February 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting March 13th
- Creative Writing 101
- Query Letter in 14 Days
- Essentials of Science Fiction & Fantasy
- The Art of Storytelling 102
- Essentials of Mystery Writing
- Grammar & Mechanics
- Advanced Poetry
Workshops Starting March 20th
- Creative Writing 101
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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.
2. Less is more. Everyone has their own style. Some prefer lean and muscular, others prefer something a little more florid. Both approaches have their merits, and their fans. That being said, I’ve never heard a reader say, “Gee, I wish there were more adverbs in this book,” and I’ve never read a review that says, “If only the author had found more synonyms for ‘said’.” There’s a reason for that, and I wish I’d figured it out sooner. These days, when I proofread a first draft, the number one thing I find myself doing is deleting adverbs and removing dialogue tagging, especially fancy dialogue tagging (of the “snapped, growled, interjected” variety.) My debut novel, DARKWALKER, was only just released, and already I see flab, extraneous words just begging to be nipped and tucked. My subsequent works are a lot trimmer.
GIVEAWAY:E.L. 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: Aristomas won.) Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Steve Weddle, author of COUNTRY HARDBALL. 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. Steve’s agent is Stacia Decker of Donald Maass Literary Agency.
GIVEAWAY: Steve 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: DanielR won.) Read more
Back in 2007, midway through querying my first novel and drafting my second, I attended the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop in Martha’s Vineyard. During the course of one intensive week, I attended a workshop by Jumper author Stephen Gould designed to help our select group of aspiring Science Fiction and Fantasy writers understand what life was like after publication.
At the time, this workshop seemed a waste of important writing time. Weren’t we all there because we were unpublished newbies? We just wanted to know how to write good queries, network, and get somebody—anybody—to read and love our little word-babies. A year and a half later, when my acceptance letter came, I wished I’d listened better to that lecture… Read more
It’s no secret that the query letter is a difficult monster to tame. Plenty of people say that writing a concise, compelling query is not much easier than writing the manuscript itself. Because a query is your all-important first contact with publishing professionals, and because literary agents read the most queries, we’ve secured agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary) for our next webinar: “The Art of the Query: Winning an Agent From the Very First Page.” It happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get their query critiqued by Michelle. She may even request more material if she loves your pitch. Read more
About Katie: Katie obtained her Bachelor’s in English from California State University, Sacramento, but the most enlightening part of her college career was her internship with Andrea Hurst & Associates. There she discovered her passion for being part of the process that connects compelling stories with book-hungry readers. Katie resides in the small town of Durham, California with her incredible husband, her joyful son, and Snoodles, her loyal cat. Besides her addiction to reading, she is also a diehard Miami Heat fan and obsessed with all things Disney. She is seeking young adult fiction, many areas of adult fiction (including sci-fi and fantasy), and many areas of nonfiction (including memoir). Read more
4. “Getting the word out” can mean just about anything. Everyone knows about social media, but old-school “social” still works. I paid my fee and went to the BEA’s Blogger Conference, introduced myself to book bloggers and gave them ARCs. (I also sat in on a number of conferences where everyone talked about Twitter.) The first bookstores that sold my book were stores in my neighborhood—an obvious target demographic for a book with the ‘hood’s name in it—because I walked in and asked. Get out there.
GIVEAWAY: Bradley 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: AnneTano won.) Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Robert L. Owens, author of POINTMAN. 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. Robert’s literary agent is Faye Swetky of The Swetky Agency Read more
Literary agent Jordy Albert (The Booker Albert Literary Agency) recently reached out to me and asked for an agent spotlight. She wants to get the word out about how she is actively seeking young adult, middle grade and new adult submissions from new authors. Read on to see if she’s a good fit for your work.
About Jordy: Jordy Albert is a Literary Agent and co-founder of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. She holds a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has worked with Marisa Corvisiero during her time at the L. Perkins Agency and the Corvisiero Literary Agency. Jordy also works as a freelance editor/PR Director. She enjoys studying languages (French/Japanese), spends time teaching herself how to knit, is a HUGE fan of Doctor Who, and loves dogs. Find her on Twitter. Read more
The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise That Sells — Dec.13 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Critique
The idea’s the thing. If you build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Often, a perfectly good project will go unsold because the premise on which it is based is too predictable, commonplace, or over-published. Whether you’re writing a novel or a short story, a screenplay or a memoir, you need to find a way to set your story apart from the competition — and the competition is tougher than ever in today’s marketplace.
But in this one-of-a-kind boot camp, you will learn the ins and outs of high-concept, as literary agent, author, and content strategist Paula Munier reveals how you can transform your story idea from “same old same old” to “high-concept hit.” It’s all part of the all-new Agent One-on-One Boot Camp called “The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise That Sells” Boot Camp (with a limited number of seats!). It starts at the end of the day, Dec. 13, 2013. More details below. Don’t forget that at least 4 literary agents have signed clients after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more
This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Marion Winik, author of HIGHS IN THE LOW FIFTIES: How I Stumbled Through the Joys of Single Living) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.
GIVEAWAY: Marion is excited to give away a free copy of her 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: Tina Lincer won.) Read more
In an ideal world, you’d have many more hours to dedicate to writing.
In reality, you carve out what meager “free time” you can, sacrificing things like sleep, a social life, exercise, a clean house, and quality time with friends and family. When your laundry pile resembles a laundry mountain and you haven’t hit the gym in a month, it’s hard to justify spending extra time working on something that doesn’t pay the bills (yet!). Until you can add hours to the day, what’s the solution? Read more
He is seeking: Weber is looking for MG and YA stories with universal themes told in unique settings, which show developing and changing relationships between characters. Because of his science/math/computer science background, he is interested in realistic historical fiction using current technology and projecting technology into the future. He is also wants well-researched science fiction, with no fantasy elements where science forms the foundation of progressive societies in the future. Read more
How to Find the Right Agent for Your Book & Career — Dec. 10 Webinar by Agent Kate McKean (With Query Critique!)
From industry standard terms and commission rates, to communication guidelines and a general list of duties, this webinar by literary agent Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) will de-mystify the role a literary agent can play in your writing career. You’ll finally understand how agents are paid and what services they actually provide. You’ll get answers to questions like: How fast should I expect an agent to respond to me? Will an agent help me edit my book or brainstorm ideas? Don’t agents just go to three-martini lunches all day and cash my checks? And can an agent really make a difference for my book?
The webinar is called “How to Find the Right Agent for Your Book (and Your Career),” and it all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a query critique from Kate. Don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed clients after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more
1. Listen to your critique group. When I first began to write, I was fortunate to meet some wonderful writers who became fabulous friends. We met regularly to work on our manuscripts. We worked to give constructive feedback to one another and because we listened to each other, our writing got better. We listened when the group told us the funny parts weren’t really all that funny. We listened when the group thought our chapters were too long. We listened when the group couldn’t relate to our characters. Listening to the group’s honest feedback made us dig deeper into our stories, making them stronger and better. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Sara Polsky, author of THIS IS HOW I FIND HER, and agented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary. 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: Sara 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: momiji5 won.) Read more
2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, toss what doesn’t work, and start again. Professionals throw away chunks of novels and stories all the time and start again. Not every story will work, not every plot will come together or every character come to life. None of the mistakes I made were a waste of time or effort, because each one of them taught me something that made the next story better. The same is true of query letters. If the one you’ve written doesn’t get you requests, start over.
GIVEAWAY: Jaime 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
Chelsea Lindman of Greenberger Associates is seeking: Her primary interests include playful literary fiction, upmarket crime fiction, and forward thinking or boundary-pushing nonfiction. Chelsea also represents a select list of children’s book authors whose stories have an emphasis on voice-driven narratives. Most importantly, Chelsea is interested in working with clients that are looking to build a lasting relationship. Read more
She is seeking: Clelia is very interested in the emerging New Adult genre. Having faced an early life career crisis, she really relates to characters who are confronted with the challenges of entering adulthood. She is also interested in young adult and middle grade books. She is seeking to represent writers whose protagonists have strong voices and whose plots are original. Clelia never wants to let go of her favorite characters, so she particularly loves trilogies and series that can be adapted to the screen.
Clelia also has a special spot in her heart for picture books. She especially loves ones that are funny or quirky, ones that feature minority and multicultural characters, and ones parents won’t mind reading over and over again to their children. Read more
Agent One-on-One Boot Camp: How to Write and Sell New Adult Fiction — Starts Dec. 4, and Has Agents Critiquing Your Work
New Adult fiction (novels featuring protagonists ages 18-25) has swiftly become the hottest thing in both self-publishing and traditional publishing. New authors are making astonishing strides in this category and making great deals with the big traditional houses. Recent success stories include Molly McAdams, whose new adult book Taking Chances has sold more than 200,000 copies so far. And then there’s Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster, a new adult novel that caught the attention of Warner Brothers and had its film rights optioned. Other bestselling NA novelists include Coleen Hoover, Cora Carmack and Tamara Webber.
The agents at Foreword Literary will help you understand New Adult fully from all aspects of the business. Whether you need to know the rules of the category, how to pitch it to agents, or how authors are hitting the bestselling lists with modern marketing techniques, Foreword has the answers for you. It’s all part of a brand new Agent One-on-One Boot Camp: “How to Write and Sell New Adult Fiction” that starts on Dec. 4, 2013. All attendees get their work critiqued (see below for details). There are a limited number of seats available. Read more
Should Sex Be in Your Novel? If you write romance or erotica, then, of course, the answer is yes. For children books, it’s a definite no and questionable in Y.A. and religious books. But what about the other genres like historical fiction, mystery, suspense/thriller, fantasy, science fiction, and even memoir? The fact is that no truer words were spoken than “sex sells.” A look at the longest running best sellers is proof. Fifty Shades of Gray didn’t make the list for the terrific writing, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, while a great thriller, the readers talked about the violent rape and victim’s revenge that sent them in droves to buy the book. Read more
Like all writers, my methods for building characters are a mix of mishmash and melting pot, drawn from both personal experience and academic study. Below is a short list of the ideas I’d like to cover.
1. A Character Who Refuses to Die
2. Know Your Archetype
3. The Great Man/Woman Theory
4. What MUST the Character Do (and What Does the Character Think He/She Must Do?
GIVEAWAY: Richard 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: Clae won.) Read more
I write like a girl. More precisely, I write as a girl. My novel, Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery, features a main character/narrator who is a woman. A young woman. And a smart, resourceful, pretty young woman at that.
Ellie Stone is a self-described “modern girl” in 1960′s New York. In the days before feminism, she plays like a man, but make no mistake: she’s all woman. A Barnard graduate from a cultured family, she’s determined to have a career that doesn’t involve fetching coffee for a boss who pats her rear end when she’s done a good job. Or even when she hasn’t… 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 65th installment in this series is with agent Adriann Ranta (Wolf Literary) for Mindy McGinnis’s young adult novel, NOT A DROP TO DRINK (Sept. 2013, Katharine Tegen Books), a post-apocalyptic survival tale set in a world where freshwater is almost non-existent. Mindy McGinnis is a YA author and librarian.
GIVEAWAY: Mindy 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: cotidiano won.) Read more
1. There is no formula for success. I’ve been writing for ten years. I’ve self-published and I’ve traditionally published. When success finally hit, it was a combination of persistence, timing, and luck. The only thing a writer can do to influence their success is write a good story. The audience will find it. Sometimes that’s overnight and sometimes that’s after several years.
2. Reviews are the best promotion. In my personal experience, the most effective promotion for a book is a review. Even a bad review is beneficial because at least people are talking about your book. As of this writing, Fifty Shades of Grey has 5,875 one-star reviews on Amazon. So what. That’s five thousand people talking about the book. Conversation is crucial to the success of a book. Any conversation is better than silence.
GIVEAWAY: Elene is excited to give away a free e-book 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: frj4833 won.) Read more