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Success Story Interview - Kit Frick

An Interview with Kit Frick (kittsburgh on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Kit Frick:
Of course! SEE ALL THE STARS is a YA contemporary suspense set in the Pennsylvania rust belt. It’s a before and after story about first love, broken friendships, trauma, and loss. The inspiration came from the main character’s voice. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had these opening lines running over and over: My name is Ellory May Holland. I’m the girl with a list and no friends. Of course the list idea changed and the lines never made it into the manuscript at all, but the idea of a girl with a dark secret and no friends her senior year of high school stuck, and became SEE ALL THE STARS.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Kit Frick:
Since childhood. I used to write and illustrate little stories, and my mom would help me bind them into books with construction paper and a stapler. My talents as an illustrator have only gone downhill, but I like to think the writing has improved!
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Kit Frick:
I began drafting SEE ALL THE STARS in December 2014, and I finished a first draft in July 2015. I went through several rounds of revisions on my own and then with critique partners from July – November 2015 and started querying in December, a nice round year after beginning the first draft.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Kit Frick:
No! There really wasn’t. There were certainly times I felt doubtful or anxious along the way, but there was always a strong undercurrent pulling me toward the finish line. Staying connected to my awesome network of writers is always the thing that reinvigorates my writing drive when I’m doubting myself. It’s so important to have other writers who “get it” in your life.
QT: Is this your first book?
Kit Frick:
SEE ALL THE STARS is my second novel, but the first I’ve seriously queried. I sent out a small handful of half-hearted queries for the first, but I knew it wasn’t meant to be.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Kit Frick:
I have plenty, but my formal writing training is almost all in poetry: I studied writing at Sarah Lawrence College as an undergraduate and completed an MFA program in creative writing with a poetry focus at Syracuse University. I have a taken a few fiction workshops and craft courses.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Kit Frick:
My work schedule dictates my writing schedule, hence I write mostly on the weekends. I block out anywhere from 4-10 hours of writing time each week.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Kit Frick:
I’ve gone through about 4 rounds of revisions thus far. I’m now starting round 5, this time with the editorial guidance of my agent.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Kit Frick:
I worked with two critique partners and also got feedback from a couple other readers. All invaluable.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Kit Frick:
I started with a rough chapter outline. The book takes place in two alternating “then” and “now” timelines, so a certain amount of outlining was necessary to work out the structure. But I changed probably 80% of it along the way!
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Kit Frick:
I started querying in December and received Erin’s offer on March 8. So almost exactly 3 months.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Kit Frick:
About 40.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Kit Frick:
I did a lot of research! I used Publisher’s Marketplace, Literary Rambles, Twitter, MSWL, agency websites, interviews and blog posts, and of course QueryTracker to research each agent before querying. I was looking for agents who I thought would be interested in my book and who I’d want to work with. Sales history, agency reputation, and web presence (i.e. social media or interviews) all came into play.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Kit Frick:
Yes, whenever possible. For almost every agent I queried, I was able to find a good way to personalize the opener. In the few cases where there just wasn’t anything specific to say, I didn’t force it, and just dove right into the query.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Kit Frick:
One thing that took me by surprise was how querying could go from crickets to light speed so fast. I started querying in December and had sent maybe 10 queries before the holidays, and then took a break for about 3 weeks and started up again mid-January. Between December and the end of February, I got 4 requests for full or partial manuscripts, which seemed like not a lot in 3 months. I was feeling a little discouraged, but I kept slowly sending out new queries.

Then in one 48 hour period, I got 3 requests right in a row, and I figured I was on a roll, so I sent out 10 more queries. Suddenly I had an offer, and I followed up with all the agents who either already had my full or who I'd queried recently enough to assume they hadn't yet read my query. Then I got a flood of requests for fulls from those nudges, and 2 more offers came in during the week.

So, all this to say that I went very fast from feeling discouraged to having 3 offers. I simply hadn't queried the right agents for this book during my first couple months, even though I'd done my research. You can and should be organized and research your list carefully, but I don't think there's any precise science to querying.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Kit Frick:
Sorry, no can do—because spoilers!