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Success Story Interview - H.M. Ward

An Interview with H.M. Ward (Callalily6 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Victoria Sanders of Victoria Sanders & Associates.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
H.M. Ward:
DEMON KISSED is a young adult paranormal romance. It was inspired by a mixture of religion, folklore, and life. I wrote about what interested me.
QT: How long have you been writing?
H.M. Ward:
Since middle school. Back then, I wrote fiction long-handed on loose leaf.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
H.M. Ward:
About 6 months.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
H.M. Ward:
This time, things happened quickly. Although, I did this about 10 years ago, and did give up after 18 months of queries. I got so close, but it never went to publication. After I wrote DEMON KISSED, I decided to try it again. The internet did not have the vast resources the last time I tried. I researched much better this time before I queried.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
H.M. Ward:
Yes, but it was in another field. I wrote research papers and sermons as the bulk of my degree. Writing fiction is somewhat different.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
H.M. Ward:
I wrote because I wanted to, not because I wanted to get published. I wrote DEMON KISSED for me. I wrote a little bit every night to unwind.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
H.M. Ward:
Approx. Seven. It had at least four major overhauls. The manuscript that was submitted to agents was very different from the original. Thank goodness! It got better with each overhaul. Then I edited and refined.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
H.M. Ward:
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
H.M. Ward:
A little of both. The original was written totally from the hip, but it was lacking the plot complexities I wanted. They were added during revisions. I outlined the revisions before adding them.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
H.M. Ward:
Less than 2 months
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
H.M. Ward:
36 queries
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
H.M. Ward:
That they repped my genre, were looking for something a little unique, and that they were experienced. Then I read their blogs, FB pages, etc to see if personality wise, we had similar ideas.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
H.M. Ward:
Yes. I read the agent's site, blog, etc. To make sure I had a good match. I only queried agents interested in writers willing to market their work or who desired an author with a platform - which is weird concept for a fiction writer.

I opened the query showing that commonality, then introduced the book.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
H.M. Ward:
Research. Read everything you can find when you think you found a match. The closer your story grooves with the agent and his or her needs, the more likely they will want to rep you. Skipping that part was fatal when I tried this over a decade ago. I spent almost two months researching before I sent out my first query this time.

Also, the query letter has got to grab the agent's attention and leave them wanting more. That's the only thing they have to go on.

I eventually abandoned the normal idea of a query letter. Trying to write the query made me totally nuts. I even took a class and paid money to help me figure it out. After the class, I sent out my first batch of queries.

I got no where. Honestly, the query sucked. It didn't showcase the emotional element of my book, or my writing style.

That was when I took a chance and rewrote the query as a sales pitch. I took one element that made my book unique/ interesting and formed the letter around it. Lots of writers told me that was stupid, which unsettled me, but I had a gut feeling that I was on the right path.

I spent a month writing the perfect sentence/ hook, then I sent out more queries. I immediately got several requests for fulls, and ultimately had multiple offers of representation from some very good agents.

So, if you have an inbox full of rejections, I would change the query letter. Try something new. Be bold. The worst thing that happens is that you get more rejection letters.