Success Story Interview - Talia Carner

An Interview with Talia Carner (AuthorTalia on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates.


QT: How long have you been writing?
Talia Carner:
Since 1994
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Talia Carner:
Seven years—with two large breaks of about 18 months each to promote each of my other novels when they got published.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Talia Carner:
Never wanted to give it up. Since I began writing, that is what I wanted to do most.
QT: Is this your first book?
Talia Carner:
This is my fourth novel. The first was not published, the second and third were published by small, independent publishers.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Talia Carner:
No, but since I began writing, I attended numerous writers conferences and workshops and read about 20 How-To books. I worked with professional editors (I prefer published authors who are editors) and am part of a writers’ group going for about 13 years.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Talia Carner:
Not any more. In the first ten years I simply wrote all the time, 10-16 hours a day, 6 days a week. Now I fill my week with a lot of other things to have a more rounded life.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Talia Carner:
A zillion times. Really, it’s a never-ending task.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Talia Carner:
What’s that?
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Talia Carner:
I outline only a few chapters ahead—in my head. I know what should happen next. But my characters have surprised me many times and took off in directions I had not expected.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Talia Carner:
Querying my early works was easier; the market was more open. The longer I have been writing--and improving—the harder it is to land an agent. Nevertheless, I had three agents before—and known and from prestigious agencies—but they did not perform well enough for me. I decided this time to change yet again.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Talia Carner:
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Talia Carner:
- They had to be NY-based—that’s where I live, and it made no sense for me to have out-of-towner as my last agent had been.
- They had to be in any of the categories in which my novel fell into: commercial/literary, women’s, historical.
- They had to have some track record of having been in the business of publishing in a significant way (or work for a prestigious agency.)
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Talia Carner:
I tailored to their interests, and in some cases to either prior contact or referral.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Talia Carner:
- Ultimately, all the agents with whom I made deep in-roads I had met personally at conferences or events. That’s how I landed my current agent. So my advice is to go out there and try to meet the agents in your category.
- Also, do the number game” If agents receive hundreds of queries a month, what are your chances to get noticed with only 1-5 queries?
- And finally, do not respect exclusivity. They don’t respect their own requests, and if you were to give exclusivity to every agent who wants to read 50 pages for 2-4 weeks, it will be years before you get through your list.