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I read a lot of queries this week–about one hundred. I sent a lot of rejections this week–about ninety-something (I requested four manuscripts).
Getting rejections is never easy (remember: I get them, too!). Sending rejections isn’t easy, either. But when I pass on your project and tell you to keep writing, I mean it. The passage below explains why. So even if you think I’m a jerk with no taste for passing on your project, you should listen to Ira Glass, because he’s a really smart guy.
Lots of folks are taking about this article in the New York Times.
I can see why it’s a very exciting prospect for new writers, or for writers with a lot of talent who have had trouble getting their work noticed under the more traditional model. Heck, it’s obviously exciting for the established–and bestselling–authors who are now publishing with Amazon.
I can’t see why this would make the need for an agent any less important. But obviously I’m quite biased in favor of agents.
I want to write more about it, but in the meantime, I’d like to hear from you.
Writers, both published and unpublished: How do you feel about the new publishing venture from Amazon? Does it change your view of what it means to “get published”? Is it more alluring than the “traditional model” to you, in terms of getting your work out there? Does it make you feel like you need an agent any less than you would with a more traditional publisher? Discuss!
Do you love oysters? Do you love cooking? Then you’ll love the fantastic new memoir from Upstart Crow client Erin Byers Murray!
SHUCKED: LIFE ON A NEW ENGLAND OYSTER FARM (St. Martin’s Press) is now available from your favorite book retailers. Murray chronicles her experience with the crew at Island Creek Oysters, where she learned the ins and outs of farming, and follows her food in an unforgettable journey from sea to table.
Praise for SHUCKED:
“Murray’s own love of food and food writing informs the narrative, and she skillfully dramatizes the scenes of summertime sowing and depicts her many colorful co-workers. Murray eschews poetic waxing on her subject and focuses closely on the action and the hard, hard work of …” –Publishers Weekly
“Part of the book’s charm is following Murray through the process of becoming aware of her surroundings in working directly with an edible product. An entertaining and informative firsthand experience of the locavore movement.” –Library Journal
“While most books about oysters tell people what they want to hear, Shucked tells it like it is: the frigid winter days on the water with hands like popsicles, the backbreaking work, the anxiety of nurturing thousands of dollars’ worth of oyster seed, the hard-partying nights. Erin Byers Murray captures the seasonal rhythms of the New England coast and the romance of one exceptional company’s efforts to coax great food from the sea. You’ll never take an oyster for granted again.” –Rowan Jacobsen, bestselling author of The Geography of Oysters
I often field questions about how to handle writing and pitching a series. Do you write all the books at once? (No) Should you pitch the entire series to an agent or editor? (Probably not) Should things in book fourteen be set in stone? (Absolutely not)
If you’re looking for a great example of how to plot a successful series, be sure to check out Matt Myklusch’s Jack Blank Adventures; Book I, The Accidental Hero, came out in paperback this April, and Book II, The Secret War, is in stores now.
Book II begins one year after the conclusion of The Accidental Hero. After helping save the Imagine Nation and proving himself a hero, Jack is sidekicking with big league super heroes and getting a taste of what it takes to be a hero in the real world.
Even though Jack is being hailed as a superstar, he’s still hiding dark secrets from his best friends…secrets that could prove disastrous to both The Imagine Nation and the world at large. And Jack’s old enemy Jonas Smart will do whatever it takes to uncover Jack’s secrets and prove him a villain once and for all.
Jack will need to learn to trust his friends, balance his growing powers, and find a way to head off an invasion if he wants to win The Secret War.
Congratulations, Matt! And readers, be sure to look for the exciting conclusion in next year’s The End of Infinity!
July brought the debut of Laura Goode’s SISTER MISCHIEF, a provocative look at coming-of-age, first love, religion, and music.
Listen up: You’re about to get rocked by the fiercest, baddest all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities – or at least in the wealthy, white, Bible-thumping suburb of Holyhill, Minnesota. Our heroine, Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) is a Jewish lesbian lyricist. In her crew, Esme’s got her BFFs Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm, the butchest straight girl in town) and Tess (aka The ConTessa, the pretty, popular powerhouse of a vocalist). But Esme’s feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini), a beautiful, brilliant, beguiling desi chick, are bound to get complicated. And before they know it, the queer hip-hop revolution Esme and her girls have exploded in Holyhill is on the line. Exciting new talent Laura Goode lays down a snappy, provocative, and heartfelt novel about discovering the rhythm of your own truth.
SISTER MISCHIEF may be outrageous, but it’s absolutely full of heart, and Laura has one of the freshest voices on the shelves today. The book has been garnering some lavish praise, including a starred review from Booklist which said, “This debut is full of big ideas, big heart, and big poetry, with a positive, activist message.”
The long wait is finally over, because today’s the day you can get your hands on Jacqueline West’s SPELLBOUND, the sequel to the critically acclaimed, New York Times Bestselling novel THE SHADOWS. SPELLBOUND continues Olive’s adventures into Elsewhere, where she’ll meet new friends, face familiar foes, and be sucked deeper into the mystery of her house’s previous owners.
Here’s a terrific video featuring fun facts about the house that inspired the series, some details about SPELLBOUND, and the always-lovely Jacqueline West speaking about her story.
Despite the immense loss everyone still feels here at Upstart Crow about Bridget Zinn, we would nonetheless like to take a moment to shine a bit of sweet light on the wonderful crows who’ve brightened readers’ month of June with their new releases. It has been a busy, busy month!
The first of June brought us The Eternal Sea from Angie Frazier, the sequel to her rollicking, romantic debut, Everlasting.
The Eternal Sea follows star-crossed lovers Oscar and Camille through a dangerous and paranormal adventure to find true love and happiness. It is thrilling, passionate, and incredibly well done. Fans of historical novels, romances, and simply “darn good” books should pick it up!
And if you haven’t read Everlasting… what are you waiting for?
Josh Berk’s critically acclaimed (and super funny) The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin may have a fresh new look in paperback—but the jokes and suspense are deadly funny just the same.
Will Halpin may be deaf and overweight, but what’s a couple of handicaps matter when there’s a murder to be solved?
Read the book that Kirkus and SLJ gave starred reviews to, and Amazon.com, Kirkus, and VOYA named one of their “Best Books” for 2010.
And the middle of June welcomed Olive—the protagonist of Jacqueline West’sNew York Times bestselling debut, The Shadows—into paperback.
This award-winner is the recipient of multiple starred reviews and nominations. If you missed Olive in hardcover, get caught up on this heartwarming, spooky, and very funny series … with luck, you’ll be done with it just in time for Spellbound, the second entry, which hits shelves in July.
Another book with a hot new look for summer is Matt Myklusch’s THE ACCIDENTAL HERO.
Formerly known as Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation, this riveting middle grade adventure is perfect for Percy Jackson fans, but stands on its own as the start of a great new series. The San Francisco Book Review called Jack “a mythical hero.” And look out for the sequel, The Secret War, in August.
And finally, June 24th saw the release of Danette Haworth’s third book for middle grade readers, Me and Jack.
From the writer of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning and The Summer of Moonlight Secrets comes a soon-to-be classic about a boy and his beloved dog, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Me and Jack is a perfect summer read. Danette is a lyrical and charming writer, and you will fall in love with her characters.
One of the Upstart Crow fold passed away early yesterday morning, and we here are still reeling and red-eyed from the news. Our love and support go out to her husband, Barrett, and to Bridget’s family and friends, who are legion.
As one should have expected about someone dubbed the World’s Fastest Librarian, Bridget Zinn departed the scene earlier and faster than anyone could have ever imagined. And the world is a poorer, dimmer, duller place for her absence. We will miss her. I will miss her.
[Below, a video'd thank you she'd made after an auction to raise money for her fight against cancer. It is how I always see her in my mind's eye.]
At times like these, one can’t help but realize how shabbily inadequate words are when it comes to grief. Sad just doesn’t cut it. No how no way. Doesn’t come anywhere near to capturing the weighty emptiness we feel. And to amp things up with adverbs—well, that sort of lousy writing she wouldn’t stand for.
Bridget was a friend as well as a client, but when I think of her, what comes to mind still is my first read of her debut novel, Poison. It is a bright, funny, sweet wonder of a book, and I’d printed out the manuscript and taken it with me home from the office because I just couldn’t stop reading. I startled my fellow subway passengers by barking out laughter every few minutes. You’ll get to read it one of these days—we later sold it at auction to Hyperion. The story is a fantasy about a girl fugitive who fancies herself tough-as-nails until she finds love, humility, and more through an unexpected partnership with a wee enchanted piglet named Rosie.
Like Bridget, her novel is warm, breezily witty, full of a large-hearted love for her characters and the world. And oh god, but she and it are funny. A giddy joy saturates every page of the manuscript—a joy, I realized, that came from Bridget herself.
When she was diagnosed with cancer, Bridget handled it with a courage that I found hard to fathom. How could she be so happy? So carefree? So effortlessly sweet and funny? She had an optimism about her, I learned, because that’s who she was. Even after the diagnosis, she was for the most part happy and an inspiration to us all on how to live. She and her longtime boyfriend, Barrett, got married, and they bought their dream house in Portland, the city they loved. (And where, when I’d visit, they’d take me to beautiful spots I’d have never found otherwise.) She’d sold her book and was hard at work on the sequel, as well as another novel about one of her favorite things in the world: Shoes. It’s a cliche, but Bridget was so full of zest and life that she made the cancer almost seem beside the point.
Which is why yesterday’s news was so devastating, so unexpected, so unjust. There was little enough in the world already to made it a worthwhile place; now there’s a whole lot less.
We have all been so fortunate to have Bridget in our lives and never understood that until this moment, even though what we’re dealing with now is the exact opposite of good fortune. It’s precisely the sort of meaningful contradiction that Bridget, whose novel is rife with ironic (and often amusing) twists of fate, would have appreciated.
Happy Release Day to the wonderful Christina Mandelski, whose debut novel, THE SWEETEST THING, is officially on sale today from Egmont USA.
A bit about the novel:
In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she’s decorating a cake. Unfortunately, everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable. But Sheridan is convinced ﬁnding her mom will solve all her problems—only her dad’s about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed. Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients.
It’s always exciting to see a wonderful book make its way into the world, especially when there was such a group effort in the publication process–and particularly when that book introduces readers to an author who is as bright a talent as Christina.
I’m thrilled to show off the brand spanking new title and cover for Book I in Matt Myklusch’s Jack Blank Adventures, now titled The Accidental Hero. If you didn’t have a chance to read the story in hardcover, fear not, for the book hits the shelves in paperback TODAY!
I’m planning a later post on books for boys, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in reading the sort of book that immediately caught my eye and serves as a solid indication of the sort of story I’m interested in representing, do yourself a favor and pick this story up! I love this story and think you will, too.
Here, for your clicking enjoyment, are a few useful links:
Click here to read how to win an autographed copy of the book