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I am ever so excited to hand the reins over to the fabulous Martina Boone, author of Compulsion, book 1 in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy. There’s a few reasons for this. First, if you don’t know Martina, well, she’s brilliant. Not only is she an uber talented author with a head full of writerly advice which she dispenses at her blog, she is also a very compassionate and supportive friend who is always thinking about how to help other succeed. I love that.
Second, having her here gives me a chance to gush about her YA debut, Compulsion. You might remember how Becca recently blogged about her favorite reads of 2014. Well, GUESS what book tops my own 2014 list? You bet your bananas it’s Martina’s Compulsion. There is SO MUCH I want to say about this book, but I really should zip it for now so Martina can give us a rare window into what happens between signing with an agent and holding the beloved book in your hands.
The Ten Editorial Steps From the Agent “Call” to Published Book
Like most writers, I’ve dreamed of “being a writer” most of my life, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I decided to throw everything I had at learning to write and getting an agent and getting published. At that point, I read all the books and blog posts that might help me get “there,” and I found so much material that a friend and I startedAdventuresInYAPublishing.comto collate all that information and share it with other writers.
Once I signed with an agent, though, I felt like I’d suddenly plunged into an information void. Even with COMPULSION out in the world and PERSUASION well on its way, I still constantly feel like an idiot pestering busy people with questions, or keeping the questions to myself because I’m too embarrassed to ask them.
When we’re starting out as writers, we rarely look beyond the process of getting an agent. That hurdle on its own seems so huge, but truly, it’s just the beginning of the editorial journey our books will take. No, wait. Don’t groan. That’s a GOOD thing, because once your book is out in the world, readers and reviewers are going to pick apart every choice you made. They’ll love them or they’ll hate them, but in your mind, you’ll need to be able to defend those choices knowing exactly why you made them.
After the agent call, here are ten more editorial steps your book will take:
Revising with Your Agent: Even after you’ve polished your manuscript enough to snag an agent, that agent will probably do a round or two of revision with you before sending your book out to editors on submission.
On Sub: While you’re revising, your agent is making lists of editors and putting together a submission packet that will contain the pitch as well as any supporting information that will help “sell” your book to an editor and acquisition panel. The pitch has its genesis in your query letter, and you may find that big chunks of your query eventually end up on your book jacket. You and your agent will probably work on the pitch together before submitting to the editors most likely to love your book.
The Offer: Before you get an offer, your editor may speak to you and share any editorial vision he or she has for your book or query you about follow-on ideas. Both the dollar amount and the supporting information the editor provides will tell you whether they see the book as a mid-list or lead title and how important it will be for their “list.”
The Editorial Letter: Usually even before your agent and the publisher’s legal department have finalized the contract and the check for the first third of your advance is in the mail, your editor is busy reading your book and preparing the overview what’s needed to bring it to full potential. An editorial letter can range from a couple pages to many pages addressing the manuscript’s strengths and areas for improvement. You may go through one or several rounds of developmental edits.
The Line Edit: Once the structure is in place, your editor will go through the manuscript line by line, looking for ways to strengthen the writing, clarify meaning, make images more specific, eliminate cliches and writing ticks, eliminate wordiness, etc.
The Pass for Press: Your editor will review the line edits once you turn them in and she or he will “accept” the manuscript. That’s the trigger for releasing the second third of your advance payment. At this stage, if not before, the book goes to the production department, which schedules out the production process. The book designer starts developing how the interior pages will look, and the cover designer has probably already been working on the exterior jacket in the meantime.
The Copy Edit: The managing editor will turn the book over to a copyeditor. This may be someone in house, or an outside freelancer. It may occur in track changes in Word, or as physical marks on paper. The copyeditor will correct any grammar issues, check for continuity, clarity, and consistency, and pose any queries on facts, timeline, etc. for you in the margins. When you get the Copy Edited Manuscript (CEM) back to review, it’s usually due to your editor very quickly. As I’ve learned the hard way, you need to make sure that this isn’t the first time you see your manuscript printed out on paper, because it will read very differently than it does on your computer screen. CEMs are not the place to make a ton of changes, but they’re a better place to make changes than any point further in the process.
Galleys/ARCs: Once your manuscript is copyedited, it will be changed from an electronic Word file into a typeset file within the publisher’s design program, where it is printed out into page proofs for further editorial scrutiny and distribution to reviewers, booksellers, and power readers—people who can help spread the word about and build excitement for your book. Depending on the publisher and the timeline, you may get to review the proofs before Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) are printed and bound, or you may see the ARCs first and get a few copies for yourself at the same time that they are prepared to go out for review. Don’t fret either way, ARCs are expected to contain errors.
1st Pass Pages: When you get the proofs of the typeset pages, it’s your first chance to see what your book will really look like, how the fonts look, how the paragraphs flow on the page, and how the pages and chapters lay out. You’ll also review for remaining typos and any inadvertent errors introduced when the file and edits were keyed in. Making changes at this stage is expensive, especially if they change pagination. If you make too many changes, your publisher could charge you for the expense, so you’re looking only for things that *must* be changed or corrected.
2nd Pass Pages: Whatever changes were made in the first pass will be reflected in the second pass, but your publisher may not send 2nd PPs to you. At this stage, your job on the manuscript is essentially done, and it’s a surreal feeling to know that there’s nothing more that you can do.
At this point, all of you—your agent, editor, production team, art department, marketing, sales, and publicity team, everyone at your publisher—have done their best, and it’s time to to turn the book over to your readers.
Getting a book to print is truly a gargantuan effort, and it’s a leap of faith and love on everyone’s part. The process is not for the faint-hearted, and there are times when I wanted to crawl in a hole and weep with the pressure and the stress and the sense that I couldn’t possibly make the book good enough. The first letter I received from a reader reminded me of why we do this though—because it was a letter very much like one I would have liked to have written to my favorite author about a beloved book. And hearing that my characters, world, and words have meant that much to someone is an amazing and energizing feeling.
(We often think that hardest part is writing the book, but this post shows how much more still needs to be done after the yes. And then there’s marketing, promoting…as Martina says, not for the faint-hearted. But the product of ALL that hard work? Right here. Trust me, you NEED this book! ~ A)
Three plantations. Two gifts. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who somehow seems to know what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
The truth? I devoured this book. You ever wish a fictional world was a real place, and its characters living, breathing people that you could sit with and talk to? That’s the effect this book had on me. I loved Barrie and Eight, the push and pull of their personalities, and most of all, the love and loyalty they have for family. Watson Island felt as real and authentic to me as my own backyard. Reading this book was an experience in the truest sense. I loved discovering how magic compulsions, curses and feuds played out between the three families, and the secrets and danger that ties them all together.
A GIVEAWAY? HECK YES!
I feel utterly COMPELLED to make sure others experience this book, so Becca and I will be giving an ebook copy away to one commenter!
Hey guys! I’m so excited to share this guest post with your from Danielle Barthel, a literary assistant from New Leaf Literary. She offers her own personal experience and insight for breaking into the publishing industry–which I’m sure many of you know isn’t the easiest thing to do.
I’m so happy to be doing a guest post here this week!
I recently read a comment on Alex Bracken’s “You Tell Us: What Do You Want To See” post asking us to talk about hard lessons we’ve learned. For me—and I don’t think I’m alone—one of these lessons was the importance of following my passions. This was most relevant to me when I was trying to find a job in publishing.
The truth is, this is not an easy industry to crack, and there were times that I felt like it was never going to happen. What kept me going was the simple fact that I’ve wanted to work with words forever. I remember the first time I finished a full length book all by myself—one of those big hardcover Disney books that were based off the movies. Remember those? I was so proud of myself.
Books were just my thing. Growing up, I was the kid who got in trouble for reading at night by the light of my yellow American Girl flashlight-lantern (it looks a little like the one here, but I couldn’t find the exact picture).
When I reached the age that I no longer got into trouble for staying up late reading, and I still wanted to do it even though it was no longer “forbidden fruit” (and this was about as rebellious as my conscience let me get), I knew that my obsession with books wasn’t going away.
I actively realized that this was more than a passing rebellious phase, but instead a passion for something greater, when I left for college. I went to undergrad at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. It was five hours from home and the biggest leap I had ever taken outside my comfort zone. My fears about homesickness, not making friends, and being unhappy battled with my desire to learn about all things book related. Now loving books was more than just a passion—it was moving me towards a career.
I majored in English and took entire classes dedicated to Shakespeare, American lit, British lit, and young adult lit—I couldn’t believe it was a requirement to read Harry Potter in a real college class!
And it turned out that Brockport had one of the best study abroad programs around. I could wax nostalgic about my love of England, and specifically the town of York, for hours, but I’ll spare you. Instead I’ll just say I hope everyone has the opportunity to do something that scares them (like finding your own way in a foreign country without Google Maps) at least once in your life. Because it’ll bring even clearer into focus both who you are, and what you want out of life. Or at least it did for me.
Coming home, I knew with certainty—books, words, and the people who worked on them were inspiring and I wanted to be a part of it. So I went to the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute, where I spent an entire month learning more about publishing. It was eye-opening and informative, and when I returned to New York, I set up a ton of informational interviews with wonderful, willing agents and editors to learn even more, before someone I will be forever grateful to suggested that I look into internships.
Even though it might sound like things happened quickly, they didn’t. I spent a few months doing interviews, both informational and for actual jobs/internships. I had this intense Excel grid of people I had emailed for interviews, what they were for, when I met with them, if they responded…
When I got my first real job rejection (for something I had been feeling so good about), I was pretty devastated. Wasn’t I doing everything right? English degree, Denver Publishing Institute grad, interviewing up a storm. Why was I still jobless?
Something I didn’t understand until after I’d been applying for jobs left and right is not to discount things completely out of my control, like being in the right place at the right time. I applied for an internship at Writers House, one of the biggest agencies in New York, after a recommendation from an informational interview. The Writers House intern coordinator initially called me because I was a Denver grad. I got the internship because of a mix of networking and timing and because I fit what they were looking for. All those factors together jump-started my career.
I’ve now worked in the industry I love, at a company I love, for three years as of this January. And after everything that’s led me to this place, it always goes back to my love of books.
So my lesson is this: follow your passions. Do what you love just because you love it. Don’t let those terrifying “what ifs” control your life. Thrive on challenge. And be open to the fact that you don’t have all the answers. That’s okay too.
Following her completion of the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation, Danielle began interning at Writers House. While there, she realized she wanted to put her English degree and love of the written word to work at a literary agency. She became a full-time assistant and continues to help keep the New Leaf offices running smoothly.
In her downtime, she can be found with a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate, or really good book…sometimes all together. Follow Danielle on Twitter!
So this week I sent out six new agent queries. I'll do more next week; it takes a lot of time to explore agents and pick those who you think will connect with your writing. I feel good about it, even though statistically speaking I likely won't end up with any of them as my agent. I am pretty sure I'm not the only one who gets frustrated by this merry-go-round of submissions and rejections. Why do we keep doing it?
I'll tell you why I keep doing it. I am not interested in self publishing. I have nothing against it, per se. It gains more and more credibility every year as a viable path. But I want to write. I don't want to negotiate contracts, pay for my books to be printed, market all by myself. I just want to write my books. So I keep doing it. (I will say that most of the self-pubbed books I've read have not been of the same caliber as traditionally pubbed books. This isn't to say it's not possible, but traditional publishers have teams of people who work on your book. It's bound to improve the quality of the thing. I should also add that I edit for self-publishing authors, and I think those who hire an editor end up with a much better book.)
I have several friends who were almost at the end of their proverbial ropes when they finally signed with an agent and sold one or more books to traditional publishers. Their stories lift my spirits when I want to give up.
Here are a few of things I've learned over my many long years of writing, submitting, being rejected, and trying again.
1. If the same work keeps getting rejected, maybe it's time to set it aside and work on something new. I know for a fact that each book I write is better than the last. And every time, I think this one is it, until it's not. Each one teaches me something I didn't understand before. So don't put all your eggs in that one basket.
2. I am confident that I am a good writer. Maybe even a great writer. I know this because I go to a lot of workshops, conferences, retreats, and critique groups with professionals, and they tell me this. Also because I've been practicing for a very long time. Also because I read by the ton, and I know what's out there. Also, because I have no ego left, so I can assess my own writing in a fairly unbiased way.
3. It's a good thing that some of the agents and editors I've submitted to have rejected me. As mentioned, I been in this rodeo quite a long time, and I've seen the big stall that can happen to a writer with an agent who isn't right for them. Inevitably, that partnership ends, and one has to start all over. As I have gotten to know some of the agents I once thought would be perfect for me, I cry happy tears that they didn't sign me.
4. Agents are just people. Very fallible people. Very nice people. Professional people. But there is nothing to be afraid of. I have given up the role of sweet little author who needs the help of an agent (if that ever was me), and I have started being completely myself when I query and submit. I tell people straight out what I want, what I'm willing to do, and what my vision for a particular book is. I am too old to tiptoe around, hoping my good behavior will get me in the door. You know that saying about well behaved women rarely making history? That.
5. Even when nothing happens, something is happening. I spent the last year hoping to nail down a particular agent. She asked for fulls of two manuscripts, read them, sent back copious editorial notes. I spent two months revising one manuscript per her notes, resubmitted at her request, and waited. For six months. Nothing. All my writing friends said to move on, which I am doing. But that was a good experience, because it gave me more confidence, revision notes to work with, and some good revisions came out of it.
6. Never, ever sit around and wait for that reply. Be working on new things and revising old things and researching and everything else. It gives me so much energy to be working on the next, new, shiny manuscript that I can forget there is ever one making the rounds out there. It keeps me from obsessing or worrying. It keeps me moving forward and writing better books.
I wish us all the best luck this year in achieving our writing and publishing dreams.
To date, there are 487 wrong ways to hunt for an agent. There is but one right way. And that, my friends, is the way that
is best for you. If you’re still finding your way to your way, and you don’t mind me meddling a bit, I’d like to pass along a few fibrous tips to help your process go more smoothly. Do not mistake me for an expert. I myself am a hunter, but I have learned a thing or three so far and I’m happy to share. M’kay, here we go . . .
Track yourself. Do identify a way to log your queries. Otherwise, you’ll be asking yourself who you asked. Such silliness that would be.
Me? Well, I have a simple three list system–but you do what works for you.
List 1: I keep a list of agents who are currently considering my query. You may want to compile more detail, but I just include the agent and agency, when I queried and when I can anticipate a response (many agents will indicate this in their submission policies). I don’t just say six weeks; I actually indicate an expiration date. No word by then? NEXT!
List 2: This is comprised of agents who are ready to move up to the first list as soon as I receive a no from an agent (or the query expires). I add to this second list of names as I discover a new possibility via FB or a friend (but only after I have run the agent through the good-fit test). Don’t just make a list of names. Do your homework first.
List 3: Sure, as you’d expect, I have a list of agents who have declined. With this, I indicate if the agent actually declined or was simply a “no response.”
Go public. Hunting for an agent and expecting not to be rejected is like walking onto a used car lot and expecting not to be hounded. Because of this, it’s scary to tell people you’re looking. I know. Trust me, I know. But here’s what I’ve learned–the more people I tell about my search, the more friends I have hunting for me. It’s rare for a week to pass without getting a tip–“Just heard Agent X is looking,” “Saw this on Twitter and thought of you,” “Have you queried Agent XYZ yet? He’d be a great fit for you.” So, don’t keep your hunt hush-hush. You don’t have to blab to the world. Simply sharing your agent pursuit with a circle of trusted comrades will more than double your search party. G’head. Do it. (And be sure to reciprocate!)
Photo by Vicky Lorencen
Keep moving. Can’t lie. So far, there have been a couple of rejections that have bruised a bit. But truly, and maybe I’ve developed a kind of literary immunity, but I don’t fuss much over a decline any more. It’s just part of the process. If it does hurt, I give myself a day to feel schlumpy and then I jump back on the hunt. Having that second list of pre-approved agents is the trick. To insure I have about five queries out at all times, I prepare a new query as soon as a rejection arrives. It keeps my momentum humming and prevents me from poor-me-stinating. (Poor-me-stinating is similar to procrastinating, but more pathetic looking–think Sarah McLachlan rescue animal commercial pathetic–I know. So bad.)
Now, what about you? You got any ideas you’d like to share? Please do. And happy hunting!
In prep for my workshop at CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination, I asked literary agents, editors and art directors a few questions about whether they research potential clients, authors and illustrators online and what they look for. 18 editors (some of whom also look for picture book illustrators), 8 agents and 2 art directors responded.
Here's what they said:
QUESTION: When you are considering taking on a new client/author/illustrator, do you ever research them online?
77% of respondents said that when they are considering taking on a new client, author and illustrator, they ALWAYS research them online. The rest said they sometimes do.
QUESTION: If you do online research before signing on a client/author/illustrator, has your research ever made you decide NOT to sign them on?
62% said that YES, they have decided to reject someone after researching them online. Some said that while they hadn't yet rejected someone after online research, they would definitely think twice about signing with someone who posts a lot of negativity (see below) or posts "with cringe-inducing syntax."
In this section, I invited respondents to volunteer additional comments, including turn-ons and turn-offs, what they look for during online research.
The following respondents gave me permission to use their names.
"I have been turned off by authors/illustrators who bad-mouth their editors/publishers/agents. It is amazing to me when I see this on Facebook. Even if you don't mention your editor/publisher by name, it is usually very obvious to whom you are referring. I would definitely think twice about taking on someone who did this. Also, I look for authors/illustrators who are generous in sharing news about others in the community. People who only post promo about their own books (BUY MY BOOK! LOOK AT MY STUFF!) are not generally as well-received or connected with the larger community. If you are a new or emerging creator, you need to be engaging with others who are also plugged in to the kidlit world."
"An extent online presence is not a necessity. It's gravy. But . . . I place a certain amount of value on a social media presence that seems human and natural and interesting. A Twitter stream that is full of interesting engaged conversations on a variety of topics--even topics other than books--is somewhat more interesting to me than one that is all review links and retweets. I don't much care how many followers. (Unless, of course, it's a huge number, because I am not an idiot about what that means.)"
Carol Hinz, Editorial Director at Millbrook Press:
"I'm not necessarily looking for something in particular when I look up an author or illustrator. I simply want to find out if the person has a web presence and, if so, what it is. It's also helpful to get a sense of what else they've done, how they present themselves, whether they do school visits, and what helpful connections they may have (whether it's with other writers, educators, booksellers, etc.) when it comes to book promotion."
NOTE: Most of the respondents answered anonymously but to avoid the awkward he/she decision, I decided to use "he" or "she" randomly.
One agent said she decided not to request material from previously published authors who got combative with reviewers. Another respondent said that while he hadn't yet rejected a project based on online research, he may make a note to discuss proper online etiquette with that particular author or illustrator. "But I believe the day is coming where my online research will make me answer 'no' when I question, 'Do I love this book enough to want to deal with THIS'?"
Another respondent said that online research sometimes makes her ask more questions, change the direction or focus of the conversation, dig deeper ("and not always in a negative way"), sometimes for the benefit of both of them and sometimes in ways that lead to more meaningful partnerships.
"Biggest turn-off: Writers who get argumentative and/or rude with reviewers and bloggers online. I also look at blog and social media posts that see how the writer comes across in their daily interactions. I'm wary when a writer acts rude, cynical, prejudiced, or pessimistic on social media. That's not to say that people can't have down moments, but if their overall feeds are full complaints and abuse toward others, it's an immediate "no." I've been lucky, though, to have found clients who are all positive, dedicated writers open to criticism and growing in their craft."
"I'm usually just looking for more information and/or to confirm my initial impression. I do notice if someone writes extensively about the writing and publication process ("got another rejection today!") or if he/she does a lot of self-publishing. Neither of these are deal-breakers at all, but they present unique challenges. I actually do most of my sleuthing with agents and agencies, and in that case I do judge if I see a lot of awful self-published covers (but again, may still work with them). Also, I assume writers and agents research me online but the less I'm reminded of that, the better—like don't start every email to me by mentioning something I've posted on Facebook. I don't like the feeling of someone friending me on social media in order to 'gain access.'"
"I look for obviously divisive posts, things that I see that I think would turn off a readership. Professionalism online is important, and also gives me an idea of what you'd be like to work with. I also look to see how you interact with others on your blog/twitter/site whether or not you acknowledge people who leave comments or tweet with you."
"Turn offs= being unprofessional/rude/inappropriate in a public online setting. Why would I want someone with that type of behavior linked to me as an agent and the agency as a whole?"
"When researching someone online, I'm generally just looking to flesh out my knowledge of that person in advance of a possible acquisition. I'm not actually looking for trouble spots, just maybe things to discuss at an IRL meeting with colleagues (sales points) or with the author themselves (small talk). When it's an illustrator, particularly; I do a lot of triage online before anyone's necessarily aware that I'm looking - I use online portfolios to identify leads. I'd advise artists to have as much art available to view online as possible. Use places like deviantart if you don't have a well-maintained personal site or an illustration agent with a good easily searchable site. Probably use deviantart even if you do. The easier your work is to find, the more work you'll pick up. I've been involved in acquisitions where a Google search turned up a certain amount of Internet Drama. It never really influenced the decision - we signed people up each time. I could imagine scenarios in which it would be a deal-breaker - for example, if we discovered that an author was a Neo-Nazi, that wouldn't play well - but none of them has so far come to pass. Incidentally, I think the situation in which duly diligent research is crucial is if you are an author or illustrator being offered work by a publisher or agent. You need to check out the bona fides of the person or company asking to contract with you, because there are an awful lot of sharks out there." - @iucounu on Twitter
"Turn ons - lots of work with the same energy and talent that brought the illustrator to my attention in the first place. Turn offs - samples that look dated, have styles that are very different and less appealing to me than the first sample I saw, very few samples."
"Online turn-offs: people who tweet way too often, people who only speak and don't engage others in conversation, people who are far too self-promotey, people who share way too much of their personal lives, people who are far too neurotic (tweeting constantly about writing woes and insecurities), people who are far, far, far too negative about anything and everything, and the biggest of all: people who feel the need to insult other writers/houses/editors/agents. Oh, and also, writers who quote themselves online. Online turn-ons: people who engage in meaningful discussion (without hitting me on the head with a hammer), people who find that balance between an online persona and being who they really are, people more interested in building a community than shilling their work, people who are endlessly supportive of fellow writers (without being obnoxious about it). What I really want to learn when I research a writer online is what they're after. Did they write the book to jump on the gravy train, hoping it would be the quick path to fame and fortune? Did they write the book because they scoff at the genre they just wrote and wanted to prove anyone could do it? Or is this someone who is serious about building a writing career and not just receiving the adulation of thousands of strangers? THAT'S the writer I want to work with. Someone dedicated to their craft and not their number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers."
(On whether they have rejected someone after online research) "Not if I really, really love the book, but if an author has exhibited abrasive or unpleasant behavior online, it definitely makes me think twice about signing them. When I sign someone, I'm not just signing up the project--I'm going to have to work with the author for a long time, and I prefer not to invite a headache into my life. While a great web presence is a definite plus, I'd never turn someone down for a lackluster web presence. But if I discover combative, difficult behavior, etc, I have to decide if this person is worth the unpleasantness they'll likely bring to my life. Because people are usually consistent--ie, if they're unpleasant to some people, they'll probably be unpleasant to me too if and when any difficulties in our working relationship arise."
Hi all! My name is Jaida Temperly and I’m a Literary Assistant at New Leaf Literary & Media. This is my very first post on Pub Crawl (cue confetti), so I thought it fitting that I post about what it’s like to be a Literary Assistant. But in GIF style, of course.
A Day in the Life of a Literary Assistant…GIF Style
Every day begins with a modest cup of coffee…
..followed by checking and sending email.
(And there is a lot of email.)
There will undoubtedly be questions from clients, editors, and tv/film reps that I’m not entirely sure how to answer…
…but I’m determined to learn and find answers/solutions…
…so I go to the other agents at New Leaf Literary for advice. And ask a lot of questions.
…I read queries. Sometimes, there are queries that make me feel like this:
But every once in awhile, I find an amazing query that makes me feel like this:
…which of course is accompanied by another modest cup of coffee for that all-nighter I’ll be pulling to finish reading…
…so I can take the manuscript to my boss (Joanna Volpe) the next morning and be like:
Additional duties as a Literary Assistant include: coordinating client events, appearances, and book signings…
…running the occasional errand…
…attending publishing and networking events like a boss…
…reading client manuscripts…
…and answering more email.
There’s also New Leaf’s regular Wednesday meeting, where I catch up on all the amazing things that my coworkers are working on…
…which is not to be confused with my Friday meeting with my boss, Joanna Volpe. (She’s pretty cool. Like Dumbledore.)
Which is not to be confused with the uber-serious assistant F.A.R.T. meetings (Fabulous Assistants of the Round Table) with Danielle, Jackie, and Jess. (Acronyms are the best.)
Now, there are some days when I go home feeling like this:
But most of the time I feel like this:
because every day is a guaranteed adventure. (Yes, just like Bilbo.)
Jaida currently assists Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. Prior to joining New Leaf, Jaida Temperly moved from Wisconsin to NYC to intern at Writers House. Before that, she had a brief stint in medical school and milked cows on her family’s dairy farm. In her down time, you can find her practicing yoga, downing modest cups of coffee, and searching for the city’s secret bars and cemeteries. You can also find her on Twitter.
Literary agentStephen Barbara will move from Foundry Literary + Media to InkWell Management.
Barbara devoted six years of his career to Foundry. His start date at InkWell is scheduled for January 05, 2015.
Barbara’s full roster of 50 clients will follow him. Some of the authors that Barbara represents includes Rooms authorLauren Oliver, renowned children’s book illustrator Ricardo Cortés, and Edgar Award winner Jack Ferraiolo.
Orchard Strategies, a PR firm that reprints clients including Whole Foods, Nest Seekers International and Guggenheim, has launched a literary agency called Orchard Literary.
Lucas Hunt is serving as Director of the new agency. He comes to Orchard from the Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency where he served as a rights manager and agent at for more than seven years, working with clients including: Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke and Andre Dubus III. Christina E. Daigneault, founder of Orchard Strategies, will also work as an agent for the agency.
Clients for the new literary agency include: Betsy Helmuth, author of Big Design, Small Budget and Dr. Doni Wilson, author of The Stress Remedy. Here is more about how to be represented by the agency:
For fiction, please send a query letter that includes an introduction to the work, a brief synopsis, and author biography. A writing sample from the work may be included in the body of the email. For non-fiction, kindly provide a proposal including all of the above, along with any supplementary information about the project, including the author’s credentials for writing the book. We will respond if interested in the work.
Amazon and Hachette have been locked in a feud over eBook pricing since May 2014. Many members of the publishing community have spoken out about this situation and some have even mobilized to form the Authors United group.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the veteran literary agent shared his opinion on this dispute. For Wylie, “the issues at the heart of the conflict are both margin and price…Losing the fight over margins would be an immediate blow to the publishers’ profits, but losing control over pricing could be fatal.” Do you agree with Wylie?
Photo by Vicky Lorencen Painting by Sir James Jebusa Shannon, Metropolitan Museum of Art
I’d like to ever-so-gently suggest a best practice for agents to consider. Writer friends, see what you think of this.
In case you’re not familiar, a best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown superior results. This method can then be used to create a standard way of doing things. Best practices are identified in manufacturing, health care, agriculture and laboratory science, so why not literary representation? I mean, really, why the heck not?
I’m in the midst of my first full-on agent search and I’m experiencing a fairly new practice agents have adopted regarding query responses. In lieu a personal email or even a form rejection, agents specify the number of weeks a query will be under consideration. If no response is received in that time, the author should consider the query declined. I can understand this practice. Really, I can. Like editors, agents are incredibly busy people who need to make the most efficient use of their time. Devoting fewer hours to follow-up on queries that hold no interest equates to more time to devote to clients, networking, considering queries (and hopefully dining, showering and sleeping).
But here’s where I think this no reply practice can be refined into a best practice–I would love to see it become an industry standard to provide an automated confirmation of receipt to all email queries. Receiving this kind of response would let someone like me know, okay, the meter’s running now. She really got my query. I’ll wait six weeks per her guidelines. If there’s no reply, I’ll move on. Without such a receipt, it leaves room for nagging, festering, niggling doubt–what if she never got my email and that’s why she’s not responding. Should I check in even though she says not to? Of course, some authors do, and that just adds to the agent’s Mt. Everest of emails.
To their credit, a number of the agents I’ve queried have provided an automated response. I offer mywholehearted thanks to those agents for practicing what I hope will become a best practice.
To be fair, we writers must do our part to uphold our best practices too, such as:
Following an agent’s submission guidelines like we were assembling a nuclear warhead. No fudging on the details.
Always, always, always being polite, kind and respectful at all points of contact with an agent. Just like proper spelling and punctuation, professionalism matters.
Abiding by the agent’s follow-up rules—if he says to check in after 8 weeks, then do it. If he says no word from me in 6 weeks equals a pass, then it’s a pass. Don’t stand there fogging up the glass. Git along little dogie.
So, that’s it. That’s what I want to suggest–oh sogently–to agents. Thank you again to the best practice practitioners. You are appreciated.
And as for my writer friends, just because you’re cute as a button on a ladybug’s vest, I want to give you this. Go ahead. Open it. It’s helpful.
I wish to be cremated. One-tenth of my ashes shall be given to my agent, as written in our contract. ~ Groucho Marx