What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

Recently Viewed

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 30 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: agentobscura, Most Recent at Top
Results 26 - 50 of 113
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
Nadia Cornier formed Firebrand Literary in September 2005 after leaving the Creative Media Agency. Prior to working as an agent, Dia began Cornier & Associates, LLC a small marketing firm specializing in author services that still runs in conjunction with her agency. Her experience with marketing has led her to develop campaigns to market her authors' projects to publishers and beyond instead of simply selling them.
Statistics for agentobscura

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 50
26. Things Agents Say...

1. "I like it, I didn't love it." What they mean: There is some undefinable commodity that I'm looking for in books. In relationships they call it "chemistry," and just like in a new relationship I'm looking for the butterflies to hit my stomach. I'm looking for the moment of clarity - when I know - that this book is THE ONE. If I don't feel it, it's not that the book won't be THE ONE for someone else, it just means it's not THE ONE for me. In fact, sometimes it's really hard -- especially when we see how great the person, the book, the concept it... we often convince ourselves that they are THE ONE. But this is how divorces happen and it's better for everyone to say, "I like it, I didn't love it" and hope for a happily ever after for everyone, next time.

2. "I just didn't connect with the main character." What they mean: I don't care if your main character is a royal b*tch. I don't care if she's a killer. I don't care if she's a grandmother or a four year old. I want to be able to relate to her, and it's your job as the author to make that happen. There are universal ways of making a character sympathetic to an audience, putting them in peril, is one of those ways. Taking something away from then, is another... but, always remember the lesson of Gone with the Wind. Scarlett & Melanie. Most people like Scarlette and thought Melanie was a wimp, but Melanie was definitely the nicer one. So, it's not about nice. --- and if I can't sympathize/relate to her then I can live in her life, I can fantasize about being the main character (or I don't want to), I can't get into the story and then-- what's the point?

3. "There is something very similar to this project on my list, so I'll have to pass..." What they mean: Shit. I better get that project out fast now...

4. "I'm sure someone else will feel differently." What they mean: Everyone has different tastes... and while I think this project isn't for me or isn't salable -- it's happened that things I've passed on have gone on to sell. And sometimes, sell really well. And Sometimes, make me gnash my teeth. And sometimes pop up in drunken revelries at the office Christmas party where we all tell our sad stories about the one that got away and it had been soooo close, so close. (kidding) (haha.... :::awkward silence:::)

5. "Best of luck." What they mean: Best of luck. Keep going.

Add a Comment
27. Query Red Flags

1. Multiple contest wins... Contests entries are a big deal to writers - especially romance writers - but too many contests wins can send up a red flag. The purpose of winning a contest is to get your manuscript in front of editors and agents. And if you've won several contests and still haven't been picked up -- the agent you're querying might wonder why. Consider only mentioning the biggest contests (or the highest placements) you've received and even then limit it to two (and only from a recent year). Imagine it this way: each contest you win can be considered "an engagement" if nothing results from it - it means you didn't get married. If you were starting to date a new person, would you want them to know that you've been engaged fourteen times but never married... even if you simply dated men/women who "liked you a lot, but simply didn't love you." you don't want the possible implications to color their perceptions before they've had a chance to fall in love with your book.

2. "THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE." Don't oversell it. Keep it simple and professional and let the writing speak for itself. There is nothing more annoying than a person who oversells themself -- You've met this person, sometimes in the form of an overenthusiastic parent who constantly talks about how smart and gorgeous their kid is. When you finally meet them (and are expecting Einstein meets Beckman and you get Beavis meets Butthead) you simply shake your head. But, the parents who are secure in their children's good looks & genius (haha) don't have to parade their many wonderful characteristics. People/strangers know. Like, people used to tell my parents what a wonderfully behaved child I was... and how smart... and beautiful... and charming. And my mother would be like, "Are we talking about the same girl?" -- but, the point is -- let your work speak for itself. If it's amazing. We'll know it's amazing. And you wont' be caught lying or overselling yourself. You'll come off as confident.

3. Too much flattery (of the agent). Just weird. Keep it to "just enough" flattery. Thanks. XO

4. Wrong agent name or "dear sirs" -- even if you get the gender right -- well... mistakes happen. but sometimes mistakes are overblown. I recently got so peeved at an author that I wrote them a letter telling them (basically) never to submit to me again, and it was because of a "wrong agent name" scenario. Now... before you start thinking I'm completely uncivilized, here is what happened. I got FOUR query letters from this person (back to back, by email) -- and each of the four query letters had things in common: a) they were identically written - even down to the "I'm submitting to you because of your keen eye and the list you have, blah blah bah;" b) they were written to four different literary agents, none of which were me; c) none of these agents worked at Firebrand - in fact, one of these agents - I believe - has left agenting completely. Now, after the fourth one I was starting to get a little pissy. So I wrote back that the author should redirect their queries to the proper agency and that if they decided to send one to my agency (through the proper submission process) I'd be happy to give it the attention it deserved. I send this response. Half a second later (crossed in the internet-sky) I got a fifth query. Still not addressed to me. I gave up.

5. No material about the book. If you're writing fiction -- you do not need credentials. It's fake. You just need to lie and if you're human - you've probably done it at least once, more if you have a mother. So... fiction = no credentials needed. Writing non-related credentials i.e. (You are semi-retired and once operated a candy corn machine, but your book is an erotic thriller about navy seals.... ahem...), probably won't help you and cloud the query letter with more information that what's needed. Shorter is better. Keep it to material that matters and then move on. If you have a writing degree - I want to know. If you have writing credentials in the genre/market that you're book is in (i.e. you're writing women's fiction and you write articles for women's magazines or you've published SF short stories and you're pitching an SF novel....)I'd like to know. If you're BFFs with Oprah, I wanna know. If you've read your book to your kids and they listened with rapt attention -- that you can keep to yourself. My kids will fake interest in anything, too, to avoid going to bed. They even ask me to sing them to sleep (and I KNOW they are bullshitting me, because if i sing in the car, they cry). Keep the information about yourself short and put it after the information about the book.

Add a Comment
28. If you have a non-fiction project...

...you should be able to define:

1. Your expertise. Why are you the best person to write this specific project. I am not the best person to write a book on how marriage counseling could save your relationship. I'm probably a bit better at writing a non-fiction book like 'the girlfriend's guide to being a young divorcee.' A marriage counselor with a PhD would probably be a better fit for the first concept. Education & Experience (relating to your specific topic) matter. What's your expertise?

2. Who your competition is (and how you plan on blowing them out of the water). The easiest test is to imagine your book on the shelf at your local B&N. What books are on shelved on either side of yours? How does yours compare? (I.e. why would someone still pick up yours after looking at the others - what makes it stand out? why is it different). The WRONG answer here is to say: There are NO books like mine at all! This means one of two things: You haven't done your research or the book would never have an audience. I mean, seriously, why aren't there any books at B&N on how to pitch your tv show proposal to Food TV? It's a very specific market, maybe too small for the general book-buying public.

3. Your platform. Who will buy your book and what audience do you command? Imagine every in publishing is somewhat lazy (ahem... I know you'll have to try really hard), what their asking is: What is your target market and how have you been making yourself known to this market... i.e. if you are writing a book on parenting and you are the editor-in-chief of Best Parent Ever Magazine, your target market is probably parents and you're making yourself known to them through your magazine. A platform can also be a "celebrity"-ism. Like, if you were the winner of The Apprentice... But generally assume that you should be commanding an audience in your expertise/topic of your book before looking for a book deal. Blogs with extremely high traffic, newsletters with high subscriptions, seminars where they'd buy your book as educational material, tv spots, the right position, the wrong position (ahem), these can all be different types of platform.

4. How you plan on marketing & promoting your book. "I plan on creating a website." -- Great, you should probably already have a website, though (see #3), but something like, "I plan on working with my best friend, the CEO of HUGE COMPANY X on cross-promotion. She's promised to buy X copies for her annual staff retreat." or "I'd plan a series of seminars and presentations based around material in the book, selling copies of the books as part of the 'admission price' for all attendees." The concepts listed in your marketing & promotion section should have a direct relation to sales. An editor (or anyone) should be able to read this section and think to themselves, "I can see how this will produce X number of sales."

5. Why This Book, Why Now? This is a combination of figuring out who your target market is and if there is enough of your target market to justify a book. For instance, self-publishing a non-fiction book is a lot easier than sp-ing a novel. If I'm writing a NF book on rebuilding antique sports convertibles... well, that's really specific... and while there might be an audience (in fact there might be societies that dwell specifically on this exact issue) and a need (there aren't any NF books on rebuilding antique sports convertibles) - it might be too small a book for a publisher to pick up. Think of it this way, smaller print runs make each book more expensive. The cover price can only be inflated so much so, if your cut stays the same, the price stays the same and the cost goes up -- who is losing out? The publisher. If their cut gets too small it doesn't make it fiscally responsible for them to put the book out. Makes sense. This book, though, is perfect for print on demand technology and if you are connected to that society for the rebuilding of antique sports car convertibles, you can work with them to market and sell your book to their members. Now, what you need to do is help the editor/publishing company justify your book. Tell them who the audience is (Please don't say "All Lawyers will love this book.... unless you can back it up.") and how big that audience is... Help them estimate how many sales they can potentially make. Apple just came out with their new iPhone (hot...seriously), and Jobs said that he only wants to get 1% of the billion dollar industry. He's not saying "All cell phone users will buy this phone." He's saying, we can reasonably expect 1% of the entire industry.... But, what's 1% of a billion dollars? Yum.

Add a Comment
29. I love You Tube.

You Tube Makes Me Happy.

1. My All-Time FAVORITE (appropriate for all viewers):

2. Too Sad to Contemplate:

3. Ok, Seat-Dancing is Cute... but what about the guy in the background? :

4. Just because David Bowie is HOT:

5. (Warning: People who don't like things of a sexual nature -- please don't view this one. Separate Warning: People Who Like Justin Timberlake or Boy Bands -- please don't view this one):

Add a Comment
30. My Day (No Top Five Today, Sorry)

Because today was interesting. Sort of.

6:30 My alarm went off.
6:40 I actually woke up.
6:55 Ate an egg and left the apartment.
7:00 Went to the Gym.
8:30 Limped home (and then showered).
9:15 Sat at my desk and went through emails.
9:30 Still going...
9:45 Started getting new emails (and started answering those).
10 Started working on NF proposal
11 Sent out some projects that were requested by editors.
11:15 Had a sandwich.
11:30 and popcorn.
11:45 Still working on the NF proposal
12 Fielded a phone call from my mother and my best friend (not the same person, not the same time)
12:30 Talked to a friend about a business proposal
1:00 Went through notes for a phone convo later.
1:15 Looked through submissions
1:30 Emailed editors regarding contracts, overdue payments, old submissions (No contracts to review today - YAY!), send agency contract to new client
2:00 On the phone.... (again), made lunch appointments for later in the week (and scheduled myself to see a cool band on Thursday), made other appointments for February (with people WAY more popular than I am)
3:00 Called Client who told me that she wasn't having sex until her book sells. I told her it would be WAY more effective if she said I wasn't allowed to have sex until her book sells. She notes the wisdom of that statement.
3:45 Back to work, read through a partial (send rejection).
5:00 Call it a day and run away from the computer for a while...
6:30 Complain that I'm bored and hop BACK on the computer. Apprentice is on tonight at 9. Gonna work until 8pm. Go over some notes for a client before sending. Start reviewing another project and write some pages for NF proposal... Review reading and to do list for the week. Prep for tomorrow.

Crash around 11 - talk to my friend until midnight. Sleep.

Plans for the week include:

Revisions for manuscripts (All Week)
Submission Slush Pile (Tuesday)
Submission Requested Pile (All Week)
Dinner Appt w/ Another Agent (Tuesday)
Lunch Appointments (Wed & Thursday)
Go See Queen Killing Kings @ Pianos (Thursday night)

Today was a very low-key day. :)

Add a Comment

I need someone who has a REALLY strong background in Fan Fiction - I have some questions.
If you are this person (or if you have naked pictures of this person and know they "owe you a favor") - please have them email me?

merci!!! (Top 5 Coming...)

Add a Comment
32. Comments I Always (seem to) Make in Revision Letters

1. Trust your reader. A lot of my clients (especially on the first drafts) tend to underestimate their readers, or perhaps - it's that they underestimate their writing skills. This often materializes itself in over-writing. Like, saying something once, then a few lines later, repeating it in slightly different words. It's gratuitious and slows down the flow of the story... search your manuscript for bits that you've said (even if in different ways) before.
2. Don't overuse saidisms. i.e. She whispered. She hollered. She yelped. She cursed. 90% of the time, if you wrote the dialogue differently you could demonstrate the way the message was conveyed. If you can do this, do it. If not (and you've tried) then you can use a saidism.
3. Characters should be complex but not "real." It's very, very difficult to encompass everything about a person's life in a book. A complex character takes into consideration the things they do (actions), the things they say (which may or may not go against the things they do) and if you're a good writer, you are probably indicating a little bit about the things they want and the things they feel they need. But real people are beyond complex. They are absolutely crazy -- and unless you can justify a character's behavior on the page, it won't make sense to the reader.
4. This is no longer Your story, this is your character's story - if you've done it right. Regarding #3, often I'll hear statements like, "But that's what happened in real life!" -- well, swell, but this is a story, this isn't real life. Unless you are writing non-fiction, please acknowledge that while it may be based on (or inspired by) your life or experiences at some point you have to move away and realize that if it's (again) not on the page, you can't use it as justification. So, no matter what happened "in real life" if it isn't living within the pages of your book, you can't use it.
5. Sometimes it makes sense to start where the action is, but more often it makes more sense to start at a pivotal moment. There is/used to be a thought that you should always start the story where the action is -- which lead to a lot of stories being started in the wrong place. Like, in the midst of a heated argument or at a really sensitive scene -- which sounds like it would be ok, but more often than not we are interested in heated/sensitive scenes because we feel a connection with the character. If that's how your story begins, it is often harder for the reader to get that connection right away -- even if it's a scene designed to make the character seem more sympathetic. Usually you should back up the story a little bit -- and start earlier. If it's a life change story, I need to know what his "normal" life was like before you show me how it changes. If it's a journey story, I need to know where he/she started, etc. Don't be afraid to start too early in a story (because goodness knows, you can always cut off a few chapters off the beginning if you've started too early. haha... ahem).

Add a Comment
33. Tips for New Writers

1. Don't use the porno opening sequence - where the character says something like: Let me tell you about myself, I'm X years old, I'm 5'7", 143 lbs and I wear purple sparkly earrings and go-go boots. Reasons why I hate this: it reminds me of badly written porn (not that I read any... not the badly written stuff, anyway) and it is so overt that if the author wasn't speaking directly to the reader up until then, it throws the flow of the story out of whack.
2. Your first draft will not be your last draft. I'm sorry. It just won't be. So you must be prepared. And this doesn't mean you're a bad writer, in fact, if I ask an author for revisions it's because I feel the story has potential and I think the author has enough talent to make it better. Some of my clients write very clean first drafts and _still_ have to do revisions... so, be happy in the knowledge that it's not just you.
3. I learned this from one of my authors -- you shouldn't start new plot developments in the last part of your book, you should be using that "time" to wrap up threads that you began in the earlier parts of your book. That way, you don't have any dangling threads that leave the reader wondering, "What happened with so and so?"
4. Read. And never tell an author/agent/editor that you don't read (even if it seems like a logical idea because you "don't want your work to be derivative" -- it will be anyway, and more than that, it'll be badly written, too). Writing is a craft, like acting, like painting -- it's something that you get better at by doing, but also by studying what others have done before you and improving upon it or adding your own slant to it.
5. Write. This would seem like a very obvious thing, but sitting down to write is actually a HUGE milestone for new writers. It means believing in yourself long enough to begin. :)

Add a Comment
34. Things that make my jaw clench

1. "I gave this to my mother, my english professor, a published author and fourteen school-aged children of average height --- and they all loved it!"
2. A book that fails to sufficiently mask that it's an autobiographical account of the author's inability to become a famous author. (i.e. the book where a main character is writing a book)
3. The book that fails to sufficiently mask that it's a fictionalized portrayal of what will happen when the author becomes a famous author. (i.e. the Angry Dwarf song by Ben Folds Five)
4. The queries that mention the author's pseudonym in the first line, then talk about the author in third-person (by the psuedonym), note that the main character of the story is also called by the pseudonym, the main character is a (lesser) god, and -- to top it all off -- the query is signed off by the author's name AND the pseudonym.
5. Responses to rejections that ask, "Why did you reject me?" I have no idea, I had 98 queries that I reviewed this week, I requested four and passed on the rest. I don't remember which one yours was... I'm sorry. Form letters are powerful tools for two reasons (and I'm stealing this concept from my best friend): a) they are fast. b) coming up with constructive criticisms takes a LOT of time and energy. It's like trying to identify why you find a person attractive or not. Sometimes it's easy to pick (they have nice eyes), but sometimes it's not... If you have nothing constructive to add -- then it simply is just a matter of taste and me telling you, "I hated the main character's name" or "I don't like fantasy with gem stones as the magical object" will not help you when you send it to the next agent who does like the main character's name and fantasies with gem stones as the magical object. So. Form letter. It's the dating equivalent of not calling a person back after a so-so date.

Add a Comment
35. Reasons to Love

...living in NYC (or, in my case, Brooklyn):

1. Some guy offered to clean my apartment for free. As long as he could do it naked.
(My mother thought this was Fabulous and asked for his number)
2. I told my broker that I wanted to live within one block of a place where I could buy shoes, a bistro and a bar.
3. You are literally 10 minutes away from everything you could ever want. Down the street are classes in the Trapeze Arts.
4. You can have EVERYTHING delivered. Food (groceries or prepared), laundry (folded and socks paired and rolled), bottled water, work, mail.... I never ever have to leave my apartment. (But if I do - like if #1 becomes a possibility - I always have #2-3 to work with).
5. After you move here (and like, six months goes by) you start learning the subway routes. I now know how to get to four different places in the city. It's like... a revelation!

Add a Comment
36. Websites to Jump-Start You for 2007

1. http://www.crusiemayer.com/workshop
2. http://www.catauniversity.com (click on the left hand module that says "The Call Stories")
3. http://www.writingfix.com
4. http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.php/823897 (Just for a chuckle)
5. http://www.anthologiesonline.com/Articles/Ideas%20for%20Writing.htm

(And -- New Year's Resolutions That I've Already Broken:)

1. The swearing one... ::hangs head in shame::
5. I had Chinese food. Wasn't thinking.

Add a Comment
37. Top 5 Things You Can Say

...to people whom you confessed you were writing a book, and now they won't stop asking if it's sold yet:

1. "My agent asked me not to discuss the details with non-industry people."
2. "I'm sorry, and you are? Oh wait, are you one of those 'little people' my agent keeps warning me about?"
3. Don't say anything, just start twitching and mumbling, "book. book. book..."
4. "Trust me, honey. When I know - you'll know. In fact, you'll probably hear the screaming."
5. "Um, Nope. Have you lost that 20lbs yet?" (I know this would shut me up).

Add a Comment
38. Resolutions

Five Resolutions I Failed to Keep in 2006:

1. Stop swearing.
2. Stop lying (including white lies you tell your mother).
3. Exercise every day except Sundays.
4. Never talk to my mother again.
5. Give up eating red meat.

I'm older and wiser now, at the beginning of 2007, so I've revised last year's resolutions for this year.

1. Stop swearing in front of people under the age of 10.
2. Stop lying (exluding white lies you tell your mother).
3. Exercise.
4. Never talk to my mother again.
5. Give up eating inexpensive red meat.

Add a Comment
39. Yes, this is for you.

I really liked the article/sheet that illustrator, Keri Smith wrote:


I'm posting this here for one person in particular (you know who you are) --
Read #4, 5, 7
Mine: #5 - 8

This is good. This is right.
Work through the rest.


Add a Comment
40. and...

I also wanna see something like --


an updated/revisited look (read: mainstream commercial book) for an adult caper.
strong characters
This book should make the readers feel smart, but not in a condescending "I'm teaching you" way. :)
interesting high-stakes set in a 'upscale' world


a historical novel set in colonial new england (boston?) -- again the "rich" set -- with a court/legal drama aspect


a superb mind-fuck novel (pardon the language) - but something like the Usual Suspects - where you're always guessing. This is probably the hardest type of book to write and movies have been doing it OK - but I've only read a few books that I think really pull it off. Plus, it has to be interesting and complex -- but still written without pretension. Like I said, difficult.


So I'm obsessed with rich people -- so, I'd like to see a non-fiction book of rich people through the ages... I.e. the major disparages between the richest and ... hm.. probably their staff through the historic ages. Different cultures would be nice to include, but the majority should be western-world oriented. How they lived/What they Ate/What excesses they had (i.e. turtle soup?) -- Think history buff with a fun Vogue-esque tone. Focusing on fashion, homes, food, way of life...what was the pop-culture of 18th century England? How did the Chinese in the 16th century show off their wealth? -- for tone/content check out my favorite NF book: An Elegant Madness


A NF business/marketing book on creating "publicity stunts" for entrepreneurs


a fun, smart YA fantasy book that aspires to Dr. Norrell and Mr. Strange-esque writing


A NF book on image consultation for career advancement


a YA book where the protag creates a business and then fights against age discrimination -- big scope -- there was a movie like this about kids who start a manure company. Something that adults think only adults can do...


A NF book about young "savants" -- in the arts and business -- young writers, musicians, etc... Biography? Inspirational? Business book? I don't know.


Yeah, so these are just kinda a list of stuff I'd like to be reading right now. I haven't done the market research or anything, but. Like I said - What I'd like to have on my reading list right now. So... if you have something like this, let me know. :)


Add a Comment
41. wanted: historical writers

I'd like to see a historical novel based on the life of this woman:


Add a Comment
42. Website Re-Release

Ok, so for the past month I've been entering stuff into our new databases for the website that Jake Leatherman created for us.
Jake has spent so much time and creative energies on this project that I can't even tell you how great it is...
He designed this back-end system that allows us to go completely paper-less for our submissions.
Please check it out. :)


Now, it's very very new. So, if you see any spelling mistakes, errors, broken links, weirdo pages --
please email them to me.

Anyway. I'm sooooooooo jazzed.

We did "steal" a lot from different sources for the concept. :) I personally love the author & book pages that Harpercollins has. And I love the Fish Philosophy website. and the agency-community that the Knight Agency has going on... and the marketing plugs that Folio has.

YAY Happy.

Add a Comment
43. Fueling SelfDoubt

Sometimes I think too much.
People are always telling me that i move too quickly on things -- which I find amusing, since the things I move quickly on are things that I've felt deep in my gut. More so, they are things that I don't talk myself out of.

In particular there are people who I talk to, on a regular basis, that put me down. Push me to talk myself out of things...
I'm sure you have these people, too.

And they don't do it in a very sharp way, it's slow, subtle jabs that you feel bruising you over the long haul. Nothing so sharp as to cut you.
It's jabs and jibes. Slowly, over time. Negativity. Cynicism.

It's a killer.
The problem is, sometimes you wonder if you're over reacting ... if it's something niggling in the back of your mind that it feels wrong.
Or if you deserve it.

Worse. What if this person is someone close to you? Your "best" friend, your sibling, your partner, your husband, your mother?

How do you block their voices out of your head when it's time to make the decisions that only you (and not your bf, your sibling, your partner, your husband and not your mother) will have to live with?


Is the first step to let these people go?
Or is the first step to not care what other people think?
Is the problem them or me?

Add a Comment
44. January Event in South Carolina

Hey All --

So this January I'm doing a full day workshop with one of my favorite writers-of-acquantance, Bob Mayer in Beaufort, SC.
I'm pretty excited about this -- especially as Bob is going to be doing half (if not most of) the work.

If you are Southern (or like me, wish you were Southern... or not like me, have the resources to be Southern for a day or two in January) - I hope you'll come and join us. It'll be a total mind meltdown (for attendees and for the presenters, I'm sure... Although Bob does tons of these, and his brain seems to have held up.... ::ahem:: ) and we'll be throwing lots of info at you -- but if you're working on a new concept (or refining an old one) and feel like you are ready to get it out there...

Note -- and this is my disclaimer -- this is probably not the best workshop for people who aren't serious about writing as a business (i.e. hobbyists), nor is it probably worthwhile for those who have trouble concentrating, taking notes, sitting in a room for an entire day when it's beautiful outside, etc....

But, We'll definitely make it worthwhile for the rest of you.

Feel free to add a comment if you have any questions and I'll respond.


Friday January 26, 2007

Have you always wanted to attend a writer's retreat but didn't have the time and resources to escape for an entire week?

Instead, spend the day learning about the craft and business of writing with NY Times bestselling author Bob Mayer and literary agent, Nadia Cornier, as they present a Writer's Boot Camp in conjunction with the Iodine Literary Conference this January 26th in Beaufort, SC.

Perfect for the writer working towards publication, attendees will spend half of their day in workshops on craft (plotting, creating character, point of view, etc) and the other half on the business of selling and marketing (to agents, editors and the reading public).

Registration includes a copy of the Novel Writer's Toolkit and handouts covering the material presented during the day. Please visit http://www.eatgoodbread.com/iodine.html for more
information or to register.

Proposed Schedule:

8:30 – 9 am Registration and Coffee Over Introductions
9 am – 9:50 Bob: The Original Idea – The Heart of Your Story
10 – 10:50 Nadia: Using the Original Idea to Pitch Your Story (Query & Pitch)
11 – 11:50 Bob: Plot & Outline – The Events of Your Story
12 – 1:00pm Lunch (free time)
1:00 – 1:50 Nadia: How to Find, Snare, Keep, Feed, and (sometimes) Fire an Agent
2:00 – 2:50 Bob: Characters & View Point - The Voice & People of Your Story
3:00 – 3:50 Nadia: How to Wear Multiple Hats – Self-promotion for Authors
4:00 – 4:50 Bob: Setting, Dialogue, Editing
5:00 – 5:30 Q&A

Proposed Fee Structure:

$125/per person – This will include a copy of the Novel Writer’s Toolkit and collection of handouts that covers the material presented.

Location: Beaufort, SC

Presenter Bios:

New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer has published 33 books ranging from military techno-thriller to political thriller to non-fiction to science fiction to romantic suspense. He has over two million books in print with four books to be published in 2007.

Born in the Bronx, Bob attended the Military Academy at West Point and earned a BA in psychology with honors and then served as an Infantry platoon leader, a battalion scout platoon leader, and a brigade reconnaissance platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division. He then joined Special Forces and commanded a Green Beret A Team. He also served as the operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and with Western Command Special Operations in Hawaii. Later he taught at the Special Forces Qualification Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, the course designed to train new Green Berets. He also lived in Korea where he earned a Black Belt in Martial Arts and in Georgia where he earned a Masters Degree in Education from Austin Peay State University.

Bob draws on all of these experiences to write his novels and his nonfiction books, including WHO DARES WINS: Special Operations Tactics for Success and The Novel Writer’s Toolkit: A Guide To Writing Great Fiction And Getting It Published. He speaks on both of these areas at writing conferences, workshops, and colleges. But his main focus remains his novels, which include the bestselling Area 51 books. Out now are Bodyguard of Lies (under his pen name Robert Doherty) and Don’t Look Down, a romantic adventure written in collaboration with Jennifer Crusie for St. Martin’s Press which hit the NY Times, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and numerous other bestseller lists. Coming soon are Lost Girls for Tor (Feb 2007) and the co-written Agnes and the Hitman (St. Martins, summer 2007).

Bob has presented for over five hundred organizations, including numerous keynote presentations, all day workshops, and multi-day seminars. He has taught at writers’ conferences ranging from Maui, to Whidbey Island, to San Diego State University to Harriette Austin at University of Georgia to the Romance Writers of America National Convention.

Bob lives on a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina. For more information see www.bobmayer.org or www.crusiemayer.com for the infamous Dueling Blog.

Nadia Cornier started Firebrand Literary at the age of twenty-four. Prior to forming Firebrand, Nadia was the young adult and speculative fiction agent at Creative Media Agency – selling twenty-one projects in her first year – and the owner of a boutique public relations firm specializing in author publicity (which included amongst it’s clientele a number of best selling and award winning authors).

She combined her background in publicity and marketing with her love of selling books by creating Firebrand – a marketing and PR-oriented agency that creates full campaigns for their author’s projects, from brainstorming titles to creating wacky and fun publicity stunts. Nadia also uses her interests in band promotion to come up with new and exciting ways to promote fiction writers at a grass roots level.

Nadia gives workshops, presentations and interview on writing young adult fiction, author self-promotion, the “care and feeding of agents” and small business promotion. She’s an obsessive blogger and likes to “blog crush” on other industry professionals – whom she interview to the delight and confusion of her blog readers.

Nadia attended Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University where she flipped from a Theater Design Major to finishing at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania where she earned a degree in English. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY amidst a neighborhood so filled with publishing industry people that she can barely walk a block without hearing the word “Alas.”

When she isn’t huddled over the computer reading new projects you can probably finding her scouting local bands, volunteering as the chairman of the board for the Absynthe Muse organization (www.absynthemuse.com) or writing about a current obsession. You can visit her on the web at: www.firebrandliterary.com or www.livejournal.com/~agentobscura. She is also a columnist for Romancing the Blog: www.romancingtheblog.com.

She would also like to apologize for the length of her bio, as Bob Mayer’s looked so long in comparison to her original – she had to compete.

Add a Comment
45. Waiting Game...

I'm waiting for Andrew to find his second sneaker and then we're hitting brunch and then the park...
but I REFUSE to find the sneaker for him. Honestly, He HID the sneaker, can I be forced to find it? I'm not the one who WANTS to go to the park...


So, this should be a note -- that even though something might be good for us (i.e. finding a great project, or getting our kids out of our tiny apartment and helping them burn excessive energy) -- we sometimes dig in our heels for no good reason (argh, they can't even write a professional query letter!).

So, yes... the wrong kind of query letter will hit the a person the wrong way at the wrong time.
But, you can't really control the mood of the agent. The best you can do is send it out there with the best of intentions in the best of form and hope that a little luck goes a long way.

(I know I'm going to end up getting that shoe the minute he starts screaming -- I'm a sucker)

(ergh, the oldest just came out with my lip gloss... DAMMIT, saying, "Of course I cleaned up.") (uh huh)

So, even you (or your child) can ruin your chances for what you want....

Ok, let's put it this way.
In gymnastics, you start with a perfect ten (at least this is how I think it works) and then for every mistake you make you get small deductions.
Big mistakes get big deductions, small mistake get small deductions, etc.

Now, let's say that you write a horrible query letter.

You address it poorly (i.e. by their nickname instead of in a more professional way: - 1pt)
You forget to mention your actual writing credits (-1pt)
You include an SASE (awesome)
You have a hook that is difficult to understand (-1pt), etc etc etc...

And at the end you total up your points.
And, it works the same way...

Whether you have .5 pts or 10pts -- sometimes it doesn't matter -- it's how many other points everyone else has that defines whether or not you get the gold.
In publishing, an amazing manuscript (an amazing concept)(knowing someone/having connections) trumps a lot of minus points.


Do your best. Do your best. Do your best.

I think the hardest part is, is that there is no general point system - like, Agent A and Agent B both score on different systems... so that gets confusing. And there is nothing for that... let's just assume that the person who gets it, will GET it. And your query letter writing/synopsis writing are tools that help people to get it.


Have fun writing!!!
(I'm going to look for the bloody shoe... One kid is (fake) crying... ::sigh:: The other two are performing surgeries on my pillow... ::sigh:: )

Add a Comment
46. Cover Letters are Important



Thank you for requesting XXTITLEXX, my XXgenreXX project about XXXXXblurbXXXXXXXX.

I was really excited to meet you/speak with you/correspond with you/find you through and I look forward to hearing your comments on this project.

I'm currently polishing my next project, XXXSecondTitleXXX, which should be ready in about four months. I thought this project would make a great follow-up to book one, but both projects stand alone.

I've enclosed a SASE (or not?) for your response, but again, feel free to email or call me at your convenience.


Author Info
Author Number/Email



Just because I bloody hate cover letters that don't say anything but, "Hope you like it!" -- please give me some details. I'm notoriously forgetful to begin with.... having to flip through the first few pages to figure out what I'm looking at ruins momentum if I can't keep reading.

Please help me out here. :)

Add a Comment
47. Notes from my Query Hell Workshop

Dear Author,

I’ve recently written and compiled a short series of handouts on writing the Query Letter (tentative title “QUERY LETTER HELL”). From my research, I’ve seen that you’ve been interested in learning about other business of writing types of workshops and I thought that these handouts might interest you.

Query Letter Hell is a short workshop on writing a good query and identifying “bad queries” like a pro (and then identifying why the query didn’t work, so you can avoid repeating the same mistakes in your own work).

Before I became an agent, I thought I wanted to be a writer and found that there were thousands of books out there on how to write a good query letter (or perhaps just thousands of articles) – but none of them really allowed for a freedom of expression that I was looking for. What were the rules, I wondered, and how can I break them?

Soon afterwards I found that I was much better at writing query letters (and in my case, pitch letters) than I was at writing novels – and quite intelligently (I think) changed my career directions to become a literary agent (who now writes more pitch letters each day than you can shake a stick at) (honestly, who shakes sticks at pitch letters anyway?).

I hope that this workshop answers all your burning query questions.

I’d be happy to send you more material on “QUERY LETTER HELL” and have enclosed a SASE for your response. If you’d prefer to contact me by email or phone, with any questions or concerns (that aren’t answered in the workshop), please do so.


Nadia Cornier


Dear Agent,

We were so overwhelmed by your query that we MUST see more material.


((yes, yes...self-aggrandizing. Shut up))



- It’s a business letter not a personal correspondence, even if you do “know” the agent/editor (they may have to forward it to others)
- It’s a SALES pitch


1) Tell them what they need.
2) Show them what you have.
3) Explain how what you have IS what they need.
4) Always Be Closing

Which means…

1) Do not reject yourself (please, please, please)
This includes, but is not limited to -- saying things like, "I know you're really really busy." (good point - NEXT QUERY!)
or "This project probably isn't your cup of tea..." (then why the heck are you sending it to me???)
or "This project has been rejected by EVERY major publisher in the US!" (um, fab, less reading for ME to do...)

2) Do not tell your “buyer” what to think (Please, Please, PLEASE))
I hate this more than I hate anything else in the entire world.
I'm not stupid. I'm neither blind nor without taste (unless you ask Caren, she seems to think there is something wrong with my wardrobe...), but for the most part, I can and still do form my own opinions about writing. They may be "right" or not, but they are still MY opinions. Please please please don't tell me what to think.

"This is the best book ever." (screw you, I just finished reading The Time Traveller's Wife and I thought THAT was the best book ever)
"You will LOVE this project." (uh huh)
"It's very funny and amazingly witty." (I'm so glad you have a good idea of what my sense of humor is like. If it isn't hilarious within the first five pages....)

Simply, let the writing speak for itself. If it is the best book ever, trust me (and your readers) to identify that and think to themselves, "Wow, this is the best book ever!!!" I promise, if it is - i will think it.

- Follow the basic rules of grammar, punctuation, syntax…
- Do NOT compare yourself to the “Names That Shall Not Be Mentioned” (Harry Potter, Dan Brown, etc)

- Do not ask business questions before there is a business relationship
- Remember to respect the agent’s time and resources (short letter, include an SASE, follow their directions – if they have them, know something about them)

Special Note:
If you make a blunder… apologize. And then you’ve done all you could… Try again or walk away. Don’t just ignore it.

Now, Break the Rules...

1) Be humorous
2) Be Personal
3) Be Quirky --- all within reason.


--- Project the voice of your manuscript, there SHOULD be a correlation there.
--- NAME drop like crazy. (erm, this is irony... name drop if you have a REAL name to drop -- i.e. someone who has read your book and whose opinion the agent cares about... Like, Nora Roberts? Sure. Like your mother? Erm.... Not so much (unless your mother IS Nora Roberts, then ...well, good for you).

Commit yourself or play it safe. In between comes off as being …ODD.


Always tell the ending.
Yes, even if it's a mystery.
Yes, even who "did it."
YES. Yes. Yes.


Add a Comment
48. Honesty, Truth and Justice for All

It's been a long week and it's only Wednesday.

I recently heard an extremely harsh comment regarding the tone and content of my blog and I (of course) had a knee jerk reaction to it -- Thinking I should just ditch this entire blog (it becoming more trouble than it's worth at times), I confided in a friend who asked me a very basic question:


And I had to think about it.

I don't think it's any secret that I had once wanted to be an author of romance novels. I learned, very quickly, that I wasn't meant to be a romance author (I didn't like rewriting - it's very very hard to be an author if you aren't willing to work on your craft and become better) -- but I remember the switch from "wanna-be writer" to agent. It was like having a light bulb over my head turn on.

Like the things that I was confused and obsessed with as an author:

Do you staple a two-page cover letter?
What happens if they requirements say 50,000 words and you have 50,204 words?
When do you follow up - what if they never received your mail to begin with?
Times New Roman or Courier New?

And when I became an agent I learned that the things that authors (even I) obsessed about weren't the things that would get you signed/rejected for the most part.
A great project trumps an ignorant author.

(Anyway the answers are: you round the word count, you follow up per the guidelines on the website. Times vs Courier - who cares? Caren says Times. If there are no guidelines follow the general rule and follow up the same way you initially queried; and the first is a trick question... why the heck is your query letter two pages long?)

But, suddenly I was learning the real things that matter to an agent --
At the same time, I took down my personal blog. I had a very personal blog (can you imagine?) that had to be deleted, because potential clients were reading back to years worth of material that I did not put out there with the intent of it being a marketing tool.

This blog is, for all intents and purposes, serving a dual-role.
1) It's a marketing tool for me (not for Firebrand). It gets my name out there, better or worse. But, with that, you're not getting the real me. It's funny - people who know me say, yes, this is you... about 60% but you don't see the majority of my angsty-bitter-confused-pissed off moments. Unless I think that I need to share them... Which brings me to the next point.
2) It's about being transparent. I'm so sick of the layers of mystery that shroud the pubishing industry. I hate it. I hate when I go to a conference and I walk around not wearing a name tag, and people treat me like a human being and then when I put the name tag on -- they either crowd me or give me a wide berth -- neither is normal neither feels GOOD. The people who get off on that sort of thing (and they are out there) are... confusing to me. I hate that so much that when I head to a conference the first thing that goes is the conference name tag. But - that's not exactly transparent either...

What I mean about 'transparent' -- every agent, editor, publisher, marketing & sales person -- is just that. A person.
We make mistakes. We have families/friends/etc. We have outside obligations.
But... We love our work.
That's what is so great about the Publishing Industry. We all seem to love it so much. (Otherwise, we'd pick something easier or something that pays more)

But -- I talk about personal things because I want people to see how my life is changed by my work. And how my work is changed by my life.
I talk about business things because I want people to feel more comfortable enterting the publishing industry.

The truth is -- 98% of all wanna-be-authors won't make it. The majority will cull themselves out (like I did), the others will always try and never get anywhere.
But for the 2% who do make it, they do so because they have prevailed after (usually) long periods of hard work and tough choices.
If I can make that work seem less -- hard -- and those choices seem less tough. I'll do it.

Now, I'm ranting -- and generally I don't rant this way.
But here's the deal.
I'm really, really sick of people receiving (me included!) backlash for being honest and transparent.

A lot of people think it's stupid to be this transparent - or transparent at all...
And people ask me, "Do you lose potential clients that way?"

YES. I do.
I lose a lot of potential clients by having this blog and for the things I say (and the manner in which I say them).
But we feel (and Caren backs me up on this) that we have "relationships" with our clients -- so, if they can't stand me in this blog, they certainly won't be abe to stand me personally. And I won't be able to work with them either, and --- well. there ya go.

But more than that...
What's wrong with being transparent?

For instance, Anne Stuart is currently on the receiving end of a lot of backlash because of an interview she did where she mentioned that she didn't feel her publisher was putting enough support behind her titles.

Here's where people are dividing:

Some are saying that she was biting the hand that feeds her... (Miss Snark for one) and that she's basically hurting her relationship with her publisher.
Others are saying that she isn't expressing anything that hasn't been felt by every other author out there (I'll agree with this).

And me? I just think she's expressing her own individual story. Isn't that what authors DO?

Ok -- my take on it --

It's a bad idea to talk against your publisher. It's a bad idea to speak against the masses. It's a bad idea to stand up for what you believe is right, what your individual story is, and speak your mind. It's a bad idea to point out something that feels wrong. It's a bad idea to have a bad day. It's a bad idea to whine. It's a bad idea to express yourself. It's a bad idea to be human.

It's a bad idea to be transparent.

Because goodness knows that we don't want to help prepare other authors.
We certainly don't want to help one another -- so, if we all remain quiet about our fears and concerns, at least we won't be able to share them and find a workable solution - together.

If we all just keep quiet about the things that bother us, surely they will go away on their own.
Along with the books that we have toiled over, the books you've written, the books we've sold... the books editors have fought for and then are sometimes helpless to push beyond the powers which their publisher (and sometimes our voices) give them.

We should simply sit, alone, in the dark -- and become the charactures of what the populations consider "the industry."
Authors are loners. Agents are bitter. Editors are apathetic. Publishers are scary.

Yup... can't see any reason to want to change that.... Read the rest of this post

Add a Comment
49. Submissions & News


We're re-doing our website with more updated material - it should be up soon. When it goes up, I'm going to ask you all to fly over and take a look at it.

On another, sad, note --
Megan Atwood has left Firebrand (and publishing, in general) for personal reasons. We had a very bummer-type of conversation about it and there were tears (me) and "why god why" (also me). Anyway, it's weird when people leave -- I spoke with her clients before posting here (hi guys!) and after reading their material (very cool stuff) was happy to welcome them onto my client list. I'm also working with an assistant to go through all Megan's submissions (weeeee!).

So, that's what's on my plate for this and next week.
I know everyone is going to start emailing with requests for updates, but give me a bit of time so I can get through and have an idea of what I'm dealing with.
I'll post here when I'm done going through all the material (i.e. when I think I'm up to date) and if you haven't received an update by then, you can let me know.

Otherwise, hopefully by then the new website will be up and YAY that will make life SOOOOO much easier for all of us (trust me, you'll love it).


Add a Comment
50. Ouchies.

"Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth."

-- Katherine Mansfield

Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts