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<<August 2014>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: agents, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 756
1. Can Self-Publishing Lead to an Agent

Hear what some agents think about using a self-published book to land an agent. 


0 Comments on Can Self-Publishing Lead to an Agent as of 8/25/2014 1:09:00 PM
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2. Agent Submissions

What your submission looks like to an agent's reader. 


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3. Searching for an Agent

Don't be scammed in your eagerness to find an agent.


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4. Do You Need an Agent?

Whether or not you need an agent depends on how you see the path for your career as a writer. 


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5. New MG/YA Agent

Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary is looking for middle-grade and young adult books.


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6. Sarah Davies: Writing and Selling for a Global Marketplace

Sarah Davies is a literary agent at The Greenhouse Literary Agency.

She has deep experience in this business, both as an editor and an agent. For more than 25 years, she was a publisher in London, working with the likes of Judy Blume, Meg Cabot, and Karen Cushman. Her agency, launched in 2008, is based in both the U.S. and London. She considers both the U.S. and U.K. her domestic market, and represents writers in both places, although most clients live in the United States.

Greenhouse's affiliate Rights People is the top seller of international rights in the business. Being international is part of the agency's DNA.  

She gave us a detailed talk about the international aspects of publishing, which she finds "quite exciting." She also walked us through the anatomy of a complicated deal simultaneously struck on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some excerpts from her remarks: 

Why care about foreign sales? 

These sales mean more income for writers. The biggest contenders are Brazil, France, and Germany. Your advance can equal or exceed a U.S. advance. They can also lend prestige and profile.

"Success breeds more success," she said.

Territory is where all negotiations begin, she said. Publishers want as much exclusive territory as they can get for as little money as possible. Her agenda as an agent is different, but there are three types of territorial contracts she can make:
  • One for North American rights (usually U.S. and Canada)  - the publisher can publish in English in those two places, their dependents, and the Philippines.
  • World English language - the publisher can sell your book anywhere in the world in the English language.
  • World rights in all languages. Subsidiary rights are potentially very valuable. There are good reasons for your agent to sell them to your publisher, e.g. if your publisher has a good track record of selling your rights. These count to erode your American advance, which is good for the writer. There are also good reasons to retain those rights, and Greenhouse tries to do just this.
When a sale happens, percentages are divided. If Greenhouse sells for you, as opposed to your publisher, you will end up with a bigger percentage.
In terms of book publishing, all sales play into making your brand and your book bigger, she said. Buzz goes on internationally and nationally. And the book business is a small, interconnected world. 

A book called HALF BAD by Sally Green holds the record for foreign sales: 40 countries before it was even published.

On how books get buzz (a few of her observations):

She told us about some "shadowy figures" known as book scouts who live in NYC and London network with agents to find the hottest upcoming properties. They usually represent foreign publishers and film clients. "They are desperate for early information and hot tips," she said.

Book fairs also spread buzz—Bologna and Frankfurt (which is all books, not just children's books).

Publishers Weekly lists deals. There's a free newsletter you can subscribe. Publishers Marketplace also has a subscription service.
Follow Sarah on Twitter.

Learn more about The Greenhouse Literary Agency

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7. The Great Critique

Giving and receiving critiques on your writing is one of the most helpful and necessary parts of the process. I value my critique group beyond any other writing tools I have. They let me know what works and what doesn't, when something I thought was crystal clear is not, and when my characters are acting out of character. They offer encouragement and cheerleading.

Not only has constant critique made me a better writer, it has made me a more professional writer. When I receive notes from agents, editors, and other professionals, I am able to receive the notes with a professional calmness. I don't get defensive. I get revising.

I hope everyone who writes is able to find a group or a few trusted beta readers who can offer valuable critique, but I know that there are quite a few writers in our SCBWI region (Utah and southern Idaho) who may not even know any other writers in their community. Or perhaps they don't know how to get a group started. Or have never critiqued anyone else's work and feel inadequate.

That is why we started a region-wide event called The Great Critique. We give you the opportunity to meet with other children's writers in your area and critique away. On one day, August 9, we all meet throughout the region, helping each other become better writers (and illustrators--they get to participate as well!). During the summer, you'll receive excerpts from manuscripts by the others registered in your area. You'll read them, prepare comments, and then meet in August for live critiquing. And if you don't have a meeting close by, we offer an online location as well. This event is FREE, and we hope you take advantage of it.

In addition, if you wish to have a critique from a publishing house editor or an agent, you can register for that through our web site. And for an extra bonus, you can get a professional query critique.

You'll find all the details on our registration page. So there are no excuses. Sign up NOW. Registration is open until June 15.

by Neysa CM Jensen
your regional advisor for SCBWI
(I live in Boise, Idaho, but don't hold that against me.)

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8. All About Agents

What do agents do, and do children's writers need one? 


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9. top 10 questions to ask an agent

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You’re right. I sound presumptuous. But I want to be ready when I get “the call” from a literary agent.

Right again. The call could be a long way off. But being prepared is smart. And besides, I love list-making.

Here’s why I think this preparation is important: it’s easy to focus on what an agent may expect and need from you. But an agent/client relationship, at its best, is designed to be a true business partnership. As an equal partner, you need to think about what you want and need from an agent too. (I shall not digress into tales of wah from eager author wannabes who closed their eyes, asked no questions and became human ankle bracelets for the first agent who expressed interest. You are far to dear and sensitive for such horror stories.)

And so, here’s a list of questions for you to consider as you do your agent homework.

Disclaimer: Please think of this list as a guideline. You’ll want to customize it to suit your style and situation. That’s what I did. Some of these questions are my own, but I also adapted questions from a list used by my generous friend Kelly Barson (who found a wonderful agent!). Also, keep in mind, you may find the answers to some of these questions online (like the answer to question 6). This will give you room to ask other questions instead.

Get your question list ready. Then you’ll be ready when the agent pops the question: do you have any questions for me? (Whoa. I feel dizzy. I wrote myself into a circle there.)

1. If you work within a house, would I be considered your client or a client of the house? (In other words, if the agent moves on, are you connected to that house or will you move with him/her?)

2. Do you offer a representation contract or a verbal agreement? (Some writers might be uncomfortable with formal contracts, while others would feel too vulnerable with a verbal agreement. You need to ask for what’s best for you.)

3. You’re basing a decision to represent me on one work. What if you don’t love the next project? Do you refuse to send it out? Do you try to find it a home anyway? Do I have the latitude to branch into another genre (e.g., from MG novels to picture books)?

4. What will my working relationship with the you look like?

5. How far do you typically go editorially? Do you request in-depth rewrites? A little tweaking? None at all?

6. Are you a member of AAR? (The Association of Author Representatives member agencies agree to abide by a code of ethics.)

7. How much communication do you provide? And how will you typically provide it–email, phone, telepathy? (Some agents only talk to you when there’s a deal to discuss or if there’s a problem brewing. They leave you alone to write. Others are more hands-on determining the next project, checking in during the writing process, giving feedback, updating on submissions, etc. You need to decide how much autonomy you want or if hand holding through the initial stages is exactly what you need.)

8. Will I be dropped if my work doesn’t sell right away or are you committed, no matter how long it takes? Is there a time limit? At what point would you ask me to move on to something else (or to someone else)?

9. What are your greatest strengths as an agent? (If you’re feeling brave–ask about weaknesses too, but be prepared to answer the same question yourself!)

10. Could you describe your ideal client?


Not quite ready to begin your agent search? Here’s a fabulous opportunity to learn the fine art of revision. You’ll know how to make your work as polished as possible before you start your hunt.

Revision Retreat 2014 with Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson

In this working retreat, Harold Underdown and editor Eileen Robinson will teach proven techniques for self-editing and revising and work with writers on their manuscripts. Mornings will be dedicated to revision techniques and afternoons to model critique groups, individual meetings, and writing time.

Hurry! Spaces are limited to allow for individualized attention.

I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. ~ Harper Lee

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10. Heather Alexander Joins Pippin Properties

Heather Alexander has been hired as a literary agent at Pippin Properties, Inc. For six years, Alexander served as an editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. Some of the authors and illustrators she has worked with include Anne C. Voorhoeve, Jeanne Ryan, and Sophie Blackall. According to the agency's email announcement, Alexander "is looking for new talent from a broad range of children’s book authors and illustrators, from picture books through young adult, including graphic novels. She’s most interested in unique characters, strong voices, and quirky humor."

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. take the “am I ready for an agent?” quiz

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You’ve seen those wedding dress shows, right? A bride-to-be goes on a chiffon frenzied quest for the perfect gown while a group of her BFFs sit semi-circled in the salon, waiting to boo-hoo or just boo over her selection. Once in a while, though, the hunter is simply a bride-wanna-be who is willing to throw gobs of moola at a dress, despite her groomlessness. To me, that seems sad, desperate, and at the very least, poorly timed.

When it comes to writers in search of an agent, sometimes it’s really not that different. There’s a time to focus solely on craft, to learning about the industry, reading and networking. But, if this has not yet resulted in a solid, polished product to sell, why would you spend time looking for an agent to represent you?

Let’s say, however, maybe you’re like me, and you’ve been polishing, learning and preparing for quite a spell and you’re wondering if seeking an agent would be a wise next step.Take this quiz to help you decide if you’re agent-ready:

True or False?

____I have at least one thoroughly polished, market-ready manuscript and more in progress.

____I am an active member of a professional organization for writers, such as SCBWI, and follow industry-related blogs, tweets and newsletters to stay current.

____I have a good understanding of the inner-workings of the children’s publishing industry (e.g., the role of publishers, editors, agents, reviewers and authors, the editorial and submission process, how a manuscript becomes a published book, etc.).

____I have sold articles or stories to respected children’s magazines, such as Highlights for Children and/or perhaps even come close to selling a book to a traditional publisher on my own.

____I am actively building a platform via my own web site or blog, as well as social media.

____I am a member of a critique group and/or have a critique partner and/or have received professional critiques from agents or editors.

____I have gone from receiving unsigned form rejection letters to more of the “champagne” variety (personalized notes or letters offering a specific explanation as to why the editor chose to pass on my submission or perhaps offering constructive feedback or an invitation to submit more in the future).

____I understand the role and benefits of an agent, as well as my role as a client.

____I have compiled a list of the qualities and qualifications I am seeking in an agent.

____I have done marketing research to determine where my book fits in the current market and what makes it stand out from similar works. I can explain this in my “elevator pitch” (and I know what an elevator pitch is!)

____I am prepared and enthusiastic to shift from solo writer mode into the role of a professional with a business partner (an agent) so that I can pursue all aspects of a writing career.

____I understand agents, while amazing, do not possess supernatural powers and cannot be expected to read minds, make me stinking rich or fulfill every literary success fantasy I can conjure.

How’d you do?

If you answered with 10 or more “True” responses, consider seeking a literary agent to represent you.

If you answered with 6 to 9 “True” responses, you’re getting closer!

If you answered with 5 or fewer “True” responses, that’s okay. Keep writing, seeking feedback, and using this list as a guide to help prepare yourself to become agent material.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

All things are ready, if our mind be so. ~ William Shakespeare, Henry V

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12. Overnight Success Stories

Most of the "landing an agent in a day" stories hide the years of work leading up to them. 


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13. Getting an Agent

There are many myths associated with the process of acquiring an agent. 


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14. Editing on Spec

Should you accept an agent's revision suggestions with no promise of representation? 


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15. MB Artists Promotional Cataolg #10

Check out the great new artwork in my agent's newest promotional catalog!  All artists created pieces with a "Food" theme.  I highly recommend sitting down with a bowl of ice cream or a cup of hot chocolate while browsing!  Enjoy!


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16. the importance of living dangerously

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

I am not a risk-taker, generally speaking. I wear my seat belt, hand sanitizer and sunscreen. Brush twice a day. Eat my burgers fully cooked and avoid stepping on sidewalk cracks.

Yes, I’ve been on the back of a motorcycle (once). I floated in the gondola of a hot air balloon, sat in the front seat of a whirling helicopter, cuddled with a Burmese python, sang an original song to hundreds while wearing a helmet with horns and even walked the streets of Chicago’s north side, but those were exceptions to my usual play-it-safe life. Oh, and once, I even used a public restroom without putting one of those paper doilies on the seat first. So, yep, I guess you could say I’ve sauntered on the wild side a time or two. (I saw you roll your eyes, by the way!)

But here’s what I know: you get what you risk for (or at the very least, you up your chances exponentially).

This spring, comedian Jim Carrey addressed the graduating class of Maharishi School of Management in Iowa. In a rare moment of transparency, Carrey shared how his father had the potential to be professional comedian, but opted to become an accountant because he thought it was the safer choice. It was not. He lost his job.

“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality,” Carrey said. “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

Is there a polished manuscript that’s “circling the airport” because you’re afraid of rejection? Submit it.
Is there an agent you want to query? Do it.

Feel the fear, but do what you want to do anyway. You can do this. (And I will join you.)

A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it is built for. ~ Albert Einstein

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17. Agent Offers

What do you do after an agent says, "Yes?" 


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18. New Agent

Alexander Slater of Trident Media Group is looking for children's, middle-grade, and young adult authors.


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19. Dummy Books Part 2- Preparing the Dummy Book to Send to Publishers

Welcome to Part 2 of my series on Dummy Books!

Stay tuned for part three next week, where I will talk about researching editors and agents and sending your Dummy Book out into the world.

In case you missed it, here is where you can find part 1, where I talked about making your dummy book- perfecting the story, making the story board, drawing the sketches and taking them to final paintings. Today I am going to talk about making your dummy book into a PDF, printing it and getting it ready to send to agents and publishers.

Making your dummy book into a PDF

It's simple to make a dummy book in Adobe Indesign.

Here is a few simple steps to get you started.

In Indesign from the "File" menu, choose "New" and then "Document."

Then you can decide on a size. Make the size of the document the same size as your book will be. So for instance, if you decided your book will be 11 inches by 9 inches, make it that size. You can make your own page size by clicking on "Custom."

Set your document up to have spreads.

Once you are in the document, use the hot keys Command + D (on the Mac) or in the "File" menu click on "Place." Find your illustration file and place it on the page you would like it to go on, and move it around to center it. Continue doing this until you have filled up your entire book.

After you have placed all the illustrations where you want them to go, type in all the words where you would like them to be placed. If you have planned things out right from your storyboard to your sketches, there should be places for your text to go in each spread (see Part 1).

You can then choose "File" and then "Export" and export your file to a PDF.  

Printing Your Dummy Book

There are many options for printing your dummy book. 

You can print your book on an online printing and publishing site such DiggyPod or Blurb, along with dozens of others. Just google "print my book online."

You could also get your book printed at your local print and copy store such as Alphagraphics or FedEx Office. 

I prefer to print my own books on my printer. It looks just as nice if I use card stock so the ink doesn't bleed through. I like this option, because I may want to send my book out to more than one publisher or agent at a time, and it's the cheapest option for printing multiple books. 

I don't print the book at 100%, I just print it at a good mailable size. Then I get my book spiral bound with clear plastic covers at the local copy and mailing store. The most important thing to remember is that your dummy book should look clean and professional!

Also remember to keep your digital dummy book handy because many publishers and agents like you to send them everything via email.

Stay tuned for next week's post, Dummy Books Part 3- Sending Your Book to Agents and Publisher, where I will discuss what to put in your packages/emails to editors and agents. I will also talk about waiting, rejections and celebrations.

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20. Querypalooza Day 1




Dear Ms. Meadows and Ms. Zhang,

How can your life change and open up if you let more people in?

Seventeen-year-old Sadie Snow’s social circle consists almost entirely of emotionally distant Amber and virtual big brother Ethan. When Amber dumps her without a word, Sadie is left hurt and confused. She turns to Ethan, who has always been her rock, for support, confident that he’ll be there for her.

When Sadie’s long-time crush, pseudo-bad-boy Anderson, is kicked out of his house, Sadie’s social worker mom takes him into their home. Still reeling from the loss of her best friend, Sadie finds herself drifting towards Anderson, who, much to Sadie’s surprise, returns her affections.

As Sadie comes to grips with losing Amber, Sadie and Anderson grow closer every day, while Ethan drifts further away. Concerned about her friend, Sadie confronts Ethan and he admits a game-changing secret. Sadie must decide whether changing the terms of her romantic and platonic relationships are worth the risk of losing them.

Leaning Towards Optimism is contemporary YA. It would appeal to readers of Kasie West’s “The Distance Between Us” and Robin Constantine’s “The Promise of Amazing.” It’s complete at 69,000 words.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.





Kat Zhang        Jodi Meadows 

KAT: I think the largest issue here is the vagueness of the query. We get introduced to a number of characters, but we don’t really get a sense of action or plot. What happens? What are the stakes? What is the path of action leading to possible resolution?

JODI: I agree. We’re missing a sense of urgency and emotional attachment to the characters, which I think is one of the most important things a query needs to do: it needs to make the reader feel connected to the character so the reader cares what happens.

KAT: Yes! Also, I think we’re missing the “why” to a lot of the actions that are listed. We don’t need a lot, but I’m left wondering: Why did Amber dump her best friend? Why is Ethan drifting away? Without knowing the “why,” again, I don’t know the stakes. I assume that the “game-changing secret” is going to be a large part of the plot and stakes, but I’m left wondering what exactly the “game” is.

JODI: Yep. I think understanding the stakes would go a long way toward helping the reader grow closer to the characters. A couple other things that stood out: the rhetorical question at the beginning (I immediately started coming up with my own answer — almost never the writer’s intention, I think) — and the “virtual big brother” which sounded very 1984 and creepy, though I don’t think it was supposed to be. So while this query has a good format — inciting event, game-changing, and characters doing things — I’d like to see it pushed a little further: more focus, attention to alternate meanings for various details, and — like you said — a clearer picture of what is at stake, exactly.

So, there are our thoughts! What do you guys think about this query?

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21. Querypalooza Day 2





Dear Agent X,

I would like to offer my completed 87,000 word YA manuscript for consideration.

CURE MY SOUL is a dystopian novel with never-before-seen paranormal elements. The story explores both what is means to discover who you truly are, and what it means to be human in light of the question: “What if the cost of saving mankind is its humanity?”

“For years, mankind has shunned the supernatural – but now they may be our only hope.

In the near future, the Old World has fallen to disease and only the Soulless have survived. In an effort to protect mankind, every seventeen-year-old human within the walls of the City– the futuristic version of NYC – is required to be de-souled and turned into one of these supernatural creatures. The process is simple: you live or you die.

Or, in one boy’s case, forget.

He is Luka Obbeck. The blank slate. Free from memories and emotions, which mean certain death for any human in the De-Souling Room, Luka is the poster boy for the Regime’s campaign. Their most prized possession – and most powerful weapon.

Until he is taken from them.

She is Clace Silver. The rebel human born in the secret society of the Underground. The girl who managed to kidnap the government’s most loved celebrity, and who dreams of only two things. One –being free. Two – saving her brother from the Regime.

As their worlds collide, both have reasons of their own to unravel the secrets and intentions of the Regime and the rebels. But when the battle lines are drawn, they must choose a side to stand on – or get caught in the crossfire…

The truth can burn down a city.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,



Kat Zhang        Jodi Meadows 

JODI: While there are some really cool elements to this story, I always do a little eyebrow raise whenever someone says something is completely new. Sometimes I have seen certain elements before, and it makes me question whether the author has read widely enough. It’s almost never safe to make that kind of sweeping claim.

KAT: Yes, I agree with that. Even if you do have something that hasn’t been done before, it’s probably not a good claim to make. I also think that we need more concrete details here. Ideas like “discovering who you really are” and “what it means to be human” are pretty vague and apply to many, many stories. I’d focus more words on what makes your story unique. What exactly are the Soulless, for example? Are they humanoid? Are they like ghosts? Are they just people with emotions removed? You say “supernatural,” but does that mean they have special powers? What kind? What is the Regime? Is it run by humans or Soulless?

JODI: Agreed. And while there are some vague bits here, we also have a few too many disconnected details, like the “De-Souling Room” and the “Regime” — things I can’t quite figure out from this description. I think the details in the query need to be chosen with a bit more care, and remembering that the reader has no idea what is happening in this story beyond what we’re told in the query. We rely on it 100% to get the ideas across to us. I also don’t think it would hurt this query to adhere to a slightly more formal and recognized format without quotes from the story. When queries diverge from the standard format, they can get pretty confusing, especially when you’re reading several in a row.

KAT: I am getting a cool vibe from the story, with like a dark, almost noir feel to it. Very “Dark City” (the movie) kind of tone :) I think it would be very intriguing, but right now, the story isn’t entirely coming across.

What about you guys? What do you think?

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22. Querypalooza Day 3





Seventeen-year-old Serendipity Tanner has given up on the past—but she hasn’t gotten over it.

Three years ago, when her ex-dad’s disappearance launched her into a nuclear blowout with society, Seri divorced her dreams of composing music for a shot at Harvard-bound success. Yet there’s always been a part of her that won’t let go of what could have been, and this summer, her best friend Charles is determined to restore that faith in the past.

But just when Seri’s starting to heal, an unexpected tragedy catapults her back into the great unknown. Scared and alone, she falls back on someone who’s been there all along: a boy called The Boy, her not fathomable, kind of gorgeous, definitely angry-at-life tutee at Mott’s Alternative School for Troubled Teens. And when she uncovers his terrible secret, she faces a whole new dilemma: coming to terms with the astronomical insignificance of everything that mattered before.

Complete at 73,000 words, THE THEORY OF THE METAPHORICAL GUTTER is the story of a girl whose summer begins and ends with the same five hundred glow-in-the-dark stars, the beautiful and catastrophic business of what transpires in between, and the theory that explains it all.



Kat Zhang        Jodi Meadows 

KAT: There are some critical elements to each query, and I think some of them are missing here. We need a salutation of some sort (Dear Mr/Ms. Agent Name), and possibly a reason you’ve chosen to query them (I see you enjoy YA fantasies about witches…). Also, although a word count is provided, which is great, we don’t know either the genre or the intended age group. Is this YA contemporary? Adult magical realism? I’m not sure.

JODI: Yep. We need to know those things in order to know whether the book is even something the agent represents! I’m also curious what this “unexpected tragedy” is, followed by a “terrible secret.” There’s some vagueness going on in here, and while specifics might be too much detail, I’d like to know the basics. What is the tragedy? A car crash? Spontaneous human combustion? I feel like we’re missing a lot of the key details of this story. They’ve all been replaced with big but vague phrases like “unexpected tragedy.”

KAT: There are some really great, strong lines in this query that make me think the story itself will have lovely language. The title is fantastic, too. I get the feeling that this story is much more about the characters and their growth than anything else, and that’s perfectly fine. But like Jodi said, I think we need to know more about these mysterious events. I totally understand the urge to “not spoil” anything, but you have to throw us a bone! :)

What do you guys think?

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23. Querypalooza Day 4





Dear [Agent Name],

[Reasons for query]. As such, I thought you might enjoy my 95,000 word young adult novel SHATTERHEART.

After fiendish Greyskins destroy her coastal village, Lacey Gracen flees the burning ruins of her home with only an outdated gun for protection and not a coin to her name.

She hopes to find safety at the prestigious Cloudbourne Academy, where she can hone her magic and gunmanship so that she will never again be a victim. Once exclusive to the winged avi race, Cloudbourne now admits humans like Lacey, and she finds friends among its avi and human students alike. But her dreams of escaping the Greyskins vanish when the monsters spread through the country. As refugees flee westward, bringing with them stories of ragged monsters wielding corrosive dark magic, Cloudbourne’s headmistress seeks Lacey’s knowledge of the Greyskins.

When the headmistress refuses to believe the Greyskins are corrupted avi, Lacey finds true allies elsewhere. Gruff avi Commander Morse is the military mind she’s been searching for, and her new friends—the witty mech Fin and the charming avi Bradyn—will do anything to save Alta. After discovering the Greyskins are the work of a mech—a human who creates technology with magic—they must track down the monsters’ creator before he murders more avi.

Lacey must travel across the country, running from Greyskins all the while, with only her friends at her side. However, worse than facing hordes of Greyskins is where her path leads: through the remains of her ruined village—a nightmare she never wanted to face again. But if she does not brave the horrors of her past, the Greyskins will overrun country, plunging it forever into ruin.

SHATTERHEART is a standalone fantasy novel that blends magic with technology. I believe it will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING or Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE.

Thank you for your time.





Kat Zhang        Jodi Meadows 

KAT: My first feeling after reading this query is that I’m a little overwhelmed. I completely understand the difficulty of writing a query for a fantasy, in which there are so many new things, and terms, and a whole new world to describe in so little room. However, I think less is more in many cases. Figure out what is most unique and important about your world and talk about that. Otherwise, just focus on the usual query structure: character, stakes, plot.

JODI: One of the biggest challenges of writing and querying fantasy is giving the reader a feel for the basic worldbuilding without throwing too much at them. It’s a fine balance between too much and not enough, and this is a case of too much, I think. One trick I’ve found useful for writing fantasy queries is to give it to someone who hasn’t read the book and see if they can figure out what’s going on in just one read. (Because often that’s all a query will get from an agent.) There’s a lot in here that could be interesting, but right now I’m mostly confused.

KAT: I think it really all goes back to something we’ve mentioned a few times this week: stakes. For example, there’s the line that says: “When the headmistress refuses to believe the Greyskins are corrupted avi, Lacey finds true allies elsewhere.” Since I’m still not clear as to what avi are, or what their relationship with humans are, I can’t fully appreciate this reveal that Greyskins are corrupted avi. I really like the concepts put forth in this query, though. I’ve always been a fan of mixing technology with magic!

What are your feelings on this one?

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24. Dummy Books Part 3- Sending the Dummy Book to Agents and Publishers

Welcome to Part Three of my Dummy Book Series! 

If you missed it:

Today in Part 3, I will talk about what to submit to Editors and Agents, sending your dummy book out into the world, waiting, dealing with rejections and celebrating successes.

What to Put in Your Package for Editors and Agents

What to put in your package may vary from publisher to publisher. Many editors and agents want you to send everything via email, and others want you to send everything via snail mail. 

How will you know what each Publisher or Agency wants? 

Research Publishers and Agents

You can find a list of Publisher who are accepting unsolicited manuscripts, and Literary Agents in either the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market book or in The Book, a publication that is only available to SCBWI members. There are not very many publishers who are accepting unsolicited (unagented) manuscripts anymore, so if you plan to write and illustrate a lot of your own books, it may be better to find an literary agent first.

When looking for a publisher or agent, always go look at their website. Make sure your work will be a good fit with their agency.

 I found that many of the agents listed didn't even have a website. A good agency will have a nice website and be involved in social media. It is an essential part of being successful in this business nowadays.


In my own recent search for a literary agent, I sent my dummy book and illustration samples to several agents. I was rejected by a few, and others never answered my queries at all. It was not until I got a referral from another author-illustrator that I was successful in finding and landing my current agent. 

This also happened nine years ago when I was looking for my (former) art rep. I was able to connect with my art rep through another art rep's referral. Remember, this is not always the case, but if you are able to network with someone, there may be a better chance of an agent looking at your work.

An Important Reminder For All of Us

Let me pause for a moment to remind you of something very important to remember. The process and timing of finding an agent or a publisher is going to be different for each of us. It may be a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

The process of being successful as an illustrator may take years, or it might happen right away. But more often than not, it will take time.  I have been working in the industry for nine years and I have still never illustrated a trade book, whereas I know other artists who successfully jumped right away into the trade industry. But those cases are rare. It more often takes more time and perseverance to be successful. Remember to be patient.

Submission Guidelines

After finding a good list of Publishers or Agents, and you've checked their website to make sure your work is a good fit, find their submission guidelines. They are usually pretty easy to find on each website. Read the submission guidelines carefully. Everyone wants you to send slightly different things in the email, or include different things in your cover letter.

When Sending a Manuscript Package in the Mail

When I am sending a package in the mail, along with a letter and a printed dummy book, I like to include a business card and a couple of nicely printed post cards. I get my post cards printed at gotprint.com. They do a very nice job, and they come highly recommended!

Just make sure everything looks clean and professional. If you send extras, only send a couple. Don't overwhelm the editor!

Cover Letters

Research how to write a query or cover letter. There are many online resources available. Here is an article that I found helpful: Writing a Cover Letter

When you are submitting a picture book that is both written and illustrated by you, the story and pictures can do most of the talking. So in other words, keep your letter brief.

Remember to be courteous and professional. Make sure you proofread your query letter carefully.

Many publishers and agents like to know if you are submitting to other publisher or agencies at the same time, so make sure to tell them if it is a simultaneous submission.

Sending Your Work Out Into the World and Waiting...

Respect the publishers or agents space. Remember they get hundreds of submissions every month (or maybe even every week), so give them time and space, and don't bother them.

After you hand your package over to the post office worker, or click the send button on the email, you are going to be doing a lot of waiting.

In the mean time, start another personal project. Keep working on your craft and doing what you love to do instead of focusing on the waiting. Sometimes, it may take a long time to hear back from anyone. And sometimes you may never hear back at all. Just keep doing what you love to do and focus on things that are going well.

Dealing with Rejections

When you get a personal reject, remember that is a good sign that your work is getting close to being a success.

There may be a good reason for a rejection. For example, I got a few rejections from agents. In the rejections the agents said I had a good story, and my artwork was great, but the story wasn't right for them. I was happy for their rejections, because I didn't wanted to be agented by someone who wasn't absolutely thrilled by my story, style of writing and artwork.

Try to take time to do something fun to celebrate your rejections. There was one week where I got three rejections in one week. I got really down and depressed and started thinking destructive things about my artwork and career. A better thing for me to do would have been to go on a fun family outing to celebrate the fact that I am actually being brave and getting my work out there.
Rejections are just part of the process, so think of ways you can celebrate what you are doing instead of focusing on the negative.

Just remember that if you are working on your craft all the time- learning how to be a better illustrator and a better writer, taking good critiques to heart and improving, if you are persistent and you are working every day for that dream, you will be successful.

Remember it takes time. Don't forget the many famous people in history who took years to be successful. Take hope from their stories, and don't give up!

Celebrating Successes

Don't forget to celebrate all your successes along the way- big or little, whether it be a break though in your writing or drawing, signing on with a new agent, or having your manuscript accepted by a publisher. Tell a friend, buy yourself an new art book, or go out for ice cream with your family!

Remember to look back at where you were 10 years ago, and see the progress you've made. 

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25. Querypalooza Day 5 & Sum-up!





Dear X:

Seventeen-year-old Adriana didn’t always resent her dad. There was a time when he was fun and attentive and around. But years of working for the CIA have changed him, and not for the better. Over the years, his arbitrary rules, half-truths, and prolonged absences have taken a toll on their relationship.

Then she finds out that his identity has been compromised and his life is at stake. Criminals he put behind bars years ago want him dead, and put a three million dollar bounty on his head to make sure it happens. His rules, absences—a lot of things—make more sense now, and his sacrifices seem more real than ever. But soon he announces he has to flee, and he’s not coming back anytime soon. On top of everything else, the CIA is trying to frame him for laundering money for the same criminals who want him dead now. Adriana can’t stand the idea of never seeing her dad again, so when she comes across files that tell her where he might have gone, she decides to take off across Europe to find him. If she doesn’t get to her dad before the criminals, or the CIA, do, she risks losing him forever, just when she was starting to understand him. But what if she’s wrong about him? What if he was a double agent?

HOW TO CATCH A SPY is a young adult thriller with a romantic subplot that will get readers hearts racing almost as much as the adventure scenes do. It is complete at 54,000 words.

I’m an editor and freelance writer. In 2007, I published an anthology of essays with Speck Press titled GENERATION WHAT? DISPATCHES FROM THE QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS. I have also contributed freelance articles for several publications, including The Boulder Weekly and The Westword. I’m attending Antioch University’s low-residency MFA program. Thank you in advance for considering my manuscript.




Kat Zhang        Jodi Meadows 

JODI: The first line of this query immediately drew me in. She didn’t always resent her dad, and the implied “but now she does” really made me sit up and wonder what changed. Just in the first paragraph, there are some perfect, telling details about what it would be like for someone’s dad to work for the CIA. Frustrating. Lonely. And then we bring on the inciting event, full of scary.

KAT: I love the concept behind this, and I think it’s well-presented to the reader. We get the stakes early on, and although we don’t get a lot of details about Adriana’s plan to find him, we can see how it’ll be an exciting chase with her father at one end and the pursuing criminals at the other. I’m not entirely sure the bit about the romantic subplot needs to be there. Or maybe we need to hear more about the actual love interest, since he’s not brought up at all in the query.

JODI: Yeah, I think so. The line about a romantic subplot came as sort of a surprise, since the love interest wasn’t mentioned at all in the description of the story. So either the line can be cut, or we need to see someone romantical appearing partway through — without distracting from the really cool part of this story, which is Adriana chasing her dad.

What do you think?

And that’s our QUERYPALOOZA week! Did you all like this? Was it educational? We hope it was, because we had a ton of fun looking at all the great queries you guys sent.

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