Success Story Interview - Erin Latimer

An Interview with Erin Latimer (ELatimer on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Silvia Molteni of Peters Fraser & Dunlop.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Erin Latimer:
The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryrony Gray is a LGBT MG retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I was inspired by my love of all things Oscar Wilde.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Erin Latimer:
Since I could pick up a pen. I started with stories about talking house cats that ran in gangs. Loads of symbolism there.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Erin Latimer:
Just over a year now.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Erin Latimer:
Repeatedly. It was really only sheer stubbornness that made me keep going. When someone says no I get dejected and flop about for a bit, then I get mad enough to keep trying.
QT: Is this your first book?
Erin Latimer:
Absolutely not. There were three other attempts at querying before this. And several manuscripts-that-will-not-be-named that didn't even make it to querying stage.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Erin Latimer:
None whatsoever. I didn't even get particularly good grades in English class back in high school. I just read so much that people were concerned about me.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Erin Latimer:
Write a couple sentences. Agonize. Question self-worth. Repeat.
Joking. Mostly. I try to write 2k words a day when I can. And I've got to have a cup of tea on hand, that's about the only routine I've got.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Erin Latimer:
Once with beta readers. Once with more beta readers. Then after agent feedback, once for plot and then for each character. So at least six times. Possibly more.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Erin Latimer:
I never go without. I'd be pretty confident in myself to think I could.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Erin Latimer:
I like that. "Write from the hip". Hah. I'm kind of in between, floating along in space, but tethered to the basic plot. Gives me room to move. My vlogging group (The YA Word Nerds) calls this "astronauting". You've got pantsers, plotters and astronauters.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Erin Latimer:
This book was six months total. All said and done it's been over four years.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Erin Latimer:
55 total, and I had a few requests from contests like pitmad on twitter.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Erin Latimer:
I'd make a list from Querytracker, then check Publisher's Marketplace for sales, then Preditors and Editors. Everyone I queried had great sales and a good reputation.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Erin Latimer:
I made sure to research likes and dislikes, and get the agents name correct. Aside from that I didn't try to connect on a personal level unless I'd chatted with them before. I don't think there's a lot of use in grasping to find things in common if there isn't much online about the agent ("I notice we both have an unnatural love of garden gnomes! How exciting!")
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Erin Latimer:
Don't give up. Sheer stubbornness will help you in the long run. When I say "don't take no for an answer" I don't mean go camp out on the rejecting agent's lawn until they love you, but don't let any amount of rejections drag you down to a place you can't write anymore.

Query Letter:

Dear Ms. Molteni,

I hope you might be interested in THE STRANGE AND DEADLY PORTRAITS OF BRYONY GRAY, a MG, LGBT retelling of the Picture of Dorian Gray. It is complete at 70k.

Bryony Gray is suffering a number of indignities. For one thing, her reflection is misbehaving. After all, what good is a mirror when you can only see the back of your head? Another is that she is trapped in her uncle's stuffy attic all day painting pictures, and everyone she paints ends up going missing.

When she discovers that one of her portraits has begun leaking magic, triggering a chain reaction that turns every painting in the near vicinity deadly, Bryony knows she must fix what she's done. In order to stop museums and galleries all across the world from becoming death traps, she sets out to break the spell, all the while keeping out of the grasping reach of her horrid uncle, who has his own plans for her murderous masterpieces. STRANGE AND DEADLY PORTRAITS will appeal to fans of Claire Legrand’s THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, and Lemony Snicket’s A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. I have a large fanbase of over 50k readers on the writing website Wattpad, and I’m an active member of the vlogging community with the YA Word Nerds who are featured on the NANOWRIMO Youtube channel this November. I am also part of a website called The Punkettes who blog about all things Steampunk.

I have pasted a writing sample and synopsis below. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Erin Latimer