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An Interview with Josh Michaels upon receiving an offer of representation.


Josh Michaels (DrCarter2001 on QT) has signed with agent Lynnette Novak of The Seymour Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
This is a medical thriller. When her patients go insane, a psychiatrist self-treating for amnesia must fix the memory drug she fears is at fault, or suffer the same fate.

While I was sitting on an empty bus in Boston, someone boarded and sat directly behind me. I started thinking about why someone would do that and came up with a stranger telling a doctor in the same situation that everything she knew about herself was a lie. When I told my wife about it, she asked me questions until the main story plot took shape.

How long have you been writing?
Approximately 10 years (formally).
How long have you been working on this book?
Six years from conception to final revision.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Yes, I actually set it aside for several years to work on other projects, but the story stayed with me. I continued to study other writers and improve my craft, and then, while working on a different story, I had an "A-ha!" moment and realized how I could improve this book. I ended up doing major revisions, including updating it to reflect societal changes over the past couple of years.
Is this your first book?
I wrote drafts for two other books before this one, but this is the first complete novel.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Creative writing courses in college, and took several online courses.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I used to have a good routine of writing 3-5 pages per day. My work and home-life schedules have become busier so now I have to squeeze in writing when I can, aiming for 2000 words per week. I hope to get to a point where I can again stick to a regular writing routine.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Three major revisions and a gajillion smaller edits.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
When I started writing it, I was on the FanStory website and received helpful feedback. My wife was a primary beta reader of the finished draft. After that, I got help with the first chapter and queries from the QT Forum.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
For this book, I wrote on the fly, and then wrote outlines and synopses afterward to figure out where I needed to make changes. For my WIP, I'm now using Scrivener and trying to do more outlining and sketches.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I started querying my writing in general around 9 years ago. I started querying this book five years ago, received several full requests and helpful feedback, and then took a break until I finished revisions and started sending queries again 4-5 months ago.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I lost count, but I'm sure I have them all tracked on QT. At least 50.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I tried to focus on agents who repped thrillers, especially medical thrillers. When I started querying again this year, I used #MSWL--that's actually how I found my agent, as it was the best way to see exactly what they were seeking and if my manuscript fit the bill.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Yes, when possible. If I saw that they repped another medical thriller writer I'd comment on that, or if they mentioned something in their #MSWL or in an interview that was relevant. I actually had queried my agent once four months ago and never received a reply, but I kept seeing her tweeting about her interest in thrillers. I realized both my query and first chapter were not strong enough, redid both, and queried her again with an opening comment admitting that I had queried her previously, but I thought she would like my changes and felt she would be a strong advocate for my novel. She immediately responded with a full request.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Don't give up! Seeking an agent is like dating: you're looking for the perfect match. You wouldn't marry someone who felt lukewarm about you, so you don't want an agent who isn't passionate about your book. It's okay to cast a wide net, but make sure you query agents who would be a good fit, and make your query important to them. You'll probably get form rejections, but when you get that first personal rejection, especially if it has helpful suggestions, you're on the right track. Don't be afraid to revise, and don't be afraid to set your work aside for a while to distance yourself enough to look at it objectively.