Welcome to the blog, Marcie Colleen!
Author Marcie Colleen had a busy 2014 with the sale of her debut picture book, The Adventure of the Penguinaut to Scholastic to tentatively be published in 2016. Additionally, her next book Love, Triangle sold in a five house auction to Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins as part of a two book deal. Marcie is proud to be represented by Susan Hawk at The Bent Agency. She lives in Brooklyn, NYC with her husband—LEGO artist Jonathan Lopes—and their mischievous sock monkey.
Hi, Marcie! Thank you so much for joining us in this series. I know you’ve participated in a How I Got My Agent blog post before, through Julie Hedlund’s blog (HERE). So I thought we could focus on your life post agent-signing.
Sounds good. Thanks for having me, Sophia.
Can you tell us a little bit about if/how your writing life changed after you signed with Susan Hawk at the Bent Agency?
Of course, signing with an agent is a big step in the writer’s journey. But it’s just a step. The day after signing with Susan, life was pretty much the same. However, and this took a bit of time to adjust to, I gained a partner. I now have someone I trust to bounce ideas off of, send manuscripts to, and navigate this crazy world with. Believe me when I say, Susan answers a lot of “newbie” questions for me. I am forever grateful to have her in my corner.
Did you and Susan decide to submit the first manuscript (the one that initially caught her attention) out to editors or did you focus on something different?
Yes and no. When I signed with Susan, I had about four “ready” manuscripts in addition to the manuscript I had originally queried her with. Together we talked through all of those stories and decided on two that would be suitable as debuts and what needed to be revised in order to get them up to snuff. I then spent two months working on the revisions, after which we decided to sub out the stronger of the two—which did end up being the manuscript I had initially queried with.
How long was it after signing with your agent before you went out on submission with your first manuscript to editors?
I believe I signed with Susan in mid-June and spent the summer revising. We then sent out our first submission in mid-September.
What did you do to pass the time while you waited to hear back? Were there ever any moments of doubt or times when you questioned editorial direction either from an editor or your agent?
Remember how I said we decided on two manuscripts that would be suitable as debuts? Well, with one of them out the door, I got to work on revising the other. Plus, Susan and I are always great about talking “next steps” which keeps me focused.
As for doubting editorial direction, of course. As writers, we are attached to our writing so any direction can seem jarring. But I have become masterful at the “drawer method”. If I feel even a tad defensive or upset about editorial feedback, I stick the manuscript immediately in a drawer and give it a rest. Then, when I return I usually can see the “why” behind the comments.
It’s also important to remember that my agent and my editors all want my books to be the best that they can be. And they are all very knowledgeable about the industry, so often their direction is incredibly informed and smart—which becomes clearer after some time in the drawer.
At what point in your creative process do you share new work and/or ideas with your agent? Do you work together from the get go on a new story?
That’s a wonderful question and I am sure it is different in every agent-author relationship. I belong to two critique groups (one in-person and one online). So when I am working on a brand-new manuscript I will send it to my critique groups first, usually doing about two rounds each—or more if the manuscript is giving me further trouble. Once I feel like I have made it as strong as I can, I send it on to Susan. I only get her “fresh eyes” once so I am careful where in the process I do that. And then, of course there are often a few more rounds of revisions with Susan before we submit the manuscript out to editors. She’s picky and I like that.
As for working together on a new story from the get-go, Susan and I have had some fabulous brainstorming sessions about ideas. Those are a lot of fun. But each project is different and is treated as such. Sometimes my author’s brain needs some help and she is always willing to assist.
We all know how easy it is to feel like a fish out of water in this industry. Now that you’ve been signed and sold your first books, do you feel like you’ve got your footing settled and a better direction when it comes to navigating the literary world?
This literary world is confusing, right? What I am thankful for is that I have an agent—and editors—who are willing to answer all of my crazy questions along the way. I swear I learn something new every day. Do I have a footing? Sometimes. Other times, I ask a lot of questions and receive superb guidance from Susan. And that is so priceless!
I saw your recent deal announcements in Publisher’s Weekly. Congratulations!!! Have you stopped pinching yourself yet?
Ha! What an absolute dream come true. Both projects are moving along and I am finding each step fascinating and worthy of celebration. So, yeah. I pinch myself a lot!
Any words of wisdom for querying authors out there?
Don’t give up. And I am not talking about querying. I am talking about your craft. Take classes, get professional critiques, go to conferences. Never stop working. Even post agent-signing and book contracts. Do whatever it takes to keep growing as a writer. Then and only then will your writing be strong enough to grab the attention of an agent who will fall in love with your work. Because that is what you want, an agent who falls in love with your characters and your stories. Otherwise you are just throwing spaghetti at the wall and sure, eventually something might stick. But you deserve more.
Thank you so much for joining us, Marcie! To learn more visit Marcie at www.thisismarciecolleen.com or follow her on Twitter at @MarcieColleen1.