Success Story Interview - Olga Jackson

An Interview with Olga Jackson (abigailburke on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Helen Lane of The Booker Albert 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?
Olga Jackson:
Digging Dr. Jones is a romcom about a near bankrupt store owner, Adriana, who is cornered into a trip to the Colombian jungle with the archaeologist Dr. Andrew Jones, to help him to locate priceless artifacts before a Russian oligarch’s men reach it first.

I was working on a different WIP where the protagonist was a writer. I came up with a brief plot for the character’s book (based on a bracelet I found on a trip). During a critique session, a few of my CPs commented that the bracelet mix-up rom-com sounded fun and that I should write it too. I set the WIP aside and wrote Digging Dr. Jones.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Olga Jackson:
I have been writing since 2017.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Olga Jackson:
I drafted “Digging Dr. Jones” in the Spring of 2022, and it took me the rest of the year to polish it and prepare it for querying in January 2023.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Olga Jackson:
Not really. I’m too stubborn to give up. But I cried a few times when rejections arrived one after another on the same day.
QT: Is this your first book?
Olga Jackson:
No. I wrote two other books.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Olga Jackson:
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Olga Jackson:
Before, I had no routine; I wrote when I could find free time, but now since I have an agent and writing has become an actual career, I’ll need to create a schedule.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Olga Jackson:
I revised “Digging Dr. Jones” about six times.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Olga Jackson:
Yes. Beta readers are important! (family and friends don’t count as beta readers unless they are writers too :) )
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Olga Jackson:
I’m a plantser. I create a brief plot outline and a good backstory for the main and secondary characters. The plot (and subplot) and backstory deepen once I finish the first draft and know my characters better. I don’t write linearly, and I draft in scenes, not chapters. I form chapters during the second round of edits.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Olga Jackson:
I started on January 4th, 2023, and received an offer of representation on May 30th, 2023.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Olga Jackson:
A lot. 85. I sent out about twenty in my first batch, and then I sent out another 5 more for every rejection I got.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Olga Jackson:
I had a list of agents that I really wanted to query because (I thought) my story was a great match per their manuscript wishlist. I also had a ‘shot in the dark’ list with agents that simply had ‘romance’ on their list of wants and no additional information.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Olga Jackson:
Yes and no. I only changed the opening of my query. For agents who provided a lot of information about what they were looking for, I personalized my query with reasons why I queried them. But I had a standard polite opening for those who didn’t offer any information.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Olga Jackson:
Don’t do it alone. Find a group of writers who write in your genre. They’ll be your greatest critique partners and your support system during hard times. They’ll help you not to give up.

Never stop trying to improve your craft of writing. Take writing webinars, listen to writing podcasts, and find strong critique partners. The podcast “The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing” helped me to understand how to write a good query.

Query Letter:

Dear Helen,
Per your instructions on Twitter, I picked action/adventure in the category to submit my adventure romcom. I’m excited to send you DIGGING DR. JONES (86K words) an adult contemporary romance. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the witty narrative of Livy Hart novels and themes reminiscent of Something Wilder by Christina Lauren, or who have a deep love for movies Romancing the Stone or The Lost City.

Adriana Jones hasn’t even opened her store, and she’s already on the verge of bankruptcy. But an unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate) mix-up with the package delivery of an antique bracelet binds her to a stranger—the archaeologist Dr. Andrew Jones—who is superman hot (just in case you were wondering). Unable to unlatch the jewelry from her wrist, Andrew needs Adriana to travel with him to Colombia to locate a priceless artifact before a Russian oligarch’s men reach it first. Um, no thank you.

When Andrew offers to pay Adriana enough money to save her business, she has no choice but to agree to a two-day trip to open a cryptic chest in a museum. How bad could it be? Well, you guessed it. The promised quick trip turns into a fortnight journey, trudging through jungles, crawling over skeletons under an old church floor, and sleeping under the stars.

Adriana is dead set against love, but she finds herself irresistibly drawn to gallant Andrew, with his kind heart, winning smile, and different colored eyes. Hot days turn into even hotter nights, and the more time she spends with Andrew, the more painful it is remembering that after their trip is over, he goes back to London, and she goes back to Atlanta. Who was she kidding? Andrew is a blue-blooded aristocrat, and she is…well, she didn’t even finish college. Adriana believes it wouldn’t have worked out between them, anyway. And maybe, she is wrong.


Thank you in advance for your kind consideration.