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Results 26 - 50 of 15,276
26. My Thoughts on Go Tell a Watchman

Everywhere I turn people are talking about Go Tell a Watchman. And I don't blame them. This is probably one of the most exciting things to happen in publishing since Harry Potter. But unlike Harry Potter, I'm not sure I'm going to read this one.

To read this book I'd have to read To Kill a Mockingbird first. I've read it, and I've seen the movie, I believe as an assignment sometime back in my teen years. I have incredibly fond memories of the characters. They live on in my head in the same way an old friend lives on. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember them with a fondness that I hope never to lose.

It's because of those memories that I might never read Go Tell a Watchman. I've been saddened by the controversy surrounding the book and even further saddened by some of the reviews I've read. Everyone is entitled to an opinion of course and I think many will find they need to read the book to see what people are talking about and, possibly, prove reviewers wrong. For me though, I'd like to hide my head in the sand on this one and remember Scout as she was in my childhood.


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27. What Jessica F Has Been Reading #MSWL

Summer is here and so is summer reading. I actually have a stack of books sitting here by my side. All great potential beach reads. Some are new, books I've begged editors for, and some are older books that I've pulled from my shelves. I'm embarrassed to admit that some are galleys for books that were published a few years ago.

I was just updating my Goodreads account and realized I hadn't updated the blog in a few books.

At #BEA I picked up The Killing Kind by Chris Holm. I devoured this book. This is exactly the kind of book I love and would love to see. How can you go wrong with a hit man who targets hit men? The way the story plays out is really the true magic though, the twists are perfect and the end leaves you satisfied, but still desperate for the next in the series, which is really disappointing since this book doesn't even officially publish until September. Put it on your pre-order list.

Two great things happened to me at #CCWC. I had a terrific conference experience and I was given a copy of Charlaine Harris's Midnight Crossroad, the first book in her new Midnight Texas series. Charlaine has such a great style, one that's truly all her own and I love the mix of the paranormal with a true mystery. This was a fun read and one I know Jessica Alvarez has been chomping at the bit to get her hands on so I'll be passing it along to her.

Now to go through my stack and decide what's next.


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28. Query Right or Expect Rejection

I'm not sure what's going on out there or on what list my name has been placed, but the queries I've been receiving lately are absolutely horrible. I'm not talking about the books that are being queried, but the queries themselves.

For some reason no one wants to write a blurb, feeling instead that cutting and pasting a 2-5 page synopsis is a better idea. I'm getting details about the writer's path to writing (I don't care that you started at 13 or how old you are now). I'm even getting details of the person's family life.

Queries are really very simple. Just as simple as a cover letter. I need you title, your genre, your word count and I need a brief 2-3 paragraph blurb about your book. Essentially the back cover copy for your book.

If you can't put that together I am going to immediately figure that you couldn't write the book either or are too lazy to do the many rounds of revisions you'll likely need prior to publication.

The only thing these poor queries do are irritate me and make it easier for me to empty out my inbox.


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29. Passing a Submission to Another Agent

The other day I read a submission that I thought was really strong and had great potential. However, given my already busy client list I didn't think I was going to be the best agent for the project. This book needed someone who could be truly passionate about it, who had a love for the genre and who had the time and desire to really work with the author on the project. Instead of just passing however, I passed it on to another agent at BookEnds. Someone who fit every one of the criteria I thought the book needed.

When I do something like this I often wonder what the author will think. Does the author later think less of the offer she receives because it isn't the agent she submitted to, although it is the agency? or Does the author think this is a great opportunity because her project definitely landed in the right hands?

As we see when we receive responses to rejections, every author is different. Some will be offended that the agent they first submitted to didn't want it in the first place and others will be elated that the agency as a whole felt so strongly about the book.

Like everyone else, an agent only has a finite number of hours in the day and can only represent so many clients and give them the attention she feels they deserve. When reviewing submissions, we at BookEnds are reviewing for ourselves first and the agency second. We all work very closely together and that doesn't just mean bouncing ideas off each other, it means working hard to get as many great books published as we can, and helping each other build a strong career as an agent.

When we pass a project on to another agent within BookEnds it doesn't mean we didn't think it was great and are tossing our trash onto someone else's pile. In fact, it's the complete opposite, we think the book has some real potential and were excited about its possibilities, but feel it needs to be with the right agent, not any agent.

I'm going to pre-empt some questions here and say that we don't always pass everything on so if you feel there are two agents at BookEnds who might be right for your book feel free to query them both. Never at the same time, but if the first passes there's no reason you can't try the second. Just don't tell anyone else I said that. ;)


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30. The Summer Slowdown & A Submission Update

Summer is killer for me. It feels like I'm constantly running around trying to get things done, but never actually able to get things done. Vacations and the general "slow-down of summer" can be partially to blame for this. Naturally a lot of people vacation in the summer and because of that it always seems like it takes days instead of just a day or two to get the answers you want. 

In addition to summer vacations however, there are summer conferences. RWA and Thrillerfest are the two biggies that I'll be attending. I'm excited to go to both and will have a lot to celebrate at both, but there's also no doubt that they're exhausting and time consuming. 

The weirdest part of all of this is that because of all the running around I'll be doing this summer I'll be less likely to get to submissions in a timely manner however because of all the running around I'll also be getting a lot more submissions. 

If it weren't for a recent Kindle glitch, I'd be reading more submissions, but that's not helping things either. 

So, I'm caught up on all queries through the end of June. I'm caught up on all requested submissions through (gulp) the end of March. If you sent something that should have been answered by now please feel free to resend. If you sent material or a query in the time periods that I have not yet gotten to I thank you for your patience.


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31. A Writer's Guide to Being Pitch Perfect

It's July and that means pitches. Lots and lots of pitches.

This month I'll be attending both Thrillerfest and RWA and I'll be taking appointed pitches at both as well as, I hope and assume, I'll be meeting authors throughout the conference who might want to pitch their work. 

There are a ton of great places to find tips on pitching, including this blog, instead I'm just going to talk generally about pitch appointments. 

First things first, I think there is far too much emphasis placed on the pitch. I've been told by conference organizers that I have to take five hours (8 hours sometimes) of pitches because that's all the authors want. If that's really the case that's a shame, but I don't believe it's true. I think pitch appointments make it easy for conference organizers to fill time and not have to juggle workshop schedules for agents and editors.

Pitch appointments will not get you published. They are no different from a query letter except they are in person and will probably stress you out a whole lot more. In fact, most standard pitch appointments won't do you any good at all unless you take control of the pitch.

Of course every agent feels differently about how those 10 minutes (3 minutes sometimes) should be used, but since this is my blog I'm going to tell you how I think it should be used.

I think pitches are an opportunity for you to get to meet agents personally and see if they might be the right person for your book. I know I've told this story before, but one of my best pitch appointments was with author Shelley Coriell. Shelley sat down not to pitch her book, but to meet me. She told me this right away. She explained her goals for her career, talked briefly about her book and handed me a recipe for one of her favorite desserts (Blackberry Cobbler). She told me that since her book wasn't ready she would simply query me when the time came. In the 10 minutes we had Shelley made herself memorable. We chatted about a few things, her career, publishing in general and my philosophy as an agent (she did ask me questions as well as told me about herself). There was no point in Shelley pitching because she knew she could query me when the time was right.

All that being said, let's find a way to make pitches more enjoyable for both of us.

Relax. Don't think of me as the interviewer, think of yourself as the interviewer.

Have your pitch ready, but don't think of it as the only thing you're going to do. Also come prepared with some questions. Ask about me, the agency, publishing, or ask me my opinion on something that came up in an earlier panel or a discussion with other agents.

Listen. I will listen to your pitch and then I'm going to critique it. If I'm not asking for material I'm going to ask you questions that address my concerns. It could be that the hook feels slight or the plot feels overly complicated. Don't try to argue with me about why I'm wrong or how that's in there. If you need to take the full 10 minutes to explain your story there's a problem with your story. Even if I am asking for material I might ask some questions. Don't just defend your book, think of my questions as something you can use to hone your pitch and your query.

Enjoy. Conferences are a great way to feel energized about what you're doing. Pat yourself on the back for going to a pitch appointment in the first place. It's not easy and it's one more step toward publication.


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32. Facing Facts When A Contract Isn't Renewed

With the restructuring at Berkley/NAL I've had a lot of great talks with clients about their careers and publishing careers in general. Unfortunately, in this case, we were forced to have these conversations because with any merger/restructuring, authors are going to feel the impact, good and bad.

When new people are in charge (of anything) things will change and in publishing that usually means the publisher will take a closer look at what's working and what's not and some authors will feel the fallout.

It is always difficult for an author to face the fact that something isn't working or is no longer working. There's nothing worse then putting everything you've got into a book series only to learn that your contract won't be renewed (that you won't be offered to write more books in the series). For every author during a time like this there's always a feeling of loss. I mean face it, I'm not sure there's any author who feels good about not finishing the story.

Sometimes though, that non-renewal might in fact be the smartest business decision anyone ever made for you.

For so many years writers spend all of their time focusing efforts on being published. An incredible goal to have. However, once you are published your goals need to change. No longer is your goal to be published, and it should always be bigger than just staying published. Your goal is now to build a career and continuing to write books that are reaching fewer and fewer readers with each book does not a career make.

In fact, there have been times when I've talked to my clients about ending a series even if the publisher is offering on more. If we can see the writing on the royalty reports and we know numbers are going down why would we want to continue on that road? It's certainly not building anything.

So instead of seeing a non-renewal as a personal insult or as a publisher who doesn't like the kind of thing you write, look at it for what it is, an opportunity to make some career shifts, something every business has to do from time to time. After all, Coca-Cola hasn't had the success it's had by only putting out a cola. When consumers wanted lemon lime they created Sprite and when water became trendy they added Dasani.

While every business owner will mourn the loss of books they love writing, no successful business owner closes the business. Instead she takes a close look at what the market is begging for or wants and checks her back pocket for which ideas fit those needs.


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33. The Truth About the Midlist

I think you're going to see a lot of blog posts based on the restructuring of Berkley/NAL. It's when something like this happens that I find myself with a whole slew of new ideas. Usually based on conversations we're having in the office or with clients.

One of these conversations involves the midlist. For those who don't know, the midlist is defined as those books that fall in the middle of a publisher's list. They aren't the top sellers (not always bestsellers, but those books that sell the most) and they aren't at the bottom, those books with sales so low that they just aren't salvageable. You know, books that only sell 2,000 copies. Ever.

Midlist books are those books that are selling moderately well, have solid sales, but just aren't pushing to top selling status. They could be mysteries, romance, nonfiction, paperback, hardcover. They could be anything because it's not about the genre, but about sales.

One of the things the Berkley/NAL conversation has brought up is the death of the midlist. The same death I've been morning since my first day in publishing. I mean, I've been around long enough now that I think I can say that's a freakishly long mourning period.

Here's the truth as I see it where the midlist is concerned. Authors who languish in the midlist are not going to be given contract after contract just to remain midlist authors. That's not what the midlist is about (at least not these days). The midlist is a place for publishers to grow authors from. Its where great books go to grow. A publisher will always have a midlist of some sort because a publisher will always be buying new books from new authors and somewhere along the way someone is going to have numbers that aren't top selling numbers, but aren't at the bottom either. When those authors come along the publisher is going to look at those numbers to see which direction they are going and what can be done to boost that author, those books and those numbers into the top selling range.

When rumors abound that a publisher is cutting the midlist it isn't mean that a publisher is taking out one kind of book over another, it means the publisher is making room for more. Have I ever told you that I'm an eternal optimist?

Books that languish in the midlist, that are selling a little less with every new book (in a series for example) aren't making money for a publisher and aren't growing an author's career. And that is always the goal, whenever an agent takes on a new client, whenever a publisher buys a new book and whenever an author sits down to write the goal is, and should always be, to grow that author's career. Not to languish in any list.


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We are off for the weekend celebrating Independence Day and hopefully taking some time for relaxing reading. I'll be finishing up Charlaine Harris's Midnight Crossroad and considering what I should read next.

Have a safe and happy holiday!


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35. The Importance of Respecting Your Own Writing

Recently I received a query in which the author seemed embarrassed about the genre she was writing in. Sadly, I see this a lot and not just from querying authors, but from published authors as well. It's discouraging and disheartening.

See, I love the books I represent and I love the authors I represent. I'm proud of each one and excited to introduce them to new readers. Most importantly, I respect every author of every genre, even those I don't represent.

Sitting down to write a book in any genre, of any length is no easy task. I couldn't do it and I know many in publishing who feel the same way. It's why we aren't writers. So don't let someone else tell you that what you're writing isn't a "real book" or isn't important. It is. And if you can't be proud of your book how are you going to convince other people it's something they want to buy and read? Learn to love what you're writing now and it will show later when you're trying to build your brand.


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36. Cover reveal for Christina Mandelski’s THE SWEETEST THING

We are so very excited for today’s cover reveal! THE SWEETEST THING by Christina Mandelski is a fantastic contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and cake, and it’s soon to be re-released on Amazon with this gorgeous new package and some yummy bonus materials.

TheSweetestThing Cover Shadow WEB

When it comes to cake, Sheridan Wells is a true artist. She’s happiest working in the back of her family’s bakery, dreaming of the day her mom will come home. But when her dad makes an announcement that threatens to change their lives, Sheridan launches a desperate plan to find her mother before it’s too late. Add to that a school art project that she can’t seem to start, a moody best friend and the fact that she may or may not have been asked out by the cutest boy in


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37. Happy Pub Day to Jessixa Bagley’s BOATS FOR PAPA!

I’m so thrilled to wish Jessixa Bagley a very happy pub day for her debut book, BOATS FOR PAPA. I met Jessixa at SCBWI NY in 2013; that was the first conference I attended with my agent hat on after nearly ten years on the other side of the desk at Simon & Schuster. Jessixa came to my session, politely introduced herself and struck up a conversation. She was a runner-up in the Illustrator Showcase and submitted a dummy called Drift to me after the conference. I opened it and was immediately drawn into the world of Buckley, a young beaver who creates increasingly intricate boats to send to his absent and much missed Papa. And she made me cry. Tears-streaming-down-my-face cry. I sold the book to the brilliant and wonderful Neal Porter. Neal, … [more]

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38. An Agent's Thoughts on a Publisher's Restructuring

It's no longer news that there have been some dramatic changes at Berkley/NAL, changes that aren't necessarily a complete surprise, but still difficult for everyone involved.

I knew this was something I needed to, and wanted to, address on the blog, but after several starts and restarts I realized I wasn't sure what I wanted to say.

When Random House and Penguin announced the merger in 2013 everyone in publishing knew that change would be coming. At the beginning of 2015 we started to see the first effects of those changes.  Appointments were made announcing new names in new positions, contract renewals were slow to come and imprints were consolidated. While I'm not sure any of us foresaw what exactly would happen, it's hard not to look at these changes and see why it did happen. In many cases there was just too much overlap between the many imprints of the new Penguin Random House.

It's been a tough week for a lot of people, including the BookEnds team. We've been in business for over 15 years and we've worked with editors over at Berkley/NAL for 15 years. These are long-standing, trusted relationships. I'm not going to lie, when I hung up the phone with an editor who lost her job I cried. She's good at what she does and a victim of restructuring. I'm going to miss discussing everything from cover copy, to contract negotiations, to cover art, to an author's next idea with her.

While agents and editors are often seen as working on opposing sides, the truth is we work more closely than many realize. I think sometimes even more closely than we realize. Together we are part of an author's team and together we work to try to make each decision in the author's best interest. That means long discussions about the cover art, the cover copy and even the direction an author is taking with her next book or her career. An author's success means success for all of us. Seeing an editor leave, for any reason, is losing a trusted member of my team.

Well if I'm upset, you can imagine the state of many Berkley/NAL authors. The question in almost every author's mind is what's next. What can an author expect during a time of upheaval with their publisher and what should an author do? Of course each author's experience is different. For some everything is status quo and nothing should change. For most, unfortunately, change is inevitable. Even those who are lucky enough to retain the same editor, change is happening within the publisher and that will have an impact on everyone. This could be because of the change in the art department, the copy department or even buying decisions. I'm not saying it's all bad, I'm just saying there will be change.

The first thing to remember is that we can't control the actions of others. The only person you can control is yourself. Panicking isn't going to help, but coming up with a plan might.

Once you've taken a few deep breaths here are some suggestions:

1. Penguin Random House just introduced this wonderful Author Portal where you can see sales, royalty reports and get hints and tips to how to build your brand as an author. Spend some time there and really look things over. Take notes if you need to. Get some perspective on what more you might be able to do to build sales and, most importantly, get perspective on how your brand is doing. A good CEO always has an idea of how well the company is doing at any given moment. As the CEO of your brand you should do the same. Check out your book sales. Are they going up? Going down? Do they seem to be holding strong?

2. Talk with your agent. Once you have an idea of what your numbers look like, give your agent a call to discuss them with her. What concerns do you have and are they valid? Should you continue on the same path or is coming up with something new a good idea? Knowing how to proceed is always smart, plus, as one author once said to me, "it's always good to have something in your back pocket."

3. Ignore the gossip. I can only imagine what the writing loops and discussion boards look like right now. In fact, I think I'd prefer not to imagine it. Watch out for the doom and gloomers, the Chicken Littles with the falling skies. This sucks. It sucks for a lot of people, but as in any good Dystopian YA, those who are prepared to fight and accept change will win. Those who want to sit in a hole and refuse to accept change, will die (probably in some horribly gruesome death). If you are concerned about some of what you're hearing please call your agent. Many times she has an insider's perspective that can be very helpful.

4. And here is the same advice I give in any situation. Keep writing and make your next book even better than the last.

Change is always a frightening thing and it's not going to be an easy road for some people, but those who are willing to pull up their boots and keep walking (love that song) will always see the light at the other side.


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39. Jessica A’s Favorite Reading Spot

I love the beach. The sound of waves crashing, the smell of salt air, the warm sun on my sunscreen-lathered skin. It’s all perfect for reading, except I really hate getting sand in my books. Luckily, my father’s beach house has plenty of comfy seating with a great view of the ocean. I’m fortunate that I’ll be able to spend plenty of time there this summer with a book in one hand and an umbrella drink in the other.

---Jessica Alvarez

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40. Why You Don't Need to Worry About Protecting Your Idea

Last week I posted this Tweet:

#MSWL a book based on this crazy story: http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/lawsuit_bring_me_young_blood_stalker_told_westfiel.html#incart_2box_nj-homepage-featured
6/19/15, 12:16 PM

If you haven't read the article you absolutely must. It's the creepiest thing I've heard in a long time. Since reading it I've thought and thought about what kind of book I'd like to see and then I thought about all of the different types of books that someone could create from this crazy story.

Which is why I think writers sometimes worry a little too much about protecting an idea. The idea in this case is a book based on this particular true story, but what any one writer does with that idea will likely be completely different from what another writer will create.

A YA author might create a story about a young girl who moves with her family into the house and is either possessed by a demon or lives in terror of what is in the walls. Maybe she has supernatural powers, maybe she doesn't.

A suspense or mystery author might create the story of a killer who used live in the house and buried bodies in the walls, or a killer who killed as a child and is now trying to get back in the house because he needs to be there to start killing again.

A romance writer might write the story of a woman who inherits the house and moves in only to be terrorized by these letters, stalked even, when the hero comes to investigate and saves the day, and they fall in love.

A SFF writer could write the story of an alien abduction that happened in or around the house...

Or, even if all of the writers who take my idea and run with it write in the same genre, the possibilities are endless. What's really going to be important isn't the idea (although that's a terrific first step), but the execution. How the idea or the story plays out, who the characters are and the author's voice.


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41. Why Jessica F Loves Instagram and Other Thoughts on Social Media

I've been known to tell writers that they don't have to involve themselves in social networking if they don't want to. It's a statement that makes agents cringe, editors blanche and writers cheer.

I've always been fairly active on Twitter. I Tweet in fits and starts as the mood takes me and Beth does a terrific job managing the BookEnds Facebook page. Recently though BookEnds has signed up on Instagram and I'm absolutely loving it. I love taking pictures and I think it might be the perfect place for someone who wants to be involved in social media, but doesn't want to do a whole ton of work. In other words, with Instagram you can post and go if you want.

As Jessica A said, it was a great time to launch our Instagram account. We had BEA and I traveled to California for a conference. I saw a lot of terrific Instragramable things and I posted them, all the other BookEnds agents have done the same. Instagram is fun for me. It allows me to explore another venue of creativity and its quick. A great photo and a few tags can be done in about five minutes. A lot quicker than a blog post.

I don't think any body or any author needs to have their hand in every bit of social media. There's just too much. If anything, find the one that best feeds your soul. What do you need as well as what can you give? Instagram gives me a fun break from words and allows me to paint pretty pictures in a different way.


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42. Cover Reveal for THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT by Andrew Brumbach

We’re oh-so-excited for the cover reveal of Andrew Brumbach‘s spectacular debut middle grade adventure novel, THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT (Delacorte, 2016). Hop on over to the good folks at Middle Grade Minded for the big reveal and an interview with Andrew.

 … [more]

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43. What Jessica A. Is Reading

Like a lot of people, summer is the time I get to do the most reading for pure fun. Beach vacations offer plenty of opportunity. Also, I’m an admitted tv addict and, once those season finales air, I start to fill my nights with more reading. So, what have I been reading besides submissions?

I snatched up The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins once Jessica F finished reading it. Oddly, I, too, ended up reading a lot of it on a train. And I, too, really liked the book. The heroine was unreliable yet sympathetic, and I was eager for her to unravel the mystery. I will admit, I was hoping the plot would have a few more twists and turns than it did, but it was still definitely worth the read.

Next up was Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta. I’d picked it out last year as a gift for my father and really wanted to read it but only now got a chance to borrow it back from him. This wilderness thriller had me flipping the pages late into the night as I needed to know if a teenage boy managed to escape a pair of truly creepy and sadistic assassins. This book had several unexpected twists and I was so emotionally invested in the characters that I actually cried at the end. That never happens to me with thrillers. I highly recommend the read. It was the first book of Koryta’s that I’d read but it certainly won’t be the last. In fact, I may go buy another one right now to be my next read…

--Jessica Alvarez


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44. Confidence is a Key Component of Success

When starting a business of any kind, whether its a literary agency, a law firm, a retail store, a coffee shop, a bakery, mechanic garage or a publishing career confidence is one of the keys to success. I strongly believe that you'll never make it if you don't believe in your work and in yourself.

That's why emails like this turn me off and almost always result in a rejection:

Thank you so much for letting me submit to you I know that you are very busy and probably don't really have the time to look at my manuscript. I understand if you decide to pass.
And yep, I actually receive emails like this all the time.

I get how stressful submitting is. I get that you worry that it's not good enough and that the agent might be too big for you or have a client list that's too big for you. But you also need to remind yourself that you are a contender too. If you want other people to treat your book like it has real potential and is worthy of publication than you need to treat it that way as well.

Stand by what you've written and if you can't, maybe you need to rewrite it.


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45. Best Sources When Searching for an Agent

I'm often asked where an author can find out the information she needs when querying agents. Who are the best agents in her genre? What are they looking for now? What are the submission guidelines and how to know if they're reputable?

I usually tell them that a subscription to Publishers Marketplace is worth its weight in gold and that you can't go wrong with websites like AbsoluteWrite and QueryTracker, both of which rely on the reporting of other authors. A great way to learn the nitty-gritty of what agents are doing. Beyond that however, I was feeling a little out of touch. Where were authors going these days to find agents. So I asked Twitter. My source in all things (okay, most things).

@BookEndsJessica Agent Spotlight by @Casey_McCormick is an incredible resource! http://www.literaryrambles.com/2009/03/introducingagent-spotlight.html
5/27/15, 11:19 AM

Agreed! You weren't kidding. The information on this website is exhaustive and some of the best of the best are on that list. I would recommend the site for those querying even beyond children's books. Some of those agents crossover. It's also a great way to get a feel for different agents, their tastes, and their thoughts on publishing and, maybe, life.

@BookEndsJessica I just used Google. A lot of Google. A lot of poking around on agency websites. #thehardway
5/27/15, 11:20 AM
I actually don't think you went about it the hard way at all. I think you should have tagged this #thesmartway. Sure it wasn't someone else's easy to find list, but you ensured that the information you were getting was always the most reliable and, hopefully, the most updated. No matter where you're getting your information always, always back up what you have by going to the agent's website. It should be your final stop.

@BookEndsJessica Literary Rambles, Query Tracker, Publisher's Marketplace, acknowledgements of similar books
5/27/15, 11:24 AM

Score #2 for Literary Rambles. However, what grabbed me here was the acknowledgements. It's something I've often suggested to writers and it's a great idea. Start your list now. Whenever you read a book check the acknowledgements (its actually the first thing I always do) and write down the names of the agents. It's a great starting point.

@BookEndsJessica Query Tracker + agency websites & stalking #MSWL ;-)
5/27/15, 11:36 AM
Oh my goodness! How did I forget #MSWL? I love #MSWL and it's one of the first things I told Moe to do when she started at BookEnds. Get on that I said. For those unfamiliar with Twitter this is a hashtag used when editors and agents post the kinds of manuscripts they'd like to see. There's also a handy #MSWL website for those who aren't Tweeters.

@BookEndsJessica @MandyHubbard Twitter's recommendations of who I should follow. I click on the profile and check out the agency from there.
5/27/15, 11:54 AM

@BookEndsJessica @MandyHubbard It's a slow process. I do 20-30min of research/day. That way, when my MS is ready, I'm good to query,
5/27/15, 12:01 PM
Betty_Days had some of the most interesting ideas. I think checking out Twitter recommendations is a great start, but please remember that there are a lot of agents who aren't on Twitter, or any social media. What I liked most is her comment about it being a slow process. It is and it should be. Part of your job of being an author is this research and waiting until you've written the book to start researching is going to make it a long and arduous process. Instead commit some time each day to stay in touch with the business. Research, make lists, make charts, and then, when it's time to submit, do a quick check and send those queries out.

Other great suggestions including organizations like RWA, MWA or SCBWI. But if you're just starting to think about agents this is a great place to go.

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46. Why Agents Don't Go That Extra Mile

You've heard a million times that agents won't give feedback on submissions, even if they requested the full, or reject queries (no reply means no). You've also heard that you should never, ever, ever respond to a rejection. Once its rejected you move on.

Recently I was reminded why agents have all of these rules.

I am the agent who will sometimes reply if an author asks me a question after I reject her material. Don't ask me how far I read though because the truth is that really doesn't matter. That doesn't necessarily mean that's the point where your book fell apart. It just means that's how far I read.

Recently I had a small exchange with an author. She had some questions, because I had expressed some concerns that she had self-published and it would be difficult to find a publisher who wanted to take something that was already published. In the end the author felt that because I hadn't given her the answer she wanted, or because she hadn't changed my mind, I was, "lame."

Fair enough, but she asked me.


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47. #CCWC and Other Terrific Writers Conferences

I read something recently in which the author said that agents should not give advice on how to find an agent because they don't know what they are talking about. While I disagree with that, I suppose the same could be said about agents giving advice on conferences. That being said, I'm going to throw out my opinion on writers conferences anyway.

Earlier this month I attended and spoke at the California Crime Writers Conference in not-as-sunny-as-I-would-like-it California. Now, before you dismiss my post because you're not a crime writer I think you need to know that I was so impressed by this conference that I think anyone who wants to become (or is) a professional writer should read this.

#CCWC was one of the best run conferences I've attended in a long time. It was organized beautifully with an impressive staff of volunteers and speakers. Some of the best of the best.

So what is it about #CCWC that made me love it so much? First and foremost was that there were very limited appointments (I had three). I've always thought there was too much emphasis on appointments at writers conferences and never understood why a conference would spend the money to pay the expenses of agents and editors only to lock them in a room for a day or two for appointments. I hear often that this is what writers want, but I can tell you right now it's not what writers need. Ten minutes one-on-one with an agent will not give the writer the same sort of experience as 60 minutes listening to a panel of agents debate the state of the industry, how to write a strong query or what makes a manuscript really tick for them. Think about it, 60 minutes asking questions of four different editors and agents versus 10 minutes of you talking at one editor about your book. The same agent or editor you could simply query because you shook her hand during breakfast or shared a drink during the conference cocktail hour.

#CCWC also broke the conference into different tracks. You had the option (and could switch depending on your mood) to attend marketing, career, or writing panels. They covered topics like the fear of writing, how to write a strong query letter, forensic investigations and marketing strategies. There was definitely something for everyone.

Most importantly though, #CCWC was well-run, extremely well organized, had great speakers, panelists and events that made it fun (move night anyone?). The people were open and friendly and I think everyone who attended felt it was well worth the money they spent.

Check this one out. It only comes around every two years so there's time to save your money.


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48. Erin Byers Murray wins M.F.K. Fisher Award

logoWe are pleased to announce that Upstart Crow client Erin Byers Murray has won the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing. The award, presented by Les Dames d’Escoffier, is for Erin’s essay “Sense of Self”, which appeared in FoodThinkers in 2014.

Erin is the author of Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm (St. Martin’s Press 2010) and a co-author of The James Beard nominated cookbook The New England Kitchen (Rizzoli 2014). Erin is an enormously talented writer and she has many more exciting projects cooking for the future. Congratulations, Erin!… [more]

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49. Tess Gerritsen Medical Thrillers are #MSWL by Jessica Alvarez

ER, House, Gray’s Anatomy, Boston Med, Hopkins, Doogie Howser. I devoured them all. On screen or page, I love a good medical mystery or hospital setting. That’s what drew me to my client Lara Lacombe. Lara writes romantic suspense with a science angle. Check out her (http://laralacombe.blogspot.com) books! But long before I found Lara, and back before Tess Gerritsen began the Rizzoli & Isles series, she wrote a number of medical thrillers that I read and re-read, and, lately, I’ve been hoping to find something similar in my submission pile. Though I am not at all scientifically inclined, I am fascinated by details of viruses, and so on. Give me a submission like that right now and you’ll move to the top of my reading list. Please!

-Jessica Alvarez

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I can't tell you how proud I am of these chilling, beautifully written and thoroughly wonderful fantasies from Jaclyn Dolamore, DARK METROPOLIS and GLITTERING SHADOWS.

The books are set in a Cabaret-esque world that is lush and corrupt and darkly shimmering, and feature things like Dangerous Magic! Awesome Lesbians! Political Intrigue! Creepy Necromancers! And basically every other fun thing to read about. If you haven't read book one, it is now available in paperback... and today, the sequel arrives in stores. WOOHOO!

BOOK ONE: THE DARK METROPOLIS (now available in paperback - check out the new cover!):

People are disappearing.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder hears the rumors, but she can barely make ends meet, let alone worry about strangers who've gone missing. Her mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. Thea must make a living for both of them in this sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.

Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club, attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets -- even as he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they discover a new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. Soon, Thea and Freddy begin to realize nightmarish truths about the city's dark underbelly, and that time is running out for Nan. And if they're not careful, the masterminds behind the disappearances will be after them, too.


The revolution is here.

Bodies line the streets of Urobrun; a great pyre burns in Republic Square. The rebels grow anxious behind closed doors while Marlis watches as the politicians search for answers-and excuses-inside the Chancellery.

Thea, Freddy, Nan, and Sigi are caught in the crossfire, taking refuge with a vibrant, young revolutionary and a mysterious healer. As the battle lines are drawn, a greater threat casts a dark shadow over the land. Magic might be lost . . . forever.

This action-packed sequel to DARK METROPOLIS weaves political intrigue, haunting magic, and heartbreaking romance into an unforgettable narrative. Dolamore's lyrical writing and masterfully crafted plot deliver a powerful conclusion.

BUY THE BOOKS: Powells, IndieBound, Oblong, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.

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