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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.


Get an Agent For Your Middle Grade Novel: Secrets for Query Letters & First Pages Revealed — Oct. 31 Webinar with Critique

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It might seem as though getting a children’s book published is easy—just look at JK Rowling! In reality, however, children’s books (and middle grade books in particular) are among the most challenging works of literature to craft. Nailing the narrative voice of middle grade, and finding the right balance of character, heart, and plot to keep child (and adult!) readers invested in your work is an art. And then you have to boil all that down into a cover letter for an agent or a publisher to read.

That’s why we have literary agent Brooks Sherman (FinePrint Literary) teaching a new webinar, “Querying Middle Grade: How to Grab an Agent’s Attention and Keep It,” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique of their manuscript’s first 2 pages. And don’t forget that at least 4 literary agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more

8 Rules For Writing in Bed

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4. Turn on the light to get down your thoughts. I’ve often grabbed my clipboard and pen in the dark, cavalier and overconfident, brimming with creative bounty, and started writing like mad. In the morning, I look and the words, completely unintelligible, are splattered over the page like a drunken sonnet.

5. Sit up to write. An effort, I know. Sometimes, fatigue creeping back, I’ve compromised by reclining. I scribble like a demon and, sated, slide down again. Next day’s result: see #4. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Steph Cha, Author of FOLLOW HER HOME

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Steph Cha, author of FOLLOW HER HOME, a mystery. 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 column is written by Steph Cha, author of the 2013 mystery debut FOLLOW HER HOME (Minotaur). Steph’s agent is Ethan Bassoff of Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. Read more

Tunesday: Volume 4 — Answers Revealed!

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A little while back, I hosted the fourth edition of my musical blog contest called “Tunesday,” which is essentially just Name That Tune with me playing riffs on the guitar and piano for writers to guess. We had a winner to the contest, and the winner’s interview answers are finally in, so it’s time to reveal the answers to Volume 4 and meet J.D. Abbas, the writer who won the latest contest. To revisit the 4th edition of Tunesday, click on this video in the blog post and watch it again. Or skip below to meet winner J.D. and see the 17 correct answers. Read more

Agent Mollie Glick Seeks Adult Fiction Submissions Now

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If you read my blog, you know that, once a week, I post a New Agent Alert about a new/newer agent seeking submissions now. But every now and again, an established agent comes to me to put out a call for submissions. Such call-outs are exciting opportunities for writers, because these are agents who have a long track record of sales. Today I want you to meet Mollie Glick, agent at Foundry Literary + Media, who is putting out a call for quality adult fiction submissions [mostly mainstream and literary]. Read below to learn more. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned so Far, by Laura Krughoff

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3. Fix the end by fixing the middle. I routinely tell my students that if they’re struggling with the ending of a story, it is probably because they haven’t quite worked out the conflict. I spent a long time struggling with how to end my novel, and I rewrote the final chapter many times before it occurred to me to take my own advice. A difficult but essential scene was missing, and once I had that in place, I finally understood how to bring the novel to a satisfying conclusion. I could have rewritten that ending until the cows came home, but it was only by addressing a problem much earlier in the novel that I was able to get the ending right. Read more

The Writer’s Promise: How to Craft a Book’s Pitch

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I was in the ad biz back in the post-Mad Men days and rather than quaffing martinis and playing office politics, we spent a lot of time focusing on the “promise” of a product: it’s emotional payoff rather than its efficacy. Sure, Spongy paper towels absorb liquids just as fast as its competitors at half the cost, but how does that make the housekeeper feel? It’s the difference between mere description and going beyond it to add an emotional dimension… Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Monica Odom of Liza Dawson Associates

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She is seeking: Monica is building her client list with a focus on literary fiction, women’s fiction and voice-driven memoir, as well as a focus on nonfiction in the areas of pop culture, food and cooking, history, politics, and current affairs. Monica is looking for writers with big ideas who push the boundaries of storytelling and its traditional forms. She is especially interested in writers with strong social media platforms who have something original to say. Read more

Author Interview: Nancy Grossman, Author of A WORLD AWAY

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It’s time to meet another debut author and learn from their successful publishing journey. Today we meet Nancy Grossman, author of the 2012 young adult debut, A WORLD AWAY (Disney-Hyperion, out in paperback in 2013), a story about an Amish girl who visits the outside world.

After meeting an Amish teenager during a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, author Nancy Grossman imagined what it would be like to take the girl home with her. Eventually those imaginings became her first novel, A World Away, which was named to Kirkus Reviews’ list of the Best Teen Books of 2012. Read more

Agent John Cusick Moves to Greenhouse Literary — and Seeks Children’s Book Queries

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Literary agent John Cusick recently switched agencies. He left his position at Scott Treimel Literary and is now with Greenhouse Literary. When I heard he moved, I asked him if he had time to answer a few questions so writers could catch up with him. Here’s what he had to say. Read on to learn if John is a good fit for your work! (Also, I should mention that John is also an author, and he just had a book released in Sept. 2013: CHERRY MONEY BABY, a young adult novel from Candlewick that got a starred review in Publishers Weekly.) Read more

Ripple Grove Press Seeks Picture Book Submissions

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Meet Ripple Grove Press, they’re a publishing house actively seeking picture book submissions. Check them out and see if they’re a good fit for your work.

ABOUT RIPPLE GROVE: Ripple Grove Press is a family-owned children’s picture book publishing company started in 2013. “Our mission is to create picture books that come from life experiences, elegant imagination, and the deep down passion in our hearts. We want each Ripple Grove Press book to enlighten a child’s mind with fun and wonder. Ripple Grove Press searches for a powerful ‘timeless’ feel in each book we publish. Our stories will make you laugh or think or keep you guessing and dreaming. We hope our books find their way to the cozy spot on the floor and are the last ones read at bedtime.” Read more

Is Your Blog a Book? Agent Kate McKean Explains in Her Oct. 22 Webinar

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We’ve all see the overnight successes of blog-to-book deals. Whether it’s a traditional blog, a Twitter feed, a Tumblr blog, or something else entirely, publishers and agents are actively looking to discover new talent on the Internet. Could you be next? Luckily, to answer that question, we have literary agent Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) to teach her webinar, “Is Your Blog a Book: When, How, Why (and Why Not) Your Social Media Could Become a Traditionally Published Book” at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. The webinar lasts 90 minutes.

This live webinar will cover what publishers are looking for in blog-to-book properties, what it takes to make the Internet-to-print jump, and how to know if the traffic you have is big enough to get an agent’s or editor’s attention. Agent Kate McKean has ushered dozens of blog-to-book properties into print—from the New York Times Bestselling (twice!) ICanHasCheezburger.com to Noah Scalin’s online art project Skulladay.com, to numerous Twitter and Tumblr accounts. She’ll show you what she’s looking for, and not looking for, in good writing on the web. Kate will be critiquing the query of all attendees; don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed writers after seeing their work as part of a WD boot camp / webinar. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Tracy Solheim, Author of GAME ON

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Tracy Solheim, author of GAME ON. 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. Tracy’s agent is Melissa Jeglinski of The Knight Agency.

GIVEAWAY: Tracy 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: oldestgenxer won.) Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Karen Dietrich

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1. Write through the wait. When The Girl Factory was on submission to publishers last October, I felt like I was in limbo. There is a waiting game to play and I’m terribly impatient. The first few days, I spend a lot of time checking my inbox for emails from my agent and thinking about possible responses from publishers (even though my agent guided me through the process and assured me that responses don’t usually arrive quickly).

GIVEAWAY: Karen 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: burrowswrite won.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Connor Goldsmith of Foreword Literary

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He is seeking: He is interested in a wide range of fiction, and is looking for literary fiction, speculative fiction (scifi/fantasy), and psychological thrillers. Under the umbrella of speculative fiction he is especially interested in urban fantasy, urban science fiction, and magical realism. He is particularly looking for fiction from LGBT and racial minority perspectives. In nonfiction, he is looking for books by recognized experts with broad, established platforms. Subjects of interest include cinema, television, theater, mass media, historical biography, and progressive politics. Read more

Pre-Plot & Complete Your Book in a Month: October 17 Webinar Ideal for Novelists and Memoirists

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Are you a writer who prefers to pre-plot? Or, do you simply like to jump in and begin writing without much pre-planning? Perhaps you’re just starting out and don’t know your plotting preference? Whatever kind of writer you are, you’re much more likely to finish a fast draft if you have a basic grasp of the dramatic action plot and the character emotional development plot of your stories before you begin writing. You’ll also find that if you do more pre-plotting up-front you’ll have fewer rewrites later.

Martha Alderson works with writers from all over the world. She’ll share with you a simple, visual technique to help you pre-plot your story quickly. You’ll also receive a template to help you organize your time in the actual writing phase. We guarantee you’ll finish a fast draft of your story in a month. Once you assemble the plot items on her checklist and you’ll be ready to begin your one-month writing challenge. It’ all part of her new webinar, “How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month” — The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

How to Maximize a Book Festival Appearance: 9 Tips

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This past weekend, I had the honor of signing books at my local (awesome) book festival: Cincinnati’s Books by the Banks Book Fair. It happens every year in the fall, and this was my third appearance. Every time I sign books at a regional fair in Ohio or Kentucky, I seem to get better at interacting with readers. If you’ll be appearing at a future book fair to promote your traditional or self-published book, here are some quick tips that may help you.

1. If possible, stand. I’ve read multiple places that you make a better first impression if you’re standing when people first meet you. So stand if your health allows it. Read more

5 Ways To Be a Good Literary Citizen

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A term I’ve heard with increasing frequency is “literary citizen.” It is usually spoken of along with an admonition to be a good one. But how exactly are we supposed to be good literary citizens, and why should we try?

Writing is often thought of as a solitary occupation, and it’s true we writers spend a lot of time alone. However, we write so people can read our writing—a writer is inherently part of a group. Yet even in graduate school, surrounded by other emerging writers, I didn’t think of myself as part of a literary community. Of course, community meant something different in the pre-social-networking nineties, but the idea that I was a writer within a larger writing community didn’t dawn on me until I was well established in New York. But if you’re writing, you’re a literary citizen, so you should make the society a nicer place to live.

GIVEAWAY: Allison 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: rmonk won.) Read more

How I Got My Agent: Elizabeth Huergo, Author of THE DEATH OF FIDEL PEREZ

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Elizabeth Huergo, author of THE DEATH OF FIDEL PEREZ. 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.

GIVEAWAY: Elizabeth 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: wisetraveler13 won.) Read more

Agent Gordon Warnock Explains Author Platforms: Why You Need One & How to Use It to Secure Representation — Oct. 10 Webinar With Critique

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Platform — your ability to market yourself and your books — has become increasingly important in the modern publishing world. What was once of concern only to authors of prescriptive nonfiction is now an integral part of successfully publishing fiction and nonfiction, both traditionally and independently. This is especially true for debut authors looking to break into the popular market. With more submissions and fewer acceptances, you need to show agents and publishers that you have what it takes to cut through the noise and get noticed by your target audience.

This brand new live webinar will demystify platform, show you how to obtain it, and share those important “extra” details and tricks that can help sway an agent’s mind. Among topics touched upon will be establishing the right kind of presence, writing the platform-centric query, assembling a convincing marketing proposal, and what to say in a verbal pitch to show the agent you have platform. Taught by agent Gordon Warnock (Foreword Literary), it’s called “An Agent Explains Author Platforms: Why You Need One & How to Use It to Secure Representation,” and it happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique; don’t forget that at least 3 agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar. Read more

Make the Most of your Indie Bookstore Event

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It’s important to realize that the speaking/reading/signing engagement is the tip of an iceberg, promotionally. Whether you have dozens of people lined up for you, or you fight off the despair that creeps in when the seats are empty, your event should yield more publicity and generate more sales than what hits the register while you’re there. How is this possible? By maximizing the likelihood that the bookstore staff will like you, remember you, and hand-sell your book to their patrons long after you’re gone. Sure, step one in this plan is to write a great book, but there are a number of steps you should take after that.

GIVEAWAY: Nathan is excited to give away a free copy of his latest 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: vrundell won.) Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Natasha Solomons

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1. Hearing voices in your head isn’t a bad thing if you’re a writer. When I start to hear voices in my head, it’s a good sign. It means that my characters are coming to life. When I start something new, I’m always waiting for that moment, when, Golem-like, my characters will take on their own lives. For me, that’s when I start to hear them talk. I finish a scene on the page, but I can still hear them chatting. I like to eavesdrop on their conversations. It’s very reassuring. Read more

My Writing Life: GNOME ATTACK Mentioned by Mental Floss, and I’m Signing Books at Cincinnati’s Book Festival on Oct. 12, 2013

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I will be signing books at Cincinnati’s huge book festival, Books by the Banks, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. Come by and say hello! But there are way more reasons to pop by the festival than to see me. Besides me (Chuck), you can also meet fellow WD staffer Brian A. Klems, who, in 2013, celebrated the release of his successful humorous parenting book, OH BOY YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL. Read more

Agent Anna Olswanger Puts Out a Call For New Submissions

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About Anna: Anna Olswanger has been an agent with Liza Dawson Associates for eight years. In addition to being a literary agent, Anna is the author two children’s books: Shlemiel Crooks, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and PJ Library Book, and Greenhorn, an illustrated novel for middle grade readers. In 2011, a family musical based on Shlemiel Crooks premiered at Merkin Concert Hall in New York. Anna lives in the New York metropolitan area. You can read more about her at her website www.olswanger.com. You can also find her on Twitter.

She is seeking: She focuses on adult nonfiction and children’s books from picture books to YAs, and especially enjoys working with author-illustrators. Although she rarely takes on novels, she’s intrigued by historical fiction (especially mysteries), stories with animals as the protagonists, Southern settings, Judaica and Israel. Read more

Author Interview: Russ Ryan, Author of the Novel IT’S JUST A DOG

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In celebration of my 2012 humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG: WHEN POOCHES GET POLITICAL (Running Press, July 2012), I am featuring interviews with other dog book writers every now and again. It’s very exciting to shine light on books from other writers who also share a love for canines.

This time it’s Russ Ryan, author of the 2013 novel, IT’S JUST A DOG. Russ has written screenplays with the producers of American Pie, Fireflies in the Garden, and was a writer on National Lampoon’s Repli-kate. This is his first novel. Read more

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