Friday, April 29, 2011

QueryTrackers Making Tracks, #6

Today is the sixth installment of my Friday series on successful authors from QueryTracker. Some of the authors I'm spotlighting have agents, others have found success in less conventional ways. But one thing they all have in common is the utilization of the QueryTracker website to help make their tracks in the publishing world.

Today's guest is somewhat of a legend among my fellow QTers. Anna Zagar of Scarlett Prose (aka purpleprose on QT), sent out queries, received four offers of representation, decided on the fabulous Lucy Carson for her agent, revised her MS, and snagged Feiwel & Friends as a publisher (her debut YA Fantasy, OF POSEIDON, will be released in Spring of 2012), all in the whirlwind span of less than two months. Add a cruise and some family health scares into the mix, and you have one crazy climb to the shelves! Let's take a moment of silence to let that sink in.


Okay, enough with the hero worship. Let's welcome the lovely Miss Anna Zaga to the interview box.

Hello, Anna!

Anna: First of all, thankyousoverymuch for having me on your blog today! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts to help new writers—both published and working toward publication. You’re an asset to the writing community.

AGH: Thank you, Anna. And I could say the same for you. You've been one of my biggest cheerleaders behind the scenes while I'm out on submission, and I know you've helped others besides me along the way. I'm honored to have you here! I know everyone's excited to get to know you, so let's get started. What genre(s) do you write?

Anna: I write YA Sci-fi/Fantasy and Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy. Every story I write will always have a romance in it though. Because I’m girlie like that.

AGH: Could you give us a quick summary of the book which snagged your agent?

Anna: Sure: A merman prince exchanges his fin for high school, hairy legs, and flip flops in order to help a human girl change into the fish he knows she is. She has a particular gift which can ensure the survival of his kind as long as she mates with his older brother, the Triton king. Keeping his loyalty to his kingdom gets tricky when he starts to fall for her; the sooner she turns into a fish, the sooner he can turn her over to his brother and put some distance between them. But will she give up everything she cares about—her mother, scholarships, cheesecake—to save a world she’s never known? And—what’s taking her so long to sprout a fin, anyway?

AGH: Sounds so fun! And a little fishy. Hmm. How long did you query it, and what were your stats?

Anna: I started querying the first of January, and received an offer of rep on January 27th. Lucy told me to notify other agents of my offer, so I did, and received two more offers (there was also an unofficial offer, like an offer to offer if I’d make some changes, so I don’t count that one). Here are my stats:
60 queries total:

11 requests for fulls (3 of which came from partial requests)
3 partials (included in full requests above)
8 who never received the darn thing
33 rejections
8 closed/no response

AGH: Incredible stats! What inspired your book idea?

Anna: I’ve always been fascinated with the ocean (did you know that only approx. 5% of the world’s oceans have been explored/seen by human eyes?). One day I was reading an article about how they’d found a washed-up carcass of a Colossal Squid in 2005—something scientists considered a myth, fishermen’s lore. I got to thinking, What ELSE could be out there? So, I set out to scientifically prove that mermaids could actually exist, and the story unfolded from there.

AGH: How did you come up with the title?

Anna: The title is OF POSEIDON, and I’ve just been informed that Feiwel and Friends plans on keeping it. It’s simply derived from the inherited gift my heroine, Emma, possesses. It’s the Gift of Poseidon. Can’t really say much more than that…

AGH: Before you signed with your agent, how many other books had you tried to query?

Anna: OF POSEIDON was my second attempt at writing and querying. The first one, an Adult Sci-fi, was put on hold to focus on my new YA venture. Weird, but I just received a full request from an agent on a query I sent OVER A YEAR AGO for that project. Got caught in her spam filter. The lesson is clear: If you hear no response, re-send the dang thing! (Unless of course, the agency policy is No Response Means No). Lucy has agreed to represent my adult project as well, so hopefully I’ll have good news to share on that soon…

AGH: Sounds promising! Please keep us posted on that. So, what books / authors would you say have most influenced your own style and concepts?

Anna: In general, I grew up reading romance novels, so all my books will have a love story (in her defense, I don’t think my mom realized just exactly how raw romance novels can be. She still thinks flipping someone the bird means “Up your butt, mister!”). More specifically, Janet Evanovich, for her humor. Not to sound cliché, but after reading TWILIGHT, I decided I just might be able to write a book too, so Stephenie Meyer for her story-telling skills. Also, LM Montgomery because how could I not follow in Anne Shirley’s footsteps? And I’d be silly not to mention Margaret Mitchell, because all of my heroines will in some way pay tribute to Scarlett O’Hara in that they will be strong and independent, and possible fit-throwers.

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it help you in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?

Anna: I don’t remember HOW I found it, but the good news is that I DID find it, and it helped me for a couple of reasons:

  A.) It’s a collection of agents, their contact info, and if they are/are not accepting queries, so it’s soooo convenient for writers. (And Patrick pretty much keeps that thing up to the minute.)

  B.) The support I received from other QT’ers. It seems like we all worked together to get someone “discovered”. Sharing info, sharing horror stories, sharing tears and beers.

AGH:  That's what I like most, too. The camaraderie. On that note, have you recently learned anything about the business side of publishing that you can share with up and coming writers, something you wish you’d known in the beginning?

Anna: Yep. Sometimes this business is very, very fast, and you need to be able to keep up. For instance: I began querying January 1. Received an offer of rep January 27th. Lucy negotiated a two book deal February 16th. Received my first editorial letter from Feiwel and Friends about two weeks later. 

And then everything STOPPED. During the down times, keep writing. Remember that you mostly experience down times, and that when you’re not writing, someone else always is.

I learned that the pub contract is not instantaneous. That once you receive an offer from a house, it may be weeks before your agent actually sees the contract. This affects when you get your first advance, so keep that in mind. And be patient. Remember that almost everyone in this business is over-worked and under-appreciated and we all rely on each other.

AGH: Great advice. Now for the big question: Are you involved in any new projects you can tell us about?

Anna: Working on Book Two, OF TRITON, and am brainstorming against my will about a different YA Sci/fi. 

**Five for fun**

AGH: Which would you rather do: carry an umbrella or sing in the rain?

Anna: Sing in the rain. My hair is never perfect enough to worry about getting wet, and umbrellas in a Florida thunderstorm are kind of laughable. And I know you’ve all seen the Weather Channel show footage of people playing outside during a hurricane. I may or may not be related to them…

AGH: What’s your favorite breakfast?

Anna: A Strawberry Waffle that this local restaurant makes. I loves it.

AGH: Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?

Anna: Team Cat, but my hubby is allergic. He got me a tea-cup Chihuahua as a substitute for a writer’s cat, but turns out, tea-cup Chihuahuas are closely related to the devil…

AGH: When would you go to if you had a time machine, and why?

Anna: I would go back to the 1700s, for sure. That’s when chunky pale women were a hot commodity, so I’m sure I would have married very, very well…

AGH: Drinking tea … pinky up, or heavy on the Long Island?

Anna: Never pinky up! Not HEAVY on the Long Island, but I’d like to at least be giggling by the time I’m done with it…


Thank you for the interview, Anna! And I agree about Chihuahuas. My mom used to have one who's eyes turned up red in EVERY picture we took. Pictures don't lie. *shudder*

Congrats on all of your successes so far!  I'll be cheering you on as you climb to best-sellerdom and of course wish you luck and happiness on all of your upcoming projects. :)

If you have questions for Anna--or would like to show her your support -- please leave a comment below. Also, don't forget to find her on Twitter: @AnnaZagar and follow her blog for her witty observations on life along with helpful writing and publishing tips. ;)

Have a wonderful, safe, and relaxing weekend everyone!


  1. Great interview, both of you! Interesting & funny! And...I may or may not have played outside in a hurricane too... o.O

  2. I love this! My stories are always going to have a romantic bent as well. It's what I like to read, so it must be what I write :)

    I love the little blurb about OF POSEIDON. What a great idea! I really like that the guy is the mermaid. It seems that in a lot of mermaid books its the girl that comes ashore. And, I bet there's so much romantic tension, it will pop off the shelves. Let us know when it's coming out! :)

  3. Great interview, Anita. I love this series.

    I'm so pre-ordering OF POSEIDON! It sounds like a fantastic tale. Anna's QT story is fantastically exciting. Congrats on everything, Anna.

  4. Hey there Mandie! Thanks so much for stopping in. Although I must admit I'm not surprised to see you here supporting Anna. ;) I know, Hurricane Annie; isn't she a hoot? LOL

    Good morning, Marewolf! I'm with you on the romance. Always have to have a love story. And yeah, it's so cool about the merman! I can't wait to see the chemistry.

    Thanks Mary! Your series on crits rox, too. I know; I have a feeling this book is going to do great! How can it not w/Anna's wonderful sense of humor and a romantic subplot? I'm right behind you in the preorder line. :)

  5. Great interview, you guys!! Anna, you had me cracking up with you comment about going back to the 1700's!! lol!

    Looking forward to seeing your book on the shelves. Congratulations and best wishes for a successful writing career! :o)

  6. sounds like a great read and what an amazing story behind the story :) Congrats on your success and thank you for the inspirational advice.

  7. Thanks Angela! Anna's so witty she's always making me laugh. :) I have a feeling her books will have that same element.

    Thanks for stopping by Mary! Yep, Anna's story is definitely out of the ordinary. Very inspirational, too.

  8. Still chuckling at the "chunky pale girls" comment.

    Anna, that is a super cool book concept you've got there. No wonder you had the response you did. Congratulations!

    And on a QT note: Comments from people like you and Miss Anita ALWAYS keep my spirits high. Thank you!

  9. Sounds like a very fun cool story! And I can see why she's so successful with her queries--she has awesome VOICE!

    Great interview, Anita! Goodluck Anna, and I'll be keeping an eye out for your book. ;)

  10. Wonderful! Laughs about chunky pale women who were "in". You are not chunky! Amazing story. I've heard it/read it so many times since that fateful day, and had the privelage of being with Ana along many of those early QT days, but the journey still amazes me! What an inspiration.

  11. Bethany, thanks my dear pal.

    Cherie, I know, right? And thanks for the compliment. Good interviews are easy with so many great guests to choose from!

    Hey Kaylie! I agree, she's SO not chunky. But she's hilarious! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Okay this was my favorite interview so far that you've done Anita! Anna, you are hilarious and I am following you now. Thanks for being so open and honest about the process. Congrats and good luck!

  13. THis was a fun one, huh Rachel? Anna is a wonderful and witty guest. :) Thanks for dropping in!

  14. Another fun interview Anita, and congrats on all your success Anna! I remember reading your success story at QT right after you signed but I had no idea you'd already landed a book deal too! What a whirlwind! Can't wait to read it, it sounds awesome!

  15. Haha, Kalen! Fancy seeing you here two seconds after I commented on your blog. ;) Hmm. Wha's that thing they say about great minds?? Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Hey everyone, sorry I'm just now popping in. Forgot to mention that I still work full time and blogging on the clock is generally frowned upon. :)

    So, deep breath:

    Mandie, I hearby dub you my official groupie. And I'm yours. Deal? :)

    Marewolf, I'm a sucker for romance, so there's a great chance I'll be purchasing your stories as well! And the tension is so taught in OP that even I got frustrated sometimes!

    Marybk, thanks so much! I squealed a little bit when I saw the word "pre-ordering." Like, that happens?? To me??? :)

    Angela, thanks for supporting me here and on Twitter. You rock! (And uh, I'm dead serious about the 1700s thing. I feel totally ripped off to have been born in the tanning era).

    MaryKateLeahy, thanks for stopping by. And I meant every word of the inspirational stuff. I couldn't have kept going without it, from other writers.

    Bethany, see comment re: dead serious about living in the wrong time. Seriously, someone made a mistake. As for the encouragement from me and Anita, there's plenty more where THAT came from. YOU CAN DO IT. You really, really can!

    Cherie, thanks for the kind words, but sometimes this VOICE gets me in trouble. Like, generally, you're not supposed to put VOICE in a business letter. Who knew? :)

    Kaylie, who says I'm not chunky? All you've seen of me have been head shots! I got junk, I tell ya! And don't worry, I have NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER that we'll be reading about YOUR success story soon. (Even though, quite frankly, I think having 13 books lined up for pub is pretty stinking successful already).

    Rachel, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the follow! I intend to keep going in sharing how it all works after you "cross over". If you ever have any questions, stop by the blog, or my blog email address is is you'd like to ask privately. That goes for everyone else too. Don't be shy!

    Hi Kalen, thanks for stopping by and the kind words. Things have slowed down now, but I know for certain I couldn't have made it thru without everyone's support on QT and the blogosphere and the writing community in general.

    And Anita! Anita, Anita, Anita. Thanks again for having me! Your questions were fun and thought provoking, and your praise is so flatteringly generous that it makes me grin like a goofball (stop that, it's embarrassing to grin like a goofball!). Thanks for your hospitality. I know you've got a rough time ahead of you, but I'm sending warm squeezy thoughts your way, and pray for a speedy recovery so you can continue this new story you're working on. Also, so you don't pass out when SPLINTERED goes to auction (passing out=bad). Keep us all informed as soon as you can!

    And thanks again everyone! I truly appreciate it! :)

  17. LOL Anita. Check your time stamps! I posted my comment here a full minute before you posted yours on mine!

    ...which means we were literally reading each other's posts at the same time, and my posts just take longer to read. Haha. Great minds indeed!

  18. Loved the interview. Success stories always gives me hope. I look forward to following both of you!

  19. Oh, ha, Kalen! I didn't even look at the time. :) I just popped over here and saw you'd commented! Hee

    Hi Pam! Thanks so much for stopping in! I'm glad this interview could be an encouragement to you. It sure was to me! now I'm going to pop over to your blog.

  20. And Anna, LOL! That is the LONGEST comment EVAH!!

    Thanks so much for your sweetness always and your graciousness today. Be seeing you on the shelves VERY soon.

  21. Hey Pam, you SHOULD have hope. Never give up. Remember that you don't have to do this. You WANT to.

    Anita, I know, sorry! I almost ran out of breath on that comment! :)

  22. Haha! Anna, no apology necessary! I think it's FABULOUS that you came and chatted w/everyone. :) Hope you had a good day at work.

  23. Anita, my beautiful friend. I have an award for you. Please come and get it because you so deserve this one. =)

  24. Aww, you are SO wonderful to me, Cherie! Thank you! :)

  25. very cool, and super congrats to Anna! Can't wait to see the book in print. Thanks, Anita~ :o) <3

  26. And thank you for stopping by, Leigh! :)

  27. Thanks for this interview, Anna! I'm awfully late to the game here, but I enjoyed it. Your photo looks weirdly familiar to me, but I can't figure out why! I don't suppose you roam through SoHo regularly?

  28. Haha! Hey there Jenny. You funny girl. :D I sure hope Anna stops in and reads this. Can't wait to hear her answer...

  29. You're welcome, Deirdra! You deserve it with such an artsy and creative blog. Thanks for stopping in! :)

  30. Okay Jenny, LONG ANSWER: You are the SECOND person in a week to tell me that I look familiar (Unless that was you on Twitter too!). Truth be told, I have one of those boring faces that could be anyone. The bad thing about that is that I'll never be a model. Sadly, no one will ever see the junk I pack in my trunk on a regular basis. The good thing is that if I rob a bank, I will conveniently blend in with the other boring-faced people in the line up and will probably never get caught. So there are pros and cons to looking like everyone's neighbor's cousin's boss's daughter.

    The SHORT ANSWER: Nope, haven't been to SoHo but I hear it's lovely this time of year! :)

  31. LOL. I'll have to get Jenny over here to read that EXCELLENT and hilarious answer, Anna. You never disappoint! :D