Laura Barnes On Querying Without Fear

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!

Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is Laura Barnes, a great person who definitely deserves the light at the end of the slog tunnel. Laura's story is one of those that makes you say, "Yes, I can do this! Good stuff happens to regular people too, not just the insane ones like Mindy!"

I call this SAT "Querying Without Fear" because Laura queried an agent who only accepts new clients through referrals. She knew the odds, but she also knew she wanted this guy and that the worst he could tell her was "no." And we grow immune to that. So she did it... and boy is she glad she did.

Here's to no fear.

Are you a Planner or Pantster?

I like to pretend I’m a Planster because I admire people who write on the fly and I think Planners are boring, but I’m really a Planner. I like to call it mulling. I mull and mull and mull – as I’m driving, as I’m falling asleep, in the shower – and then when I sit at the computer it’s ready to go. I also generally write an outline near the beginning of writing.

How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?

About four months. I’m hoping to finish my current W.I.P. in three months though. Fingers crossed.

Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?

One at a time. I have a feeling I’m going to have to learn to multi-task since I have a lot of material on submission/getting ready for submission. I’m not looking forward to it.

Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?

Not really. I say that because I can’t remember the first time I sat down to write – I’ve always been a writer. I do have recurrent doubts though. Days when I think everything is shit, and not in a submission hell way, but in a why does everything I write make me want a puke kind of way.

How many trunked books did you have before you were agented?

When I got my agent, I had three complete books and had considered at least one of those to be trunked (my first one). However, it appears that all three of my books will be put out on submission after some revisions.

Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?

I’ve started a few that are waiting for me to return. Does that count as quitting? The ms that I had considered trunked I gave up on because I had queried, like, 150 agents and though I had a lot of requests, no one took me up on it. I quit querying it when my next book was finished, mostly because I was more excited about the new one then the old one.

Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?  

My agent is Bob Diforio at D4EO literary agency. He usually only accepts referrals, but I queried him anyway since I love his agency. He asked for the full the same day I queried him and offered representation the next morning. I’m also working with Kristin Miller, another agent at D4EO, for my MG novels.

How long did you query before landing your agent?

I’d queried my first two books for over a year, but I’d only been querying the book that landed me an agent for one week.

Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?

Ha ha. I laugh because every bit of advice I read when querying made me bitter. But that’s probably just me. So I’ll say this: querying sucks. It sucks mostly because we let the results of querying tell us how good our writing is, which is total bull crap. A lot of getting an agent is being in the right place at the right time when whatever particular agent was in the right mood. Don’t let rejection tell you you’re not good.

How much of your own marketing do you?  

I have a blog that has been ignored a lot this last year. I was hard core blogging for a long time. Then more real life responsibilities (ie: working more) forced me to have to back down. I have a Twitter account but I really don’t use it much.

When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?

Before! Before, before, before because after you get your agent you’re busy. If you’ve got things in place before, it will be much better to maintain.

Do you think social media helps build your readership?

I do. I’m not sure if it’s enough to counter the amount of time spent on it, but I believe the relationships built through social media are valuable for other reasons as well.