Friday, June 14, 2013

Agent-Author Chat: Uwe Stender and Deanna Romito

I'm pleased to welcome Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency and one of his newest clients, Deanna Romito, for another installment of "Agent-Author Chat." Over the last few years, this interview series has become my favorite; I love hearing from agents about the people and projects they're passionate about (and what first brought them together!).

Ms. Romito's answers will appear in orange, Mr. Stender's in blue. We're not focusing on a query this time, since Ms. Romito and Mr. Stender didn't connect through the slush pile, but I'm sure you'll still find her journey informative--and entertaining:)

KV: Ms. Romito, how did you first come up with the idea for TRUTH HEIST?

DR: I’m never really sure how I come up with my ideas. Honestly, I think I take in everything that’s going on around me and somehow it all mixes together so that when it’s finally ready, I can’t stop thinking about it. There was a show I absolutely LOVED called Lie To Me whose main character was a deception expert and it was so interesting and fun to watch. It went off the air two years ago, but I think it planted a seed that eventually sparked the idea for TRUTH HEIST. I remember thinking, “What if a kid could do that?"

KV: Tell us a little bit about your querying experience. How many queries did you send? Did you send them in batches or all at once? Did you ever pull back and revise your query and/or your manuscript, and if so, why did you decide to do that?

DR: Well, this is my second time around with querying and finding an agent, so it was a very different experience for me. I have a lot of agented friends now, I’ve worked with agents in various contests and auctions, and I’ve met quite a few agents in person. All of that made them much more than names on a list for me and I put a lot of thought into who might be a great fit. I sent out nine queries and also received two requests from talking to agents at conferences. It ended up being two small batches--one before my first May conference and one after.

Because I got such a positive response in a fairly short period of time, I didn’t need to revise the query or manuscript. But that doesn’t mean I’m not revising now. ;)

KV: How did Mr. Stender come to request your manuscript?

DR: This is a story of being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of opportunities. I attended the Pennwriters conference in Pittsburgh and was in the main room when they announced there were extra slots for pitches. (I hadn’t signed up for one when I registered because I wasn’t looking for an agent at the time.) I figured, why not? I’d done my research and knew Uwe Stender was looking for Middle Grade, so I put my name down.

The next day, I went to the pitch session, told him about my story, and he asked for the full.

That’s the short version. The longer version involves a luau, Twitter, and an offer. :) You can read the whole story on my blog if you’d like.

KV: Jumping in to say you should really click that link if you haven't already. That's the entertaining part I mentioned above:) All right, back to the interview!

Mr. Stender, when you heard Ms. Romito's pitch, what caught your attention?

US: I loved the title and the concept immediately.  When she pitched me, I silently prayed that her writing would match the awesomeness of the idea.

KV: Obviously, the manuscript met--or exceeded--your expectations. What did you love about TRUTH HEIST?

US: The concept, the title, the narrative voice, the writing, and there is a character in it called “Sniff” who just made me laugh out loud each time he appeared.

KV: How quickly did you read Ms. Romito's manuscript? Is that pretty typical of your response times on requested material, or do those vary?

US: I started it on the Sunday when I got back from the conference where I met Deanna and I finished it on Monday, which is quite a bit faster than usual, but sometimes I do read a manuscript that quickly.

KV: Ms. Romito, now that you’ve reached the querying finish line, what do you wish you had known when you were back at the start gate?

DR: I have to say that having been through querying before, I had a definite advantage at the start gate. I truly believed that a pass from an agent (I’m not a fan of the word rejection, lol) just meant he or she wasn’t the right fit. Sure, I wanted them all to love it, but if they didn’t, they weren’t who I was looking for. We all deserve to have an agent who loves our work and is excited about getting it out into the world.

KV: Mr. Stender, what querying tips do you have?

US: Have a great hook and grab me with it right away!  Then, make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in the query. 

KV: Any last words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with us?

US: Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.  And don’t take rejections personally.

DR: My advice is to become a part of the writing community and make friends along the way. Chat in writing forums, tweet, participate in contests, comment on blog posts, tell another writer how much you love his/her pitch, go to conferences--whatever you have fun doing. Critique partners and writer friends are invaluable and are great sources of information, advice, and encouragement. Good luck!

Thanks, Mr. Stender and Ms. Romito, for these responses! I think TRUTH HEIST sounds fantastic and certainly hope to pick up a copy from my local library someday. (I'm a library girl, for those of you who haven't noticed...)

Also, I wanted to thank you faithful readers for being patient with me these last few months. I've been on a bit of a revising binge and haven't had as much time for blogging, but now that I've turned Bonnie in (hooray!), I plan to get back to a more usual routine. Until next week!


Jennifer Malone said...

I was lucky enough to have ringside seats for this one and I am so crazy excited for the world to read TRUTH HEIST. I just finished reading it out loud to my twins' entire fifth grade class and they laughed, they cried (okay, maybe not cried), they shouted obscenities (well, only one girl did, but luckily the teacher overlooked it because it was such an unexpected twist in the book it called for an "Oh S*^&"!). Congrats Dee and Uwe- great post!!

Melanie Conklin said...

YAY!!! Super excited for both of you and can't wait to see TRUTH HEIST make its way into the world. :)

Kimberly said...

The story sounds awesome! Congratulations.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

So cool, Jennifer! Dee must have been happy to hear she already has a loyal following.

Thanks for stopping by, Melanie and Kimberly!

Ashley K said...

Very exciting! And some great advice, too. Congratulations to BOTH of you :D

Krista Van Dolzer said...

They did have some great advice, didn't they, Ashley? Thanks for stopping by! (Also, I love your avatar:) )