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An Interview with Kelly Elizabeth Huston upon receiving an offer of representation.

09/08/2020

Kelly Elizabeth Huston (Writerkehr on QT) has signed with agent Rebecca Strauss of DeFiore and Company.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Tex Miller is Dead is about Callie Austin, the author of the wildly popular Tex Miller book series. After twenty-two years, she makes the daunting decision to take back the personal and professional life she relinquished to anonymity in her early author days. Her plan? Kill Tex Miller. Visible only to her, the snarky yet dashing adventurer adored the world over, isn't down with the latest plot twist.

The inspiration? I wrote a book, and I didn't know how to let it go. Tinkering with it wasn't working, and I wanted "to see other people." I also wondered about writers who have long-running series with huge excitable fan bases. We all can name a few. That reading community asks questions, make assumptions, demand more books, faster. Online forums erupt with criticism and obsession, and I tried to imagine at what point a writer feels stuck in a world of his or her own making.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing in 2018.
How long have you been working on this book?
I started Tex Miller in mid-February 2019 and finished the first draft in late April of that year.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Not for more than a day, maybe two. Stopping didn't feel like an option.
Is this your first book?
There is another book firmly packed away in a drawer. The first pancake scenario. I have two others, post-Tex Miller. One is a bit of a mess but has potential. I ADORE the third one.
Do you have any formal writing training?
ZERO. But I am actively learning all the time.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
If I could write all day, every day, I would. I'm lucky to be able to devote full-time to it.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I'll let you know when I'm done. I have had seven edit passes on this manuscript but one was a major structure and plot altering revision. I'm revising again now, with my agent's guidance.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes. Both readers and writers and I highly recommend it, as terrifying as it is.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Total pantser. I tried to take a plotting workshop. It made me hurt. No joy in that for me. I like to let 90K words flow out of me and then go back to the beginning and see if she floats. I LOVE revision.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I started querying this book WAY TOO SOON. Rookie mistake, but I was excited. The later books got queried a bit but not nearly as much. Not even close. I wrote four 90K+ word manuscripts from August 2018 to May 2020. Turns out I enjoy writing a lot more than I like querying. Go figure.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Here's the ugly reality.

58 QUERIES

5 FULL requests

1 MAJOR, plot and structure altering REVISION

39 (more) QUERIES 97 total (yikes!)

7 FULLS requests

On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I wanted an agent with a track record or to know if s/he was new there would be seasoned-colleague support and foremost I wanted a hands-on, editorial agent. I'm too new at this gig and I don't know what I don't know. And if you read my Tex story— I wanted a Laney Li. I feel pretty sure I got one.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Research, research, research. If an agent was quoted somewhere saying, "Tell me why you queried me," I did. If an agent tweeted, "I know what I want, just get to the goods," I dove into the meat of it.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
A writer with multiple published books told me it took her 417 queries to get that first one done. "Put your head, do the work, and it will happen," she said. So far, so good, but I know an agent is no guarantee, so I will continue to put my head down and do the work. We'll see how it goes.