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Success Story Interview - Gennifer Albin

An Interview with Gennifer Albin (JenAlbin on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Mollie Glick of Creative Artists Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Gennifer Albin:
CREWEL is a speculative dystopian in which a young girl fights for autonomy and redemption in a world where everything from food rations to weather to human life is harnessed by looms and manipulated by beautiful women known as Spinsters.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Gennifer Albin:
Like many, I've been fiddling with it since childhood, but I got serious a little less than a year ago. My mother-in-law called one day and demanded I write a book. At first I was ticked at her, but then I actually started doing it.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Gennifer Albin:
I wrote CREWEL in about six months. It was my NaNoWriMo book last year.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Gennifer Albin:
I had points of frustration and some short breaks, but my awesome critique partners and my super-supportive husband kept me on track. My husband is a huge reader, and when I let him read my work, he made it a top priority to set up a writing schedule. Since he's so well-read, his confidence boosted my own.
QT: Is this your first book?
Gennifer Albin:
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Gennifer Albin:
Yes. I took several creative writing courses in undergrad, and while some would disagree, I think my graduate degree in English literature was formal writing training. Studying and dissecting books is an important element in learning to write. I also taught composition and literature.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Gennifer Albin:
It changes every week, but I try to write 3 hours a day at least 5 days a week. My husband prefers I write my schedule each week, and we tell the kids I'm going to work when I leave to write.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Gennifer Albin:
Two times. The second rewrite took a little over two months, but it was the more extensive of the two.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Gennifer Albin:
I had critique partners, some family members, and one teen who read the book.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Gennifer Albin:
Both. I pantsed the first draft, but then I went back and came up with loose outlines for the rewrites.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Gennifer Albin:
It's kind of a funny story. I planned to start querying around May 1st, but I attended a live query event hosted through WriteOnCon at the end of April. The agent liked my query and asked to see some pages. I sent them and the next day got a full request. Boosted by that I sent more queries. In less than a week, I got my first offer.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Gennifer Albin:
It's such a strange situation. I sent out queries to my list and then nudges to my top picks when I got my offer so quickly. My list is a mess, but I had a little over a 50% full request rate and about a quarter form reject rate, the rest are still out there. In the end I had seven offers.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Gennifer Albin:
I looked for those who repped my genre, checked out their agency and read any interviews that the agent had given. Every agent on my list was chosen for a specific reason.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Gennifer Albin:
I tried to if I could really personalize it. I stayed away from "I read you are looking for strong female protagonists," and focused on things like "your blog has really helped me rethink my approach to the query process." Sometimes I made sure I switched things around to the agent's preference. My query jumps right in, but several agents hate cold opens, so I changed it for them.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Gennifer Albin:
Take time to build that query list. I worked on mine for 3 or 4 months. Get feedback on your query and don't be afraid to ask for some help writing it. And take advantage of query critiques, they might be your big ticket!
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Gennifer Albin:

Query Letter:

Dear Agent,

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That's what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she's exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn't interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they're coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom's overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister's academy gossip and laugh at her Dad's stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything's okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there's no turning back.

Complete at 78,000 words, CREWEL is a YA dystopian novel that follows Adelice's fight for autonomy and redemption in a world of femme fatales, steel looms, and towered compounds. It can be described as J.J. Abrams meets Mad Men.

I hold a Masters in English Literature from the University of Missouri. I also served as a student editor for Pleaides and The Missouri Review and did some time teaching literature to college students.

I have pasted the sample chapters below followed by a synopsis and bio as per your preferences. Thank you for your time and consideration.

All the best,

Gennifer Albin