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An Interview with Allison Pang upon receiving an offer of representation.

Allison Pang (mynfel on QT) has signed with agent Colleen Lindsay of .

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
I wrote an Urban Fantasy - I was looking to do something fun with some humor, but also have the ability to move into a fantasy world as part of the backdrop. I also wanted to get away from the vampire/werewolf/slayer aspect of UF. To change things up a bit, I went with an incubus as the hero, as well as adding an amusing sidekick in the form of a tiny, ass-biting unicorn.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote quite a bit in high school, but found myself fairly disillusioned with college English classes. I just wasn’t a literary writer and I didn’t fit in. I stopped writing entirely for about 15 years – got a job, got married, etc. A few years ago, I got involved with online forum games (also known as Play by Post), and discovered I really enjoyed it and I wasn’t too bad. This led to a few small co-writing projects (that will never be for public consumption, LOL) and eventually I decided to see what was involved with actually getting published.
How long have you been working on this book?
I seriously started writing this book in Fall of 2008 and finished the rough draft in April 2009.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Of course. Call it fear of success/fear of failure, if you want. But at times I found myself making excuses for not getting much written – i.e. I worked full time, I have small children, husband is in law enforcement and works long and weird hours. Basically I let my life be an excuse for not pursuing what was my dream. As far as staying on course, I did try to get involved with other writing groups, took workshops, researched the process as much as I could.
Is this your first book?
Yes.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Just a few classes from college (I was actually a Biology major, but I ended up a class shy of an English minor by the time I finished).
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Generally I can’t really write until after the kids are in bed, so usually I start around 10 PM and work until midnight or 1 AM. I attempt a daily goal of at least 1000 words a day.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I spent about 2 months revising off and on over the summer. I had pitched the book at Romantic Times in April, so I had a few requests for partials that I needed to get sent out, but I was finally happy with it by August.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I started out that way, but I made the mistake of letting people read it before it was finished, so part of what took me as long as it did to write, was that I was constantly trying to rewrite that first chapter until it satisfied *everyone*. Which you can’t really do, though I did try (about 17 times, literally!) Part of the problem as well is that some of the people doing critiques didn’t write in my genre and didn’t understand what I was trying to do – i.e. kept telling me to change things to fit the rules of contemporary romance, for example.

Finally, I just had to tell myself to stop listening and go with my gut. Oddly enough, what I ended up with was rather close to what I had started with, long before I made all those changes!

Once I did finish, I had a few trusted beta readers go through it, but I was better equipped to work with them since I had a finished product to play with.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Mostly from the hip. I have a vague idea of where I want to go and I aim towards that, but otherwise, I just see where the story goes. If I start getting stuck, that’s when I start a rudimentary sort of plotting. I use Mindola’s virtual index cards. They’re great.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I started seriously querying in August of 2009 (when I was finished with those revisions). I had gotten rejections based off the pitches I had done at RT, but as noted, I made the mistake of pitching before it was really ready. Two months can make a big difference as far as revisions go.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Four via QueryTracker, one of which resulted in an offer of representation. But I also pitched twice via an online chat room, both of which resulted in requests and offers of representation. I also got an offer of representation from a contest win.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I made sure they represented the genre for the book that I had written. If they had blogs or twitter pages, I checked those out too. I also looked to see who their clients were and if those clients wrote similar things. (And sometimes, I’d email those clients directly to see how they liked the agent in question).
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Absolutely. Submission guidelines can be very different. I made sure to follow them as best as I could. Although the overall meat of the query was the same, I did tailor each one with something personal – i.e. mention of their blog or if I had seen them on a panel in a conference, etc.

I know some people say contest wins/finals don’t really matter to agents, but I did mention mine.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Never give up. Never surrender.

Seriously, my advice is this:
  1. Don’t take things personally. If you get a form rejection, don’t bother wasting time worrying about it. Just file it away and understand it was the work that was rejected, not YOU. No reason why you can’t query the same agent with something else later on. I would say it’s not a bad idea to have maybe 3 queries out at a time, and just rotate out. (i.e. a rejection comes in, new query goes out).
  2. I would recommend getting advice directly on the query letter – post it up somewhere like on the BackSpace forums, for example. People who have no direct vested interest in the query or the book can usually be counted on to be frank and honest about what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Many agents have blogs that go into quite a lot of detail about what makes a good query letter (along with what they personally like/dislike). Definitely check those out.
  4. Keep writing. Even if you are querying on a finished project, don’t just sit around and wait to see if it hits. Always be working on something else.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear <Agent Name>,

<Personalized Greeting>

I had a naked incubus in my bedroom. With a frying pan of half-cooked bacon and a hard-on. And a unicorn bite on his ass. Christ, but this was turning out to be a weird morning.

Six months ago, 26 year-old Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of a shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and her Faery Princess employer has gone missing. Caught up in a tangle of Faery politics and Otherworldly intrigues that she barely understands, Abby finds herself the target of growing suspicion as friends continue to disappear.

When the Queen of Elfland gives Abby twenty four hours to find her missing daughter, she is forced to forge an uneasy truce with the sexy incubus haunting her dreams for reasons he won’t reveal. Despite their mutual mistrust and the half-truths shared between them, Abby soon finds herself falling for the shapeshifting daemon - but is she being framed or set up to be the next victim?

Shadow of the Incubus is an Urban Fantasy Romance, complete at 101,000 words. It won the Toronto Romance Writers Golden Opportunity 2009 contest, The Molly 2009 contest and the Heart of the Rockies Contest 2009.

<personalized closing>