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An Interview with Tricia Skinner upon receiving an offer of representation.

02/17/2013

Tricia Skinner (KaziWren on QT) has signed with agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
My novel, ANGEL BAIT, is an urban fantasy romance. A half-angel assassin is torn between duty and desire when he falls for the woman he’s using as bait to catch an elusive outlaw. I guess you could say this book and I have been through hell together and survived. I find that satisfying. The story is all about underdogs who fight against rotten odds. It’s fitting.
How long have you been writing?
I was a journalist once upon a time, but left that career to try a couple of others. I started attending novel writing workshops in 2010.
How long have you been working on this book?
I didn’t seriously give myself to writing this book until November 2011. Before that I was too busy trying to learn how to write a novel. I stopped and started the story many times.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
I had a few scary brushes with quitting because I was still learning about the publishing industry. People told me angel stories were dead. I saw publishers specifically list angels along with vampires and demons as the subjects they did not want submitted. Ouch. That was painful because I was not even finished with my manuscript. I kept going because I had mentors and fellow writers who convinced me to push on.
Is this your first book?
Yes, this is my gun-toting, dagger-tossing, celestial badass baby.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I have an undergraduate degree in Journalism and a masters degree in liberal studies with a creative writing concentration.
Do you follow a writing 'routine' or schedule?
Not quite. When I’m developing a story I remove the pressure of writing a set amount each day. That cramps my brain. Once I have the story clear, I set weekly word count goals. I work full time and I have a preschooler. Between my son, my husband, and our two Great Danes, I get the writing done, but it’s never based on a daily amount. Weekly is flexible and I don’t feel like I’ve failed.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I think I revised it about seven times. That doesn’t include “minor” editing which didn’t stop until I sent it to the publisher.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Oh yes. I am a member of the Mud Puddle, the online critique group for the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of RWA. I’ve made life-long friends in FF&P because we’ve shared painful manuscript drafts.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I was a proud pantser before author Cathy Yardley got her hands on me. I now live by her Rock Your Plot techniques. I’ll never be a crazy plotter like she is, but I like having the plot points and scenes worked out before I write.
How long have you been querying for this book?
I sent my first agent queries for Angel Bait in August 2012.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I sent 47 queries and received four positive replies.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
My goal was to find an agent who represented urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and who had a track record for growing the career of his or her client. I researched each agent because I wanted one with a solid reputation in the publishing industry. He or she had to have recent sales, and I preferred a mix of traditional and e-published deals, big and small. Any agent who turned up their nose to e-publishing (learned through interviews I read) I crossed off my list. The agent had to make deals that worked in the changing industry. If they couldn’t evolve, I didn’t want them.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
At first I did not, which should be a cardinal sin for a new writer. Thankfully, I realized my mistake early. If I felt the agent was the strongest possible match, I personalized the heck out of the query (within reason). One thing I did, which is a little odd, is I held off on sending my “top” choices the query. I wanted to perfect my approach with every rejection. Ha! Man, I was so naïve. When I finally pulled together my courage and queried Laurie McLean, we clicked. She loved the story and my writing voice. I should have believed what everyone said: if the agent loves your work, you’ll know.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
After joining QueryTracker, spend a few days reading the comments of other authors. Learn their experiences. That will give you an idea of what you might expect. Then sit your butt down and really think about the kind of agent you want. Toss out all the dreams of JK Rowling riches. Who do you want as a business partner for the next 10-20 years? What kind of person do you work with best? Finally, show those agents you have business sense, too. Make sure your author brand kicks ass. Don’t wait until you’re published to get social media going. Show them what kind of business partner you’ll be.