QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, December 30, 2013

Miss Rosie's Resolutions: In Which Our Etiquette Diva Advises Herself

Be it resolved, on this Thirtieth Day of December, Two Thousand and Thirteen, between Miss Rosie and Herself:

I. Miss Rosie shall allow herself no more than two (2) minutes per day of Dark Ruminations upon The State of Her Career, The Suspicion That She Has No Talent,  and Those Who Occupy the New York Times Bestseller List.

II. Miss Rosie shall limit her Perusals of Amazon Rankings to no more than five (5) minutes per week day.

III. Miss Rosie shall adhere to the advice of her Esteemed Agent with a Minimum of Whining.

IV. Miss Rosie shall observe strict parameters for the commencement and conclusion of Cocktail Time, which shall begin no earlier than 5:00 4:30 p.m. EST on alternate days ending in “Y,”  unless in the case of Emergencies or Other Unforeseen Circumstances (as defined by Miss Rosie.)

V. When Miss Rosie receives Effusive Praise from Gentle Readers, she will respond promptly with a Polite Missive of Thanks. However, when she is faced with Disapprobation of Her Modest Efforts in the form of One Star Reviews or Internet Snark, she shall NOT. Even if it kills her.

VI. Miss Rosie shall limit her consumption of the offerings of the Bravo Network to only one (1) program per season, unless and until Top Chef resumes, thereby rendering this resolution  Null and Void.

VII. Miss Rosie shall immediately desist from Unproductive Fantasies involving Starred Reviews in Publishers Weekly, Lifetime Movie Adaptations, and Lunches with Tim Gunn.

VIII. Miss Rosie shall daily remind herself that she is in possession of A Multitude of Blessings—including you, Gentle Readers! Have a Happy and Healthy New Year! 

Miss Rosie will not have access to the internet until the evening of January 1, but please do comment if you wish. You'll hear from her eventually. . .

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.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Publishing Pulse: Friday, December 27, 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.
Write your own success story in 2014!

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.

It's the Most Inactive Time of the Year...
Every wonder why the end of the year is such a slow time in publishing? Literary agent Kathryn Helmers ‏ has one answer…

@kahelmers Why publishing closes down over the holidays: because even the deadlines need a break now and then, sheesh.

Timely advice for bloggers: this article advises against publishing new content during the holidays. You don’t want your readers to miss out on a stellar post during the festivities.

... But It's Not a Completely Silent 'Net.

Sometimes, blunt is best... and nobody does blunt better than Dahlia Adler. Here are ten things a writer needs to hear—because they are truthful AND useful. (Number ten resonates with my personal philosophy.)

One publisher, Elsevier, takes a giant step forward to protect copyrighted material. No, the target wasn’t the massive infestation of pirates—it was the educational community.

The Alliance of Independent Authors offered ten interviews with successful self-publishers. Tidbits from Steena Holmes and Joanna Penn, as well as several other best-selling authors, will inspire all writers, no matter what path to publication they tread.

Ring in the New Year on a positive note: the future of publishing is not as grim as the Ghost of Publishing Past would have us believe. HarperCollins offers these tidings of comfort and joy.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and cheers!

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 . She also apologizes for the terrible holiday song title parodies contained in this post. Her consistent and flagrant disregard for tradition earns her a spot on the Naughty List every year. Unfortunately, she's rather proud of that.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Open Mic Q&A

©Stina Lindenblatt

Dear Querytracker,

Does a published writer have to start over with the query process to change his agent?

His current contract has a termination clause, but assuming he wants to exercise the clause should he query a new agent? Or, can he email? Or, what is the appropriate/proper way to request engagement.


Time For A Change

Dear Time For A Change,

First, you will need to terminate your relationship with your present agent. You cannot query another agent until you have done that. Regardless of why you are terminating your contract, be courteous. Agents talk. If you show a lack of professionalism, other agents might find out about it and not give you a chance. Also, if you start talking to another agent about your projects before terminating your contract with the first agent, this too might get out and hurt you in the long term.

Once you’re ready to find a new agent, you will have to go through the same querying process like everyone else. Do not query a project that your previous agent has already pitched (unless he only pitched it to a few editors and you know who they are). You need to query a new project. Mention in the query that you were previously represented by another agent, but you have recently left him on friendly terms. No agent is going to hold this against you. Client-agent divorces are very common. If you’ve been previous published, include the titles and publishers in your bio section.

Best of luck with finding a new agent!

Dear Querytracker,

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?


Miss Multiple Manuscripts


Dear Miss MM, 

If an agent offers you representation on the fourth manuscript, you can mention that you had previously queried her with the other projects. It could be that the writing with your earlier novels still needed work. Now that you have the necessary skill level, she might be interested in working with you on them. Or, it could be she rejected the first novels because she knew she wouldn’t be able to sell them (e.g. market is already saturation with that genre or editors aren’t looking for it). This is something you should discuss with her before signing, if you really are unwilling to shelve the previous projects.

As for the second part of the question, no one can answer that for you. You have to interview the agents and determine which one you would prefer to work with. Has she read the other manuscript? If not, then you would discuss it during The Call. Which project is the one that calls to you the most? Which one would you prefer to be your debut novel? Ideally you want an agent who loves both books (or at least the premise), that way if the first one doesn’t sell, she’ll be just as excited to pitch your second book. Unfortunately, if an agent doesn’t sell the first book and isn’t in love with the second one, there is a high possibility that she will terminate your agency contract. I’ve seen that happen numerous times. And if it does happen, you’ll be back to querying again.

Good luck!

From all of us at the Querytracker Blog, we wish you and your family a 
Merry Christmas and season’s greetings!

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes Young Adult and New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance, TELL ME WHEN, will be released Jan. 20, 2014 (Carina Press, HQN).

Friday, December 20, 2013

Publishing Pulse for Friday December 20th, 2013

This is the time of year when the New York publishing business grinds to a halt, and the entire continent of Europe takes a month off. So if you're waiting for that response to your query, have another glass of eggnog.

Aaaaand... it's been a slow news week.

It's the time of year as well for "best of" lists. Generally, these bore me silly. But author Meg Waite Clayton made a fun analysis of the New York Times 100 Notable Books list. She looked at how those books were rated on Amazon (average ranking just 3.88) and Goodreads, and how many were written by women: 54%. (Booya!)

Did you know there were 1,000,000 subscribers to the "books" subcategory on Reddit.com? Publisher's Weekly takes a look.

On his blog, former agent Nathan Bransford recaps his first effort at self publishing.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Everything I Know About Storytelling. . .

I learned from soap operas.

Now you may snicker, perhaps even sneer, but hear me out. For starters, understand that my work is mass market fiction, as in “mass appeal”—that’s the hope, anyway, of both my publisher and me. Good commercial fiction has to have mass appeal. And appealing to the masses is something that the soaps understand.

My acquaintance with soap operas began at the knee of my late, lamented Mema, who had an unfortunate addiction to the well-loved and now defunct Another World. Apparently, her addiction was contagious, because she passed it on to me. I watched AW nearly faithfully from the time of its inception until it went off the air in 1999. No matter how twisted the characters or outrageous the storylines, I remained a fan, through more decades than I care to share with you, gentle readers. And I still nurse a crush on the dark-eyed, curly-haired Cass Winthrop, dashing-rogue-turned-family man, who in the 1980s was da bomb. But I digress.

I’m not suggesting you turn your WIP into soap. (Unless you’re writing paranormals, you don’t want to be bringing people back from the dead, for example.) However, what soaps do extraordinarily well is to keep people tuned in, day after day, week after week. In the same way, we want our readers to keep turning pages and to keep buying our books. Over the years, Another World had some impressive writers, and here is what I learned from them:

Let your characters drive your story.
Good soap characters have developed back stories, clear motivation, well-articulated personality traits, and distinct voices. They’re characters who are so believable that viewers come to think of them as friends (and frenemies). And isn’t that how we want our readers to feel about our own characters?

Create tension and conflict at every turn.
Have a budding romance between two charismatic characters? Be sure to bring back a long-lost wife or husband. Or give one of them an incurable disease, a dark secret, or an evil twin who wreaks havoc. But keep throwing those obstacles in the way of happiness. And while I don’t recommend the Evil Twin Plot Contrivance, I do encourage the skillful use of conflict in your storyline to propel it forward and raise the stakes for your protagonist. 

Make ‘em wait. Then make ‘em wait longer.
Story arcs in soaps run anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks (though it seemed like years that Vicky was locked in that basement). Long story arcs prolong suspense, and soap writers ascribe to the notion that the longer the wait, the more satisfying the resolution. Romance writers, take note.
The cliffhanger is your friend. That faithful staple of soaps can be effectively applied in your own stories. In mysteries, for example, it’s crucial that each chapter end on a mini-cliffhanger. If your story is layered with sub-plots, using cliffhangers within chapters can help keep your readers focused on more than just the main plotline--and keep them coming back for more.

So  if soaps are your guilty pleasure, you now have permission to consider your habit research. Here at QT, we try to keep the days of your writing lives bold and beautiful. For more of our guiding light, be sure to tune in tomorrow. . .

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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Story Scarf

Last year, Sarah told us about "knitting a book is like writing a sweater" but I'm going to tell you that stories are scarves.
Actually, just this scarf.

This scarf is made with a mind-bogglingly simple pattern by fellow writer Ivy Reisner, simple enough that when I really started knitting and crocheting, this pattern was the first project I made -- and four of the first seven projects. And here's why it's like a story. It's made of scrap yarn.

Every line in that scarf is made of the yarn left over at the end of another project. So when I look at that, I see the green from some slippers I made my daughter, gold and blue from a hat I donated to the homeless shelter, blue leftover from fingerless gloves that went to someone on the Giving Tree, and yarn from a Christmas gift I sent to another writer when she was having a really terrible time. (She may read here, so that's going to drive her nuts, figuring out which is hers.) Most of the yarns are 100% wool, so they're warm and nearly waterproof.

It's all one piece now, and it looks like it belongs together. It was up to me to meld the materials so they all worked together. The only thing "new" in there is the brown, which I knew would work well with all the colors. And I left out a lot from my leftovers bag, too. The oranges, the pinks. They wouldn't have gone with the greens and golds.

Then I gave it a good soak and a wash, and I blocked it, and it's soft and supple and warm. 

Your stories are made of the "leftovers" of your life, the half-thought notions, the experiences that left you questioning your ideals, the stories you heard around the dinner table when you were too young to understand. Your stories emerge from the bits and pieces of a life lived fully, and when you're "crocheting" a story out of what seems to be nothing, you're drawing from the scrap bag of your own experience. 

And it's up to you the writer to decide what to include, what to leave out because it's a lovely bit but it just doesn't match the rest of the story, what new material to add to unite it all together. It's up to you to decide what order the scraps go in and just how long to make it. It's up to you to work the details together such that they seem as if they always were that way, no matter where they came from.

That's why there won't be two stories identical, no matter how similar they seem, and no one will ever have a scarf like this one. Even if another knitter had all the same leftovers in her yarn bag, she probably wouldn't put them together the same way.

Writers and knitters/crocheters know the value of a single effort. As Ivy Reisner says (again, although I don't have a citation for this one) that a single stitch alone isn't going to produce anything, but thousands of stitches do. As a writer, you know one single word alone doesn't produce a book, but thousands of words do. Stitch by stitch, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, row by row. And in the same way, one person alone can't end injustice or hunger, but many of us working together? I think that's pretty powerful. It's aggregate effort, and you're doing it every time you pick up your work.

Moreover, if your writing is a gift -- from God, from Fate, from the muses -- then you have a responsibility to use all that gift to benefit others. You're going to want to use up every last bit of your gift to bring light and warmth to others with this gift you've received. We belong to each other, so you're going to be leveraging your word-craft to help other people. 

Novels may be your passion, but you're also using your words every day to encourage, to explain, to persuade. You can be conscious about finding ways to volunteer your wordcraft -- maybe writing press releases for a charity or an organization you love; maybe helping a deserving student write a college entrance essay.  Maybe the best thing you can do for someone is to listen to them, because as a writer, you know and appreciate that what they're sharing with you is a story -- it's their heart.

To you all of these efforts might seem like just your "leftovers," but to other people, they'll see the whole of what you're doing and it will make their world better. 

Kind of like my scarf. Although it's not mine anymore because last night I gave it to the homeless shelter. The recipient won't know which strand came from a hat I made for a friend and which is from the hat I made for my son. But I hope he wears it and feels warm all over. Warm and loved.

Stay warm. Warm others.

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 making scarves. 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.