Doris and Stephanie, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your partnership! To start, Doris, I’d love to know more about your book and why you wrote it.
DORIS: My son and I returned to work together after just four weeks of being home from the hospital. As a childcare provider, I was incredibly lucky to be with my son during the day, but we also faced challenges and the transition was not easy when I went back to work. I was determined to provide a positive learning environment and growth experience for my son while modeling a strong work ethic.
I loved owning my own business and working with children and families, and I didn’t want to lose that part of myself for another equally important part of me, being a mother. This experience inspired me to write an uplifting book for parents and children facing the same sort of transition.
I wrote this book to give parents a window into what their child goes through at school, and the child a window into what the parent goes through at work.
Stephanie, what was it about this manuscript that sealed the deal for you? What was it about this pitch that caught your attention?
STEPHANIE: Years zero to three are vital for children. I personally feel that the current culture in many parts of this country is not the most supportive for parents and caregivers of young children. 95% of the brain forms by age 5. The early years are extremely important. Doris’ manuscript supports this message and offers helping tools. The fact that the she’s a phenomenal woman with direct experience in this field was a bonus.
Doris, how did you prepare this manuscript for submission? Do you work with outlines, schedules, or deadlines? Do you have critique partners and beta readers?
DORIS: I worked and reworked this manuscript with some amazing critique partners and beta readers. Maintaining my voice throughout the revisions was very important to me. At one point I lost the sound of my voice among the others. You have to decide which feedback works best with the vision you have for your manuscript.
And how was the #DVPit experience for you, overall? Expectations? Doubts? Disappointments?
DORIS: I was lucky to participate in #DVPit this year because I almost missed it! For weeks I perfected my pitches. The night before #DVPit, my son was sick through the night, and my mind was somewhere else. I would have completely missed the event if not for one of my amazing critique partners Lindsey Parker Rowe @lroweparker who sent me a friendly text message that read something like “HELLOOO you know #DVPit is today right?” My jaw hit the ground, and hard! Once I dusted my chin off, I signed on and pitched my manuscripts, then dove back into mommy duty. Twitter friends were calling and texting me to tell me my posts had received some love! I received 3 hearts from 3 agents and 3 hearts from 3 editors.
How was the experience for you, Stephanie?
STEPHANIE: #DVpit is an exciting experience. You get to see creative innovation in another form. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until it’s right in front of you. #DVpit allows you to see multiple pitches in a short amount of time. Beth Phelan and all of the volunteers do a brilliant job organizing the event and events leading up to #DVpit. I fully support the message of inclusion by #DVpit and appreciate that the event elevates marginalized voices.
Doris, did you receive pitch help or tips? Any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to future participants?
DORIS: Don’t take opportunities like #DVPit for granted by being unprepared. These are great opportunities to get some exposure to agents and editors!
My pitches were like a well-hooked worm. They caught agents’ and editors’ attention, but my queries fell short. If I can give one piece of advice to authors on the quest to finding their agent soulmate it would be to read, write, revise. Read, write then revise some more! Over and over and over again. Invest as much time, energy, and financial resources as you can in perfecting your pitches, queries and manuscripts. Build your social media following, engage with others. Those followers will hopefully become your readers one day.
We’ve all daydreamed of the day when an agent or editor will come knocking on our email’s proverbial door. You want to make sure you have your manuscript completed. If it’s not ready—do not pitch. There will be other events. #DVPit has success in matching agents and authors. Within weeks, days or even hours after you tweet your pitch an agent could be asking you to send the full manuscript. My advice? Be ready.
And Stephanie, do you have any advice for querying authors and/or for anyone planning to participate in a future #DVpit?
STEPHANIE: My advice would be to have multiple reviews of your #DVpit pitch, query, synopsis, and manuscript. I’ve seen talented authors query too early on many occasions. While completing a manuscript is a monumental occasion and one that should be celebrated, it doesn’t mean that the manuscript’s ready to be in front of agents. Writers should join a critique group, have beta readers, and/or have their manuscript edited prior to querying agents.
Tell us about The Call, Doris!
DORIS: Ah! You mean the second most important call an author can receive next to the call that your manuscript has been sold!
I had studied all of these questions I wanted to ask her. I put them in order and rehearsed them. As soon as she said, “Hello,” I felt an immediate connection. I would say more than half of my questions went out of the window.
The biggest factor that made Stephanie my top choice was the fact that she gave me an opportunity to revise and resubmit. This industry can be very unforgiving. To find an agent who’s able to see the heart in a manuscript behind the delivery is huge.
She made me feel at ease immediately. A few weeks later, I re-submitted my manuscript on a Friday and heard back from Stephanie that Monday. I didn’t even bother sending interested agents follow up emails that I had received an offer. I knew she was the one.
I love the way Stephanie communicates. She’s very responsive and I feel her support. Stephanie knows the publishing business really well and how my manuscripts fit in.
Thanks so much, Beth! #DVPit helped me find my dream agent. I can’t even express how grateful I am for the inclusive platform you created to uplift diverse voices that are underrepresented. #DVPit plays such a crucial role in shining light on marginalized voices so thank you!
Give us the pitch that hooked your agent!
DORIS: “A #PB for working parents? Mommy Goes Back to Work is a motivational book written to support families during the transition back to the workforce. Early childhood edu fosters positive social, emotional, verbal & physical development. #DVpit #POC #ownvoices #parentalleave”
Stephanie, what else are you looking for these days? Is there anything specific on your wishlist that you’re hoping to find, maybe at the next #DVpit?
STEPHANIE: #mswl I'm looking for YA SFF that depicts disparity in wealth. As Mr. Piketty claims, middle class may actually have been an aberration! (Inspiration)
Warm congratulations to Doris and Stephanie for finding each other! I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next. Follow them on Twitter so you can do the same!
Doris Imahiyerobo is a business owner, educator, childcare consultant, and family advocate with over 15 years of experience in the education and advocacy field. She’s a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Writers Market community, and KIDLIT 411 community. She’s a GIF loving, stage mom born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives to encourage and help other diverse students and writers achieve their dreams.
Stephanie Hansen represents debut to New York Times bestselling authors. She's signed authors with presses like Amphorae to bigger houses like Amazon’s imprint Two Lions. She holds a master’s degree and Creative Writing Specialization. Predominately she represents YA SF/F but has a secret addiction for romance. While these are her favorite, she handles everything fiction from children's books to adult thrillers. Previously an editor for Mind’s Eye Literary Magazine, she became a part of Metamorphosis July 2016. Originally looking to help Midwest authors garner the attention of major publishing houses, despite residing in "flyover states," she found camaraderie with multiple agents and editors.