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An Interview with Laura Riken upon receiving an offer of representation.

Laura Riken (LauraBlue on QT) has signed with agent Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

How long have you been writing?
I don't remember ever not writing.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
No. Not writing isn't an option for me. Taking it from a hobby to a career makes it stressful and very hard at times, but I can't see myself ever giving up. It's very important to me.
Is this your first book?
That wasn't written only for fun, yes.
How long have you been working on this book?
Going on two years.
Do you have any formal writing training?
No.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Yes. I write at least 3,000 words a day, 5 days a week. I don't read back over what I've written until I have my first draft finished. If I do, I can't help revising what's already there and I don't make any progress on the story. After the first draft, I set the manuscript aside for a couple weeks. That way when I start reading and revising, it's with fresh eyes.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I'd guess it's something like six or seven times. Including a couple times reading the whole thing out loud.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I didn't at first, but I do now.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I outlined the whole story. I made notes about each of my characters (looks, tastes, motivations, etc.) The outline for a single chapter was anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages long and I gave each character and chapter its own page so I had room to make changes. I also noted things I'd have to research.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I sent one query about a year ago. Instant form rejection. My query letter was horrid and the novel wasn't ready. After 8 months of revisions, I tried again. I was offered representation a month later.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I made sure they accepted submissions for my genre and then I did a lot of research. I paid special attention to agents who had happy clients blogging or posting about them. It was also important to me to find an agent who would work with me on revisions and stick with me beyond my first novel.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I had a standard letter, but I included a few personalized lines to show I knew who they were and that I wasn't sending the same thing to everybody.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Make sure your novel is ready. Don't be afraid to ask others to look at your novel and/or query letter if you aren't getting the attention of agents. Go out of your way to learn everything you can from those who know more than you about the business and writing in general. Do a lot of research on the agents you query. Make sure you're sending queries to agents that accept your genre. Don't be defensive or take it personally if you're rejected. Especially if the agent takes time to write you a personalized message! Be ready for an offer by knowing which questions you should ask about the agent/agency when you get an offer. And know what the answers should be and/or need to be to meet your expectations.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
I would include it, but it gives away a lot of the story and I've made a couple changes to the novel since the letter was written. I'll describe it, though:

The first paragraph introduces the main character and boils the plot down to one sentence (hopefully in an attention grabbing way). Then there's a short summary of the story with some of the novel's exciting ideas and plot points highlighted. Then comes the manuscript details like the name, word count, genre, etc. I mentioned a successful series in a category I believe my novel fits into, but also pointed out what made my story different. Then a few lines to the individual agent along with how to best reach me if they had any questions.