Tag Archives: Literary Agents

Four words, twelve letters: I HAVE AN AGENT!!!

You guys… I can’t believe I’m actually typing this post out. I mean, sure I’ve dreamt about writing something like this for the last two years, but I seriously can’t believe it’s real. I mean, it’s REALLY real.

HOLY MOTHER. I HAVE AN AGENT.

A real, live, agent is my partner in publishing crime. And it’s not just ANY literary agent, it happens to be my DREAM agent. How lucky am I?!

It took me two years, and countless tears and laughter and SO MANY FEELINGS before I made the right agent connection. And even THEN she didn’t sign me with the first project I sent her…

The beginning:

I queried Barbara Poelle in July of 2011 with a YA futuristic thriller after reading (and loving) WITHER and seeing she represented the work. I checked and rechecked and did a million neurotic things before I fired off my query letter. Then I ate a bunch of dairy-free chocolate and questioned my life. Not really. But sort of. 

Fast-forward a few weeks. 

Write-On-Con (an online writing conference) was going on and Barbara (and fellow agent Holly Root) participated in a live Q&A session. If I wasn’t sold on how awesome Barbara was before, I was then. I thought she was funny/knowledgeable and would be the PERFECT advocate for a writer. I hoped, hoped, hoped for the impossible; she’d want to throw a chair and by chair I mean bar stool out a window to represent my work.

Fast forward another week or so.

My email taunts me with the dreaded: Gmail – Inbox (1) -

I see that it’s a message from Barbara. My brain runs through a million + 1 different scenarios in my head. Then I remember: The Irene Goodman Literary Agency only responds if interested. GASP. Could it mean… a FULL REQUEST. SQUEEEEEEEE!!!

So I acted like a professional successfully keeping my inner Tom Cruise from jumping on my inner Oprah’s couch and sent off the requested material. And I waited. But while I was waiting I did that thing you’re not supposed to do… I kept revising. I got some feedback from another agent, then revised some more. Taking a chance, I sent the revised copy to Barbara. She gladly accepted it.

Fast forward again.

After another revision* Barbara jokingly accepted my latest version. A few weeks later she emailed me to let me know it was coming up in her reading queue. Of course I panicked.

Then a week later I see this guy again: Gmail – Inbox (1) -

It was from Barbara… And it was… a rejection. But you guys, it was SO GOOD. Like if rejections could cuddle hug you, this one SO would. I trusted what she said and agreed with her comments 1,000%. Knowing that she’s the kind of person I want in my corner, I rolled my writing sleeves up and got to work on another book.

Two Weeks ago:

I sent Barbara my full manuscript. (She told me to directly submit my next work, which was AWESOME of her.) Then I proceeded to bite my fingernails and by bite my fingernails I mean drink vodka and sent a handful of query letters out. Requests started coming in, as did a few rejections. I sent the requested material and tried to not check my email psychotically throughout the day.

Seven days later I saw a message from Barbara. I immediately assumed she was writing to tell me she discovered a way to set fire to her email using only her eyes. My heart sank. Then I pulled on my big girl panties and read the first line: She wanted to talk…

ON THE PHONE.

I proceeded to spaz/get nauseous/almost fall down the stairs. Because… OMG MAYBE SHE REALLY DID DISCOVER HOW TO LIGHT HER EMAIL ON FIRE AND SHE LEARNED BY BURNING MY MANUSCRIPT BECAUSE IT’S THE WORST THING SHE’S EVER READ.

Paranoia is a real thing guys.

I harassed told my mother about my “email and fire” theory. She wasn’t convinced. I tried the same thing with my friends and sister and they didn’t buy it either.

Then I sent a few thousand emails to my writing pal Anita Grace Howard, where I was openly panicking. Because OMG the phone call was TWO DAYS AWAY. That’s like a thousand years in a writers imagination. Thankfully, Anita talked me off my ledge and I calmed down.

Day of “THE CALL”

Barbara was every bit as awesome as I imagined she’d be. Within two seconds my nerves subsided and it was like talking to someone I’ve known my whole life. Her enthusiasm for my project was INCREDIBLE, and HOLY GUACAMOLE it’s like she has brain scanning superpowers. She totally got my book and characters, and my mind was officially blown.

 Apparently, she hearts me and my book as much as I heart her and her agenting superpowers.

So it’s official, I am now represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency!!!!!!!!! I could not be happier, I KNOW that Barbara is the perfect agent for me. I’m BEYOND thrilled to be on this publishing journey with someone like her on my side.

*HAPPY DANCES LIKE A MANIAC*

Here’s the moral of the story: If you have a dream, never give up. EVER. Keep learning, keep pushing, keep striving to reach it. But don’t forget to celebrate the little achievements along the way.

None of this would’ve happened if I stopped after that first book didn’t work out, or after that hundredth rejection I received, or any other bump in the road that emerged along the way.

I promise you, having that person call and be equally passionate about your work TOTALLY erases EVERYTHINGEVERYTHINGEVERYTHING crappy that has ever come before it.

THE END THE BEGINNING!!!!

WOO HOO!!!!!

*Please note: I also ended up taking a Writers Digest Webinar by Barbara in November 2011 and it was one of the best experiences. That’s the ONLY reason why I sent her a second revision. It really opened up our communication lines, be sure to attend the next one on April 12th, 2012! Barbara knows her stuff!!

Here’s the info: From Cozy to Carnage: An Agent Explains the Ins and Outs of Thriller/Mystery Writing–For Both the Adult and YA Markets

Big news is on the way…

This morning I had a super secret phone call that made me do this:

Immediately followed by this:

I can’t say much… yet. But I will say one thing: Today is DEFINITELY worthy of an Empire Records montage*…

Check back in a few days on Wednesday for an official announcement and details of the phone call…

HAVE A GREAT DAY!!! xoxo

*Empire Records is one of my favorite movies EVER and it makes me do my happy dance**, hence the not so random montage.

** My “happy dance” is eerily similar to what Lucas (with the black turtleneck in the second to last gif) is doing. Seriously.

Top Five Quotes on…Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

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Throughout a writers career there will be plenty of time to learn the art of patience. TRUST me, you’ll need it. One of the main ways we learn this is through waiting. We wait until our novel is scoured over before sending it to betas or crit partners.

We wait for them to return it with notes on what they hate/love/and what needs to die a slow painful death. We repeat.

Finally, we start sending that manuscript out into the query world. Anyone who has gone through the process can tell you…you wait some more.

You wait for the agent to request your work.

You wait for them to read it. In turn, when you DO secure an agent, they’ve got a bunch of waiting they have to do, too. They feel our pain. They wait for editors, publishing houses, etc.

I thought I was a fairly patient person before I really started going at writing with the intent to publish.

I was WRONG.

On the bright side, I’m almost so patient now it scares me. Well, not really.

If you’re in the waiting game, I thought I’d share some quotes to help pass the time. Enjoy!!

1.) “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” — Aristotle

2.) “No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” — Lewis Carroll

3.) “A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” — Henri J.M. Nouwen

4.) “He that can have patience can have what he will.” — Benjamin Franklin

5.) “Patience, grasshopper,” said Maia. “Good things come to those who wait.” 
“I always thought that was ‘Good things come to those who do the wave,’” said Simon. “No wonder I’ve been so confused all my life.” — Cassandra Clare

Happy Wednesday <3333′s!

Show and Tell Friday: Show V. Tell

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
— William Faulkner

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Show and Tell Friday: Show V. Tell and all that writing Hell made easy.

Chances are if you’re a writer you’ve heard the phrase ‘show don’t tell’ more times than you can count. If you’re anything like me, you probably want to bash your head against a solid surface. (Disclaimer, please don’t go around bashing your head. Your writing will not benefit from this. Keep writing. You’ll get it.)

Showing is probably the hardest thing to grasp…

…And just when you think you’ve finally got the concept down, a whole new Hell opens up. That’s right The Mid-Ground. That horrible little Purgatory where you’re half showing and half telling. Let me just say, there’s no place worse than Purgatory. Really. Being stuck in between is all kinds of ick.

But, luckily there are agents out there like the fabulous Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Lit. who offer up advice. Mighty fine advice too, might I add. So I’m going to share her post with you in case you missed it. It’s definitely worth looking at.

If you want the low down on showing click on the link HERE to be redirected to Mary’s blog. Go on and click it. Your writing and characters will thank you.

Happy Friday! Hope you have a wonderful weekend. See you back here on Monday. XO


Query Letters Dissected By Those Who Know

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Last week I posted some query letter tricks that I’ve learned over the last year or so, HOWEVER there’s a weekly post you should check out on your own, by people in the biz.

BookEnds (a fantastic literary agency) posts a query letter each Wednesday, then gives feedback on what works, and what doesn’t.

Be sure to check it out, then click on some of the popular posts on the sidebar, they’ve got A LOT of great information.

Psst! Click here—> BookEnds Blog (Wednesday Query Letter AKA Workshop Wednesday) 

<3333333333333 XOXOXOX <33333333333

 

 

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Photo The Hunger Games Cover Shot (Press)

Back of book blurb: in the ruins of a place once known as North America lies a nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before–and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Review: Everyone I run across keeps GUSHING about this book, and by everyone I’m talking about EVERYONE. So I picked up a copy to see what the buzz is about, and I’ve got to say, in the beginning I wasn’t feeling it. Honestly, I didn’t like it at all, but the important thing is, I kept reading.

I didn’t keep reading because of the agents, or publishers, or anyone else that’s talked about the novel. I kept reading because the author sucked me in with the characters, I HAD to find out what happened to Katniss & Peeta next. Would they survive? Would they die? I couldn’t put the damn book down.

I didn’t like Katniss. I didn’t like Panem. The whole idea of it repulsed me, but I kept reading, and pulling for her to win. By the time I hit page thirty I was completely hooked. During the rest of the novel, I felt my heart pounding along with Katniss, felt the love she had for her sister, and the anger she felt towards her mother, her confusion towards Peeta and her desire to survive. The resentment and rebellion they both felt towards a government that could kill innocent kids for the sake of instilling fear against rebel Districts was palpable.

Suzanne Collins created a world, likable or not, that was not only believable, but probably more real than we’d like to admit. The suspense was genuine, as were all the emotions Collins filled the characters with.

The author told a great freaking story. In fact, I’m going to stop writing a little earlier today so I can go to the bookstore and pick up the next book in the series, Catching Fire.

Query Letter Hell? Not Necessarily…The ABCs of #Query Writing Made Easy

Its been a little while since I last blogged about the wonderful world of writing. Since many of my blog readers, are…well, readers I try to keep the behind-the-scenes writing stuff to a minimum. You’re welcome, BTW ;)

That being said, I’ve gotten a few questions regarding query letters in recent weeks from friends, family, fellow writers, and even some tweethearts.

Why? I’m not sure. (That’s a lie. It could be that my friends and family worry about me, methodically/psychotically crafting pitch letters, and manuscripts for days, weeks, and months at a time. I’m normal Mom – all the writers are doing it. Pinky swear!)

It could be because I tweeted that I was an absolute query-lovin’ sicko, and enjoyed writing them. Or, it could be that I spend A LOT of time on Absolute Write assisting other writerly types with their query letters.

Why? Because I’m a sick, twisted little girl that’s why. Oh, and I love helping other writers out when I can. Aww… Fuzzy moment alert!

So what’s my secret to writing a good query letter?

That’s the easy/hard part to explain. There are TONS of agent blogs out there, that give STELLAR advice on query letters. By all means, please check out some of the sites listed below. (I’ve included links to make it REAL easy for you. XO)

Always take the advice that works best for you, above anything/everything else. Okay so enough disclaimer shiitake.

Here’s the breakdown of a query letter:

Paragraph ONE

This is really up to you / the agent you’re querying. If the agent specifically says they like writers to get right into the heart of the book, then of course DO THAT! I myself, fluctuate between starting with my hook, or personalizing it – depending on what the agent I’m querying specifies.

Am I speaking Chinese right now? If yes, then stop reading and check out the QueryShark. Go on, I’ll wait. Now that that’s settled, let’s continue.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Example One: Personalized Intro (Per Agent Guidelines, again, each agent is different, so do your homework.)

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

Recently I read an interview you gave on ABC blog, stating that you’re seeking XYZ in a manuscript. My young adult novel SUMMER DIE-VER is complete at 60,000 words, and contains XYZ.

(Or you could write, I recently finished reading TITLE BOOK, by awesome AUTHOR and saw you represented the work. I hope you might find my novel, SUMMER DIE-VER a good fit for your list as well.) (You get the idea, right?)

Example TWO: Gettin’ Down and Dirty Right Away

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

Fifteen-year-old Olympic diver Lillian Awesome’s been having a hard time fitting in with the other, less talented kids at Summer Swim Camp, but that’s about to change with the mysterious arrival of her super cute, and equally talented dive partner, Gill.

See the difference between the two intros? Good. (And no, this is not one of my books, it’s just the first thing that popped into my head during the writing of this entry.)

I should point out quickly what NOT TO DO so you can easily tell the good from the bad right away.

Things to AVOID: DON’T write your query like this:

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

My young adult novel SUMMER DIE-VER delves into the inner psyche of what it’s like being a successful young swimmer in a world filled with jealousy, and deceit. The title is a play on words, expertly crafted to show a mystery lies deep within the novels pages. It talks about friendship, death, betrayal, and summer crushes. The reader embarks on a journey through adolescence, and learns what’s right, and wrong along the way.

This is what agents are talking about when they say SHOW don’t TELL. See what I’m talking about? The first example is showing, and the second example (To avoid) is telling. Got it? Good. Let’s continue.

The first sentence of your book intro, (no matter if you have it in the first, or second paragraph) HAS TO BE CATCHY.

How do you accomplish that?

Write it, over, and over until your eyes cross, AND bleed, then write it over some more. If you had to introduce the conflict, and basic premise in just one sentence, this is where you do it. What does your main character do, where does the story take place, and what’s the conflict? If you can capture that in the first sentence, and build from there, you’re on the right track.

Helpful Hint: If your book is fun, don’t have a sterile query letter. Make sure the tone of your work matches the tone of your query letter.

Remember, your query letter is your sales pitch for your book. Read the back covers of books that you already own, (and have read) and see how it matches up to their story. Once you get the idea of how it worked for them, start crafting yours the same way.

Heck, write yours the same EXACT way as your favorite book blurb, to get the format down, then rewrite it until it’s in YOUR voice. Practice makes perfect. I swear.

So here’s what the whole thing would look like: (Following Ex. 2’s Jump Right In Method.)

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

Fifteen-year-old Olympic diver Lillian Awesome’s been having a hard time fitting in with the other, less talented kids at Summer Swim Camp, but all that’s about to change with the mysterious arrival of her super cute, and equally talented dive partner, Gill.

The other campers are jealous of the dynamic duo’s constant winning, and conspire to take them down. Permanently. After a close-call at the bottom of the lake, the young divers find more than just a terrible plot to end their swimming supremacy. They find a local swimming coach, that’s been missing since last summer, and apparently he’s been sleeping with the fishes. Now it’s up to Lillian and Gill to solve his murder before the Summer’s over. But who can they trust, when everyone’s a suspect?

SUMMER DIE-VER is a young adult novel complete at 60,000 words. Recently I read an interview you gave on ABC blog, stating that you’re seeking XYZ in a manuscript, and hoped you might enjoy my work.

Currently I’m a member of (Whatever writing group, SCBWI, MWA, etc.) (If you’ve been published, here’s where you can include that too. FYI it’s okay if this part is short and sweet. Less is more if you don’t have many writing credits behind you. For realzies.)

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Awesome Author Who Did Their Homework

Phone Number

Email

Link to blog/website/whatever

(AGAIN: This isn’t my book, or query letter. It’s just a five minute mock-up for this blog post.)

Check out the following links for excellent #Query Letter Tips:

YA Fantasy Guide recently broke each paragraph down expertly. Read it HERE.

Agent Kristen Nelson posted winning query letters HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Agent Jessica Faust also posted query letters that worked for her HERE, HERE, & HERE

Agent Janet Reid gives the best query letter help in the shark tank, so check out her entire blog dedicated to helping writers create stellar query letters HERE.

Q: Did I forget anything? Don’t be afraid to ask any questions I may have missed. I hope this helps you, my super talented friends! <3333333

WANTED: Guest Bloggers

Photo credit members.memlane.com

As you may know from my previous tweet, I’m on the hunt for some guest bloggers. I’ve gotten some great feedback from it so far, and I’m almost through all the DM’s. (Thank you all, BTW for being as excited as I am about this.)

I have gotten a few questions about exactly what I’m looking for, so I hope this post helps to answer all of your guest blogging worries.

Basically I’m looking for anything having to do with writing. If you’ve come across a quote or poem that has inspired you that works too. If you’ve been published and want to share your story, if you’ve just gotten your 1,000,000th form rejection (okay maybe not a million) and you want to share how you keep yourself optimistic then that’s what I want to hear.

If it has to do with the road to publication, how you juggle life and writing, your writing journey, (writing journey can be getting an agent, revisions, rewrites, etc.) then it’ll be perfect. Heck if you’ve got a kick-ass recipe you’d like to share with some pictures of your finished cooking adventure, then I’d LOVE it! (Aside from writing, I’m a huge foodie. But you probably already knew that.)

If you’ve carved the Martha Stewart of all pumpkins (jack-o-lanterns) and you want to share the picture, then… you guessed it, that works too.

The sky is the limit. However, I’d like to keep it positive. So if you’ve received your ba-jillionth rejection and you are fed up with the world of publishing and you’re looking for a place to bash it, then this probably won’t be the best platform.

I’ve already selected one guest blogger, @EileenAndrews, so be sure to check out her website and follow her on Twitter! Oh and lastly, if you are interested in being a guest blogger, you can leave a comment here, DM me on Twitter or @reply me and I’ll be in touch. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

A positive Monday quote!

 

Photo credit keyconsultants.co.uk

“Don’t be discouraged.  It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.”- Author Unknown

I’m talking about literary agents you hussy.

Success is in the eye of the beholder…

How do you measure your success?

This question has been popping up all over for me lately and I can’t seem to shake it. So I’ve decided to take a deeper look at it, rather than pretending it isn’t there. Here are some ‘success status’ questions:

Do you consider yourself successful if you make a large annual salary? Is having a stable, happy family your measuring cup of success? Is garnering a large cash advance your tool of a successful writing career? Maybe raising your son or daughter and sending them to college is your greatest idea of what success is.

Photo by Anthropologie.com

Success for so many people can be so many different things. Kind of like the book publishing industry. A prime example of differing opinions and how each person’s tastes are unique, are all the literary agents out there. They are all looking for something they can fall in love with and fight for till the end. My quirky mystery might not be your bloodsucking vampire cup of tea and vice versa. It’s different for everyone and that’s okay.

Therefore measuring success in rigid terms becomes difficult and comparisons should be avoided.

If you haven’t sold your book yet, or if you haven’t landed your agent partner in crime as of today… Fear not. This is NOT a measure of your success as a writer. You’ve completed a manuscript. That’s a success! You’ve written a perfect query letter, that too is a massive success! You’ve spent hours upon hours researching agents that might make wonderful business partners, that too is no easy task and therefore another success!

Just because your book hasn’t been turned into a blockbuster movie, or you received another form letter rejection… It has nothing to do with your success as a writer. Start looking at all of the small steps you took that brought you to this door today.

You’ve already had many little successes the entire way, you just didn’t notice them.

Congratulate yourself on completing your novel. Keep looking for the silver lining in those clouds and I guarantee you’ll continue to find it. Success comes in all shapes and sizes just like people. Each marching to the beat of it’s own drum. Start tallying the small hurdles you’ve jumped and I bet you’ll start feeling the glow of success, whatever that may be for you.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” -Maya Angelou