Signing with Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary Agency

Signing With Cate Hart

The day has finally come for me to announce that I have an agent! As of Sept.19, 2017, I am now officially represented by Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary Agency — and I couldn’t be happier. From the moment we chatted on the phone about DANGEROUS BEASTS, the MS in question, I knew my book was in good hands. Her vision for the story, as well as the potential for more books in the series, and enthusiasm made this fantasy romance writer’s heart sing! And while I could gush about her awesomeness for ages (seriously, don’t tempt me), I’d like to touch on a few stats for my readers so you can all see that not every journey to publication is the same (far from it).

The query letter that worked

Query letters are tricky beasts (teehee). You have to somehow cram relevant, engaging, plot-twisting (but not too much plot) excitement with voice and characters to grab an agent’s attention. And even if you nail each and every one of those things to the best of your abilities, you’re still going to get rejections. A fair amount. Because LET ME BE CLEAR: this industry is HIGHLY subjective. Nothing but spending years in the trenches could’ve taught me that, and the thick-skin I gained from it is something I’ll definitely need when it comes time to sub.

So, what can you do? Revise. Rewrite. Set it on fire. Start again. And if you have the opportunity and the timing lines up, join a competition like Query Kombat, because I wholeheartedly believe that competition helped me fine-tune my query and snag the lovely title of Adult Champion. Woot!

For the record, I went through five major versions (and countless tweaks) to come up with this puppy:

Exiled beast charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep shit. Empty pockets force her to sell her beloved magical beasts on the black market—an offense punishable by death—and the Charmers Council hires a lethal assassin to exact punishment. With the realm’s most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes him an offer he can’t refuse: a promise to procure a handful of mythical creatures in exchange for her life.

For assassin Noc, murder comes easy and pays well. But only fools pass up the chance to own rare and powerful magical beasts, even if that means lying to one enchanting charmer. Agreeing to Leena’s terms, Noc plans to keep the bounty live on her head until the creatures are his. Two paychecks, one job, no sleep lost.

To hunt for creatures, Noc and Leena embark on a quest across the countryside of Lendria. But traps capture more than beasts, and ensnared hearts are hard to untangle. Banished by the people she loved, Leena has no desire to take her heart out of exile, yet Noc is nothing like the monsters on the Council—or so she thinks. Bound by the magic of the assassin’s oath, Noc can’t renege on the contract for Leena’s head unless he’s willing to sacrifice his own. But neither can tame their growing feelings, and the ever-watchful Council demands blood. With Noc’s hands and heart tied, and Leena dodging enemies at every turn, no manner of beasts or money can protect their hides.

DANGEROUS BEASTS is an adult fantasy romance complete at 86,000 words with series potential. It’s J.K. Rowling’s FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM meets Amanda Bouchet’s A PROMISE OF FIRE. I am a copy editor and author of several small business articles with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature.

So there you have it! Let’s take a look at the stats.

Query stats

Cate Hart Query Letter
Alexa Mazzarello

I love breaking down numbers, so here we go:

  • 66 total queries
  • 2 partials
  • 15 fulls
  • 1 offer of rep

For those who dig percentages, that’s a request rate of 25.8%, which I’m pretty pleased with. Most of those queries were through the typical slush pile, but I did have a few Twitter pitch requests from #SFFPit, and three requests from Query Kombat (though one of those requests didn’t get reviewed since an agent—who later requested a full—at the same agency already had my MS, so it’s not included in the numbers above). Cate Hart’s query? That was a special case.

Signing with Cate Hart

I was fortunate enough to have a referral. My lovely, talented, amazing CP was talking to her agent about my MS, and her agent suggested that I submit specifically to Cate. So I did. She requested and read the full pretty quickly. I’m fairly certain I was a blubbering mess on the call, but she saw through it and offered representation. I can’t wait to write all of the lovely stories I have planned, and I’m so thrilled that Cate shares my vision.

My path to signing

Just a quick little caveat here for all of you still working your way through the querying trenches. Do. Not. Give. Up. This was book number five for me. Five. That’s not to say that you can’t find an agent on book numero uno, but it just goes to show that everyone’s path is different. I haven’t even started on the submission journey yet, and there might still be trials ahead of me. But I won’t give up. Ever. Because I love to write. I love what I do. And if you can hold onto that, if you can find the reason behind why you write — beyond the “I want to be a bestseller” — then you’ll find a way to succeed.

Enough advice for now. It’s time to celebrate! I can’t thank Cate Hart enough for signing up to embark on this journey with me. So thanks, Cate, to you and everyone at Corvisiero! Now that DANGEROUS BEASTS has a home, you can bet I’m ready to hit the ground running!

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