Interview with Golden Heart® Finalist Rita Henuber

Golden Heart Finalist

Rita Henuber

Rita Henuber, Romantic Suspense Author, tells us how she signed with Jessica Faust of BookEnds Literary Agency, LLC.  Thank you for sharing your story with us, Rita!

Lis’Anne:

What was your first step after completing your manuscript?

Rita:

1.  Made a plan to get an agent.

2.  RESEARCHED, RESEARCHED, RESEARCHED agents.

3.  Developed an excellent log line, query, and synopsis.

Lis’Anne:

How did you choose which agents to query?

Rita:

I began with Query Tracker. There you can input the genre you write and it displays agents who rep it.  Query Tracker offers cross checks with Agent Query, PublishersMarketplace and Predators & Editors. In many cases it gives the agent’s web page. I also like 1000 Literary Agents.

Next, I spent many hours every week reading agent blogs. This industry can change daily. Agent blogs tell you what is going on, what agents are looking for in a query letter and story. My favorites are Jessica Faust, Nathan Bransford, Kristin Nelson and Query Shark.  The last is, IMHO, a must if you are struggling with a query letter. It may not tell you how to write yours, but it sure as heck tells you what not to do. Searching is hard, but well worth the effort if you want that perfect agent.

Lis’Anne:

Why query agents rather than going straight to editors with your manuscript?

Rita:

I don’t know enough about negotiating, contracts, or the inner workings of publishing to represent myself. This is an agent’s job.

Lis’Anne:

How did you handle rejections?

Rita:

Rejections?  No–those are not rejections.  Those are no thank you notes. Those are RSVP regrets to come to my party.  That will be the party I have when my book is published.

Okay, I sent out 43 query letters. I was frustrated when each no thank you came because it meant I had to keep looking. I wanted it right then. I would have really liked to have an agent knock on my door and ask if I had anything I wanted published. That was soooooo not happening.

I made a rule. When a ‘no thank you’ came I sent out 2 more party invitations. A couple of times I sent out 5.  Geesh! I was becoming a query junkie. It got to the point if I wasn’t sending out queries I had the shakes.

Lis’Anne:

What did you do when you received your offer(s) of representation?

Rita:

Wowzer! What a day. The agent was really great and enthusiastic. I would have probably told her yes on the spot, but I had 3 full and 3 partial manuscripts out with other agents.  I knew each was in the process of reading.  I thanked the agent profusely, explained the situation and immediately sent out emails.  In a couple of days I had offers of representation from three other agents.

Lis’Anne:

You had several agents vying to represent you!  How on earth did you make your choice?

Rita:

One of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. Every one of the agents is great, fantastic, and I mean that. I have no doubt each would do a spectacular job.  How did I choose? How do you choose anything?  You make a choice. It killed me to call the agents and say no thanks, I’ve chosen someone else. And, no, the irony of turning an agent down is not lost on me. I do have to tell you the whole time I was speaking with them there was a voice screaming in my head. “What are you doing? You’re turning down an agent, you ninny.”

Lis’Anne:

Now that you have an agent, what’s the next step?

Rita:

My agent will review the MS again and make suggestions.  When we think the manuscript is as strong as it can be, she will submit to several publishers. One will offer me a million gazillion dollars.  🙂  I will accept. About a year after I sign a contract with the publisher my book will be on the store shelves.

Thank you for having me here, Lis’Anne!

Lis’Anne:

Thank you so much for taking the time to come by and give us these great tips!

If anyone has any questions for Miss Rita, please ask.  She’ll be with us until 5p.m. today.


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19 thoughts on “Interview with Golden Heart® Finalist Rita Henuber

  1. I love reading success stories! I swore by QueryTracker too while I was agent hunting. I wouldn’t found my agent without it.

    Huge congrats on agenting up with Jessica Faust. She’s always stricken me as a highly intelligent and thoughtful person. Definitely super-agent status?

    How are you handling the post-agent hunt aftermath? I seem to have been in a tailspin since the big news.

    Like

    • Jeannie
      It has been crazy for me. I’ve said before it was a roller coaster ride that escalated to a first class ticket on the shuttle. Each time I think about all of this I start hyperventilating, but enjoying every exciting moment. Right now I’m setting daily and weekly goals; making a big effort to use all of my time wisely. And…getting ready for the RWA Conference in D.C.
      Rita

      Like

  2. Great interview! Very informative. Love the links. Thanks!

    I’m also wondering what role contests played. Do contests help hone a manuscript? Get the work in front of agents? Jazz up the query letter with finals and wins?Or just distract from the process?

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  3. A friend of mine passed along an excerpt of your manuscript, and I loved it! I’m looking forward to reading the book when it’s published.

    Like

  4. Charlie,
    For me contests were very important. I wanted feedback from someone I didn’t know.
    Hone the manuscript? For me, no. I wanted to know if they liked the story. Period.
    As for agents and editors it was nice to see their comments, but I had no expectation I would sell from a contest.
    I had no writing experience like most of my peers. Getting to add ‘I am a Finalist’ to a query was a plus for me.
    I believe contests are a necessary part of the process. I highly recommend every one enter. I entered six and was a finalist in three. Then I entered the Golden Heart.
    Rita

    Like

  5. Rita, I love this: Rejections? No–those are not rejections. Those are no thank you notes. Those are RSVP regrets to come to my party. That will be the party I have when my book is published.

    So, even though I’m not an agent, I’m crashing that party!

    -Gayle 🙂

    Like

      • Awesome.

        Did you revise your MS based on contest feedback or rejections? And were those revisions what you think helped get you those offers of representation?

        Like

        • Gayle,
          I made no changes based on contest feed back. I did strengthen the story based on a critique received from a trusted chapter mate. I took several classes that helped me develop and deepen my story. I’m a member of a small on line writers support group. We all know one another well and we critique and help with questions. It’s my feeling when you know someone it’s easier to figure out how to help.
          Rita

          Like

  6. Maybe that’s my problem. *laugh* Although I do think the contest entries were valid.

    How did you know when to stop making revisions?

    Like

    • Gayle,
      What kind of revisions? I could go on forever changing words and amping things up using power words. There comes a point you have to force yourself to stop.
      Plot revisions? My opinion is if you know your characters well and you have the story GMC and your plot points to begin with, revisions will be few and far between.
      Rita

      Like

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