What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 30 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 1,363
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
BookEnds, LLC, is an innovative and energetic literary agency. We represent a diversity of authors, from spirituality, self-help and business writers to mystery, romance and literary novelists. BookEnds works with authors and publishers to produce the books we all want to see on our shelves.
Statistics for BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 108
1. And So We Say Good-Bye

In 2006 I had the idea to start a blog. Not a lot of thought went into this idea other than the fact that blogs were the hot new medium for marketing and it could help not only build our agency but our clients as well. At the same time I was cutting back on my conference speaking schedule and missed the interaction with authors and the ability to teach what I know. The blog seemed the perfect way to continue this.

It's been five years and a terrific ride, but after much thought and deliberation I've decided that it's time to say good-bye to the blog (obviously my work with BookEnds and the agency will continue). And while I can't promise I'll stay away forever (watch for the occasional blog post to pop up) I also can't promise those posts will pop up.

It doesn't seem like blogs have as much "power" as they used to, especially with the ease and speed of sources like Twitter and Facebook. Most important, however, I don't have the passion for the blog that I once did. While I will surely miss hearing from the authors I've learned so much from, I think I will find other ways to interact.


The blog and all posts will remain up indefinitely for those who are still learning or want to refer to previous posts and you can always fine all of the BookEnds agents on Twitter if you have questions or want to know what we're up to.

I can't thank you enough for all I've learned from you. Because of feedback and comments I've grown as an agent and changed a number of BookEnds policies. Because of you I've stayed connected with the writers and, hopefully, gained a better understanding of what this business is like from your end.

I'm going to miss the blog and all of you. I feel like I should have something grand and profound to say, but all I can come up with is a slight bow, a wave, and a heartfelt thank-you for joining me in this journey.

Jessica

97 Comments on And So We Say Good-Bye, last added: 4/15/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
2. Publishers Taking Risks

We've heard so often the complaint that publishers never take risks, that agents never take risks, and of course there are some who will say those are the reasons we're seeing the "downfall of publishing" today. I don't necessarily believe that. I think given how many new authors are published each year and how many of those succeed as well as how many fail shows that publishers take risks every day. Every book is a risk, whether it's a debut or not. No matter how much experience we all have we're never quite sure what's going to grab the attention of the reader.

That being said, recently when I heard that lament it made me think back to a publisher I once worked for, and by publisher I mean the individual, not the company. This particular publisher was a dreamer and a believer in all the good ways. The publisher loved the business and was enthusiastic about all the things about it, especially the books. One of the things this publisher charged was that each editor was allowed to buy one "book of the heart" each year. What that meant was that even if everyone in-house had doubts about whether the book would sell or could sell, the editor was given the ability to make a modest go of it, meaning the editor couldn't spend a million dollars for a book no one thought the house could do justice, but the editor could take a chance on something everyone else felt a little on the fence about.

For a young editor like me this was a really exciting opportunity, and while I never was able to buy my "book of the heart" before the publisher went another way, I held that feeling of excitement and carry it with me as an agent today.

I can't begin to tell you how often I've offered representation to an author for a book that I honestly thought would be a challenge to sell, but one I was excited about. And before all of my clients get worried, upon making the offer I've always been up front with the author about my belief that the book might be a long shot, but one that I thought was worth the risk. Some have sold, others have not, but either way I've never regretted taking the chance.

One caveat to all of this is that, as a writer, if you have an agent or publisher taking a chance on your book you still want to make sure it's a place that has some knowledge of where they're taking the chance to. In other words, you probably don't want me to take a chance on your illustrated children's book since that's so outside of my knowledge base that it just wouldn't be a smart move. I wouldn't even begin to know where to sell it to. You probably wouldn't want a business publisher taking a chance on your romance novel. Again, do they have the sales force available to even talk to the right buyers?


Jessica

10 Comments on Publishers Taking Risks, last added: 4/14/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
3. Interns

There's been a lot of discussion in small business circles about whether or not interns need to be paid for the work they are doing. The concern is that companies are "hiring" unpaid interns to do work that should be done by paid assistants. That an unpaid internship should be a learning experience. And I agree. I agree with much of what's being said. What I have concerns about, however, is what's defined as "learning."

When one gets a job in publishing you usually start out as an assistant of some kind, whether an agent assistant, an editorial assistant, publicity, etc. As an assistant you aren't expected to know the ins and outs of publishing, although some knowledge can be to your credit, but you are expected to do a whole bunch of menial tasks. As an editorial assistant I was in charge of all the filing. Lots and lots of filing, and my boss didn't check the files. It was my job to find a paper for her whenever she needed it, and quickly. I was also in charge of the Science Fiction library, which meant lugging boxes of books in and out of a small windowless room every month to stack, sort and rearrange, to make sure we had enough copies of each author and to find the space for them on the ever-crowded shelves. I spent a great deal of time faxing, collecting faxes, making photocopies, fixing the copy machine and sometimes, yes sometimes, I had to do things like run out for a cup of coffee or clean out the disgusting office refrigerator. Was it glamorous? No. Was it a job I loved? Absolutely. I also got to read and edit yet-to-be published books, meet famous authors, get autographed books for Christmas presents, and I got to read and discover new authors. It was my dream job, or would be once I jumped through the hoops.

These are exactly the kinds of jobs (minus running for coffee and cleaning out the fridge) I ask both my assistant and my interns to do. Because what I've sadly discovered is that learning how to file is something that a lot of interns need. I'm amazed at the number of people who have come through the BookEnds doors who don't seem to have a basic grasp of how to file or how to fax (or figure out for themselves how to fax) or even how to mail a package. I wonder if doing these tasks would be considered learning, because in my mind they should be.

I remember Kim telling me once about her own internship at Berkley and how one of her tasks was cleaning out and reorganizing all of the files of a huge NYT bestselling author. She said she loved it. She got to read revision letters and contracts and correspondence between the author and her editor. She learned a ton about the process of publishing. And that's something I've noticed with my interns. Filing is a huge part of this job and some of them will pull up a chair and spend the day filing and reading the files and papers and, yes, learning. Others just seem to chuck the files in any folder (and yes, this has caused us many a headache) and not bothered to use the experience to learn.

Another job I often give the interns is reading. We ask the interns to do a great deal of reading and write readers reports, and I think all of us make an effort to give feedback on the reports and show the intern how to write a stronger and better report (something they'll need to do when applying for any editorial job). What they do with that is up to them. They can learn from the feedback we give them or ignore it. Again, I'm amazed by how many ignore it.

I also ask interns to review contracts for me. These are typically contracts I've already reviewed and negotiated, but now I want a second set of eyes to compare it to the one I negotiated and make sure every "i" is dotted, "t" is crossed, and comma is in its place. Let's face it, for any of you who have ever read a publishing contract, there is a lot of "stuff" in that stack of papers, and yet I'm amazed by how few interns have ever asked me questions about the contract, even when I ask if they have any questions. Isn't this a huge opportunity to learn?

An

16 Comments on Interns, last added: 4/10/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
4. Submissions

Those of you who follow us on Twitter have probably seen the news already. All BookEnds agents have new email addresses that should be used for future submissions and queries.

All changes have been made accordingly to our website Submissions and About Us pages. And, in addition to telling you about our email addresses, we thought we'd use this opportunity to let you know what we're looking for these days.

Jessica


Jessica Faust
JFsubmissions@bookends-inc.com

Jessica is currently accepting queries via referral only. There is an office rumor that she might open for a month or so at a time later in the year. If that occurs she'll be looking for cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, historical romance, steampunk (romance and otherwise), and a very limited amount of paranormal romance. She's also looking for women's fiction. In nonfiction Jessica is looking for business books only.


Kim Lionetti
KLsubmissions@bookends-inc.com

Kim is currently closed to submissions. Please check the Submissions page of the BookEnds website periodically for an announcement about when she's open to queries again.


Jessica Alvarez
JAsubmissions@bookends-inc.com

Not too much has changed in what I’m looking for since this post in September. I still have a fairly narrow focus—romance, women’s fiction, and female-focused erotica—but I’ve decided to add cozy mysteries to the mix. In terms of romance, I’m looking for all types of adult romance (in other words, not YA). I had some success in 2011 with historical and inspirational romance, and would like plenty more of those, but I’d like to see contemporaries and books with high sensuality too. With my editorial background at Harlequin, I am open to category romance submissions. I will warn you now that I have been very tough on my romantic suspense and paranormal submissions. I’m still looking for books in both areas, but they have to be phenomenal to keep my attention. Please note that I’m not looking for fantasy, sci-fi, YA, novellas, or nonfiction.


Lauren Ruth
submissions@bookends-inc.com

In fiction, Lauren is looking for: romance—all genres; literary fiction; commercial fiction, especially up-market urban fantasy with romantic elements; middle-grade—all subgenres; young adult—all subgenres; mystery, with a strong focus on cozies; women's fiction on the literary side; and smart chick lit, a la The Devil Wears Prada. On the nonfiction side, she's looking for memoir, parenting and family, relationships, food and lifestyle, business, popular science, popular culture, and popular psychology.

3 Comments on Submissions, last added: 4/9/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
5. Updating Your Website

Websites for published authors are becoming more and more important, not just for your readers but for the future of your career. I can't tell you how many times I go to an author's website to check out not just the author's books and career but for quotes and reviews. Which is why it's important to keep your site updated as much as possible. If you have a section for reviews but nothing is there, it looks like you've gotten no good reviews.

I know how hard it is to keep up a website, I know that there are plenty of things I've missed when I don't update enough, which is why, over time, I've simply removed those sections from my site. If you find you can't blog regularly or haven't blogged in months, then simply take down your blog. I think it looks better not to have one than to have a neglected one. The same holds true of reviews. If you can't remember to get in there once a month and update those sections, then simply remove them.

Jessica

7 Comments on Updating Your Website, last added: 4/5/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
6. Bitter or Misunderstood?

I've just had a disappointing experience. I'd joined a big writers' network in my state, hoping to find some community but also because they offer a critiquing service. "The Network’s roster of critiquers is selected in accordance with the highest standards of excellence, including publication requirements and extensive mentoring and editing experience."

Yeah.

Well, I chose my critiquer and also began following her on Facebook. (She has an author's page.) Hours before I was going to send the manuscript to the administrator, who would then forward the Word doc. on to the critiquer, I needed a break from reading my novel for the 77th time and went on Facebook. A post from my chosen critiquer just happened to pop into my news feed: New ms for me to critique coming from the ... Writer's Network. Oh boy. My favorite job.
about an hour ago · Like · [Comment]

I did not hit "Like." That's my ms she's complaining about! Now, I know a lot of this work is f@#%ing tiresome. I'm not a professional writer, but I've taken a LOT of classes and reading bad writing is painful. But, then again, I SIGNED up for the class. If the woman, a published author, a teacher (for Gawd's sakes) doesn't want to participate in the critiquing service, why in blazes is she doing it? Why is this industry filled with so many damn bitter people? And I've read plenty of agents' and writers' blogs to know it to be true. (Not Bookends, of course.)

I guess my question, after the whinefest, is how does an unpublished author find someone to edit or critique their manuscript who will approach it with the best intentions, not already pissed off that they HAVE to read another novice's manuscript? How do we find someone who can help us improve? Who will not make us feel as though we're some stray dog showing up at the backdoor, begging for scraps.

I could sign up for another class, but, for one thing, I want my entire novel read, not just the first thirty pages. Also, I'd rather have a one-on-one with someone with skills, not, this time, participate in a big class.




I think this is one of the big problems with social networking. We all think every Tweet could be or is about us and we all read Tweets, blogs, statuses, etc., with our own anxieties in place. In other words, I can't even begin to tell you how many times a blog I've written has been misinterpreted by someone who came to it with their own experience and interpreted what I said in their own way, and in a way I never intended.

I'm sure everyone will have their own impression, but I did not read this in the same way you did. I read this as the status from someone who is enthusiastic about the critique she's about to be doing. I didn't see it as complaining at all.

I suppose it's easy to say that this industry is filled with bitter people, but I guess that also depends on how you see things. When I read the blogs, websites, Tweets and statuses of my colleagues I mostly see enthusiasm and excitement. Of course I'm in the mix too so I know that often the complaints aren't necessarily bitterness, just something to talk about since, honestly, most of us feel that about 80% of our actual day can't be talked about. I can't Tweet when I'm in the middle of contract negotiations. I can't Tweet about the specifics of phone calls I'm having daily with authors and editors, I can't Tweet about the painful revisions I just sent back to a client, etc. I think, based on the comments I see on my own blog, there's bitterness everywhere and, trust me, I know, it's easy for the negative to overpower the positive, but when I take a step back and really look at what people are saying I'll quickly realize that most people are happy and positive.

If you don't feel the person critiquing your book did a good job you can certainly look for someone new, and I suspect the best way to do that is to ask others who they've used or to form a group of your own. Honestly, I think some of the best learning experiences

29 Comments on Bitter or Misunderstood?, last added: 4/6/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
7. Agent Contract Expiration

If you sign with a literary agent and have no success placing your novel over the course of a year, what are your options after the official contract runs out? Can you search for a different agent and try again after some serious re-writes and editing? Is self-publishing worth considering? Is it time to give up, even if you believe the novel has potential?


Well, that depends on the contract. We don't have a contract that automatically expires so I'm not sure I'm the best one to answer this question. Our contract, in all jest, is for the rest of your life. What I mean by that is while we have a very easy termination clause, we hope to take on a client for a career and we don't want to be limited by time, either on our behalf or yours.

So I guess what I would ask you is what does that contract say. Does the expiration date mean automatic cancellation or does the expiration date only mean that you are now allowed to terminate? Once a contract is terminated, however that happens, you are allowed to do whatever you want. You are allowed to search for another agent, self-publish, or even quit and do something different. You know, you are also allowed to take a new project to your agent and continue with that. Many of my clients were signed with one project and first sold with another. Just because you sign with a project doesn't mean that's the one you're going to sell. Signing that contract should be a commitment on both sides to venture forth and build a career together, not just sell a book.

What I would say is that if the book has already been around, and a year has passed, I would hope that you have something new and fresh to take back to your old agent or to new agents. It never does a writer any good to spend a career focusing on just one book.

Jessica

9 Comments on Agent Contract Expiration, last added: 4/3/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
8. Permissions for Quotes

I am revising the draft of my first novel, and part of it takes place in a school setting, where can see different inscriptions/quotes above doors and in various other places. These quotes are from works by well-known science fiction writers like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov (such as "Violence is the last refuse of the incompetent" from Asimov's Foundation series). I am curious whether or not I need to approach these writers' estates and ask permission to use them, or if that falls under a caveat in copyright law.


Quotes are probably okay, but don't quote me on that. Whenever you use any material from other sources--quotes, song lyrics, poems, etc.--it is your responsibility as the author to obtain permission for use in whatever format the book will be published. That means use in print, ebook, possible audio, in the U.S. and probably around the world. It is also your responsibility to pay for those permissions should any fees be required.

I can't tell you specifically which quotes you will need permission for and which you won't. I can't say that without knowing exact details and I'm not going to give advice here for fear I might be wrong. That being said, what I can tell you is that you don't need to get the permissions prior to submitting the material. The publisher will require all necessary permissions prior to publication, but for submissions you'll be fine.

What I can also say is when in doubt, ask. In other words, there are definitely copyright laws and then there is the protectiveness of an estate, which can be two separate things. If you have concerns it never hurts to contact the estate to ask.

Jessica

13 Comments on Permissions for Quotes, last added: 4/2/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
9. Episodic Nonfiction

Reading your April 8, 2008, blog about narrative nonfiction, I wondered about the storyline for nonfiction, e.g. The Perfect Storm, In Cold Blood, Jon Krakauer's work, and other well-known stories.

Is there such a thing as "episodic" narrative nonfiction? Where the stories are short vignettes? So instead of one continuous long thread, a series of short threads that maybe by the end become a total memoir?

The reason I ask: I am a poet who also writes creative nonfiction, but they are not continuous chapters. They are episodes.



Well, I'm a believer that pretty much anything can be done if done well. Certainly there has been nonfiction published that's really a series of essays. Are you talking about something different from that? I think there's been a great deal of nonfiction published that's really a collection of stories that create a larger tale. If that makes sense.


Jessica

0 Comments on Episodic Nonfiction as of 3/29/2012 6:58:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. Agent Shopping

I currently have an agent who has a good reputation and has a decent track record. I have done all the background checks I can and when I signed felt I would be well represented by this person. However, through a series of situations and over a six month period with 0 submissions to publishing houses despite a great deal of talk about multiple submissions, I am beginning to believe that this business relationship is not a good match.

What I would like to know from you is, is it bad protocol to start feeling out the waters with other agents (querying) while still under contract? I don't want to do anything unethical or something that would tarnish my reputation as a new author, however I also would like to have an agent that is doing their job asap. And if it is okay to start querying while under contract, do I mention that I am under contract and looking for a more suitable agent?



First let me congratulate you on making the decision early on that this might not be the right relationship. Too often I see authors flounder with an agent who they don't feel is a good fit, but out of fear they won't find another. Taking control of your career from the beginning is a smart move.

I'm going to assume that you've talked with your agent about your concerns. Often I find that assumptions are made about what others are doing without really knowing the facts. For example, I'm constantly shopping books, talking to editors about the work my clients do, hounding publishers for money and contracts, etc., but I'm not always filling my clients in on every step I'm taking for them. For all you know, the agent could be talking you up to editors.

Okay, on to your question. Yes, it's bad protocol to shop for an agent while you're under contract. Honestly, it's a breach of contract and puts all parties, including the agents you're talking to, in a very uncomfortable position. What if your agent happens to be best friends with one of the other agents you're talking to? How does it make you look to other agents if they know you're the kind of author who might go behind their backs when unhappy? That being said, it does happen all the time. While certainly some agents will feel "protocol be damned," others might tell you to get back in touch after your relationship has been dissolved.

The smart and easy thing to do is quit the relationship and then query. After all, what if you're querying at about the same time your agent decides to start talking to editors about your book? Suddenly you're not going to have much of a project to talk to agents about since by that time it will have been shopped.


Jessica

10 Comments on Agent Shopping, last added: 3/29/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
11. Handling a Referral

I sent a query, synopsis and 10 pages to a popular agent who is no reply = no. Two weeks later, I received an amazingly sweet letter in which she gave compliments, made suggestions and then told me she'd already sent an email to a colleague of hers (the VP of their agency) and really thought she'd like it so would I send it to the colleague as well, with the referring agent's name in the subject header. Firstly, wow - because this was based on the 10 pages and synopsis, which I know because she referred to plot points. That was in [6-8 weeks ago]. My first assumption is that a referral will at least garner a rejection letter, even from an agency that doesn't reply if not interested. (Is this a bad assumption?) I don't intend to nudge, since it's just a query, but I also think it was awesome for the first agent to go through the trouble and would hate to not be diligent about the opportunity she sort of created. After getting writer feedback that insists I should nudge, I thought I'd better ask an agent (I trust). :)


This is really exciting. Congratulations!

According to the dates you are giving me the agent has had the material, which I assume is a full manuscript, for 6-8 weeks. At this point you're probably on the early edge of hearing back on a full submission, even if the material was requested. My suggestion is give it about 10 weeks or so (while some agents are really fast, it's not uncommon for agents to take an average of three months to respond to full submissions), and then I would send an email to check the status.

I agree that you should definitely receive a response on requested material, but I don't have insight to this agency's exact policy either.

Jessica

2 Comments on Handling a Referral, last added: 3/28/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. Making Twitter Personal

I'm no Twitter expert and have never claimed to be. That being said, I always have plenty of ideas about what works and doesn't work in social networking, primarily because I use it.

A lot of the people I follow on Twitter I follow because I'm a fan. Sure, I follow other industry experts and friends, but I also follow a lot of chefs (in my case). People I admire for their culinary skills. Some of my favorites are those I've gotten to "know" through various food competitions like Top Chef, Food Network or even their cookbooks or blogs. Not too long ago I was leaving Atlanta after a great conference with the Georgia Romance Writers. While waiting at the airport I Tweeted that I was leaving ATL and was bummed I didn't have the chance to visit Flip Burger and I included chef and owner Richard Blais (@RichardBlais) in my Tweet. Just a few short hours later @RichardBlais tweeted back "not as bummed as we are."

Okay, call me a fan geek, food geek, whatever, but I was on cloud 9 all day over this silly tweet. Over the fact that one of my chef heroes tweeted me back and actually seemed bummed that he wasn't able to see me. Does it matter how truly bummed he was? No. Not to a fan. When you admire and respect someone you're excited to be acknowledged by that person. And you should be. Life is too short not to get excited over the little things.

So here's my question to you writers. Are you giving your fans the little thrills that make their days, that give them reason to spend hours, heck days, talking about you? After my Tweet from Richard Blais (which by the way resulted in a number of people asking about this Flip Burger) I went to my personal Facebook to tell my friends and then I told everyone who would listen and now I'm telling all of you. That's buzz and that's the sort of thing that sells a product. It has nothing to do with the Tweets @RichardBlais himself has made, but everything about the "retweeting," so to speak. It's about the connection.

Jessica

19 Comments on Making Twitter Personal, last added: 3/28/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
13. Defining "Unsolicited Manuscripts"

When a publisher doesn't except "unsolicited manuscripts", does that mean they will only except an ms or query from an agent?

Below is some information I've found. Can you verify if it's true or not?

"No unsolicited manuscripts" does not mean you can't send something to these publishers. (Those who are truly closed will say something like "Not accepting submissions.") "No unsolicited" just means you must send them a one-page QUERY first. If they like your idea and feel your book is a possible fit for their list, they will reply to your letter inviting you to send your manuscript. Then, WHEE! Suddenly you're sending a solicited manuscript.



This is one of those questions that's hard to answer without more specifics, but I'll do what I can. Unsolicited manuscripts would mean specifically that you don't send any manuscript unless it's been requested. That could mean that the publisher accepts queries first and will request manuscripts, or it could mean that they don't want anything unsolicited.

Most publishers (and I say most because I suppose there are some smaller publishers that might not like working with agents) will accept submissions from agents, but even agents tend to contact editors first before simply sending off a manuscript.

If the publisher has submission guidelines on their website, but they say "no unsolicited manuscripts," then they will expect a query first. If they have no guidelines for submissions it's likely they aren't accepting unsolicited submissions of any kind, and that includes queries.

***

On a related topic, please note that Kim Lionetti has closed to all queries in an effort to catch up on submissions and any unanswered queries she's received to date. This is only temporary. Kim will be opening again once she's all caught up. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please see our submission guidelines if you'd like to submit to one of our other agents.

Jessica

7 Comments on Defining "Unsolicited Manuscripts", last added: 3/23/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
14. Keeping It Real in YA

I'm writing on YA fantasy novel (for want of a loose description) and I'm wondering about the use of profanity and drinking in a YA novel.

While swearing is not a massive part of the story there is the odd bit of what would be described in a movie as 'low level' language and I also have a fairly major party scene (it all goes wrong).

My initial instinct is to write what I want to write and worry about censoring it later as at this stage I'm part way my first draft especially as I hate reading YA where the characters say 'oh drat' or the equivalent. What are your thoughts on teens drinking and swearing?


Back in another lifetime I edited YA. I loved it and wanted to do more, but quickly became frustrated with what was popular at the time and what I was limited to doing based on what was supposedly selling. Now, keep in mind I was not working at a YA house and I imagine if I was I might have had a different experience, but still, what I was seeing published were not YA novels I would have ever been interesting in reading. In my opinion, they talked down to the reader, were written to appease adults, and didn't at all reflect the real life of teens.

Thank goodness times have changed.

The reason, in my mind, YA works so well today and has become so popular is that we are no longer afraid of adults. We are actually writing and publishing books that truly speak to kids. There is drinking, swearing, sex, abuse, love, hate, and bullies. We are no longer just writing about jocks and cheerleaders, but also about geeks and freaks and the one in between who is easily forgotten. Today we are writing about real kids and the real worlds they inhabit (sometimes).

I think your frame of mind on this is perfect. Write what you want to write and keep it real. When you've finished the book, read and edit and make sure that it sounds real. That the words your characters are using are fitting to the situation and to them. If there needs to be drinking and swearing, leave it in there. If it seems gratuitous, take it out. But don't take it out because you're afraid of what an editor or agent might think. Take it out only because it no longer suits the book (if that's the case).

Jessica

15 Comments on Keeping It Real in YA, last added: 3/23/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
15. Choosing a Title

I am in the process of finishing my first book. I believe the title I have chosen is a real eye-catcher but I'm concerned it may be too dark. My book is nonfiction or should I try to come up with something softer. I don't want the title to scare people off.

This question actually came as a comment to the previous blog post I did of the same title, but since I thought it was an important question, I thought it deserved its own post.

If there's one thing I've learned in life it's that you should go with your gut. In other words, if you're questioning something about your book, your plot, your title, your submission plan, your characters, whatever it is, you're probably right. If there's a niggling feeling that something isn't working, it's probably not working. It's amazing to me how often I'll give revision suggestions to a client and the client will turn around to say that she had the same concerns, but wasn't sure how to fix it. Hopefully at that point we've figured out how to make the fix.

It's hard to know if your title works without knowing anything about the book or specifics about the title; however, if you think it's too dark and doesn't properly represent the tone and voice of the book, no matter how eye-catching, the title probably isn't working.

Jessica

4 Comments on Choosing a Title, last added: 3/20/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
16. Blind Book Date Follow-Up

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and curl up on the couch because it's time to find out the dirt on your blind date with a book.

I was really excited about this idea and even more excited to see the unique list of books everyone came up with.

Up to the point of the blind book date I had been reading a lot of romance and women's fiction. Previous titles on my just-read list included Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Madeiros, and Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (all of which I'd recommend, by the way). So when I first met my date and discovered that it was The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker, I was excited. Not only was this something very different from what I had been reading (which is what I'd hoped for in this exercise), but I had also never read Alice Walker.

There's no doubt this book is very different from what I had been reading, and while I can certainly agree with the many who will say Alice Walker is an amazing writer, I have to confess that I just didn't love this book. In fact, I didn't finish the book. I gave myself permission long ago to not finish books I'm not enjoying. Life is too short and there are too many books I will enjoy to force myself to finish something, and while I didn't find this painful it was ultimately not my cup of tea. I suppose someone is going to say that it's not a romance and that's why I didn't enjoy it. I don't think that's the case. I think I'm savvy enough to recognize when I'm not liking something because it's not in the genre I'm in the mood to read vs. when I'm not liking something because I'm not connecting with it, and in this case I just didn't connect.

Will I read something from Alice Walker again? Probably not, but never say never.

Was I happy to have tried? Thrilled that I was given the opportunity to experience this iconic author.

Did this open up new reading possibilities for me? I'm not sure. It's not really classified as a genre and therefore not something I've never experienced (like a SF book for someone who has never read SF, for example), but it also didn't close any doors.

Would I participate in something like this again? Absolutely. My to-be-read list has grown exponentially thanks to the suggestions on the blog.

Now it's your turn. What book did you read (or attempt to read) and how was the experience for you?


Jessica

30 Comments on Blind Book Date Follow-Up, last added: 3/21/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
17. Random Questions

Do you automatically reject a query if the author does not have a college degree?

No. I don't know of any agency who would. Unless you're an expert writing nonfiction on a subject that would require a degree of some sort, I don't care if you've never been to school.


Is "mainstream literary fiction" an appropriate term/genre to describe a novel in a query letter? I'm getting ready to submit a book that doesn't fit easily into either category. Bret Easton Ellis would be an example of an author that writes this type of fiction.

Yes, mainstream literary fiction is fine.


Do you work with authors from other countries?

Absolutely! We don't care where you're from, only that you've written a good book. We have authors from all over the world.


I have two nonfiction books published (under my married name) and am now working on a novel. I may be taking back my maiden name in the future and am wondering if pursuing publication using a different last name will affect the career I hope I can have as a novelist.

Since nonfiction and fiction are two different markets, it shouldn't matter at all which name you publish under. Of course, there's always an "it depends," in this case based on what kind of nonfiction you wrote (memoir, for example) or how successful your nonfiction was, but ultimately writing under two different names should be fine.


When an agent requests pages, are they referring to the physical pages in a word document, or is the referring to 250-word pages?

I assume you mean page count. These days I think you can go by the word count in your Word document. However, if you feel more comfortable with the 250-word per page count, go with that. Honestly, it doesn't make that much of a difference to the agent. If you mean how many actual pages, the agent will look at the number on the bottom of the Word document, so go with that.



Jessica

4 Comments on Random Questions, last added: 3/16/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
18. Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Ms. Faust:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit to the BookEnds Literary Agency query workshop. Don’t Mess with Mick is a completed Romantic Suspense of 75,000 words.


This is a great opening. Succinct and respectful.


Amateur photographer, Rachel Copeland, is in trouble. An early morning wildlife shoot at the deserted Salton Sea, soon becomes a shoot-em-up. And she is the one being fired at. Held at gunpoint, and her male attacker demanding her camera, she fights back and escapes.

Newly transferred detective, Michael Delaney, is on surveillance at the sea. Rumors have circulated that a Mexican Kingpin and his brother, who evaded capture when their drug compound was toppled by a U.S. DEA agent, are out for revenge. It’s Michael’s assignment to find them before they can identify the agent who has turned civilian and resides in one of the California desert cities.

Hearing gunfire, Michael gives chase. He apprehends the guy only to find an angry, but very sexy, redheaded woman. She tells him she was shot at, had her camera stolen, was subjected to a harrowing highway chase (by him), and she is grieving the recent disappearance of Grandpa Henry, a wildlife photographer and her only living relative.


The above paragraphs read like a synopsis of the beginning of your manuscript. We don’t need to know exactly what happens, play by play. Instead, we want to know who the characters are, what their conflict is, what is standing in their way and how they might get around it. We need the larger scope of your story.


Michael learns Henry’s isolated cabin is at the edge of the Salton Sea, and that he has a dark room. He’s convinced that photographs might hold a clue to the whereabouts of Henry, and the Saurez brothers. Rachel is sure that Henry is not dead, and Michael begins to believe her. While they uncover clues, and their mutual attraction grows, someone is waiting for them to produce what he needs, and then he has a plan of his own: to extinguish them both.

This last paragraph comes the closest to telling me the gist of the story, but it should be expanded to the size of the whole query and should absorb pieces of (but not all) of the paragraphs above it. The skeleton of the story here is that two people need to find the same guy—Grandpa Henry—for different reasons and they come together to make that happen. But we don’t learn this information until the last paragraph and by that point, you seem to be wrapping up.


I am a member of RWA and the Los Angeles chapter, LARA, and have attended many of your panels at the national RWA conference, and also enjoy your daily blog. Should you wish to read more of Don’t Mess with Mick, it is completed.

Sincerely,
[r

6 Comments on Workshop Wednesday, last added: 3/15/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
19. An Agent's Acknowledgment

I think on a number of agent blogs you've read how much an acknowledgment or a dedication to an agent in a client's book can mean to an agent. I never get tired of reading them and I never feel anything less than humbled that the author would consider me when writing this most public of thank-yous. But today I'm feeling a very special appreciation for all of my clients. I don't have a book in which to acknowledge them, but I do have this blog.

Each day my clients make me better at what I do. They provide me with information on the industry, hot topics among authors, and information that I can use to become better at what I do.

They humble me with their combined and individual talents. I'm continually amazed by the ideas they come up with, the skill it takes to write a book, and the perseverance each of them has to succeed and excel in this industry.

I'm thankful to know them both professionally and personally. I'm thankful for the support they give me in my job and I'm thankful that they are willing to listen to my ideas and sometimes take them without laughing.

So while I won't list you all by name, you know who you are. Published or unpublished I appreciate every single one of you. Skol!


Jessica

9 Comments on An Agent's Acknowledgment, last added: 3/2/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
20. Gifts 101

I love my agent. I think she's fabulous, and I never want her to doubt for an instant that I think she's fabulous.

Are there "rules" governing gifts from the writer to the agent? I figure it's okay to send cookies just 'cuz, but what about a gift when the agent sells your manuscript? Is it okay to send flowers? A bottle of the agent's favorite wine? (I've recently found out you can have anything delivered in Manhattan.)

For the record, my agent has never asked me for anything other than a splendid manuscript.


You sound like a sweet and fabulous client, and what I love most about this post is that I don't often get questions from readers telling me they love their agent. Yay for you and yay for your agent. It sounds like you're a good match.

There are no "rules" when it comes to giving gifts to your agent. Of course no agent expects gifts (editors don't either) and certainly they aren't required, but sometimes we just like giving gifts to show our appreciation and some of us are just natural gift givers.

When it comes to giving gifts I think it's about the giving and not the gift. If you want specific ideas, though, get to know your agent a little and see what she likes or just think about what you see from Tweets and blogs. For most agents, anyway, you can never go wrong with food or booze. I think any of the thoughts you have on what you send your agent will be touching and greatly appreciated. Heck, I'll tear up over a thank-you email from a client. Sometimes that's the best gift I can get.


Jessica

7 Comments on Gifts 101, last added: 3/6/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
21. The Evolution of My Rejection Letter

All of the talk lately about whether "no means no" is an appropriate response for agents to give to query letters had me thinking about my own rejection letters over the years. I agree with Janet Reid when she says that a response is not only important, but pretty easy. It's something we've always done at BookEnds--responded to all queries and submissions--and something I think we all agree is important and plan to continue to do.

That being said, it's amazing how things have changed in the past 12 years and how much my queries, submissions, and responses have changed. When we first opened the agency we were hungry agents looking for great authors. Everything in those days (2001) was done by snail mail, so we had an open policy to unsolicited partials. That meant that without even getting a request you could snail mail us a copy of your query/cover letter, the first three chapters of your book, and a synopsis. Man, you should have seen the piles of mail. More often than not it took multiple armloads just to get from the mailbox to our desks. That was every day.

At that time, because we were hungry, I somewhat personalized every rejection. I had several forms, sure, but I actually took the time to type into each letter the name and address of each person I was rejecting. I'd love to know how much time that took me each week.

Over time, within probably 3 to 5 years, we were getting busier and busier, actually tending to our clients, because we actually had clients. So instead of the personalized rejection, we started to go the way of the "Dear Author" form. Away went the address and name and instead we had a stack of letters printed out that we could just stick into envelopes and send off. This was for unsolicited material. For solicited proposals we were still writing in the names and addresses.

And then email really took hold, at least for submissions. Agents became less afraid of being inundated with queries in their email inbox and opened to email submissions. We were right there with the rest. By this time we had done away with the unsolicited partials and were accepting queries only via email and we came up with a very clever way to reply to those queries. That magical signature line. Most email programs allow you to have multiple signatures to choose from. Maybe you have your business standard and another for personal use. Well, we have somewhere around 10. I have my standard signature that goes on the bottom of all email, and then I have the "letter" signatures or the form rejection signatures. I have one that says I'm closed to queries, one that requests material, one that rejects material, one I can easily modify to make more personal, and those that give some specific information (like the book is too short or too much like a magazine article).

I've found it's never hard to pop on that signature and hit send, and hopefully it allows me to keep networking with authors and helps them to keep thinking of me.


Jessica

13 Comments on The Evolution of My Rejection Letter, last added: 3/7/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
22. Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Ms Faust

Every 100 years there comes upon this planet a writer whose work enlightens that generation and those that will follow. Until that person arrives you'll have to make do with me.


While I did chuckle a bit at your opening line I wonder if the self-defeating tone might hurt you in the end? It didn't bother me, but I'm not sure other agents wouldn't have a different reaction.


Mae Clarke is a nineteen year old girl who's been alive for six months after being created in a test tube having been brought up by robots and an insane non-scientist. Her mother, Carla Neill, is on the starship Dravid (currently patrolling the Colonial side of the Zone), trying to avoid everyone and who everyone tries to avoid. Her father, Alan Radford, is passing the rest of his life on early twenty-first century Earth hoping that he won't be kidnapped and sent into the future again.

I'm having some trouble following this. Your first sentence was one I had to read twice and I guess the introduction, this entire paragraph, doesn't grab me. Nothing about this feels particularly riveting or different.


All three are destined to meet (there wouldn't be a novel in it if they didn't) at least that's what Harold, the insane non-scientist obsessed with his and their destiny, thinks is their destiny. Aided, abetted and obstructed in his plans are two robots, a seven foot reptilian doctor, the commander of the Dravid and a dictatorial Dagon who is determined to resurrect her military career by breaking as many rules as she can without her rusting brick of a ship falling apart.

I like how your humor comes through. I think that's my favorite part of your query, your asides, however since I doubt you do that in the novel I'm not sure it's going to be enough to make me want to request the book. I think part of the problem with this is that you're so focused on trying to put the comedic elements into your query that I'm getting no sense of what the book is about or the story. When querying a humorous story the humor needs to come through in the showing of the story, not trying purposely to be funny.


A Stitch In Time is a Science Fiction comedy written by [redacted] (that's me) and has some vague similarities to Blonde Bombshell by Tom Holt and the Space Captain Smith Trilogy by Toby Frost.

Good comparisons.


I have had two short stories published in failed ezines, two on failed websites and two non-fiction articles for succesful magazines as well as being a regular book/film/tv reviewer for the irregularly published SFF ezine Hub. I have three teenage boys, an old car, a rented flat and act out my fantasies for the Knebworth Amateur Theatrical Society twice a year, as well as being the author of this stunning query.

15 Comments on Workshop Wednesday, last added: 3/8/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
23. Do I Really Need an Agent

i just recently signed with a publisher... on their website, it said submissions only accepted by agents etc

i ignored that and it turned out okay! (i didnt have an agent and still dont)

my question is.... ive already signed the contract with them.... should i still look into getting an agent?


It's a tricky situation because it sounds like you really don't want an agent, however it's important to note that an agent does a lot more than simply submit a work. Sure, negotiating a strong contract is a huge part of what an agent does, but so is career management and guidance. An agent will also help you understand the business and learn what you can expect from the publisher, she can answer your questions and explain things you might not understand, and she can help spot trends and see where you might fit when it comes to building a career.

I think at this point it's going to be difficult to get an agent until you're getting ready for your next contract. At this point, there's not a lot in it for the agent. You've already negotiated and signed the contract so she's coming in to help manage something she's never going to get paid for, but of course I would suggest that you consider getting an agent for your future works. There's a lot an agent can and will do for you, and submitting to the publisher is the least of it.


Jessica

8 Comments on Do I Really Need an Agent, last added: 3/9/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
24. New Agents at BookEnds

When an author is considering Bookends LLC, should the disparity between levels of experience between the agents play a major part, or can she trust that even a new agent at your agency will have the support and expertise of the other more experienced agents behind her? Is it all right to query the new acquiring agents even if you have already queried other agents at Bookends LLC, since that agent was not available to query (or have the query referred to them) at the time of the original query?

As someone who, at one time, was just starting out, either as an editorial assistant or a new agent, I'm a strong believer in "new blood." In fact, even today I seek out smart new assistants to submit to. They are hungry, they have time on their hands, and they are excited to work with new authors and promote those new authors to the people who make the decisions. The same holds true of new agents. They are excited to build a list, hungry to add new authors to their list and, if I can be so bold as to speak for the "new" people at BookEnds, incredibly smart.

I think there's no doubt that experience can play a role in how an agent operates, but so can an agent's personality. When selecting an agent at any agency I think it's more important to look at how that agent works and how well you communicate. A new agent at any agency has the backing of the agency's name and the experience of the other agents to rely on. We work very closely at BookEnds. We discuss proposals, manuscripts, submission strategies, editors, authors, and even revision suggestions with each other. I have a ton of faith in the people I work with and each of them has their own set of strengths. It's amazing how the opinion of one, and the experiences of one, can help all of us.

When sending out your submission to any agent I wouldn't discount the new or the younger agents. In fact, I would look at them first. They are the people who have the time to take chances and are looking to grow a list. Agents who have been around for a long time tend to be pickier because they can be. They don't have as much time to take a rough project and spend time working to build on the potential they see. And yes, they will always have the support of the others within the agency.

And yes, feel free to query other agents within the agency even if you've already queried someone. The worst that can happen is a pass.

Jessica

9 Comments on New Agents at BookEnds, last added: 3/13/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
25. Switching Agents within an Agency

What would happen if the author, after due time with one of the new agents, felt one of the other agents would be a better fit? Do authors ever move to a different agent at the same agency?

This question actually came as part of another question, but it's something I've often wondered about myself so I thought it deserved its own post. If you like the agency you're with, but over time maybe you or your agent has changed directions, would it make sense to request that you be transferred to a new agent within the agency. I guess it depends on the agency and how that agency operates, but I think it's a very reasonable request. After all, we've made the request on behalf of our authors that they switch editors within a publishing house, so why couldn't you ask the same of your agency?

We've never done this at BookEnds, unless of course an agent has left, but I know I'd be willing to do it if the author felt it was best for her. First of all, why would I want the agency to lose good talent, and secondly, I wouldn't necessarily see it as a slight against the agent. What if you've decided that you want to write mysteries instead of romance and the agent you're working with said that she has no real interest in mystery, but another within the agency does? Wouldn't it make sense for you to switch if that other agent would have you? I think it's worth asking.


Jessica

3 Comments on Switching Agents within an Agency, last added: 3/13/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts