Blog Posts

My apologies for the blogging drought around here. If you’ve missed me, you can find me over at, in the monthly RYS newsletters and blog posts.

Happy writing, all!


How I Got My Agent: From Query To Contract With Naomi Bermudez

Naomi Bermudez

Naomi Bermudez holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of North Florida. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has a passion for children’s literature. Naomi lives in Florida, where she reads and writes under the warm sunshine. 

Welcome, Naomi! How long had you been writing before you decided to take the leap and look for an agent? 

Hi Sophia! Thank you for having me on your blog. I wrote, edited, and went through critique groups for my first picture book for about a year before I started querying agents.

Was there a particular moment when you knew you were ready to begin your agent search?

I knew I was ready after submitting my work through an SCBWI critique group a few rounds. Before my work reached the critique group, I had about three professional editors take a jab at it. After that, I wanted to get the critiques and opinions of the members of my group because there are parents, teachers, and librarians among them. I knew they would be invaluable in that final stage of feedback before I prepared for the querying process.

The query process can sometimes be more intimidating than writing the book itself. What sort of agent research did you do to ready yourself for querying? 

It definitely can be daunting! My strategy was a bit different because I wanted to secure an agent who represented film, TV, and literature. I plan to expand my writing to all three industries and wanted to have an agent who represented across the board.

How many query drafts would you say you went through before settling on “the one” and do you feel like you followed the standard query formula?

I would say that I followed what most standard queries should have, but I added a bit of the character’s personality in there, as well. I think that it’s important to write the query as if you were writing the character. Let them shine through in the query, just as they do in the story.

What did you do to pass the time while you waited to hear from agents? 

I continued to query and work on other children’s stories while I waited to hear back from agents. The agent that offered me representation offered it during the initial call, but a couple months passed before the contract was actually signed, sealed, and delivered. Agents are busy people!

How did you know that your agent was the right one for you?

I knew head on that she was the right agent because of her interest in all of my work, not just the children’s industry. Besides that, her enthusiasm for my future as a writer was through the moon and that is always nice.  Also, because she expressed an interest in mentoring me, not just representing me. That is important and precious to me as a newbie.

Has your writing life changed at all since signing with your agent?

Yes. It has made me much more focused and accountable. In pre-agent days, I was still focused, but tackling the task of finding the right agent allows you the luxury of simply focusing on the writing itself.

What’s next for you? Any new books on the horizon?

Right now, my agent is submitting my first picture book to publishers, so that’s exciting! I’m  concentrating on children’s material at this time so I have two other picture books, a YA novel, and a TV-PG series that I’m working on.

Any words of wisdom for querying authors out there?

The best advice I can give is to never give up. Perseverance is key. Do the research to find the right agent that can represent you and tell them why they would be missing out on you if they didn’t. Confidence is a key factor in selling yourself and your work to agents, publishers, and even readers. All you need is one “yes!”

For more, you can visit Naomi at:

How I Got My Agent: From Query to Contract with Rachel Moser-Hardy

Rachel Moser-Hardy
Rachel Moser-Hardy


Rachel Moser-Hardy is a student at Sweet Briar College, where she studies creative writing. She speaks French at an intermediate level and has interned as an assistant art teacher in elementary and middle schools. When she is not writing, she can be found oil painting, taking photographs, or Irish dancing. She is represented by Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary.

Hello, Rachel! Welcome to the blog. How long had you been writing before you decided to take the leap and look for an agent? Was there a particular moment when you knew you were ready to begin your agent search?

I have loved stories ever since my older sister tricked me into believing in fairyland when I was six years old. I suppose I decided I wanted to be a writer in fourth grade after my teacher suggested it to me while I was writing an essay on black-footed ferrets. In high school, I dedicated the majority of my time to writing, dropping most of my “academic” courses in my Junior year to do independent studies in the subjects I was most passionate about—writing, art, and dance. I had two wonderful teachers who encouraged and helped me to grow in the best possible ways. I started querying my first manuscript at the beginning of my Senior year in high school. A few months prior, I had been accepted to and attended the Breadloaf New England Young Writers Conference. That really gave me the confidence to put my writing out there. Two years and two manuscripts later, I signed with an agent!

The query process can sometimes be more intimidating than writing the book itself. What sort of agent research did you do to ready yourself for querying? Did you query widely or send out small rounds?

I queried my first manuscript back in high school and did a lot of internet research about the process of finding an agent. I entered contests and joined twitter and Sub it Club on facebook, which helped me get familiarized with the writing world. My second manuscript, I queried briefly at the beginning of 2015, right after my first semester at college. But, when I finished my third manuscript a couple months later, I decided that I wanted to focus on that book as I felt it was my strongest work. By that time, researching agents and writing queries had become much easier. I found a wonderful critique partner on twitter to help me polish up the manuscript, then sent out queries in small rounds—about six or seven queries at a time. I also entered a few contests and was chosen for one (Pg70Pit), but in the end I found my agent through normal querying.

How many query drafts would you say you went through before settling on “the one”?  Looking back, do you feel like you followed the standard query formula or did you break any query rules? Would you share your winning query pitch with us?

It’s funny, because I really only went through one or two drafts of my query for the novel that got me my agent, but with my first two manuscripts I wrote many drafts—probably nine or ten for each. I basically followed the query rules. Here’s the query I sent to Suzie Townsend (who then passed it on to Jaida Temperly):

Dear Ms. Townsend,

THE SECRET GARDEN meets Katherine Rundell’s ROOFTOPPERS in THE FLOURISHING OF FLORALIE LAUREL. Complete at 53,000 words, my novel is a middle grade historical, set in 1927, with a hint of magical realism. I was thrilled when I found on your wish list that you are interested in high concept literary middle grade.

Some flowers are not meant to be kept safe. Some are meant to grow by train tracks and on mountaintops. That’s what eleven-year-old Floralie Laurel’s mama used to tell her as Floralie painted flowers on the wallpaper. That is, until Mama got locked away in an insane asylum. Floralie, freshly expelled from finishing school, works as a flower seller in an English village with her guardian brother, Tom, miles away from their real home in Giverny, France. Tom and Floralie are drowning in debt, but fortunately, Grandmama arrives to save them. Unfortunately, she insists on taking Floralie to her orphanage and ridding her of all imagination and artistic talent.  

Tom, furious with Floralie’s incurable daydreaming, tears down Floralie’s wallpaper of flower paintings. Floralie starts to lose hope of ever finding a place she is loved—but Floralie is a wildflower. And wildflowers bloom in hopeless places. Within a mouse hole behind the wallpaper, Floralie finds a box of dried flowers and a letter from Mama. The letter promises the flowers will lead Floralie to Mama if Floralie decodes them with a floriography—a dictionary of flower meanings—written by Claude Monet’s gardener. Accompanied by an orphan boy who speaks only on paper, a blind librarian, and a thieving dormouse, Floralie sets out to Monet’s house to find Mama, who will surely save her from Grandmama. But Mama’s fate may not be quite as Floralie expected, and the gardener may be hiding secrets deeper than water lily ponds.

I study creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and speak French at an intermediate level. I have included below my first ten pages for your consideration. Thank you very much for your time.


Rachel Moser-Hardy

What a fantastic query letter. What did you do to pass the time while you waited to hear from agents? How much time passed from your agent’s initial interest to an offer for representation?

I queried Suzie Townsend in June and she requested the full the next day. Actually, she was pretty much the first agent I queried with the manuscript. Around the middle of September, she asked if she could pass it on to another agent at New Leaf, Jaida Temperly, and of course I said yes. I received a different offer of representation at the beginning of October and let Jaida know. A couple days later, Jaida offered as well.

I was lucky both in that I was very busy during the time I was querying, and in that I signed with my agent fairly quickly after beginning the process. But, to pass the time, I started my next novel, travelled to Sicily, took a road trip down the Blue Ridge Mountains, transferred to a new college, quit a retail job, got a nannying job, oil painted, met up with old friends, choreographed a dance, planned a trip to Ireland, and cleaned out my closet (and I admit, I found clothes from sixth grade still stuffed in there). Oh, and I checked my email. Like, every fifteen minutes.

How did you know that your agent was the right one for you?

When I got off the phone with Jaida, I felt all aflutter. She was so personable, organized, and excited about my writing. I could tell she would be a perfect champion for my work. Both Jaida and Suzie (who I had originally queried) sent me numerous emails telling me how much they loved my manuscript and explaining all the ways they could help me grow as a writer. I really appreciated them taking so much time to talk with me. One of the most wonderful things about New Leaf, I found, is that the agents are extremely collaborative, so I felt like I had a whole team of people backing me up. I even had the pleasure of meeting Jaida in NYC, which 100% confirmed for me that I had made the right decision in signing with her.

Has your writing life changed at all since signing with your agent?

I’m less stressed. I spend more time writing and less time checking my inbox for query responses. I feel pretty relaxed knowing that my book is in good hands, and I’m more able to concentrate on writing my stories. It definitely feels good knowing there is going to be someone on my side to guide me through the crazy world of publishing!

*Drum roll* …and now it’s time for your query stats rundown:

  • Number of queries sent: 27
  • Number of rejection received (including fulls/partials): 17
  • No Response: 8
  • Number of requests from agents: 9
  • Number of offers for representation: 2

What’s next for you? Any new books on the horizon?

I just went on submission to publishers, so fingers crossed! In the meantime, I’m starting a middle grade fairytale retelling and working towards a BFA in creative writing at my new college.

Any words of wisdom for querying authors out there?

Write for yourself. Write what makes you happy. Write what makes you sad. Write what makes you forget the world, lose time, catch your breath. Write the story you would write even if no one but you would read it. And be proud of yourself for it, no matter what.

For more, visit Rachel on her website at: