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I’ve been on a roll with some really good reader questions lately. As a reminder to anyone out there who may be new to the blog, I do open myself up to general inquiries about writing and publishing via email. Sometimes these exchanges end up on the blog, sometimes they’re between you and me. Information on how to reach me is available in the sidebar. I regret that I can’t answer very specific questions or review work…that’s reserved for my freelance editorial clients. But questions Kate’s, below, are more than welcome!
What are your feelings about submitting an excerpt from an as-yet unrepresented novel for publication in a literary magazine? My concern is that on the off-chance that the excerpt would be published I would thereby render the whole novel unsellable to a publisher. In my case I’ve rewritten the submission to make it work better as an excerpt, but I’m not sure if there’s enough difference between it and the version in the manuscript, or whether that even matters. Thanks!
This is a great question, and one I see from time to time. I didn’t find out the exact circumstances until later, and it turns out I was right. Because I imagined a few things about Kate’s situation that would lead her down this path of reasoning. First, Kate is frustrated by a novel that’s not getting picked up. She later reported submitting to agents for quite some time and not getting where she wants to go. Second, she has likely started thinking…Well, what else can I do with this thing? Is there a shortcut to getting to getting noticed? Hence the literary magazine idea. And it’s not a bad idea, in theory. But would I recommend it? This was my response. Read on:
Good question. I’ll answer, but start my answer with another (blunt) question: Why? What’s the point? If you want to get a novel published, it is very, very, very unlikely that you’re going to get there by publishing something in a literary magazine from it that an agent will see or that will otherwise draw attention to your efforts. That’s a very circuitous route. And getting published in a literary magazine involves learning about good literary magazines to submit to, submitting to them, getting immersed in that, etc. If your big goal is to get a novel published, your energy is much better used focusing on the DIRECT route: writing a kickass novel and getting immersed in the novel/agent submission process.
While, yes, writing credits are kinda sorta important to collect when you’re trying to make your name as a writer*, they are not the determining factor. And literary agents and literary magazine people don’t spin in the same worlds some of the time. You’d think they would be connected, and some definitely are, but agents have so much to read that when a literary magazine lands on their desks, on top of everything else, it may or may not get attention. For me, even if someone is published in The Paris Review, one of the most noteworthy journals and pretty impossible to get into, if I hate the novel they’re submitting, the credit is impressive, but meaningless to me because, as an agent, I am looking to sell you as a novelist, not a literary magazine writer. So, you could be doing all that UNRELATED work for very dubious payoff. If the journals even want you.
The thing is, lit mag demand for unpublished novel excerpts is quite low compared to standalone articles, short stories, and poems. They’d rather publish those because they’re more satisfying for the reader, rather than some random piece of something that, who knows, nobody may ever hear from again. Unless they’re inspired to contract you for a serial series, I wouldn’t imagine that this type of piece is hot property. And if they do, you may have more problems publishing it eventually because more will have appeared in print.
So the print rights issue is certainly one to consider, and some publishers might be jerks about it, saying that since you’ve already exploited some rights by putting the excerpt in print, the property is less attractive, etc. It has happened. But that’s honestly not why I’d reconsider this idea. Finally, what about when you revise your manuscript, as you’re bound to do, because you wake up one day and realize the piece you’ve been missing? It happens all the time. And then you have this excerpt floating around that’s now horribly broken, in your eyes. And that’s your “sales piece” that’s now immortalized in print.
I know that you are probably very eager to do something, anything to move your chances forward. Think of taking the more direct path. Write the best manuscript you can. Write a killer query. Research agents. If you really have enough free time to also research literary journals, more power to you. But to me, that’s not going to be your strongest potential path to success.
- I know many of you are going to find this statement interesting. I will cover clips and writing credits in a subsequent post!
A fellow writer recently posed this question to me: Is my mss ready to submit?
THE AGONY OF DECIDING
The short answer is, you don’t know. You can only send it out and see what response you get. That’s agony. You want to be accepted and published, but no one can guarantee that. The simple fact is that manuscripts that sit on a hard drive somewhere will not sell. Even if I said your book is “perfect,” it may not sell. You must test the market and learn from every submission.
Here are things to consider as you decide on submission:
Have you done the best job that you know how to do right now? The best you can do at any give time is the best you can do. Don’t send out your weakest effort. But if you’ve worked hard on the story and it’s the best you know to do, then send it. Hope for a sale, but rejoice if you get any feedback at all. That’s what you want: useful feedback. Sometimes a casual comment will trigger a huge change in a story.
Trust your instincts. Too often writers spend years in revision. One attitude the indie revolution has built is that you should trust your instincts, write fast (because time IS money), and get books out. It’s something that traditionally published writers can learn from. You’re a storyteller: trust your instincts.
Do a couple trial submissions. Nothing says that you must send the story first to a hundred agents or editors. Even agents do trial submissions. They’ll often send to a limited number of editors and see what feedback they get. Granted, they GET feedback and you may not. Based on editorial response, the agent may ask a client to revise, or they may do a wider or a different submission strategy.
Consider individual preferences. In other words, your audience in submitting is an individual editor, one by one. One editor said it’s like this. If he likes pullover sweaters–a personal preference–and you sent him the most luxurious button-up sweater ever made, he still wouldn’t buy it because he only likes pullovers. The key, then, is to find the right agent/editor. The only way to do that is to follow likely candidates on Twitter, FB, etc. and see how the conversations go. Then–heck, just submit! You can always revise and resubmit a year later to the same editor, if needed. Go to conferences and get feedback from critiques there.
In the end, I write for an audience. I want to put my book in the hands of the RIGHT readers, whether that’s a kid from Wisconsin, or an editor or agent in New York City. In the end, at some point, you must submit. Or face the fact that you’ll never be published. It’s a painful truth, a painful process. But it’s part of the game. Submit! Today!
By: Chloe Baldwin,
Blog: Illustration Friday Blog
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Post by Chloe
Nick Bear is a professional artist with a passion for illustration. His style is bold, colourful and often full of character and humour. This has made him popular among game production companies and his illustrations have featured in some of the world’s most popular games such as Plants vs Zombies 2 and Bejeweled Blitz. If you would like to see more of Nick Bear’s graphic illustrations, please visit his portfolio.
By: Thomas James,
Blog: Illustration Friday Blog
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Hello Illustration Friday friends!
As part of our ongoing efforts to celebrate all the fine folks who help to keep you inspired and keep the IF fires burning, we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of our key contributors, Chloe Baldwin!
Chloe is a freelance illustrator and designer who makes up one half of the collective, Buttercrumble. She is currently studying a degree in Graphic and Communication Design at The University of Leeds. When she is not drawing, she can be found baking or trawling vintage shops and loves all things quirky and sweet. Her work is inspired by mid-century design, folk art and anything cute.
Chloe also happens to be an Illustration Friday Editor, helping to curate our blog with a steady stream creative inspiration.
A few of Chloe’s recent posts:
Illustrator Clare Owen
Illustrator Submission :: Lizzy Stewart
Illustration Alice Pattullo
By: Thomas James,
Blog: Illustration Friday Blog
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If you’ve ever wanted to work for Disney, well head on over to this “official website for Disney Television Animation talent and recruitment”. You can use it to view and even apply for a variety of artistic and production-related projects.
Visit the Disney Recruitment site here >>
One mistaken assumption that I've noticed some newbie writers making: Sending out their writing too soon, assuming that the editor who buys their short story (or novel, etc.) is going to be helping them polish the piece anyway.
DO NOT DO THIS.
Never, ever send an mss out just after you've finished it. Put it away for a few days (a few weeks at least, for a novel). That way you'll be able to reread more objectively, without the rosy glow of "omigosh this is brilliant just wait until publishers see this."
I'm a foodie, so often think in terms of food analogies. In this case, it would be sort of like a first-time restauranteur opening before they've perfected their dishes. Turn off the restaurant critics early on, and you make it tougher for yourself longterm.
If you're a new picture book writer, this is even MORE vital. Why? Because I've noticed that many non-pb writers assume that writing a picture book is easy because there are fewer words, that it's something they can do on the side for extra money while they work on their "real" books.
Vaguely related side note:
Others may differ, but I also advise NOT giving it to your critique group to read too soon. Why? Because there is a real value in getting feedback from someone who is reading the piece for the first time. Yes, there's a value in getting feedback for a rough version so you can polish it before sending it out to an editor. Be aware, however, that after the first critique, your crit partners will likely be giving feedback on your revisions rather than an overall first-time impression.
Respect your readers, before and after publication.
STATUS: The usual. I slammed every day as we wind down to the agency closing on December 14, 2012.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR by Mikey Wax
On the last day of December, my true inbox sent to me:
12 Eggnog Chai's a-drinking
11 queries reading
10 royalty statement reviewing
9 checks depositing
8 Foreign deals a-doing
7 Payments a-processing
6 full manuscripts left a-reading
5 contracts done
4 calling clients
3 client fulls
2 pecan sandies
And a Party in the New Year!
A heads up if you aren't on our newsletter circulation or on FB, Nelson Literary Agency is now closed to queries for the holidays. We wanted to make sure we finished reading every query, every submitted sample page, and all the remaining full manuscripts in our queue.
To do that, we closed queries on Monday, December 3. Anything incoming will now get our auto-respond email.
But never fear, we'll be back in full form starting on January 2 2013. We'd be happy to read your query then.
By: Kristin Nelson,
Blog: Pub Rants
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STATUS: Working though 245 emails in the inbox. You can't hide from me!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DON'T STOP by Foster The People
An yet, writers always have some confusion on what is the difference between a pitch and a query. Seems like a good topic to tackle (as I can already see a myriad list of sub-questions within this topic).
Let's start with the basics.
A query is a professional business letter that introduces your work to an agent or editor. These days, this letter is sent by email rather than snail mail. In the query letter, you will have something called a pitch paragraph. The query letter will also contain an introduction and the author's bio or credentials. It will be one-page long.
A pitch is the verbal delivery of the main pitch paragraph from your query letter. In other words, you need to have a quick way to sum up the opening plot catalyst of your novel in a sentence or two while talking to someone. That way your audience gets a clear and immediate gist of what your novel is about.
Here's a great example from a novel I just sold by David Ramirez called MINCEMEAT. It's a good example because in this instance, I actually did something unique. I pulled out the pitch from the main pitch paragraph. I don't always do that but I did so in this instance. Also, when I was in New York in May, I verbally PITCHED this work to editors using the one sentence pitch highlighted in pink.
Here's my submit letter to editors--which in essence is the agent's QUERY letter to editors (to draw a comparison to what writers are doing when they approach agents):
It's pretty rare that I send an email about a manuscript submission that I can sum up in a one sentence pitch. Trust me, I tend to be wordier than that!
But here it is:
All that is left of humanity is on a thousand-year journey to a new home aboard one ship, The Noah, and this ship is carrying a dangerous serial killer.
Intrigued? I hope so. At its heart, the concept for this SF novel MINCEMEAT by David Ramirez is quite simple but what unfolds is layer after layer of complexity.
Since most editors prefer I don't leave it at one sentence, here's a little bit more about the manuscript:
Priss Dempsey is a City Planning Administrator on the Noah, a vessel carrying the last survivors of Earth on a thousand-year journey to a new home. She is equal parts psychic, economist, hacker and bureaucrat, a vital part of the mission, but her life seems to lose purpose after she experiences Breeding Duty. Kept asleep through the impregnation and birthing that all women are obligated to undergo, she still feels a lost connection to the child she will never be permitted to know.
Policeman Leonard Barrens approaches her with a request for hacking support in the unofficial investigation of his mentor's violent death. Only Barrens knows that a crime has been committed because he came across the mutilated remains before Information Security could cover it up. To everyone else, the missing man was merely "Retired," nothing unusual.
Their investigation takes them through the lost dataspaces in the Nth Web and deep into the uninhabited regions of the ship, where they discover that the answer may not be as simple as a Mincemeat Killer after all. And what they do with that answer will determine the fate of all humanity.
STATUS: From the blog silence, you can imagine how hectic this trip as been. Meetings all day. Catching up on emails in the evening, and you have to fit a little bit of fun in there too!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CALL ME MAYBE by Carly Rae Jepsen
I've been in New York for the past 3 weeks doing meetings with a lot of different editors at all the different houses. I started off with the editors who acquire young adult and middle grade.
Of course I ask, "What have you been seeing lately?"
Imagine my surprise when no less than three editors (all from different houses) responded with, "crap."
At first, I wasn't quite certain how to reply. That wasn't exactly the answer I was expecting! I opted for, "would you care to define 'crap.'
And they did. They mentioned recently that they've seen a whole slew of submissions that weren't really ready for an editor to see. By the way, these were submissions from agents.
I asked why they thought that was so. I got three main reasons:
1) They were seeing hot genre stuff, such as dystopian, that they felt like the agents were not vetting as thoroughly as they should.
In other words, in any hot genre, the market gets crowded yet those submitting hope that because the genre is hot, it will sell.
2) There were some agents submitting young adult projects that don't traditionally rep it and to be blunt, it's different than repping fiction in the adult realm.
3) A lot of submissions could have benefited from a solid edit and revision before submitting. In other words, they were not in strong shape even if the concept or idea was solid.
Some agents don't edit before submitting. Some do.
So interesting. I'm definitely looking to avoid submitting crap.
I think I can do that!
STATUS: Another Gorgeous day! Repeat yesterday's status.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LADY IN RED by Chris de Burgh
Or maybe you didn't but are a glutton for punishment anyway. I'm doing my very popular Agent Reads The Slush Pile as an online Webinar coming up on May 2, 2012 6-8 pm MST.
If you can't make it to Denver for the LitFest version of this webinar put on by Lighthouse Writers (where the price is not to be believed but the travel to get there might be rough!), here's your chance to finally experience it for yourself.
Have you ever wondered how an agent reads the fiction submission slush pile? What an agent is thinking during the first opening pages? What makes an agent stop and what makes an agent read on?
If you have ever wished to be a fly on the wall during that process, this workshop is your chance to get the inside scoop without metamorphosing.
Literary Agent Kristin Nelson will read the first 2 pages of any submission, the “slush pile”, and give honest feedback as to why she would or would not read on for the sample pages in front of her.
A couple of things before you click on that button:
1) This webinar is not for the faint of heart. It's brutal. Now trust me, I will be as helpful and honest as possible. This is not to ridicule writers. But don't kid yourself, it will be tough. If you are feeling fragile or that feedback might crush your writer dream, now is not the time for this workshop. If you are tough as nails, just about to submit, want an immediate honest response, then this might be worth doing.
2) It needs to be the actual, opening first 2 pages of your manuscript. If you have a prologue, skip it and grab page 1 and 2 from your chapter one.
3) We can't promise to read every single entry but we are definitely going to try. If I only have a few left over, I'll respond on the sample pages and we can send to those writers privately. Right now, I know we can get through them all.
4) You can "audit" the class. Sign up to be there and listen in but you don't send on the 2 pages. This is for those who are curious about it but not ready to have sample pages read.
If you've ever wondered how an agent could make a decision so fast on whether to read on or not or to ask for pages, this webinar will definitely answer that question!
STATUS: Another phone conference in 20 minutes! Must blog quickly.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOWDOWN by Boz Scaggs
Blog readers, have I got special treat for you today. If you ever wondered what the editor rejections looked like for a book that has shown every sign of coming out of the gate wildly popular, well today is your lucky day.
Today is the official release day for Kristen Callihan's FIRELIGHT.
I've blogged before about the fact that I almost could not sell this book. And today, Kristen has given me special permission to share her rejections.
But let me preface this.
This debut novel has received two starred reviews (Publishers Weekly and Library Journal) and top pick at any number of romance sites, too many to list here.
When we sent the novel out to already established and successful authors to read with an eye for a possible blurb, we had our fingers crossed that maybe we'd get one or two responses.
Every author on our list read and blurbed it:
"Callihan has a great talent for sexual tension and jaw-dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end.”
—Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of Outlander
"A sizzling paranormal with dark history and explosive magic! Callihan is an impressive new talent." —Larissa Ione, New York Times bestselling author of Immortal Rider
"Evocative and deeply romantic, Firelight is a beautiful debut. I was fascinated from the first page." —Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author of the Guild Hunter Series
“Passionate and sizzling, beautifully written and dark. This unique paranormal twist on the beauty and the beast tale rocks!”
—Elizabeth Amber, author of Bastian The Lords of Satyr
"Kristen Callihan delivers a dark, lush offering to fans of gothic and paranormal romance. With a deliciously tortured hero, an inventive supernatural mystery, and slow-building heat that simmers on each page, Firelight is a sexy, resplendent debut. I can't wait to see what Kristen Callihan comes up with next!"
—Meljean Brook, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Duke
"This book has everything: sword fights, magic, despair, a heroine with secret strengths, a hero with hidden vulnerability, and best of all, a true love that's hot enough to burn the pages. I couldn't stop reading. This book is utterly phenomenal."
—Courtney Milan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Unraveled
STATUS: If I hear that "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas" song one more time...
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? ANOTHER YEAR HAS GONE BY by Celine Dion
Traditionally, December is the month where publishing starts to quiet down as editors get ready to be away for the holidays. Kind of like how August tends to be an unofficial slow down period that then picks up after Labor Day.
If it's true this December, I certainly can't tell yet. We close next week but we are working like there is no holiday around the corner. Sara just wrapped up a deal earlier in the week. I'm announcing on Pub Lunch a deal I closed recently. I'm in the middle of two other negotiations--one of which was out of the blue from a publisher who couldn't offer earlier in the year but now is.
And lots of agents are obviously hard at work during this month as some fulls we've requested have gotten offers of representation--literally only days after receiving the actual manuscript.
So I would say it's kind of like business as usual and probably will be right up until we close a week from tomorrow.
By: Faith Pray
Blog: SACRED DIRT
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Sinkers and Floaters.
This summer we made an entire fleet
of homemade boats.
We wanted to see which would be the most seaworthy.
If you're an artist or writer, you may be able to relate.
How do you view what you've made -
or tiny pieces of your soul?
Too often as a writer,
I send out tiny pieces of my soul I like to call
My manuscript souls wobble out into the blue -
some of them proud and brave,
others nervously checking their rigging,
desperate to sail smooth waters.
But when those manuscript soul pieces,
(dare I call them horocruxes?)
hit bad seas
Okay so, this is going to be a short blog series on literary agents.
Agents. You gotta love em'. They work hard for their clients, they're dedicated, and if you're lucky enough to find the right one, the relationship can be life-long and prosperous. Hopefully not in the Vulcan sense, but more in the cuddly and oh-so-friendly, "I love my agent, and my agent loves me," sense.
That said, this author has a few pet peeves regarding agents, which I have little doubt most authors seeking an agent share to the core. So, let's get started, shall we?
THOSE AGENTS WHO DON'T REPLY: I understand why agents can't respond to all queries. I truly get it. They're busy with their own clients as it is; and what self-respecting author would want their agent more vested in acquiring new clients, than working with the ones they already have. What I don't get is why so many don't take a moment of their time to add a tiny bit of much-needed information to their websites about how long we should wait before realizing agents we've queried (who fall into this no-reply pit) are not interested. I mean, come on. Really? If I were an agent, I would return the respect I ask for. The easiest way to do this is to simply add the following bit of disclosure to the submission guidelines: Unfortunately, do to the volume of submissions we receive, it is not possible to reply to all queries. Therefore, if you have not heard back from us within (so and so) weeks, please assume we are passing on the project.
Now how hard was that? I'm not an agent, and I did it in, what...five seconds?
Ah, but you see, this only works if agents actually take it one teensy step further, by setting up an automated response to acknowledge that queries have been received on their end. Truly, one is useless without the other. If the website claims no response after a certain period of time, then what good does it do us if we don't even know for sure that our emailed submission was ever received? You know, there is this occurrence called "LOST IN TRANSIT". You see, with all the spam filters we're forced to activate to keep out those unscrupulous spiders who prey on our inboxes like savage soul-sucking vampires, when dealing with email, things sometimes get tossed around like unwitting passengers on a chicken-bus riding along on a dirt path-like road in some third-world country that has yet to discover the benefits of gravel.
So, for any agents who might come upon this blog, please, consider the amount of time and hope that goes into researching you and your fellow agents in order to weed out the one that will hopefully find our novels good and loving homes. Consider it from this side of the fence, where we, authors with aspirations of seeing our work out there, stand with our faces pressed to the proverbial glass, desperate to get our foot in the door of a world in which our dreams are rooted. All we ask is that you pass along a little more information.....
Part 2 of my pet peeves about literary agents takes us into the pit of vagueness.
THE SECRETS THEY KEEP: Okay, this particular aspect of agency websites is something that has plagued many authors, including myself. Those agencies that, on their sections about the agents themselves, is so vague sometimes. Be specific, please. Rare is it when an author comes upon an agency website or page about an agent and finds detailed information about what exactly said agents are actually looking to represent (and fine, we can assume that if genre is not mentioned, they don't want it, but would a little clarity do us all some good from time to time?). For instance, they may claim to be seeking, say, YA or middle-grade fiction, but not whether that includes genre fiction. And you can't even always go by what they currently represent because I've often read (from agents themselves), that they're open to anything, or that sometimes they receive a submission in a genre that, although they don't normally rep the likes of said submission, one happens to draw them in just the same. So how are we to decipher the mystery behind what agents want when, at best, what they leave is a microscopic trail of information?
How often have you come to an agent's bio and found that you learn all about their education (which is definitely important, don't get me wrong), and where they live and sometimes, what they do in their spare time? Now I ask you, isn't just as important to know what they're looking for? I mean, seriously, all the Do's and Don't's about agents tells us that we much do our homework, but it seems, agents expect us to read every book they represent in order to weed out the ones that the agent we're interested in represents in order to see if they're a good fit for our projects. We're also told to go to the bookstore, find all the books from that agency, and read through the acknowledgments to see which agent is mentioned; as I've recently discovered, however, some authors don't mention their agents; sometimes they only go as far as mentioning the agency itself; sometimes neither.
Clearly we need to do our part, but it just seems that some agents see this as a one-way street for those not on their client list. How hard is it to specify what they want and don't want? There's a particular agency, The McVeigh Agency(which, from what I understand, is fantastic), and they have detailed info about their wants with regards to submissions. Obviously, I queried them, and am now waiting for a reply. I've read up on Mark McVeigh, I've read some interviews with him, and I saw him in a vid on YOU-TUBE. I really like this agent, and I'm hoping he responds soon.
So why is it that so many agencies refuse us much-needed and always appreciated information that can ensure we don't submit to the wrong agent, wasting their time and ours?
STATUS: Hey, winter decided to show up, briefly, in Denver today. It snowed. I already miss out near 60 degree weather already.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? GIVE PEACE A CHANCE by John Lennon
The Gals of Killer Fiction (all former Dorchester authors) are giving away free eBooks because finally, it’s their books to give away. (For the history, click on this link.) Two of my authors, Jana DeLeon and Leslie Thompson are participating. Nothing wrong with the word “free” in this case so you might want to check it out.
And that leads me to back to some more fun facts to share.
Lucienne Diver—was already publishing under a pseudonym when I convinced her to do the Vamped Series in her own name.
Carolyn Jewel—has never missed a deadline (which has me convinced that she has mastered the art of cloning)
Leslie Langtry—was skeptical of literary agents and gave me the most detailed questions I’ve ever received when offering representation. And if you know Leslie, who is probably the author most likely to buy you a beer and hug you, you’d realize just how strange that is!
Marie Lu—was an attendee I met at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. She submitted sample pages to her first novel which I passed on (sensing a theme here!). Then I took her on for a novel that I wasn’t able to sell. Now her debut YA, LEGEND, is one of Penguin’s big books for this fall. Talk about paying some dues.
Time for bed but more tidbits tomorrow!
By: Kristin Nelson,
Blog: Pub Rants
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STATUS: Blessed quiet day. I only spent an hour on the phone.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BIGGEST PART OF ME by Ambrosia
It’s rare these days but some editors, especially those acquiring in genre fiction (such as SF&F or romance), will accept submissions directly from authors. When that happens, as a writer, know that you can only send the project to an imprint once.
Why might you ask?
For several reasons actually. First being that editors who take submissions directly log those submissions. So if one editor has passed, it will be on record so that pretty much nixes it for any other editor at that imprint.
But you also can’t resend for a more practical reason of how acquisitions occur at publishing houses. Let’s say a senior editor reads and passes on it. Then the writer sends to a new-ish editor at the same place (thinking they are more hungry to acquire).
Well, even if that newer editor loves it, she’s going to have to get second reads and support to take it to ed. Board. Well, if that senior editor nixed it and then it pops up again, well, it’s going to get shot down again. And on top of that, the newer editor is not going to have very warm feelings toward you for putting her in an awkward position.
So, resist the temptation and if you are submitting directly, make sure you pick the best editor first time around as you really only have the one shot. And of course, good luck.
Status: Doing Client reading.
What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? IS THIS LOVE by Bob Marley
1) What happens if you can’t sell a book to a publisher?
If we have exhausted all possibilities, I’ll put aside and concentrate on the author’s next work. If the next sells, that always allows us to revisit the prior novel. Sometimes the decision is made to let the past be the past and simply move forward.
2) How do you know if a writer’s idea is a good one?
Not a clue really. All I know is what I like and what really resonates with me. I’ve had the good fortune of having what I like generally match up with what editors like and are willing to buy. Just like every other agent in the world, I’m not 100% right all the time. Sometimes I love a book and can’t sell it.
3) If Hollywood has bought the film rights, does the author get a share in the profit?
The sad news is that in general, the author does not get a share in the profit. Although all film deals will have the standard “5% of 100% of net,” most Hollywood films will never show a profit because of how studios manipulate the accounting. It’s worse than the mafia. So agents often build in a lot of ways for the author to make money on the film deal that aren’t tied to “profit” so loosely defined. The option price, the purchase price, bestseller bonuses, box office bonuses etc. These are payments that are not contingent on the film making money.
However, some authors do get a share in the profit. That is not a percentage based on net but a percentage based on a cashbreak point on gross.
A very different thing. Also, it is possible to put merchandizing in a separate pool with a separate percentage. Good money to potentially be made there as well.
4) Can you publish your book yourself or do you have to have a publisher?
Of course you can publish a book yourself! That’s not the right question though. Anyone can self publish; the question is distribution and how to get folks to read what you self publish.
5) How do you decide if the cover art is good?
I have to say that cover art is not my strength as an agent. I have no background in art and not much of a creative vision. However, I do know what I like and what I don’t like. If I don’t like it and neither does the author, I fight like crazy to get it changed.
6) Do publishers show animation for cover concepts?
No. But wouldn’t that be cool?
7) What happens if more than one publisher wants the book?
Then you have an auction my friend! As an author, it’s always the best place to be. However, I do think that writers have a misconception that all auctions equal big money. That is not necessarily true. You can have modest auctions that are in low five figures.
STATUS: Spent a little time this evening working through some leftover computer conversion kinks. We are almost there.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing At the Moment
Because I’m not on twitter, I only found out today that YA author LK Madigan had passed away from cancer.
I have to say that the news made Sara and I rather sad.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reading her YA novel FLASH BURNOUT while it was on submission. I remember this vividly because Sara wasn’t taking on clients at the time but she really advocated for this author.
And Lisa was lovely and so professional.
I didn’t take her on as a client and she went on to find a wonderful and enthusiastic agent. And this may sound odd, but over the last two years, whenever we heard news about her debut novel, I’d say, “remember that manuscript? And Sara would say, “I told you so” (not really as Sara isn’t the kind of person to say such a thing) but you get the picture.
It was one of those novels that we remembered vividly, even years later, and could now poke fun at ourselves on being wrong about.
Which leads me to a point I made at the San Miguel Writers Conference last week.
When you get a rejection, you just have to remember that ALL writers received them at least at once in their careers and where you are today as a writer is not necessarily where you’ll be a year from now. That you will always be learning, growing, and maturing as a writer.
Being a writer is about the journey. Embrace it.
STATUS: Is if Friday yet? Dang. Not yet…
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAKE MY BREATH AWAY by Berlin
On what she’s looking for. And I’m loving this list. I’d be happy to see queries from writers for anything she mentions. Bring it on.
1. Contemporary YA where the heroine is not a victim.
2. Witches, MG or YA, dark or light
3. SF YA
4. Multicultural SF or fantasy
6. Strong novels with gay protagonists
8. Novels with the perfect blend of literary and commercial that will get starred reviews, win awards, and land on the Times list.
Oh that’s not asking for much! I’m getting right on that last one. *grin *
I'd love to know more about your road to publication and how you found your agent.
I started writing in earnest almost thirteen years ago. This was before blogging and Facebook and critique groups on-line (at least that I knew of). I did a lot of stumbling around for years, learning through my mistakes, from the how-to guides I found at the library, and from the middle-grade novels I read and shared with my students.
During those years I'd faithfully send out queries to publishers who accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Most of the time my work would be an exclusive submission, and I would wait month after month for those rejections to come. I can still remember anticipating the mail, the surge of hope that accompanied every SASE in the mailbox, and the frustration that after months and sometimes years on submission, the answer was always no.
Because children's authors can still get published without an agent, I never consistently pursued one until 2009. I had just decided to stop teaching and try out writing full time, without a book deal, agent, or lead of any sort (yes, really). I queried a number of books to a number of agents, trying to match my books to each agent's preferences and got a good number of requests for fulls and partials. My strongest piece, this little verse novel thing, was one I only sent to a select few because honestly, who would want to represent a quiet literary historical for kids?
After a few months of this, I decided I had to shop my best work. Whether is was salable or not, it was what I believed in, and I hoped it would attract someone who could see beyond its non-flashy surface to the story beneath. With my focus just on MAY B., more agents responded, and long story short, I signed with the super-wonderful Michelle Humphrey, who had just the right combination of risk, enthusiasm, and hard work to sell MAY B. at auction.
I found Michelle through Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents blog. By the time I signed with her, I had received seventy-five agent rejections and over two hundred editor rejections over eleven years.
How is the reality of achieving your dream different than the dream itself?
The reality is one hundred times better. It's harder, too, but in a really, really good way. I've learned so much about writing this past year. Going through the revision process has been like going back to school, except this time around I've got the advantage of having my instructor's undivided attention, interest, and commitment. Even that rough patch, when my book was homeless for a few weeks, as
By: Darcy Pattison
Blog: Darcy Pattison's Revision Notes
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I’m having a submissions day. This is true: a manuscript that is only in a drawer or only a file on your computer will not sell. It’s only when you send out a manuscript to an editor that you get a contract, a sale, a publication.
Last year, I talked about reevaluating my career and the market place and how that led to a new picture book, Prairie Storms. It’s a story about a year on the prairie and how the wildlife survives the prairie storms.
Coming August, 2011
I’m excited to say that Sylvan Dell will be publishing a companion book, DESERT BATHS. This follows desert animals through a 24-hour period and shows how they take baths. The same illustrator, Kathleen Rietz will be working on this story. Look for it in 2012.
Meanwhile, a sale doesn’t mean that you STOP submitting. Here are some other tips on submissions.
- Why Rejection Should be Your Goal
- Are You Still Submitting Before Revising?
- Are You Still NOT Submitting?
- Are You Still Submitting Blind?
- Are You Still Singly Submitting?
- Are You Still Not Tracking Submissions?
- The Biggest Mistake in Submitting a Picture Book
- 8 Sources of Market Info
- Test Submissions
- How To Contact an Editor
- Q&A: How Do I Find an Editor’s Name for Submission
- 10 Ways to Deal with Rejection
Sunday, June 26, 2011. 8-10 am.
ALA Conference in NOLA.
Status: I only own an umbrella for when I’m in New York. So ready for the perpetually sunny skies of Denver.
What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? MYSTERY by Anita Baker
Even though we agents and editors have seen this phenomenon repeat itself for years, it still strangely takes us by surprise.
Sometimes a theme or a type of story will hit the cultural zeitgeist and suddenly we will see a slew of submissions that have very similar story ideas.
And I’m not talking about obvious trends. For example, in Young Adult, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that paranormal romance has been “hot” for a while (thank you Twilight). Then the Hunger Games took off and dystopia became the new trend. As titles released in that, the latest is now SF or speculative fiction.
These are popular trends.
This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about storylines that suddenly start popping up that are potentially outside of these trends but for some reason, the stories all hit our submission inboxes around the same time.
For example, over the last 6 months, there have been a lot of queries and sample pages for fairy tale retellings (and this started happening before Little Red Riding Hood and Beastly hit the screen).
I was out to lunch with a children’s editor yesterday and for him, he had suddenly s
STATUS: I'm feeling a tad riled up.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MY HEART BELONGS TO ME by Barbara Streisand
Holy cow! Can't believe I missed this article yesterday. I'm so glad an agent friend forwarded to me. Take a moment to read it and tweet it on but in short, it's an appeal to support literature with gay and lesbian characters and the fact that there are some appalling agents and editors out there who are making requests that the writers make a gay character straight.
Seriously? What year are we in?
I cannot tell you how delighted I was to see a link to a list of YA literature that features gay/lesbian characters and my author Sarah Rees Brennan's THE DEMON'S LEXICON series was on it.
This author of mine is brilliant. It's a wonderful series and her new trilogy that I just sold to Random House also has an absolute kick-a** gay/lesbian main character. The first book UNSPOKEN publishes in fall 2012.
Not to mention, I have a Monica Trasandes' debut adult literary novel coming out in spring 2012 from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. It's called BROKEN LIKE THIS and features three main protagonists: a bisexual character, a gay/lesbian character and a straight male character (had to throw that last one in there-LOL).
A multicultural author to boot. I'll tell you right now it was a tough sell but I loved the novel and I sold it.
So add these to your wish lists if you want to show support via your buying dollars. If I had cover art or anything yet for these two titles, I'd post it here but we are in the middle of the cover design and the buy links aren't available online yet.
And let's not forget the incredibly brilliant, witty, impeccably dressed and extremely powerful Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate series.
I must admit it never occurred to me to add to my agency's submission page that we are open to accepting material with LGBTQ characters because I kind of thought it went without saying but I'm rethinking it now.
Feel free to link to this blog post that it's a-okay with us and I have NEVER asked an author to change a character's ethnic background or orientation.
And because we are talking about multicultural too, check out my author Kimberly Reid's debut YA novel MY OWN WORST FRENEMY. It's an African-American urban Nancy Drew series. I mean, just how cool is that?
Note: LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning.
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I’m sending out my novel today. Long ago, when submissions were paper, writers and authors often went through rituals to send out a manuscript for their novel or picture book.
- A lucky cat had to sit on the manuscript.
- It had to mailed with certain types of stamps.
- You kissed the envelope for luck.
IN these days of digital submissions, what is your favorite ritual before hitting the SEND button? Please leave a comment and share your rituals. I need to know what works!