AgentInbox Success Story #1


Corey_1-1-1WEbooker and aspiring author Corey_Whaley (John Corey Whaley in the real world) submitted his YA novel to an agent through AgentInbox in October. In a few short days, one of our participating agents requested a full manuscript and by the end of the week, he had signed on with a prominent literary agent! Corey_Whaley, a middle school English teacher from Louisiana, wrote WEbook an email: "My life just changed." To find out more about this YA novelist, WEbook asked him a few random and not-so-random questions.

Corey_2-1 What was the inspiration for your novel? How long have you been working on it?
I originally came up with the idea for Good God Bird sometime in 2005 after hearing an interesting piece about the small town of Brinkley, Arkansas, on National Public Radio. The story was about the possible re-emergence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the woods near  the town, and included  interviews with townspeople as well as an original song composed in honor of the bird by singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens (which struck my original interest in the story). The story went through several phases over a two-year span after that. I re-worked it and re-worked it, but never got much done until the summer of 2007.  It was a few weeks after my first year of teaching public school English that I decided to finish the novel. With only  about 16 pages or so, I cranked out the rest of the novel in June and the first part of July of 2007. I wrote most of the novel on my laptop while camping at a lake in Arkansas.

What's the single most important thing you've learned as a writer?

I've learned to be patient and to let ideas come to me. I used to try and force myself to write, but now I just wait until I have one of those cathartic moments that forces me to drop everything and write. No more staring endlessly at flashing cursors for me.

What is the last argument you got into?
I had a small, silly argument over the pronunciation of cacophony the other night. We agreed to disagree.

How does writing fit into the rest of your life?
now, it's hard to find time to write because I teach middle school
English and have just recently started getting involved in community
theater here in town.  But, when I get a good idea, I try to fit in
time on nights and weekends. Sometimes, when I get especially stressed
at work, I will write things at my desk while my students are busy
working. It sometimes makes for good distraction therapy.

When life gets hectic, what are you most likely to let slide?

When life gets especially hectic, I will let laundry pile up to embarrassing heights.

What was the first story you ever wrote?
Corey_3-2 My
mother found this story --- we think it's from first grade. It was in my
handwriting and the teacher wrote "very good story" at the top.

"Dr. Raccoon"
Raccoon was a nice doctor.  But, one day, a red fox came in.  The red
fox was a nice fox, but one day he came in and said "Dr. Raccoon, 
Where are you?" Then, he saw a red sign that said "No Foxes."

Corey, a huge congratulations from WEbook! This journey will no doubt be unforgettable.

John Corey Whaley grew up in the small town of Springhill, Louisiana, where he began winning writing contests in high school. He earned a B.A. in English at Louisiana Tech University in 2006 and began teaching public school English later that year in his hometown. Whaley earned an M.A.T. in Secondary English Education in 2009 and currently teaches middle school English in Shreveport, Louisiana.You can follow Corey on Twitter @Corey_Whaley.

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  1. Jeffrey Petit-Bois19 November 2009 at 14:32

    Wow! I am really surprised and pleased to read this success story in publication. I myself am a writer working on a novel right now which I hope to get publish soon, so that the Agentlnbox works. This great story inspires me to keep writing and hopefully like John Corey get published next year.

  2. An interesting condition exists in the publiching market. Conservative books apparently sell well, but agents and publishers want nothing to do with conservative authors, as if they are a plague. I have had to self-publish books, two now on my site ( and two more due the first of the year, and a carload of manuscripts waiting. Why is that?

  3. Awww that's so sweet! Definitely gives me hope that one day, I'll be finding my books on bookstore shelves and see people carrying them around. Even knowing that one person enjoyed my current uploads enough to read them all gives me a little flutter in my tummy. ^_^

  4. Definitely don't give up hope. I am so grateful that I didn't stop trying to get my novel out there. This is really an innovative tool for writers and agents. I'm super impressed with it and awfully glad I don't have to furiously flip through those huge agent books anymore!

  5. Wow. Congratulations! I hope they will let another teacher in. Working on my Novel now.

  6. Corey deserves this. He has absolutely wonderful ideas and is able to bring the characters to life in a way that you feel you grew up right next door to them.

  7. Glad to read that this really works, I had my doubts! When I'm ready I'll give it a try but one way or the other my novel is going to be published. Don't really care if it makes it big or small or not at all, I just want to see it what it would look like as a book.

  8. Despite the fact that each state has chosen to follow the federal model, there are significant differences in some states.

  9. I am really surprised and pleased to read this success story in publication. I myself am a writer working on a novel right now which I hope to get publish soon, so that the Agentlnbox works.


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