Success Story Interview - Bethany Myers

An Interview with Bethany Myers (brmyers on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Roseanne Wells of Lucinda Literary.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Bethany Myers:
NIGHT SHIFT is a modern day YA paranormal romance that takes place in a historic, but glamorous upscale department store.

I've always loved a good ghost story with an unexpected twist, and spent most of my teen years behind the covers of Lois Duncan and Ray Bradbury. I think the idea for NIGHT SHIFT came from a jumble of memories that decide to congeal one day.

About fifteen years ago, while visiting my sister-in-law in London, I got lost in Harrods. I remember wandering through the sumptuous confectionary thinking how cool it would be to have the whole store to myself at night.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Bethany Myers:
I've always been a voracious reader, but only started writing a couple of years ago.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Bethany Myers:
I started NIGHT SHIFT during March Break 2009. I remember my daughter was sick the whole time, and had read everything on her book shelves and was desperate for some distraction. She never read the whole book, but I was hooked. I kept writing until I came to 'the end'.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Bethany Myers:
I was driven to finish the story just because I'm so impatient---I couldn't wait to find out what happened to my characters! The discouraging part came later, during the querying process. Getting all those rejections made me question the story, and my ability to tell it properly.

But I did grow a thick skin, paying attention to those helpful rejections, and calmly filing away the form rejections. Most importantly, it was this site, and the writers who offer advice and encouragement, that essentially gave me the fuel to continue.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Bethany Myers:
I write when I can, usually at night when the house is quiet.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Bethany Myers:
Three major re-writes. The first was to bring it up to YA status (it started out as MG). The second had alternating POV's between the two main characters with each chapter. Then the third rewrite was entirely from the male POV, creating a whole new plot.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Bethany Myers:
You beta I did. Three excellent friends, who helped with proof reading and didn't let me get away with anything that couldn't be explained. They never settled for a "just because" and it made the book better.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Bethany Myers:
From the hip. Unless you call having a wall covered in sticky notes, outlining.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Bethany Myers:
I started waaaaayy too early---January 2010. After forty or so rejections, I started writing again. This time, it was a YA coming of age. I finished it in 4 weeks and started querying right away. Two months later, June 2010, I had an agent.

But this didn't guarantee success. That book was turned down by eight editors. I started working on NIGHT SHIFT again, and my agent suggested I write it completely from the male POV. In February of this year, my agent left the publishing business altogether. I had a few options, query for the YA coming of age, or give NIGHT SHIFT a second chance.

I gave NIGHT SHIFT a second chance, and started querying in late February. Roseanne requested the full in early March. I continued to query, racking up a few requests and many rejections. Then, last week, Roseanne made the offer.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Bethany Myers:
A million and six. Actually, I can't say for sure, I'm terrible at math. My stats on the tracker include my other book as well. It was over one hundred, for sure.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Bethany Myers:
Only agents who did YA, or had sold YA on Publishersmarketplace.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Bethany Myers:
Nope, just jumped in with the query.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Bethany Myers:
Don't give up, and don't take rejections personally. If you're getting frustrated at the number of rejections, start a new writing project or hang out on this site---it does wonders for the writer's soul, and gives you that much needed boost.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Bethany Myers:

Query Letter:

At Willards Department Store, no one survives long on the night shift, and eighteen-year-old Daniel Gale is about to find out why. Tired of staying in hotels and living out of his backpack, Daniel ignores the clerks' gossip about the old building being haunted, and takes the job as the newest night security guard. On his first shift, Daniel narrowly escapes a fatal drop down the elevator shaft, and is rescued by Mary, a wily teen far too beautiful for after hours inventory.

Anticipating every night shift as a chance to be with her, Daniel hopes his traveling days are over, and that he's finally found a place to call home. But as his life becomes more entwined with Willards, Daniel senses unnatural changes, both with Mary and the store itself. Soon he suspects Willards is hiding something more sinister than gossip about ghosts---something that could make him the next casualty of the NIGHT SHIFT.

NIGHT SHIFT is a modern day YA paranormal romance, complete at 76,000 words. I am a member of the SCBWI and the Writer's Federation of Nova Scotia. Thank you for your attention in this matter, and I look forward to hearing from you.