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

Success Story Interview - Shawntelle Madison

An Interview with Shawntelle Madison (oneeighty on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Jim McCarthy of Dystel Goderich & Bourret LLC.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Shawntelle Madison:
My novel's a romance about a witch matchmaker and a warlock repo man. Surprisingly, I came up with the idea after watching The Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo television. I get the most interesting characters from watching reality television.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Shawntelle Madison:
I wrote my first incomplete book when I was fourteen. I jumped back into writing a year ago in November.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Shawntelle Madison:
I completed this book in 4 months and queried it after the summer conferences ended.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Shawntelle Madison:
I didn't want to give up, but I've felt discouraged. What really helped me was to stay on task and head on to the next book. I was actively querying my first book when the idea for this book popped into my head. It was a great distraction from the querying process. I'll admit it, it can be easy to dwell on the negative, but I found that by immersing myself in the next book I can keep a positive outlook. I tried to think, “There's always that next book if this one doesn't work out."
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Shawntelle Madison:
I took a few courses in college, but other than that, no.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Shawntelle Madison:
I tend to write when I feel the urge. I write in spurts where I take a break from writing for a little while, then when the writing bug hits I write all the time. I wouldn't say I have a concrete schedule.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Shawntelle Madison:
My book was edited as I wrote it, but as to major re-writes, I didn't do any of those after I finished.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Shawntelle Madison:
Yes, I have wonderful critique partners. They are a necessity.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Shawntelle Madison:
I outlined the book, and then I wrote the scenes from the hip. For this one I also wrote scenes as they came. I had the final scene done before I even finished the book.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Shawntelle Madison:
I finished the book in June and began querying in August. A little over half a month into querying I got a call from Jim.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Shawntelle Madison:
I sent out 40 queries for this book.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Shawntelle Madison:
The agent primarily had to accept romance since that is what I write. From that point, they had to have an interest in a book that had a bit of a chick lit voice. If they had previous clients who wrote that kind of work that was a major plus.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Shawntelle Madison:
I try to personalize every query. That includes researching their current client list and trying to find any other clients that have a similar book compared to mine.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Shawntelle Madison:
Do your research and take the querying process seriously. After investing the time in your book, take a bit more time to analyze your query and treat it like a resume. Does it have the book, cook, and the hook? Is the information short and succinct?
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Shawntelle Madison:
This is the query I sent to my agent:

Query Letter:

Mr. McCarthy,

My novel MEMOIRS OF A WITCH MATCHMAKER is a complete 80,000 word paranormal chick lit novel that I hope you will consider.

Supernatural matchmaker Tessa Dandridge helps reckless werewolves and precocious pixies find love. But with financial problems related to her business looming, an opportunity to hit the major leagues comes up. That is, until her magical Rolodex is lost in her repo'ed car and she can't contact her V.I.P. clients. To connect with an important client cavorting in the fifth dimension, Tessa must depend on handsome Rob the warlock repo man to enter Limbo and find her Rolodex.

Forced to help Tessa, Rob faces money problems of his own, thanks to the bank determined to foreclose on his elderly aunt and uncle's home. Tessa is drawn in the middle when Rob's repossession jobs catch up with him and powerful warlock seeks to end Rob's life for his constant meddling. With Tessa also growing increasingly unhappy with her "perfect" handpicked boyfriend, she'll question both her matchmaking skills and what she believes is the ideal man.

My novel is targeted for Love Spell or other paranormal romance lines with a large female audience that enjoys authors such as Shanna Swendson or Mindy Klasky. It has a quirky voice similar to the book Succubus Blues, by your client Richelle Mead. Each chapter begins with dating tips from a paranormal perspective. A portion of the first chapter is included below. Thanks for your time and consideration.

Shawntelle Madison