A few days ago, I mentioned that in order to answer one of the most common questions writers have regarding getting an Agent or getting Self-Published, I would interview two authors—one who got a Literary Agent and one who is
I was fortunate enough to snag an interview with the talented Samantha Sotto, author of Before Ever After. Samantha went with a Literary Agent, which worked out well for her.
Check out our interview below:
COREY: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
SAM SOTTO: After I typed “The End.” The dream of becoming a published writer took shape after I finished writing Before Ever After. Prior to that, it was simply a fun thing to do while waiting to pick my son up from school.
COREY: What inspired you to write Before Ever After?
SAM SOTTO: There are two ways you can deal with traffic: you can sit in your car and slowly go insane, or you can plot out a novel.
It might have been the Dr. Who marathon I had just emerged from or the “hangover” I was nursing after reading the Time Traveler’s Wife (I couldn’t stop crying about Henry!) or a combination of both that made Max, my main character, hitch a ride with me that afternoon. I didn’t know much about him then, except that he had a talent for staying alive, had a soft spot for chickens, ran an offbeat European tour, and was not a vampire.
I began to wonder more about his “lifetimes” and the people he had met along the way. That’s when I discovered that he had a wife, or rather, a widow – who had no idea who he really was. I knew then that I had to hop aboard Max’s Volkswagen van and take a detour into his and Shelley’ s story.
You might say that the research for this book was done years before I even had the idea to write it. I lived, studied, and traveled through Europe and have always been drawn to its crooked cobblestone alleys and tucked away corners. These forgotten nooks whispered stories that the history books left out. The “gaps” I found between by my travel scrapbooks and formal research became the places and times Max filled in with his secrets.
COREY: If you were to tell us about your book in one sentence, what would it be?
SAM SOTTO: It’s a quirky fairytale for grown-ups about love, loss, and all that comes before ever after.
COREY: How long did it take you to write your novel?
SAM SOTTO: About a year.
COREY: Did you ever consider Self-Publishing or did you always know you wanted to send your manuscript out to Literary Agents? How did you decide?
SAM SOTTO: I only started researching about the publishing when I finished the book. I knew absolutely nothing about the process so when I saw a second hand copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published on sale, I bought it. That’s where I learned that I needed to find a literary agent. By default, that’s what I pursued.
COREY: Describe the process of getting published. How long did it take you to find your Agent? How long after you found your Agent did it take to get your book published?
SAM SOTTO: Google became my best friend during my three-month agent hunt. I scoured the web for agents whom I thought would be a good fit for my book. I made a shortlist, sent out my query letter, and crossed my fingers and all appropriate appendages. But I didn’t send out my letter to everyone on my list. There was an agent that I particularly liked and so I decide to “save” her until I got feedback from the other agents. I was rejected a number of times, but luckily, I also received requests. When about four or five agents had my full manuscript, I found the courage to send my letter to her. She read my query, requested for the full manuscript the next day, read the book overnight, and made me an offer before the other agents had finished reading what I had sent them. She asked me to make a few revisions and when the book was ready, she pitched it to publishers. After about a month, she sold the book.
COREY: Who read your manuscript before you sent it out? Did you have it edited? Were you part of a Writer’s Group?
SAM SOTTO: I sent the finished chapters to my mom and husband. They read the book in “real time” as I wrote it. My mom made sure that my T’s were crossed and my I’s were dotted. I was not a part of a formal writer’s group but I did join support forums online.
COREY: Have you joined any writing competitions?
SAM SOTTO: Does an essay writing contest in 6th grade count?
COREY: What genre does your book belong to?
SAM SOTTO: Is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle a genre. No? Um…okay. The book crosses over genres – mystery, history, romance, humor. It also has a little bit of magical realism on its mother’s side.
COREY: Describe your writing style.
SAM SOTTO: Quirky with a hint of lime.
COREY: Who is your favorite author, and why?
SAM SOTTO: Neil Gaiman. I want to be him when I grow up. He builds worlds I want to live in.
COREY: Define a good book.
SAM SOTTO: I like books that have characters that walk around in your head long after you’ve finished reading.
COREY: Define a good writer.
SAM SOTTO: A good writer is an invisible one.
COREY: What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?
SAM SOTTO: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. (Sorry, Neil.) I’m not reading any book at the moment. Sadly, I can’t read while I’m writing. My imaginary friends are a chatty bunch and take up the limited space in my head.
COREY: How has being a published author changed your life?
SAM SOTTO: It hasn’t. I just get a whole lot more email – that I promise to get to. Pinky swear.
COREY: How do you balance being a writer and being a mom?
SAM SOTTO: Being a mom comes first. I only write when the kids are in school.
COREY: What inspires you to write?
SAM SOTTO: The fire-breathing deadline I have at the end of the month.
COREY: Are you working on your second book?
SAM SOTTO: I’m wrestling with it now. It has me in a choke-hold. Send help.
COREY: What tips can you give other writers who are waiting to get published?
SAM SOTTO: Show up for work even if inspiration calls in sick.
Thanks Samantha for allowing me to pick your brain. It was a lot of fun.
If you’d like to check out Samantha’s blog and/or buy her book, check out her website for more information:
Before Ever After is also available on Amazon.com.
Come back soon for my upcoming interview with a Self-Published author.