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An Interview with Talia Carner upon receiving an offer of representation.

Talia Carner (AuthorTalia on QT) has signed with agent Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates.

How long have you been writing?
Since 1994
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Never wanted to give it up. Since I began writing, that is what I wanted to do most.
Is this your first book?
This is my fourth novel. The first was not published, the second and third were published by small, independent publishers.
How long have you been working on this book?
Seven years—with two large breaks of about 18 months each to promote each of my other novels when they got published.
Do you have any formal writing training?
No, but since I began writing, I attended numerous writers conferences and workshops and read about 20 How-To books. I worked with professional editors (I prefer published authors who are editors) and am part of a writers’ group going for about 13 years.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Not any more. In the first ten years I simply wrote all the time, 10-16 hours a day, 6 days a week. Now I fill my week with a lot of other things to have a more rounded life.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
A zillion times. Really, it’s a never-ending task.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
What’s that?
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I outline only a few chapters ahead—in my head. I know what should happen next. But my characters have surprised me many times and took off in directions I had not expected.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Querying my early works was easier; the market was more open. The longer I have been writing--and improving—the harder it is to land an agent. Nevertheless, I had three agents before—and known and from prestigious agencies—but they did not perform well enough for me. I decided this time to change yet again.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
140?
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
  • They had to be NY-based—that’s where I live, and it made no sense for me to have out-of-towner as my last agent had been.
  • They had to be in any of the categories in which my novel fell into: commercial/literary, women’s, historical.
  • They had to have some track record of having been in the business of publishing in a significant way (or work for a prestigious agency.)
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I tailored to their interests, and in some cases to either prior contact or referral.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
  • Ultimately, all the agents with whom I made deep in-roads I had met personally at conferences or events. That’s how I landed my current agent. So my advice is to go out there and try to meet the agents in your category.
  • Also, do the number game” If agents receive hundreds of queries a month, what are your chances to get noticed with only 1-5 queries?
  • And finally, do not respect exclusivity. They don’t respect their own requests, and if you were to give exclusivity to every agent who wants to read 50 pages for 2-4 weeks, it will be years before you get through your list.