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An Interview with Joseph Sidari upon receiving an offer of representation.

06/17/2015

Joseph Sidari (22will on QT) has signed with agent Christine Cohen of Virginia Kidd Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
LITTLE GREEN MEN is science fiction with a unique and unlikely hero. Charlie Rice is a paramedic with Tourette’s Syndrome who stumbles upon a crash-landed UFO, and discovers he’s the only one who can stop an alien invasion with his emerging psychic talents. He doesn't want to save the world, he just wants to find an apartment, but fate has other plans for him.

After years and years of denying the existence of UFOs (so say the conspiracy theorists), I wondered what would happen if the government admitted there really were UFOs. And what would make them blow their cover story?
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing my whole life, but writing regularly since 2007.
How long have you been working on this book?
I started this book back in 2010 and wrote and edited and rewrote it in about 9 months. I queried it for about 6 months with no luck. I sent it to a small publisher who recommended a revise and resubmit. I didn't do that at the time. Frustrated, I then shelved it in favor of a new novel. Two years later, I spent another 6 months on a major rewrite, sent that to beta readers, and then incorporated those comments. I knew I had a much better manuscript, so I decided to try querying again.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Oh, yes. After finishing that novel after LITTLE GREEN MEN, and getting nowhere with it, I was very down on my writing. But I enjoyed the process of writing, and of rewriting. That is what kept me going. And after this last rewrite of LITTLE GREEN MEN, I had six requests for full manuscripts, so I knew I had produced a better book.
Is this your first book?
No, it is my third. The first two are sleeping comfortably in my hard drive.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Not really. Although I have taken a few online courses.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I write whenever I. I write before work. When my family is watching TV. And I binge-write on the weekends when the weather is rainy or snowy (which is a lot in New England).
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I lost track. Somewhere between a lot and enough.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes, I had three beta-readers. They exposed my plot holes and helped me improve the manuscript tremendously.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I am a compulsive outliner, but I would change my outline as the characters told me what they wanted to do next.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Somewhere between a lot and enough. I would send out ten to twelve at a time, and then wait for the responses, and tweak my query depending on how I thought they were being perceived. But the funny thing is that the agent who is representing me, Christine Cohen of the Virginia Kidd Agency was in that first batch of queries. So although I sent out many queries, I struck gold in that first dozen (although I wouldn't realize it until five months later when I was offered representation).
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I was querying a SF/mainstream crossover novel, so I targeted agents who were interested in the commercial and sci-fi genres. I used the tools in QT to identify the agents, then clicked through to the websites to make sure I was querying the right person. And I am so fortunate I found Christine, and that she loved my manuscript. She has been fantastic to work with.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I used info from QT, from the agency website, and other areas (twitter, blogs, etc.). If I found an author they represented that was similar to my style or genre, or a topic or interest that overlapped with the storyline in my manuscript, I would include that.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
If you love to write (and we all do), then be patient and persistent. Keep working on your story, until it is the absolute best it can be, then query until the cows come home.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear Ms. Cohen,

LITTLE GREEN MEN (97,000 words) is science fiction with a unique and unlikely hero. Charlie Rice is a paramedic with Tourette’s Syndrome who stumbles upon a crash-landed UFO, and discovers he’s the only one who can stop an alien invasion with his emerging psychic talents. Think "ET" meets "Scrubs."

Ashamed of the random tics and outbursts that accompany his Tourette's syndrome, Charlie prefers to avoid the spotlight. But his involvement in a high profile death as a first year EMT changes that, and sends him scuttling off to rural New Hampshire to regain his anonymity. A job in the tiny village of Gilmont seems to be just the tonic for what ails him.

But then a Dorito-shaped aircraft makes a swan dive in front of Charlie. Amidst the smoke and flames and desperate cries for help he finds alien beings. They’re so little, so helpless, and so … green. Pursued by secret military operatives, fanatical members of the Alien Abduction Society, and the news paparazzi, Charlie become the focal point of a media circus and government cover-up. Not bad for his first month in a new town. Hmm, no. On second thought—very bad.

Aided by his foul-mouthed partner, his elderly psychic landlady, a tree-hugging biology teacher, and a plastic surgery-addicted reporter, Charlie struggles to reclaim his quiet life and prove to the world that he’s not crazy, handicapped, the leader of a UFO cult, or the carrier of an alien plague. He is, however, the only one who may be able to prevent the aliens from colonizing Earth.

I’ve never had an alien encounter, but I am a physician. That means you can be sure that my scientific and medical scenes are realistic. I received my MD from Boston University. And although this is my first novel, I have been published in medical journals. Most recently, my article, "The Last Words to Ever Say to a Patient," which was named Honorable Mention in this year's Physician Writing Contest, will be published in Medical Economics on October 10, 2015. And, unlike my protagonist, Charlie, I have social skills. I’ve given many presentations on medical topics to colleagues and lay people, and I plan to use that experience to help promote this book, the first in a proposed series. I’m active on social media. And my website is josephsidari.com.

I think this novel would appeal to readers who enjoy John Scalzi’s sci-fi (The Android’s Dream, Agent to the Star’s) or Christopher Moore’s fantasy (Lamb, A Dirty Job) and fans of the humorous fiction of Carl Hiassen. Pretty big shoes to fill, I know.

I’m contacting you personally because of your stellar reputation, and your interest in representing science fiction. And I know you represent Alan Dean Foster, so I thought this might be a good fit for you. May I send you pages or the complete manuscript?

Thank you for your consideration,

Joseph Sidari