Writer Graci Kim says that she had “nothing to lose and everything to gain” by participating in #DVPit—especially because Kim, who is of Korean-Kiwi heritage, lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Recalling how eager she was to “tackle” the U.S. market to find an agent and then a publisher for her YA novel, The Last Fallen Star, she admits to having no idea where to begin making the necessary contacts. “I considered my background an obstacle to getting published,” she says. “After all, marginalized voices have historically been underrepresented in publishing.” With such an attitude, it’s no surprise that Kim never bothered sending out query letters to agents.
A few years ago, Kim recalls, after hearing that the writing community was active on Twitter, she decided she would open an account and follow some authors she admires, including Zoraida Córdova, Jenny Han, Sabaa Tahir, and Nicola Yoon. A few weeks later, she read a retweet from one of them about a #DVPit critique giveaway in advance of the next event in October 2017. “I’d never heard of a Twitter pitching event before—in fact, I was still learning about the querying process—but I quickly realized I’d stumbled on a valuable platform, especially for a marginalized writer living on a little island in the South Pacific,” she says. “I decided to participate.”
Not only did she snag a free critique from a published author but she also participated in prepitch events with other writers preparing for #DVPit. After receiving four likes for her tweet, she sent out query letters and sample pages, which resulted in one full request, two rejections, and one nonresponse. A month later, she received a rejection on the full manuscript, which she subsequently shelved. “Ultimately, I had not been successful in securing representation,” she says. “But I had learned a great deal about the process, and knew I would be returning to #DVPit at a later date.”
This past October, Kim did indeed go back to #DVPit to pitch a second manuscript, a YA novel about “modern-day Korean witches, sister bonds, and an adopted girl’s search for belonging.” After receiving almost 200 likes, 80 of which were from agents or editors, she sent out a first batch of 15 queries and sample pages. She received nine full requests within a week and spoke with Carrie Pestritto from the Laura Dail Agency, who suggested a few tweaks to the story; two weeks later, Pestritto offered to represent Kim.
Though Pestritto has yet to land a publisher for The Last Fallen Star, both are confident it will happen. Kim notes that simply receiving such support for her work from the #DVPit community has sent her a clear message: “The U.S. publishing industry welcomes diverse voices.”
For more of our coverage on #DVPit, see #DVPit Connects Agents and Diverse Authors.