Success Story Interview - Gina Loveless

An Interview with Gina Loveless (gcaciolo on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Alec Shane of Writers House.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Gina Loveless:
The book is a children's non-fiction health and wellness book about puberty. It is actually the brainchild of a creative & editorial director, who is my mentor. I had submitted a few other children's fiction pitches to him, and he loved my voice and style, but couldn't find a project that would be a good match for his company. After I completed an assignment writing a series of chapters on health conditions for a partner imprint, my mentor asked me if I'd be interested in tackling this puberty book. I did some research, wrote a sample chapter, infused my own voice into it, worked with my mentor on the table of contents, and submitted it on spec.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Gina Loveless:
I feel like I can answer this question with 3 numbers. I've been writing since I was in elementary school (24 years). I started taking writing seriously in college (13 years). I decided to get very serious about being a writer full time in 2016 (2 years).
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Gina Loveless:
About 5-6 months, maybe less.
QT: Is this your first book?
Gina Loveless:
I've written many other books, but this will be my first published book.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Gina Loveless:
I have a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from Duquesne University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California Institute of the Arts.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Gina Loveless:
I write nearly 3 pages in a journal every day, and I try to work on my creative writing at least 4 days a week, in some capacity.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Gina Loveless:
In my non-fiction submission, a table of contents and sample chapter were the bulk of my submission. An outline helped me understand if I covered everything I wanted to in my table of contents.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Gina Loveless:
I have a bit of an unusual story about querying. A publisher was considering my children's chapter book. I started querying agents regarding that book back in February. I had done a lot of research, and I had 3 agencies that were in my top tier pick of places. Writer's House was one of them, and I had many agents there I wanted to query. Over time, two junior agents, at two of my top pick agencies, requested my full manuscript for my chapter book. While I waited for the publisher to make a decision about that book, I also developed and submitted the non-fiction proposal.

At one point, Alec checked in with me to see if I'd heard anything about my chapter book, and I responded that I hadn't, but I did hear that they'd be making a decision about my children's nonfiction proposal, and would he like to review that. He said yes, and I sent it to him. I sent that to him about two months ago, but it wasn't the typical querying situation. I only sent him the sample chapter and table of contents. Then, once I received an offer, I informed both of the agents with my full manuscript, so in a way, I queried two agents, but again, not in any type of typical fashion.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Gina Loveless:
For my chapter book, I queried about 15 total. For this book, I only kinda, technically, queried two.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Gina Loveless:
Again, I queried for my chapter book first, so I researched agents who repped children's authors, specifically chapter books or middle grade, and specifically ones who were looking for quirky characters, funny storylines, or something with heart & originality.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Gina Loveless:
Absolutely. In every query letter I pulled a quote from an interview I'd read that linked their public interest in a type of book with my book. Although, again, this isn't what landed my agent. I queried another agent at Writer's House, and he recommended I query Alec. So in my query letter to Alec, I simply mentioned that another agent had recommended him to me. I felt that agent's recommendation was a stronger connection than anything I would have found online.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Gina Loveless:
If you have a top pick agency, and one agent says no, and the agency allows you to query another agent if you get a no, don't give up hope! Start querying another agent right away! You can get your top pick, if it's the right project and the right person, and you never know who that might be. And don't be afraid to try those same agents again with a different project. Writing is about the long haul, so give yourself time to write the best draft and them time to find you!