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Introducing a new writing tool from the maker of QueryTracker. Learn More...

Success Story Interview - Joanne OSullivan

An Interview with Joanne OSullivan (jkosullivan1 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Hoffmann & Associates.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Joanne OSullivan:
It's a YA coming-of-age story set in Southern Louisiana and Atlanta immediately before and after Hurricane Katrina. I love that part of the country and felt moved to write about what happened the people and communities there in the wake of the storm.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Joanne OSullivan:
I was a Creative Writing major in college and a journalist, but only seriously started to try fiction writing about 13 years ago.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Joanne OSullivan:
About four years.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Joanne OSullivan:
I don't think I ever really planned to give up, but making a living certainly got in the way of being able to devote time to it.
QT: Is this your first book?
Joanne OSullivan:
I've written probably a dozen non-fiction books, all published as well as one novel that hasn't been.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Joanne OSullivan:
Undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, but I mostly studied poetry writing.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Joanne OSullivan:
No, it's catch as catch can. My kids are still pretty young and I work as a freelance writer and editor, so I have to fit it in around paid work with tight deadlines.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Joanne OSullivan:
As of now, it's been completely rewritten four times.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Joanne OSullivan:
Yes, about six people read it before I started submitting.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Joanne OSullivan:
From the hip, almost completely
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Joanne OSullivan:
I did one round of queries in early 2013 and got a few "good rejections" and rewrote with concrete suggestions from beta readers. My second round of queries started in April 2014 and then the third round, during which I connected with my agent, was in June 2014.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Joanne OSullivan:
About 30.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Joanne OSullivan:
I looked for agents who were looking for YA and those who represented authors whose books I felt were similar to mine.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Joanne OSullivan:
I did, indicated that I had read what they were looking for and why I thought my novel might be a good fit.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Joanne OSullivan:
I agree with everyone who advises sending out queries in small batches to see what kind of respond you get. From the fact that I got a number of requests for partial or full manuscripts, I figured my query was OK, so it must be the first chapters that weren't working. I went back to my beta readers and revised them. Also, my agent wanted to see if I'd be willing to make some pretty big changes before agreeing to work with me. I saw it as an opportunity so I did.