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Success Story Interview - Shay Rivera

An Interview with Shay Rivera (SRiveraAuthor on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Naomi Davis of BookEnds, LLC.


QT: How long have you been writing?
Shay Rivera:
I have been making serious writing efforts since 2015, so almost five years now.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Shay Rivera:
Yes, I did feel like giving up every time I would get rejected by a handful of agents for each of the two projects I queried. What really helped was my writing community. I was fortunate enough to get accepted into an amazing mentorship program called Author Mentor Match. I cannot even begin to describe how supportive and loving my cohort and fellow AMM mentees are of one another. They all inspired me to keep going. They told me that the only time you really fail is when you stop trying.
QT: Is this your first book?
Shay Rivera:
I have written 4 full manuscripts, all of them YA: a YA dystopian romance, YA sci-fi/space opera, and 2 YA fantasies. Strangely, the book that got me agented was an adult contemporary Own Voices romance.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Shay Rivera:
I technically don't have any formal creative writing training, but I do have a degree in English.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Shay Rivera:
I try my best to write during my lunch breaks, which results in about 400 to 500 words average each time. On the weekend my goals are 1000 to 2000 words a day. And you don't have to write every day! Take some days off in between to refresh your creative well. But if you're a professional writer under deadline, that is an entirely different story.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Shay Rivera:
I sent out about 20 query letters for this book, and I received 2 offers of representation.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Shay Rivera:
I wanted an agent who had excellent communication skills, and isn't afraid to be tough with publishers and advocate for me. I wanted an agent who is in it for the long haul, and who would be instrumental in helping shape my writing career. The ideal agent would have a decent track record with at least several steady proven sales to major or reputable publishers. It was also very important that I find an agent who represents ALL the genres in which I write, which can be challenging. Which agents out there rep YA all genres, MG, and adult romance? Not as many as you'd like to think.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Shay Rivera:
All I can say is: read the submission guidelines CAREFULLY and sub only to agents you would love to work with. Please do not sub to agents you feel only so-so about. Make sure you do RESEARCH and ensure the agency is reputable. Do not choose an agent just because the are "popular" on social media. Always do your research. Check Publisher's Marketplace for their sales, and ask around.