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Success Story Interview - Jamie Wyman

An Interview with Jamie Wyman (JLWyman on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Jennie Goloboy of Donald Maass Literary Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Jamie Wyman:
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES is an urban fantasy pairing trickster gods with technomancers. I've always loved mythology, particularly the stories around Eris, Loki, Maui and other trickster gods. I wondered what a poker game with them would look like and had this idea about them betting the souls of humans. That turned into a proof-of-concept flash fiction piece called 'Ante Up'. That got under my skin along with a few other ideas. They met in a head on crash that became a series I call Etudes in C#. TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES is the first book of that series.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Jamie Wyman:
I've been telling stories since I was a kid. Started writing stories in grade school. I've been actively seeking publication since I wrote my first novel in 2008. TD is my third novel-length book.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Jamie Wyman:
I started writing TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES on August 15, 2011. I finished the first draft in less than a month and edited the manuscript 8 times before sending my first queries in December, 2011.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Jamie Wyman:
With this book, no, there wasn't a time I felt like giving up. There were days that felt like I was banging my head against a wall, but I knew I had something different with this one. Comments and encouragement from my faithful Attack Fish (beta readers) kept me going on those lower days.
QT: Is this your first book?
Jamie Wyman:
No. TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES is my third-novel length book.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Jamie Wyman:
I took as many writing electives as I could in high school and college, but none of them focused on fiction. So, writing training, yes. Storytelling is a different animal, though.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Jamie Wyman:
I write when my daughter is at school. I try not to lock into a routine because it becomes easy to say, "Well exact conditions aren't being met, so I can't write." I just try to put my butt in the chair and bang out the words.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Jamie Wyman:
I did 8 editing passes before querying. I did revisions for Jennie which added a few more to that. So I think this is draft 12 at this point? Yeah. Something like that.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Jamie Wyman:
YES! My Attack Fish are crucial! I had 5 or 6 people read the book with 2 of them becoming Alpha Betas. Their feedback was the strongest, most constructive and they really connected with the book. Their opinions and ideas helped make the book so much better.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Jamie Wyman:
Because this series focuses on trickster gods, the plot twists read like a demented Rube Goldberg device. To keep all of that organized, I had to outline. I keep a story bible for the series and separate outlines for each book. I don't plot out every moment of the book, though. I have major points and sometimes pants from point A to point B.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Jamie Wyman:
I started querying TD December 5, 2011. As far as my other books go, I queried my first book for about 6 months between 2008 and 2009 before shelving it. My second book I queried for a month, got an agent, lost said agent in a big kerfuffle last June, and requeried that for about 4 months.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Jamie Wyman:
75 queries to 2 publishers, 68 agents (5 agents got 2 queries from me due to revisions), and one contest entry.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Jamie Wyman:
First I looked for people who represent SF/F and Horror (as I also write horror). I also looked for agents with an online presence and (at minimum) semi-paperless business. It's a good indicator (to me) that agents steering away from snail mail and with a decent website will have more flexibility/knowledge when it comes to the digital shifts in the industry. Good reputations within the industry and writing community. I scoured P&E, Writer Beware, Water Cooler etc before, during and after queries went out.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Jamie Wyman:
Some of them, yes. There are some agents I've been following for years online, so I mentioned things from their blogs or Twitter accounts. Jennie, for instance, says in her Twitter bio to ask about her zombie romance novel. My second book was a zombie book with romantic elements, so I mentioned that connection in the query. With most agents, however, I used a form letter that I tweaked slightly for each agent where their guidelines/preferences were concerned.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Jamie Wyman:
Network. Talk to other authors, agents, editors, anyone who you can strike up a conversation with. Also? FOLLOW GUIDELINES. Do your research. And never ever give up. If you have to shelve one book and move onto another, that's fine, but do not quit.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Jamie Wyman:

Query Letter:

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent,

In the Las Vegas of technomancer Catherine Sharp, gods gamble with souls of unassuming humans. Eight years ago, Catherine's soul fell into the possession of Eris, the Greek goddess of Discord. Since then she has been working a dead end technical support job while performing random tasks for the goddess. When Coyote, the Native American trickster, claims to have won her soul in Mayhem's weekly poker game, Catherine must get in on the action if she wants to be free. This won't be easy with five trickster gods upping the ante. Along for the ride is Marius, an insatiable satyr with his own debt to Eris. If they play their cards right, Cat and Marius may get their lives back. Assuming they don't kill each other first.

At 82,000 words, TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES blends myth and magic with the modern world. Fans of the genre will appreciate the strong, intelligent yet flawed heroine as well as the snarky wit reminiscent of Christopher Moore's COYOTE BLUE. Sequels and companion short stories are in varying stages of production.

While this would mark my publishing debut, I was fortunate enough to be included in eBookNewser's "Best Online Fiction Authors" list in May of 2011 for my flash fiction piece "Eat. Prey. Love."

If you are interested in learning more about Catherine and her misadventures, the full manuscript is available on a non-exclusive basis.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.