I'm lucky (or cunning) enough to have lured yet another successful writer over to my blog for an SAT - Successful Author Talk. SAT authors have conquered the query, slain the synopsis and attained the pinnacle of published. How'd they do it? Let's ask 'em!
So I've got a success story here that is going to make you soooo jealous. But don't hate Genn because she's beautiful; hate her cause she gained her agent after querying for less than a week! :) BUT - she's also the kind of success-awesome that spreads the love. Genn has graciously agreed to share this Query of Rockin', which can be found at the bottom of the SAT. But don't read ahead, cause there's lots of great advice crammed between here and there.
Gennfer had a misspent youth in theatre and the National Forensic League, where she developed a penchant for the dramatic. In college, she studied literature and vowed to write a book in grad school (and before she had kids). A couple years of teaching and two babies later, things clicked and writing became a way of life.
Are you a Planner or Pantster?
Both. I like to run with the first draft, but I'm more organized with revisions.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?
CREWEL is my first finished novel, and it took 6 months writing 3 hours a day 5 days a week. I'm hoping the sequels will come faster since I have a better sense of the world and characters. I'm aiming to have both sequels done by next May.
Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?
I may scribble ideas for a new project, but I need to stay focused so I can get the most out of my writing time. It can be hard when a new shiny idea comes along, but its worth it when you're looking at the finished draft.
Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?
I think I was scared I wouldn't finish or that the book would suck, but the excitement overcame any real fear I felt. Plus my husband had started teasing me about not finishing, and I'm super competitive.
How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?
None. I'd jotted down notes for several books and written a couple first chapters, but never finished another book.
Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?
Like I said I started a lot of books but was never serious enough to devote the time to writing they needed. I did have one book I really tried to write before I started CREWEL, and I just had no idea where it was going. I like to think of it as a warm-up project.
Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?
I'm represented by Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media. I nudged Mollie after I got an offer of representation. I had just started querying the week before, and I wanted to let my list know. Mollie got my email, found my query in her inbox, and called me based on the sample pages. She wanted to feel me out and ask to send the full. We spoke for a while. I sent her my full, and three hours later she asked for a phone call in the morning. We spoke for an hour and a half and then she asked to fly out and meet me. She came in to Kansas City and we spent the afternoon getting to know one another and talking about my book. I had six other enthusiastic offers, but Mollie's passion won me over.
How long did you query before landing your agent?
I queried for a little less than a week before my first offer. I tried to reach every agent when I got my offer, but I'm still getting responses asking for fulls or rejecting me.
Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?
Don't get caught up trying to summarize your whole book in your query. Stick to the first 30 pages or inciting incident. Read a lot of jacket copy. Write a query that makes people want to read more, even if it breaks some rules. And once you start querying, its a great time to exercise. It's hard to obsessively check your email while lifting weights.
How much input do you have on cover art?
One of the reasons I chose Mollie is because she's successfully fought for better covers, more PR, and just knows her stuff all around
How much of your own marketing do you? Do you have a blog / site / Twitter?
When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?
I started dabbling in blogging before my agent, but writing came first. Now that I have an agent, I plan to get my ass in gear and blog more.
Do you think social media helps build your readership?
Absolutely. Social media is modernized word-of-mouth. I think some of the most successful authors today built their readerships by being "available" to fans online.
Genn's Query That Worked (Big Time - Like, In a Week):
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
Complete at 78,000 words, CREWEL is a YA dystopian novel that follows Adelice's fight for autonomy and redemption in a world of femme fatales, steel looms, and towered compounds. It can be described as J.J. Abrams meets Mad Men.
I hold a Masters in English Literature from the University of Missouri. I also served as a student editor for Pleaides and The Missouri Review and did some time teaching literature to college students.