Success Story Interview - Sarah Pinneo

An Interview with Sarah Pinneo (tradergirl93 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Mollie Glick of Creative Artists 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 Pinneo:
I’m so excited to announce that JULIA’S CHILD has just been sold to Plume (an imprint of Penguin)! The book is a comic novel about a mother entrepreneur—a “mompreneur”—with an organic toddler food business. She quickly finds that her high ideals clash with market realities, and madness ensues. I wrote it because I wanted to play with all the conflict which naturally exists between the frantically organic and the aren’t-pringles-terrific set. Neither group has a monopoly on common sense.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Sarah Pinneo:
Since the third grade. But until college I didn’t realize that not everybody feels giddy with possibility just stepping into a Barnes and Noble.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Sarah Pinneo:
I started scribbling notes in 2007, and I wrote it during 2008 and 2009.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Sarah Pinneo:
Truthfully, yes. All the anxiety in the publishing world makes the odds feel so long. But I love novels and I think about them every day, whether the odds are good or not. So I managed to tune out all of the negative voices and keep on plugging.
QT: Is this your first book?
Sarah Pinneo:
No. The Ski House Cookbook was published by Clarkson Potter in 2007. And then there’s the first novel which is now in a drawer somewhere. May it rest in peace.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Sarah Pinneo:
No! Actually, I took a writing workshop for a couple months once, and it did help me organize my thoughts about voice, mood and tone. But 8 weeks of writing exercises in a prickly critique group didn’t feel very “formal.”
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Sarah Pinneo:
I write during whichever free hour and a half my children will allow.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Sarah Pinneo:
A million? I am a revise-as-you-go writer. So chapter one was written 300 times, chapter two was written 290 times, etc.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Sarah Pinneo:
Yes—for portions of the book. It was wildly helpful. Beta readers helped me find those places where I’d become tangled up in ideas that weren’t central to the story. They helped steer me back to the “hot” part of the narrative.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Sarah Pinneo:
I queried the novel for only two months before receiving offers of representation. But remember—I’d already found a non-fiction agent once (for my cookbook) and I was comfortable with the process and with my letter. So I queried widely and quickly.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Sarah Pinneo:
I absolutely believe in taking the time—whenever possible—to write a personalized opening sentence. I don’t enjoy receiving unsolicited mass emails, and I wouldn’t expect an agent to enjoy it either.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Sarah Pinneo:

Query Letter:

JULIA’S CHILD is my 85,000 word comedic novel, for any woman who has ever stood in Whole Foods clutching a $5 box of organic crackers, wondering if buying them makes her a hero or a sucker.

Julia Bailey is an overextended mother and businesswoman with too many principles and too little time. Her fledgling company Julia’s Child makes organic toddler meals for mothers too busy to cook. But saving her business, saving the environment and keeping her sanity prove nearly impossible. Julia’s freezer melts down, her toddler melts down, and her funding dries up. Hurdles include a lawless nanny, a 98 pound TV diva and a business associate who may or may not be a mobster. When a lucky celebrity endorsement gives her one last shot at success, Julia must try to capitalize on her big break before her family reaches the breaking point.

While entrepreneurial mishaps provide the humor and intrigue, the story is all about choices: motherhood vs. the self, organic vs. local, paper vs. plastic. It is also about good intentions—and just how far astray they can lead us.

My own resume is a mélange of writing and business and food: I clocked a decade of deal making on Wall Street before publishing THE SKI HOUSE COOKBOOK (Clarkson Potter) in 2007. Previously, while earning my B.A. in economics from Yale, I edited THE INSIDERS GUIDE TO COLLEGES for St. Martin's Press, and snuck in a marketing internship at Random House.

A synopsis and the first three chapters are enclosed, as per the guidelines on your website.