Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Query Time: FAQs

Thanks to everyone who submitted their questions. Below you'll find a lovely list of Query Frequently Asked Questions. (and yes, these are very, very frequently asked, so I'm glad to finally have a post dedicated to them)
  • If I have no fiction credentials, what do I put in the author bio in the query? Can I leave it off?
    • Yes! Just leave it off. The agent doesn't need to hear about how you've been writing since you were six or how you were inspired by your dog. Leaving it blank won't reflect badly on you at all. It will make your query simple and to the point (which I do love).
  • For the "summary" part of the query, what sort of word count do you like to see?
    • Great question! Let's see... I'd say 150-300 words would be good for the summary. That's not counting the intro, thanks, and bio. Back cover blurbs (like the "synopsis" I post each week for Wednesday Reads) tend to run about 100-200. You can get good practice by trying to write a 100, 200, and 300 word blurb and see which works best.
  • I have a series planned, but the first novel is a standalone. Do I mention that?
    • It could matter less to me if you have a series or a single book--the writing has to prove it first and the idea of the first book needs to intrigue me enough to read it. But ya, you can mention it. (title) is the first planned book of the series (series title) but is a stand alone. Don't spend any more time than that on it.
  • How do I query a novel that is part of a series (not a stand alone, cliff hanger, etc)? 
    • Again, mention that it's part of a series. You don't have to inform us that there is a cliff hanger. My reasoning is, either we're interested in the idea for this one book (and will therefore want to see more) or we won't be. Then when we get to the manuscript, either we'll read all the way to the end and love your writing, or we won't. We'll cross the "change the ending or leave it" bridge when we get to it.
  • Should I mention if I'm currently under contract for publication?
    • Yes. Even if it's a small press, it will show the agent two things. One: someone wants you. Two: you have the dedication to do whatever it takes. Be sure to say who the publisher is, when you'll be published, and the genre.
  • Should I mention if I was previously agented (but parted amicably)?
    • Yes. More likely than not, it'll move your query out of the slush pile and earn you a quicker response. Someone has already vetted that you're worth the deeper look, so we pay attention. Ask your prior agent if you can name drop him/her. If it's a big name we all recognize, you'll get a fast response.
  • Do I mention if I have self published (a book I'm not currently querying)?
    • Sure! Again, it shows your dedication. If your sale numbers were high, you especially want to mention that.
  • What do I need to include if I'm seeking representation for a self published book?
    • Firstly, think hard about your goals before you self pub. Are you looking to be the next Amanda Hocking? That takes a lot of dedication and marketing and writing several books in a short period of time. If your sale numbers are very low and/or your book is more than 6 months old, that reflects badly on your dedication. You need to include the synopsis, sale numbers, pub date, avenue of publication, and links so we can check it out if we so desire (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc). If you have any quotes or recommendations from notable authors, include that.
  • What's your average number of queries rejected? Week? Month? Year?
    • I get approx 10 queries a day (depending on time of year, blog exposure, conferences, etc). I might request materials from 1 of those queries. Say 70 queries a week might get 5 requests (that's a 93% rejection rate). Let's go with that 93%, so out of the 3,640 queries I get a year, that's 3,385 queries rejected, only 255 requested. And I'd say, approximately, I might read more than 50 pages on 30 of those (I think I'm being very generous on that number). Last year, I offered on 8 manuscripts--7 of which came from queries. So, approximately, you have a 0.19% chance of being signed from the slush pile. 
    • HOWEVER. If your query is captivating, you've done your homework, your writing is solid, your characters unbelievable (in a believable sort of way), and your plot rockin, you have a superb chance at getting noticed and signed. Which is to say, it's not about luck at all--it's about passion, dedication, and skill.
  • How important is it that I draw comparison between my work and that of others? (readers of X would enjoy this; my ms is Y meets Z)
    • Besides showing your ability to follow directions, it also shows you know your market and have done your homework (dedication and easy to work with). Agents can usually spot the market intended through your genre and query, but in case it's not clear we need that extra information. However, if the comparison is unclear (I can't picture what Happy Feet meets Gangs of New York would entail--thanks Rick for the awesomeness) or is obvious that you don't know what you're talking about (if you use thrillers to describe your ChickLit), it can hurt you. I have seen queries which I loved, but the comparison line drove it home with such ingenuity and (what I like to call) the YES! factor, leading me to read the ms as soon as I received it. In most cases, the comparison is bland and obvious (I definitely know a Sarah Dessen look-a-like when I see one), but it will neither help nor hinder your query. If I'm interested, I'm interested.
  • What sort of comparisons work best?
    • There are lots of different sorts. There's the MovieA meets MovieB. BookA meets BookB. If done well, you can do MovieA meets BookB. The always fun If AuthorA had a baby with AuthorB. You see the list goes on and on. Honestly, no one format works best. It has to be true to you and your ms. Try out several on friends, critique partners, strangers, Tweeps, fellow conference attendees, to see what works best.
  • How do I write a synopsis for my 130k book? I'm trying to condense it but there is too much to talk about.
    • Firstly, the word count is too high. For any genre. Unless you're a tried and true author and you've had your name on the New York Times Bestseller list. Most likely the reason you have too much to talk about, is because there is too much to talk about. If the plot is solid, and no extraneous characters or info, the synopsis should follow smoothly. As for how to write a synopsis, all I can suggest is try, try, try again. Write a one page synopsis, and a longer synopsis because agents request different lengths. There is a lot of info out there on how to write a synopsis (Google it).
  • I queried a manuscript to some agents a few months ago, but have completely rewritten the manuscript, leaving only a few things the same (title, characters name, etc). Can I query those same agents with this "new" manuscript now? How do I inform them I'm querying a fully revised manuscript?
    • I'm assuming they only have the query, not the partial. If so, then no, don't tell them. If you've included sample pages with your query, when they request to see more pages you can include a note to let them know you've revised so the first pages won't look the same. A revised ms will not sway them to read it based on the query; either they're interested in the idea or not. If they have the ms already, and you want them to read the revised, you can try, you have nothing to lose. But I'd recommend against it. When you query agents, leave your ms alone. Don't touch it. Work on something else. Only when they've all responded do you revise. It makes the process less complicated, gets you working on something else to get ready to send out, and gives you distance from the ms for a better revision.
  • You suggested in an earlier post to include your website in your query. Does a blog count or should I invest in a big fancy author website?
    • Below your name, in your signature, you can include your blog link, Twitter link, and anything else that is pertinent and relevant. You do not need to make a fancy author site. You do not need to include these things in the body of the query (bio section). It takes up space and attention. It's much less intrusive in the signature and if I care to, I'll click it myself (don't say, here's my site for you to check out, ugh). If you have an extraordinary amount of followers or views, you can include that in your bio. I also like to know if you're in any special blog groups (ie, YA Confidential, Bookinistas, YA Highway, etc), that you can include in the bio.
  • Do I need to tell you about my pen name? Or use only my pen name?
    • Honestly, I find pen names annoying in queries. You're not hiding your identity from me (I hope) so don't sign that way. In your signature, you can include w/a pen name (meaning, writing as). Do not tell me in your query that you're writing under another name, and for the love of the world, don't explain to me how you came up with the name. We can deal with pen names when we get there.
  • When I send an update to agents with my manuscript to let them know I have an offer, do I tell them the name of the agent?
    • No! At least, I hate knowing and I think it looks unprofessional. If an agent specifically asks, you may tell them, but they don't need to know. Here's why I don't like knowing. Publishing is often referred to as a big family; we all know each other. And if my agent friend is the offering agent, I may back off on it to be nice. Or, to certain agents, I'll offer only because I feel like I'm in competition with them. I like to be perfectly blind and think only about myself and this timeline I have to decide against.
Happy writing!

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    January Query Time: What to include

    Now we get to the particulars.

    I find the list of "what to include in your query" to be much shorter than the "do not" list. Here's what you need: salutation with agent's name, about two paragraphs (3-6 sentences each) of summary/back cover blurb, briefly about the author, sign out.

    Your query should look something like this:

    Dear (name of agent),

    about the ms

    little more about the ms--word count and genre included

    about the author

    Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


    (website if applicable)
    OR your usual closing signature

    Nice and clean, right? This is my favorite sort of query. It launches right into the book with the main character, a tiny bit of world building if it's fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, etc, the main struggle, love interest. Done. The author bio is in first or third person (no preference) and includes relevant information.

    You can also do another format:

    Dear (name),

    (title) is a (word count) (genre). I'm submitting to you because you mentioned on your blog you want to see more (genre) queries/you like (specific book)/you represent (specific author)/my friend is your client-mother-brother-co-worker. One line hook.

    about the ms

    little about the author

    Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


    (website if applicable)
    OR your usual closing signature

    Note the use of the word SPECIFIC several times throughout the opening paragraph. I can always tell when someone hasn't actually done their research. If you like my blog or I've mentioned liking one of your comparable titles or we've met somewhere, be specific. Anyone can say "I like your blog, here's my query." (Yes, it's happened.)

    Your "about the ms" should be simple and to the point. By simple, I mean use simple sentences. Don't get fancy. Agents read a lot of queries daily, and I for one tend to skim-read--if I find something of interest, I slow down. But if your sentences are too long, packed with info, convoluted, I can't retain as much info as quickly (and there's a good bet your ms will look like that too). By "to the point," I mean get in and get out. Here's an example:

    (name of main character) is (brief description). She's thrust into (main conflict). She must rely on (love interest) which is an issue because (personal dilemma). (evil character) will stop at nothing to (what's at stake).

    Your query is obviously going to be more involved. But there are the main points you need to hit.
    • Why should we care about you main character? Who is she/he? How will we connect with him/her?
    • What's her life like before the problem?
    • What and how does the main conflict get thrust upon her?
    • Who is the love interest? Or other character of large importance--keep this absolutely limited to one or two people (three on occasion). You don't want to bombard the agent with info and characters; also, it takes to long to portray their significance and "why we should care."
    • Who is the bad guy? This can be grouped up there with the main conflict. Remember your "man vs man" "man vs self" "man vs nature" from third grade.
    • What's at stake? Vitally important. Is the world going to implode? Is the main character going to lose her family? Her sanity? Her self respect? The chance to avenge her father?
    Read back cover blurbs of books. Seriously. Sit in a bookstore aisle and pull books off the shelves. Note how they draw you in, first to the character, then to the conflict. And notice how brief it is. For the books that you read, note how many subplots and characters get left out. It's necessary. Which is also a good reason to have critique partners help you, and you help them. It gives you perspective.

    Ask all the questions you want to ask. Next week, I'll answer them.

    Happy writing!

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Query Homework

    Tomorrow I'll post my January Query post on what to include in a query.

    Today I want to direct your attention to an awesome new contest blog, Cupid's Literary Connection, that John Cusick and I just participated on--a love triangle contest--not about love triangles. We battled each other for the best entries.

    The reason I'm talking about this instead of my planned January Query topic, is because I'm giving you homework. Go to Cupid's site here and check it out. Read the entries. See the comments. And see which ones John and I picked. It's a great insight into the agent mind and what we're looking for.

    Also, the queries are written well and are all to the point (exactly the sort of query I love). It's also a great opportunity for you to try out your query and get feedback. Look for future contests. Next month is Blind Speed Dating (just got your interest, didn't it?).

    Happy writing!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Wednesday Reads: Chihuahua Karma

    I know I don't normally review e-books, but this one was just so splendid! Adorable, quirky cast of characters, and will make you believe in true love. It could be described as a beach read, a cozy sort of women's/romance (yes, the /romance is necessary because while Cherry is driven by love, there are few actual romantic scenes--you'll see why), a supernatural love story gone awry. That sort of thing.

    Chihuahua Karma by Debby Rice. Find here on Amazon or here on Barnes and Noble.

     When socialite Cherry discovers her husband Larry has been cheating, she gulps down a fist-full of Vicoden with a bottle of wine for breakfast and accidentally falls of her penthouse terrace. She wakes in the body of a mini chihuahua, Sugar, belonging to the corner laundry. Though pocket size, Cherry is not without her wits, and manages to find her way back into her old life--as the pocket buddy of Larry's new girlfriend.
    In her diminished state, Cherry finds new perspective. She yearns for Richard, a love she gave up years ago in favor of Larry's Black American Express card. And she forms an unlikely alliance with Don Paco Fernandez, a temperamental ghost with a taste for tequila and pretty ladies. Through Don Paco, Cherry discovers that only she can save an orphaned child from her impending adoption by a sinister couple. She can only hope that the tiny body she inhabits can be effective enough to set to right wrongs she committed in her former life.
    The size of Sugar--but imagine her wearing Chi-couture

    First Sentence: "I was young, beautiful and rich--just golden enough to imagine that I had the world by the balls." Cherry has all sorts of hilarious insights like this. She starts out on top of the world, a woman and character that you really can't like, but makes the beautiful redemption into a good, honest person--er, dog. I want to give you the first few sentences though, because it sets up the story so nicely and Cherry's voice shines through.
    "I was young, beautiful and rich--just golden enough to imagine that I had the world by the balls. Death was the furthest thing from my mind. But even a morbid obsession with the afterlife could not have prepared me for what happened.
    "I was murdered on a beautiful summer day. Technically it was an accident. Larry didn't get his hands dirty. He drove me crazy, and I did the rest."
    Brownie Points: Sugar. Even though Sugar herself has no personality, simply being a mini-chi is hilarious. It's the way people treat Cherry while she's Sugar--outfits, dog carriers, baby voices. It's an insight into the world of miniature dogs that makes you want to simultaneously gag and coo over how adorable they are.

    Recommendation: The book would appeal to fans of The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, as well as fun beach reads, chick-flicks, and anything dog related. I urge you to give this one a chance. You'll be laughing out loud on every page.

    Would I represent it? I'd love to work with a book with a host of characters as fun as this one. It's not exactly in my looking-for genres, but I would definitely keep an open mind to supernatural quirky contemporaries.

    Happy reading!

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    January Query Time: What not to include

    I'll try to keep on topic and off of rants and fun stories about horrible queries I've seen. Like this one time...

    We've discussed why a query is important, what it is, what it's not. Here's a handy list of what not to include. Thursday will be what to include, how to format, etc.
    • Apologies. Nothing turns me off more than a writer apologizing for taking up my time. Or telling me how swamped I am. Or being humble, or anything like that. In this regard, keep it impersonal. Formal.
    • Aggression. Don't blame me for you being rejected. Don't blame readers or publishers or the state of the economy. Besides distracting me from the important stuff--the query--it makes me not want to work with you.
    • Excuses. If you make an excuse for why your word count is too long, just don't query. If you find yourself needing to explain the first few pages or why you need to get past the first fifty to really get into the story, you shouldn't be querying. You know deep, deep, deep down that there's something wrong. We want a close-to-finished-you-slaved-over-it-went-to-classes-and-had-beta-readers-read-it query/ms.
    • Don't tell me it's been professionally edited or that your friend who's an English major has edited it. And especially don't tell me that you'll have it edited if I think that's best. (you should be getting the gist--get to the query)
    • You don't need a hook. My preference is getting straight to the query. And don't introduce it with, "Thanks for your time. Here's my query..." or "Now, on to the query!" 
    • If you use a hook, please, please, please, keep it to one line. Two at most. If the sentence is overly wrought or too long, I get bored. It's TELLING not SHOWING. Your query SHOWS, you TELL.
    • To introduce your author bio just say, "I've been published by (specific publisher, name of book, year of publication)" or "I'm a member of (specific organizations)." Etc. Don't say, "Now, a little about me." Again, it's distracting (you won't get automatically rejected if you break this rule--my rule--but do keep it in mind).
    • Don't say you've been writing for years, since you were a little kid, just quit your job to write full time, your mother loves your stories, etc. It looks amateurish. If you have nothing in your bio, thank the agent for his/her time and close.
    • Don't offer an exclusive. Don't say who it's currently out with.
    • I don't care if you tell me it's a simultaneous submission. I assume it is--it's a smart practice. I hate finally getting to a query after a month only to find out I was the only one it was submitted to. I made you wait a month before you could get to anyone else! Remember my job-application metaphor? Would you put in an application for only one job at a time and wait until they got back to you?
    Get to the query. Have you ever called someone up or visited someone and you just need one bit of information from them? You make a little polite chitchat and suddenly you can't get away from the person. And before you know it, you know all their woes and the name of their first dog--fluffy-kins. It was a rottweiler. Agents are looking for that one bit of information--not the extras. That can come later with the phone call.

    Last week, I said that the query is not a business letter. Particularly, I was thinking about the header you include on business letters--your address, my address, etc. Maybe in the days of old, when people still used snail mail, that was common practice for queries. But you don't need it (also, it's a telltale if you didn't do your research; for example, our agency has moved its main offices from CA to WA, so if you use the old address, I know you're not doing your research). It's distracting. You won't get rejected over it, but most of my advice this month tends to be towards the "cleaner and tighter, the better". (I'm going to talk more about this business letter thing next week--it deserves the attention.)

    More on Thursday.

    Happy writing!

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    January Query Time: What it's not

    Now we now why a query is important and what it is. But what isn't it?

    It's not:
    • A synopsis
    • An apology
    • Begging
    • A mass letter
    • One line asking the agent to look at the attached materials
    • Two lines asking if the agent is accepting queries
    • Three lines asking what sort of genres the agent accepts
    • Unaddressed
    • A business letter
    • A letter to a friend
    • A solicitation
    • A complaint
    • An opportunity to sell me your self-pubbed book
    • An opportunity to brag
    • An opportunity to blame
    • An opportunity to whine
    Wow, that was actually a lot of fun.

    Next week, I'll go over what to include in a query and what not to include. If I don't cover something vitally important or you'd like a clarification, please leave a comment.

    Happy writing!

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Wednesday Reads: Lola and the Boy Next Door

    Normally, I don't review sequels or second books in series, but Lola really isn't a sequel. It's a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss (you may remember my review here), and Anna is in it as minor-ish character. But Lola stands on her own. In all her shining, glittery glory. Stephanie Perkins is officially one of my favorite authors.

    Oh, and I happened to like Lola more than Anna. Not that I didn't enjoy Anna. I did enjoy my 300 page trip to Paris. I was just able to connect with Lola way more. There's a scared teenage girl locked inside of me who really wants to wear crazy clothes and wigs every day.

    Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
    When Cricket - a gifted inventor - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
    First Sentence: "I have three simple wishes."

    It's not a book about genies. It's actually a very straightforward way to start the book, but Lola's voice immediately shines through. And here's what I mean by that: if you mix a bunch of first pages together, anyone who has an inkling of an idea who Lola is, will not mistake the first page for another character. Here's more of the first page to give you an idea.

    "I have three simple wishes. That's really not too much to ask.
    The first is to attend the winter formal dressed like Marie Antoinette. I want a wig so elaborate it could cage a bird and a dress so wide I'll only be able to enter the dance through a set of double doors. But I'll hold my dress high as I arrive to reveal a pair of platform combat boots, so everyone can see that, under the frills, I'm punk-rock tough."

    The next two wishes briefly touch on the two major conflicts of the novel (her neighbors and her boyfriend). The first page is very successful in laying out voice and conflict, being just enough in-your-face to emulate Lola and get the plot rolling, without being Telling.

    Brownie Points: Well, the entire book. Besides that?

    Lola's parents. They're gay. But here's what I love about this. It's not a novel about having gay parents. She just happens to have loving parents who don't always agree with her choices but allow her to live her own life--and they just happen to be two men. Plus, she lives in San Francisco (just like in Anna, Lola is very successful with setting as a character), which was a great choice for setting. If it'd been set in a small town, not only would Lola be seen as more eccentric, but her parents might have been an issue. It's done beautifully.

    Recommendation: Everyone should read it. If you like YA even a little bit, or Adult contemporary for that matter, you should read it. It's a highly successful novel with a highly successful character. I suggest you start with Anna, it's a fabulous read, then Lola, then anything else Perkins ever produces.

    Would I represent it? Yes, yes, yes! What have I been talking about? Character. Plot. Setting. It's all golden.

    Happy reading!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    January Query Time: What it is

    I'll spend more time on this next week, getting down into the particulars. But for an overview...

    A QUERY IS a brief overview of your manuscript, a back cover blurb, designed to intrigue an agent or editor to read more, and can incorporate important highlights of your author bio.

    Imagine you're looking for a job.

    Haunting, I know.

    You put together your resume, cover letter, and list of job opportunities. Sounding familiar? Your query is, in essence, an application.

    Now, imagine you're in HR looking to hire a new employee. You have one job available and 500 applicants (we're in a recession, aren't we?). 450 go into the immediate NO pile because they're not qualified, the job is wrong for them, or something about their first few lines just turns you off. The remaining 50 dwindle after a closer look, probably for many of the same reasons above, they just weren't that obvious on the surface. Say you call 10 people back. Three never respond, one can't make the interview. 6 are left. You interview them. Maybe a second interview. Maybe you have another colleague interview them as well.

    If you're lucky, one of those candidates are exactly what you're looking for. So you hire them.

    How long does the average employer spend on each application if they have a stack just staring at them? Not long.

    On Thursday, What a Query Isn't.

    Happy writing!

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    January Query Time--Importance of the Query Letter

    It's a new year. Let's start with the basics.

    Okay, not the basics. The basics are sentence construction. I might be inclined to rant about the misuse of semi-colons every now and then, but otherwise I leave that to your first grade teacher.

    We all know how important a query is. Most of us know what it is. Some of us know what it is not.

    This month will be broken down into sections. Next week: what it is and what it is not.

    Today: the importance

    • It gets your foot in the door. Agent reads. Agent likes. Agent requests pages. Another post for another day.
    • Demonstrates your knowledge and use of proper sentence and paragraph construction.
    • Demonstrates your ability to structure ideas in a concise form.
    • Demonstrates your ability to follow direction.
    • Shows that the ms has unique characters and complete plot.
    • Proves you know how to sum up your book and describe it in the most market-friendly way.
    • Unless you're just really naturally good at it, a good query will show the agent that you've spent time and effort on the process. You're someone we want to work with.
    And all that without you having to TELL us any of that. Amazing what a little SHOW can do, right?

    Happy writing!

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Wednesday Reads: Blood of Eden

    Second Wednesday Read of the year! So far I'm sticking to my New Year's resolution. Every other week is an adult book. This week is a quirky Urban Fantasy. It is adult, but the protag is at that age just above New Adult--but she is still in college, so call it what you will. I call it fun. Blood of Eden by Tami Dane.

    Sloan has a sky-high IQ, a chaotic personal life, and a dream: to work for the FBI. Her goal is within reach until an error lands her with the FBI's ugly stepchild: the new Paranormal Behavioral Analysis Unit. She'll get to profile criminals, but the pool of suspects is a little more...diverse. Yet even as Sloan tackles her first case--a string of victims, all with puncture wounds to the neck--she can't silence her inner para-skeptic.

    To catch the killer she'll have to think like one. That means casting aside her doubts, and dealing with the bizarre nightmares that started with the job. But the strangeness is only beginning, as Sloan pieces together the shocking truth about a case that's more personal than she ever would have guessed. 
    First sentence: "Rotten eggs and sulfur. Oh, the sweet stench of home." And she doesn't live in hell. Her roommate loves to experiment in their kitchen, hence the smells. I love the roommate by the way. We're quickly introduced to both her and the mother before we get to the job part--it's a great introduction and shows us so much about Sloan before we get to the paranormal stuff. Plus it's hilarious. Learn from this opening.

    Brownie Points: Rather than the protag being thrust into a paranormal world in which she has to fight her attraction to a sexy vampire or werewolf, Sloan stays pretty firmly rooted in the human world. She's on a team of human FBI agents tracking down the paranormal. But the branch of the FBI is brand new so none of the usual rules of team hierarchy apply. They're all figuring it out together. Which makes for great opportunities for Sloan to be part of the team and action while she's still an intern. The reason this is a brownie point is because it's different. The entire team is learning about the paranormal together--most of them begin as skeptics and only three-quarters through are they all actually convinced of the paranormal.

    Oh, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Sloan's mother. She's my favorite character. Hands down. If you have an insane/paranoid/overprotective parent in your WIP--or you want to read one--check this out because it's done flawlessly.

    Recommendation: For readers who like a little quirk and romance in their Urban Fantasy without going cozy or full-on romance. For ParaRom readers looking to expand into UF without going cold turkey on the romance.

    Would I represent it? In a heart beat. I do love cozy paranormals, dark Urban Fantasy, and full-on ParaRom. But I especially love when they all blend into a delightful mix.

    Happy reading!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    What I've learned from Blogging

    My blog has been up for about a year and a half now, but since it's the new year I thought it was about time I actually talk about my experience and what I hope others gain by blogging themselves.

    I started blogging when I was still an intern. Everyone was talking about how important platform is, and just as many people refused to do it. It was too hard, they said. I don't need to know when people are going to the bathroom, others said. And some, like me, didn't like the dependence on technology (I still don't). So, lowly, wide-eyed intern that I was, I decided to give it a try. So I could say, "if I can do it, you can do it."

    I opened a Twitter account and started my blog. It was rocky at first, but I found my footing easily. My biggest surprise though: it was fun. People on Twitter rock. It's not like Facebook in which you talk about yourself and tag pictures of friends. Everyone on Twitter--at least the publishing sector--is in Twitter for networking reasons. And that's how I use it. Likewise to blogging.

    So here's a quick list of things I've learned from blogging:
    • Pictures are fun, but use few and keep them relevant
    • Bulletpoints are a great way to convey info fast and effectively
    • Keep your posts short--aim for 300 hundred words until you hit your stride
    • Have a common theme (mine was wide-eyed publishing beginner talking about new things as she learns them--to an extent, it still is)
    • You'll always be surprised by which blog posts become favorites--mine is a post on how to format your ms so it looks pretty on an e-reader (and in general). Another is about death. Who knew?
    • Target your blog to your audience. Go to where your audience is and advertise your blog there
    • Twitter is a fast and effective way to advertise your blog
    • Connect with other blogs similar to yours. Interact with them with insightful--not self-centered--comments. If you're around enough, people will recognize your name and flock to your blog
    • Contests have a way of getting people irrationally excited--it reminds me of college when events advertised "free food"--guaranteed to get people in the door (I haven't done contests on my blog but it's always a future option).
    • Do not use your blog as a place to complain. More than one author recently has lost chops because of a hot temper.
    • Do not only talk about yourself--remember, you're writing for other people, not just yourself
    • Give yourself opportunities to learn from your readers; ask questions
    • It's easy to tell in a query when someone has actually done their research. My blog is linked in my bio on the agency website--if a querier says they saw my bio but doesn't mention my blog, pretty sure they didn't do their homework properly. If someone mentions they like my blog but no specifics, they might be trying to take a shortcut (I will give them the benefit of the doubt half the time). I pay better attention to those who actually know what they're talking about--we already have a connection and that makes me pay a little more attention. It's my shortcut through the slushpile, if you will.
    • Keep your writing blog up to date, especially if you link it in your query--if I have time and feel like it, I will check your blog out. And it does help tip the scales to a request or rejection. Agents are looking for writers who stick to their decisions and follow through.
    For the rest of January, I'll be starting a monthly topic. January's topic: QUERIES. I'm starting with the basics and going step by slow step. And I'm going to see if we can have some fun at it too.

    Happy writing!

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Kreative Blogger Award

    Thanks to The Literary Mom for the nomination!

    Kreative blogger award:
    The rules:  
    1. Share 10 things about yourself that readers might find interesting.
    2. Pass the award onto 6 other bloggers (be sure to leave a comment on each of the blogs to let them know).

    Ten things about my self...

    1. I consider myself a "reverse book snob." After reading too many 19th century and literary books for college, I'm hard pressed to pick up either a "literary" novel, short story, poem, avant garde, or classic. I hate Holden Caulfield, Thomas Pynchon, and Herman Melville with an equal passion (but have deep respect for Melville, Pynchon, and Salinger). I like commercial books and I'm not afraid to shout it.

    2. I'm vain about my nails and feet and love to paint my nails. Right now I'm partial to Crackle paint and sparkles (not at the same time).

    3. I only consume caffeine at Chinese restaurants because I love their tea. I'm usually jittery for a solid four hours afterwards.

    4. Random or bizarre things in public don't faze me. I went to college in Bellingham, thankyouverymuch. I feel nostalgic when I pass people on the street shouting nonsense or dressed in wacky clothes. I miss Free Hug signs.

    5. I'm allergic to cane sugar and still dream about fudge.

    6. I love 80s and 90s movies. Action, rom-com, teen, and sci-fi especially.

    7. A Star Wars reference will make my day. Last week, I witnessed three separate accounts of "These are not the droids you're looking for." It was a good week.

    8. I only set my alarm clock to end in a 3 or 7 (5:23, 8:37, etc). Otherwise, I'm not OCD. As long as you don't rearrange my kitchen.

    9. I don't own as many books as people think I should. My collection is actually pitifully small. I borrow books from the library (or my clients). I currently have 15 books out and 20 on hold. If I do buy books, it's either because I met the author or I know I'll be loaning that one out a lot. One day I will be rich enough to single-handedly support the publishing market. Until then...

    10. I have never owned an Ipod, MP3 player, or other music listening device other than a CD player which only gets use in my car if I can't find books on tape--my car doesn't have a CD player so I have to hook it in.

    Six other bloggers I feel deserve the reward: (it would be obvious if I choose my own clients, but they all deserve it--please check out their blogs, all listed to the right)

    1. YA Confidential. They've teamed together with real teens to bring an honest perspective to YA writers who may otherwise have no access to the real teen. Plus, their posts can usually make me laugh or rub an invisible mustache and go "Hmmmmm."

    2. The Bookinistas. A group of writers and authors who review only the books they love. I trust all of their opinions and on Thursday can be found hopping from blog to blog and adding to my TBR list.

    3. Bibliophile Brouhaha. An honest, wonderful, awesome book blog. I can always rely on her reviews. And I'm pretty sure half my TBR is because of her.

    4. The Bookish Brunette. A real woman who knows her books. And shoes. And purses. And zombies. Can I be her? Plus, her rating are given as stilletos. A good portion of my TBR is due to her as well.

    5. this literary life. Bree Ogden is fabulous. Just saying. I know every time I visit her blog I'm going to find something that wows my socks off. And she's as close as I ever come to art and that other I'm afraid of.

    6. Fiction Vixen. The adult stuff. Paranormal Romance. Urban Fantasy. Historical. Drool... 

    I think I have a thing for book blogs...

    Happy reading!

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Wednesday Reads: Love Story

    Love Story by Jennifer Echols. I decided a month or two ago that I would read as many Jennifer Echols books as I can. I didn't get all that far (I had to make sacrifices for the sake of the leaning tower of TBRs), but I'm glad I at least read Love Story. Honestly, I hadn't read the back cover when I decided to read it, but I did right before I started reading. I couldn't open the cover fast enough. Then I started reading. And I didn't stop. I almost read it all in one sitting, but that elusive thing called sleep made me put it down. It was funny, surprising, and so, so true. Beautiful character development.


    For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?
    Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.
    First Sentence: "Captain Vanderslice was something of an ass." The first few pages are Erin's first submission to her creative writing class, which actually shows so much about her. I warn caution if ever you try to do this, very tricky, but when it's done right, it's to great effect.

    Brownie Points: Like I said: character development. Also, use of short stories within a larger story--those are plain hilarious. I actually laughed out loud several times reading this book. I connected really well with Erin--probably better than I have with almost any other Echols character... not sure what that says about me.

    Beefs: It ended.

    Recommendation: If you haven't explored YA "romantic drama" or really any Jennifer Echols, I highly suggest it. So highly, if I had the book in my hands and we met on the street, I'd force you to read it right then and there and stare at you the entire time. Also, that sounds really fun. And creepy.

    Would I represent it? Consider me looking for romantic drama. Officially. The trick though, is spectacular character development. There's no swashbuckling, so your characters can't hide behind fancy footwork.

    Happy reading!

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Happy New Year!!!

    My resolution this year is to read as many Adult novels (in my preferred Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy) as Young Adult. I struggled with this last year just because there are so many great YA novels. Of course, this goes hand in hand with a goal I've had for a while: sign some Adult clients (not that my clients aren't big kids already).

    What are your reading/writing resolutions for the New Year?

    Also, check out this week's Authornomics on the agency blog--the interviewee today is our own Andrea Hurst, talking about writing, advice, and resolutions. And enter to win a developmental edit with her! If you don't know, every week Andrea Hurst and Katie Flanagan interview someone in the industry, from new writers to best sellers, agents to editors. Check in every week because you never know when something great might be given away.

    Happy resolutioning!