Betsey Grace Groover is a writer of bold contemporary women’s fiction who loves life, travel, new places and new faces, and is rep’d by Jessica Watterson of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Hi Betsey! In ten words (and unlimited emojis) can you tell us about the book that got you your agent?
BGC: In the air, Flight Club is for lovers not fighters.
How did you celebrate when you got THE CALL?
BGC: You’d think I did something really festive and fun, but honestly I just sort of gloated to myself all day. Enjoyed the milestone. And of course shared the joy with my writer friends (aka llama squad). I’m a little superstitious when it comes to celebrating too soon–like, I want to have the book deal before I go all out. 😉
How did you know Jessica was THE ONE for your project?
BGC: Four other great agents had my full–two others were upgrades from partial to full with excitement, so I realized that I had something. Jess was a Pit Mad like from December and she took awhile to get to my submission, which ended up working out because I asked her if she wanted a revised version after the holidays (because I couldn’t stop tinkering with the story) and she said yes. That was really key to expediting the process and bumping my sub up in her TBR list. It was still a partial (first 100 pgs) and a few days later she said she wanted to see the full–but she did so with such enthusiasm and said she’d loved what she’d read and wanted to know how many other agents had material. (squee!)
I sent her the full on a Friday, she responded the very next Monday that she’d read the full and really loved it but couldn’t offer rep without some changes. She offered to set up a call if I was interested in hearing the changes, and if not, that was ok too. Of course, I wanted to hear her thoughts, and I hadn’t heard back from the other agents who’d upgraded to fulls yet. Hearing her talk about my story and characters over the phone on our first call was also key to building that rapport. She really “got” the heart of the story, and her vision was so clear, and exactly what I needed to whip the story into proper genre shape. Not only did she discuss it over the phone with me (took time out of her busy day) she sent me detailed notes via email for me to work from. The changes were big–I had to go back through the entire story, eliminate a major side character and bring in another, and change the feel from rom-com to WF. But that was my problem all along–in not knowing which genre Flight Club best fit in.
The fact Jess put in so much thought and her enthusiasm really struck a chord with me. Plus we really clicked over the phone–just nice, down to earth people with a common goal in mind. When I sent her my revisions 2 weeks later, she responded with even more enthusiasm and was eager to read. This was all important to building that rapport with me, in knowing she valued me as a writer and shared the love of my story. Of course I was scared I botched the revisions, but in a matter of a few days, Jess responded she was halfway through the revised version and loving it and wanted to set up a call for the next day!
This was the offer and it gave me the op to let other agents with my work know they had a deadline. It was an odd place to be because I really liked the other agents with my work, and two especially were also excited about the story. But I couldn’t imagine NOT going with Jess after all the effort she’d put into me and my work. Still, I had to consider what was best. In the end it worked out perfectly with time constraints and another R&R offer that allowed me to easily accept Jess’s offer. By that 2 week time frame, I’d already made up my mind anyway that Jess was the one. I just couldn’t imagine working with anyone else, and in all honesty, Jess “got” the story. What else did I need?
What’s something you know now as an agented writer that you wish you knew before?
BGC: Good question! That agents get just as nervous and anxious about rejection as we do. The deadline between an offer and accept/reject is just as grueling for them–and they take chances and sometimes lose in the end, and it’s heartbreaking for them. So they really know what it’s like to be rejected, and to fear rejection.
What’s a crazy author dream of yours? A movie? Fanart? Cosplay?
BGC: An actor winning an Oscar for a performance of a character from my story.
Was there a moment during your querying or revision or writing journey when you felt like giving up?
BGC: Many! As soon as the first round of rejections roll in I always want to give up. Having a tribe of fellow queryers was key in my persistence. (aka llama squad). Seeing other talented writers receive rejections helped me understand it’s part of the process and not to take it personally. When I didn’t get into PW, I knew I wanted to query, but I also felt like something must be wrong with my story. I hadn’t really queried, but I believed in the premise of the story, and had received stellar feedback from beta readers, which for me, was key in my pursuit, because when those early query rejections started rolling in, I clung to that positive feedback from betas who said they couldn’t put the story down. I knew if readers felt that way, eventually an agent would too, and that it was only a matter of time. Luckily having my hand held by a support group was the boon that got me through the rejections.
Do you have any advice for querying writers, especially those who feel like giving up?
BGC: Keep writing the next story! It sounds cliche, but it’s really what got me to where I am. My journey is a winding one with many speed bumps, but through it all I just kept honing my craft and writing the next story. I’ve taken countless writer’s workshops, online classes, read many writers’ guides, had a number of different successful CPs, and just kept writing. Some of my stories have never seen the light of day, others have been self published via another name, but through it all, my craft has gotten so much better, and yours will too. I heard a quote once that I’ve held onto along my long journey, and it came from a multi pubbed author: “How long it takes, is no indication of how good a writer you are.” Joyce Sweeney
That quote has been a companion to me when I feel impatient for success. And success is subjective anyway, so when things didn’t seem to be going my way, I’d take the pressure off and focus on other creative things–write for joy again, for challenge, not necessarily for traditional publishing. That allowed me to find the point of my passion, and have fun with storytelling, while applying the very best of my craft. Remember, no story goes wasted–each story you tell is a stepping stone to creating the best writer you can be.
Thanks so much for your thoughts! Where can we find you online?