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Viewing Blog: Caren Johnson Literary Agency blog, Most Recent at Top
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1. Why Reading Outside Your Genre Matters

I’m looking at why writers should read outside their genre today. I emphasize to all writers that they must read. Why? Reading takes you outside of the comfort of your writing and puts another writer’s prose on display. I’m convinced that it’s easier to spot strengths and weaknesses in another person’s writing because you don’t […]

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2. How Outlines Help Write Your Story

I’ve been thinking about writing process these days. Credit it to the Stephen King NY Times article where the generations talk about being writers (the entire family writes, either for a living or as a big part of their life), but I’ve been thinking about what it takes to produce a novel and to produce […]

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3. A Writer’s Guide to Beating Procrastination

I have to admit, the reason that my lack of blogging has been an exercise in procrastination. It didn’t start out that way. May ticked forward into June and now July, all without new posts. But I’m back with renewed energy and with some new topics. Including a guide to beating procrastination. I’m an excellent […]

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4. Guest Post: Focus Writer Review

Blogger extraordinaire Ro Molina stopped by to give her take on Focus Writer, writing software for writers. Where to get it: http://gottcode.org/focuswriter/ How Much: Free, with option to donate Available for: Windows, Mac, and Linux Best for: Novel, short-story writers, poets, general writing A few years ago, a submarket exploded for minimalist word processors. Many […]

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5. Guest Post: THE NECESSITY OF CONFLICT

Blogger and book fanatic, Tez Miller stopped by to give her take on conflict between characters and why it’s so necessary for strong books. A guest blog by Tez Miller of Tez Says I can agree with what you have to say, but disagree with the way you present it. This goes for songs, TV […]

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6. Submissions Updates

I have some news. I'm going to be closing to unsolicited submissions...indefinitely. I expect the following questions have now erupted: Why? What's wrong? Are you quitting? What about me? How do you know you won't be missing out on great things? 

Don't panic. I shall answer.

As you all know, this is a busy-making job. It is also the kind of job that sometimes requires doing other jobs to make a living. (Yes, I just said that. If that bothers you, oh well.) On top of those responsibilities, I also have a nice full list of authors. So as far as I'm concerned with my agenting career, clients come first. They should always get my attention first. 

So, does this mean I am never going to sign anything new? Not at all. That would be myopic and silly. But I will be limiting it to referrals and some kind of in-person meeting, like writers conferences and such. I know this means I will probably miss out on some great projects. But I was already missing out on great projects, because no agent can sign everything amazing. That's part of the game.

And what about you? Well, that's the tough part, and I've been giving it a lot of thought. I think agents, in the age of the internet and social media, have put ourselves in a strange position. We give lots of free advice, and in many ways have sacrificed our own well-being in order to do right by authors everywhere. We don't get paid until you do. We are supposed to give up all of our off hours to read your books. We're expected not to freelance or do other side projects because of conflicts of interest. And now many of us are "internet famous" and being watched all the time on Twitter. I think this is where it gets really sticky. Twitter makes us feel like we work for everyone, or owe all unpublished writers something--which may or may not be true. So I've felt really weird about making this decision in light of what reactions this public revelation might bring. But...I hope you can live with it and not give me too hard a time.

Submissions will officially close next week sometime, and I'll go about updating my info in whatever databases need it. And good luck finding a good match for your books!

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7. London Book Fair, April 2011

 

The London Book Fair is the foremost international spring event for the book publishing industry.  This is the place where global rights negotiations take place across “print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.”  It is also the place where book publishing professionals around the world have the rare chance to meet face to face to discuss ongoing business deals.

I am excited to announce that on behalf of The Johnson Lit Agency I will be attending this year, the 40th Anniversary Year, which takes place 11 – 13 April.  While I am a veteran of the LBF (and the Frankfurt Book Fair, too), this is my first time to ‘preach the gospel’ of the Johnson Lit Agency and proudly show off the talents of our authors. 

As you can imagine, the long distance nature of foreign rights ensures that progress moves at a turtle’s pace.  However, there is usually a great buzz of activity before and after the fair, as colleagues around the world anticipate and prepare for the reunion.  In the days before the Internet, many deals were made on the spot at the fairs.  While this is not the case anymore (because there are so many ways of continually being in touch), the fairs still serve as a bookmark to the year: the importance of meeting in person and the stress one can then give to their projects.  It’s much easier to turn someone down if they are a faceless online entity, but much harder when that face takes the shape of a flirtatious smile and batting eyelashes.  Just saying…  

Like any conference or business seminar, the book fair is an intense three days of wheeling and dealing, schmoozing and passing out business cards and ideas, jetlag and a general sense of fervency.  It’s the excitement and the re-connecting of people that makes the show a wonderful and exciting time to maintain business relationships and elucidate your passion for the projects you represent.

I’m very excited to represent the wonderful authors of JLA and hope to bring back lots of good news. 



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8. January Query Stats

Hey kids. It's that time again where I post my query stats from the previous month. Volume came up a bit in January which was to be expected. My requests also went up quite a bit as well. This was actually because of the Twitter Pitchfest we hosted in early January. I'd requested quite a few projects from that night. 

  • Total: 274
  • Requested: 9
  • Category of Requested: YA (5 sci-fi, 3 paranormal, 1 dystopian)

So I'm on a sci-fi kick apparently! Most of those sci-fi novels were time travel related, and a few had some other cool futuristic premises. I am still looking for my perfect time travel novel. One that doesn't get bogged down in the mechanics of the time travel, but rather the possibilities. That's actually what I want from a string theory novel too. But...I will keep looking.

Basically, the things I keep finding myself attracted to in the query pile are really strong concepts. Something really pitchable. After that, I've needed the craft and voice to keep me going. So far...still looking for some magic. 

I wanted to make one quick note here though. I requested one manuscript recently (like...yesterday) for a query sent at the end of January (just note that today is only February 17th), and received a reply back that the author had already accepted an offer of representation. Just to reiterate something I've complained about on Twitter before...if you get an offer PLEASE notify other agents you've queried or who have the material. At the very least just send an email to pull the book. In this case, my request wasn't months and months late. It was only 2 weeks after the query. So if you can't notify me within 2 weeks of querying me...what was the point of querying me? Did you not want me to read your book? 

I know conventional wisdom says "only notify people who have requested your book" but in this day and age of email, I think we need to be more open. Surely we can extend our etiquette on this. I respond to all queries within 2-3 weeks. If you can't even give me that, then...I don't get it. When I request a manuscript and get that note back, I feel like a chump. Which isn't a great feeling.

Anyway. That's all. On to February queries!

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9. November and December Query Stats

Hi all. I know it's mid-January already, so I'm delinquent. Again. But I've finally compiled my stats for queries received in November and December. I'll do them month by month as not to muddle the numbers.

Trends:

  • Numbers were down overall these two months. I feel like November makes sense because of National Novel Writing Month. And then December took a dive at the end when the holidays hit--which I think is 100% okay with me. I'd much prefer that that a sharp spike with novels that were just finished and not ready for prime time. Plus, we're all lazy around the holidays.
  • I am seeing lots and lots of dystopians again. I know it's in the water. I've sold 4 of them already. So it's not that I don't love them when I turn them down...it's just that it's crowded.
  • In spite of stating quite clearly that I don't rep picture book manuscripts and you must be the illustrator also, I am getting quite a few queries to that effect anyway. 

But here are the numbers...

November:

  • Total: 204
  • Requested: 5
  • Categories of Requested: 4 YA (2 contemporary, 1 dystopian, 1 sci-fi) and 1 MG (historical/comedy)

December:

  • Total: 175
  • Requested: 1
  • Categories of Requested: contemporary YA

So...I'm leaving the numbers simpler this month. Not going to get into funny numbers with weird stats. Obviously, these two months combined were about what I get in an average month the rest of the year. So take all that for what it's worth. I've been seeing more strong YA than middle grade, and don't really know what that's about.

But...onward into January!

And in case you missed it, I need an intern. Send them to this link here!

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10. Happy 2011

I hope everyone had a restful holiday. Here at Johnson Lit Agency we're hitting the ground running. This Thursday, January 6th, Elana Roth, Katie Shea and I (Caren Estesen) will be taking pitches on our Twitter page. Check out the submissions page to see what we're currently looking for.

You might be wondering why we just to host a pitch session on Twitter. Limited to 140 characters, it makes writers hone their pitch. I've noticed that the more I have to explain a book, the less of a handle I have on how to position it. The same goes for writers. The more you have to explain the book, the slimmer the chances are that you know how to position your book in the marketplace. That makes it difficult for agents and for editors to position you down the road. Of course, some great books have been written between genres, ones that are hard to position, but are spectacularly written. But chances are if you tried hard enough you could come up with an adequate pitch to explain what you're writing (or in my case, what I'm selling to an editor).

Our twitter handle is @cjlitagency. We'll be updating this post with more info the closer we get to Thursday so check back regularly.

Cheers,

Caren

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11. Books - Movies; Books Make Movies - Movies Heart Books

At the end of last month, I was in Los Angeles driving from one meeting to another, pitching CJLA projects, and meeting smart, interesting, 'film folk.' All this thanks to the great people at the Gotham Group, who set up my itinerary before setting this New Yorker free in the wilds of LA traffic.  Fortunately, I'm back in my Brooklyn apartment alive to tell the tale.  And really, it wasn't that bad.  It was more my literary imagination running away with me.  But hey, that's why I work with books!

Recently, not too many original ideas are coming out of Hollywood - they're coming from books! Think: The Twilight series and Harry Potter.  Coraline. The Maltese Falcon. Dear John. The Aviator. The Neverending Story.  And we could all go on and on.  Books make movies.

And, why  not?  If a book has been published, most likely, there's an agent and publisher and whole team of people already supporting the idea.  Risk is low, fan-base established and reward, potentially high.  Film people like this.  Authors like this.  Agents like this. 

It's a long process.  Sometimes as much as 10 years pass before the idea is fully developed, the film is made and then released.  But, it's a fascinating process.  Just read Monster by John Gregory Dunne or Picture by Lillian Ross. 

It's not one or the other - it's a beautiful, synergistic relationship. 

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12. Writer's Digest Conference (January 21-23, 2011)

Hello Writers! 

It's new agent, Katie Shea checking in. I am here to announce my attendance at the Writer's Digest Conference Pitch Slam on Saturday, January 22, 2011, held at the Shearton Hotel & Towers in New York City. This is your chance, authors! Come face-to-face with your favorite agents (hopefully including me!) to pitch your project and get immediate feedback. Each author has a three minute session with the agent. The first 90 seconds is dedicated to your pitch and the remaining time is the author-to-agent discussion on suggestions and improvements on your project. 

There are over 50 agents participating in this event! Check out the list here to see who will be attending. Don't miss this opportunity to find the best professional representation in the industry!

Just a reminded of what I am looking for: Literary fiction, women's fiction, and adult fiction with a strong and honest voice. I love stories with themes of adventure, personal overcome/struggle, and complex and deep relationships. I find that I am particularly interested in family dynamics with attention to motherhood, fatherhood and divorce. I also have a fascination with travel and exploring different cultures. My list also focuses on young adult fiction, however it must be smart, beautifully written, and fresh. As far as non-fiction goes, I love memoirs. Like my fiction theme interests, memoir can fall into the same category. I love diet books. I am a huge health nut, so a project dedicated to health & wellness presenting a new idea or awareness is something I would be extremely interested in. Narrative non-fiction including travel writing, food writing and literary journalism, I also will consider. 

I have been thrilled with the response in my query inbox since starting as an agent. I am finding it overwhelming to find such diamonds in the rough. Thank you for all who have submitted to me. Please keep 'em comin'! 

Happy writing! 

Warmest, 

Katie 

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13. Writer's Digest Conference (January 21-23, 2011)

Hello Writers! 

It's new agent, Katie Shea checking in. I am here to announce my attendance at the Writer's Digest Conference Pitch Slam on Saturday, January 22, 2011, held at the Shearton Hotel & Towers in New York City. This is your chance, authors! Come face-to-face with your favorite agents (hopefully including me!) to pitch your project and get immediate feedback. Each author has a three minute session with the agent. The first 90 seconds is dedicated to your pitch and the remaining time is the author-to-agent discussion on suggestions and improvements on your project. 

There are over 50 agents participating in this event! Check out the list here to see who will be attending. Don't miss this opportunity to find the best professional representation in the industry!

Just a reminder of what I am looking for: Literary fiction, women's fiction, and adult fiction with a strong and honest voice. I love stories with themes of adventure, personal overcome/struggle, and complex and deep relationships. I find that I am particularly interested in family dynamics with attention to motherhood, fatherhood and divorce. I also have a fascination with travel and exploring different cultures. My list also focuses on young adult fiction, however it must be smart, beautifully written, and fresh. As far as non-fiction goes, I love memoirs. Like my fiction theme interests, memoir can fall into the same category. I love diet books. I am a huge health nut, so a project dedicated to health & wellness presenting a new idea or awareness is something I would be extremely interested in. Narrative non-fiction including travel writing, food writing and literary journalism, I also will consider. 

I have been thrilled with the response in my 'query inbox' since starting as an agent. Thank you for all who have submitted to me. Please keep 'em comin'! 

Happy writing! 

Warmest, 

Katie 

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14. NaNoWriMo Manuscripts: What to do with them?

Yesterday marked the end of NaNoWriMo. Congrats to everyone who has a complete manuscript to show for it. Being surrounded by writers, I know how hard it is to conceive and then write a full novel.

I have one warning for those writers who now have a manuscript burning a hole in their hard drive: I'd better not see queries for any of them in my inbox this month or in December.

I can guarantee that no matter how accomplished you are as a writer, you won't be able to present this to an agent or an editor. Even if they like your idea, they're going to send you back to your computer to tighten and revise what you've written. Save yourself (and us) the trouble by choosing to revise before showing your work to us. There are a few ways you can do this:

  1. Put the novel in the drawer. Forget about it for at least one month (though usually more time has to pass before you can look objectively at your novel). Take it out after that month, read what you've written, and make notes for yourself on what to revise. Then dive in and start your rewrites. Drawbacks to this method: Can you really objectively look at your work and identify weak spots in your novel?
  2. As soon as you type the words, "The End", hit save and send the file to your critique partner. Ask them to be kind, but honest about your work. Drawbacks to this method: Does your critique partner know how to guide you in a way that will benefit your novel?
  3. Tell your critique group that you need their feedback on your novel. Share with the group and meet online or in person to learn what they think about your work. Drawbacks to this method: Will there be too many opinions on the best way to strengthen your novel?
  4. Scout out freelance editors and choose one to read your novel. Wait eagerly for their editorial letter that gives you a road map on how to revise your manuscript. Drawbacks to this method: Do you have enough cash for this kind of revision process? Also, will a freelance editor know how to guide your revisions so that you will strengthen your book in a way that attracts an agent or editor?

Obviously there isn't one method to the process, but the point is that you aren't done in the writing process. You're just beginning so don't pitch your book too early.

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15. Invest in your writing career: take a writing class

With NaNoWriMo going on, I can't help but reflect on what aspiring writers can do to jumpstart their writing careers. After wading through a boatload of manuscripts that clearly reflect major deficits in writing skill my best piece of advice is for ALL aspiring writers to take a writing class. For those that haven't put pen to paper since college, you'll benefit from a refresher course in rules of grammar and syntax. For those that write regularly, you'll benefit from workshopping a piece of your writing provided your teacher can give you constructive feedback. This is the kind of investment that can sharply divide the hobby writer from the dedicated writer, that person who aspires to use their writing as a part or full time job.

Keep in mind that the kind of writing class you take can have a direct effect not only on the quality of your writing, but on its salability as well. Look for classes offered by industry professionals, that is agents and editors who can offer insight on what gets published and can offer their take on how the industry may receive your writing. Mediabistro is the strongest resource that writers have since they have classes taught by published writers, agents and editors. No offense to freelance editors or unpublished writers, but I've found they focus on making sure the manuscript is copyedited. For those that do offer developmental critiques, they usually don't focus on the same things that those in the industry do. Of course there are other courses offered by reputable places besides mediabistro. Immediately Slice Magazine comes to mind; they're offering some great workshops taught by excellent agents and editors.

Here at Johnson Lit Agency we're not offering a class, but we are offering a two hour online Q&A session December 7th, from 7 to 9pm EST. Check out the details on Facebook where the session will be held. Post questions on our FB wall and we'll answer them as completely as we can. Just remember to become a fan of our agency page here.

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16. October Query Stats

My submission holiday paid off. I have been able to start from Query Inbox Zero and stay caught up. I'm now answering all queries within a week. Hooray! So I'm sure everyone's curious how my October queries went over. Did I get a bunch of good stuff? Or did I just get all the stuff that had already been passed on while I was closed? Who knows, really.

  • Total: 337
  • Requested: 6
  • Categories of Requested:  5 YA (2 contemporary, 1 fantasy, 1 dystopian, 1 historical), 1 MG (sci-fi)
  • Queries with attachments: 7
  • Queries with a book cover: 1

I think I requested all of those manuscripts in the first week. It was down hill from there. Otherwise of note in the pile this month is that I'm still getting just lots of queries for genres that I don't represent. Lots of memoir, a good chunk of adult fiction, and MANY picture books from authors-only. If you're not an author-illustrator, then I'm sorry, but I'm not interested. 

I can't stress enough the need to research your agents. Interestingly, this was also the month I got a very unpleasant phone-call from a man who runs an agency research site, where he charges users for information I give away freely and then accuses me of being a crook because I don't want my phone number listed. Go figure.

But please, research. I update my info on this site regularly. I post my deals on Publisher's Marketplace, and we have an agency page there. I just checked AgentQuery.com. Everything is good there. I still can't control my information on querytracker.net, and have to request changes when I find errors (which there always are), but whatever. So where the bad information comes from? Who knows. Tips are welcome. 

Keep the queries coming though. I'm on the hunt for good stuff! Just really great middle-grade and YA with concepts that really pop, and a fresh voice in pretty much anything. Try me!

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17. The role of a Rights Manager at a literary agency

I've received a number of queries since joining JLA, some of which from wonderful, talented and interesting writers with interesting, even compelling concepts.  However, I do not accept queries and I am not looking for authors to represent.  Therefore, while you might be an awesome writer, and while I might fall in love with your story, sending me your query is pretty much shooting yourself in the foot.  The submissions guidelines on our website spell out step by step instructions as to how to send queries to our agency.  And if you read these guidelines, http://www.johnsonliterary.com/submissions-info/, you'll know that if you don't follow them, we simply delete your requests. I have had the painful responsibility to delete the queries from the above mentioned wonderful, talented and interesting writers.  So please, for your own sake and my good conscience, don't send me your projects!!  Send them to one of the acquiring agents. 

That said, if I know of a project (already know the author) and want to devote myself for better or for worse, I'll probably do it.  Where do you fall?  Here's a simple  test: Do I know you? Have we spoken, wined, dined or professed our undying love?   If you answer no, then you've got your answer.  If you answer yes, then you've got a chance.

But, really, I am a Rights Manager.  This means I handle subsidiary rights, such as translation, film, audio, etc. Subsidiary means 'secondary,' so while the primary goal of an author is to get published by a large or small house, there are other ways an author can exploit his or her agent representation.  Ever dream of seeing your book made into a movie or TV series?  Ever want to see what your book looks like in Spanish or German or Indonesian or Thai?  This is where I come in.  This is what I do...a quiet but intense phenomenon working behind the scenes for your benefit to make these dreams come true!  So send your work to Caren or Elana or Kara or Katie, according to the website instructions, of course. 

Still wondering what it is I do exactly?  Stay tuned.

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18. Let's Take It Nice and Easy

Two things have popped up this morning so far on Twitter that make me sit on edge. And both have to do with the potential for carelessness that comes with the writing and querying process out there.

First, is the lovely National Novel Writing Month. The infamous NaNoWriMo. Where you start AND finish an entire novel in one month. Second, queries sent from mobile devices.

Now, neither thing is particularly offensive, but both can lead to some undesirable outcomes. I'm not anti-NaNoWriMo. I actually think it can be pretty great for getting your butt in the chair and making you finish something. Deadlines are incredibly helpful for that. But the product of NaNoWriMo should not be treated as a final product. It's hard not to see the bump in my queries in December and January from these submissions.

You need to then put the book away, come back later, edit it, read it again, show it to your critique group, edit it again, and then maybe go out on submission with it. Like anything else, good books are not rushed. Take your time, get it right. 

As for the queries sent from mobile devices, I already had 2 writers argue with me on Twitter that this is okay. The content of the message is matters--not the medium. Point taken. And I'm not saying DON'T do it. But I want you to think about it. Mobile devices are not meant for intensive, detailed work. They are meant for on-the-go keeping-an-eye on things. I have both an iPhone and iPad, and I use both frequently for productivity. I'm cool with that. But I know for myself that I am more prone to typos and errors when using those devices than on my computer. 

Also, my files aren't on my mobile devices. There are here on my laptop, neatly organized, alongside my tracking spreadsheets so I can keep good records. I would never pitch editors and send out manuscripts from my iPad. Would you want me to?

It's possible more of the problem is that I can see the "Sent from my mobile device" signature. So a simple solution is just to delete it before sending. But, I'd encourage you to think about your process and whether the mobile device best suits it. 

My point? SLOW DOWN. Everything is rushed these days. We seem to think if it's not moving fast it's not good enough. I say we begin a counterrevolution to bring back care, diligence, and contemplation. Who's with me?

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19. The Fortune Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone for participating in the LIFE AND OPINIONS OF AMY FINAWITZ contest! We had a great time reading all the entries. There were some tough decisions, since everyone was so gosh darn clever, but eventually Nancy Mercado, Laura Toffler-Corrie and I narrowed it down.

So without further ado here are the winning tweets...

FIRST PRIZE (signed book and critique):


Runners-up (an awesome batch of evil fortune cookies!):

If you're one of the winners, please write me an email with your address! Congrats!

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20. Submissions Update - Again

Hey literary world. So my August closure to queries was helpful, but I'm still behind. I haven't quite cleared out what was there from July (working on it). The bigger thing is that I have a lot of work to do for existing clients. 

I'm sure you would agree if you were in their shoes that an agent's first responsibility is to her clients, not her query pool. What good would I be if I just kept signing new things instead of selling the things I have, right?

So for another month, that's what I'll be concentrating on. I will reopen eventually, but for the meantime, you'll get a nice auto-response from me if you query me. Mostly they will be deleted unread. The one exception is if I've asked to see your next book before this point, please do email me anyway if you're ready to query. 

Thanks!

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21. Brooklyn Book Festival Recap

Sunday was already several days ago (it's been that kind of week), but I wanted to congratulate Darren Farrell and Laura Toffler-Corrie on their awesome panels at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday. It was a rainy, drizzly day, but that didn't stop people from turning out. I had no excuses since Borough Hall is 3 blocks from my apartment, but Laura dragged her whole family down from Westchester. Talk about dedication!  It didn't hurt that the Youth Stoop was under a tent, so we were going to be fine no matter what.

The festival even marked the debut of Darren's Hot Doug Cart (pictured right), which will soon be seen around New York City selling books. In the meantime, he passed out free BAH stickers, and signed books that were sold one booth over. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was even seen walking away with DOUG-DENNIS AND THE FLYAWAY FIB tucked safely under his arms.

First up was Darren's awesome panel with 3 really talented illustrators. Even though Darren, as moderator, gave them different on-the-spot drawing challenges, the panel actually turned almost into a sing-off thanks to the talented voices of Shane Evans and Vanessa Brantley. Vanessa took the day though with her jazz rendition of the Itsy-Bitsy Spider, which is what she was doing in this picture on the left. Poor Mike Cavallaro was slightly left out, but delivered my favorite line of the day: "I have a concept album too. It's like RENT with zombies." 

And then a lovely discussion about books set in New York City followed with our very own Laura Toffler-Corrie, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (8th Grade Superzero) and, of course, 2009 Newbery Award winner Rebecca Stead. There were certainly a bunch of kids eager to hear what one of their favorite authors had to say, and it was really cool to hear about the different neighborhoods the three authors grew up in and what they loved about New York. 

All in all, I had a great time hanging out, and I know the authors did too. 

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22. I'm back. I think.

Hey all. I have reopened to queries, on schedule this time, as promised. As always, please do read the submissions guidelines, as I generally hate to repeat myself. Also, please learn how to spell the word "query." 

But while I'm here, let me talk about things I actually want to see more of:

  • A good contemporary YA with a strong character and a unique point of view. Would prefer girl-oriented, since I have a lot of boy books, but I'm tired of the cliche stuff, so take heed. Be fresh. 
  • Strong middle-grade with girl characters.  It can be contemporary. It can be fantasy. It can be mystery. Just NOT derivative stories and formulas. And I don't want to see any more girls solving mysteries about missing cats, or girls who wake up one day and decide to be quirky, which usually involves them wearing mismatched socks. 
  • I still want to see something about the cholera epidemics in London. That's weird, I know. But I don't want anything Victorian England. It's done. But any time you take an interesting moment in history and use that backdrop brilliantly...I'm interested.
  • I love maps, subway systems, hidden tunnels...take that as you will.
  • Ditto string theory and the Hadron collider. Also have no idea what that book looks like, and I haven't seen the book with quantum mechanics that quite works yet, but...hey.

Otherwise, just keep an eye on the books I've sold already, and the ones that are coming out. They speak to my tastes, because...they are my tastes.

Thanks!

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23. Attention Writers! New Agent Alert!

Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself. 

I'm Katie Shea, the newest agent here at Johnson Literary Agency. I am thrilled to be starting my career as a Literary Agent. I graduated with Honors from Marist College in 2008 with a BA in Journalism. I have always been one of those over-achiever types. By my senior year of high school, I was a proofreader with the local newspaper in my hometown of Princeton, New Jersey. Once I moved to the beautiful Hudson Valley for college, I immediately was hired as a freelance writer with another local newspaper in Poughkeepsie, New York. I mainly focused my attention on lifestyle articles and the arts. During college, I was able to take the opportunity to travel and study in Melbourne, Australia. There, I hit up the East Coast of Aussie, making stops at the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Brisbane, and the Great Ocean Road. I also flew to down to New Zealand, rented a car and drove along the entire South Island, hiking a glacier, skydiving in Queenstown and bungy jumping at the world’s first bungy site. I do not regret one minute of those six months. What an adrenaline rush!

Once returning back to New York from my amazing, unforgettable trip, I had a year and a half left of school. I met an extremely smart and fun Woodstock author while waiting tables at a small diner. She ended up hiring me as her Research Assistant to work on her 7th edition of HUDSON VALLEY & CATSKILL MOUNTAINS: AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE. She was what truly made me realize my niche and love for working with books. 

Post college, I began working in Manhattan as a reader for FinePrint Literary Management. Not knowing anything prior about literary agencies, I was completely amazed by this profession. I learned the trade by reading as much as I could and understanding what agents were looking for in today's market. Moving along, I then assisted agents with Folio Literary Management and Langtons International Agency. By then, I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do other than be an agent. 

As of now, I am looking to build my long-desired client list. I am focusing on beautifully written literary fiction, commercial fiction, with a strong and sassy voice, heartfelt memoirs, narrative nonfiction, diet, and health & wellness. I look forward to working closely with my clients and guiding them to a published product. 

Some of my favorite authors may explain my taste further: Jeannette Walls, Elizabeth Gilbert, Joan Didion, Augusten Burroughs, and David Sedaris.

Until next time! Happy reading, happy writing! 

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24. Attention Writers! New Agent Alert: Katie Shea

Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself. 

I'm Katie Shea, the newest agent here at Johnson Literary Agency. I am thrilled to be starting my career as a Literary Agent. I graduated with Honors from Marist College in 2008 with a BA in Journalism. I have always been one of those over-achiever types. By my senior year of high school, I was a proofreader with the local newspaper in my hometown of Princeton, New Jersey. Once I moved to the beautiful Hudson Valley for college, I immediately was hired as a freelance writer with another local newspaper in Poughkeepsie, New York. I mainly focused my attention on lifestyle articles and the arts. During college, I was able to take the opportunity to travel and study in Melbourne, Australia. There, I hit up the East Coast of Aussie, making stops at the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Brisbane, and the Great Ocean Road. I also flew to down to New Zealand, rented a car and drove along the entire South Island, hiking a glacier, skydiving in Queenstown and bungy jumping at the world’s first bungy site. I do not regret one minute of those six months. What an adrenaline rush!

Once returning back to New York from my amazing, unforgettable trip, I had a year and a half left of school. I met an extremely smart and fun Woodstock author while waiting tables at a small diner. She ended up hiring me as her Research Assistant to work on her 7th edition of HUDSON VALLEY & CATSKILL MOUNTAINS: AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE. She was what truly made me realize my niche and love for working with books. 

Post college, I began working in Manhattan as a reader for FinePrint Literary Management. Not knowing anything prior about literary agencies, I was completely amazed by this profession. I learned the trade by reading as much as I could and understanding what agents were looking for in today's market. Moving along, I then assisted agents with Folio Literary Management and Langtons International Agency. By then, I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do other than be an agent. 

As of now, I am looking to build my long-desired client list. I am focusing on beautifully written literary fiction, commercial fiction, with a strong and sassy voice, heartfelt memoirs, narrative nonfiction, diet, and health & wellness. I look forward to working closely with my clients and guiding them to a published product. 

Some of my favorite authors may explain my taste further: Jeannette Walls, Elizabeth Gilbert, Joan Didion, Augusten Burroughs, and David Sedaris.

Until next time! Happy reading, happy writing! 

** Update upon my submission policy: I am open for submission, however, please be aware I will be very limited with my selection of authors. As a new agent, I am specifically seeking literary and commercial fiction with a strong and unique voice, smart narrative nonfiction, and memoir, a story of a personal overcome or struggle. Please no fantasy, no vampires, no sci-fi, no children's books, no picture books. 

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25. Caren's return to blogging!

I have to admit that this year I've been extremely lax about blogging. It isn't that I don't love to do so. I just loaded my plate up with so many tasks that I had to let some things go, blogging being the first. I'm happily returning and with great news too since there are two agency events to mark on your calendars.

The first is an online event hosted on our agency's Facebook page. On December 9th, from 7pm to 9pm EST we'll be hosting a Q&A session. Come ask us questions about the industry, questions about our agency, and anything else publishing related. Keep in mind that this is not a pitch session so any pitches will be turned away. You can send your queries to Elana or Katie as both of them are open to new projects. Kara and I are not looking at new queries at the moment. Remember to check what they're looking for BEFORE sending your query. Nothing is more frustrating for us than to get an email from someone who clearly has not checked the guidelines.

The second is also an online event hosted on our agency's Twitter page (@cjlitagency). On January 6, 2011, from 7pm to 9pm EST we'll be hosting a pitch session. All of us will be answering your pitches in real time and either requesting to see more material or telling you why something just wasn't for us. You may only pitch one of us and you may only pitch one project. We're not looking to get a list of everything you'd written in the span of your writing career, just one project that you think is going to really knock our socks off. Check our guidelines for what we're looking to rep. We'll be updating them one month prior to the pitch session so you can prepare accordingly. When pitching us, use the tag #Jan-pitch along with the name of who you're pitching to so we can properly respond.

I'm looking forward to adding some great blog entries to the ones already here so stay tuned. And good luck to all of those participating in NaNoWriMo. Just remember that an agent wants quality and quantity, not just one of those elements in a story.

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