Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Stephanie Garber here to share about her YA fantasy CARAVAL. It sounds like a totally riveting story with great characters and world building.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Now here's Stephanie!

How I Signed With My Agent: Third Time Isn’t Always the Charm

When I first queried, finding an agent seemed as impossible as catching a unicorn. I queried about 100 agents, ended up with zero requests, and cried countless tears. Thankfully, I knew my writing could be better. So I tried again.

The second book I queried garnered around twelve requests. After not having received any interest in the first book, I thought this was it! I believed I’d get an agent and a book deal for sure.

Instead I received detailed rejections, along with an offer to revise and resubmit. I was tempted to
take this R&R offer, but the amount of work it would require was almost equivalent to writing a new book. So, after much deliberation, I decided to write a new novel.

When I queried this third manuscript my request ratio was fifty percent. I thought this surely had to be it! Sadly, every agent who requested quickly passed. Something was still wrong.

Then a writing contest called Pitch Wars happened. I was chosen by a mentor; she helped me see exactly what was wrong with my work, and finally I signed with an agent.

But, while my writing had finally gained the attention of an agent, my story still wasn’t strong enough for a publisher. After that I spent a year doing everything I could to improve my craft. I read every book, attended conferences and book signings, and when I wrote I poured all I had into every sentence.

On the last day of December 2014 I finished writing my sixth book, Caraval (for those of you keeping track, I wrote two books which I didn’t query). Then, a week after pouring everything into this draft of Caraval, my agent informed me she was leaving the business.

It was a crushing time. I’m pretty sure most people thought I was delusional, because I kept writing books no one in publishing wanted to read. But I was determined to give querying one final shot. Only this time, my mentality was that I didn’t just want an agent, I wanted to query a book that was good enough to sell to an editor. So, I rewrote my query about 100 times (yes, really, I did), I had multiple people critique my manuscript, and I sent my first fifty pages to a freelance editor, just to make sure I was doing everything I could.

My request ratio was over fifty percent this time. But although people were requesting no one seemed to be reading. I won’t share how long I waited—I think it feels like forever, no matter how long the wait. Then, after an imaginary eternity, an email asking for a phone call came. An agent had read my book, loved it and wanted to represent it. I was thrilled, so I could hardly believe it when a second agent offered, followed by a third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, and an eighth.

My current agent, Jenny Bent, was among the agents who offered. I’d heard her speak at an SCBWI conference years before. At the time she was way out of my league; she was the unicorn I never thought I could catch. But I now believe catching unicorns isn’t as impossible as I’d once thought, it just requires a great deal more work than I realized.

When I was querying, I was a faithful reader of Literary Rambles. So I imagine a lot of you might currently be in those same query trenches. Since I spent a lot of time there, I’ve been trying to think of the best advice I can give.

When I wrote my first five books I just wanted to be published. I wrote them fast as I could, revised them as fast as I could, and I queried them with the same intensity. But when it came to book six, rather than trying to write as quickly as possible, I tried to write the best I could, and then I tried to do better than that. I had a freelance editor look over my first fifty pages, I signed up for SCBWI critiques, I shared my query with my all my friends and listened to their advice. And when I revised with my agent, rather than just trying to do what she said, I tried to take everything she said a little further. I read books on craft every day and pushed myself to do more than I felt I was capable of.

So my advice is, don’t worry about how long things are taking or try to rush your writing. Instead, do the best you can, and then push yourself to do a little better than that. When I’m not writing I teach creative writing, and I can tell the difference between the students who just do their homework, and those who put a little more into it. More often than not that little extra polish makes all the difference.

I’m rooting for all you! Thanks so much for having me here on Literary Rambles.

Thanks for sharing your advice, Stephanie! You can find Stephanie at www.stephaniegarberauthor.com/

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday March 1st I have an IWSG post and an interview with Caroline Starr Rose and a giveaway of her new MG historical adventure JASPER AND THE RIDDLE OF RILEY'S MINE

Monday March 6th I have a guest post by debut author Michael Miller and a giveaway of his YA science fiction SHADOW RUN

Monday March 13th I have an interview with debut author and follower Rosalyn Eves and a giveaway of her YA historical fantasy Rose Blood Rebellion

Tuesday March 14th I'm participating in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Monday March 20th I have a guest post by debut author Alyson Gerber and her agent Kate McKean with a giveaway of her MG contemporary BRACED and a query critique giveaway by Kate McKean

Wednesday March 22nd I have an agent spotlight with Kristy Hunter and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


mshatch said...

Congratulations Stephanie! Caravel sounds wonderful :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats, Stephanie! So many writers think if they can just score an agent, they win. But that agent still has to sell the book and more often than not, they don't.

Kristin Lenz said...

Yes! Many authors have a long journey of persistence and dedication to craft before publication (me too!). So glad you stuck with it, and your story will encourage others too. Caraval sounds amazing.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

I remember reading the first chapter of Caraval posted online what feels like ages ago, and I've been dying to read the full novel ever since. Thanks, Stephanie for sharing your journey here. It's encouraging to hear these stories of persistence. I'm pretty sure my family thinks I'm delusional, too. I've been revising for so long, I'm embarrassed to hear myself say it out loud these days.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Wow, that's perseverance! Congrats to Stephanie, and I'm glad I'm not delusional to keep writing in the face of rejection.

Bish Denham said...

Oh the waiting game. We writers have to be so patient both with ourselves and with agents. I'm glad you persevered and succeeded. Congratulatoins!

Greg Pattridge said...

Great story to never give up the fight. 'Sticktoitness' is a trait all authors must have or they are quickly doing something else. Thanks for your story, Stephanie, and good luck with the book.

Cherie Reich said...

Caraval sounds like a fascinating read! Congrats, Stephanie!

S.P. Bowers said...

Thanks for sharing your querying journey. It's good to know there is hope.

S.P. Bowers said...

And congrats on the book!

Karen Lange said...

Congrats on the book, Stephanie! The cover looks like it's perfect for the story. Writing really is quite the adventure, isn't it?

Natalie, appreciate the intro to Stephanie. Thanks for hosting!

Stephanie Faris said...

Even after you're published, it can be frustrating...everything takes SO long! Congratulations to Stephanie. Her book sounds fascinating.

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Loved your post, Stephanie! And thank you for sharing your querying journey. Just shows ... persistence and rewriting pays off in the end. :)

Myrna Foster said...

Thank you for sharing your experience! Congratulations! I've heard great things about CARAVAL, so I'll definitely be reading it.

Jarm Del Boccio said...

So happy things turned out well for you, Stephanie. You kept going when others would have quit. So inspiring!

Danielle H. said...

You have amazing persistence and belief in yourself. Definitely inspiring to me. I'm hoping to read this book soon!

Nick Wilford said...

Quite a story, Stephanie! Glad you stuck with it and stayed determined.

KB/KIM said...

Thanks for all the great advice! I love that...push a little further. So simple, yet so write;) I admire your determination and your hard work paid off KUDOS! I heard your editor Sarah Dotts Barley at the NYSCBWI conference--she's awesome!! Plus she loves you and your book!

Jill said...

I needed to read this today! I'm revising my second manuscript and feeling the pressure to get it done. I'm going to take my time and get it right. Congratulations on finding your dream agent and publishing your first book!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the guest post. Carnival sounds amazing!!

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

This book sounds amazing! Thanks for the guest post!