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Karyn Sepulveda: Write What You Love and Don’t Worry About the Outcome…

May 22, 2021

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Karyn Sepulveda isn’t just an author. Check out her website and you’ll see how varied her life is. Meditation coach, podcast producer and a designer of a creative course for individuals to spark their creativity. Karyn teaches people who are interested in writing, designing, starting a new project, whether that be new garden, business or venture. Phew, and if that isn’t enough, she’s an author of two novels! The Women’s Circle out in July, which you can preorder now, and Letters To My Yesterday.
This interview with Karyn is soooo good (for me) as it highlights how different, tangled, upside down and inside out this agenting and publishing journey is! She offers amazing tips into what you should do once you’ve finished that first draft, how to approach agents/publishers by using mentors or professionals in the business to help sharpen your synopsis, cover letter and manuscript. Overall, Karyn’s upbeat and positive personality is evident here, making me (and hopefully you) have a little faith that it all works out in the end (even if it does takes years).

How long have you been writing?

A long time! I’m almost afraid to count how many years. I did my first short course at the Australian Writers Centre when my daughter was one and she’s thirteen now! I had a few periods in between where I didn’t write at all, so if I round it up, I’d say that I’ve spent a good ten years writing now.

What led to your offer of representation with an agent (or contract with a publisher, if you went that way around first?)

It’s been a strange old publishing journey for me. I published my first novel Letters To My Yesterday in 2018 with Ventura Press. I submitted to a few agents first and didn’t have any luck, so I went straight to submitting to the slush pile of publishers. I was picked up by Ventura and not too long after when this book sold to Random House Germany, I also signed with an agent. It was all a dream come true. But then, my second book didn’t get any offers for publication and my agent closed her agency. This was all during the beginning of COVID so it was a bit of a low point for me. But as cliche as this sounds, it was all perfect. I realise now that my second book was really not my style – I was trying to fit into a certain category and I didn’t enjoy writing it the same way I enjoyed writing my first. I had the beginnings of a draft for The Women’s Circle, which I felt very excited about, so I went back to writing it – but this time for fun. I had no end result in mind and put zero pressure on myself. I decided that even if no one ever read it, I would write the best story I could. I enjoyed that writing process so much. And when it came time to submit, I went straight back to Ventura and they said yes.

How long did you have to wait to hear back and was it a partial or full request?

I feel like as a writer, we spend more time waiting than we do writing! When I submitted to my agent, it took about eight weeks to hear back from her. She had asked for my full manuscript for submission, so she was able to say yes – based on the agreement that I would do some more editing. When my agent put me on submission, there were months of waiting to hear back from publishers. But, for my new novel, The Women’s Circle, I’m so happy that I could avoid all the waiting, as I heard back within a few days from Ventura (the benefit of having published with them already).

How many submissions did you make prior to gaining representation/publishing contract?

Okay, this one I am definitely scared to count up! I can go with a solid guess of 50+ submissions / rejections altogether over the ten years. This includes various novels and genres – and cliche again, but every rejection made me into a more resilient and better writer. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Any tips on cover letters/synopsis/pitches?

My best advice to give is to be patient when you finish your first draft. It’s such an exciting feeling when you finish your manuscript and early on, I would rush and start submitting it. But taking a little break from your manuscript and then coming back to edit and write your synopsis and pitch or cover letter with fresh eyes is so helpful. It’s also great to have someone with publishing experience read through your submission if possible. I worked with a wonderful mentor, Virginia Lloyd, who offers a paid service of reading your cover letter to an agent/publisher, synopsis and the first 12 pages of your manuscript. Her feedback was fantastic and definitely helped me to prepare for submission. And lastly – be kind to yourself through this submission process. Do other things that make you happy while you wait, keep writing and most importantly, be proud of yourself. You finished a book! That’s already an incredible achievement.

Your first reaction when they offered the representation/contract?

For my first book – disbelief and then excitement and then self doubt! For this new book, just pure happiness and excitement!

What’s next for you?

My book The Women’s Circle will be released July 7th and I am incredibly excited to share it with readers 🙂 And then I hope to get stuck into a draft I started late last year and try to turn it into a complete manuscript, that will hopefully become my third book.

Karyn has been a great support during my submission process and she openly shares her journey through her blog and on social media. It’s been such a pleasure to interview you, Karyn! I love learning that even with agencies closing, or publishers passing on another book, you can still find a way to get to where you want with your novel.

Thanks for stopping by,

Holly

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