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An Interview with Macy Beckett upon receiving an offer of representation.

05/15/2011

Macy Beckett (taylormillgirl on QT) has signed with agent Nicole Resciniti 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?
Sure! Nicole requested both of my manuscripts, a contemporary romance and a YA sci-fi, but it was the romance she really fell in love with—pun definitely intended!—so I'll focus on that one.

HOT AND HEAVENLY follows the misadventures of June Augustine, an Austin bar owner who's forced to return to her tiny hometown of Heavenly, Texas, for a month of community service…performed under the supervision of her first love, the devilishly sexy Luke Gallagher.

What inspired me to pen this novel? I've always been drawn to romances in which the hero and heroine share a past—we're talkin' all the way back to childhood. One morning, the characters appeared to me while I was showering—they're cheeky like that—and then the ideas began to flow.

How long have you been writing?
I have an English degree, so I've been writing longer than I care to remember, but I didn't start writing for pleasure until the 2009 NaNoWriMo.
How long have you been working on these book?
The romance: nine months, and it's now on sub. The YA sci-fi: eighteen months and I'm still revising.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Yes and no. I wrote the YA first, and I made a lot of mistakes. After the third re-write, I began to doubt whether I'd write another book, but I never felt tempted to quit on the original. My philosophy was this: I've worked so hard on this book, why half-ass it now? (Pardon my French.) When I'd finished revising that book, I set it aside and then wrote the romance that eventually landed me an agent. I never felt temped to give up on that one, either, and I had an absolute blast writing it!
Were either of these your first book?
The YA is my first, and the romance is my second.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Other than one creative writing course I took as an undergraduate, no, I don't have formal writing training. My English program focused on analyzing literary themes as opposed to creating our own work.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Well, I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids, so they dictate my schedule right now. Once they're all in school full-time, my ideal routine would involve writing in the morning when I'm fresh and creative, and then handling marketing, blogging, and the business side of things in the afternoon.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
The romance was pretty clean—only two drafts—but after signing with Nicole, I added 20k words to bring it from category to single title length.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes, I swapped manuscripts with a few fellow writers.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Oh, I am SO not a pantser! My only attempt at writing from the hip resulted in manuscript death at 13k words. I follow the first seven steps of The Snowflake Method, which is just enough to outline the basics. The details and specifics come to me while I'm writing.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried for six weeks before receiving an offer of representation.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Hello, my name is Macy, and I'm a recovering query addict. I sent more than fifty. And because I didn't "nudge" outstanding queries when Nicole offered representation, the responses are still trickling in. It's funny—I still freak out for a second when I see a query response in my inbox.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I began with recommendations from writer friends, and then I researched newer agents, figuring they'd be more likely to take a chance on an unpublished writer. Integrity was an important factor, too. I crossed a couple agents off my "to-query" list after witnessing their mean-spirited tweets. Other crucial factors: open communication, strong editorial involvement, and honesty.

When I read Nicole's interview on the Mother.Write.Repeat blog, her agenting philosophy resonated with me so strongly that I dropped everything and queried her on the spot.

Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I tried to personalize each query, but sometimes it wasn't possible. And you know what? I received just as many full requests from generic queries as the personalized ones. It's the blurb that counts.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Test your query in batches of ten to see if it's effective. Anything less than a 50% request rate might need reworking. Show your letter to other writers and encourage them to SHRED it. Once you find a version that works, put those irons in the fire, and DON'T GIVE UP! I can't believe how many people quit after receiving an arbitrary number of rejections: 25, 50, 100. Don't stop!
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Absolutely! I'll share the romance, since that's the one ultimately responsible for my offer. Keep in mind I've since changed the title to HOT AND HEAVENLY, and the word count is now 82k.

Dear Nicole,

If my name looks familiar, it's because you're currently reviewing another of my manuscripts. I would also like to present my short contemporary romance, TOUGH LOVE, for your consideration.

When June Augustine hightailed it out of Heavenly County with her heart in pieces, she swore she'd never return. But nine years later, one thing stands between June and her dream of opening an upscale martini bar: a bogus outstanding warrant from her tiny Texas hometown. Now June's stuck in the sticks for a month of community service under the supervision of the devilishly sexy Luke Gallagher, her first love and ex-best friend.

June's biding her time renovating homes with Luke, but the attraction between them is hotter than ever; and when they're busted buck naked and guilty as sin, June's long-buried dream of building a life with Luke begins to resurface. As lust turns to love, June must decide where she belongs: in the glorious anonymity of Austin, or back in Heavenly, a town she'd always considered her own personal hell.

TOUGH LOVE (63k words) is a finalist in the Cleveland Rocks contest, and Laura Barth at Harlequin will determine the winner in May. The playfulness, humor, and fully-described love scenes in my book will appeal to Rachel Gibson fans, and I believe it would make an excellent fit in several category lines.

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from [redacted], and I'm an active member of the [redacted] chapter of the RWA. Per your submission guidelines, I have pasted the first five pages of my manuscript below. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Macy Beckett

(Nicole requested the full within an hour and offered a contract three days later.)

I hope this is helpful. Good luck to all my fellow writers.

A special THANK YOU to the staff at querytracker for offering such a valuable resource to writers seeking representation. Your hard work is greatly appreciated.