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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.
1. You will spend most of your time in line. Go to any amusement park across this great nation. You will see loads of people willingly lined up in very long queues to board rides which only last around five minutes. Writing is kind of like that. The period leading up to my debut’s release was a very long wait, with not very much happening. My actual release month was like the time on the ride—I could barely catch my breath. Also, when I was first starting out, I thought that at some point things would move faster. I know for a few folks, sometimes things do move very quickly (if you manage to snag a VIP pass, you can skip the line). But for the vast majority of writers, there are long periods of waiting in between thrill rides. Write something else in the meantime. You’ve got time.
GIVEAWAY: JJ 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: KarenLange won.) Read more
Create Characters That Take Your Novel to the Bestseller List: July 18 Webinar with Critique by Agent Andrea Hurst
What makes a character jump off the page and keep an agent, publisher, or reader hooked to the end of the book? The most effective and successful novels create characters who continuously deepen in personality through internal and external conflict, characters who reveal themselves through dialogue and action, and characters who genuinely and naturally transform by the end of the book.
Because characters are so important, we’ve enlisted a pair of writing instructors — agent Andrea Hurst and writer Terry Persun — to teach “Create Characters That Take Your Novel to the Bestseller List.” This all-new webinar happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, July 18, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees are guaranteed a personalized critique of their writing (details below). Don’t forget that multiple literary agents have signed writers after critiquing their work through a WD webinar; you could be next! Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Lori Roy, author of BENT ROAD and UNTIL SHE COMES AROUND. 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.
Lori Roy is an award-winning novelist who signed with literary agent Jenny Bent of Bent Literary. Read more
About Peter: Peter Knapp joined the Park Literary Group in July 2011. He provides support for all of the agency’s initiatives, and is building his client list. Prior to joining Park Literary, he was the story editor at Floren Shieh Productions, where he consulted on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based film and TV entities. He graduated from New York University with a B.A. in art history.
He is seeking: He is building his client list with a focus on middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as suspense and thrillers for all ages. He does not represent picture books or nonfiction. Read more
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 3. It runs until July 28, 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 10 correctly, you automatically get entered into a drawing to a win a free WD book! Read more
5. Don’t put a time limit on your dreams. Like an idiot, I thought I’d write my book, do a few edits, and get published. In my mind, this would all go down in a year. Four years later, I signed my contract. I could’ve saved myself a lot of heartache with a more realistic goal. You should do what I didn’t do.
GIVEAWAY: Celeste is excited to give away 2 free copies 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: kstjshin won.) Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of the 2013 debut novel, FOREVER, INTERRUPTED. 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: Taylor 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: ashbporter won.) Read more
The rejection that writers must face during the submission process to agents is brutal. Even though you know it will happen to you – as it does to all writers – it feels personal and daunting. It’s hard not to take it to heart when 20 or 30 literary agents say “no,” – with cold, automated “it’s not right for me” e-mails. It’s hard to remember that many of them receive 50-100 submissions a day; they can’t possibly respond to each one in any validating sort of way. And it only takes one “yes” to set you on the path to publication. How do you find a way to keep believing in yourself, to keep marching onward when doors continue to close? For me, the antidote to carrying around all that angst was to break a plate every time I was rejected. (This guest column by author Beck McDowell.) Read more
The second annual Writer’s Digest West Conference is approaching quickly! We at WD are planning a grand event in Los Angeles from Sept. 27-29, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The conference is actually 3 events in one. We have a traditional awesome writers conference, a screenwriting conference, and a self-publishing conference going on at the same time. Read on to learn all details. There are ample opportunities to not only meet speakers and sit in on sessions, but also pitch lots of literary agents and film pros. (Also, early bird pricing ends July 19, so sign up early for a discounted price.) Read more
She is seeking: “I am looking for all kidlit categories from picture book to YA. I’ve been a publisher in all these areas and my enthusiasm for all categories continues! For picture books, I’m especially interested in talented author/illustrators. In middle grade and chapter books, I like stories that make me laugh, or real children in magical circumstances (Savvy by Ingrid Law) and I love animal stories; In YA, above all else I look for a captivating and distinctive voice. I’m also happy to look at both literary and commercial fiction. I love a great piece of chick lit. I’m not looking for rhyming picture book texts, poetry, faith-based stories, or vampires, paranormal or sword-and-sorcery fantasy.” Read more
1) Routine. Back when my dad was trying to get me to be a more productive member of society (when I was 10 years old), he stressed the importance of doing a new action for 21 successive days. I’m sure he got this idea from some well-meaning book about how to become successful and happy and live to be 125. But there’s truth to it. Repetition breeds habit, and habit breeds routine.
GIVEAWAY: Peter 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: WagnerLisa34 won.) Read more
Conference Recaps and Photos: My 2013 Conference Gigs in Austin, Clarksville, Pittsburgh, and Middleburg, VA
During the last three months, I have spent a lot of time meeting writers at conferences nationwide. It’s been a whirlwind teaching season, and I want to share some info about these great 2013 writing events I’ve spoken at, so you can check them out when they come around again in 2014 (because you definitely should!). Recently, I got to present at the Agents & Editors Conference in Austin, TX, the Clarksville Writers Conference in Clarksville, TN, the Hunt Country Writers Retreat in Middleburg, VA (near DC), the Kentucky Writers Conference in Bowling Green, KY, and the Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. All were great events. Read more to learn when these conferences will happen again, and see some images of the 2013 happenings. (All events take place between April-July.) Read more
1. Virtual Tour. Google Maps is your friend. Plot believable routes for your characters to take, find out how long their walk to school or work is, and observe local monuments and landmarks. Don’t forget to take a tour down the smaller streets to see what typical neighborhoods look like. YouTube is another great place to start. You’d be surprised how many videos you can find of people walking around local shrines, temples, or markets. While writing SHADOW, I referred to an hour-long video of the train ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station to remind myself what it’s like. I even found myself swaying in time to the train as I watched. Talk about muscle memory.
GIVEAWAY: Amanda 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: Milkfish won.). Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jolina Petersheim, author of THE OUTCAST. 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: Jolina 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: Pulcetta won.) Read more
About Jessica: “I attended University of New Haven, where I initially studied Forensic Science. After two years I came to the realization that, despite my love for titrations (and saying “phenolphthalein”), I could not possibly spend the rest of my life staring at the color pink (the most vile color in all the world) and I would much rather read The Crucible than ever have to handle one again. I made my escape to the English department, where waiting for me were a plethora of musty tomes and a comforting absence of fire. For five years I interned with various local publications in both an editorial and design capacity until finally I found a place with Talcott Notch.” You can follow Jessica on Twitter at @loladeee.
She is seeking: “I’m interested in all kinds of YA and Adult fiction, but lean toward science fiction and fantasy (and all the little sub-genres), romance (the steamier, the better), and thrillers.” Read more
If you want to find success as an author — whether through traditional publishing or self-publishing — you must make an effort to connect with other people. That’s the whole point of social sites like Twitter and Facebook — to connect with readers and writers. But fundamentally more important than social media is simply having a (free) comprehensive author website. That’s why we’ve enlisted eMedia professor and guru Jane Friedman to teach the webinar “Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, September 20, 2012. The intensive class lasts two hours.
Speaking from an editor’s perspective, I can tell you that having a simple, neat website is absolutely essential. You must have something show up when people Google you or try to connect with you. All webinar attendees get to ask Jane as many questions as she wants, and no question goes unanswered. The event happens at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Read more
2. Never quit for the day without being excited about what you’re going to write next. Forget finishing the chapter or getting to a good stopping place. It is absolutely imperative to stop in the middle. I get up only when I have the next sentence or event in my mind. That way, I’m anxious to get back to it. I’ll be thinking about it as I do other things (see #1 above) and the story and my characters will be calling to me. When I don’t do that, the next time I sit down I will face a blank page and I can spend the entire day wandering and wondering and never move forward. Read more
2. Suspects are the main characters. Not everyone will agree with this idea, but for me it’s quite important. Usually crime novels have a hero– a main character in charge of the investigation (like a policeman, a journalist, a lawyer or an anonymous person interested in solving the mystery). That hero will probably have their own problems, weaknesses and strengths. But what we call secondary characters—the ones who have a relationship with the victim, the ones who may have committed the murder—must be portrayed as complex human beings. In other words, in real life they would not be secondary characters so give them your attention. Additionally, we lie both in real life and in fiction, so keep that in mind when writing dialogue. Lies can be meaningful for suspense-building, After all, nobody tells the complete truth. Never. Read more
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 62nd installment in this series is with agent Melissa Jeglinski (The Knight Literary) for Amanda Sun’s debut young adult novel, the urban fantasy INK (Harlequin Teen, June 2013). Read more
Steven is seeking: Steve wants to be surprised with fresh ideas, particularly from young people. He represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children. Spiritual themes are a favorite. Please no erotica, poetry, chainsaw murders, picture books, or screenplays. Read more