QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Friday, November 29, 2013

Publishing Pulse for Friday, 11/29

Around the Web

After you're done braving the Black Friday crowds today, check out some of these tidbits from around the web:

~In PW’s newsletter The Bookseller, Sarah Shaffi writes about the possibility of consumer backlash to Amazon due to a new documentary, Panorama, which reveals working conditions inside Amazon warehouses.

~Michael Larsen of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency shares an alliterative list of secrets to publishing success on Chuck Sambuchino’s blog:

~According to an article in The Guardian,  a new survey reveals the majority of teens and young adults prefer to read old-fashioned books—you know, the ones with pages and covers—over e-readers.

~And finally, Philip B. Katz takes on commas and other pesky punctuation marks in After Deadline, the NY Times blog devoted to grammar, usage, and style.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and the kick-off to the holiday season!

A Jersey girl born and bred, Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her new series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her deep appreciation for good food, her pride in her heritage, and her love of classic mysteries, from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara,  released October 1. An English teacher by day and novelist by night, Rosie also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. She lives fifty miles from the nearest ocean  in central New Jersey, with her husband and two of her three sons.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What Happens at the Frankfurt Book Fair?

Kojiki is Keith Yatsuhashi's new novel
As authors, we usually don't get to know much about the Frankfurt Book Fair. This post attempts to answer the question: to where do all the agents disappear each October? And what are they doing for all that time, when they're not answering queries or getting back to us? Dining on wiener schnitzel?

Our guest today, Keith Yatsuhashi, is the author of the fantasy novel Kojiki. In his other life, as a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce publishing team, he has had the pleasure of seeing this inner sanctum twice. Thank you, Keith, for enlightening us! Since most authors will never make the pilgrimage themselves, this may be our only glimpse inside. --Sarah P.

[All photos courtesy of Keith Yatsuhashi.]

By Keith Yatsuhashi

If Book Expo America, the London, Paris, and Frankfurt Book Fairs are the Grand Slam of publishing trade shows, Frankfurt is the Masters. Encompassing a whopping eight halls—most multi-leveled--Frankfurt, or Frankfurter Buchmesse as it’s known locally, is easily the world’s largest publishing trade show. Nearly 7,500 exhibitors from 110 countries participate every year to the delight of the estimated 300,000 annual attendees.

If this is your first time to a major German trade show, you’re in for a shock. The booths are massive--a few have two floors—and opulent. Some even have full bars. The crowds are huge too, and the fairgrounds are roughly the size of a second tier airport. Walking from one end to the other takes a whopping twenty minutes, and that's before the gates open. Once the halls fill up, all bets are off.

Managing a show this big takes planning. Approach it the way you would a vacation to Disney World. Research the show, and make good use of its online tools. The show's website is a great place to start. User-friendly and customizable, it identifies exhibitors by booth number and location. It even lets users search for educational sessions and build an agenda. Check the show map to make sure you give yourself enough time if your appointments are in different halls. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually enough—if you know where you’re going and have figured out some of the shortcuts.

If you get lost, you can always go to one of the information booths prominently placed in high traffic areas, the halls themselves, and at entrances and exits. Most English language publishers are in Hall 8--all the way at the back.

This is where you find the trade publishers. Publishers of technical books—education, medical, digital book providers, etc.—are in Hall 4.3, English technical publishers included. The Rights Center, where agents sit at long tables and meet other agents and publishers, is in Hall 3. Like Book Expo America, (BEA), appointments are required for entry. No walk-ins. No ad-hoc pitching. In most cases, your agent will do that for you.

Frankfurt differs from BEA in one profound respect. BEA is a promotional show. Publishers showcase and announce upcoming titles, bring their authors in for signings, and provide Advance Review Copies of their hottest new releases. Not so with Frankfurt. Frankfurt is all about selling and acquiring rights. BEA connects publishers with consumers. Frankfurt connects publishers and agents with their foreign counterparts. This is how your agent lines up his/her subagents in a particular country, talks to foreign publishers to see what’s hot in their home country, promotes your book, and tries to sell the rights to a foreign publisher. Those connections happen via appointments made months in advance. Self-published authors can meet with e-book service providers, consultants, and other professionals in digital publishing. You will find no end of educational seminars on the subject, a good chunk of them in English. Again, the website’s event calendar can tell you which sessions are in which language.

Come the weekend, the Buchmesse opens to the public. Most of the action that day remains concentrated in the German halls, as you might expect—with author appearances and events primarily geared toward the German consumer. As for the Americans, things are pretty much winding down by then. Fewer people work the booths, and fewer people walk the hall. This is a good time to see if you can secure an unscheduled appointment. If that’s not possible, you can go to one of the day’s seminars or conferences. You can also attend the closing ceremonies in the main courtyard.

Those ceremonies are by no means the end of the networking—which can continue longer than you would expect. A show of this magnitude fills hotels, restaurants, and flights. I ran into people I met during the show at the airport, on my flight, and even in line at U.S. Customs. Which brings me to my closing point. As good as your trade show experience is, prompt follow up is the key to success. A short, 'It was a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to sending you more information soon’ will suffice. So long as you do in fact send that information within a few weeks.

Frankfurt is an experience. It’s certainly not for everyone, but those who take the plunge will find it worthwhile. Shows like this are as much an education as a business event. You’ll meet CEOs and publishers you’d never reach otherwise, increase your international profile, and learn about industry trends from its leaders. I highly recommend going—with or without a booth.

Keith Yatsuhashi is a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce Global Publishing Team. He is also an author. His debut YA fantasy, Kojiki, is available from Musa Publishing. For questions about the Frankfurt Book Fair or how the Department of Commerce can help you business, contact him at: keith.yatsuhashi [at] trade [dot] gov. His author profile is on Amazon and Goodreads, and you can follow his author musings on Twitter @keithyatsuhashi.

Monday, November 25, 2013

When The Agent Seeks The Writer

Editor's note: I met SK Falls a few years ago when I was organizing the release tour for my first novel. Her cheery personality, her admirable talents, and her authorial philosophies quickly made her a priceless writer's resource. (In fact, I credit her with helping me get my most recent novel finished, thanks to Fast Draft, which you can read about here.) Recently, she shared a bit of news with me and I knew hers was a story the Query Tracker audience would enjoy reading.

Many of us writers spend months--sometimes years--seeking an agent's representation. SK Falls shares her own story today (and, personally, makes me wonder if I haven't been going about things all wrong.)

A guest post by S.K. Falls

These days, authors have multiple options available to them to get their books in readers’ hands. Self-publishing, small presses, Amazon imprints, traditional or Big Five publishing…the opportunities are truly endless. Some of the paths take a long time (cold querying) while others can be almost instantaneous (self-publishing).

I tend to be a fairly middle-of-the-road person with most things. This is true for the business side of my writing career as well. While I wanted to get my books in readers’ hands (and thus bypass the traditional publishing waiting game), I didn’t necessarily want to do the indie thing forever. I wanted to get my books out, gain some readers, and then wait patiently to see what other avenues opened up to me.

As it turned out, this was the right decision for me. In the nine months since I’ve gone indie, not only did my first novel hit Amazon’s sci-fi bestselling list, but an agent contacted me about representation. What’s particularly interesting is that my agent didn’t contact me about my first, more successful novel. She wanted to talk about my second one—a contemporary novel that, at the time of her email, had only been out a couple of weeks and hadn’t yet amassed a huge readership.

You probably already know that publishing nowadays is nothing like publishing five or ten years ago. You don’t need the front table in a bookstore to make awesome sales (though, of course, that still is a golden ticket if you can get it!). If you write genre fiction, you just need a combination of a great cover, blurb, and book, and for Amazon’s algorithms to treat you right.

16225646My first novel World of Shell and Bone hit the home run on all these fronts. I put it up at a time when publishers weren’t buying dystopian fiction but readers were still devouring it. I worked hard and I got lucky. I still wasn’t closed off to a more traditional or hybrid path, but I was doing all right for myself.

Fast forward six months. Readers were clamoring for a sequel to World of Shell and Bone, something I actually hadn’t fully planned on writing. I had this ghost of an idea for one in the back of my head, but my contemporary novel was begging to be written first. So, in spite of all the business advice out there saying to strike while the iron was hot, I decided to shelve the sequel for the moment.

In the six months since World of Shell and Bone had come out, my craft had improved by leaps and bounds (nothing like finishing a book to teach you what not to do). Writing the contemporary novel was a fabulous experience—I had a great time getting the words down, and the people who read it seemed to love it. But this time, the algorithms didn’t favor me so much. The cover, which I know now wasn’t working for my target market (too romance-y), didn’t appeal to fans of World of Shell and Bone either, so I didn’t have many readers crossing over. The novel fell into obscurity fairly quickly in spite of stellar reviews. I was heartbroken, because I believed in this book so, so much. I chalked it up to experience, decided to maybe do a rebrand of the book at some point in the future, and began to write the sequel to World of Shell and Bone.

That’s when, out of the blue, I got an email from an agent who worked for a very reputable agency. She’d read my contemporary novel and loved it. She wanted to talk about how we might get it in front of the right readers with a publisher’s help.

We had to spend time figuring out the hybrid aspect of our relationship because most clients of her agency were traditionally published. However, this particular agent—young and enthusiastic about the digital arena like many older agents aren’t—was open to listening to my points of view. I, in turn, learned a lot from speaking with her about what an agent or publisher might be able to do for me that I couldn’t do for myself. We came to agreement on a contract and signed together. And now, I have a professional partner in my corner who brings experience and business know-how to the table. For someone who isn’t totally in love with the business aspects of writing, this is a bolstering thought.
We only just signed the contract, so this is new territory to me. How it will all unfurl still remains to be seen. What I’m most excited about is getting those doors open that were before completely sealed shut. One thing I’d love to do is have my books published by Amazon’s imprints. Again, that venue is only available through an agent.

I think I should note here that my agent would probably not have found me if I hadn’t self-published. Even though my contemporary novel had a hard time finding readers, the small number who did became early fans, posting about it on their blogs and social media. My agent found it through one such book blog, was intrigued enough by the blurb to try it, and was sold.

So while there are many venues to getting an agent (and ultimately a large readership), I think self-publishing is a viable, legitimate one. Bestselling indie-turned-hybrid author Hugh Howey advises new authors to self-publish first and let the agents come to you. Following his advice has worked well for me so far. I think it’s important, in this changing climate, to keep our minds open to the various venues now available to us. There’s no need to languish in the slush pile anymore.

S.K. Falls
S.K. Falls
 A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, S.K. Falls enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.

Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know she has one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures she never forgets that her hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.
S.K. Falls is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press) or stop by the Demimonde Blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com .

Friday, November 22, 2013

Publishing Pulse for Friday 11/22/13

Success Stories

Let's give a big round of applause to Jonathan David Kranz and Colette Auclaire, whose success story interviews went live on QT this week. Click on their names to learn their stories.

Around the Internet

The National Book Award winners were announced on Wednesday. My inner feminist applauds the fact that that four top awards (fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young people's literature) went to two women and two men. Wait...imagine the pressure of giving an acceptance speech for an award you just won for the way you string words together. Ouch.

Bookstore sales were up in September. *Fist pump*

Amazon made an interesting offer to independent bookstores. And the results are mixed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Prolific Author

Courtesy of our recent "open mike" questions, QueryTracker brings you the following:

1) If I query an agent with 3 manuscripts and she doesn't accept any, but then likes
the 4th, does that mean she's not interested in representing the first 3? 

2) If I have one agent that likes manuscript A and another agent that likes
manuscript B, what's the best agent choice for me? 

Okay, so we've established that you're prolific, and you're clearly improving because you've gotten interest. Congratulations! This is important, and remember that once you're in the situation to ask Question #1, let alone Question #2, you're in a place of choosing between good and good, as opposed to good and bad, or no choices at all. Therefore your first job is to take a deep breath.

Take a deep breath and remember that you're in the communications industry.

The answer to Question One is: ask her. When she calls to talk to you about representation, after you guys are done discussing the current title, say, "I don't know if you remember that I'd previously queried you, but I happen to have other books I'd shelved. Would you be interested in representing those as well at some point in the future?"

But before you go ahead and do that (I'm assuming you're not on the phone right this very minute, so I can go all out of order here) I want you to consider that at this moment in time, is it possible that you yourself don't want those books out there?

Because you've grown as a writer between Book #1 and Book #4. Is it possible, just a little, eensie-weensie bit possible, that Book #1 got rejected because it isn't up to the standards of your current book? And because you want only your very best work out there, maybe you aren't going to want that shown to editors?

Your agent will most likely want to submit only one book of yours at a time. She will doubtless be delighted that you have other books up your sleeve, but she may hold them back because when an editor calls and says, "We must have this author," she can then say, "You know, she's actually got another book she's working on that has me even more excited!" Can you say two-book deal? I'm sure your future agent can. Even if the agent doesn't sell both books out of the gate, the agent may dangle a second book before editors as a little extra bait: you liked this book so much, and she's already written more…you really don't want to chance another publisher snatching this up, do you?

But again…are those books your best work now? They were your best work back then, but haven't you learned and grown in the past couple of years? Go back and look at them. Read them out loud. Do you flinch often? Does an important plot point seem contrived? Do you want someone to pick that up and judge the rest of your work based on it?

On the other hand, some books are just not good "debut" titles. They're solid books, but they would do better as a writer's second book because they're a little more risky. Maybe your previous books fall into that category.

So this is my recommendation: if the agent previously requested pages off those books, then by all means talk to the agent about them. She may remember why she rejected the other books. If she only rejected based on the query, mention that you have them but don't push too hard. Ask how the agent wants to look at your unpublished backlist. Ask. Because you're both in the communications industry, and you should be able to communicate.

Question Two is in the same vein: if you have two agents offering on separate projects, then talk to each agent about the other project. Ask how they would handle the two titles. Ask how they would handle your career if the books are in two different genres. Ask if they have good contacts and have made sales in both genres. You notice the theme here, right? Talk to them. 

I can't address who is the best choice for you, but you're going to be the one on the phone. You'll be the one who hears their voices, who feels like she's being sold versus feels like she's being courted. You're going to have to figure out which is the one you'd like to have lunch with, who is the one you'd rather call up when you're about to miss a deadline. You figure this out the same way you figure it out when they're both offering on the same manuscript. And if you did your research ahead of time, you don't have to worry about being scammed, so you're choosing between "good" and "good." That's a nice place to be. Breathe. Relax.

Most likely each agent will ask to read the one the other is offering on. Send it. Ask while you're still on the phone what they do with clients who have multiple manuscripts. Ask which they'd prefer to submit first. Write down everything they say, and then later, go back over your notes and try to think about which agent made you feel most comfortable, which agent's ideas about your books felt most in line with your own. 

But in the meantime, keep writing, and keep growing. If you're getting this kind of interest, it sounds like you're practically there.

Jane Lebak is the author of The Wrong Enemy. She has four kids, three cats, two books in print, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and spends her time either writing books or swatting mosquitos. At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four kids. If you want to make her rich and famous, please contact the riveting Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Publishing Pulse for November 15th, 2013

New At QueryTracker:

This week we've added three agents to our database and updated six agent profiles. Because things change so quickly in this industry, please make sure you double-check every agent's website or Publisher's Marketplace page before sending your query.

Don't be the querier who triggers that kind of tweet.

If you're a QueryTracker premium member, then you can be notified whenever an agent or publisher profile is added or updated. If you're not a premium member, you can just check for yourself.

Publishing News:

At the end of an eight-year case, Google's book scanning is ruled fair use.

Writers respond to a survey claiming they self-censor because of fears the NSA is spying on them.

Follett lays off 10% of college store sales staff, and apparently there's some controversy about the severance agreement the employees had to sign. 

Around the Blogosphere:

Have a peek at an editor's to-do list.

Agent Rachelle Gardner discusses a writer's life as a cluster of paradoxes. But that's okay, because apparently creative types themselves embody a whole host of emotional paradoxes. (I really liked that second article.) 

The appeal of tragedy and the dark in fiction.

via The Passive Voice blog, an article from The Nation on writing as women's work and the devaluation of content.

Why agents reject 96% of queries.

Literary Quote of the Week:

 A man's bookcase will tell you everything you'll ever need to know about him. 
-Walter Mosley

Thanks for stopping by, and keep sending those queries!

Jane Lebak is the author of The Wrong Enemy. She has four kids, three cats, two books in print, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and spends her time either writing books or swatting mosquitos. At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four kids. If you want to make her rich and famous, please contact the riveting Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Book of Your Heart vs. The Book of Your Head

Write the book of your heart. We’ve all heard it, right? What it usually means is this: ignore the market and tell that story that’s inside of you. Write the book that won’t let you go, the one that drives you and inspires you, the one whose characters have come to be old friends. (Actually, make that family members, as they’ve been living with you for years.) We’ve heard it from agents, from editors, and from each other. Write the book of your heart. And far be it from me to tell you otherwise.

However, it is worth reiterating the following:

1-The BOYH is often your first book, with all the amateur trappings that come with first attempts.
2-Your love for the BOYH can blind you to its weaknesses and render you deaf to constructive criticism.
3-The BOYH isn’t always a fit for the market.  

The book of my heart got me an agent. It even got the attention of an editor at Berkley. What it didn’t get me was a publishing contract. It had charm. It was funny. But it wasn’t ready, plain and simple. So I went back to the drawing board, and basically wrote a more sophisticated version of the BOYH. And that didn’t sell, either.

It was then my agent put a question to me—what kind of writer do you want to be? The words appeared in my brain like a message from a Magic 8 Ball: a published one. She offered me the opportunity to write a cozy, so I did a genre hop from women’s fiction and landed squarely into to mystery territory.

Writing that first mystery began as an academic exercise; I approached it pragmatically. This is the book that will get me published, I told myself. This would be the book of my head, not my heart. (If the book of my heart was a love match, the book of my head was a marriage of convenience.) But as I got deeper into the story and more involved with the characters, a wondrous thing happened—I fell in love. I started that project by using my head, but ended up putting all my heart into it.                            

Don’t get me wrong; I still love my first book. It will always be the book of my heart. And I’ll get back to that book someday. Because eight years and four books later, I know exactly what it will take to make it better, maybe even publishable: a cold eye, a sure hand, a warm heart—and a cool head. 

A Jersey girl born and bred, Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her new series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her deep appreciation for good food, her pride in her heritage, and her love of classic mysteries, from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara, will be released October 1. An English teacher by day and novelist by night, Rosie also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. She lives fifty miles from the nearest ocean  in central New Jersey with her husband and two of her three sons.

How to Score Big in Pitch Contests: Guest Post

Pitch contests are fast becoming a viable option for connecting authors with agents and publishers.

With more and more authors being signed via competitions rather than slush, your chances of gaining representation could be higher through a pitch contest than with traditional querying methods.

An advantage in entering pitch contests is you don’t have to play a guessing game on which agent to query at an agency. Your pitch is on display for agents to peruse, and if an agent doesn’t request your work, you can still query a different agent at that agency. A cheeky way to double dip without breaking submission guidelines.

The contests can vary for how to enter. The main styles include:

Open to all in a set time period.
Open to a limited number of entries with the cut off determined by when critical mass is reached.
Open to all in a set time period, however entries go through a screening process before making the final round.

If you are planning to enter pitch contests, here’s some tips to stand out from the competition (in a good way):

Be selective on which contests you enter. The publishing industry is smaller than you’d think. Not all agents participate in pitch competitions, which means that some agents participate in multiple contests. And many pitch contests hosts help out with multiple competitions. You don’t want your pitch dangled out in front of the same agents continuously. And you risk missing out of final rounds if those screening the contest have seen your pitch multiple times before.

Adhere to the rules. Don’t ‘bend’ the rules.

  • Make sure that your manuscript matches the requirements of the contest – the right category and the right genre.
  • Stick to the word limit for your pitch.
  • DON’T pitch a manuscript that isn’t ready. You’re wasting your time, the agents time, and taking away an opportunity from someone who is ready.

Edit your pitch. Pitches and queries need drafting, just like your manuscript. Often bloggers will hold pitch critiques on behalf of the contest hosts to help writers hone their entry.

Don’t be vague or cliché. Don’t use phrases like “world turned upside down”, “everything changes”, “there’ll be dire consequences”. Be specific and clear on what happens in the story.

Show your voice. Pitches for contests are often shorter than what you put in a query. You need to be able to set the tone for the story, the category, and the genre in just a few sentences, or 140 characters for Twitter pitch contests, as well as capturing your main character’s voice. This is where getting critiques on your query can help.

Highlight your point of difference. What makes your story unique? How will it stand out on the bookstore shelf? You need to hook the contest hosts, agents and editors.

Be clear of the conflict and stakes. These are what make the story interesting. A story about an ordinary person, having an ordinary life with nothing happening may have worked as a pitch for Seinfeld, but it won’t cut it in a query contest.

Polish your first 250 words. Make sure that you have gone over your first 250 words with a fine toothcomb if the contest includes an excerpt. An agent won’t expect absolute perfection on the whole, but they will for your opening. It should be perfect.

Make sure your word count is right. A lot of pitches get passed on because of extremely high, or low, word counts for their category and genre. Look at the industry standards and if your manuscript doesn’t match up then you will likely be passed on, especially if there’s limited positions in the contest.

Get it right before you enter. You need to have every aspect of your entry perfect before you send it off: all your details, the pitch and the excerpt. Pitch Contests can attract hundreds of entries and expecting organizers to wade through these entries to find your mistake is less than ideal.

These steps will improve your changes of getting selected for the final round of a contest and getting requests from a contest. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get an offer of rep. That’s up to you to make sure that you have an amazing manuscript that’s masterfully written and highly marketable.

Sharon Johnston is an author, public relations specialist, a regular pitch contest host and a collector of shoes and cat clothing. Her debut novel Sleeper is out in December 2013. Follow her on Twitter at @S_M_Johnston

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Blogging for Fun and Profit

Wait... when I said "profit" I wasn't referring to actual money. The "profit" to authors who take the time to do some of their own book blogging is real, however. Experience, depth in your genre and new friends are some of the rewards.

If all goes according to plan, my next foray into publishing will be in the YA market. So a few months ago, I began poking around on YA book blogs, and I liked what I saw. There's a lot of energy and love in the book blogging world. Some book bloggers are authors, too. And some aren't.

The new model of publicity at publishing houses relies heavily on book bloggers to get the word out. It's not uncommon for a publisher to offer 100 ARCs or egalleys to bloggers. If you're an author who hopes to be on the other side of this transaction someday, it sure doesn't hurt to see the process in motion.

Because I don't have the time and energy to start my own book blog and give it the attention it needs, I found two book blogs which were willing to take me on as a contributor. These days I'm writing reviews for The New York Journal of Books and also for The YA Sisterhood. Each has a very different tone, and I love both of them.

Book blogging has led me to learn:

  • The ins and outs of NetGalley 
  • How Eidelweiss/Above the treeline works (another electronic galley delivery system)
  • How publicists reach out to the blogging community
  • The many variations of publicist pitches
In short, book blogging means that you're not just asking questions about the publicity process, you're experiencing it every week. 

And the big bonus? As a reviewer, I have access to most any YA book several months before its publication date. I've never been so up on current releases as I am now.

As Spiderman would say, with great power comes great responsibility. Each book sent to me by a publisher deserves a thoughtful review from me. And this gets sticky if I don't like the book. But there's always something nice to say, and there's always a diplomatic way to express your frustrations.

And when something great comes along, I read it early. And that never gets old.

Sarah Pinneo
is a novelist, food writer and book publicity specialist. Her most recent book is Julia’s Child. Follow her on twitter at @SarahPinneo.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Publishing Pulse: Friday, November 8, 2013

This Week at Query Tracker
The profiles of several agents were updated this week. Please make sure you double-check every agent's website or Publisher's Marketplace page before querying.
Ready to write your own success story?

Remember--you'll reach success when you find the agent who is perfect for your work. Be sure to read each agent's profile carefully and visit other links such as company websites and blogs. Follow them on social media sites and get a feeling for what they really want. The better you know the agent, the better you will know if they are the right representative for your work. Blindly querying agents without regard for their guidelines or repped genres only delay the process--not only for you but for other writers.

Using QueryTracker.net will help you become a well-informed querying writer. Use the resources to your advantage and seek the fastest, straightest path to finding your ideal agent today.

This Week in Publishing
Self-Pub or Traditional: How will you choose? The Seven Scribes blog posted a pair of articles that discussed how to choose between the two. Both authors give compelling support for their chosen paths.

John Pye talks about self-publishing, its advantages, and its challenges. "I am in control of my book."

K.M. Weiland shares a poignant article about giving up on a story. Here are three signs that may mean it’s time to let go.

A look at “literary citizenship”: Stephanie Vanderslice discusses the need for perpetual education of writers-because the traditional MFA courses aren’t giving writers everything they need.

Have a great weekend!

"Believe in yourself and in your own voice, because there will be times in this business when you will be the only one who does. Take heart from the knowledge that an author with a strong voice will often have trouble at the start of his or her career because strong, distinctive voices sometimes make editors nervous. But in the end, only the strong survive."           - Jayne Ann Krentz

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press) or stop by the Demimonde Blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com .

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Value of a Literary Internship: Guest Post

By Chanel Cleeton  @ChanelCleeton

Literary internships are a great way for writers to learn more about the publishing industry.  They allow you to ‘peek behind the curtain,’ gaining valuable insights on what agents and editors look for in a manuscript.  Interning with a literary agency heavily influenced my development as a writer.

Literary internships provide an opportunity to read query letters and submissions.  They allow you to gain an agent or editor’s perspective, distinct from your perspective as a writer.  There’s a rhythm to it.  You’ll begin to notice common issues in query letters— mistakes you may make in your own query but were unaware of. 

Additionally, many literary agents give interns an opportunity to work on pitch letters.  A pitch letter, or submission letter, is similar to a query letter, but literary agents submit them to editors when they pitch clients’ work.  Writing pitch letters on a regular basis allows you to hone your ability to synthesize a manuscript and entice someone else to read it.  This experience makes your query letter much stronger and since some agents prefer that their clients work on their own pitches, it’s great practice for writing your own. 

Reading submissions is another valuable experience to be gleaned through a literary internship.  Before my internship, I didn’t understand how five or ten sample pages were enough for a literary agent or editor to evaluate a manuscript.  They are.  I was surprised to discover I could often tell in a page or two whether or not I wanted to see more. 

You view manuscripts differently on the other side of the page.  You’ll begin to see common trends.  You’ll notice problems in the execution or find yourself being pulled out of the story.  But then one will grab you— and you’ll understand the feeling a literary agent gets when they fall in love with a project and decide to offer representation.

Literary internships also hone your editorial skills.  Interns often write submission reports.  These reports sharpen your editorial eye as you analyze a manuscript, fleshing out its weaknesses, praising its strengths.  Some interns also edit client manuscripts.  Doing so will help you understand how an editor will view your manuscript.  Before you know it, you’ll use these skills in your own writing and you’ll begin reading your work with an editorial eye, identifying weak spots and taking your writing to another level.

Gaining a commercial perspective is another advantage of a literary internship.  Working for a literary agent or editor requires an appreciation for both craft and commercial viability.  You’ll learn what types of manuscripts agents and editors are looking for and what segments of the market are heavily saturated.  It’s a useful way to gain a better understanding of the literary market.

Many literary internships are located in New York.  These are often formal programs tailored towards college and graduate students.  Many of these programs have weekly sessions to educate interns on different facets of publishing.  They also provide a chance for interns to work alongside editors and agents, learning from their expertise and networking within the publishing community. 

Remote literary internships offer a great, flexible option if you can’t move to New York.  Many of these internships are geared towards “slush pile readers”— interns reading literary submissions.  Some include augmented duties, like writing pitch letters and making editorial suggestions.  Remote internships usually require about ten hours a week, usually at your own pace, but that may vary depending on the internship.  I was in law school and working when I did my internship, so the flexibility helped a lot.  Remote internships are often looking for passionate readers so don’t be intimidated if you lack “formal” experience.

Twitter is a great place to start looking for an internship.  Many agents and editors tweet when they’re looking for interns.  They’ll often mention any specific requirements associated with the internship— for example, if they’re looking for YA readers— and provide application details.  Other internships are structured around the school year and require applications months in advance.  Literary agency and publisher websites are helpful places to find internship opportunities.  Bookjobs.com is another great site. 

Ultimately, literary internships are wonderful tools for writers to learn more about their craft and the publishing industry.  Competition may be fierce for some, but don’t be discouraged! Much like querying, it only takes one ‘yes’ to help you realize your publishing dreams.  Good luck!
 Have you ever considered doing a literary internship?

Chanel Cleeton writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers.  Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 1, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.  An avid reader and hopeless romantic, Chanel is happiest curled up with a book.  She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband.  Chanel loves to travel and is currently living an adventure in South Korea.  Chanel loves talking with readers and writers and can be found on her own websiteTwitter, and Facebook.