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An Interview with Michael Anthony upon receiving an offer of representation.

03/23/2022

Michael Anthony (MAnthony99 on QT) has signed with agent Matthew Carnicelli of Carnicelli Literary Management.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation?
The book that I was offered representation for is a graphic memoir (which is a memoir in graphic novel form) and it's called "Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir," it's a dark-humored romantic comedy about how food and animal rights became an issue in an otherwise perfect relationship. Or, per the description on amazon: "A rough-and-tumble Iraq War veteran is young and in love, and the last thing on his mind is food and the ethics of eating meat. But when his girlfriend becomes a vegetarian and animal rights activist, suddenly food is all he thinks about."
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was a teenager and wrote several movies in high school, but it wasn't until much later that I took writing seriously and considered myself a "writer."
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
In the military, when we had ruck marches (10 miles, 75lbs on your back), I had this one sergeant who would always tell us "You can quit as many times as you want, as long as you keep walking…" and it's a mentality I try to keep in all parts of my life, including writing. Sometimes I'll give up on a project, but even though I've given up, I'll keep working on it. Often, after I've "given up," I'll fall in love with the project all over again and complete it (and then sometimes it even gets published).
Is this your first book?
This is my third traditionally published book, but my first graphic memoir.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I have an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
The only "routine," I have is that I try to write whenever I can. I have two kids, both under eight, and still have a day job (as many of us "struggling writers," do) so a lot of my writing consists of stolen moments in the morning or a few minutes during lunch.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Too many to count. Originally, I spent years editing a fully prose version of the memoir, but when I fell in love with the format of graphic memoirs, I knew that I need to make the switch and spent another few years rewriting so that it could become a graphic memoir.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
No beta readers for the entire book, but for sections that I struggled on I had friends look at those specific sections and then I used their feedback.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
With memoir, since you're telling a true story, the only thing you need to know is where to begin the story and where to end it; once you have those two points, everything else is naturally outlined.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
When the book was a prose version, I spent about three months querying, but then when I switched it to a graphic memoir, I spent several years rewriting and then another several months querying before I was offered representation.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
About 30 (in batches of 5) but it took me getting organized on QueryTracker and learning the search functions (and even reading these success interviews) for me to know how to really search for an agent and find the right one—and then pitch!

Out of those 30, I received 2 offers of representation; 5 no responses; 16 rejections; and 7 full requests (one of which came months after I had already signed with my current agent).

On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I wanted an agent who knew how to represent memoirs, graphic novels, and more specifically, graphic memoirs. Graphic memoirs are a new and emerging genre so there aren't a lot of agents familiar with the format (a lot of agents who represent memoir, don't do graphic novels, and a lot of agents who represent graphic novels don't do memoir).

The Agent that I ultimately went with was Matthew Carnicelli, who represents some amazing graphic novelists and graphic memoirists like Noah Van Sciver and Derf Backderf. At the time that Matthew made me an offer, I had another agent interested in offering representation, but I believed that Matthew was a better match because of his history, current clients, and the phone call we had (and I was right, my book is coming out later this year with an awesome indie publisher).

Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
At the beginning I had a general Query, but as I learned more about the process, I began to research agents more thoroughly and then specifically tailored my pitch to each specific agent.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
  1. Do not give up! Querying is hard, and finding the right agent is hard, and not quitting amidst rejection is hard; but you just need to push through and keep going!
  2. When you're preparing to query, you need to go into it with a business mindset. Searching for an agent, and finding the right one, is in a lot of ways, the opposite of writing. Whereas writing calls forth the creative part of your brain, searching for an agent is purely methodical and rational. If a writer wants to find an agent, they need to get into an organized business-mindset and use QueryTracker and Microsoft Excel and make lists of agents to query, and research those agents, and make a killer query letter, and send it out and track how long it takes for agents to respond (so that you know when to close them out, and send out the next batch) and then they need to send more queries and refine their query letter and then send more letters and then refine their query again.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Attached below is the query that got me an agent and then my eventual book deal:

Dear [Agent],

Based on your interest in memoirs and graphic novels, I'm excited to query regarding my graphic memoir: "Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir."

Michael Anthony is young and in love, and the last thing on his mind is food and the ethics of eating meat. But when his girlfriend (Coconut) becomes an Animal Rights Activist, suddenly food is all he can think about. What was once a picture-perfect romance, now faces its biggest challenge as Coconut tries to turn Michael into a vegetarian (and budding animal rights activist like her), and Michael tries to turn Coconut back into a meat-eater. Both hope that conversion—of the other—will fix the growing problems in their relationship... but the struggle instead changes them both, and their relationship, in unexpected ways...

Love, heartache, and the rest of the ingredients that make a reader laugh, smile, and stop-and-think, are all found in this enthralling graphic memoir.

The book is written by acclaimed and award-winning author Michael Anthony. Michael's prose writing has been called "strong … and starkly honest," -Publishers Weekly, "Dark humored," -Kirkus, and "gut punching," -Mary Roach. His two previous publications are the acclaimed memoirs "Mass Casualties" and "Civilianized". "Civilianized" was awarded the MassBay One Book Award, and "Mass Casualties" was recently optioned by a large production studio.

An up-and-coming (and extremely talented) illustrator is already attached to the project and the proposal, first chapters, and sample illustrations are available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Michael