Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WOTP Interview: Delise Torres, Adult Author

The next querying author in the WOTP series is the very talented Delise Torres! I had the honor of critiquing Delise's query letter and let me just tell you, she won't be querying long. She'll discuss the difficulties of querying, her current novel, and how to cope while waiting to hear back from agents.

To start on a personal note, can you tell us about yourself?

I’m originally from Puerto Rico, and currently live in Germany with my German husband. I have a PhD in Food Science, but after relocating to Germany, had a hard time finding a job. I never considered becoming a writer, but always had ideas for stories in my head. While trying to find a new path, I decided to write one of them, and now hope that this will lead to a career as an author.

What novel are you querying? What is it about in a few sentences?

My novel is titled PULLING ME BACK IN, women’s fiction with romantic elements. My main character, Gwen, is an art gallery curator who rekindles her relationship with her first love, Jeff, someone who broke her heart, but she can’t get over. It’s a story about how obsessing with the past can prevent us from moving forward, and how a strong sexual chemistry can make it hard to leave an unhealthy relationship.

Who is your favorite character from this book?

I love Jeff. He’s my most complex character, since he can be a bastard but also charming, and striking that balance was really challenging. He also goes through the biggest change arc.

Delise in Puerto Rico
Have you written/queried other books before?

No. This is my first novel.

What is the hardest part about querying?

The waiting and the not knowing. I’ve only been querying for two months, but the waiting is painful. You never know if the rejections are based on the concept or on the writing, and unless you get some feedback from a request (which I haven’t), there’s really nothing you can do but wait. It’s hard to feel that the outcome is out of your control.

How did you go about picking the agents you wanted to query?

Twitter has been the best resource. I follow Writer’s Digest and they share spotlights on new agents, so that helped me start my list. As I began to follow agents, I found more agents based on their tweets and recommendations. The Manuscript Wish List website and #MSWL tweets have also been of great help.

How do you cope with waiting to hear back from agents?

So far, I haven’t been coping very well. It’s hard to stay motivated when all you get are rejections. I did binge watch all the seasons of Gilmore Girls to keep me distracted. Sadly, I’m done, so now I will try to focus on my blog and also write a new story.

Do you have any tips for writers yet to query or people who are writing query letters?

  1. Read books in your genre. This will help with comps and to know how your story fits in the current market. Once you can identify what makes your story unique, you can better prepare your pitch. I had the challenge that my novel is basically a romance, but doesn’t conform to the specifications for that genre. In order to sell it as women’s fiction, I had to focus the query on my main character’s journey and the lessons she must learn, and not on the romantic relationship.
  2. Get feedback. My query letter went through several iterations as I figured out how to best sell the story. I had the privilege of participating in a Query Bootcamp, where several people critiqued my query letter and synopsis, and I also learned a lot by critiquing theirs in return. After that, I thought my letter was ready, yet I was feeling insecure, so I sent it to Emily for another opinion, and she helped me see where I needed to clarify. So even when you think you’re done, you can always make it better, so always get feedback.

  3. Participate in online pitch contests. My first contest was for the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, and my pitch was deleted because it read too much like a romance. This helped me realize the issue I faced, and I was able to re-do my query letter before I started querying. I also participated in Pitch Slam and got useful feedback. These contests really help you hone what makes your story unique and how to best pitch it.

Finally, how will you celebrate when you eventually get your agent?

I will go out to dinner with my husband. We already have a fancy French restaurant picked out for the occasion.

Best wishes to you, Delise! Querying is such an emotionally draining endeavor. Keep your head up and stay in love with your book. Everything else will fall into place! Delise has two great blog posts that offer tips on how to give and receive feedback. Make sure you check them out!

If you want to keep up-to-date with Delise's journey, make sure to follow her...

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