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

Success Story Interview - Teresa Rhyne

An Interview with Teresa Rhyne (TJRhyne on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Sarah Jane Freymann of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Teresa Rhyne:
It's a memoir and thus, naturally, inspired by a life event. I can't share details at this point, but I look forward to being able to in the future.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Teresa Rhyne:
Like most writers, I have always loved reading and writing. I got away from the writing (but never the reading!) in college and law school days, but finally returned to it about ten years ago.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Teresa Rhyne:
I've been working on this book for just about a year now.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Teresa Rhyne:
I've felt like giving up, and actually given up. But only momentarily. I like to and need to write, so I do. It makes me laugh now, but the very weekend before I received offers of representation I had started having major doubts about writing, this book, the proposal...the whole thing. I was very happy to be wrong. And I immediately got back to writing.
QT: Is this your first book?
Teresa Rhyne:
No. I've had maybe a natural progression. I first wrote a novel and while I was a finalist in a writing contest with that, I didn't seek representation. In fact, I'm still writing (er, re-writing) it. Then I co-wrote a humor book with a friend and we obtained representation for that book but the agent did not find an editor for it. I'm hoping the progression continues and now I can get past the agent stage to the editor stage!
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Teresa Rhyne:
I suppose that depends on your definition of "formal." I don't have an MFA. I have taken classes at UCLA and UCR. And I spent one glorious week at the Maui Writer's Retreat, as well as attending many conferences.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Teresa Rhyne:
Yes, every New Year's Eve I resolve to have a writing routine and stick to it. And I fail. That is my routine. I tend to get most of my writing done on writing retreat vacations and I'm lucky enough to have girlfriends who love to join me for that. Other than that it's weekends and late nights (I'm useless in the morning).
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Teresa Rhyne:
It's non-fiction and thus not finished yet. I wrote and re-wrote the proposal about 3 times. I'm on the second draft of the first half of the manuscript itself.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Teresa Rhyne:
Yes. I have two writers' groups.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Teresa Rhyne:
It's outlined (necessary for the proposal) but also, it's memoir so...I kind of already had the "plot."
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Teresa Rhyne:
I queried for just under 7 weeks from start to offer of representation. For the humor book that had an agent the time frame was maybe 3 months, but we actually found the agent at a pitch session at the San Francisco Writers conference.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Teresa Rhyne:
I think in the end it was 49. But I'm still waiting to hear from quite a few of those!
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Teresa Rhyne:
I looked for agents interested in memoir, animals and health...which only makes sense in the context of my book. But being able to search that specifically on QueryTracker was really helpful. I could narrow the focus to a strong group of agents that would be a really good match.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Teresa Rhyne:
The basics of the query were the same. I only customized to tell them why I had selected them.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Teresa Rhyne:
The usual: don't give up! Also, I think query letters are really difficult to write, but when I wrote this one it was actually very easy. I think it was because I really understood my book and what it was. Writing the proposal really focused me and was extremely helpful. So, I think, if the query letter is too hard for a writer, maybe the book needs to be examined a bit more to understand and be able to express its core or essence.