Choosing an Agent/Submitting


I have to be honest: I always breathe a huge sigh of relief when we close our query lines in December. Finally, I think, a chance to catch up! But after a couple of weeks in a query-less world, I get twitchy with anticipation and anxious to dig in once again. Thus, I always approach the re-opening of our query lines with a sense of hope and a certain amount of nervousness. Not unlike, I suppose, many writers who are about to submit their work to agents feel as they pause, scanning their query letter one last time before clicking “send.”pgi0128

As you probably know, we re-opened our query lines last week. Perhaps you’ve just sent out your first-ever round of queries to agents. Or perhaps you’re on your second or third round of queries, having made tweaks and revisions to your query letter and novel based on previous feedback from agents and writers. Whether you’re a first-timer or a veteran, you most likely (more…)

Looking for a little light reading/book chat/way to procrastinate whatever tasks are on your to-do list today? Head on over to the excellent Mother.Write. (Repeat.) blog, where I’ll be answering reader questions about all things books until 5pm. today.

Who Knew Chewy was a South Paw?

Now THAT'S a pitch!

I recently judged a contest for the blog at QueryTracker.net, a great site for writers at the query stage looking for more information about potential agents (and where my client Cole Gibsen first learned about me). I agreed to help out and, seeking something that would be both 1) easy on me and 2) beneficial to writers, I decided to limit the entries to pitches of 25 words or less. To see the winners and more details about the contest, head HERE.

I can already hear many of you groaning. If boiling  down a story into two or three paragraphs for a query is like stubbing your toe, then fitting an entire novel into 25 words is like getting a 50 ton anvil dropped on your cat. You know, if you really like your cat. Despite the painful nature (sorry, Kitty!) of the contest for some, doing this sort of exercise is certainly worthwhile. (more…)

kabook225An agent typically works with manuscripts in two different ways.

The first is when an author comes to me with a completed manuscript. If we decide to work together, we’ll spend time revising—focusing on character development, style, and storytelling. It is always exciting to help a writer best achieve his or her vision, and as many of my authors know, the revision process is one of my greatest joys.

The second is when an author comes to me with an idea. There is no manuscript—just the spark of something wonderful inside that curious (and thrilling!) thing known as the Author’s Brain. In that case, it is my job to help the author translate the idea onto the page, and then work with him or her to craft the arc of the story, develop the characters from the ground up, and prepare a proposal that allows an editor to see the same magical thing that I do.

I have been privileged to have many of both experiences since I began agenting. Today, though, I would like to talk about one of the latter experiences—a writer with an idea—that resulted in a fantastic book, Knightly Academy, that hits bookstore shelves today. The author, Violet Haberdasher, approached me with a concept she’d been thinking about for years, and we worked together to turn her dream into a reality. (more…)

wishlistIt feels natural to follow a post about what books I really enjoyed in 2009 with a post about the sorts of books I’d love to sign in 2010. And yes, I am actively seeking new talent! In other words, GIMME GIMME GIMME.

Ahem.

My interests as listed on the Upstart Crow website serve as a general outline of my tastes. Yes, I like books for boys. Yes, I’m crazy for middle grade. Yes, my tastes get a little more specific when it comes to teen. No, I’m not interested in signing the next Twilight, even though I’d love to swim through piles of money like Scrooge McDuck. No, I don’t currently represent picture books (please hold your rotten tomatoes until the end of the post).

If you really want to send a project that will make me drool, the following list should provide some guidance. I’m seeking books that are:  (more…)

contractToday on her blog, my lovely client Shannon Morgan detailed twelve ways an agent can sign a potential client based on our own experience just about one year ago. I thought I’d return the favor and catalog the twelve steps a writer may experience when signing with an agent.  (Author’s Note: If you look hard enough, you may actually find some decent advice in here. But no promises.)

1. Write an awesome story, revise, share it, sit on it, revise again, research agents, send it out, and commence fingernail biting.

2. At first, check email constantly, even though you’ve researched response times and know, in your heart of hearts, that you’re in for a wait. Finished with fingernails, move on to toes. (more…)

paper-stackA few months ago, when we Crows were newly hatched, I wrote a post about how our submission guidelines ask for 20 pages with your queries. At the time, I was unsure whether or not this was the best way to go, more because of how long it would take me to read through them than what it meant for you. What can I say, I’m selfish.

Now that we’ve been at this for a little while, I’ve come to find 20 pages plus a synopsis is perfect for my needs. The query gives me a general idea of who you are and what the book is about, and the 20 pages is just enough for me to decide I’m either not feeling it or I absolutely have to read on. Granted, sometimes I like the concept enough that I’ll ignore some flaws in sample pages, or I’m intrigued by how wacky things are and want to keep reading, or I think the writing is nice but the concept isn’t strong enough. (more…)

keyboard-on-fireAnother November is upon is, and, as I’m sure you savvy writers know, that means it’s once again time for NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month, for those afraid of acronyms).

Agents and editors sometimes cringe when we think of NaNoWriMo, because we envision a gigantic pile of rushed, ill-conceived manuscripts being wheeled our way. (more…)

large_crowdLet’s be honest: you can only do so much on your own. Yes, yes, writing, as Ms. Jessamyn West wonderfully pointed out, is a solitary occupation. We know this. But we also know that networking can help abate just how lonely the writers have to feel. And conferences. And going outside to breathe fresh air every once in a while.

The other way of feeling a little less solitary can come from sharing your work with those you trust.  I’m not talking writing workshops here—although they can, in certain circumstances, be useful—I’m more thinking a great writing group or trusted friend. Yes, writing groups also have their pitfalls, but finding a really terrific group that will be honest, constructive, and sometimes downright brutal about the shortcomings of your work can be really terrific.

(more…)

ghostbustersI’m often asked by writers if I like to hear in a pitch that a book is part of a planned trilogy, or if an author is hard at work on a sequel.

For some projects a sequel, or multiple sequels, make sense. Imagine if Harry Potter’s adventures had ended after the first book! We would never have had all that snogging that made the later books so enjoyable. Or what if Bella and Edward had ended up together at the end of Twilight and never had the complications of love thrown their way? BOR-ING! (more…)

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