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An Interview with Toby Tate upon receiving an offer of representation.


Toby Tate (popgun62 on QT) has signed with agent MacKenzie Fraser-Bub of Fraser-Bub Literary.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
The book that hooked my agent is a supernatural science fiction thriller called PRIMORDIAL, about a race of beings that existed on earth before humans, who are now threatening to take control once again. It’s actually part two of a trilogy, the first one being my novel LILITH. I recently signed a deal with Permuted Press for a total of four books, including part three of the trilogy. I guess the main inspiration for this particular book was the desire to write about creatures that no one had written about before. I wanted to create something new and interesting, but something based on actual mythology and ancient lore, thus was born−the Lilitu.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing when I was a kid, so about 40 years. But I actually began writing my first published novel back in 2003. That book was published in 2010 by a very small house called Nightbird Publishing.
How long have you been working on this book?
It took about six months to complete.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
I had finished writing PRIMORDIAL, and sent it off to my publisher, but they were dragging their feet and didn’t really seem interested in publishing it. It was a little disheartening since they had published two of my books. But I really believed in the story and decided to send it off to another publishing house. I got an offer almost immediately for that book, plus three others. After they sent me the contract, I decided to try to get an agent. I got interest from two different agencies, including my dream agency, Trident Media Group. Of course, I accepted their offer.
Is this your first book?
PRIMORDIAL is my fourth complete novel.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I have a B.A. degree in English.
Do you follow a writing 'routine' or schedule?
I write when I can, which can be any time of the day or night. I tend to write the most late at night, however, after everyone else is in bed.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Probably three or four. Then my agent, MacKenzie, will also want re-writes, as well as my editor at Permuted.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I have a group of beta readers made up of fans who have been with me pretty much from the beginning. They’re really invaluable.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I have kind of a unique way of outlining. First, I do a rough synopsis of the story from beginning to end, then I do rough character sketches. Then, I begin writing the actual story. After I complete a chapter, I write a synopsis of that chapter to keep track of what’s going on−that way when I have to recall what happened in a certain part of the book, I can refer to the synopsis instead of having to re-read the entire chapter.
How long have you been querying for this book?  Other books?
I began querying for my first novel in 2008. After 100 or so rejections, I started querying publishers and got a couple of offers a year later. After accumulating about 100 rejections for my second novel, I began querying small publishers and got a couple of offers about a year later. Same for my third novel. For the fourth, I got an offer in about a week.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I looked for agents that represented in my genres, mainly sci-fi and supernatural horror. I tried to target people who represented authors that I consider peers or contemporaries or whatever. I researched Preditors and Editors and Absolute Write to see what people were saying about them, looked at their sales records, etc. I usually started with the agencies at the top of my “dream list” and worked my way down.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I used a boilerplate query and changed minor things to suit each particular agency.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Take whatever personal feedback you get from any agent and use it to improve your query and/or your manuscript. My query was in a constant state of evolution right up until I landed my agent five years later. Also, you have to believe in your manuscript even when no one else does. You have to persevere until you finally hit that combination of timing, luck and skill that gets you out of the agency’s slush pile and onto the speed dial.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
My query was over 700 words long, but it got me a lot of manuscript requests, and eventually an offer of representation. Here it is below, without the introductory paragraph:

New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston recently endorsed my latest novel: “Primordial by Toby Tate is an exceptionally well-crafted sci-fi supernatural thriller that tells a gripping story of ancient evil and modern horror, with exotic settings, vivid characters, and a plot that moves with the speed of a tsunami. The atmospherics are excellent and the story offers plenty of surprises right up to the shocking end.” --Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author of Blasphemy and Impact.

PRIMORDIAL is a dark, supernatural sci-fi thriller of approximately 65,000 words, written for a target audience of 18 to 50-year-old men and women who enjoy a good scare, an intricate plot, lots of action and true-to-life characters. If James Rollins and Dean Koontz wrote a book together, PRIMORDIAL might be the result.

For eons, the Lilitu have waited to reclaim the earth as their own. Now, the wait is over, and hell is just beginning...

Archeologists at a temple dig site in Crete unearth an ancient, oblong box constructed of a strange metal and engraved with bizarre symbols. But the box is also emitting dangerous levels of radiation.

The container and its contents are sent to the university at Heraklion to be studied under controlled conditions—but before it can arrive, the vehicle and its three occupants, including an American university student, are forced off the road in a violent crash. The artifact is taken, the student kidnapped.

As a reporter and his wife, a CIA operative and a navy communications officer search for the artifact and the young woman that carried it, they discover that whatever is inside that box is an element as yet unknown to modern science, and more powerful and deadly than enriched uranium.

They face opposition at every turn, first by the Cretan police force, then by murderous creatures that seem to defy all the precepts of creation and evolution.

But whoever is behind the theft of the artifact and the kidnapping of the young woman is after more than money or power—he belongs to a race of beings older than mankind—the Lilitu. Now time is running out and he must be stopped before he can open a transdimensional gateway that will plunge the earth into an underworld of eternal darkness and torment, where the Lilitu and their gods reign supreme.

PRIMORDIAL: Evil has evolved.


My first novel, DIABLERO, was published in paperback by Nightbird Publishing in Oct. 2010 and in e-book form by Crossroad Press in March, 2011. It was endorsed by NY Times best-selling author Steve Alten (MEG), who called it “a well-crafted read,” and was nominated for the Southern Independent Booksellers Award (SIBA).

My other published books include LILITH (endorsed by international bestselling author Warren Fahy) and THE BLACK CHURCH, both published by DarkFuse, and GOD PARTICLE, published by Crossroad Press. LILITH was favorably reviewed by Library Journal and Midwest Book Review, and THE BLACK CHURCH reached #2 on the Amazon Kindle books/horror/occult bestsellers list.

I am a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and have been interviewed twice in The Big Thrill magazine. I have over 17,000 hits on my website and I am very active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, where I have many fans and followers. I also have my own blog, “Here There Be Monsters,” and an author page on Goodreads. I have done internet radio and newspaper interviews and guest blogs. I have pages on Red Room and Authors Den, and post often on message boards such as Kindle Boards, Author Nook, Mobile Reads, Absolute Write, and

I have also done many book signings and question and answer sessions, where I sell anywhere from 20 to 30 books at a time.

I was a newspaper reporter for five years with hundreds of stories published by the Associated Press and my local paper. I have written for The Pedestal Magazine, Voluted Tales magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Scary Monsters Magazine and other periodicals. I am currently a freelance writer and journalist with articles appearing on and other websites and newspapers.

I am currently working on my next book.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Toby Tate