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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.
I often tell people that being a lawyer isn’t so different from being a fiction writer. The comment always elicits some laughs, maybe a suspicious squint or two, but I couldn’t be more serious. As a junior and mid-level corporate litigator, much of my day was spent writing briefs, witness statements and other court documents. Over the years, I developed writing skills and strategies that helped me finish my debut novel, THE HOUSE GIRL (Feb. 2012) while also holding down a day job. Here are the top five. Read more
5 Simple Things Agents Can Do To Make Writers’ Lives Easier (and 3 Things Writers Should Do Regardless)
1. Set up an auto-responder email letting writers know that their query letter was received. By doing this, agents will cut down on the number of repeat queries they receive from writers unsure if their e-mail went through correctly. For those agents whose policy it is to only respond if interested, writers won’t wonder if their queries were received in the first place or send a follow-up e-mail just in case. Read more
Agent Jennifer Laughran Teaches the Webinar “Catching and Keeping an Agent” (and Critiques Registrants’ Queries!) on March 7, 2013
This week, literary agent Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown Literary) is going to provide a ton of instruction in her brand new webinar for WD. The webinar’s instruction is about both the process of finding & pitching agents as well as what to do after you have an agent. But to round out the presentation, Jennifer is critiquing the query letter of all registants. Virtually no topic of the publication path will go unaddressed.
Jennifer will teach “Beyond the Query: Catching and Keeping an Agent” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, March 7, 2013. The webinar lasts 90 minutes, and each registrant gets their query critiqued by Jennifer. Read more
1. Don’t write more than 3 hours at a time. I write three hours in the morning, 9am – 12pm. Other people are best late at night. I try to go to the same place when I write, but that doesn’t matter much. I’ve done lots of writing on planes and in cars, hotels. The important thing is to write when your brain is at its best. Work edits or do outside reading with the rest of the day. Don’t worry about a daily word quota. Stephen King has said he likes to get 2000 words each day. That’s a mistake for most people. Good for discipline but bad for a well written novel. Three hours of creating is taxing on any brain and you should stop there. Some days you may stop without any words at all. It’s much easier to write new stuff the next day than to go through painful deletions of a day’s worth of crap you already wrote. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Emily Jeanne Miller, author of BRAND NEW HUMAN BEING (June 2012). 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: Emily 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: seichenblatt won.) Read more
I’m not considering this a true New Agent Alert because agent Jody Klein (of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.) is not brand new. That said, this post resembles an Alert in that Jody did tell me recently how she is actively looking to build her client list right now — and that is something writers should be happy to know. All details below for those interested in querying her!
She is seeking: Jody is actively acquiring literary and commercial fiction, crime/suspense, historical fiction, graphic novels/memoirs, and magical realism, as well as narrative nonfiction (especially related to sports, science, or history), and prescriptive nonfiction. Read more
I recently returned from the 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference. The event was, as always, very awesome. It’s a conference co-sponsored by WD and the folks out west who organize it (Larsen Pomada Literary Agents and their comrades) do an excellent job with it. The event happens every President’s Day weekend at the Mark Hopkins International in Nob Hill, SF. It’s definitely worth a look for your years to come. At one point, there were a whole bunch of agents on a panel and 4 agents in a row that said they signed clients who came to them at past years of the event. (Confession: I met MY agent at this event! Crazy!) Read more
This installment features Sara D’Emic of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC. The Emerson College grad has been an editorial/PR intern for Last Light Studio and an editorial intern for Hanging Loose Press, and she’s excited to be extending her client base. She also Tweets.
She is seeking: In fiction, she accepts adult and YA fantasy, sci-fi, horror, mystery, and mainstream fiction. She is also interested in nonfiction science and technology. Read more
Agent Kate McKean’s Feb. 28 Webinar With Synopsis Critique: “Find, Fix, and Finesse Your Plot into a Winning Idea”
Plot and structure are so important to a story. Heck, that’s the key word to all this: story. A plot and structure is essentially your story’s framework. Many whole books have been written on plot because it’s such a tricky complicated thing. How can you keep people turning the pages? How can you affect their emotions and get them to continue reading? Plot factors in huge.
Luckily for us, we’ve got literary agent and instructor extraordinaire Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary to teach “Find, Fix and Finesse Your Plot into a Winning Idea” — a brand new webinar at 1 p.m., Thursday, Fe. 28, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes and comes with an awesome critique of your entire synopsis! Read more
Recently, I put on an event called The Literary Gong Show at an infamous watering hole in Portland, Oregon called Dante’s Inferno. I was the host of the event, and had dressed myself in a tuxedo and a floppy-collared, bright yellow, pleated tuxedo shirt that I unbuttoned to the navel. This was intended as an impersonation of Chuck Barris, the host who fronted the 70s TV program “The Gong Show,” but I think I just looked like an aging writer in a cheap, untailored tuxedo who didn’t know how to button his shirt and couldn’t afford a bowtie.
The Gong Show event was the end of a string of such events. In a bookstore in Portland, I orchestrated a doughnut ring toss. In San Francisco, I ran a game of Jeopardy. In Santa Fe, I reenacted a scene from my book. Sometimes I simply read, but at odd venues: cafes, bars, even a high school. At one point I found myself on top of a safe, sandwiched between an Elvira pinball machine and a vintage photo booth, reading to a crowd of people turned the other direction, as they waited to order pastries… Read more
In January 2013, I ran the most recent (the 13th edition) of my “Dear Lucky Agent” contests. This one was for writers of either science fiction or young adult. The response was overwhelming. Thank you to all who submitted work in the contest.
Well, the weeks of review have gone by and our judge, literary agent Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, has chosen her 3 winners. According to her, this judging was incredibly difficult — so much so that she has chosen several runners-up. See all winners after the break! Read more
7) There’s absolutely nothing the matter with kids today (at least nothing that wasn’t wrong with kids yesterday or the day before). The foxtrot did not destroy the greatest generation, MAD Magazine did not dissolve the moral fiber of our parents, and the PS3 will not rob our children of their souls. Every school I’ve visited on my book tour–public, private, rich, and poor–has shown me that kids are still the critical, curious, contemplative creatures they’ve always been. And they also still love to read. Read more
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard how a book is the writer’s baby, I wonder if it would take the sting out of having written for all these years for nothing but hope and heartburn? Probably not. But no matter, the question is: is it true? Is each story a spawn?
In a word, or three – not at all. Not for me, at any rate.
This has less do to with what I think of my writing than it does with how I think of my children. From the moment I knew they were there, they were never mine. Even earlier than that, before I had any symptoms and before I realized that everything was about to change, the DNA had already merged; the match was in the tinder.
GIVEAWAY: Jamie 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: Laura won.) Read more
“Get Your Nonfiction Book Published” Boot Camp Runs From Feb. 22-24, 2013. Get Professional Advice and Critiques From Editors!
In this new February 2013 nonfiction boot camp, the acquisition team from Adams Media, Inc., publisher of such national bestsellers as Please Stop Laughing at Me, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Dude You’re Gonna Be a Dad, The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need, and dozens of others, will teach you exactly what they – and other editors – are looking for when it comes to acquiring projects that are most likely to find an audience, perform well, and make money. All attendees will be able to turn in some nonfiction book proposal materials and get a critique from their editor instructors. Read more
Those who follow my blog probably know that last year I attended the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek isle of Ithaca as an instructor. It was the retreat’s first year and the event was a fabulous success, as I blogged about before. Though my newborn daughter is preventing me from returning to Greece again this summer (I will return in 2014!), the annual retreat is back, and I wanted to spread the word about it. The 2013 Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop will be held Aug. 1-7, 2013, and the primary instructor this year is literary agent Katharine Sands of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary. There is a lot about the retreat to review, so check out the webpage for all details about what attendees get. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Dennis Mahoney, author of the 2013 literary novel FELLOW MORTALS. 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 with literary agents. Read more
She is seeking: Marisa is accepting queries for middle grade fiction. Need more details? She is searching for a middle school novel she can’t put down until the last page and can’t stop discussing. Voice is definitely key for her. If she’s going to sign (and sell) someone or recommend someone, then the writer’s voice has to speak to her. She has to be able to listen (vocally and on the page) to that writer through revisions and edits and book after book. She wants to find characters she’d want as her best friends and partners in crime long after the story ends, whether it’s in this world or an alternate universe… and middle grade means the content where issues are age-appropriate and not based solely on lexile levels. Read more
She is seeking: literary and commercial fiction, science fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, mystery, horror and thrillers. For nonfiction, she accepts biography, memoir, food & lifestyle, science, technology, medical, health & fitness, how-to, religion & spirituality, dating & relationships, pop culture, entertainment, travel, history and military. Read more
2. Take advantage of small moments. Let’s be realistic. If you work a full-time job and have any kind of life, sometimes small moments are all you’re going to get out of a day. If you’re in the doctor’s office (okay, that may be a large moment), or waiting for your kid to finish his/her oboe lesson, or chilling during halftime of your NFL team’s latest victory, you have time to write. Remember: It’s like eating an elephant. Case in point: I’m writing this in the lobby of the high school where my son is trying out for the mid-state orchestra. Read more
When you write nonfiction characters, you have to be vigilant and observant (this leads to good fiction writing, as well). People consist, for other people, of four things:
1.what they look like
2. where they are
3. what they say
4. and what they do.
Ask any actor. It’s all about: costume; setting; dialogue, and movement or action. It’s also about “business,” as actors call it. Business is the daily buzz and thrum of a person’s activity, the little things a character does: picks up a bottle, drums a finger, turns on a light, fiddles with the phone, slides her shoe on and off. Read more
4. Buy lots of swag. You’re going to need it! Bloggers, readers, bookstores, other authors, book groups, librarians and schools will all want some, so you better make sure you’ve got plenty to go around. If you want to keep costs low (and I do!), I highly recommend you just order bookmarks, as they’re cheap to produce, they look awesome, and they don’t cost an arm and a leg to mail (and trust me, it all adds up, especially if you’re posting internationally).
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: Rebecca Harwell won.) Read more
Agent Mary Kole Teaches “Picture Book Craft Intensive for Selling in Today’s Market” — Feb. 21, 2013 Webinar
If you are writing and/or illustrating picture books for kids, then this updated webinar with literary agent Mary Kole is for you. This updated webinar (one of our most popular of all time!) teaches writers winning practices for composing books, explains how to pitch your work to agents/editors, and reveals where many submissions go wrong. Mary will also devote a portion of this session to answering attendees’ candid questions in a Town Hall-style format! The event happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more