Success Story Interview - Sophia K Brinton

An Interview with Sophia K Brinton (sophiakate on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Leah Moss of Steven Literary.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Sophia K Brinton:
This book was inspired by the sibling story in Practical Magic: How two siblings can have the same powers but view them so differently.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Sophia K Brinton:
I've been writing here and there for my whole life, but I wrote my first full length novel in 2017, and have been writing daily since 2019.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Sophia K Brinton:
I wrote it in 2021 and started querying it in 2022 (22 months)
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Sophia K Brinton:
No. I was always determined to get published one way or another. An agent seems like the best way, but small presses are also a great option.
QT: Is this your first book?
Sophia K Brinton:
This is the 8th book I've written and the 3rd book I've queried.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Sophia K Brinton:
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Sophia K Brinton:
Yes, I write first thing in the morning every day, around 545, until 640 when my kids get up.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Sophia K Brinton:
Omg how many times? I can't remember. I had two massive revisions during the 22 months of querying. Before that, I think I had at least 8 drafts, with beta readers in between, along with reading it out loud, listening to it, reading it on kindle, etc. All the things we do to try to perfect a book.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Sophia K Brinton:
Yes, at many different stages.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Sophia K Brinton:
I used the Save the Cat Writes a Novel beats to roughly outline the shape of this book.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Sophia K Brinton:
22 months for this book. I started querying my first book in early 2020, and in 2021 queried my second. I signed that one with an agent but she quit the business so in spring 2022 I began querying this book.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Sophia K Brinton:
194 queries sent, per my QT dashboard. 23 requests.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Sophia K Brinton:
I wanted agents who accepted YA fantasy, who were LGBTQIA+ friendly, who had made a sale or who worked at an agency with good support, who had a friendly online presence, who had a good reputation, who I'd interacted with in the past.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Sophia K Brinton:
No. Mostly I did not. Only if i knew one of their clients or had something specific to say.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Sophia K Brinton:
Stick with it. Send one out for every rejection. Keep writing the new book.

Query Letter:

After my agent left the business, I am seeking new representation for my latest YA crossover fantasy, A SONG LIKE THE WIND. Complete at 88,000 words, this book was short-listed for the 2023 Dante Rosetti Awards for YA Fiction and long-listed for the 2023 Cheshire Novel Prize. It was a finalist in the 2022 Killer Nashville Claymore Award for Best SFF, and was awarded 2nd place in the 2022 SFF CritiqueMatch FictionFive contest. A SONG LIKE THE WIND is perfect for fans of Allison Saft’s lush, immersive world building, Margaret Owen’s morally gray characters, and Gabe Cole Novoa’s LGBTQIA+ representation.

In East Caisluish, pickpocket Etana hides a secret: She can hear the Song, a magic outlawed after the Singer Uprising almost overthrew the queendom. Six years ago, she let it out in a burst of crimson Song cloud, killing three guards. Her parents took the blame and were put to death, and Etana has never forgiven herself. She spends her days stealing to pay her brother’s gambling debts and helping street kids survive, wishing she could get rid of her hated magic.

When Etana unwittingly steals a bottle filled with that same forbidden magic, guards ransack the city in search of it. To end the chaos, she returns the bottle and gets caught. In her terror, she loses control and a wisp of Song cloud escapes her mouth. Guards drag her to the palace where the Song Hunters—a secret society that hunts down Singers and removes their magic—offer her a deal: If Etana will teach them how to hear the Song magic, she can keep her life and her freedom. Etana agrees.

Despite her brother’s desperate pleading, Etana meets with Kathika, leader of the Song Hunters. They work together to gain control of Etana’s magic, and despite herself, Etana begins to see beauty in the power she’s always dreaded. Amid such acceptance, she thinks she’s finally found her people—until the Song Hunters remove her brother’s magic, leaving him a drooling shell of flesh and bone. Etana must get out, find a cure, but it’s too late: she’s one of them now.

Alongside my day job, I volunteer for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. I write at dawn from Boulder, CO, while my partner, two kids, and two cats sleep. When not writing or working, I bake bread, play the banjo, go camping/backpacking, and get punched in the face (box).

Content guidance: orphanhood, child homelessness, brainwashing, hand-to-hand fighting, gambling addiction, parental death (off page), human trafficking.