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Success Story Interview - Mia Siegert

An Interview with Mia Siegert (msiegert on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Travis Pennington of The Knight Agency, Inc..


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Mia Siegert:
So, it's a funny story. I initially queried Travis with a book called HOODLUM (a modern retelling of Robin Hood that deals with PTSD and inner city racism). While he dug the story, he became intrigued by a YA novel I wrote called JERKBAIT--which is about twins, gay teen suicide, and online predators. I’m pleased to announce that JERKBAIT has been acquired by Jolly Fish Press for a Spring 2016 release.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Mia Siegert:
I’ve been writing since I was a kid although I only buckled down seriously when I was nineteen. So I suppose one can say a super serious study for ten years.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Mia Siegert:
I worked on HOODLUM for about three years and JERKBAIT for about two years.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Mia Siegert:
Strangely, no. I grew up in the show world with horses so we were used to very, very, very long, tedious, meticulous practice earning positive results. I took it very literally when people said it takes years and 3-4 books before the first is often picked. So, in a weird way, I think being that literal helped me.
QT: Is this your first book?
Mia Siegert:
JERKBAIT was my second book. I wrote a literary horse novel first.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Mia Siegert:
I received my MFA from Goddard College and my BA from Montclair State University. I was lucky to work with a broad range of mentors.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Mia Siegert:
Never. I write when it comes to me. I used to force myself with x-amount of hours per day but the writing was getting stale and just... bad. That said... usually I end up writing every day anyway.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Mia Siegert:
I think I have seven full drafts of each novel but I'll point out that I edit as I write so I don't think one can even count that.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Mia Siegert:
I had two betas and a professional editor for JERKBAIT.

For HOODLUM, I had three amazing authors mentor me (and a few friends read as well).
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Mia Siegert:
I had a concept with JERKBAIT and wrote a draft straight through from beginning to end. I didn’t outline anything, actually. Just rolled with it, then tried to spy inconsistencies.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Mia Siegert:
I had 77 rejections on JERKBAIT – it was the 78th which had acceptance.

In total, I had 208 rejections over three novels before signing with Travis.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Mia Siegert:
I think around 85 for HOODLUM.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Mia Siegert:
I noticed very quickly that a lot of agents at the larger agencies were most interested in my work. I tend to write really gritty, uncomfortable stuff and I think those agencies had the connections and aren’t afraid to take a risk.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Mia Siegert:
At the beginning, I tailored every single query. After awhile, I realized that having my query be more to the point (unless there was a really specific thing that needed to be mentioned) was way more successful for me. I think it seemed less like sucking up (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to most people).
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Mia Siegert:
No agent is better than a bad agent. Do your homework. Don’t be afraid of a newer agent, especially if they’re at a reputable agency.

Most importantly, don’t ever, EVER say bad things about agents on social media. Don’t talk about your query progress on Twitter. Especially don’t have ANYTHING about rejection—not a good thing.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Mia Siegert:
As JERKBAIT was just acquired, I’m going to use part of that query for the sample:

Query Letter:

Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all -- until Robbie tries to kill himself.

Living in the shadow of NHL prospect Robbie, Tristan copes with his feelings of inadequacy through musicals, writing short stories, and serenading the girl he crushes on. After being forced to share his room with Robbie to try to prevent him from future suicide attempts, Tristan starts seeing his twin as not a violent hockey player, but a struggling gay teen who is terrified about coming out and being rejected by his teammates.

With each increasingly dangerous attempt Robbie makes to end his life, their paranoid parents blame Tristan for not keeping a close enough eye on Robbie and revoke both of their privileges, not even letting them out of the house. In their claustrophobic room, Robbie suggests they run away with "Jimmy2416" - a guy Robbie's talked to online for months but has never met. Tristan must decide whether to tell his parents about Robbie's plan and lose his twin's trust forever (and possibly the internet--their only remaining link to the outside world), or go on a journey that will put their lives and innocence in jeopardy.