Hi guys! Today is the start of a brand new series on Rad/Dom – the #Amquerying series! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. My first guest is the very awesome, funny and talented Brooks Benjamin whose new book MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS, comes out April 12th! You can pre-order his book here and read below to find out how he got his agent, how he dealt with querying and more!
RAD/DOM: How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?
Brooks Benjamin: I was a complete noob when it came to querying. I actually had to Google what a query letter was and was already typing up some to print out when I found a few other writers on Twitter who pointed me toward Query Tracker. I used it a little, but more than anything I just searched agents’ websites and tried to find some that seemed like a good fit. Plus that gave me a way to personalize the query letter a bit more.
RAD/DOM: Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?
Brooks Benjamin: It was the second, actually. My first book is a MG fantasy that I’m still very excited to get in front of some editors soon!
RAD/DOM: What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent?
Brooks Benjamin: My journey with TIGHTS wasn’t very typical, I don’t think. After I got into Pitch Wars (Marieke Nijkamp was my mentor and you should all go buy her book, THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS immediately because it’s phenomenal), I held off on querying because I wanted to see how it did in the contest. It got a few nibbles, but nothing major. So Marieke told me to go ahead and begin querying–this was in January–and by February I had my first offer. A couple more trickled in and I ended up signing with the Genius German Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency.
RAD/DOM: How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?
Brooks Benjamin: So anxious. But it was that excited kind of anxious where the waiting sort of presses in on you from all sides like a hug.
RAD/DOM: How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?
Brooks Benjamin: I wrote. A lot.
RAD/DOM: Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?
Brooks Benjamin: I was surprised how many agents actually responded. I figured most wouldn’t, but nearly every single one of them sent something back.
RAD/DOM: If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?
Brooks Benjamin: Don’t stress. I know that’s hard not to do when you’re waiting, but I remember when I began querying, I was convinced that an agent was going to scrutinize my query so much that if it wasn’t 100% perfect, it’d end up in the trash. But agents want your query to be the next one they fall in love with. They want your story to pull them in. They want you to be the next author they decide to sign. So don’t stress. Just write the best story you can write, send out those queries, and wait until it lands in front of the right agent.
RAD/DOM: Did other writers comes into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?
Brooks Benjamin: Oh goodness yes. I have some incredible critique partners and critique groups who are such brilliant writers. I literally couldn’t have done this without them.
RAD/DOM: When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?
Brooks Benjamin: I was at home in the middle of writing when I got the email from Uwe. I’ll never forget it. He said, “I just finished the read. I LOVE the book! I laughed and I cried and I will call you tomorrow to talk and convince you to sign with me!” And when we did talk, I knew right away that he was the agent I had to sign with. His enthusiasm for TIGHTS was too hard to ignore!
RAD/DOM: Describe the querying process in 3 gifs.
Ready to send
Waiting impatiently for someone to love your idea
Trying to stay busy.
Bonus gif four: Finding an error in your query as soon as you hit send.
RAD/DOM: Tell us a little about your upcoming book
Brooks Benjamin: MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS is all about a twelve-year-old boy named Dillon. He’s the only one on his dance crew with no real technique. Kassie (the crew leader) only has one rule she dances by: dance studios are for sell-outs. But when a chance to compete at the biggest dance academy in the state falls in Dillon’s lap, he has to decide what’s more important: sticking to his crew’s rules or finally getting a chance to freestyle his way into solo greatness.
RAD/DOM: Anything else you’d like to share??
Brooks Benjamin: I’d love to give a shout out to my critique groups (the MGBetareaders and Middle Grade Minded) as well as my fellow debut authors (The Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2K16)! Y’all are the best!
In sixth grade, Brooks Benjamin formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing back then. But now he’s got a new crew—his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not that good at it. His first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS will be released by Delacorte/Random House (April 12, 2016).