Monday, July 28, 2014

Agent Interview-Joanna Volpe

I'm so grateful to have the fantabulous Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary on the blog today to answer a few questions for us. Please note, if you plan on querying Joanna, please read her submission guidelines carefully.


Enjoy!




1.) What are you tired of seeing in your slush pile, and what would you like to see more of?


Dystopians.  I already have a few on my list, and I'm definitely not looking to acquire any more for a very long time.  I'd love to see more horror though!




2.) What is your pet peeve in a query, besides getting a query for something you don't represent?


It's an immediate turn-off when an author talks more about themselves than their book project.  The focus should be the project, whatever it is.  No matter who you are, the project needs to be good.




3.) What makes a manuscript/query stand out to you?


A manuscript stands out to me when the writing style or voice are unique and well-crafted.  For a query, if it's engaging and gets to the heart of the conflict, I'll definitely be intrigued!




4.) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are trying to hook an agent?


Write for you, not for an agent.  This business is hard, and you want to be in it for yourself first and always.  Once you're sure of that, you'll be able to withstand the rough times, which includes (sometimes) the long time it takes to get an agent.  The other bit of advice I have on this: when you go the traditional route, remember that your agent is your partner and that you should feel good about working with them.  Don't just sign with any agent because they offer.  Seek out one who shares your interests and goals.




Lightning Round:




5.) One word that describes you the most: Eclectic.


6.) One word you hope your authors describe you as: BAMF.


7.) One word that describes how you feel about Sasquatch: Coooooooooooool.


8.) One word that describes how you feel about fan-girling: Fun.
Thanks, Joanna, for taking the time to give us a glimpse inside your head! :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Agent Interview-Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary

Hey guys, we have another awesome agent interview today from the amazing Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary! If you plan on querying Suzie, please note her submission guidelines carefully. And yes, I forgive her for her answer to #7.








1.) What are you tired of seeing in your slush pile, and what would you like to see more of?


Dystopian and YA sci-fi. There's just so much of it out there and nothing feels new and different. I'd really love something with an epic blow-me-away kind of love story and magical realism.


2.) What is your pet peeve in a query, besides getting a query for something you don't represent?


My biggest pet peeve is probably when writers start their query with a question (ie "What would you do if you were told you had one day left to live?" or something). It reminds me of when I taught my freshmen how to write their first literary analysis. They often tried to start their papers with a rhetorical question. I didn't like it then. It feels immature and gimmicky.


3.) What makes a manuscript/query stand out to you?


Voice and character. The truth is: I will follow a character that I love anywhere. If I love a character I'll be up to fix plot holes and worldbuilding issues and whatever else. It's the character who's going to make me lie awake at night and wonder what they're going to do next. When I was a kid, I used to imagine myself as a character in my favorite books. That's what I want: a manuscript that's going to make me tempted to write fan fiction so I can be a part of that world. My favorite queries are always the ones where the character already feels alive.




4.) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are trying to hook an agent?


Do your research and be polite and professional. Then let your manuscript speak for itself.




Lightning Round:




5.) One word that describes you the most:


Passionate




6.) One word you hope your authors describe you as:


Awesome




7.) One word that describes how you feel about Sasquatch:


Meh




8.) One word that describes how you feel about fan-girling:


Sa-woon


 Thanks again, Suzie, for taking the time to give us these great insights into the publishing industry!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Agent Interview-Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

I've decided that time permitting and agents willing, I'm going to post an interview each Monday. I'm so honored to have Kathleen Ortiz from New Leaf Literary here to answer a few questions. Please note, if you want to query Kathleen, please review her submission guidelines carefully.


Here we go!




1.) What are you tired of seeing in your slush pile, and what would you like to see more of?


I'm really not feeling any more dystopian, paranormal or sci-fi. There's so much of it out there that even if it's a really great hook, it's incredibly difficult to make it stand out not only to editors, but to booksellers as well. I'd love to find a really well-written, makes-my-heart-pound romance. And I'm always on the hunt for an awesome YA set within another culture, a la Memoirs of a Geisha.




2.) What is your pet peeve in a query, besides getting a query for something you don't represent?


It's really annoying when I get a query that is obviously rushed and not well thought out. You spent so much time writing your novel, editing, sharing with beta readers, revising, and getting it polished. Why wouldn't you give the same care and attention to your query letter, especially if the query is the first impression an agent will get of your writing and voice?




3.) What makes a manuscript/query stand out to you?


In a manuscript, I want solid voice and characters that will suck me into their lives and emotions. I want to be so invested in them, that I can't stop turning the pages. I want to feel what they're feeling,  cheer with their accomplishments, and cry (if needed) :)

With queries, a solid hook. All of my YA authors I signed through the slush pile have one main thing in common with their queries: they made me audibly gasp. Not necessarily in a "SHOCK!" way. But in a "oh my gawd. This sounds AMAZING. I absolutely MUST read it NOW." way.




4.) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are trying to hook an agent?


Do your research on which agents are the rights agents for you to query, and stay professional throughout the entire process, regardless if it's littered with rejections or offers or a mix. Querying is just the first step, and maintaining professionalism through every stage of the process is essential.




Lightning Round:(I wish I could do this in emojiis.... :) )




5.) One word that describes you the most:


Quirky


6.) One word you hope your authors describe you as:


Sincere




7.) One word that describes how you feel about Sasquatch:


Hairy




8.) One word that describes how you feel about fan-girling:


Giggly


 Thanks again, Kathleen, for these fantastic and informative answers!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NEMESIS!!!

So I can finally tell you about NEMESIS, my upcoming YA Fantasy, since the deal was announced yesterday! I'm so excited to be working on this project with Feiwel and Friends! Ahhhh! I've wanted to tell you guys for a long time, but had to keep it under wraps which nearly KILLED me. So, here are the details:

Liz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends has acquired Nemesis, a YA fantasy by Anna Banks, in a two-book deal. In the story, a princess who possesses the power to create energy escapes her father, who wishes to weaponize it, only to be captured by another kingdom where she discovers that her powers could be used to fight a terrible plague. Publication is planned for spring 2016; Lucy Carson of the Friedrich Agency brokered the deal for world rights.

 I can't wait until you meet Sepora, the Serubelan princess and Tarik, the Theorian prince. I think you guys will fall in love with these new characters just as I have!

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Agent Lucy Carson Weighs In On the Market, Queries, and Sasquatch!

My rock-star agent Lucy Carson was so kind as to humor me and answer some questions I asked for the blog. These are things I'd want to know if I were an aspiring writer, and especially if I intended on querying Lucy (again).

Note: If you decide after reading this that you want to query her, make sure you send your query to lcarson@friedrichagency.com. Include the word QUERY and your genre in the subject line, mkay? :)

So, here goes:

1.)    What are you tired of seeing in your slush pile, and what would you like to see more of?
I’m truly tired of “disaster fiction”, especially of a climate change variety. Agents and editors have been turned off by dystopian for a at least a year now, but it feels like the latest thing is for savvy writers (who know that “dystopian” is a dirty word) to present a scenario in which climate change has isolated part of the population, or a specific city, rather than destroying the world as we know it. It has tons of overlap with dystopian fiction, distinguished only by a technicality. I would like to see more YA that plays with form (incorporating creative elements into the prose) or better yet with formula: take those tropes and turn them on their heads! As long as the story itself is compelling, with depth and characters I fall in love with, I welcome rule-breakers!

2.)    What is your pet peeve in a query, besides getting a query for something you don't represent?

My number one pet peeve is the “consumer” approach to querying. You sent out ten letters to ten agents a month ago and several of them asked for your manuscript. Now you decide to query a new round of other agents. A new agent replies within hours, which should really put her at an advantage in reading quickly and aggressively, but 2 days later you have an offer of representation. Why? Because other agents have had this for weeks! Meanwhile, you’ll give new agent until Monday to make her decision. THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG WITH THIS. We agents don’t get paid read your manuscript, and we don’t read in the office—that’s when we take care of clients and actual business items. If we make time to read your work, it means that we said NO to reading the 300 other manuscripts that were pitched to us that week, and we turned down friends and family members to dive into your work. And now you’ll “give us” a few days to compete with your first choice agents? Nope. Don’t do this. It’s bad karma and just plain disrespectful.

3.)    What makes a manuscript/query stand out to you?

I know it’s so hard for a writer to find the balance, but if you can manage to show me who YOU are while simultaneously pitching your book, it stands out to me immediately. Some folks will see this advice and then draft a query letter that tries too hard to make jokes along the way, so let me clarify: it’s not about humor necessarily, unless that is an authentic part of you and your writing. Mainly, it’s the balance of professionalism (have you spelled all names correctly, and done your research?), persuasion (can you get me excited to read your work without an all-out brag fest?) and humanity (beyond the work and the beyond your credentials, what kind of a person are you?). Again, these are not items to be explicitly stated in the query, but there are ways to demonstrate (i.e. show don’t tell!).

4.)    Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are trying to hook an agent?

The personal approach to querying is always the best. A lot of agents don’t honestly have time to read every letter, but believe me, they will find it very difficult NOT to if you approach them with knowledge of who their clients are, what elements you’ve seen them respond to in the books they represent, and any other tidbits you can weave into your introduction of the project!


Lightning Round:

5.) One word that describes you the most: Direct

6.) One word you hope your authors describe you as: Protector

7.) One word that describes how you feel about Sasquatch: Suspicious

8.) One word that describes how you feel about fan-girling: Adorable


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Writerly Insecurity

I don't own it.


There. I said it.


I don't own being an author.


There are highs, yes. But most of the time, being an author means being shrouded in insecurity while a cloud of self-doubt hovers over you, waiting to unleash a deluge of I'm-not-good-enough. I have a great agent. I'm a New York Times bestselling author. I've published multiple books and am still going. And I doubt myself and my abilities every day.


If you're an aspiring author, you might have thought feelings like this would go away if only you could get an agent. If only you could get a book deal. If only you could quit your job and write full time. What you'll find is that after each step, after each hurdle you pass, you want more. You want to be your agent's favorite. You want a book deal that will make others envy you. You want not only to live off your writing, but to become wealthy from it.


Your wants become so bloated and inflated that one small prick of self-doubt will burst the entire structure of who you think you are--or who you're trying to be, whether it's a better version of yourself, or another author whose exact publishing gait you're trying to mimic.


Stop that. Immediately. And I'll try to do the same.


The thing is, I don't let all of this debilitate me now, but I did at first. Being a debut author is like getting up every morning and drinking a cup of insanity to start your day off on a leg you don't even have. Especially if you start playing the comparison game. Comparison is the death of hopes and dreams and worse still, productivity. It's difficult not to compare yourself to other author/writers. It's difficult not to feel inferior. I've learned to confront those feelings head on, and to dilute them into background noise. And it wasn't easy.


I still get up every day and write something. That something could be fit for a hot dumpster in July. Sure, I stare blankly at the screen with the best of 'em. I get writer's constipation (the laxative for me is reading). I still come up with ideas that may be cray cray and un-publishable (ask my agent), but the point is, I'm still generating plots, characters, entire worlds.


Writers, the point is, insecurity is like a cancer that can be kept in remission--or it can take over and quietly snuff out the life of your writing. If writing is what you really want to do, you'll let nothing stand in the way of it, not even yourself.


Here are a few things that may help:


1.) Don't view other authors/writers as competitors. View them as assets to your writing career. You can learn something from everyone, trust me. All you have to do is make friends, sit back, watch and learn. You need other authors. They know what you're going through. Writing is a lonely job. Being friends with other authors makes it less so.


2.) Celebrate the successes of others, instead of being jealous about it. This was a hard one for me, because you're truly happy for your author friend who just signed another book deal, but you're also a tidly bit envious. Congratulate your friend. Acknowledge your jealousy. Remind yourself that your own hard work will pay off. Then stick it File 13 and move on.


3.) No two publishing journeys are exactly alike. Make your own list of publishing goals and stick to it. Want to write ten books before you turn 30? Go for it. Want to get published by a certain house? Keep trying. Want to sell a million copies of your book? Me too. The point is, you won't have any time to focus on anything or anyone else. You'll be too busy chasing after the next goal. And when you get to cross one off your list, it's the best feeling in the world.


What advice would you offer a writer struggling with insecurity?





Friday, June 27, 2014

Fantabulous Friday

I know, I know. It's been a while since my last blog post but my mid-year resolution is to do more blogging and possibly vlogging (You'll enjoy this, I'm spectacularly awkward on camera.) So, I declare my intentions to blog twice a week: Writerly Wednesday (if you're a writer, you'll want to tune in) and Fantabulous Friday.


 Fantabulous Friday simply consists of a roundup of things I thought were funny/interesting/weird/cray cray. It's like blog vomit, basically. And I'll update a few things about what I did during the week, because I don't live the life of a normal person. You know writers aren't people right? We're villages of people. So we do things out of the norm all the freaking time.


So, here is my roundup for Fantabulous Friday:


1.) An article on The Most Insane Roomate Ads Ever Posted on Craiglist.


2.) One of my good friends, Leigh Bardugo, made the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers list with the third installment of her trilogy Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising. In case you're wondering why that's a big deal, check out what books are on the New York Times Children's Series list. Then send Leigh some you're-a-rockstar flowers. Woot woot!


3.) Monday marked the day I made my yearly quota for having an old person flip me the bird. I took her turn at a 4 way stop and she rewarded me with her knobby middle finger. Trophy for me! Now all middle fingers the rest of the year are just bonuses.


4.) This ecard:



5.) News: I'll be appearing at the Fierce Reads Summer Blockbuster event in Los Angeles, CA on July 23rd with Ann Aguirre, Marissa Meyer, and Leigh Bardugo. Come seeeeeee us! You'll be entertained, I swear by my first born son.*


6.)  This Abandoned Child Scare Prank. Enjoy!








*At this time, I have no sons.