getting ready to close for the night. OMG, by this point, I'm just slightly freaking out. I have 1.5 agents interested and I can't respond to ANYONE. How is this happening? 

It's too late to go in to town and find an internet cafe, so we go back to our room and I literally cannot contain myself. I spend the rest of the night sending I-don't-even-want-to-know-how-expensive text messages to my CP's (because for some reason I can text, but can't call or email...WTF??!?!) and writing out in my notebook what I'll email back to both of these agents, should I ever gain access to the internet again. Okay, a little overly dramatic, but seriously: NO INTERNET + AGENT OFFERS = NOT GOOD.

Around 7am the next morning as soon as the little deli opened, I was waiting at the door like that woman in the old Mervyn's commercial saying "open, open, open!" with my iPad in hand and $250 in pesos, just in case I needed to buy my way to a computer. And I finally connect. It was like the clouds had parted. OMFG, I love internet connectivity. LOVE.

I replied to the offering agent letting her know I was thrilled to get her offer, that I was down in Mexico for the week, and that I'd love to chat when I returned. Then I promptly emailed the other agent and let her know I'd received an offer. 

I spent an hour that day, emailing all of the agents that currently had my MS to let them know I'd received an offer - but they would have plenty of time to read / make their decision, since I was out of the country. I also emailed all of the agents I'd queried in the last two weeks. In the end, I heard back from all agents with my MS, letting me know they'd read and get back to me -- along with two new requests from those I'd queried the week before.

Over the next week another agent offered - Lisa, actually!!! - then an editor...and several politely declined. But let me tell you that while there were many great agents in that mix of R's, I now had TWO offers of rep from TWO outstanding agents and one from an editor -- and I just couldn't find it in me to feel bad about those R's!

In the end, after speaking with Lisa on the phone, I knew she was the one. She loved my story and my characters. She had notes - a couple of pages worth - that could make WTWF even stronger. And I loved every edit we talked about. It didn't feel like she was ripping apart my story. Instead it felt like she had this great vision of where she could see it going...and I was so there with her. And when I spoke to two of her current clients and they RAVED about her, it became clear. While one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, it was also one of the easiest.

I couldn't be more happy with where I've landed. And even through all the chaos of crappy internet connections, all the YEARS of querying, and everything else it's taken to get to this point, right here, I'm thrilled Lisa will champion my work. And I'm grateful for things like #MSWL that brought us together.

Final stats for WTWF:

First query sent: 8.29.13
Total queries sent: 25
Total rejections received: 6
Total requests received: 19 (16 fulls and 3 partials)
Total offers received: 4 
Lisa's offer accepted: 10.23.13 

I can't believe I finally get to say, I have an agent. 

I have an agent.

Wow, it doesn't get any less exciting the more I say it.

Thursday
Oct242013

Wherein I Get To Write THAT POST!

Last week I mentioned what a crazy year this has been and that hopefully soon I'd get to share some exciting news...

Well, I finally get to share that news because...

I'VE OFFICIALLY SIGNED WITH AN AGENT!!!

And that Super Agent is:

Lisa Grubka of Fletcher & Company

A little bit about Lisa direct from the agency's website:

Lisa Grubka spent a decade first at the William Morris Agency and then Foundry Literary + Media, before joining Fletcher and Co. in 2012.

Lisa works with a broad variety of authors, from debut novelists to Food Network stars, and has represented several New York Times bestsellers. She represents and is looking for both fiction (literary, upmarket women’s, and young adult) and non-fiction (narrative, food, science, and more). She takes a very hands-on approach in working with her authors, and is a thorough editor, ensuring the best possible proposal or manuscript. She works closely with her authors every step of the way, and takes pleasure in matchmaking her authors with the right publishing home.

She began her career at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

I'm THRILLED to be working with her and can't wait to see where this road leads for the both of us!

I'll be sharing the full story on how I signed with my agent, tomorrow -- so stop by again! But now, I'm off to go celebrate...dinner with my husband this weekend, some shopping, and who knows what else!

Tuesday
Apr302013

The Craziness of April 2013

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I can't believe today is the last day of April. Where has 2013 gone? And why is it, that as we get older, the years seem to just fly by? 

Make it slow down, I tell you! Because I have waaaaaaaay too much to do!

And because April was a pretty productive month for me, this has turned into a monster of a post, so bare with me!

READING: I managed to read ten books this month - one of which was an absolutely amazing MS for one of my CP's, the ever love-r-ly, Sara Biren. WAITING FOR THE SUN was one of the most beautiful stories I've had the opportunity of reading in a very long time. Honestly. I laughed and I definitely cried - which isn't something easy for me to admit - and the last time I felt this way was when I read some of my all time favorite YA Contemp reads ala Sarah Ockler and Jandy Nelson. Yes, I loved it that much.

And I can't wait to watch all the success that's about to unfold for Sara, because this is the one.

I also managed to read all three of Miranda Kenneally's books: CATCHING JORDAN, STEALING PARKER, and THINGS I CAN'T FORGET. And out of all of them, CATCHING JORDAN was my favorite. I love the sports theme that resonates in all of her books - LOVE - but particularly gravitated towards Jordan's story and her role as the QB for her high school football team. The other two books in the series were just okay for me, but that's only because they were written with a heavy influence of religion - which just isn't my thing. While I still enjoyed them, they didn't compare to CATCHING JORDAN.

I also polished off three of Abbi Glines books while running on the treadmill this month: BREATHE, BECAUSE OF LOW, and WHILE IT LASTS. And I'm currently on the 4th in this series, JUST FOR NOW. Abbi is one of my favorite authors because she writes boy so well. And I have to admit, there have been many a time I have to look around while I'm at the gym, wondering if perhaps anyone has ANY idea the scene I just read! Seriously, they're so steamy, I almost fell off the treadmill the other day. It wasn't pretty. But man was it worth it. I <3 me some Jax Stone and Cage York!

I also read ALTERED by Jennifer Rush - which I really enjoyed. Can you say Jason Bourne for teens? And SHUT OUT by Kody Keplinger - I've had this one since it came out, and had originally put it down after only a few pages. But thanks to my recent Sports Theme kick, I managed to crank this one out. And I thought it was good - maybe not as great as D.U.F.F. but still worth the read. And lastly, I read THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS by J.J. Howard. And this one folks - aside from reading Sara's MS - was my favorite for the month of April! It wasn't at all what I was expecting and I loved every page. I enjoyed her references to music at the beginning of each chapter and I really invested and felt for her MC, Lexi. Plus, it knocks one off my DAC list, too! If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. Great read.

WRITING: During the 30 days of April I also managed to dive back into writing. It's been awhile - really, not since my massive rewrite last June with Mr. Agent Man - since I've wrote like this. I'm talking all day writing fests and staying up sometimes until 4am! But hey, when I unexpectedly got laid off from my job - after 6 years - in March (have I mentioned how tough this year has been?), it seems I've had some time on my hands to finally write. And to write when my muse is actually interested vs. only the spare hour I used to have, after working 12-hour days.

My YA Contemp WiP - WHERE THE WATER FALLS - is one I started back in 2011, and is quite the departure from what I'm so used to writing. However, after only 4 chapters, I had put it aside to focus on THE LUCKY FEW and to work with Mr. Agent Man. But like so many of us, the characters in that story kept jumping up from their seats shouting, "Pick me! Pick me!" and I knew I had to give it another go. And just in the past eight days, I've cranked out over 40k words. 

I think it also has something to do with the fact I FINALLY switched over to Scrivener. I know, I know, late to the party and all - and really, I bought it early last year, but just couldn't adjust. Word has been good to me and she'll always be my first love, but wow, Scrivener. She's a-mazing!!!! Plus, it helps when friends mention other friends, who have done these short - but incredibly helpful - video tutorials. Yes, I'm talking about Katy Upperman recommending everyone to head on over to Erin Bowman's site to watch her Scrivener videos - because they are awesome and oh, so helpful!

So yes, I am writing again. And I'm loving it.

QUERYING: I'm also still querying for TLF. This is my third book / attempt at hitting the slush pile, and it's true when they say that after each try, it keeps getting better. I think my first book - which shall remain nameless - maybe received 2 full requests and perhaps 1 partial. My second attempt was better, bringing in a handful of requests. And TLF? Well, it's been great and I've managed to gain the interest of 15 agents, which has been awesome. Yes, I've received a few declines, but quite a few of them still have it, so I'll take it!

RUNNING: And finally, a recap on my running stats for the month. I mentioned in my last post that I set a personal goal of running the equivalent of one marathon a week. And as of last Friday, I finished my 4th one!

Total mileage for April: 115 miles.

And I can't believe it, but I think I actually ran more than I drove my car! Plus, I've signed up for 3 5k races: The Color Run in Portland on 9/7 (Seattle is already sold out), The Foam Fest on 8/3 (this looks like a blast, I mean slip n' slides? Come. ON.), and Run For Your Lives on 8/24 - a 5k with obstacles, where volunteers dressed up like zombies AKA The Walking Dead (one of my FAVORITE shows!) actually chase you. I think there's a solid chance I may relieve myself of all bodily fluids on that one, seriously. 

MAY: Well, tomorrow starts a new month. It also happens to be my birthday, and I'm looking forward to seeing my progress in all things reading, writing, and querying - not to mention how many more miles I'll clock on my shoes!

So how crazy was April for you? And what are you looking forward to in May?