Author Accelerator Member Spotlight: Kacey Vanderkarr

Celebrating a writer’s success

We’d like to introduce Kacey Vanderkarr, one of our Author Accelerator members. Kacey recently signed with Ali Herring of Spencerhill Associates and we wanted to talk to her about her experience. So without further ado, here is Kacey!

Q: Okay, Kacey, can we have the basics about your project and your book coach?

Kacey: I’ve been working on my YA Contemporary novel, Life Expectancy May Vary and I’ve worked with Author Accelerator book coach Julie Artz.

Q: How did it feel to get “the call”? Tell us the story and how you felt the moment you knew it was real.

Kacey: The initial email came while I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a safari! I’d been careful not to check my email, which, over the course of several rounds of querying, has become like neurosis, but when I got off the safari truck, I noticed the agent who’d requested my full had liked a tweet of mine. As I’m excitedly telling my family this, I opened my email and saw the words: OFFER OF REPRESENTATION.

She loved it. She stayed up until 2 a.m. reading. I suddenly became the author I dreamed of being. The one who sends a full and gets a nearly-immediate offer of rep. Aside from the compliments she gave, my favorite part of her email was this line: I’m very excited about this manuscript Kacey and what you’ll accomplish in the future, and would love to offer you representation for this and all future work.

And this is the part where I was jumping up and down and screaming in the middle of Animal Kingdom’s Africa.

The call was great. We clicked. We talked about my writing and what I envisioned for my career. Ali had everything I was looking for in an agent. From the moment I spoke with her, I had this feeling of rightness.

It still doesn’t feel real. I announced publicly today, and I’m still not sure it’s real. Pinch me.

Q: How long did you spend querying in this manuscript?

Kacey: 6 months

Q: What pitch formats did you use for approaching agents (e.g., conferences, online contests, cold pitching)?

Kacey: I was accepted into Pitch Wars 2017 as a mentee. After the Pitch Wars agent round, I sent cold queries and participated in #PitMad, which is where Ali liked my tweet.

Q: What pitch format ultimately worked best for you?

Kacey: #PitMad. I had a few full requests from my cold query, but I found that #PitMad worked well for me, with most agents requesting the full right after sending the query.

Q: What attracted you to pitch to the agent you signed with?

Kacey: Ali is a newer agent, and I love that she has more time to devote to my career. Plus, she’s ambitious just like I am. She’s a “go big or go home” kind of person. I loved her personality on the phone. She was so easy to talk to, and I felt like I’d known her years instead of minutes. And, when I got in contact with her clients, they raved about how much they love her.

Q: If you had a choice in which agent you chose, what led you to choose the agent you signed with? If you had one agent offer, what led you to believe he/she was a great choice for you?

Kacey: In the end, I had to go with my gut. I ended up with three offers. One I ruled out pretty quickly. She didn’t rave over my manuscript and our phone conversation was awkward. The other two were harder. I felt like I clicked with both of them. In the end, I did some research on the two, and Ali’s background in publicity and marketing is what tipped in her favor. But truly, I had that weird gut feeling. After that, I was 100% ready to sign with Ali.

Q: What is your favorite thing that the agent said about your work?

Kacey: That she wanted to rep me! Haha, but honestly, she saw the vision I had for the book. Life Expectancy May Varyis an “issue book” that takes on things like terminal illness and suicide, but despite the heavy, Ali saw the hope and light. And she stayed up until 2 a.m. reading!

Q: Will you be doing any work on the manuscript before it goes out on submission, and if so, will the agent help you revise?

Kacey: We will! We’re striving for perfection, but Ali says she doesn’t think I’ll need more than a light edit to have it ready for editors.

Q: What advice do you have for writers approaching the pitch stage?

Kacey: Get as much feedback as you can before you send queries. As writers, we’re often very close to our work, and it’s difficult to see the parts that don’t make sense. There is tons of help out there, use it! Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. This is a learning experience, and nobody gets to where they want to be without a little rejection first.

Q: Why would you recommend coaching to get to a finished draft?

Kacey: Coaching gave me accountability. Julie Artz, my book coach, is the one who encouraged me to enter Pitch Wars. Because of her, I had a solid deadline to meet, and book coaching gave me the accountability I needed to finish on time. The weekly feedback is priceless. Knowing I had someone waiting for my pages kept me writing day after day.

Q: Would you be willing to share your successful query?

Kacey: Of course!

Q: Where can people follow you and your writing journey?



Read my “How I got an Agent” post on my website:

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Kacey. And again, congrats on landing your agent!

Originally published at on April 24, 2018.