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An Interview with Ashley Schumacher upon receiving an offer of representation.

05/06/2018

Ashley Schumacher (aj2010 on QT) has signed with agent Thao Le of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
My book is a YA contemporary that deals with themes of friendship, grief, and the love of reading and how that can shape the world around you. My own lifelong obsession with books and the experience of dealing with sudden loss at a young age fed into my desire to write this particular story.
How long have you been working on this book?
The book I queried with was about a two-year journey from start to representation.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
For me, the most impactful fount of inspiration and encouragement is definitely my critique partner. (Hey, Cassie!) My advice will always be to go to conferences, workshops, and writerly retreats to find your fellow aspiring authors. Find someone whose work you admire and who has similar writing goals. Their critiques, empathy, and camaraderie will prove invaluable to your process…and your sanity.
Is this your first book?
It is.
Do you have any formal writing training?
My undergraduate degree is in creative writing, but I absolutely do not think it is necessary to major in writing in order to be a great writer! Read, read, read. It's the best education on writing money can buy.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I started with a very loose outline, but that outline changed with every draft.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
This is my first book. It was a seven month querying process from start to finish.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
16
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Publisher's marketplace, MSWL, and extensive twitter research gave me a feel for which agents were active in my novel's age group and genre and who in particular would be a good fit for my manuscript. I knew I wanted an editorial, hands-on agent and I was able to go from there.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I did personalize each query, but only the first couple of lines. I usually compared key aspects of my book to their MSWL if applicable.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Do not be so eager to query that you sacrifice the quality of your writing. You only get one shot with each agent per book, so make sure your query letter, your sample, and your novel as a whole is ready to be read closely before you start sending out query letters. Much of the publishing industry is about luck and timing, but the one thing you can control is the quality of your work.