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Introducing a new writing tool from the maker of QueryTracker. Learn More...

Success Story Interview - Frank Mortimer

An Interview with Frank Mortimer (coffeemort on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Barbara Collins Rosenberg of The Rosenberg Group.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Frank Mortimer:
BEE PEOPLE AND THE BUGS THEY LOVE will be the first book to spotlight the quirky, offbeat, and eccentric people that are passionately obsessed with the honey-loving bug. It chronicles the adventures and comedic misfortunes of keeping bees through a firsthand account of beekeeping's odd and amusing characters woven together with amazing beekeeping facts and everyday explanations.
BEE PEOPLE AND THE BUGS THEY LOVE is not a "how to" book. Instead it's a look inside the avocation of beekeeping, focusing on the cast of characters that keep bees. BEE PEOPLE AND THE BUGS THEY LOVE is much more than just a book about bees as it focuses on people: the people who willingly choose to hang around with stinging insects.

As a Certified Master Beekeeper and President of my beekeeping association, I was inspired to write my book after giving over 140 talks to general audiences and repeatedly hearing from people that they enjoyed my stories and explanations. Additionally, over the past decade as honeybees were repeatedly in countless newspaper stories, magazine articles, documentaries, and podcasts nothing has addressed the one question that everyone always wants to know: What type of person keeps bees?
QT: How long have you been writing?
Frank Mortimer:
I have been writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and newsletters for over a decade, but this was the first book that I have written.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Frank Mortimer:
It took me ten months to write a first draft, and then another six to eight weeks to edit, polish, and revise it.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Frank Mortimer:
I was afraid that if I stopped writing that I would never finish it. So, no matter how I was feeling, I kept thinking, "just keep writing, just keep writing…" until it was done.
QT: Is this your first book?
Frank Mortimer:
Yes, this was the first time I wrote a book.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Frank Mortimer:
No, I would say my "training" was writing a monthly newsletter for the past eight years.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Frank Mortimer:
Yes. When I was writing my first draft, I always started in the mornings. I'd think about what I wanted to write the night before and I would wake up with a clear overview of what I wanted to write.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Frank Mortimer:
I would polish and rewrite each chapter until I felt like it was solid enough to move on to the next one. Then, once I had a completed first draft, I went back and reread/edited the entire manuscript again. Last, as people gave me feedback on the manuscript, I would incorporate any good suggestions and edits they had.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Frank Mortimer:
Yes! My wife was an incredible resource who read and reread everything. I also had a few other readers who provided me with valuable insight into the manuscript.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Frank Mortimer:
Both. I put together an outline in Excel, and listed all the chapters, stories, and facts that I wanted to cover. But as I wrote, each chapter had its own way of developing, so some of what was in my outline never made it into my book.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Frank Mortimer:
I queried for three months. I started in the fall, but I didn't send any out during the holidays.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Frank Mortimer:
I sent about 40 query letters.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Frank Mortimer:
My criteria got better as I figured out what I was doing. Once I upgraded to a Query Tracker Premium Membership, my selection process became more focused and I started getting much better results. (Agents were writing me back asking to see more material.) I used the premium reports to see which agents were currently active in nonfiction. I targeted agents that were actively responding to quires and were not just rejecting everything. Additionally, I would go to each agents website to learn as much as I could about them, and look at the types of books they had signed as an indicator if they would be interested in my book. I was also looking for a "personal connection," as I wanted to find someone that I would enjoy working with and could trust. In addition to Query Tracker, I also used Publisher's Marketplace to research each agent. I found that using both of these resources together enabled me to target the right agents and finally find the perfect agent for me.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Frank Mortimer:
Yes! I always looked for a personal connection, as an agent is such an important part of the process. The agent I chose to represent me is Barbara Collins Rosenberg from The Rosenberg Group, and the more I got to know her, the more I found we had in common, which is one of the reasons why it is such a joy to work with Barbara.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Frank Mortimer:
My advice is twofold: Do your homework and trust your gut. I found that the more I researched and dug into what each agent was looking for, the more responses I was receiving from my query letters. I also think it is important that you feel a connection to an agent, especially since she will be playing such a huge role in your future. One of the first agents with whom I spoke came across as a jaded, not-so-nice of a person. I didn't enjoy speaking with her and was dreading the thought of having to work with her. Thankfully, I kept looking and ended up interacting with many wonderful people. When it came time for me to choose, the choice was easy. I had done my homework so I knew my agent's work, and equally as important for me, I really liked how she worked and how she communicated, which is why Barbara is my agent and also someone that I now consider a friend.