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Success Story Interview - A. K. Lim

An Interview with A. K. Lim (AyeKay10 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Emily Forney of BookEnds, LLC.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
A. K. Lim:
I signed with a dual-POV YA Romantasy about a priestess who's forced to choose between maintaining a lifetime of secrets or putting her position on the line for love, and a prince who needs her help to secure an impossible peace in a cut-throat court full of conspiracy. The idea came about from a few different things--a particular plotline in the TV show Marco Polo, my own desire to write a more awkward, gentle hero opposite a cool, calculated heroine, and some other spoilery things I can't get into here!
QT: How long have you been writing?
A. K. Lim:
I started writing when I was really little and loved telling stories even before that. My preschool superlative was "weaver of tall tales" (which may have just been a nice way of calling me a liar). I fell off the writing wagon, though, and picked it back up in a big way around middle school in the late 2000s. So all told, about 15+ years!
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
A. K. Lim:
I started working on this project in April of 2022 and finished the third draft (the version that got me my agent) almost exactly two years later after taking a few months-long breaks in between.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
A. K. Lim:
This book was a bit of a unique case for me because I was pregnant with my first child through the latter part of the drafting/revising process, which definitely led to multiple instances where I felt like I couldn't or simply wouldn't finish the book at all. Personally, I got around it by setting deadlines. I struggle to meet deadlines when I've set them myself, though, so I made sure the deadlines were external to me. Knowing I had to finish X number of drafts before my son was born, or promising to give someone the book to beta read by such and such date, it gave me outside motivation (and expectation) to follow through on finishing the book.
QT: Is this your first book?
A. K. Lim:
This is the first book I've queried, but the fifth book I've written. Most of those are only first drafts, but they're there!
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
A. K. Lim:
I took creative writing classes all through high school and college and was selected for a Young Writer's program in 2013. I've also gone to a few conferences (in person and digital) in more recent years for writing workshops and the like!
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
A. K. Lim:
Not at all. Never before and even less so now! I mostly just try to be consistent in writing at minimum 500 words per writing day when I'm actively drafting, but not much more routine than that.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
A. K. Lim:
After the first draft, I did one major rewrite followed by a smaller self-developmental edit. The whole thing took about two years with breaks in between, and in the end, I got an offer on Draft 3 of the book.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
A. K. Lim:
I have a lovely critique partner who read a good chunk of the book before I began querying! I intended to have more betas, but the timing didn't work out.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
A. K. Lim:
I am a MAJOR plotter. The outlining process is one of my favorite parts of writing a book. I used to be more of a pantster, but with each new project I get more and more into plotting.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
A. K. Lim:
This was the first book I queried, and from sending out my first query to my offer, it was just shy of two months!
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
A. K. Lim:
I sent out a total of 14 queries, split in two batches of seven.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
A. K. Lim:
For my first batch, I sent out queries to three reputable agents that had liked my pitches on Twitter/X, one to an agent referred to me by my critique partner, and three to agents I felt had strong MSWL matches to my book that I wanted to catch before they closed. After I got an email asking for a call, I sent out seven more queries, this time focusing on agents from top agencies or those who represented some of my personal favorite authors, just to shoot my shot.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
A. K. Lim:
I didn't really. Obviously I addressed each agent by name, and mentioned if they had liked one of my pitches online, but other than that, everything was the same across the board.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
A. K. Lim:
I'd just say to focus on the things you can control and release the things you can't. So much luck goes into this industry and you'll drive yourself up a wall trying to understand why one person has an experience like mine versus another equally talented writer who sends out upwards of 100 queries before they find their agent. Just focus on craft, write the next thing, and shoot your shot whenever you can. And get a group chat! It's so important to have that community of other writers you can vent to, celebrate with, and just generally support each other.

Query Letter:


I’m excited to present KINGFISHER (108,000 words) a dual-POV YA romantasy following a priestess’s battle to choose between her love for a prince and her obligation to protect her identity. KINGFISHER will appeal to fans of the romance and political intrigue of The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen and the rich world and false identities of Powerless by Lauren Roberts.

Seventeen-year-old Amara is both angel and executioner. Marked by a gift from the divine to swiftly and painlessly kill anyone she touches, she’s committed to a lifetime as the Gafyan King’s priestess—offering “mercy” to his enemies. In public, she’s all-powerful, but the truth lies in the shadows of her temple, in the poisons and inks she’s used to feign her so-called divinity. To be found out would mean death, or worse, losing her luxurious position.

When her latest victim turns out to be a young boy from their enemy country, Corstir, Amara’s long-buried morals resurface, and she takes a risk in faking the boy’s death. All goes smoothly until a note appears in her room, threatening to reveal her secret if she doesn’t help negotiate peace between Corstir and the Gafyan king—just as the Corstir prince himself arrives at her courts.

Corstir Prince Taliesin has made a name for himself on the battlefield, fending off Gafyan invasion on his kingdom’s behalf. But with his father on his deathbed and murmurings of a coup on the horizon, he can’t keep playing soldier. To squash the uprising and save his kingdom from ruin, he must travel to the heart of his enemy’s lands and make a case for peace.

Certain the newly arrived Corstir prince is involved in her blackmail, Amara resolves to ruin him before he ruins her. She finds plenty of weaknesses to exploit: he’s clumsy with his words, uncomfortably honest, and woefully out of his depth in the cut-throat court. But as their time together continues, she can’t help but see other things, too: kindness, and a smile that could melt snowcaps.

But this is Gafya, and here, love only means more to lose—especially love with the Corstir Prince.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

[sign off]