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Success Story Interview - Sarah Gagnon

An Interview with Sarah Gagnon (kiraelle on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Sarah Gagnon:
Date With a Rock Star is a ya romance set in the year 2054. I was watching a Deadmau5 (Dead Mouse) concert with my husband and I kept thinking that the whole thing seemed to be set in the future. I'd been toying around with a diseased, teenage heroine idea for awhile and having a musician for the main love interest clicked the concept together for me. I thought of the title later that night and began drafting the next morning with that as my focusing point.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Sarah Gagnon:
From before I even knew my letters, I would draw out my dreams comic book style. I think I've always been trying to tell a story.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Sarah Gagnon:
I started the book in the middle of July and had a very good draft at the end of August. I started querying in September.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Sarah Gagnon:
I definitely started thinking a lot about self-publishing while I was going through the query process this time. I'm still not sure traditional publishing is the answer to everything, but I'd like to get one book out there the regular old way to start building a name for myself.
QT: Is this your first book?
Sarah Gagnon:
No, this is the fourth book I've queried. I feel like these days it really comes down to concept. It doesn't matter how great of a writer you are if you have an idea that an agent doesn't think will sell.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Sarah Gagnon:
I have a minor in writing from the University of Southern Maine, but I've definitely learned more about craft from reading other authors.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Sarah Gagnon:
I do, sort of. I have a 3year old, and at the time I was drafting, a 4month old. I spent a lot of time writing in my head while breast-feeding. I write 1,000 words everyday without fail and toward the end 2,000 a day.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Sarah Gagnon:
I edit each chapter as I go, so that if something needs tweaking I can fix it before it affects every chapter there after. During the querying process I received a revise and resubmit and other helpful feedback from a few agents. I think those suggestions helped me get the manuscript where it needed to be in my final round of revisions.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Sarah Gagnon:
I have two amazing critique partners who dutifully read every chapter I cranked out. Thanks Carla and Angie!!
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Sarah Gagnon:
I don't like to know what's going to happen. I try to write quickly enough that it's a surprise for me, but at some point I can't hold back the ending.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Sarah Gagnon:
I've been querying on and off for three years. I started querying this one September 20th and signed with my agent at the beginning of January.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Sarah Gagnon:
I sent 74 queries and got 14 requests. After three years I had a system. Send out a few queries to agents that were a good fit, a few to fast responders for immediate gratification, and then a few to agents that hardly ever respond, or are really long shots. I had 8 pages of agents selected to query. I didn't know what to do with myself when I didn't have my spreadsheet to play with anymore.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Sarah Gagnon:
I picked every single one that reps my genre first, and then I slowly weeded out the agents who hadn't requested in years or hated romance.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Sarah Gagnon:
I intentionally do not tailor each query. For the first book I did. I'd painstakingly research an agent each day and try to find something clever to say to them. Then I'd fantasize about them offering for a few weeks before they sent me a rejection. The more tailoring I did, the more depressing the rejections. So for sanity sake, I keep it simple. Put the agents name at the top, spell it correctly, and call it good.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Sarah Gagnon:
When you get too bogged down querying, just start writing a new book.

Query Letter:

Dear Ms. Resciniti,

Monet isn’t just another lust-struck teenager waiting in line to win a date with Rock God, Jeremy Bane—she needs his money to cure her disease.

For seventeen-year-old, Monet, living in the year 2054, means a dismal, poverty-stricken future in which only the wealthy can afford college and medical treatment. For comfort, Monet turns to Jeremy’s music and daydreams about his quirky smile. She’ll do anything to win a date, even expose herself on camera by joining a reality television competition with nine other obsessed fan-girls.

Forced to watch the other contestants scratch, claw, and manipulate for Jeremy’s attention, Monet struggles with her own confidence. The more she learns about the real Jeremy, the less she wants to tell him she’s contagious; but to kiss him, she’ll either have to confess or risk infecting him.

As a twist to the show, the producers dig into each girl’s past to find and reveal humiliating secrets. When their private lives are exposed, the competition takes a dark turn and one girl’s advantage sets Monet up to lose. To win a spot in the final round, Monet will need to do more than sneak into Jeremy’s hotel room.

Date With a Rock Star is a 62,000 word YA romance. The fast paced, romantic novel will appeal to readers of Delirium. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sarah Gagnon