Agent Interview: Bethany Jett

A surefire way to determine an agent is the best fit for your manuscript/writing career is by learning everything you can about them. Such information is great when choosing who to query and deciding who you’d love to work long term with. As a site dedicated to guiding writers through the publication journey, we’ve put together awesome agent interviews for you!

Today we’re introducing Bethany Jett of the C.Y.L.E. Agency!

– Path2pub: How did you become an agent?

It’s been a ten-year journey from my first writers conference to becoming an agent! I got my first book traditionally published in 2013 and I’ve written several over the years, with the latest book releasing just this past month, and a future book releasing in 2024.

I fell in love with the marketing side of this business and went to school to get my masters degree in Communications where I got to focus on marketing and public relations. For the past few years, I’ve freelanced as a book proposal specialist and marketing strategist. When I had clients that had a great idea or platform, I’d refer them to agents. This summer, I knew I wanted to see the projects all the way through instead of acting as the referral, so I called my agent and said, “I think I’m ready to move to this side of the industry,” and he took me under his wing.

– Path2pub: What genres do you represent and why did you decide ‘these are what I want to help bring to the world’?

I started out with a broader list of genres, mainly based on what I loved to read, which spans the spectrum. While I’m still a new agent, I quickly realized that I was getting excited about certain genres and not others, so I started streamlining my list.
I’m mostly open to books in the children’s market; the only adult fiction genre I acquire is cozy mysteries.

For YA & MG, I’m in love with magical realism / low fantasy and retellings. Kierra Cass and Victoria Schwab have been a key inspirations for me. I’m open to almost all MG except fantasy (with the exception of magical realism) and horror. And I love picture books. For nonfiction, I’m open to almost everything but I’m really excited about cookbooks and lifestyle/home decor and organization.

Honestly, I surprised myself by how much I fell in love with the children’s market as a whole. I think back to the books that made the most impact in my life and it’s the ones I read as a young girl: Christy, The Bridge to Terabithia, all of the Ramona books…and I want to bring to life books that will inspire a life-long love of reading for other children (and adults like me who get lost in those worlds).

– Path2pub: What instantly catches your eye in a query letter/manuscript?

Great comparison titles (comps). Professionalism balanced with personality. I like to see why the writer is inspired by this story, or for nonfiction, why the writer is the best person to write this book and why it is needed in the market right now.

– Path2pub: What is that element that makes you know at once that a story is not for you?

I’m not a fan of a lot of vulgarity or sex scenes “on the page.” Those are turn-offs for me, personally.

– Path2pub: How hands-on are you editorially?

I’m strongest in the developmental edit, so I go through the manuscript with my clients before it goes out on submission. I’m really hands-on with the proposal, especially with the marketing section, because I want them to have the best chance for success.

– Path2pub: Do you have goals for how many clients you want to acquire in a year?

I feel like over the last several months, I’ve established a solid “foundation” of clients. While I don’t have a set number for how many I want to acquire, I want to always make sure that my current clients are being prioritized and that I have the bandwidth to onboard a new client. For me, each genre (fiction, nonfiction, and picture books) have a slightly different process for me, so I have space opening in each genre at different times, and that’s how I’m making decisions on when I’m ready to sign a new client.

– Path2pub: What is your favorite trope?

I’m a bit partial to dystopian worlds and “reluctant royalty.”

– Path2pub: Great tropes! What are some books you think everyone should read?

How many can I list?! V.E. Schwab’s City of Ghosts is a wonderfully beautiful MG read. I absolutely love it. Shelby Mahurin’s Serpent & Dove is a book I recommend a lot because of the way she ties in the hero’s internal struggle with spirituality. And if you’ve seen the movie but never read the book, a MUST-read, trust me, is The Princess Bride. Order it now.

– Path2pub: If a writer could write a book specifically for you, what would you want it to be about?

It would be a cross between Kierra Cass’s The Selection series and a YA version of V.E. Scwab’s City of Ghosts.

– Path2pub: Oh fantastic! What advice do you have for querying writers?

Professionalism sets you apart. Don’t worry over a simple typo and try not to stress too much over the rejections. It’s hard, I know, but the right agent is better than the no agent. I believe that finding your perfect match, your champion, is worth waiting for.

– Path2pub: Great advice! What are your non-publishing related hobbies?

I love introvert-y activities, like reading, binge-watching shows while playing a game. Actually, I just got back into cross-stitch after one of my clients was posting all of her projects! Ultimately, though, I’m a planner addict. The Happy Planning community is sort of a cross between scrapbooking and memory-keeping with actual planning and organization. It’s a happy medium for me and is great for mental wellness.

Bethany Jett is a literary agent, author, and marketing strategist who earned top honors in her master’s program, where she earned her MFA in Communications focusing on Marketing and PR. Her motto is “Teach as you go,” which she lives out as the co-owner of Serious Writer, a company that teaches and empowers writers and authors.

Bethany is married to her college sweetheart, and together they’re raising 2 teen and 1-pre-teen! boys. She loves to post on Instagram about #MarketingAndMomLife, and her two fluffy Pomeranians. Connect with her at

All I Want For Christmas…

… is snow?

To be very honest Christmas in the tropics is not my favourite thing because something feels off about singing Christmas carols while sweating. Every year I wish for a white Christmas (because I love snow) and I know it’ll never happen unless something really wacky happens with the climate or I buy a plane ticket out of here. Anyhow, I love the season and for this last post before our hiatus, I’ll be sharing about some of the things I’m looking forward to as we approach the holidays!

1. Hot chocolate

Again, very odd to be drinking hot chocolate when it is…. well, hot. But hot chocolate was my go-to drink in winter when I was living in England and so I still buy a can of it every year when Christmas comes around. Whittard is my favourite brand and this year I’ve gotten the orange and peppermint flavours instead of the regular one!

2. Mariah Carey

I swear the best Christmas song ever made is All I Want For Christmas Is You and I will fight anyone who disagrees.

3. Love Actually and Home Alone 1/2

My trio of favourite Christmas movies that I will absolutely watch every single year. I’ve been watching Home Alone since I was a kid and I can remember almost every line in both films, and Love Actually has taken over as my ultimate favourite holiday film because it is just Perfect! What’s your favourite story in Love Actually? Mine’s the Prime Minister & I subplot because I can’t get over Hugh Grant knocking on every single door to look for his girl. I do also love Bill Nighy and his manager having a bittersweet bromance party on Christmas Eve 😀

4. Christmas novels

Since we are a publishing blog after all, here are two 2022 Christmas novels that I’m looking forward to reading (over a cup of hot chocolate)! First up, fellow Pitchwars alum Courtney Kae’s In The Event Of Love, a romcom about an event planner who returns to her hometown and finds herself tangled up with her lumberjane ex-best friend/crush. Next, Suzanne Park’s The Christmas Clash, another romcom that features two feuding families that own rival restaurants in a mall! Do check out these books too if you’re up for some Christmas reading!

Before I sign off, I just wanted to say a big thank you to every single reader who’s been supporting Path2pub and engaging with our content. It’s been an honour to be part of this journey (thanks for the invite Lucia!) and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to share a little about my publishing journey with all of you and also to learn from all the other amazing ladies on the team! In the next year there’ll be some exciting things happening for me in publishing land, so I hope I’ll be able to share all that news with everyone soon, if not here then on the other social media platforms, so do stay in touch!

Passing the Path2pub Christmas wreath on to Bri!

Amber is a PitchWars ’20 alum and a Wattpad Creator. One of her Wattpad novels, The Cutting Edge, has recently been adapted for television and is streaming on meWATCH. She is represented by Meg Davis at The Ki Agency.

Website | Twitter | Wattpad | Instagram / TikTok

Weekend Roadside Cafe

The road to publication can be exhausting sometimes. Here’s a roadside cafe serving all things writing/publishing to relieve you: information sodas, entertainment burgers, amusement chips… we’ve got it. It’s Alright to take a break; check out the menu!

Info Burgers 🍔

Photo from unsplash

Tweet Chips 🍟

Informative Tweets

Relatable Tweets

About The HarperCollins Strike (Thanks to Kemaya for the links!)

Photo from Twitter

Got any awesome writerly links or quotes to share with us? From your blog or another’s? Leave in the comments and we’ll add it next time!

Agent Interview: Kelly Thomas

A surefire way to determine an agent is the best fit for your manuscript/writing career is by learning everything you can about them. Such information is great when choosing who to query and deciding who you’d love to work long term with. As a site dedicated to guiding writers through the publication journey, we’ve put together awesome agent interviews for you!

Today, we’re introducing Kelly Thomas from the Serendipity Literary Agency!

Path2pub: How did you become an agent?

My path to becoming an agent is not typical. I took the scenic route! I was an English (Literature) major at Pace University in New York and fancied myself a writer, but I knew that I didn’t want to be an English teacher like the majority of my classmates. I didn’t know what to do with an English degree, and I had not considered being on the other side of books. I ended up falling into sales, which worked out well because agenting is sales, and I learned invaluable skills that I still apply to this day.

I went onto become a Headhunter where I was pairing candidates with companies, finding the right matches for hiring managers and job seekers based on their experience, which is quite similar to being an agent where I connect editors and authors, based on their manuscripts. I served as a champion for my candidates, protecting their interests and negotiating terms of work. I also established relationships with new clients and handled contracts, all of which is also a part of being a literary agent! So, while I didn’t know it, I was actually setting up a foundation to transition into publishing seamlessly. I continued to write in my spare time and have work published, but I wasn’t fulfilled. I updated my resume and reached out to countless literary agencies, but without industry experience or an internship at a publishing house or an agency under my belt, it was difficult, but Bob Diforio at the D4EO agency gave me a chance. I started reading and evaluating manuscripts for him, which I did for two years.

I then connected with Regina Brooks at Serendipity Literary Agency. We had a wonderful interview where we talked for what felt like hours. She saw that I was passionate and eager to learn the industry. Between my outgoing personality, sales experience, writing abilities, and education in literature, she felt that she could teach me the inner workings of the publishing industry. She took me under her wing and has served as an incredible mentor ever since. It’s like everything in my life has led me to this, a career where I combine all my skills and love every minute of it!

Path2pub: What genres do you represent and why did you decide ‘these are what I want to help bring to the world’?

I consider myself a generalist because I don’t want to limit my options. I represent everything from children’s books (picture books, middle grade, and young adult) to adult, both fiction and nonfiction. More than the genre, I am drawn to lyrical writing and strong voices. Within non-fiction, I am interested in nonfiction (narrative nonfiction, memoirs, true crime, self-help, business, travel writing, photography, medical, STEM, psychology, health and fitness, music, food & drinks, cooking). Within the adult fiction space, I like psychological thrillers, suspense, and dark comedies. The truth is often stranger than fiction, so I am actively looking for the next great true crime manuscript with a murderous and methodical plot.

Path2pub: What instantly catches your eye in a query letter/manuscript?

I love seeing authors who take writing seriously. Writer’s who are a part of a writing community, attend writer’s conferences and workshops, or have attended classes or seminars really pique my interest because I know they are honing their craft, networking with other writers, and pushing themselves to really learn about the industry.

For nonfiction, I am looking for a well-rounded proposal that goes in depth about the author’s platform, the marketing rationale for the book, the key features, the audience, and the comps. I also want to see a sample of the writing in a sample chapter. For fiction, I am drawn to queries that mention fast-paced stories with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping moments. I’m also not afraid to take on dark, gritty subjects, big topics, and issue-driven stories so these stand out to me. Stories that are told from a unique psychological vantage point or stories about mental illness are always of interest. I really love multi-layered protagonists who struggle between what is right and wrong, and anti-heroes who are villainous but endearing at the same time. If see any of these elements in a query, I am really excited to open the manuscript and start reading!

Path2pub: What is that element that makes you know at once that a story is not for you?

It’s not one thing. There are multiple elements that can make a story not work. As I am reading, I am evaluating a variety of things all at one. Any one of these things being off can result in me passing.

Premise: Is the premise unique and original or is it too similar to many other books already out in the world? Does the premise of the story grip and entice me?

Pacing: Is the story too rushed or to slow?

Character Development: Do the characters feel authentic? Are they growing and evolving? Do I understand their feelings, thoughts, goals, and motivations continually through the manuscript? Do I feel a connection to the characters?

Stakes: Are the stakes clear and are they intense enough for the reader to feel invested and truly care about the outcome?

Plot Points: Are all the essential plot points clearly laid out and do they flow effortless from one into another? Is the introduction to the characters and set up of the world executed well enough? Is there an inciting incident that makes the story take off? Is there rising actions with the conflicts and challenges clearly identified? Is there a climax where major things happen or are revealed or realized? Is there falling action and a satisfactory resolution?

Marketability: Do I think there is a market and an audience for this story? Do I feel as though I am the best champion to market and sell this story? Do I know any editors who might be interested in this sort of a story?

Topic: Is this a topic I can get behind or is it too far out of my comfort zone?

Interest Level: Do I like it or do I love it? Do I love it enough to want to sign the author? Do I think other people will also love this story as much as I do?

Path2pub: Thank you for delving into that! How hands-on are you editorially?

I am extremely hands on, perhaps too much so. I obtained my Copy Editor Certification a few years ago, and it was best thing I ever did! I know how important it is to polish and clean a manuscript before submitting, so I am able to proofread at a professional level, but more than that, I am now able to dig in and help my authors really develop scenes and characters, if needed.

I know that turn-key projects are key and far between, and those that are turn-key and competitive. I enjoy doing developmental edits, but to an extent. If I feel like the story needs major edits, but I was invested enough to read the entire manuscript, I will offer an editorial letter of evaluation and request a revise and resend. If the manuscript is 80-85% ready, I’m happy to discuss my suggestions, and if the author is in agreement, I do a Right to Represent, and we rework the manuscript together. This can be at the story level, the scene level, the paragraph level, or the sentence level. Once there is a finished project that is solid and we both feel good about, I’m happy to sign them and move forward. But if the story needs too much work, I just don’t have the time or bandwidth to take it on.

Path2pub: Do you have goals for how many clients you want to acquire in a year?

I don’t set a goal because I have a strong list of clients already that keep me pretty busy, but not all of my authors are working on projects at the moment. This number will vary from year-to-year based on what I’m able to sell and whether my clients are interested in writing more books. I’m not as open to submissions this year as I’ve been in the past. I would say for the 2023 year, I’ll probably take on 3-4 new clients.

Path2pub: What is your favorite trope?

Great question! I’ve never thought about this before. I think that cozy mysteries sell very well, but the market is so saturated with them, so those are my least favorite trope to see in my inbox, but I don’t mind reading them! My favorite would probably be The Hero’s Journey. It is tried-and-true and is the basis of countless classics because of how well it works.

Path2pub: What are some books you think everyone should read?

I think that The Harry Potter series is a phenomenal template for how to structure a story. It’s a wonderful educational tool for authors because J.K Rowling creates a coming-of-age story that incorporates everything you could ever want: Action, adventure, mystery, suspense, magic, wonder, world-building, character growth, conflicts, challenges, multiple antagonists and villains, drama, horror, friendship, humor, love, romance, death, loss, family saga, found family, hardships, failures and disappointments, overcoming the odds, and achievements and success. I highly recommend that writer’s read the Harry Potter series with a critical eye for what makes the story work. As a reader, some of the books I loved and always highly recommend include The Glass Castle by Jennifer Wall, Angelique’s Decent by Lara Parker, and Journey of Souls by Michael Newton.

Path2pub: If a writer could write a book specifically for you, what would you want it to be about?

It would probably include all the elements that I mentioned I love about the Harry Potter books. It would be a dark book that tackles a taboo subject, and it would be insightful, yet witty. It would keep me on the edge of my seat and leave me wanting more. It would perfectly pepper in clues to a mystery, but completely shock me at the end. It would make me scream, cheer and cry, but not ugly cry. I’m not a fan of overly heavy, sad books about cancer or terminal illness. The writing would be lyrical and melodic and carry to me another time and space.

Path2pub: What advice do you have for querying writers?

I would tell querying writers that rejections are a good thing. It means you’re in the race. Don’t get frustrated or disheartened by rejections. They are thickening your skin and building character. They are teaching you patience and appreciation for when you do finally strike gold. Know that every one of the most successful books and authors of all time have been rejected, more times than you’d think. Rejections are not a necessarily a reflection of your skills or your writing.

An agent may reject because they already have a book that’s similar in subject matter or because they simply don’t enjoy romances and your book is a love story. Not everyone will like your story, so don’t give up just because a few don’t like it. But if they offer feedback, definitely pay attention because they are trying to help you understand what isn’t working for them as that same element may also not work for another agent. Make sure that you research agents before you query so that you are only submitting to agents you know acquire within that genre. It will help stave off extra rejections.

Just remember, writer’s write; so, your first manuscript may not find a happy home at an agency. That doesn’t mean you should stop writing. It means you should get involved and start learning more about the querying process, how to summarize your story and pitch your manuscript, the publishing industry as a whole, and writing in general. Join a writer’s group. Take a writing class. Write regularly. Read the genre you write. Get a developmental editor to work with you. Get beta readers to read your manuscript. Read books on writing. Research what agents are looking for. Learn about the narrative arc of a story and plot points. Just don’t give up and become discouraged. Doctors and lawyers go through extensive training before they are allowed to practice in their field. Writers are no different. Do the work and it’ll pay off.

Path2pub: Great Advice! What are your non-publishing related hobbies?

My dog, Hazel, keeps me very busy! I love bringing her to the dog park and hanging with the other doggie mom’s and dad’s while our pups play. I love singing, so I’m always down for an open jam or karaoke. Music is general is so cathartic: It doesn’t matter if it’s a local band playing at a pub, a concert at a big arena, a musical at the theater, or a DJ at a lounge, I love music and dancing. I also love wine tasting at a winery, especially if I can get a charcuterie
board with fancy cheese and fresh fruit! Yes, please!

Kelly Thomas brings eighteen years of sales and business expertise to the literary world as a champion for writers at the Serendipity Literary Agency. Kelly is an Associate Literary Agent, a Published Poet and Author, and a Certified Copy Editor with a bachelor’s degree in English (Literature) from Pace University. She is an associate member of the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA), a member of the New York Women in Film & Television (NYWFT), and a member of the Editorial Freelance Association (EFA). She is a panelist at various writing conferences, a trainer at The Next Bestseller™ Workshop, and she partakes in pitch slams—both in person and virtually. Prior to joining Serendipity, she provided manuscript analysis for the D4EO Literary Agency. She has also served as an editor for the literary arts magazine Pen & Brush and as a writing coach for the academic consulting company Brattlestreet.

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Reflections on the Querying World in 2022

I have been writing for 10 years now & I have been querying for about 5 years. I was desperate & hungry in the past few years that I threw 2 half-baked, struggling manuscripts into the world thinking they were excellent. It wasn’t until I found my “voice” & perfect little niche this year that I learned my first biggest lesson about querying…

Get your manuscript as perfect as you can.

Don’t be in such a rush to query that you rush your manuscript. Edit, get beta readers & critique partners, edit some more. Take breaks. Edit some more! I’m a big believer in just “knowing” when our manuscript is ready or we might need to do a round of querying & see if any common suggestions are given to edit some more.

When I was ready to throw my Edgar Allan Poe retelling into the world, I felt like it was such a unique idea that surely someone would love it immediately. Pick it up quickly. Help me get it published asap. And I bypass the long publishing times. Its been 70 days of querying this project now with 9 manuscript requests & 7 active requests right now. There’s been nothing fast or painless about it, but I have since learned…

Querying is truly the right time, the right person, & sometimes… the right stars aligning.

I wish it was easier. I wish agents had an easier job. I wish querying wasn’t such a brutal process for writers, but the truth of the matter is agents have hundreds of queries to go through on a regular basis while also managing their current clients. Something has to sparkle or catch their eye. More so, sometimes it needs to be that exact, perfect moment to catch an agent’s interest which leads me to my next lesson…

Rejections (or passes) do not decrease the worth of your manuscript.

We need your voice. Your ideas. Your stories. And just because an agent (or a few) may pass on your story does not impact the worth of you or your story. The querying & publishing process is BRUTAL. And it takes a long time so I’ve also learned to…

Be patient.

Which is very hard for me because I am not a patient person, but I believe in my book. I will keep querying it until someone finally picks it up. But that doesn’t mean I won’t focus on other projects. Starting a new WIP or editing an old project or beta reading for friends truly helps take my mind off querying sorrows. Allow yourself to dive into your next project or help some fellow writing friends to save your own sanity. You won’t regret it! Remind yourself why you write, get passionate about a new story, and keep going. Last but not least…

Don’t give up.

Ever. Please. Keep going! Keep querying! Keep writing! Even if this book isn’t the one to be published, work on others or consider other publishing avenues. But no matter what, don’t give up writing even though querying is so, so brutal. We need you. We need your stories! 🖤

Demri, The Horror Writer

Path2pub December Theme (And An Important Announcement)

Hello Readers! It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year (to many of us). Which means we have to pay homage on Path2pub!

First of all, the idea for Path2pub was conceived in December 2021 and its OG Contributors all said yes to the site in December before we launched on January 7th. So December is a special moment on here, and Path2pub is almost a year old!

This month, our theme is very, very original. It is…

A Path2pub Christmas!

Haha. Throughout December, we’ll interpret Christmas and writing in our own ways. You can be sure it’ll be fun, enlightening, and motivating, so grab your eggnogs and join us for a jolly time. There will also be Christmas specials, one with writerly wishes we throw out into the universe.

In addition, we Contributors will be playing a little game called “Pass The Wreath”. Even though we don’t have fixed dates on which we post each month, you might have noticed that we do have certain time preferences. So for this December, it’ll be a complete scramble and we’ll post at each other’s prerogative!

The wreath!

For instance, at the end of Contributor A’s post, she’ll post the Christmas wreath and pass it on to whoever she wants to post next. We won’t know when it’s our posting day until the post goes live. And so on until the end.

We hope you join us!

Important Announcement

After an end of the year group meeting, we the Contributors decided on two things:

1. It’s been an awesome and successful year for path2pub with wonderful readers which we deeply appreciate.

2. After a great year where we Contributors have poured every lesson we’ve learned so far in our journeys into the site, it’s time for a hiatus.

Now this isn’t goodbye.

But we ladies are at different points in our journeys and lives right now where we’ve seen that it’s best to pause for a while so the site can be revived in the future fresher and even stronger. The industry is morphing constantly and to have useful information to share on the various points to publication we need to be at those points ourselves. Without being there, we can’t have valid advice to share and would be constantly reiterating posts already shared, which might affect the quality of our posts.

In the meanwhile, we believe the information we’ve poured in right now are rich and valid enough to answer numerous questions writers often ask on the path to publication. There are also the agent interviews that will remain timeless and Roadside Cafes with links that carry on wonderful information to educate new writers in the community.

We’ll post throughout December and are super excited about it, but from January 2023 an indefinite hiatus will begin.

Note: Please note that during this hiatus, the site’s subscription plan will revert to a free WordPress plan until Path2pub is revived. So the site’s link address will no longer be but!

The site’s layout might also change, but save for these everything else will remain the same and accessible.

It’s been a fantastic run and we look forward to December!

2022 & Me

I can’t believe it’s already the end of November! The year has gone by really fast and for me most of these past months consisted on waiting for the day my debut picture book, Santiago’s Dinosaurios, would finally hit the shelves. For this reason, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for 2022. After all, it’s been a year of dreams come true, new experiences, personal growth and several lessons learned, some of which I’d like to share in this post.

Be prepared to be surprised

The path to publication is filled with surprises. Some are very pleasant, like getting to meet your characters for the first time or getting to read lovely reviews for the book. Others are not so much, like receiving news that the book’s release date would get delayed from October 1st to October 27th. Although the unexpected can sometimes be hard to navigate, it’s still part of this journey and as writers we have to accept that reality and take it as it comes. The best recommendation is to find a learning opportunity in every situation. For me, Santiago’s story, as my debut, brought many.

For starters, it was my first time doing a R&R, my first time working with an editor and my first time understanding the way of collaborating with the illustrators (which was something I didn’t expect!). Additionally, Santiago’s book taught me to be patient, to trust the timing and the process, and to let go of things I couldn’t control (although it was really hard). I’m sure that each book comes with challenges and lessons, a path of its own that’s supposed to bring growth to the writer. I can’t wait to see what comes next for me with Abuelita’s Gift.

Embrace the opportunities that arise

During the past months, I had the chance to experience new things for the first time, like being a contributor on Path2pub blog, participating in podcasts with Las Musas, or being invited to live panels during SLJ Day of Dialogue and Latinx KidLit Book Festival. At the beginning I was quite nervous about it, since these experiences demanded me to get out of my comfort zone and put me “out there”. However, in spite of that initial hesitation I said “Yes!”. And I’m so glad I did; since I got to meet wonderful writers and their books, and I also enjoyed sharing about me, my book and my journey. I’d say that these experiences have become meaningful memories for year 2022. They were definitely challenging, but they also made me grow as a person and as a writer.

Keep your mind set on the goal

For me, the main goal has always been getting my books to the hands of children. That’s what kept me going through the rejections in the querying trenches and that’s the reason why, even without an agent and not knowing what would come next, I decided to accept Albert Whitman’s offer for Santiago’s story in 2021. Keeping this goal in mind and working towards it, eventually brought me to this stage of the journey, in which my book is finally out and I’ve been able to read it to children. This has been an unbelievable experience, which has filled my heart in a way that I hadn’t imagine, especially when I find “Santiagos” among the kids listening to my story times.

Enjoy the journey

As we all know, the path to publication is not easy. It’s actually a roller coaster with exhilarating ups and depressing downs; but it’s all part of the experience of being a writer. Still it’s important to remember that there’s not just one path for everybody to follow. Each author has its own time and journey, which might be very different from others. For this reason, we shouldn’t compare our experience to the one of others, instead we need to have faith in our own paths and give ourselves the chance to enjoy them, despite the challenges we will surely encounter.

Be open to learning

Even if a writer gets a book out in the world, there’s still much to learn and improve as an author. That’s been my case, and it amazes me how much each new story I come up with challenges me to be better in my storytelling. I’m thankful there are many wonderful resources available, some even for free. From webinars and courses, to critique giveaways or mentoring sessions; the writing community offers a variety of ways in which authors can learn more about the craft by taking advantage of those wonderful opportunities. We just need to keep an open mind that there’s always something that can be improved and that indeed, we can learn new things everyday.

Keep writing

This is the best piece of advice I’ve received, and it’s actually what makes us writers. No matter in which stage of the path to publication we are, we have to keep writing. Continue to create and revise. If we are waiting to hear from agents/editors, write. If we receive rejections, write more. If we get a book deal, write the next book. A writer always writes, although not all of our stories might become published books, and that’s okay, the point is to get what’s inside us to the pages.

Support others

The path to publication can be lonely and hard, so having writer friends to share the journey with is a blessing. From critique partners to social media writer friends, this year wouldn’t have been the same without them. Just as they now rejoice with me about my book’s release, there were other times in which they were there for me during hard times. I’m glad that I get to share my friends’ happiness about their successes or the frustrations of their struggles. One day is my turn to support and encourage them, and there are other times in which I’m the one to receive their love. I can’t wait for the day that I will be the one buying signed copies of books written by my critique partners and writer friends.

Be grateful

Finally, in this season of Thanksgiving my heart is full of gratitude for all the wonderful blessings I’ve experienced this year. From my family, friends, and critique partners, to my agent, editors, and publishing team. I’m very grateful for the journey I’ve had with Santiago and for beautiful rewards that have come in the form of reviews, positive comments, support and encouragement from the writing community.

I hope some of these “lessons” will resonate with you and your paths to some extent. I really enjoyed taking the time to sit down and look back at what 2022 has meant for me. I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten so much and I’m glad that I’m conscious about it. 🙏

So…what about you? What has 2022 taught you?

Mariana Ríos Ramírez is a Mexican picture book author living in South Carolina. She was a high school teacher and co-owned an online business before becoming a writer. Her debut book, Santiago’s Dinosaurios, will be published by Albert Whitman & Co. in October 2022. Her second book, Abuelita’s Gift, will be published by Knopf in Fall 2024. Besides writing, Mariana enjoys photography, traveling, Chai Lattes, and k-dramas.

AUPQ: How To Get Immersed In The Writing Community

Today’s Ask Us Pub Questions question is from Coral: Hi I would like to know about making friends in the writing community? I’ve checked your twitters and you ladies seem to be well entrenched in the community with friends and CPs etc. How does a new writer in the community get to that level?

Hi Coral! This question actually has me reflecting a bit. This exact time last year I joined the writing community, and didn’t get the instant friendships and bonds I heard about. And I was so angsty about it 😂. So looking back now and seeing how far I’ve come in terms of feeling like a part of the community has me smiling.

Because I craved being part of the community, I started following writers who were relatable on twitter and DMing some of them. As we found our similarities, friendships gradually blossomed. And before I knew it, writers began reaching out to me too. My blog also helped. I know blogging isn’t big now, but there’s a whole community there. I started commenting on other blogs I admired, following people and soon I found the most heartwarming community there. I love them all so much—Kat, Isabel, Jaya, Jennifer M, and Sarah especially!

And then twitter pitch events (twitter please don’t go 😢) also played a big part. Via #DVPit and #Wiplift especially, I met some of my tightest writer pals right now. And finally path2pub gave me one of the best teams. I’ve mentioned before that one of my reasons for wanting this site and co-Contributors was to belong to a team in the community I adore so much. And it worked! One day I’ll probably write a post on this haha.

So the main point of this long speech is, don’t be scared to put yourself out there. I know it’s not easy—trust me, DMing people all those months ago took no small amount of will. Even participating in pitch events took some pep talks because what if no one likes/RTs/engages with my pitch and it looks so lonely out there? It may also take time, months even, to find those you connect with. But if you really desire to be immersed in the community, you have to reach out and keep reaching until you find your people💙

—Lucia, the Fantasy Writer!

This is such an excellent question. I’ve been in fandom communities for a long time so I have seen my fair share of websites to join these communities. With writing, it’s a bit more complicated. I officially joined the writing community last December after I had finished my third novel and was getting ready to query it. That weekend was #PitMad (rip) and the next day was #PitLight. I started talking to a few people and then slowly I started to bond with other aspiring writers.

Right now I am active in the writing communities on Twitter (which will soon be living us, which is an international tragedy and so sad for me because I have been part of that site since 2008), Discord, and part time on Instagram. I am also in a few Facebook groups as well. I am on TikTok but still trying to find my footing there.

When finding a community, finding what site works best for you is key I believe. There are a few writing resource type communities that are on Mighty Networks, but those do cost money. Once you find the site or platform that fits your needs, look through the hashtags and see what is the vibe. Each community has a system, even though it doesn’t look like it at first. Once you figure out the system, start posting.

But I think it is also important to be yourself as you post. Just because someone is posting a certain aesthetic doesn’t mean it has to be your aesthetic. Being true to you is super important because that is how CPs and beta readers will start to come. Right now, I have two friends who are alpha reading my book and one of them will be beta reading it as well. A year ago I never would have imagined that I would have people willing to read my WIPs in hopes of querying but after talking to people a lot, it just clicked.

I hope my response helps and I can’t wait to see what my other co-contributors say about this.

Briana, The Mystery Writer

I like this question, since it’s something that I wondered about myself early on my journey. I’m eager to hear what my fellow contributors answer too. I’d say that for me, my first connections were through Storyteller Academy, where I got to learn the very basics of PB writing and where I meet my first critique group (I’m lucky we’ve continued to be friends up to now).

Afterwards, it’s been Twitter which has helped me make connections with the writing community. When I began building up my contact list, I started by following agents, editors, writers, or organizations which are influential in the kid lit community, such as SCBWI, PBChat, 12×12, Rate your Story, among others. Then I would start adding writers that I found in such groups. I’ve noticed that the more you interact with people on Twitter by liking their content or commenting, it creates more visibility with others, which allows them to follow me as well. It was through a PBChat event that I got in contact with my second critique group three years ago, and we still are together. Sometimes, my Cps have been the ones to introduce me to other friends or contacts they have.

As Lucia mentioned, participating in Twitter events was also crucial for me. I used to pitch in LatinxPitch, PitMad, and PbPitch. In this case, I really enjoyed engaging with other writers by leaving comments on their posts or RTing when it was allowed. That sense of encouraging each other was uplifting, as we all shared the same aspirations, dreams and frustrations. I noticed that it was likely that they’d follow me back if I supported them, which was a win when I experienced rejections during these events. In this way, at least I got to make new writer friends and their books.

Being part of groups such as Las Musas or Rate Your Story has brought me wonderful connections and learning. I think this has been one of the best decisions that I’ve made for my career. My agent “siblings” have been very supportive too. We follow each other, boost our good news on social media and we even have a chat to stay in touch and interact. Additionally, joining Path2Pub has been a gift. I’ve got to meet these talented kind ladies (contributors), as well as our amazing readers. So participating on this blog, opened a way to reach people I didn’t know before. I’m very grateful for that.

Finally, I’d say that being active in the social media you choose is key. You need to be willing to interact with others, but also to create content yourself. So it’s important that you decide which platforms you like and in which ones you’re willing to commit time to build them up. I really loved Bri’s answer regarding this idea, it’s spot on.

-Mariana, PB Writer

This is so interesting, because just like Lucia I started to immerse into the writing community and Twitter last year around September and it was during PitMad (RIP). I had just finished reading the Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and under acknowledgements she mentioned Pitch Wars. I had just finished my second manuscript and I was dipping my toes on the world of querying. I had one writer reaching out and helping me with how Twitter worked lol.

Quite frankly, I started joining TikTok and Instagram and hadn’t found my footing quite yet, but I also have found more friends over in TikTok compared to Twitter and Instagram. I don’t post videos of myself talking but I do aesthetics of my books and just music videos with writing quotes that seem to connect with some author. Just like Bri said, I think is staying true to yourself and for me is remembering that most writers started from scratch.

-Alex, Romance Writer

Ngl it was hard starting out because you don’t really know what to do and who to speak to, but I think when it comes to building community it’s important to be willing to put yourself out there and actively engage with others. Like most of the other contributors, I’m active on Twitter and that’s where I first discovered the whole new world of traditional publishing. I found a few users who shared interesting content about writing and their WIPs, and started interacting with them, that’s when they pulled me into group chats and Discord channels and opened doors to a community of fellow authors!

I agree with Bri that it’s important to find which site works best for you though, because Twitter might not be for everyone! I know of authors who have formed communities on Facebook, Discord, Slack, Reddit etc., so there are actually plenty of alternatives that you could look into, depending on your own social media preferences. Once you’ve found a platform, try putting out a few posts and interacting with posts that other authors put out 🙂

Amber, YA/NA SFF!

This a great question! I’ve been part of Twitter’s #WritingCommunity for years & have seen a few “generations” of writers on there. Personally, I have always found my CP’s, beta readers, & close friends through pitch contests. They showed me incredible support for my pitches & I fell in love with their books too! It would start as a let’s swap books & beta read for each other to genuine friendships blossoming. I’ve also made great friends & found CP’s from smaller groups I joined like the #HorrorCommunity. I would suggest tweeting into the abyss 😂😭 & engaging with people until you feel like you have found your niche. Of course, this will be much harder if Twitter disappears, but I’m hoping it sticks around.

Now in regards to Instagram, I’ve personally found it a little harder to engage because I’m not a solid picture taker, but the #findmywritingcommunity on Instagram is magnificent! The writers on there are truly so genuine & beautiful humans too! I would imagine every social media has those special hashtags that help writers connect, we just have to find them. I’ve had magical experiences with these so far. I’ve also heard of a lot of people finding great friends & CP’s by tweeting about it. Of course, there’s risk with that because we don’t know who will interact with the tweet, but I have heard of great relationships blossoming from engagements like that too. I think there’s no “wrong” way of doing social media. Whatever works best for you to find your perfect CP’s & friends, but hopefully all of these incredible opinions from my fellow contributors will help too! Good luck!😊

—Demri, The Horror Writer!

Agent Interview: Jonathan Rosen

A surefire way to determine an agent is the best fit for your manuscript/writing career is by learning everything you can about them. Such information is great when choosing who to query and deciding who you’d love to work long term with. As a site dedicated to guiding writers through the publication journey, we’ve put together awesome agent interviews for you!

Today we’re introducing Jonathan Rosen of the Seymour Literary Agency!

Path2pub: How did you become an agent?

I’d always had an interest, and late last year, I discussed it with my agent, and she thought it would be a great idea.

Path2pub: What genres do you represent and why did you decide ‘these are what I want to help bring to the world’?

I represent most genres, from certain types of kidlit, to more adult genres, such as thrillers, mysteries, and memoirs. I read a lot, and have interest in many different types of genres. Whatever intrigues me, I’m willing to represent.

Path2pub: What instantly catches your eye in a query letter/manuscript?

Something that is well written and has a great hook. I don’t love when someone tells me how great their book is. What are you supposed to say? This is awful, please read it? You SHOULD think it’s great, but when you tout how great it is, that can put a lot of pressure on your writing. As far as what catches my eye, just make it intriguing, and let me see your personality in the query.

Path2pub: What is that element that makes you know at once that a story is not for you?

Honestly, if an opening paragraph doesn’t grab me right away, I’m less inclined to read on. I get so many queries, that something has to compel me to read. There are also little things in writing that can turn me off, and if they’re in the writing, I think this is not for me.

Path2pub: How hands-on are you editorially?

I’m somewhat. I will look things over and give general thoughts. I don’t go line by line. Just overall impressions.

Path2pub: Do you have goals for how many clients you want to acquire in a year?

No goals. I go by genre. I’ll only go up to a certain number in a particular genre, and then stop. Don’t want too many in one particular genre.

Path2pub: What is your favorite trope?

I like so many. I love Horror, Sci/Fi mysteries, thrillers, and really ANYTHING with Humor.

Path2pub: What are some books you think everyone should read?

Besides my own?? Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is my favorite. But some of my others include Chiefs by Stuart Woods, Fatherland, The Kite Runner, and I believe everyone needs to read Night by Elie Wiesel. Just a harrowing book and it gets to me every single time I read it.

Path2pub: If a writer could write a book specifically for you, what would you want it to be about?

Horror comedy or Time Travel. I’ll read anything and everything with either of those elements.

Path2pub: What advice do you have for querying writers?

Make your writing great. Seriously. Don’t be in a rush to query until it’s done. Work on that opening until it sparkles. I’ll forgive other things if the story grabs me from the start. I don’t necessarily care what books you think the story compares to, but I want YOUR writing to sparkle. I get some queries that state, it gets better later. Uh, then why are you starting here? Make it be “better” from page one.

Path2pub: Fantastic advice! What are your non-publishing related hobbies?

I do podcasting, which I enjoy tremendously. I collect way too many things. And I’m a huge cinephile.

Jonathan Rosen is the author of several Middle Grade books, and takes that knowledge of what it’s like to be on the author side of the trenches into agenting, in order to help guide writers along on their path to publication. In fiction, he is seeking Young Adult, Mysteries, Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Sports, Romantic Comedy, and anything with humor for that matter. He will always have an eye out for diverse voices, and in particular those that reflect his background. In Non-Fiction, he is looking for Biographies and Memoirs, Pop Culture, Humor, Sports, and Journalism.

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Reflections on the Strange World of Publishing

It’s almost the end of the year! This time last year I had just signed with my agent and So Many things have happened since then. I went on sub, changed my agent, finished editing a second book… Seriously, where did all that time go? Here is a short reflection on some things that I’ve learned about publishing over the past year and a little advice if you’re going through a rough patch and wondering if your dream of getting published will ever come true 🙂

  1. Publishing does not function on normal-people-time.

    You always hear people talking about how slow things move in publishing, and if you’ve been feeling that way then know that you are not alone. It is True. There are times I wonder if publishing houses are staffed by a handful of gremlins in a broom closet (Answer: No, they are not. They are staffed by a handful of underpaid workers who can’t get their a decent wage out of their rich execs. Solidarity with the HarperCollins union) because waiting for things to happen, whether it’s querying, being on sub or prepping your book for publication, takes ABSOLUTELY FOREVER. As authors, there’s unfortunately not much we can do about it, because the speed of publishing is limited by larger systemic issues that can’t be solved in a day. But in realising this, there are some things we can do to plan ahead and move our author journeys along:
    • Introduce some flexibility to your querying strategy. There’s not much point sticking to advice from pre-COVID times about querying in small batches and tweaking as you go along, because if you do that, you could end up stalling for years given how long agents take to respond these days. When I was querying, I found myself shifting to a rolling querying strategy to speed things up. Whenever I got a rejection/request, I would send out a new query, so I always had a set of ~10 queries out at any one time. If agents didn’t respond within 2-3 months (usually that’s what’s stated in agency timelines), I take it as CNR and send out a new query to another agent in the agency.
    • Write more books. It can be hard to do this while you’re feeling anxious about how your querying/sub is going, or when you’re feeling dejected because of the rejections you’ve been receiving, but there is no better use of waiting time than to write more books. At one point I was querying two books at the same time, and it was a good thing I did that because it was the second book that got me my agent!
  2. Publishing is subjective. Period.

    There’s so much gatekeeping involved in publishing that it sometimes gives you terrible imposter syndrome and makes you feel like your work is worthless. I got so many agent rejections with all sorts of different reasons (e.g. pacing too slow, too fast, can’t ground myself in world building, hard to sell in the market etc.) that I considered shelving my first book. But let me tell you, since going on sub, I realised that OH HEY sometimes agents don’t know what the market (read: editors) is looking for either! It’s wild. It’s just one giant guessing game where people are trying to predict what each other want (agents second-guess editors, editors/publishers second-guess readers blah blah) and some people are better or luckier than others at this game. So bottomline is, don’t get demoralised if you haven’t received your “Yes!” yet. It will come, and even if it doesn’t for this book that you’re trying to query/sell right now, it will come for your next book, so write the next book.
  3. If you’re an author who’s not in the US/UK, know that it’s That much harder for you. We don’t all start the race from the same starting line.

    This is my own (sad) reflection as an author who’s not based in the US/UK, because trad publishing is so, so West-centric. There are already biases against marginalised authors who live in the US/UK, and those biases just get stacked even higher if you live outside of those borders. Many of us live in places that have significantly different contexts (historical, cultural, political) and that means the way we write and the things we write are based off very different understandings from what publishing folk and readers in the West have. That’s when you start seeing common hurtful refrains like “oh, I can’t relate” or “this is not accurate” or “you don’t have the right to tell this story” and the 1* reviews roll in for those absurd reasons, simply because we didn’t share the same life experiences. If this is you, let me tell you – don’t give up! Ngl it’s going to be tough, but it’s not impossible. Do it for the thousands of readers out there who are like you and who need and appreciate your stories in their lives. Trust me, they exist.

(P.s. while being bored with waiting for publishing things to happen, I fell into the TikTok hole. Link to my TikTok profile below!)

Amber is a PitchWars ’20 alum and a Wattpad Creator. One of her Wattpad novels, The Cutting Edge, has recently been adapted for television and is streaming on meWATCH. She is represented by Meg Davis at The Ki Agency.

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