Success Story Interview - Jaramy Conners

An Interview with Jaramy Conners (jaramy on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Melanie Figueroa of Root Literary.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Jaramy Conners:
It’s a time travel middle grade, inspired by a lifelong obsession with Back to the Future, Doctor Who, and any other time travel stories I can get my hands on!
QT: How long have you been writing?
Jaramy Conners:
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but I got serious about it nearly 20 years ago. I’ve been writing and submitting off and on since then, with limited success.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Jaramy Conners:
I started this book about two years ago. It took six months to write/edit, after which time I did a small round of submissions. I wasn’t getting the responses I’d hoped for, so I dove back in, did a huge revision, and started submitting again about six months ago.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Jaramy Conners:
I’ve never felt like giving up. I’ve been discouraged, but I always believed I was writing something good and eventually I’d fine that one person who sees it the way I do. In the meantime, I kept writing new books.
QT: Is this your first book?
Jaramy Conners:
I’ve written several books but haven’t managed to publish one yet. Fingers crossed…
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Jaramy Conners:
I have an MFA in Writing for Children and Adolescents.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Jaramy Conners:
I used to write in the evenings, but that gets hard when you’re a parent. For a while, I’d sneak an hour here or an hour there, whenever I could. But a couple years ago I was fortunate enough to drop down to a four-day work week. Now I write every Friday, from 7-4, just like it’s another workday (just a fun one!).
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Jaramy Conners:
I heavily outlined this book, so I only did one major story edit, a character-focused edit, and copyedits before my first round of submissions. When I wasn’t getting any bites, I did another major story edit and one last edit focused on adding more description.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Jaramy Conners:
I used to be a die-hard pantser, but after becoming a parent, I realized I was spending way too much time rewriting just to figure out what my story was. I experimented with outlining a little, and then went all-in for this book. It made the writing process smoother and faster, while also freeing me up to focus on character and language, without having to think so much about the plot.

Of course, this is a time travel book, so my outline changed quite a bit as I wove the different timelines together and realized there were gaps or inconsistencies.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Jaramy Conners:
This book: about a year, with a large gap for rewriting in there.

Other books: years… I signed with my first agent back in 2005, but that turned out to be a disaster, both because I was young and clueless, and because he lost interest quickly. I’ve worked with another agent since then, and she was wonderful, but we only signed for one book and, unfortunately, that book didn’t sell.

Of course, I’ve grown a lot as a writer and a person since I started submitting, and I think this book is the best I’ve ever written. And I’m thrilled to have partnered with an agent who believes in this book and my career as much as I do!
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Jaramy Conners:
Round 1: 15

Round 2: 30
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Jaramy Conners:
I filtered my search down to agents accepting middle grade, and then reviewed each agent’s website/profile to find agents who also enjoy sci-fi.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Jaramy Conners:
When possible, I would mention a particular book they worked on or their interest in sci-fi.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Jaramy Conners:
Don’t give up! There are a lot of agents on QueryTracker – it’s going to take you a long time to exhaust your list, and even if you do, more agents will appear. In the meantime, keep writing. The more books you have, the more genre filters you can select, and the more opportunities you have to impress an agent.