Who doesn’t like butter? It’s tasty. It makes food more exquisite. And it also makes an excellent title for a YA book. In fact, this title is what caught my eye two years ago, when I begged Erin Lange to allow me to beta read for her.
Just like real butter, I savored every bit of Butter, the story of an obese teenage boy who decides to eat himself to death live on the Internet and sets a countdown to do so. However, his announcement wins him fans and friends, while he finds himself losing weight. If he doesn’t go through with his plan, he’ll be back to being a nobody… to just being Butter.
But Butter was anything but a nobody. What began as a NaNoWriMo project in November 2009, and written in just over a month’s timeframe, went on to generate great interest among literary agents.
“I was fortunate to get a lot of interest off my query. In the first round, I had four full requests. One came back with a form rejection. Two other agents asked me to revise and resubmit, and one agent called to discuss the book,” says Lange, who spent two months revising and resubmitting Butter to the agents who requested it.
She also got something close to “The Call” from a high-profile agent, who called to discuss the book at length but not necessarily to offer representation.
One of the agents who’d written a rewrite and resubmit request resonated within Erin. At this time, she also sent the revised manuscript to the “Call” agent who did not respond, so she decided to start querying again. Erin then had a breakthrough.
“I got another full request from the new batch of queries and an offer within a day, so I had to contact everyone to tell them I had an offer. The agent who first gave me ‘the call’ bowed out, but the agent behind the revise and resubmit letter made me a second offer. Her name is Jennifer Laughran, and she is now my agent.”
Lange, who has written on and off since she was a child, believes it is important for writers to live, because without life experience and observations “what will you have to write about? Even if you write fantasy or dystopian or something that doesn’t seem like it resembles life as we know it… emotions are still the core of good story telling, and you have to experience life and emotions to write them believably.”
Believable is Butter, and through the round and round atmosphere of the querying process, Lange persevered until the right recipe for Butter was found.