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26. 5 Quick Tips for Writing in Multiple Perspectives

Let's Get Lost coverWriting a novel from one unique perspective can be challenging enough for many writers, but writing a character’s story through multiple perspectives will multiply the challenges, but also the rewards. Adi Alsaid’s new novel, Let’s Get Lost (Harlequin Teen, 2014), is an excellent example of using multiple perspectives to effectively tell the story of one character’s road trip while also keeping the reader enticed and invested for the entire ride. Here, Alsaid offers five quick tips for authors who hope to do the same in their stories.

* * * * *

I’ve always been drawn to multiple perspectives, both as a reader and as a writer. And as a person! I like getting into people’s heads. That’s what I love about fiction, the ease with which we can slip into someone else’s thoughts. So when I write, I like telling a story from as many perspectives as the narrative will allow. With Let’s Get Lost, I thought it would be really interesting to tell a road-trip tale through the eyes of characters who are stationary, who are going through their own issues, their own lives, when a mysterious girl comes crashing in. Here are my tips for writing in multiple perspectives.

  • Differentiate the voices. The easiest way to fail at multiple perspective is to not actually have any. Don’t give characters the same sense of humor, the same vocabulary, the same sense of right and wrong. When in doubt, read the different perspectives aloud.
  • Start small. Instead of trying to encompass an entire character’s persona, zoom in on a detail. A simple desire, one thought, a bite of pasta, even. It’s a lot less intimidating to start with a bite of pasta than with an entire backstory in mind. The rest will build from there, and will probably feel more authentic for it.
  • Explore. If you’re writing from different perspectives, at least one of them is probably wholly different to your own. That’s not a challenge, it’s a chance to explore what it means to be someone else. A parking lot, for example, looks different to a woman walking alone in her twenties than to a woman trying to keep two toddlers from running out into traffic before she reaches the target. What would it be like to be a teenager living in a war-torn region? You probably don’t know for sure, but you have a chance to find out if you start with a small detail and then explore from there.
  • Keep it personal. Just because the characters are not like you doesn’t mean they can’t have pieces of you in them. In some way, they should care about what you care about. Or maybe they have the exact opposite beliefs, or they have courage that you don’t. Whatever it is, consider the personal connection the character has with you as you move forward. If you don’t connect with the characters on a personal level, your readers probably won’t either.
  • Connection. This one may not be for everybody. What I love most about books—reading or writing them—is the chance to connect to others, the idea that people have similar thoughts and experiences, even though they may not know it. Do this in your stories too. Make connections, subtle or otherwise. Make them pass by each other a minute or two apart. Have someone in common in their backstory without them being aware of it. It’s the beauty of multiple perspectives, you can explore human connection in ways that we may miss in real life.

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it’s no surprise that after graduating he packed up his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He’s now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he has lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him that more places will eventually be added to the list. For more, visit www.somewhereoverthesun.com.

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27. Query Question: Full request, but did they receive it?

A few months ago I started the querying process for a supernatural thriller of mine. Within the first couple of weeks I received three requests for the full manuscript. About a week later, two of those three agents politely declined. Three months later, and one of them has yet to get back to me. My problem is this: I emailed the manuscript to the agent's assistant as requested. The agent's website indicates response time of 4-6 weeks. It's been well over that, so last week I sent a polite follow up to the assistant just to make sure the manuscript was received, and I have yet to get a response.

Is it considered 'too pushy' to email the agent directly for a follow up? I'm worried that perhaps the assistant isn't receiving my emails. I say this because the other two agents I emailed responded right away with a "thank you! I will get back to you in ____ amount of time," but I didn't receive any confirmation from the assistant what so ever.

Thanks for you time! I hope I'm not being too paranoid.

There's no such thing as too paranoid when you're a writer. You guys can work yourselves into a frenzy over correct punctuation. I've seen it happen:

However in this case you are not paranoid. You are correct to be concerned.  I can think of several things that might have happened:

1. The assistant is no longer employed there and the agency hasn't fixed her email yet.

2. The assistant doesn't know she's supposed to acknowledge receipts of full manuscripts.

3. They didn't get it, the assistant lost it, or some other cataclysmic event that is giving the assistant conniptions.

Therefore, because this is your career, and your manuscript, you politely email the agent and say "I just want to confirm that you received the manuscript you requested from me on DATE.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  Love, You.  PS Your assistant is a slacker.

 Never assume someone got a file.  I've seen this happen, and in fact, wrote a blog post about it.

And the reason I know this is the correct path? It happens with editors too.

0 Comments on Query Question: Full request, but did they receive it? as of 8/22/2014 9:01:00 AM
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28. A Few Sips Off

You take a sip from your drink and feel different. That may be because your torso has an extra arm protruding from it. Another sip, another arm. Then a wing. What happens if you finish the drink?

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.






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29. Are Subjects Joined by And Singular or Plural?

subjects-joined-by-and-singular-or-pluralQ: I’m writing a letter and am uncertain which sentence is correct: Your passion and commitment to my company HAVE inspired many, or, Your passion and commitment to my company HAS inspired many? —Carrie G.

This kind of thing used to trip me up, too, as a subject with multiple nouns in it seems like it should always be plural. But that isn’t always the case. The way you group the items determines whether it’s a singular subject or a plural subject (and whether you’d use the plural verb have or the singular has). Let me explain.

Sentence subjects that have independent nouns connected by and are plural, thus requiring plural verbs (such as have). One trick to tell if the nouns are independent from each other is to divide the sentence into two sentences and see if the meaning stays the same. For example: The baseball players and the manager were disappointed after losing the big game. When divided, the sentences read: The baseball players were disappointed after losing the big game. The manager was disappointed after losing the game. The meaning is the same and these nouns are thus independent of each other, making the original sentence a plural sentence and requiring a plural verb (were).

Let’s apply this trick to the sentence in question, Your passion and commitment to my company have inspired many. It can be divided into two sentences and keep the same meaning (Your passion to my company has inspired many; your commitment to my company has inspired many), therefore it’s plural and requires the plural verb have.

Not all subjects using and to connect nouns are plural, though. Sentence subjects that have multiple nouns connected by and that refer to a singular thing require singular verbs. Consider, Green eggs and ham was Sam-I-Am’s favorite dish. In this sentence, green eggs and ham is one specific dish in and of itself, so you use the singular verb was. If you divide this sentence (Green eggs was his favorite dish/Ham was his favorite dish) you change the meaning—and Sam-I-Am would be pretty disappointed if you had him over for dinner and served only half of his favorite meal.

When in doubt, divide the sentence to see which verb you need. It will help you on your grammatical quest toward subject/verb agreement.

Want other Grammar Rules? Check out:
Sneaked vs. Snuck
Who vs. Whom
Lay vs. Lie vs. Laid 
Which vs. That
Since vs. Because
Ensure vs. Insure
Home in vs. Hone in
Leaped vs. Leapt

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


brian-klems-2013Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

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30. Querying a second agent after no reply from first

Back in April, I queried an agent at a literary agency where guidelines ask you to requery (with a note to that effect) after one month. After a little over a month, I re-queried, but I never did get any response. 

The agency invites queries to other agents once one has rejected your MS, but they're also clear that they always respond to queries. I'd really like to query another agent at the same agency, but I'm not sure what to do. I don't particularly want to email that first agent yet again with another reminder, as it just feels silly and pushy, and I'm also not sure it would do any good. Should I query a second agent at that agency? And, if I do, do I mention the no-response? I've been ignoring the other agents at the agency until now because of the no-answer, but as I get further down my query list, I can't help wondering and wishing I hadn't emailed this agent to begin with...

You query the second agent and you don't mention the first. If she's not courteous enough to reply to the initial query or the follow up, then either she didn't get either email, or she's so behind she's not even looking at her email.  What this means for you is she doesn't count anymore.  It's not a no, nor is it a yes, it's more like a do-over.

I know there are agents who have hundreds of queries stacked up over many months.  That's not your problem.  If an agent can't get a handle on her inbox and her website says 30 days, you've fulfilled your part of the social contract.

Of course, if the agent you're querying is me, you might want to check Query Letter Diagnostics, cause I'm caught up through yesterday.

0 Comments on Querying a second agent after no reply from first as of 8/21/2014 7:19:00 AM
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31. How I Got My Book Deal (and a Literary Agent): Mary Weber

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Mary Weber, author of STORM SIREN. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Mary is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).


STORM-SIREN-COVER-NOVEL-WEBER       mary-weber-author-writer

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe
worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare
time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children,
and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. Her YA fantasy
STORM SIREN released August 19, 2014. Jay Asher, New York Times
bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why said of the book, “There are
few things more exciting to discover than a debut novel packed with powerful
storytelling and beautiful language. STORM SIREN is one of those rarities.”
Find Mary on Facebook (MaryWeber, Author), or Twitter (@mchristineweber).

I Needed A Writing Community

Six years ago I showed my mother the beginnings of my earliest book (about vampires, because I may have just read and adored Twilight, ahem). She complimented me. “Here’s a list of all the things I like!” she said (because that’s what mothers are supposed to say). And then promptly handed me five (yes, FIVE) books on writing. “Here, dear. I think these will help you.”

That is my mother. An encourager. An author in her own right. And a mentor.

A few months later she connected me with a freelance editor friend and the three of us added another member and formed a critique group.

Three years went by. The vampire story was replaced by an urban fantasy, and in the course of those years I wrote my busy heart out, critiqued with my group, and researched everything I could on agents and publishing. Basically, I STALKED Chuck’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog. The writers on here were all so encouraging. “Keep going. Keep learning. Keep writing,” they cheered.

(Learn why “Keep Moving Forward” may be the best advice for writers everywhere.)

Then I Began Querying.

The replies started out as silence or “Not for me.” If an agent happened to mercifully slip in an extra snippet of feedback on the note, I would edit and adjust accordingly. Until eventually a few of the rejections became more personalized – emails of “Not interested in this project but feel free to send me another.” Or a couple times requests for rewrites on the urban fantasy story. Followed by rejections of those rewrites. (Holy kracken those ones stung the worst.)

But by the end of that process three things had happened:
1. I’d racked up a sweet total of eighty-seven rejections (and cried more times than I can count).
2. I discovered that, while the urban fantasy really wasn’t going to sell, somehow, amid all the studying and rewriting, I’d actually learned to carve a decent story.
3. A friend paid my way to a writers’ conference with the belief that they are the best way to personally connect with editors and agents.

She Was Right – I Also Needed Connections

You know those manuscript pre-submissions a writer can send in ahead of time to the conference editors and agents? I mailed in my urban fantasy as a sort of last ditch effort. Despite my submission being on brown-inked pages (because my printer broke), two days into the conference I received an invite to chat with the publisher of Thomas Nelson, HarperCollins. “We can’t use this story,” he said, sitting across from me, holding my pages. “But have you ever considered writing YA?”


Six weeks later, he connected me with one of TN’s editors who invited me to meet up at another conference later in the year. I came up with ideas and early chapters for two young adult stories, the first of which she rejected. The second I pitched to her at the conference over a cup of tea.

(What are the BEST writers’ conferences to attend?)

I also pitched it to a number of agents while there, but it was one gentleman by the name of Lee Hough whom a mutual friend introduced me to, that I knew right away I wanted to work with. (I later discovered he was the agent for such NYT bestsellers as Same Kind of Different as Me and Heaven Is For Real.) Unfortunately, Lee wasn’t available (or even necessarily interested) to take on a YA author at the time.

But…we began talking. Which led to more talking over the next few months as he was kind enough to give me career guidance.


Four months later (probably upon finally realizing my annoying self wasn’t going away), Lee called and signed me. Shortly after, Thomas Nelson made an offer on Storm Siren.

I’m grieved to say that seven months after I signed with Lee he passed away from cancer. However, those months of his agent-guidance and kindness made (and continues to make) a heck of a difference on my publishing journey. My agent now is Andrea Heinecke from the same agency (Alive Communications), and I’m so grateful for her incredible guidance as well.

So here I am, thinking it’s a crazy honor to write this post for Guide to Literary Agents. Especially after spending three years pouring over the pages of this blog. Thank you to the authors who said: Keep reading, keep stalking (in a non-creeper way), and keep writing.

And to you, dear writers reading this…I wish you the very best of luck as well. Keep going. Keep stalking. Keep writing. And may your journey rock.

GIVEAWAY: Mary is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).


This guest column is a supplement to the
“Breaking In” (debut authors) feature of this author
in Writer’s Digest magazine. Are you a subscriber
yet? If not, get a discounted one-year sub here.


Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

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32. Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 276

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my announcement of the 2015 Poet’s Market. (Click here.)

For this week’s prompt, write a news poem. When I’m really in a creative rut, there’s one constant source of new ideas for me: the news! There are the big headlines; there’s the sports page, the comics, and the advertisements. One of my former professors (James Cummins) would have us read the “News of the Weird” for ideas. There’s always plenty happening in the world to prompt a poem.

Note of caution: Remember that news is (or should be) impartial. The poems inspired by the news need not be. That said, please be respectful of each other’s views and opinions. Even when we don’t all agree on a topic, we should still listen with open minds and hearts.


Publish Your Poetry!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the latest (and greatest) edition of Poet’s Market. The 2015 Poet’s Market is filled with articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry, in addition to poet interviews and original poetry by contemporary poets.

Plus, the book is filled with hundreds of listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, conferences, and more!

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a News Poem:

“5 Things to Start Your Day”

An American journalist
beheaded in a foreign land.

Water bottles provoked police
in demonstrations here at home.

A new Icelandic volcano
threatens to disrupt air travel.

Another patient is tested
for Ebola in the U.S.

Two cardinals and a goldfinch
have visited your bird feeder.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Robert has been a featured poet at events across the country and is married to poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets. He’s written and shared more than 600 original poems on this blog over the years.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Find more poetry-related stuff here:

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33. Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool – Aug. 21 Webinar With Agent Nephele Tempest

nephele_tempestA strong, compelling synopsis serves as a vital sales tool at every stage of your career. Whether you are a new writer starting to submit to agents or a multi-published author proposing a project to your editor, you need to be able to write a synopsis that meets your needs. That means not only writing an interesting synopsis that shows off your project to its best advantage, but tailoring it to suit different purposes. A synopsis written from a completed manuscript differs from one written as part of a proposal.

In this live 90-minute webinar — titled “Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool” —  literary agent Nephele Tempest will show you how to tackle the task head on, and to generate the right synopsis for your project—and your audience. Shake off your fear and frustration and master the art of writing the synopsis. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, August 21, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes.


  • Break down your plot into manageable parts
  • Emphasize the most important details of your project
  • Build interest in your story while remaining concise
  • Maintain a tone consistent with your manuscript
  • Produce a synopsis for a project that is incomplete
  • Adapt the length of your synopsis depending on its intended use


U8059Nephele Tempest joined The Knight Agency in January, 2005, opening the Los Angeles office. She comes from a diverse publishing and finance background, having worked in the editorial department at Simon and Schuster, as a financial advisor at Dean Witter, in the marketing and communications departments of several major New York investment firms, and as a freelance writer. Her experiences in sales, marketing, and writing provide her with insights into multiple aspects of the publishing industry. Nephele belongs to the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). She continues to actively build her client list, and is currently seeking works in the following genres: literary/commercial fiction, women’s fiction, science fiction, fantasy, single-title romance, historical fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction.


  • Writers who have no idea how to start writing a synopsis
  • Writers whose existing synopsis sounds dull and lifeless in comparison to their novel
  • Writers who cannot find a way to cut their synopsis down to an appropriate length
  • Writers who cannot get past the query stage when submitting to agents
  • Writers interested in selling work based on several opening chapters and a synopsis


All registrants are invited to submit their revised synopsis. All submitted synopses are guaranteed a written critique by literary agent Nephele Tempest. Nephele reserves the right to request to see a partial or full manuscript by e-mail following the event, if the project interests her. Instructions on how to submit your work are sent after you have purchased the webinar and officially register in Go-to-Webinar. When you have registered in GTW, you will receive a confirmation email from gotowebinar@citrixonline.com, which contains the information you need to access the live webinar AND the Critique Submission Instructions.

Sign up now!

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34. Query Question: when is a novella not a novella?

I have a question regarding submitting my work to literary agents. I write juvenile horror novellas for ages 8-14 (I like to think between Goosebumps & Twilight Zone) and what I'm finding is that several agents don't represent novella writers. Is this pretty standard or am I unfortunately finding only those that don't? 

You're confused about what you're writing. You're not writing novellas. You're writing chapter books. Novellas are shorter than novels, but that only applies to adult trade books.

You're writing for kids. That means you look for agents who say they are looking for MG (middle grade) or YA (young adult)

You describe your work as scary chapter books akin to R.L. Stine.

And I'm guessing you don't belong to SCBWI because you didn't know this.  Join. Learn. It's a resource you'll come to value a great deal.

0 Comments on Query Question: when is a novella not a novella? as of 8/20/2014 8:27:00 AM
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35. Research Before You Send a Query Letter

Let me first begin by saying I love working as a literary agent. Since opening Greyhaus Literary Agency in 2003, I have had the chance to work with a lot of great writers, agents and publishers. Let’s face it – there are very few jobs out there where we get to do something many consider simply a hobby. However, with all of the great things about the job, the one thing I hate the most (and I know many other agents and editors feel the same way) is the part about writing rejection letters to authors. This is simply not a fun activity.

Now, there are really two different types of rejection letters. The first one I don’t have a big problem with. These are the letters for projects that might not be quite right for what I am looking for, or for stories that might not be ready for publishing yet. With stories like this, we can often take the time to provide a few suggestions for improvement, or to discuss why the story is not right for us. Yes, writing the letters takes time, but when I hit “send” I feel as if this author might be one step closer to publishing.

(How NOT to start your story. Read advice from agents.)


index~~element5Column by Scott Eagan, owner and agent of the Greyhaus Literary Agency.
Scott has made sales to publishers including: Harper Collins, Pocket, New
American Library, Source Books and Harlequin. Scott is currently acquiring
authors in most areas of romance and women’s fiction, but, as the article
states, take the time to visit the website first to make sure that sub-genre
you write is what he is looking for! Authors can also visit scott at
www.scotteagan.blogspot.com, on Twitter @greyhausagency.



It is, however, the second letter of rejection that really gets frustrating to write. These are for authors submitting projects that the agency does not represent. Over the years, the number of these rejection letters has increased significantly. In fact, on one recent day in March, as I was answering submissions, I requested 2 partials, passed on 2-3 because the premise just didn’t work for me, and rejected 30 projects simply because these were not projects Greyhaus Literary Agency represented. What added to the frustration was the number of those submissions that were sent directly from my website.

If receiving rejection letters is as equally as frustrating as what I feel writing the letters, there are some very easy steps authors should take to remedy the situation.

Begin your research with general guides. Books such as Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents are great starting points. Add in websites such as Query Tracker and you have a good list to build your research from.

Go to the source! No matter what resources you use to build your list of potential agents, make sure you visit the websites of the editors and agents. Review their website submission guidelines. Please note this is the most accurate information. Along the same lines, do not send something that is not on their list. Agents and editors will not acquire something that they don’t represent just because they think it might be a great read. Authors need to understand that agents and editors specialize in areas they are knowledgeable in and have the resources available to really help you as an author.

Going to the source is also crucial since many agents and editors will shift what they want, or even close for submissions, depending on the needs of the market or their own work load. Publishing is a constantly shifting market and authors need to take the time to stay up to speed!

(What writing credentials will impress an agent or editor?)

Know your genre. This is a small one but very important. Know what genre you are really writing in. For example, just because you have a romantic relationship in your story does not mean it is a romance. Just because your heroine is the protagonist does not mean it is women’s fiction.

Stalk the editors and agents. Next, if you think you have narrowed your search down to a list of specific editors and agents, start following them on social media. Listen to what they “chat” about. Pay attention to the books they like, the books they hate and the books they acquire. This will guide you in determining if your story is still a right fit.

E-mail and ask first. And finally, if you are still confused. You have read their submission guidelines and when they say, “I do not acquire young adult romance” and you don’t understand what they mean by that, then email and ask. Do not send it as a submission letter; just ask the question – “Hi Mr. Eagan. I am just inquiring if you accept young adult romances? I have reviewed your website submission guidelines and there is not mention that you do or don’t.” A simple word of warning though – Make sure you did read the submission guidelines. It makes you look like an idiot if you ask a question that is clearly stated on the submission guidelines.

I always say that researching the editors is not that hard. It does take time though but in this business, you need to have patience. Taking that time will certainly increase your chances of having an editor or agent read your submission. Getting them to publish it? Well, that depends on the quality of the work.



The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.


Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

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36. 2015 Poet’s Market: What It Is and How to Buy It

When I started writing poetry more than 20 years ago, I didn’t have ambitions of publication or poetic greatness, but I did have a target audience: originally, a girl to impress. Later on, I became my own target audience. Eventually, I yearned to share my words with others and had no idea how to do it. Plus, I had no comprehension of what contemporary poets and poetry meant.

2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

Trying to demystify and enlighten the poetic process has been one of my goals with this blog, but it’s also a driving force behind my editorial strategy with the Poet’s Market. While the book lists hundreds of poetry publishing opportunities, the 2015 Poet’s Market is more than a straight directory; it’s a guidebook to the poetry universe as it stands today.

The 2015 Poet’s Market includes more than 20 articles, including “The Habits of Highly Productive Poets,” by Scott Owens; “Six Ways to Promote Your New Book,” by Jeannine Hall Gailey; “The Usefulness of Silence,” by Susan Laughter Meyers; “Writing Poems From Prompts,” by Amorak Huey; and more!

The 2015 Poet’s Market includes a description of poetic forms, interviews with poets, and new poems by contemporary poets.

The 2015 Poet’s Market includes listings for magazines and journals, book and chapbook publishers, contests and awards, grants, conferences and workshops, and organizations.

The 2015 Poet’s Market includes a webinar on how to build an audience for your poetry.

The 2015 Poet’s Market includes an activation code good for a one-year subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com.

The 2015 Poet’s Market is essentially what I could’ve really used 20 years ago when I was still trying to stumble my way into connecting with other poets and readers of poetry. And it’s made to be a practical resource for today’s poets who want to feel connected to the world of poetry and get their own poetry published and be part of the poetry world themselves.

Click here to order your copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market today!

-Robert Lee Brewer, editor of Poet’s Market

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37. Query Question: editor interest but no agent

I recently parted ways with my first agent (amicably, of course) and have had requests from editors at mid-size and larger houses to see my future work. I have a manuscript that has been polished and is ready for submission. Should I send to those editors while I'm querying, or should I wait to see if I can secure an agent before doing so?

Don't send your work to editors before securing an agent.  If you do so, you'll find getting an agent is MUCH harder because you've trampled all over the crime scene and contaminated the evidence. 

When an agent takes on a project, she puts her knowledge and expertise to work on your behalf. That might mean revisions to this "polished" manuscript and it certainly means a tailored submission list.  All you know are the editors who've said they'd like to see you work. What your agent will tell you is which editors SHOULD see your work.

Don't let your impatience get the better of you.  I posted about this recently but it bears repeating: I'm not keen on stepping in to a project after it's started, and once you've sent your book to a publisher, you've started.

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38. Todd Davis: Poet Interview

Please welcome Todd Davis to the Poetic Asides blog. He’s authored and edited 13 books, including the poetry collection In the Kingdom of the Ditch.

Todd Davis

Todd Davis

Davis teaches creative writing, American literature, and environmental studies at Penn State University’s Altoona College. His other three full-length poetry collections are The Least of These, Some Heaven, and Ripe. His poetry has been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry.

Learn more at todddavispoet.com.

The entire collection is a great read, but here’s one poem that I especially enjoyed from In the Kingdom of the Ditch:

Missing Boy, by Todd Davis

I do not
want my son
to enter
the den
of sorrow.

At sixteen
he already
too much
of the world.

Like a pine
he slides
toward his
leaves behind
the skin
of his former

It sloughs
and curls,
of what
he’s learned
but now believes
he does not


What are you currently up to?

The last month or so I’ve been working on revising my fifth full-length poetry collection. At the moment it’s called Winterkill. The poems have been written over the past three years, finding homes in journals and magazines along the way, and in May I began to put the poems together to see how they talk to one another.

After two revisions of the manuscript—rearranging the placement of individual poems, tinkering with lines in individual poems, and even dropping or adding certain poems to the collection—I’ve sent it to four of my poetry friends who are reading it and offering commentary.

Once they’ve finished, I’ll do some more revision based upon their observations and critiques and hopefully send it to my publisher, Michigan State University Press, in the spring. After that, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my editor likes what she sees and the press will move the book into production.

In the Kingdom of the Ditch is your fourth full-length collection of poems (with a limited edition chapbook thrown in for good measure). Do you have a process for assembling poems for a collection of poetry?

I’m very much a daily writer and thinker. My mind tends to gravitate toward certain subjects based upon my experiences—in the woods, on the rivers, with the books I’m reading.

For example, yesterday I was deep in on a small stream in the 41,000 acres of game lands above the village where I live. My son and I were taking a long hike and fishing for native brook trout. I came across an amazing caterpillar on the walk—it was lime green with what looked like small spines or quills covering its body. At the end of these spines where bright, vivid colors—red and yellow and blue. I hadn’t seen this caterpillar before, and when I returned home, with the help of the photos I took, I was able to spend time looking through my field guides, discovering that this was the caterpillar that would later turn into a cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia), the largest native moth in North America.

Several years ago at the top of the mountain above our village, I was hiking on an extremely foggy morning. Mornings like this many flying creatures settle to earth because nature’s “ground traffic control” has cancelled their flights. I’ve come across a kettle of kestrel and other beautiful raptors on mornings like this. That particular morning, however, it wasn’t raptors that I found but a cecropia moth clinging to a long blade of grass in a meadow. I spent more than 30 minutes photographing it, studying it, trying to express how enamored I was by its beauty. (Yes, I tend to talk to the natural world!)

I tell you this story because, like William Stafford whose example means a great deal to me, I go daily into the world simply to be with the miraculous range of human and nonhuman creatures, to observe what is unfolding, to attend to what is too often ignored. Out of this act of paying attention, I write my poems, trying to spend a few hours at my desk each day.

After a few years I begin to see the patterns of what the act of paying attention has afforded me. Once I feel the body of a book beginning to take shape, I place poems on the floor of my office and start to see what happens when a poem makes neighbors with another poem. It’s a bit like chemical reactions. Just as individual images or sounds in a poem, when juxtaposed with other images or sounds in the same poem, cause a reaction between them, so do individual poems in a collection. It’s fun to see how a poem will be transformed when it finds a particular place in a collection.

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Many of the individual poems in the collection were previously published in a variety of literary publications. How do you handle submitting your poems?

I try to keep the act of writing and all such a process entails separate from the idea of publication. I write my poems for myself—a form of meditation or prayer, a way of thinking—and I also write them with my closest friends and family in mind. After that, I’m thrilled if a poem makes its way into the world to be published and read by strangers. But I don’t want the idea of publication to control or change the way a poem is created.

Having said that, I use the other half of my brain to be fairly orderly and efficient in sending the work out. I try to send to magazines and journals whose work I’ve read. A good way to find magazines or journals that might be amenable to your work is to read the acknowledgments page in books of poetry you’ve connected with. After you have a list of places to send, get the poems in the mail and get back to writing.

This same half of my brain also deals with the rejection. I remind myself when I receive the endless rejections that come every writer’s way that the statistical probability of getting a poem accepted is incredibly low. Thus, when I get a rejection, I read the poems again and if I think they are still working, I get them quickly back into the mail to another journal. A poem can’t be published unless it’s in the hands of editors for it to be considered.

In the Kingdom of the Ditch, by Todd Davis

In the Kingdom of the Ditch, by Todd Davis

You teach creative writing, in addition to American literature and environmental studies. Could you share one or two common areas in which most students need improvement?

I truly enjoy teaching. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing students. In fact, just this past two years, four of my former students have published first books of poems with very fine presses.

What I’ve noticed in my 27 years of teaching—I taught junior high and high school English before receiving my Ph.D. 19 years ago—is a decline in reading. No mystery there, given the radical technological shifts. But if someone wishes to be a writer, there’s no substitute for reading the best from the past and the best from the present.

I’ve also noticed a shift away from delayed gratification. In a consumeristic culture, we’re used to desiring something and then purchasing it. No delay to our gratification at all. However, writing demands patience. Writing rewards self-discipline, delayed gratification, the ability to toil for days, for months, even years, to finally make that poem or story “work.”

I suppose this is similar to training for an athletic event. If someone was hoping to run a 10k race, for example, they would need to put in time running on a daily basis. Many days the runs will not be great, but they’re still necessary. You never know the day you will show up and things will click and your body feels unbelievably good and suddenly you are running effortlessly, turning in your best time.

Like an athlete, I think you have to show up to your desk, knowing that many days will be a slog, nothing seeming to work. But one of those days you’ll show up and the fantastical will happen at the desk. It’s kept me coming back to my desk for many years now.

I like to share poetic forms on the Poetic Asides blog. Do you have a favorite form?

I don’t think I can pick one favorite form, but I can name two that I enjoy reading. (I don’t claim to be a good practitioner of either!) The ghazal as practiced or recreated by such contemporary poets as Robert Bly, Galway Kinnell and Jim Harrison, and the sonnet, especially as Gerard Manley Hopkins practiced it.

It was hard picking a favorite poem from In the Kingdom of the Ditch, and I was impressed by the variation of structure. Could you describe your writing process?

I think I’ve described quite a bit of this above, but I might add that reading other people’s poetry is instrumental to my writing process, as is looking at visual art. I see art as a way of not only expressing something interior in oneself, but also as a way of having a conversation with other artists (living or dead) and their art work. Many poems I’ve written have begun because of a line or image in a poem, some music I’m hearing in a line, that reminds me of, or calls forth, a narrative or a phrase or an image from my own experience.

You mention structure in your question. I’m a free verse poet, but I love all kinds of sound play. Sound is one structuring device in my poems that shapes what the poem will become. I also enjoy experimenting with different forms that grow organically out of the content and sound play. Thus, my work does take on different shapes on the page, addressing the issue of white space and order/disorder.

One poet no one knows but should—who is it?

I’m going to cheat again. I can’t name just one. Sadly, there are so many poets we don’t know about because it’s difficult to find a bookstore where you can go browse 100 books of poetry that were published in a given year.

So here’s a list of poets whose work I truly respect and that many people may not have heard of: David Shumate, Natalie Diaz, Ross Gay, Chris Dombrowski, K.A. Hays, Austin Smith, Nathaniel Perry, Rose McLarney, Jack Ridl, Mary Rose O’Reilley, Dan Gerber, Amy Fleury, and Harry Humes. And that list only scratches the surface of writers I wish I could tell everyone about.

Who (or what) are you currently reading?

Here’s a list of the books that I’ve either read or am currently reading this summer: In Poetry, The Whole Field Still Moving Inside It, by Molly Bahsaw; The Glad Hand of God Still Points Backward, by Rachel Mennies; Revising the Storm, by Geffrey Davis; It’s Day Being Gone, by Rose McLarney; Hum, by Jamaal May; in fiction, Brown Dog and The Road Home, by Jim Harrison; Blasphemy, by Sherman Alexie; Swamplandiaia!, by Karen Russell; Eight Mile High, by Jim Daniels; Light Action in the Caribbean, by Barry Lopez; The Plover, by Brian Doyle; in nonfiction, Distant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder; A North Country Life by Sydney Lea; A Fly Fisherman’s Blue Ridge, by Christopher Camuto; Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death, by Bernd Heinrich.

And, of course, I’m always taking off the shelf books of poems to read a poem or two in the morning by writers I return to again and again. They’re my sustenance.

If you could only share one piece of advice with fellow poets, what would it be?

I see many people get caught up in trends, writing work they think will be considered hip, publishable. I have no trouble with experimentation, with the creation of new schools of poetry, poems that push our understanding of what poetry might be. But, again, I’m referring to our hyper-consumeristic culture and the ways that mindset bleeds into the world of poetry in negative ways.

We all become dust and our books will become dust, too. (Or digital files to be lost in the grand cosmos of the digital multiverse!) I don’t say this to depress my fellow poets. I say it to remind myself (and others) that no one can predict who will be read 50 years from now, 100 years from now. So the question then becomes: what art truly moves me, and what art do I wish to spend my time creating, sending into the world, hoping it reaches some other person and impacts them in a way that changes them, moves them?

I’ve had many poems change the way I live. I suppose that’s the kind of poem I’m interested in writing. Whether that poem ultimately becomes dust and is forgotten doesn’t matter. It’s life in the here-and-now that matters. I suppose such comments are born out of my conviction that poetry is an integral part of the pattern of human community. So what kind of poem do you wish to send to that human community?


Robert Lee Brewer is an editor with the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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39. Query Question: Absolute Write

I've been reading your blog for awhile now and have seen you speak highly of AbsoluteWrite.com on multiple occasions.

I admit, I am biased in the opposite direction. Every time I see you tell writers to check out their writing forums, a little part of me dies inside.

Why do you like AbsoluteWrite so much?

Every time I have posted or read and replied to posts there, I have been bullied, belittled or ignored. I always leave their forums feeling like I need to crawl into a tight space and cry, or wanting to pick up my monitor and chuck it across the room.

I don't want to sound haughty, but I'm almost positive I am not the only person who feels this way. With a simple Google search of "bullying on AbsoluteWrite" a variety of results come up where people talk about their experiences.

Now I'm sure there are gems of people out there in the AbsoluteWrite community, but it seems like the majority like to tear new writers down in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

This leaves me wondering why someone I respect (you) and go to for answers, and who seems to really care about writers trying to pursue their dreams, would advocate a place that has such strong ties to bullying behavior.

I am not trying to be rude here, or trying to serve up a smack down. I am genuinely curious. Have you experienced otherwise on the forums? Did you not realize that such behavior was going on there? Or do you think writers need a strong backbone and if they can't handle AbsoluteWrite, then writing isn't for them?

On a side note, I haven't been to their forums in about a year now. I had an absolutely awful experience there around that time and swore them off completely. COMPLETELY (I am being extremely civil here in expressing the amount of mouth-foaming, eye-popping rage I have for that community). So, maybe the moderators have changed? And the community is much better now than it was? I hope that might be the case, but am doubting it.

For starters, that's never been my experience at AW, but it never would be. As an agent, people over there tread pretty lightly around me. The last time someone was dismissive of me, they were quickly chastised by other posters.

Which may illustrate your point. 

Yes AW is a free for all, but there are moderators and I've seen them step in and close down threads that were getting out of hand, and remove users for inappropriate posts.

And yes, groups of people tend to sort themselves into In/Out and woe betide the new writer who doesn't understand that dynamic is fully at work in any bulletin board community, let alone one as long standing as AW.

You didn't mention which forums you participated in.  I've only seen Ask The Agent and Bewares and Background Checks.  The people who get smacked down there tend to be the ones who come in full steam ahead without doing any research, and who tend to have opinions that don't match the majority.  And people who don't listen very well (or read other posts very well.)

AW is an incredible resource for information for writers.  Before AW there wasn't a place for writers to exchange information about response time, or experiences with agents, agencies or editors. I think that's a VERY good tool for a writer to have.

But I also think that AW, like all groups, has its own way of doing things, and that can be No Fun if you don't know what those unspoken rules are or if you fall afoul of them.

I don't want to get in to a big debate about AW here. Your experience there is yours.  I will tell you though that you can find blog posts around the web from writers talking about THIS blog and how mean, rude, and awful I am to people. Not every resource is suitable to every person.

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40. New Literary Agent Alert: Soumeya Bendimerad of the Susan Golomb Literary Agency

Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Soumeya Bendimerad of the Susan Golomb Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.




About Soumeya: Soumeya Bendimerad joined the Susan Golomb Literary Agency in 2012, where she is an agent and the director of foreign rights. Prior to that, she was a literary scout at Sanford Greenburger Associates and an associate editor at MacAdam/Cage Publishing. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area. Find her on Twitter.

(How many Twitter followers will impress an agent?)

She is seeking: She is actively seeking to represent literary fiction, upmarket/book club fiction, and select young-adult and middle grade. She is drawn to intelligent literary fiction with a fresh voice, coming of age stories, novels with elements of travel or stories set in other countries, family sagas, experiments with form, and complex but sympathetic characters. In non-fiction, she is seeking topics in popular culture, music and art history, unconventional business, politics, narrative non-fiction, sociology, cooking, travel, and memoir.

How to contact: Queries can be sent to soumeya [at] sgolombagency.com. Please include a query letter with bio, publication history, and synopsis, and the first three chapters or fifty pages. Only electronic submissions accepted. Please include the word “Query” in the subject of your email.

(How long should you wait before following up with an agent?)



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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


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41. The Six People Who Shaped My Life

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

My life might have been entirely different had I not befriended seven people along life’s journey. It has been said that to understand the path of our life we have to review it in reverse, starting with the early years.

Beyond parents and siblings, throughout my life I have had six people leave deep footprints on my heart: a landscape architect (Dave), a family practitioner (John/Dr. Jensen), an English teacher (Miss Starr Hacker), a professor (Dr. Ralph H. Hunkins), my wife, (Marilyn), and a poet (Shel Silverstein.) Whom and what we love seems to shape the person we become.

I grew up next door to Dave in Queens, New York, until he turned five. Then his family moved 30 miles away. Our parents were great friends. The friendship survived the move because on Thursdays the men met to play cards in the kitchen and the women met to sew sweaters and chat in the living room. They took turns visiting one another with a small group of lifelong friends.

During the summer Dave and I would always spend a week or two at each other’s home. We shared several important interests: chasing girls for dates, blue ribbons on the track team, and a Regents diploma. In our teens, it was frequently more satisfying to write volumes to one another about girls, sports, school, and our domineering fathers than to do anything else. Our moms faithfully exchanged our letters every Thursday. We called it the “Pocketbook Mail Express.” No stamps needed.

Our dads asked a lot from themselves and those they loved. And our generation was the one where kids were seen but not heard. Sometimes our letters were a forum for complaints against the universe. Sometimes they were simply tales of teen triumphs and defeats.

I admired Dave and his family because they took summer vacation trips together. Dave was a Boy Scout, had cute girlfriends, and attended church with his family. He always wore shiny black shoes, a pressed white shirt, and a tie to church. Dave was the first person who taught me how to make a presentable knot. Now whenever I put on a tie, I think of Dave and how I kept my vow to be like his Dad by vacationing with my kids during their formative years. Thanks to Dave and his vacation stories I became a better father than I might have been.

John, the doctor-to-be, was very analytical and loved baseball. As a youngster, I hated playing “Go Fish!” with him because had a photographic mind.  I was better at playing stoop ball, stickball, or sandlot baseball. Because he lived a bike ride away, we played ball all of the time. We grew up loving baseball and rooting for two different New York teams. We had baseball and family in common—Christmas dinners, birthdays, confirmation, and more.

John taught me to stand up for myself, enjoy family gatherings, and cherish our moments outdoors or indoors together. Some of the best laughs we had were watching the “Jackie Gleason Show” and rolling with laugher on the living room floor. We even earned money together by sharing a big paper route. At the age of 12, we sometimes took the train into the city by ourselves with our earnings and attended a Yankee day game. John encouraged me to go after whatever I wanted, but never to lose my sense of humor in the process.

In my senior year in high school, I realized that I wasn’t going to be a professional baseball player. My English teacher, Miss Starr Hacker, thought that I was a promising writer. She believed in me. For her, I wrote my heart out. My weekly essays always had a large red “A” scribbled on them. I actively participated in her class. My mind was growing with possibilities. I started believing that I could be an English teacher or a writer, thanks to her.

 I longed to make a difference in the lives of others, just like Miss Hacker. I even considered being a sixth grade teacher because mine was so dull that I thought that I could do better!

My first education course was taught by Dr. Ralph H. Hunkins. He was a kind, intelligent, and enthusiastic. We immediately hit it right off in class. I loved studying about teaching, especially theories of education and men like John Dewey. Two pet projects of Dr. Hunkins were defining what education really is and fostering World Peace. In his classroom I was politely outspoken. After doing an Independent Study with him, we became friends, and I wrote him often after I graduated. He once told me that my letters about school were better than John Holt’s writings about education. Sometimes I even had the pleasure of his wife’s delicious cooking and friendly company. Thanks to them, my confidence as a future educator or writer was growing.

Around the time I met Ralph, I also met my bride-to-be, Marilyn Dufford. We fell madly in love. I thought she was perfect, beautiful on the inside and the outside. And she loved kids. She wanted to be an early childhood teacher. We studied a lot in the college dorm. She taught me how to really study, love long walks, chick flicks, and pizza at “Arnies.”

We married two weeks after our June graduation. In September she was teaching kindergarten, and I was teaching sixth grade in the same school district. I felt the happiest I ever felt in my life. I taught elementary school for thirty-three years.  She taught public school for fifteen years, became a religious director, and raised two lovely daughters. She finished her teaching career as a Special Education teacher. The two of us always loved teaching kids, books, stories, and words.

Thanks to Ralph’s inspiring words about writing, I published a number of articles for parents and teachers in national magazines, and I fell in love with the works of Shel Silverstein, especially A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Poets like the late Shel Silverstein made the ordinary different and exciting. I read and enjoyed his poetry so much that I internalized it. I never met the man, but he became my mentor and friend. Whenever there was a break from the regular school schedule, I read his poetry to my delighted students. They loved the joy and craziness in his poems. And sometimes his poetry even gave them thoughts to ponder. They treasured the book of poems they created in June. If as a teacher you can make kids laugh, think and create for themselves, they are more apt to become self-actualized students, encouraging the best from themselves and their teachers.

My students encouraged me to be to write and perform poetry for our class and other classes. Now I am the luckiest man alive helping kids to laugh, think, and write, whenever I am invited into school as a poet. Each school is my stadium. Each stage is my diamond. And Coach Sottile enjoys his players and our moments in the limelight, thanks to Shel and six others.   

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42. “Your First Ten Pages” Agent One-on-One Boot Camp Starts August 22. Get an Agent Critique of Your Novel Beginning

As many writers know, agents and editors won’t give your work more than ten pages or so to make an impact. If you haven’t got them hooked by then, it’s a safe bet you won’t be asked for more material. Make sure you’ve got the kind of opening they’re looking for! In this invaluable weekend event, you’ll get to work with an agent online to review and refine the first ten pages of your novel. You’ll learn what keeps an agent reading, what are the most common mistakes that make them stop, and the steps you need to take to correct them. The best part is that you’ll be working directly with an agent, who will provide feedback specific to your work.

It’s all part of the recurring popular Agent One-on-One Boot Camp called “Your First 10 Pages.” Sign up by the end of the day, August 22, 2014. It’s taught by the agents at Talcott Notch Literary.

Screen shot 2014-08-17 at 8.28.50 PM

Here’s how it works:

On Friday morning, August 22, you will gain access to a special 60-minute online tutorial presented by agent and editor Paula Munier. It will help you clarify what you should be looking for in your work. You will also be notified by email which agent you’ll be working with on Friday. (All times noted are Eastern Time).

After listening to the presentation, you’ll spend Friday evening revising your first ten pages as necessary, given the guidelines provided in the presentation, and you’ll email those pages directly to Paula or one of four additional agents from Talcott Notch Literary, including Gina Panettieri, Rachael Dugas, and Jessica Negron, by Saturday morning at 10:00 AM (ET). They will spend all day Saturday reviewing their assigned pages and providing feedback as to what works and what doesn’t. (Sign up for the boot camp here.)

All pages with notes will be returned to participants by 11:00 AM (ET) Sunday morning. Throughout the day on Sunday, you’ll work to revise your pages based on the agent’s specific feedback. From 1:00 to 4:00 PM, Paula, Gina, Rachael, Jessica, and Sara will be available to answer questions and provide additional feedback via the Writer’s Digest University message boards. Only registered students can access these boards. You’ll also be able to ask question of your fellow students. Feel free to share your work and gain support from your peers.

By 10:00 PM (ET) Sunday night, you’ll return your final revised pages to your assigned agent for review. They will spend the next week reading the revised submissions assigned to them, and will provide a final brief one-or-two sentence critique of your progress no later than August 31. Please note that any one of them may ask for additional pages if the initial submission shows serious promise.

*Please note that all attendees should have the first 10 pages of their novel finished and ready to submit to the agent prior to the beginning of the event. (Sign up for the boot camp here.)

In addition to feedback from Paula, Gina, Rachael, or Jessica, attendees will also receive:

– A download of “An Agent’s Tips on Story Structures that Sell,” an on-demand webinar by Andrea Hurst
– 1-year subscription to the WritersMarket.com literary agent database

All sales are final. No additional discounts can be applied.

About the Agents:

Gina Panettieri is President of Talcott Notch Literary Services, and has worked as an agent for more than 20 years. She currently represents a full range of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis in fiction on YA, MG, mystery, fantasy, women’s fiction, horror and paranormal. In nonfiction, she is particularly seeking memoir, business, cooking, health and fitness, pop science, medicine, true crime and current events. Some of her clients include Nancy Holzner, author of the new Deadtown urban fantasy series from Berkley/Ace Science Fiction, Annabella Bloom, author of the Wild and Wanton edition romance hybrid classics Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights (Adams Media), Dr. Karyn Purvis, author of the bestselling and multi-award winning adoption book, The Connected Child (McGraw-Hill), and author and media personality, Dr. Seth Meyers. She currently represents an eclectic range of writers, encompassing everyone from a former head of Security and Intelligence for NATO Europe, to CEOs of major corporations and Deans of major medical schools, to stay-at-home writer moms and amazingly talented teens. Gina speaks at many conferences and writing events throughout the country on the subjects of securing an agent and getting published. Her agency website is talcottnotch.net

Paula Munier, Senior Literary Agent & Content Strategist at Talcott Notch Literary, has broad experience creating and marketing exceptional content in all formats across all markets for such media giants as Disney, Gannett, Greenspun Media Group, and Quayside. She began her career as a journalist, and along the way added editor, acquisitions specialist, digital content manager, and publishing executive to her repertoire. Before joining Talcott Notch, she served as the Director of Innovation and Acquisitions for Adams Media, a division of F&W Media, where she headed up the acquisitions team responsible for creating, curating, and producing both fiction and nonfiction for print, ebook, eshort, and direct-to-ebook formats. (Sign up for the boot camp here.)

Although she represents all kinds of projects, right now she’s looking for crime fiction, women’s fiction, romance, New Adult, YA, and middle grade fiction, as well as nonfiction in the areas of pop culture, health & wellness, cooking, self-help, pop psych, New Age, inspirational, technology, science, and writing. As a new agent she’s making her first deals now, including the New Adult trilogy, The Registry by Shannon Stoker, which sold for six figures to HarperCollins. She’s also just sold mystery, thriller, and self-help. Paula is very involved with the mystery community, having served four terms as President of the New England chapter of Mystery Writers of America as well as on the MWA board. (She’s currently VP of that organization.) She’s also served as both co-chair and Agents and Editors chair on the New England Crime Bake committee for seven years and counting. And she’s an active member of Sisters in Crime.

Jessica Negron has experience working for a diverse range of publishers and publications in both an editorial and design capacity, and she is now a Junior Agent with Talcott Notch, taking on a select batch of clients. She’s interested in all kinds of YA and Adult fiction, but leans toward science fiction and fantasy (and all sub-genres), romance (the steamier, the better), and thrillers.

Rachael Dugas joined Talcott Notch Literary in 2011. During her tenure as associate agent, Rachael has judged contests and attended conferences in New York and beyond, working with groups such as Writer’s Digest, ASJA, YA Lit Chat, the National Publicity Summit, and the Hampton Roads Writers. Recent sales include titles in young adult and romance to imprints at Hachette, Perseus, and Month 9 Books. Rachael is a former Sourcebooks editorial intern and a proud Ithaca College graduate. She welcomes fiction submissions in the following categories: YA, MG, women’s fiction, contemporary and historical romance, historical fiction, and general commercial fiction. Her non-fiction wishlist includes memoir with an amazing voice and cookbooks or performing arts-related books with outstanding platforms.

Sign up for the boot camp here.

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43. 5 Mistakes Writers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

1. Thinking that your book will sell itself

I have five books published with Simon & Schuster and let me tell you: they do not walk off the shelves. I made the mistake of becoming complacent and thinking that because I had a huge publisher behind me that I didn’t need to do much PR work to promote myself. In the words of Julia Roberts: “Big mistake. Huge.”

I watched my friend and author Becky Wicks work like a demon to promote her indie book ‘Before He Was Famous’ and within 12 hours of it going live on Amazon it had sold nearly 500 copies. She worked her BUTT off for months prior building an audience, interacting on Twitter and Facebook and building a fan base from scratch. She rocks. It’s totally inspired me to do the same.



the-sound-novel-cover-alderson     sarah-alderson-writer-author

Column by Sarah Alderson, author of five novels, the most recent of which is OUT OF CONTROL (May 2014, Simon & Schuster), a fast-paced YA thriller focus on human trafficking summed up with the tagline: “Move to a new city. Meet a hot boy. Run for your life.” Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and toddler daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After almost a year spent wandering around India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing and trying to machete open coconuts without severing a limb. As well as Young Adult fiction, Sarah writes New Adult fiction for Pan Macmillan under the pen name Mila Gray. Her first novel, COME BACK TO ME, will be out in summer 2014. You can find all Sarah’s books on Amazon here. Connect with her on her blog or on Twitter.

If you have written a book and put it on Amazon hoping for the best then good luck with that.

If you’ve written a book for a major publisher and expected them to do the hard work for you — good luck with that.

You need to act like an indie author — a determined one — if you want to make it in the world of publishing. This means:

  • Spending at least 3 -5 hours a day on social media interacting with fans, building rapport (this doesn’t mean shoving your book down their throat but providing interesting content).
  • Studying marketing & promotion, learn everything you can about it. Now!
  • Starting at least 6 months before your book is out.

2. Thinking that people care about your life story

Unless you are an A-list celebrity or have done something truly extraordinary that makes a stranger’s jaw drop, unless it has a hook, then it’s a mistake to assume that your story is of any interest to anyone beyond your immediate circle of friends and family.

I have lost count of the number of acquaintances who’ve come to me and told me they want my help with a “great idea they want to turn into a novel.” Invariably it’s a story about their battle with cancer / divorce / trip around the world. My eyes glaze over.

If it means that much to you write it, but don’t expect it to sell. Though I’d be happy to eat my words!

3. Following trends

I made the mistake once of writing a book — a YA dystopia — because I was told that was all the rage at the Frankfurt Book fair. It was a good book but by the time I’d written it, guess what? Dystopia was yesterday’s news.

Sure, you can always fly in the face of this advice by writing something truly astonishing and amazing, but it’s more likely you won’t. My best suggestion? Write the story you want to read and don’t look at trends. They come and go.

4. Expecting overnight success with a debut novel

Sure, this happens. Occasionally. But it’s exceedingly rare. I’m on my fifth book with Simon & Schuster and am yet to earn out my advance with any of them. Sigh. And my advances weren’t even that big to begin with.

My first new adult book — Come Back To Me- is out with Pan macmillan in three weeks and that’s my first book to earn out its advance before publication thanks to foreign rights sales.

I’m hoping by the time I am on my tenth book I might be making some royalties.

5. That they’ll be able to quit their day job once they sell that first book

Industry advances are SHRINKING. My advances today are less than they ever were. Factor in that a publisher will only buy roughly one book a year (if you’re lucky) and that your agent will take 15% and the taxman another 20-30% and you’re left with… not very much.

I quit my day job, started travelling the world AND then decided to become a writer because I never researched how much authors earn. Doh.

How do I survive financially?
– I copywrite
– I have started writing screenplays and earning from that.
– I’ve optioned my books to production companies
– I’ve self-published and earn royalties from those books
– I teach / lead retreats
– I work my ass off!

I’ve had to use my creativity and imagination to find other ways to earn income in short.



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44. Shark Week Is for Readers, Too: 10+ Books to Read this Week

JAWSEach year for one week, The Discovery Channel takes over the airwaves with a seven-day onslaught of movies, documentaries, survivor tales and semi-factual mockumentaries about sharks. As fascinating as it all is, readers are left high and dry—where are all the books about sharks? I’ve rounded up several—some classic, some campy, some for kids, some nonfiction—for those of us who want all the thrill of Shark Week, but with somewhat less screen time. (Or supplement your Discovery marathoning. There are no rules in Shark Week.)

1. Jaws

It wouldn’t be a list about shark books without the one that started it all. Peter Benchley’s classic inspired Steven Spielberg’s film, and 40 years later it’s still deeply, relentlessly terrifying. Hank Searls’ followup novelizations of Jaws 2 and Jaws: The Revenge and Benchley’s The Deep are also highly encouraged reading for the week.

2. The Old Man and the Sea

Hemingway’s tale of a Cuban fisherman going head-to-snout with a marlin is remembered for many reasons, none of which pertain to Shark Week. We should change that. The Nobel Prize in Literature is nice and all, but this week is a big deal right now, and an entirely unscientific survey I just conducted reveals that only one in several readers outside of high school has bothered to pick up The Old Man and the Sea, except when rearranging bookshelves. (That one is me. This book is worth reading any week of the year.)

Megbook3. The Meg series

You don’t have to be an especially well-read fan of megalodon lore to enjoy Steve Alten’s bestselling undersea thriller series featuring the rediscovery of the largest shark species in history. Begin at the beginning with Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, then dare yourself to tear through the next five Meg novels (The Trench, Primal Waters, Hell’s Aquarium, Nightstalkers and Origins) before you have to enter a body of water larger than a bathtub.

4. In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

Technically, Doug Stanton’s harrowing story of the 317 men who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis isn’t specifically about sharks. But it’s damn good reading, and a sufficient quantity of sharks are involved in the story to include it on this list.

5. Sharks! by National Geographic Kids

Sharks are scary, but they’re also super-cool. If you have a small person who enjoys reading, consider picking this title up on your next trip to the library. Or check it out for yourself—no one dislikes 32 pages of cool facts about sharks.

Nugget and Fang6. Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever–or Snack Time?

So maybe stories about vicious attacks or details about shark migration are a little too advanced for some kids. Fortunately for them, there is Tammi Sauer and Michael Slack’s adorable little story about vegetarian sharks who make friends with a school of minnows.

7. Shark Girl 

Kelly Bingham’s debut young adult novel chronicles the life of a girl who has lost her arm to a shark attack, and then must return to high school with a prosthesis to face the potential mockery of her fellow classmates. Shark Girl is less shark-centric than, say, Meg, but more personal and introspective than most other books on this list. And as a young adult novel in verse, it’s possible that Shark Girl is the only book (so far) about a shark-attack-survivor in high school that also rhymes. (Joking aside, Bingham’s work here is impressive and award-winning, and worth reading even outside the brief moment that is Shark Week.)

BAIT8. Bait

If you put four drug addicts on an island, heroin on a nearby island, and a shiver of sharks between, what happens? This is the premise of J. Kent Messum’s award-winning first novel, Bait. You’ll have to find out for yourself what happens after that.

9. The Secret Life of Sharks

For every myth Jaws perpetuated, Pete Klimley debunked three in his celebrated collection of real facts about sharks—what they eat, when, how they raise their young, when and how they migrate. From hammerheads to great whites, there are few books as full of firsthand data on shark behavior.

10. Shark Fin Soup

There are few books more appropriate for this week than Susan Klaus’ thriller about a man who avenges his wife’s murder at the hands of shark finners by becoming an ecoterrorist called Captain Nemo. Nemo’s methods may be suspect, but his heart is in the right place.

There’s no way to include every book about sharks on this list. What are your favorites?


Adrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @a_crezo.

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45. Query Question: I want you to love me only for my writing

I wasn't 100% honest in all my queries to this point. I usually go by Jim not J.D., really creative pen name right? I sign J.D. Because I am currently [doing something that draws public attention] and I didn't think it would be a good idea to put that [something] in my bio. I didn't want anyone to take me on just because of the built in fan base since I will be writing as J.D. not Jim. I didn't want anyone getting too excited about something I'm not going to even attempt to capitalize on. Also, [the activity could end very soon.] Basically I didn't want anyone taking me on based on who I am, but I do realize that it might be somewhat misleading if I don't at least mention it. What do you think - mention it in future queries, or just let it be? Thanks again.

I absolutely guarantee you that you should not mention anything like this. It's not a writing credit and it does not build platform.  Let's say, just for fun,  that you've qualified for the Miss America pageant.  Do you mention that in your query? No you do not. It has nothing to do with your writing, and come September 14, you very well might be Miss Congeniality or even the third runner-up, but chances are you will not be Miss America.  If you ARE, well, you'll be busy and you'll put your querying on hold.

A lot of things that are REALLY important to you as a person are not things you put in your query: your kids, your spouse, your dog, your cat***, your hobbies, your desire to be a writer, your hope that I will love your book, and that you are Miss Bumblebee, Arkansas and headed to Atlantic City.

***those go on your Facebook page!

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The Fire Insideby Anonymous When all is lost and hope has fled
When fear is strong and strength is dead
When love and joy abandon you
When mental anguish grows in you

When the last of efforts fail to save
When your fate is ill, your mind enslaved
And when your head hangs low in misery
This is when you'll find the key

A single ember from deep within
Burns hotter and hotter, as flames begin
The fire of truth will light the way
And help you fight, this lonely day

The battle is long, the struggle is rough
Never regret not giving enough
For when we offer our very best,
Our very soul is put to the test

Stand tall and true and you'll prevail
Just hold on tight and never bail
You will survive if you don't quit
Victory is there, if you reach for it

One day in the future, you will look to the past,
And know you had what it takes to last
So never give up and good things will come,
Not just honor and pride, but a job well done.

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47. Query Question: more on earning out

Last Friday's blog post half-answered a question I've long had. As the follow up....

Let us say this publisher gives me a $10K advance, and that I'll need to move 4,000 books to earn that back. ON AVERAGE, ABOUT how long would it take a book to sell 4,000 copies? I understand we're working with SWAG numbers here. But are we talking 6 months, or 6 years? 

Well, I don't know what SWAG numbers are (are they like imaginary numbers, cause that's what ended my math career?!) but what I do know is there's no answer to this.

It varies, seemingly indiscriminantly from one book to the next. Not even from one author, but book by book.

I do know this: generally books sell well their first year of publication. There are a lot of exceptions to this. I can think of ten off the top of my head right now.

Generally second books do not sell as well as first books. There are exceptions to this too. Lots.

I know Veronica Roth sold upwards of 19 million books last year.  I know Lee Child sold something like that too. (Those numbers are in the trades.)

I know that most books published by small presses have no hope of selling 3000 copies in any time frame at all because the publisher only printed 1000 copies and doesn't intend to print more.

Average THAT!

What you're trying to do here is linear analysis of a Jackson Pollock painting.

It can't be done. NOR SHOULD IT.

It shouldn't be done because you're setting yourself up to drive yourself crazy.

It's also insane to measure yourself against some phantom average because the ONLY book
that matters to you is YOURS.

The only thing you can reasonably plan on is EFFORT.  You can not plan on results. 

Do I know if I can sell a book?  No.
Do I know that I can pitch a book? Hell yes.
Do I know that if the first pitch doesn't get the results I want I can analyze my effort and change up? HELL YES.

Do I know how to find new places to pitch? Yes.
Do I pay attention to what has worked for other agents and steal their ideas relentlessly? You better believe it.

So, if you know you have to sell 4000 books, and you WANT to do it within a year, you make a list of the things you can do to make that happen. And then you do them.

What I know is that it might work, and it's surely more likely to succeed than doing nothing.

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48. Your Story 61: Submit Now!

Falling-UpPrompt: Write the opening sentence (just one, of 25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo to the left. You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Use the submission form below OR email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com.

IMPORTANT: If you experience trouble with the submission form, please email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com within the body of your email (no attachments, please).

Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every entry we receive, due to volume. No confirmation emails will be sent out to confirm receipt of submission. But be assured all submissions received before entry deadline are considered carefully. Official Rules

Entry Deadline: October 13, 2014


Your Story Entry Form


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49. query question: more on the dreaded synopsis

When writing a synopsis and trying to distill 85K words into a meager 750, I feel like I have to leave out so much (subplots, minor characters) that it hardly feels representative of the same manuscript.

My question is, will an agent count as a strike against when reading a full that so much is missing? For example, 20% of my current manuscript is told from a particular character's POV. But there's just not enough room in the synopsis to even mention this character, so I've summed up that storyline as if from the main character's POV. Feels like cheating, or am I being paranoid? 

For starters you don't write a synopsis from any one's point of view. Synopsis are always in the objective third person. You list the main events of the book and the main characters and the main plot twists.

For example: In Gone With the Wind you obviously have three time periods: before the war, the War, after the war.

In the book there is a long section about how Gerald Butler came to America from Ireland and won the hand of Ellen Robillard.  This is in the before the war section of course.

As important as that is to the woop and warf of the book, you leave it out of the synopsis because GWTW is mainly the story of their first born daughter Katie Scarlet.

The movie version leaves out all of SueEllen's story with Will, the man who comes to Tara after the war.  You'd leave that out of the synopsis as well.

A synopsis isn't intended to be a miniature replica of the book as a whole.

Instead, it's more like the interior support of the building.  It's what holds the novel together
and gives it shape and form.

This is the synopsis:

This is the query:

This is the book:

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50. I hope your day goes swimmingly!

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