Success Story Interview - Tara Sexton

An Interview with Tara Sexton (Tara725 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Megan Carroll of Watson, Little Ltd.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Tara Sexton:
The book I've found representation for is a contemporary sports romance with heavy elements of humor. It's about Marcee, a twenty-something high school soccer coach, who is struggling to prove herself in a male-dominated school. When their school's archrival hires an ex-professional soccer player who Marcee has crushed on for years, things go from bad to worse.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Tara Sexton:
I remember writing my first short stories when I was in the second grade. I slapped some very '90s clip art on the front page, printed them at my local library, and passed them out to my classmates. So, I guess you could say almost my entire life. I didn't start buckling down until about ten years ago, however, when I decided writing is what I would like to do with the rest of my life.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Tara Sexton:
I wrote a first draft pretty quickly (probably 4 months), but between edits, revisions, and a rewrite, total time is probably a year and a half.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Tara Sexton:
I've definitely felt discouraged. It's hard not to these days when the competition to get an agent is so fierce. This is my calling and I'm passionate about it, though, so I've always known I would never give up. It was just a matter of time.
QT: Is this your first book?
Tara Sexton:
Insert laughing/sobbing emoji here! This is my sixth completed novel.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Tara Sexton:
I have a degree in English with a focus on literature and took several creative writing courses in college.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Tara Sexton:
I'd like to say yes, but I have two daughters, a full-time job, a husband with a very demanding, high-stress full-time job, and a spoiled cat at, nope! I've got to be fluid and write when I can, where I can.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Tara Sexton:
2-3 rounds of edits and one re-write.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Tara Sexton:
Yes! I have a close knit writing group who have been instrumental in getting this book to where it is. I also had four outside beta readers,one of whom acted as a sensitivity reader for a large plot point in my book.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Tara Sexton:
Outline all the way. I do a general outline of the book- like an extended synopsis- then I do a chapter by chapter plot flowchart. I need organization.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Tara Sexton:
I started querying this book in August 2023, so roughly eight months. My last book I queried for nine months. The one before that was close to a year. There are two others I queried but I can't remember how long I queried those. Probably too long because they were NOT ready.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Tara Sexton:
Right around 130.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Tara Sexton:
I always try to follow an agent's guidelines, so they had to represent romance, particularly contemporary or rom-com. I made sure the agents I selected were from established agencies with zero red flags. I will say, there were a few agents I queried who might not have had on their website specifically romance, but women's fiction or commercial. A few of those actually ended up being full requests, so sometimes it doesn't hurt to shoot your shot.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Tara Sexton:
No. Certain agents make it easy to put in personal details, but I don't think it's necessary.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Tara Sexton:
First, make sure your book is ready and you're ready. Querying is so hard on your psyche. If you aren't prepared to be rejected (sometimes brutally), then you aren't ready to query. Second, if you aren't getting any movement and the rejections are form, step back and be honest about your query letter and opening pages. Chances are, they can be improved. Lastly, endure! This business requires endurance. If you can keep going, you will get there. It's going to be tough, and it may take a decade (*points at self*), but you can do it.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Tara Sexton:
Sure! See below.

Query Letter:

Dear Megan,

I’m excited to present for your consideration THE GREATEST GAME, an 80,000 word, rivals-to-lovers, contemporary romance. My novel will appeal to fans of Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score and the Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese. CW: use of alcohol, sexual content, eating disorder, illness.

Marcee Ackerman's dream job as head soccer coach at Pemberton Prep is turning into a nightmare. After two consecutive seasons of second place, the new headmaster wants to cut all weak links, possibly starting with her. Summer camp is the perfect place to focus on whipping her team into shape, even if one of the British trainers has a panty-melting accent and tree-trunk thighs that make her own quake. What's the harm in a summer fling to take her mind off second place?

Imagine her surprise when Pemberton’s archrival hires Remington Lockley, a hotshot, ex-pro soccer player who happens to be Marcee’s infuriating summer fling. Not only does Remy know her team’s strengths and weaknesses; he also pushes every over-competitive button to make Marcee see red, on and off the field. Too bad those buttons are directly wired to her mounting sexual frustration.

When Marcee's boss gives her an ultimatum mid-season– win the state championship or say goodbye to her job and her girls– she’ll do whatever it takes to tackle Remy, including using his own playbook against him. But every match has its penalties, and falling for the enemy may be just what her boss needs to get rid of her for good. When soccer is life, and love is the greatest game of all, can she juggle both?

I graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English from Arkansas State University. I’m an editorial/acquisitions intern at Lake Country Press and Reviews, as well as a freelance copy editor. I was previously represented by a literary agent and went on submission for another contemporary romance but have since parted ways. Aside from contemporary romance, I also write adult fantasy with a healthy dose of romance and am very interested in finding an agent who can represent me in both genres.

Thank you for your time.