Thursday, March 24, 2011

Query Critic Competition and Interview with Jeyn Roberts

Jeyn Roberts, author of Dark Inside

Jeyn Roberts is a name you will know well by the end of the year. Her amazing novel, Dark Inside comes out in September in the UK and November in the US and it's going to be BIG! For those of you looking for agents, Jeyn landed her dream agent and has shared a bit of her story below. She is also offering a query critique to help an aspiring author land their dream agent.

With this being your first published novel, how did you find the editing process?

UK cover
It was very exciting. I worked with some fantastic editors with both Macmillan and Simon&Schuster. It does involve some back and forth running around. Just when you think you're finished, here comes another round. I know there are a lot of people who follow the myth that editors will make you change your entire story but it's not true. The advice I got wasn't major and the few small changes I made really made my book that much stronger.

Was the publishing process what you expected?

It was what I expected. I'd really done my research ahead of time and I knew that getting a book published takes a very long time. Now that I'm experiencing it first hand, I'm a lot more understanding of why it takes what feels like forever! haha

Dark Inside seems to be creating a whole new category. It’s more than just post-apocalyptic, as we get to read about the events themselves, not just after the fact. How would you categorize Dark Inside

That's been a toughie. Some are calling it dystopian but it doesn't quite fall under that category either. I like to think of it as dystopian horror but maybe that's not it either. It's a tough one.

You landed your ‘dream agent’, tell us about how you hooked her.

I queried her! It's a bit of a funny story. I was living in Korea at the time so my time zone was very different from Julia's in London. I got the email from her before I went to bed that night and I sent her off the manuscript. Little did I know that she'd spend the next several hours reading the entire thing. I got phone call from her around eight in the morning my time (one a.m. her time) saying she would call me first thing in the morning. I was really panicked because my phone batteries were dying so I had to sneak home during the break to get my charger! She ended up calling me at four in the morning (UK time) because she was so thrilled about the book she couldn't sleep! It was a very exciting time for me and it happened so quickly!

What influenced you in your choice of agents?

I was pretty biased. I wanted Julia from the beginning. She had requested and rejected one of my earlier works but that had stuck with me. I knew the Greenhouse was a newer agency but that both agents had a long history in the field. It's really about finding the perfect match. You want someone who is just as excited about your work as you are.

Would you like to share with us your actual query letter (pretty please with sugar on top)

US cover
In the moments before a worldwide disaster—the Baggers are awakened.
On the first day Mason’s mother dies. Then the earthquakes shatter the West Coast. The Baggers stir and the killings begin. In just three weeks, mankind is on the edge of extinction and the last remaining survivors are still being hunted.

Mason learns quickly there are no friends in this new world. In an attempt to escape his guilt, he travels across the country where he meets Aries, Clementine, and Michael. He knows he shouldn’t trust them but he’s drawn into their circle. Together in an abandoned tenement they will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But someone will betray them, a friend who doesn’t want to kill but can’t ignore the darkness inside.

I have just finished my MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. My publications include a story for a middle grade anthology called ‘Let me Tell You’ that was released by a small Canadian publisher called International Thompson Publishing.
I would love the opportunity to send you my novel, Dark Inside, which is approximately 85,000 words. Please feel free to call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX if you have further questions or would like to request chapters or the full manuscript. You can also contact me by email at (insert email here).
You've landed a movie agent as well, how did that come about? (instead of other movie Q)
I've signed with Jason Dravis of Monteiro Rose Dravis, the same agent who is responsible for putting the Hunger Games on the big screen. This was pretty much set up through the Greenhouse. I must admit I was very nervous when I had my first phone call with him. We're still in the beginner stages but things should pick up closer to the release date!

So now for the competition! Jeyn will read and provide feedback for one lucky random commenter. You must be a follower of the blog to enter, but can get additional entries from the following:

+1 Follow YAtopia on twitter yatopia_blog
+1 Follow Jeyn Roberts on twitter @JeynRoberts
+1 Blog about the contest
+1 Facebook the contest
+1 Tweet about the contest
+2 Add Dark Inside to Goodreads bookshelf as 'To Read'
+50 Preorder Dark Inside (currently available on Amazon for preorder).

The competition closes on 31st March - please provide links for additional entries.


  1. Thanks for blogging with us and the awesome contest!

  2. This is very exciting - thank you so much, Jeyn! :)

  3. Jeyn! You rock! Soooo excited to watch your career unfold!!! :)

  4. +1 Follow YAtopia on twitter yatopia_blog
    +1 Follow Jeyn Roberts on twitter @JeynRoberts
    +2 added to my to-read shelf!

    This is awesome! thanks so much! and congrats to Jeyn! =]

    americangirlie1991 AT yahoo DOT com

  5. Great interview and contest! Thanks!
    Tweeted and followed as @icountwords

  6. Ooh looks like a cool contest! Thanks!

    +1 Follow YAtopia on twitter yatopia_blog
    +1 Follow Jeyn Roberts on twitter @JeynRoberts
    +2 Add Dark Inside to Goodreads bookshelf as 'To Read

  7. 1 Tweet about the contest (I'm @Amy_Machelle)
    1 Follow YAtopia on twitter yatopia_blog
    1 Blog about the contest (
    1 Follow Jeyn Roberts on twitter @JeynRoberts
    1 Comment on this post

    Thanks for this opportunity!!!

  8. Eeek! I need query help! I SO want to win this contest!

    So I've:

    Follow YAtopia blog
    Follow Jeyn on twitter
    Tweeted about this contest
    Put a link on my wall on FB
    Commented on this post
    Added Dark Inside on my goodreads list (and commented)
    And I've pre-ordered Dark Inside on Amazon!

    Does sending creepy messages to Jeyn give me brownie points? LOL

  9. I was wondering why I opened my email to see a ton of people suddenly following me on Twitter!

    Creepy messages? Hmmm I can handle creepy as long as you're not hiding in my bathroom or closet.

  10. Oh how awesome, great contest. The book sounds fascinating too!

    +1 Follow YAtopia on twitter yatopia_blog
    +1 Follow Jeyn Roberts on twitter @JeynRoberts
    +2 added to my to-read shelf!

  11. +1 Follow YAtopia on twitter yatopia_blog

    +1 Follow Jeyn Roberts on twitter @JeynRoberts

    +1 Blog about the contest

    +1 Facebook the contest
    Facebooked it. Can I have Sharon or Leigh vouch for me? I don't really want to put a link to my Facebook page on a blog post....

    +1 Tweet about the contest!/SummersKris

    +2 Add Dark Inside to Goodreads bookshelf as 'To Read'
    My shelf is private I think, but you can look here too: (Kris Summers)

    I'll wait to buy it on my Nook where I can read it on the go ;)

  12. another awesome contest and the book sounds amazing!

    +1 Blog about the contest:

    +1 Facebook the contest!/profile.php?id=100000722258701

    +2 Add Dark Inside to Goodreads bookshelf as 'To Read'

  13. Thanks for the heads up for what looks like an amazing read!

    I've added YAtopia to my Blogroll
    JeynRoberts and YAtopia to my Twitter feed
    ..and Dark Inside to my Amazon list. Can't wait to read it!

  14. Great interview, and the book looks dark and chill-inducing. Pretty new follower, but I'm definitely sticking around. Thanks!

    Marie at the Cheetah

  15. Hi!

    +1 facebooked
    +2 added as to-read
    I wish I could order it, but I don't have the money :(

  16. This book sounds awesome. I love the last line in that query. Perfectly executed.

    +1 tweeted
    +2 added to goodreads
    +1 follower of blog