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Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and published author who runs the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, one of the biggest blogs in publishing. His site has instruction and information on literary agents, literary agencies, query letters, submissions, publishing, author platform, book marketing, and more.

New Literary Agent Alerts: Jodell Sadler and Loretta Caravette of Sadler-Caravette Children’s Literary

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Jodell is seeking: Jodell is interested in YA, MG (especially funny) , fiction and nonfiction, book proposals, and picture books. She will also coach writers wanting to self publish. She simply loves a well-paced story that moves her between joy and tears.

Loretta is seeking: Loretta specializes in MG fiction and early readers, and will focus on film rights management. Her academic article, Portrait of the Reader as a Young Child, was published in Children & Libraries: the Journal of the Association for Library Services to Children. Read more

How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: Sept. 9 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Awesome Critique for Attendees


WD’s September 2013 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp is shaping up to be an awesome opportunity for writers of children’s books. The new topic is “How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: From Toddler to Teen,” and this boot camp is for writers of picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.

It all starts on September 9, 2013, and features the amazing agents at Full Circle Literary offering instruction and critiques to all attendees. Picture book writers get their entire book critiqued while MG & YA writers get a query critique and five-page critique. This is a great opportunity to get a professional’s thoughts on your work, and possibly attract the attention of an agent at the same time. There is a limited number of seats for this event, and WD Boot Camps frequently sell out, so sign up quickly. Read more

Need Ideas or a Writing Boost? Read Your Newspaper’s Obituaries

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For an author, obituaries provide a wealth of story material. I’ve gotten character names from reading obituaries and story ideas. I’ve learned things I didn’t know and came across connections I would have never made otherwise. Try these on for size:

– Donald Doutrich raced against Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.
– Jeanne Recht loved to drive, too. She liked getting lost. She’d choose a road she had never been down and keep making turns to see where she’d end up. Sometimes, she’d drive for days. Alone.
– George Wise’s favorite pastime was sitting on his backyard swing, and Edward Etzweiler loved to boogie board at the shore with his granddaughters, their families said. Read more

How to Write Historical Fiction: 7 Tips on Accuracy and Authenticity


2. Let the characters engage with the historical details. This goes along with that “show don’t tell” truism writers are told all the time. Rather than just dumping a bunch of facts on the poor reader, let your characters interact with these details with all these senses. Let them smell the offal dumped onto the cobblestone streets. Let them squint in the fading light of the tallow candles. Let them feel the tingling sensation as the physician places a leech on their bare skin. Read more

WD’s Tunesday: Volume 4 — Name That Tune and Win Awesome Writing Stuff

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Enjoy a little piano music from time to time? Who doesn’t? Well I’m trying something fun today as a pick-me-up to try and get your week going. It’s my own crazy variation of NAME THAT TUNE and I’m calling it WD’S TUNESDAY. This is Volume 4. It runs until September 20, 2013.

The rules and the gist are simple. Watch the video below. I play 17 melodies (songs & movie themes) on the piano. You try to name as many of them as you can, and e-mail me your answers to literaryagent at fwmedia dot com. The person who names the most correct answers gets lots of cool writing prizes (see below). It’s a great excuse to call upon friends and relatives to help you ID the songs, as they are from different decades. It’s also a great excuse to blow off whatever dull work you’re doing and listen to music instead. And if you can’t name all 17 songs, feel free to enter anyway! If no one can name all 17, the closest number wins. ALSO: If you can simply name just 8 correctly, you automatically get entered into a drawing to a win a free WD book! Read more

Tunesday: Volume 3 Answers Revealed — and Meet the Winner, Writer Jessica Hoefer

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Today, Friday, I’ve posting a double shot of fun musical blog posts. First, in this column find the answers to the third volume of Tunesday (the first piano edition). But before that, you will meet the winner of the third contest, Jessica Hoefer, a writer like you.

Secondly, make sure to check out the 4th volume of Tunesday, which went live today (Sept. 6, 2013) and lasts for 2 weeks. There are awesome writing prizes, and it’s free to enter. It’s essentially just “Name That Tune,” so if you like music and like writing prizes, check it out. Read more

How I Got My Agent: J. Kent Messum


“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring J. Kent Messum, author of BAIT, a novel. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: J. Kent is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Glenn027 won.) Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Sarah Davies and “The Rules For Disappearing”


This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.

The 63rd installment in this series is with agent Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary) for Ashley Elston’s young adult thriller, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING (Disney-Hyperion, May 2013). Find Ashley on Twitter here. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Amy Cloughley of Kimberley Cameron & Associates


She is seeking: She enjoys literary and upmarket fiction of all types in addition to commercial—including well-researched historical and well-told women’s fiction. She also loves a page-turning mystery, suspense, or thriller with sharp wit and unexpected twists and turns. She has a soft spot for distinctive, strong, contemporary characters set in small towns. Amy always looks for an unexpected story arc, a suitable pace, and a compelling protagonist.

She is interested in narrative nonfiction when the plot and characters are immersed in a culture, lifestyle, discipline, or industry. She will also consider a travel or adventure memoir. Read more

Tackling Tough Topics in YA


When I started working on my young adult novel My Life After Now, which is about a teenage girl who learns she is HIV-positive, the only thing I was thinking about was telling a good story.

Okay, I knew I specifically wanted to tackle the subject of HIV/AIDS because not only has teen literature largely skirted the issue, but society as a whole has become somewhat complacent about the virus, now that people aren’t dying from it at the rate they were twenty and thirty years ago. I also knew I wanted my character to contract HIV throughout the course of the book, as a direct result of her own actions, since that is how most people acquire it.

GIVEAWAY: Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: juliette19 won.) Read more

How I Got My Agent: Lee Kelly


“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Lee Kelly, author of MANHATTAN SAVAGES (2015, Simon & Schuster). These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.

This installment from Lee Kelly is the story of how she found her literary agent, Adriann Ranta (Wolf Literary Services) and got a two-book deal at auction. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Emmie Mears


2. Go tackle a new quest. There’s nothing like a new obsession to keep you from obsessing over submission. Sure, some books get snapped up by editors faster than you can say “six figures,” but for most of us, it takes longer. A lot longer. To dull the ache and fear of the inbox, start something new. Put everything you’ve got into it. The other, stinkier part of this is that your darling book-on-sub just might not sell. You need to have a horse to get back on if that manifests as reality. Read more

Debut Author Interview: Elizabeth Kiem, Author of DANCER, DAUGHTER, TRAITOR, SPY


It’s time to see how another debut author broke out and got their first book published. Our guest today is Elizabeth Kiem, author of DANCER, DAUGHTER, TRAITOR, SPY (August 2013, Soho Teen). The novel is an IndieNext Pick for the Autumn, in addition to the Amazon pick and Indies Introduce selection.

Elizabeth Kiem studied Russian language and literature at Columbia University and lived in Russia for four years immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her nonfiction work can be read all over the world wide web. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy is her first novel. She lives in New York. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Lisa Rodgers of Jabberwocky Literary


About Lisa: Lisa grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from California State University, Sacramento, in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a minor in German literature-in-translation, history, and culture (sadly, she doesn’t speak German, although it’s on her bucket list). She moved to New York City in 2012 to attend NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute and joined the JABberwocky team a few months later. She’s previously worked at San Francisco/Sacramento Book Reviews and Barnes & Noble, interned at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, and read submissions for Lightspeed Magazine.

She is seeking: science fiction, fantasy, YA and middle grade of all genres, and romance. Read more

Worldbuilding for Fantasy and Science Fiction: Aug. 29 Webinar (with Critique) by Bestselling Author Philip Athans


New York Times best-selling author and veteran editor Philip Athans, author of The Guide to Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction (Adams Media 2010), knows his stuff. He is a master of creative detailed worlds for his novels. That’s why we’re offering a new webinar from Philip on Aug. 29, 2013 called “How to Create Unique New Settings for Your Novels and Short Stories.” It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 29, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique.

In this new webinar, Philip gets into some seriously detailed techniques for creating worlds for fantasy and science fiction stories, novels, screenplays, and games, drawing from a quarter century of experience in creating new worlds. You’ll get hands-on advice on where and how to start creating a fantasy or science fiction world. We’ll discuss research and sources of inspiration, and the importance of setting and following your own rules. Sign up for the webinar here, and make your novel stand out to agents & editors. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Wm. Luke Everest


Ever since I could read, I’ve tried telling stories.

“Write a little every day, without hope and without despair,” wrote Karen Blixen. I was given this quote by my mentor, Scott Bradfield, on the first day of my MA. He stood over the seminar room, scrawled this on the whiteboard and said it was the most important piece of writing advice we’d ever receive. I disagreed with the entire quote save three words: “write every day.” Read more

5 Networking Tips for Writers


1. Don’t go to Networking Events. Any time I attended a networking event – you know, pay $15 and get one crappy drink – I never made a useful connection. And that’s probably because these events were open to anyone. The lack of focus meant I probably wasn’t going to meet anyone who needed my services – and I didn’t. At a recent writers conference, I spoke on a Networking. The panelists – myself, a literary journal editor, and a writer – all had the same success stories: attending cocktail parties and literary events (like readings) worked for us. So that’s where I tend to hang out and meet writers.

GIVEAWAY: Mare is excited to give away a free copy of her Kindle e-book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: rachel613 won.) Read more

How to Write a Page Turner: 5 Steps For Writers


1. Create a question in the reader’s mind right at the beginning. This might seem like a cheap trick, but even a literary writer like Marquez uses it at the beginning of a novel: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” What? The Colonel is facing a firing squad? How did he get there? Will he survive? And notice the secondary information: ice in this world is a novelty. Where is this place? How long ago is it? In my own first novel, the beginning is tighter: “The Senator’s wife was late. Very late.” Hopefully the reader is intrigued: Who is this woman? Why is she late? Will she show up? And as the protagonist of my novel waits for the Senator’s wife, the reader waits, too, and gets sucked into the story. Read more

Making Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest — Aug. 22 Webinar With Critique by Agent Danielle Smith


Picture this: You’re sending your children’s book manuscript off for its very first round of submissions, but you hesitate. Everyone questions their work and often wonder if it’s “finished.” After dozens and possibly hundreds of revisions when do you say enough is enough? When your hard work is ready to put into the hands of an agent, editor, or reader you want it to shine from the first to the last line. So how do you best accomplish this?

In this brand new live webinar, “Making Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest,” instructor and literary agent Danielle Smith will show you how to put the finishing touches on a manuscript and enable you to feel confident when sending it out to agents & editors. In addition to sharing her own tips and tricks, Danielle will examine pages from recently published picture and chapter books to show you examples of those spots that can often make or break your manuscript in the eyes of readers. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Don’t forget that at three literary agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more

My First 400 Queries Were Rejected: How I Persevered and Got an Agent & Book Deal


Before I learned to ride my own motorcycle, I rode a hundred thousand miles on the back of my husband’s. I’d prop a book on his back and read during the boring stretches. One day, outside Kernville, California, a dog ran in front of the bike. After a gut-clenching scare, he trotted back the way he came. But it gave me a germ of an idea for a story that wouldn’t leave me alone.

I debated for over a year. Who was I to write a book? Authors were way smarter than I. One day, while staring at a blank Word doc, I looked down. Hey, I had a ‘delete’ key! I could write the book, and no one would ever have to see it. So that’s what I did. But a year and a half later, when I finished, I had a new goal. I wanted to hold a book in my hand with my name on the cover.

So I sent queries to agents — 170 of them. I had a few requests for full manuscripts, but ultimately, everyone turned me down. Read more

August 26-29 Boot Camp: How to Submit Your Work. Agents at Kimberley Cameron Literary Critique Queries, Synopses, Manuscripts & More

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When your submission materials – a query letter, synopsis, manuscript, or book proposal – arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. Our all-new August 2013 Writer’s Digest Boot Camp is designed to help you streamline your submission materials to stand out in a good way. Attendees will learn how to write a dynamite query letter, tackle a one-page synopsis (for fiction) and a book proposal (for nonfiction). The instructing literary agents will also explain the importance of author platform in addition to basic etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics.

Lastly, all attendees will have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with an agent at Kimberley Cameron & Associates and submit 10 double-spaced pages of materials (in any combination–query, synopsis, book proposal, first pages of your manuscript) for valuable feedback provided by successful literary agents. It all happens starting Aug. 26, 2013. WD Boot Camps often sell out, and there is a limited number of seats. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Jacob Moore of Zachary Schuster Harmsworth

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He is seeking: As an agent, Jacob is particularly committed to working closely with writers to bring their work to a higher editorial level. He is currently looking for journalists, bloggers, academics, Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers, playwrights, and memoirists contemplating relevant social and philosophical issues in new and creative ways. Read more

Agent Advice: Frank Weimann of Folio Literary Management


This interview features Frank Weimann of Folio Literary Management. The founder of the Literary Group International since 1986, Frank and LGI joined Folio Literary Management in July 2013 as Senior Vice President and Director of Operations. He has worked with celebrities, athletes, and novelists, as well as Pulitzer, Caldecott, and Nobel Prize winners, and his client list has included Joe Bonanno, Larry Bird, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Russell, Britney Spears, Gregg Allman, Sammy Hagar, Maria Menounos, Rodney Dangerfield and Nancy Grace. In addition to book sales, he has optioned and licensed numerous titles for film and merchandise, including October Sky, Flags of Our Fathers, and I Heard You Paint Houses.

He is seeking: Narrative and prescriptive nonfiction, memoir, military, history, diet & fitness, science, as well as young adult. He does not seek: Poetry, screenplays, or YA paranormal Read more

Debut Author Interview: W.H. Beck, Author of the Middle Grade Novel MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT


It’s time for another fantastic debut author interview, where I sit down with a writer and we discuss how they came to find their literary agent and get their book published. These interviews can explain what they wished they knew at the beginning at their journey.

W.H. Beck is an elementary school librarian by day and a children’s author by night (well, actually, very early mornings). She reads and writes in Wisconsin, where she shares her home and books with a husband, two sons, and a sneaky dog. Her first novel is MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT (Houghton Mifflin, illustrated by Brian Lies), a humorous middle grade mystery starring classroom pets at midnight. Kirkus called the book, “A rip-roaring tale; even rodent haters will have to like Malcolm,” and Publishers Weekly said “Escapades, humor, and romance weave together in this madcap elementary school adventure … A first-rate debut.” Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Liz Tolsma


3. Publication will happen when you least expect it. You’ve sent in your amazing manuscript, one that will have editors clamoring to publish it, pushing the advance into the stratosphere. For the next two weeks, you sit by the phone (or carry it with you wherever you go) willing it to ring. With each little beep and buzz, you fish it out of your purse or run from the bathroom with your pants around your ankles so you don’t miss “the call”. Yeah, right. I was offered my contract while my husband and I were on a freeway off ramp, trying to keep the mattress we were moving from sliding off the truck. He was miffed I chatted on the phone instead of helping. He got over it. Hard as it is, it may take a while for you to hear – if you ever do. Send it in and move onto the next project. Read more

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