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An Interview with Lisa Moore Ramee upon receiving an offer of representation.

05/22/2017

Lisa Moore Ramee (lisray on QT) has signed with agent Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
The title is All There Is Of You—but my agent (still fun to say that) assures me the title will change—and it’s MG contemporary. It’s about growing up and figuring out how race factors into that, and how friendships change and how judging people by their appearance is never a good idea.
How long have you been writing?
Seriously pounding the keys for ten years—but dabbled and goofed around for probably ten years prior to that. In other words, a really long time!
How long have you been working on this book?
This book has had a long journey. It’s actually the first book I ever wrote and queried, and that was nine years ago, but it’s been set aside, and rewritten and rewritten. It’s truly the book of my heart so I could never quit it.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Absolutely! You can’t work on something for so long without tangible results without considering maybe it’s just not in the cards. But about a year and a half ago I decided to go all in. I was going to get this book in the best possible shape and query every single agent.
Is this your first book?
First complete novel I ever wrote, yes.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I do have a Master’s in English Literature which I tried to focus as much as possible on creative writing. But it was mostly pretty academic. Lots of essays. When I first started writing I heard the comment a lot that my voice was too academic.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Yes, once my kids were grown, I turned writing into my full time “job.” Got up and went to work almost every day at my hugely uncomfortable desk and chair. Made myself do at least 3 hours every day.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
It’s been fully rewritten four times, and revised COUNTLESS times.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Ironically I only had one for this book.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I am a pantser 100%. I can’t outline a book to save my life.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I’ll just focus on the latest version of this book, and I queried for five months. I have queried other books for a few months.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
120 queries.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
At first I started with agents I had heard of, then I went to agents that matched up through MSWL, and lastly—and most effectively, I read widely in the MG genre and for every book I admired I looked at acknowledgements to see who was the agent. I targeted those agents. I also participated in Twitter pitch contests.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Unfortunately (because it’s a pain) I did find it most effective to tailor my queries. I used comments agents made in MSWL and also referred back to the books they represented. But some agents I truly had nothing and I so I went with no personalization.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Don’t waste your time picking a "dream" agent. You don’t know what anyone will be like to work with until you talk to them on the phone. I ended up querying a lot of agents I had never heard of, but as long as they repped my genre they were fair game. And be open to feedback on both your query and your manuscript. You will never be the best judge of your own writing. Try to find good comps for your query, they really help. Use Query Tracker—honestly, it’s super helpful for tracking who’ve you sent to and when, and lastly DON’T GIVE UP!!
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Sure- here it is in all it’s glory. Lol.:

For twelve-year-old Shay, junior high is tough. Running the mile. Disloyal friends. First (awful) kiss. Proving she’s black enough. Wait-what?!

All Shay wants is to make it through seventh grade trouble-free, with her friendships intact, and have a cute boy see past her ginormous forehead. But Shay's best friend, Isabella, seems to be plotting to keep that cute boy for herself, and Shay's other best friend, Julia, is ditching Shay and Isabella for the all-Asian group. It's like Julia and Isabella don’t know the rules of friendship anymore. But after a powerful march, Shay breaks a rule too, wearing an armband to school in support of Black Lives Matter. And that dumps Shay into a whole heap of trouble. The principal gives Shay a choice: take off the armband or she’s off the track team. Shay’s scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing) but if she doesn't face her fear, she'll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.

ALL THERE IS OF YOU is MG Contemporary, complete at 47,000 words. It’s Issa Rae’s Misadventure of Awkward Black Girl meets Meg Cabot’s Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls series. It is an Own Voices manuscript.