Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024
  • Miriam Cortinovis Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/6/2024
  • Jenniea Carter Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/8/2024
  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/24/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Literary Agent Interview: Paula Weiman Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Paula Weiman here. They’re a literary agent at ASH Literary.

Hi­ Paula! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Paula:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

My first experiences in the publishing industry were literary agency internships. After building my career as a bookseller, an editor in educational publishing, and a literary scout, I decided that I wanted to return to a more creative role where I could work directly with authors and really fight for the stories I’m passionate about. I’ve been an agent since October 2023, and in these past few months my priority has been signing new clients and expanding my roster. Things have been moving fast and I’ve already made a few deals, although they haven’t been announced yet.

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

One of the main reasons I was excited to join ASH Literary is its mission statement of representing primarily marginalized creators. It’s great to be part of an agency that not only believes in the importance of sharing these underrepresented stories, but also has experience in advocating for marginalized authors and illustrators. We’re a small team with a very collaborative environment, which allows us to offer a lot of care and attention to each client.

What They’re Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I represent middle grade, young adult, and crossover adult fantasy. In middle grade, I’m looking for literary stories about grief and voice-driven adventure stories. For YA, I’m looking for rom-coms where the romance intersects with a deeper social issue, suspense and thrillers where the protagonist is focused on fighting injustice in their community, and fantasy stories that provide a new perspective on the tropes that typically make up the fantasy canon.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

I would love to see a story about child labor rights or student activism. Pitches that include the keywords “lesbian heist” always pique my interest. I’m actively seeking work by writers of color.

What They Aren’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I’m not the right fit for science fiction, fantasy with animal protagonists, retellings based on the Disney version of fairytales, or D&D-inspired fantasy worlds.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

The reason I got into publishing comes back to work I did as a children’s bookseller. I loved being able to talk to a child and come up with tailored recommendations, then watch their face light up when they held a book where they felt their experiences were represented on the page for the first time. My role as an agent is to find books that will inspire that feeling in readers and then fight for them to reach as many of those children as possible.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

I am an editorial agent. I send clients an edit letter to begin a structural edit shortly after signing them, and we go through additional rounds of structural edits or light line edits if necessary. I was trained to be very precise with copyediting so I always include a quick round of copyediting to ensure the manuscript is clean before we submit it to editors.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

The best way to query me is through my QueryManager page. Make sure to include the first three chapters with the query. Sometimes I only receive the first chapter and it’s not enough for me to get a sense of the story.

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

I dislike query letters written in character. I also dislike when writers list a referral from someone I don’t actually know; it’s never a mark against someone to leave the referral field blank but referrals are for personal recommendations from industry colleagues.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I aspire to respond to all queries within a month, and to all requested full manuscripts within six months.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

Yes, and I represent a client who self-published their debut novel before querying. Self-published and small press authors will have better luck querying an unpublished standalone or the unpublished first book in a new series.


12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Adina Glickman, Janeen Hayat, Juniper Klein, Kate Porter

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. Please share the links to any interviews, guest posts, and podcasts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

This is the first interview I’ve done as an agent. However, I’m participating in some upcoming writers conferences, including taking virtual pitches at the Pittsburgh Writing Workshop: https://pittsburghwritingworkshop.com/presenters-instructors/

Links and Contact Info:

14. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

My QueryManager link is: https://querymanager.com/query/paulaashliterary

To get a more in-depth sense of my taste, you can check out my profile on the ASH Literary website (https://ashliterary.com/#paulawishlist) or on MSWL (https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/paula-weiman/).

Additional Advice:

15. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

It’s so important for writers to find a writing community. I always recommend finding a critique group if you don’t have one yet because those are your peers, your colleagues, the people who will have advice because they’re going through the same querying or submission or editorial processes as you. Those are the people who will celebrate your wins and will help you keep perspective through the difficult moments. There are a lot of great resources to find critique partners online if you don’t already know any writers.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Paula.

Giveaway Details

­Paula is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through April 20th. If your email is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that’s okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you follow me on Twitter or mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments, and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or email me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, April 15th I have a review and giveaway of Finally Heard by Kelly Yang

Tuesday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rain Drop on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Hillary Fazzari and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, May 1st I have an interview with author Stacy Stokes and a giveaway of her YA speculative thriller The Darkness Rises and my IWSG post

Monday, May 6th I have an agent spotlight interview with Miriam Cortinovis and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, May 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenniea Carter and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 13th I have a guest post by debut author Sandy Green and a giveaway of her MG novel in verse Ghost Writers: The Haunting of Lake Lucy

Wednesday, May 15th I have a guest post by Rose Atkinson-Carter, a freelance writer for Reedsy

Monday, May 20th I have an agent spotlight interview with Caroline Trussell and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!




Plotting Out a Thriller, Including Twists and Turns, and Marketing a Debut Book by Trish Lundy and The One That Got Away With Murder Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Trish Lundy here to share her advice on writing a thriller and about her YA thriller The One That Got Away. I’m interested in writing a mystery/thriller someday, but I haven’t found much advice on how to write one. So I’m excited to hear Trish’s advice. And her book sounds like a total page-turner that I’m going to love.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:


Be careful who you fall for...

Robbie and Trevor Cresmont have a body count—the killer kind. Handsome and privileged, the Crestmont brothers' have enough wealth to ensure they’ll never be found guilty of any wrongdoing, even if all of Happy Valley believes they're behind the deaths of their ex-girlfriends. First there was soccer star Victoria Moreno, Robbie’s ex, who mysteriously drowned at the family lake house. Then, a year later, Trevor’s girlfriend died of a suspicious overdose.

But the Crestmonts aren’t the only ones with secrets. Lauren O'Brian might be the new girl at school, but she's never been a good girl. With a dark past of her own, she's desperate for a fresh start. Except when she starts a no-strings-attached relationship with Robbie, her chance is put in jeopardy. During what’s meant to be their last weekend together, Lauren stumbles across shocking evidence that just might implicate Robbie.

With danger closing in, Lauren doesn't know who to trust. And after a third death rocks the town, she must decide whether to end things with Robbie or risk becoming another cautionary tale.

This is an edge-of-your-seat debut YA thriller about a teen who is forced to confront her past in order to catch a murderer before she ends up the next victim. Perfect for fans of Karen McManus and Holly Jackson.


Before I get to Trish’s interview post, I have my IWSG post.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts this month are: Janet Alcorn, T. Powell Coltrin, and me!

Optional Question: How long have you been blogging? What do you think about it and how has it changed?

I’ve been blogging since March 2011 and am still very committed to Literary Rambles, even though it takes a lot of work to maintain by database of agents. It helps that I have a mission to help other writers and authors on whatever path to publication they choose.

I really think blogging is one of the best forms of social media because you can say so much more in a blog post than on Instagram or Twitter. You make real friends through blogging. However it is time-consuming to follow and leave comments on other bloggers’ blogs, but it’s essential to have a thriving blog.

I’ve been saddened over the years to see so many writers stop blogging and following other blogs. Also, there has been a big drop in readers following blogs. I’m so grateful that Literary Rambles gets an average of 70,000 to over 100,000 page views a month. But I’ve seen a real drop in people stopping by and leaving a comment for my author interviews when they aren’t tied to my IWSG post. In the good old days, I’d get 50+ comments and feel like I was really helping the author. It’s much harder to support authors now, which is one reason I don’t post more than two author interviews/guest posts most months anymore.

I wish there was a way that we could get more writers and authors to join the IWSG and commit to blogging at least once a month.

Interview With Trish Lundy

Hi Trish! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Thank you for having me! I grew up playing in the snow and cheering on the Red Wings in Rochester, NY. Right before my junior year of high school, I moved to California, and I’ve been on the West Coast ever since. I was a daily diarist beginning in middle school; I chronicled every moment of my life (usually focused on my crushes, if I’m being honest!) and that was my introduction to a regular writing practice. I dabbled in poetry a bit, too, and wrote a half-finished screenplay before the end of high school. While at UCLA, I was fortunate to take a short story class taught by Fae Myenne Ng, who taught me how to cultivate my writing sanctuary: essentially, the place, both physically and mentally, that I’d go to write. My goal back then was to write for two hours a day on most days, and by the time I graduated, I’d written several short stories and a novel. After college, I worked in marketing and experimented with genres and figuring out what my own voice was like as a writer in the mornings before work. I published a few of those short stories and wrote a few more novel-sized manuscripts. Learning how to prioritize my writing and learning how to be disciplined with my time are what have allowed me to continue writing even in the busiest seasons of life. It is like working out a muscle. Writing feels as essential to me as, say, brushing my teeth! I don’t often get the luxury of a two-hour writing session these days, and I definitely do not write every single day, nor do I believe that you need to do that, but consistency is important to me.

2. It’s awesome that you’ve been so dedicated to your writing since you were a teen. Where did you get the idea for The One That Got Away With Murder?

I knew I wanted to lean fully into the YA thriller genre, but I had never written a young adult thriller before, so The One That Got Away with Murder was a way to challenge myself to do that, I suppose. I had written a couple of coming of age/mystery stories, but I wanted to pull out all the stops for my next go. Thrillers and mysteries are my comfort genre; they’re what I grew up on. They are my favorite genre to read and watch to this day (I am quite obsessed with the latest season of True Detective starring Kali Reis and Jodie Foster). I really feel that they peel the curtain back on the darkest parts of life in a very grounded, real way.

When I’m in brainstorming mode for a story, I usually carry a notebook around with me and make time to sit on the couch for an hour and just *think.* It is really how I do my best thinking—either that or when I’m blow-drying my hair. I write down thoughts, nuggets, or key phrases that come to me. The first image I had for this story was two brothers who each had a dead ex-girlfriend. I was intrigued by them. Then I thought: how do I get to know more about them? What are they hiding? And more importantly, what kind of character would want to—or have the guts to, really—get close to these brothers? Lauren was my way into the story of the Crestmont brothers, and the opening chapter really flowed from there.

Your Writing Process

3. How did you plot out your story? What advice do you have for other writers who want to write a mystery or thriller?

I always know who the killer(s) is/are and how the story ends before I write a very, very brief outline. I do think it’s helpful to know who your antagonist is so that you can set up breadcrumbs along the way that lead to them, as well as red herrings that distract from them. For the outline, I jot down the major plot points of a loose three Act Structure. During drafting, my big moments usually don’t change, but often the way I get to and from those moments does. I’m very much a discovery writer and sometimes I veer off outline if something isn’t working to get me to where the story needs to go. There are different kinds of mysteries and thrillers, and sometimes it’s helpful to first assess what kind of story you want to tell. Is it a whodunit or a whydunit? Is your main character a reliable narrator, or does this story have a psychological element to it that makes it difficult for us to trust them? If you’re writing a whodunit, it’s great to give every character a secret, or to pick a couple of suspects and really flesh out the red herrings for those suspects. It’s always satisfying when a reader is surprised by the reveal of who the villain is, but can look back and find clues along the way. Even if those clues are subtle! I’m a huge fan of clues that seem innocuous on a first read and sinister on the second.

4. Those are great tips. A lot of reviewers commented that they loved the twists and turns in the story that they didn’t see coming and that made them want to turn the page even more. How did you weave them into your story?

Some of my twists and turns have existed since the first draft, but I’m the kind of writer who definitely adds things in on sequential drafts to strengthen red herrings and clues. I think it’s always easier to build layers of suspicion once you have a first draft completed. Just get that first draft done! It doesn’t need to be perfect (I’m telling myself that now as I’m working on book 2). My editors (Mark Podesta and Ann Marie Wong) had some really great ideas to beef up the suspiciousness of certain characters who they thought could be guilty on their first read through—so I added those details to make the reader second guess everyone a little bit more. Something else that helped this particular story was having a main character who has some secrets of her own. Although the reader knows Lauren isn’t the killer, her furtiveness, at times, adds mystery to the story and it also informs how she reacts to the current mystery. It’s a great way to ramp up tension.

5. Really good thrillers and mysteries not only have tight plots but also have compelling characters. Share a bit about how Lauren developed as a character and your tips about creating the main characters in a thriller that readers want to root for.

I wanted to explore writing a character who might be tempted to make “bad” decisions, even harmful decisions, because of her unresolved personal trauma. That’s how Lauren was born. She doesn’t intend to get herself into the situations she finds herself in, but on some level, she thinks she deserves it based on the mistakes she’s made. It takes her the course of the book to understand that she doesn’t deserve any of the bad things that have happened to her. She’s also a teenager, and as a former teenager, teenagers can be messy! They should be allowed to be messy. They’re in between childhood and adulthood and they’re trying to figure it out—especially when they’re thrown into adult situations before they’re ready. I think for your audience to care about your character, they need to know what your character cares about. For Lauren, it’s her ex-boyfriend Clint. It’s her mom. It's her new friends in Happy Valley. The important people in her life often drive her reasoning and her decision making—for better or worse.

6. Do you have any craft books or other resources you’d recommend for writers who want to learn how to write a mystery or thriller?

I think the best way to learn how to write a mystery or thriller is to read a lot of mysteries and thrillers. See what genres you are drawn to within those genres, and learn the conventions of those subgenres. The One That Got Away with Murder is a whodunit, so there’s a lot of suspicious characters. That won’t necessarily be the case for a whydunit, for example. I think Save the Cat is a great craft resource. It’s very accessible and a lot of craft books can be quite dense. I like On Writing by Stephen King, too. I think you should take what works for you from craft books and abandon the rest. Trust your own process! Building your process is pretty much cobbling together what you’ve learned from other processes and sticking to what works best for you. Then, lastly, find a couple of trusted first readers or critique partners to share your work with, and bonus points if they’re well-versed in or love reading thrillers.

Your Road to Publication

7.  I really like Save the Cat too. Kristin van Ogtrop and Stephen Barbara are your agents. How did they become your agents and what was your road to publication like? How has having two agents benefited you?

I had an interesting road to publication. First of all, I started querying back in 2014. After getting a lot of rejections, I realized my writing wasn’t quite ready for professional publication. I continued writing manuscripts and I wrote a lot of short fiction, too, to experiment with genres and to find my voice. In the fall of 2021, I had a YA manuscript I was very confident in and felt it was the right time for me to query again. I sent out my initial query package to about eight agents, and I received one full request. During this time, my grandmother passed away. I traveled to State College, PA, for her funeral, and I spoke to a woman who was very kind and we got to talking. She asked me what I did, and I hesitated (I thought: do I tell her about my day job or about my passion?). I told her I’d recently finished a YA manuscript and she told me her sister was a literary agent! She offered to connect us so I could pick her sister’s brain about publishing advice. I had a call with Kristin a couple of months later. At the end of the call, she asked me to send her my query package. The same day, she asked for either the first fifty pages or the entire manuscript, I can’t remember which, exactly, but I was elated. She ended up loving the manuscript and we set up a call with her and her colleague Stephen. They asked me if I’d consider doing an R&R. Based on their feedback, I agreed with their vision and felt it was aligned with mine. I did the R&R, and they offered me representation! They are the. best. Kristin is my more editorial agent and Stephen is my more sales agent, so to speak, but they both overlap greatly. They give the best notes and guidance and I just can’t say enough good things about them. We went on submission with that initial manuscript and after a few months of getting some very close acceptances but a lot of passes, I channeled my on-submission anxiety into working on a new manuscript and THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY WITH MURDER was born! I had a feeling it was going to be the one. We went out with it and within a couple weeks we had multiple interested editors! I feel very lucky to have landed at Henry Holt.

Promoting Your Book

8. That’s an amazing story of how to get an agent. How are you promoting The One That Got Away? What tips do you have on marketing for other authors who have a debut book coming out?

Instagram is my favorite channel/platform and that’s where I’m the most active in promotion. I also have a newsletter for more longer-form thoughts, which I do enjoy drafting, too. It is honestly one of my favorite creative outlets. Nicole Brinkley has a great piece on authors and social media marketing that I would encourage any writer or author to read. I think it’s healthy to view social media as not a be-all and end-all, but something that can enhance a connection with your readers. My advice would be to not be shy or bashful about promoting your work! People want to support you and your art, and they need reminders. I think of how often I mean to preorder someone’s book and I forget and then I see a recent post and I’m like oh yes—doing that right now! My other piece of advice would be to have fun with it. Join your debut author slack/discord and ask for help with graphics or promotion if it’s not your forte. Of course, while your publisher is going to market your book and while they can move the needle more than any individual author can, I think it’s important to have a platform of your own to express yourself outside of your publisher and connect with your readers.

9. Thanks for sharing your tips. You’ve got a balanced approach to social media promotion. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a new YA thriller that I’m very excited about. I don’t want to give too much away because it is not yet announced, but I will say that I’m having a lot of fun experimenting with a new character’s voice. Hopefully I’ll be able to say more in the near future!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Trish. You can find Trish at trishlundy.com and on Instagram at @trishlundy.

Giveaway Details

Trish’s publisher is generously offering a hardback of The One That Got Away With Murer for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by April 13th. If your email is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or Trish on her social media sites, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This book giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, April 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Paula Weiman and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 15th I have a review and giveaway of Finally Heard by Kelly Yang

Tuesday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rain Drop on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Hillary Fazzari and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!




Honey Bunny Giveaway Hop

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Honey Bunny Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're having a great start to spring. Here in Michigan, it started way early this year--late February. Much of March has been lovely. I've been taking my dog for more walks, starting to work on my garden clean-up, and dreaming of planting my vegetable garden. I know we could still get some cold weather, so I'll resist the urge to start planting.

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

I’ve got a lot of exciting newly released MG and YA book choices this month that you might like. You can also choose another book in the series by these authors or a book of your choice. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads. Here are your choices:

If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


Giveaway Details

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by April 15th telling me whether you want a book, and if so, which one, or the Amazon gift card and your email address. Be sure to include your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is U.S. only and the Amazon gift card giveaway is International.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Wednesday, April 3rd I have an interview with debut author Trish Lundy and a giveaway of her YA thriller The One That Got Away With Murder and my IWSG post

Monday, April 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Paula Weiman and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 15th I have a review and giveaway of Finally Heard by Kelly Yang

Tuesday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rain Drop on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Hillary Fazzari and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Wednesday!

And here are all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Ten Tips for Debut Authors by Agent Rachel Orr and Author Cathy Carr and Lost Kites and Other Treasures Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have author Cathy Carr and her agent Rachel Orr here to share their tips for debut authors to celebrate the release of Cathy’s new MG contemporary Lost Kites and Other Treasures. It sounds like a fantastic story that really nails the complexities of family dynamics and is a real page-turner. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads: 

Cathy Carr’s Lost Kites and Other Treasures is a moving and heartfelt middle-grade novel about mental illness, the transformative power of art, and the ever-changing complications and joys of family life.

Twelve-year-old Franny Petroski never lets anyone know how often she thinks of the charismatic, troubled mom who left her years ago—any more than she talks about the unaccountable things Mom did while she was still in the picture. Life with Nana is safe and secure, and Franny’s innovative art projects fill in any lonesome times.

But when Nana has an accident and Franny’s estranged uncle comes home to help out for a while, some long-guarded family secrets come to light. Franny has to use all of her courage, as well as all of her creativity, to come to terms with the discoveries she makes about her mother—and herself.


Ten Tips for Debut Authors

First off, who are Cathy Carr and Rachel Orr?

Cathy is the author. She was born in western Nebraska and grew up in Wisconsin. Since high school, she has lived in four different US states, plus overseas, and worked a variety of jobs, from burger flipping to technical writing. Wherever she goes, her observations of the natural world give her inspiration. Her first book, 365 Days to Alaska, was called “a wonderful debut novel about compassion, belonging, and finding your way home” by Lynne Kelly, author of Song for a Whale. 365 Days to Alaska was a Junior Library Guild selection and chosen for Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. Carr now lives in the New Jersey suburbs with her family and two scrappy cats.

Rachel is the agent. Prior to joining Prospect Agency in 2007, she worked as an editor at HarperCollins Children's Books. Because of her editorial background, Rachel continues to do a lot of hands-on work with her clients before sending their projects out on submission. As a literary agent, Rachel loves working with clients who come from diverse backgrounds and have fresh perspectives to offer readers.

Cathy’s literary debut, 365 Days to Alaska, left her with some firm ideas about what fledgling writers needed to know about their literary debuts. Rachel also had plenty of ideas to share based on her experience working with debut creators. So, without further ado, let’s get cracking with their 10 Tips for Literary Debuts.

#1: Get ready for all the feels!


You've fulfilled a hard-won dream, a major life goal. Your first book is coming out. It’s on your publisher’s list, you’ve finally seen your name in places like Publishers Marketplace and Publisher’s Weekly. Kind of like getting into Studio 54 back in the 1970s. Or maybe even a backstage pass for a Beyoncé concert. You can barely believe this has happened. But now that it has, be prepared for uncertainty, anxiety, anger, a fair dash of envy (more on that later), and even some ennui. These are all normal feelings to have. You can't control having them--but you can control how to respond to them.


Well, Cathy, I don’t really know much about either Studio 54 or Beyoncé, but I do know that many creators (especially debuts) tend to get the Pub Day Blues. They wake up that morning, expecting the day to be dramatically different from every other day before it, and yet. . . they still have to put on clothes and maybe pack lunches and (God forbid!) go into the office if they have a day job. Just like everyone else who has never even written a book! But it’s important to make it a point to celebrate, too. (More on that later!)

#2: Find communities.


Debut groups, which are full of first-time authors who band together to support each other, can be super helpful to a new author. There are also communities like kidlit411.com and the many different groups SCBWI creates and promotes. Look around and see what’s there. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow authors if they know of any supportive groups open to new members.

There are also your friends from your writing workshops, your old friends from college, that high-school alumni group you joined on Facebook—all of these communities can be helpful and supportive when your book comes out. Don’t discount your non-writer friends. Many of them will be thrilled that you are publishing a book, and happy to support you.

Writers, this is no time to give in to our inner introverts, the ones that help us stay focused when we’re doing the actual writing. Get out there and get involved. Be kind to other people in the writing community. Not just writers and readers. Librarians, teachers, agents, and editors: they’re part of our world too. Offer suggestions and support. Boost their social media posts. You might be pleasantly surprised at how many of them are willing to do the same for you. And you may also be surprised at how many of your fellow authors will remember a year or two later—to the letter—the people who gave them reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, and the people who forgot or were too busy to get that done.


Yes, exactly! And don’t forget about your agency family, either. At Prospect, we work hard to create and nurture a sense of community among our clients, and I know many other agencies do as well. I believe that you’ve been in touch with several other Prospect writers, Cathy, and that you frequently promote each other’s work on social media. Many other Prospect clients have already started pulling together a promotional group for their 2025 releases that will involve sharing cover reveals, book birthdays, reviews, and good news. That’s really smart (and really thinking ahead, too. I don’t know what I’m making for dinner tomorrow, let alone what I’ll be doing in 2025!).


Mike Ciccotello was the first person who told me we were “agency family,” because we were both at Prospect Agency. I had never heard of that concept, and it was such a relief to know that more experienced writers had my back. When you have that attitude of community in your literary agency, it’s the ultimate cozy feeling.

#3: Be thoughtful about your social media presence.


Most publishers now expect you to have an active social media presence. (Some even require it. You might find it in your contract.) So figure out now which platforms you're most comfortable with, and start establishing a coherent presence on the ones you prefer. Get in the habit of posting frequently. It’s also the moment to get your website ready for prime time. Your website doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It’s more important for it to be coherent, well organized, and up to date. It’s very easy to let a website get “dusty,” as the publicists say. But try not to bite off more than you can chew. It's easy to imagine you can send a monthly newsletter or blog frequently, but my experience is not many people keep that up long term.


I totally concur! As you said, it’s important to pick the platform that works the best for you. But, also, just remember that there is no substitute for writing a good book. That should always remain your top priority.

#4: Get organized.


Early on, make a list of everything you need to get done and when it needs to be finished. Make sure deadlines for interviews and articles all go on your calendar. Don't be late with your promised responses or ask for extensions. Update your website and order your swag. It may seem overwhelming, but just remember that you eat an elephant bite by bite. Also remember that time and effort you spend on book promotion is time spent on your literary career.


Yes, book promotion is an important investment, and shows that you’re taking yourself seriously as an author. After all, once you’ve written a good book, you want people to know about it. So carve out the time in your schedule to make that happen, and give yourself permission to take those necessary steps to further your career. It’s not wasting time; it’s time well spent.

#5: Guard your time and money. Think about what’s really going to move the needle.


Getting a book advance is exciting. Perhaps, like me, you spent years submitting to literary magazines that paid in copies. Now all of a sudden there’s money from a publishing house deposited in your bank account. Now that it’s there, let’s not be in a rush to spend it all at once. (Sorry for sounding like your parents, or your tax accountant.)

If ordering thematic stuffed animals and book-cover cookies for your swag completes your happiness, go for it. I once made an entire no-sew fleece blanket for a book giveaway, so I get it. But—be realistic about what's really going to move the needle in terms of sales and publicity. It worries me when I see authors ordering expensive swag like key chains or mugs, knowing that most folks will toss them straight into a drawer or the recycling bin. The simple old standards of bookmarks, postcards, and stickers are often the best. This isn’t just my opinion. Many of my librarian friends confirm that these simple items are the kids’ favorites. With that in mind, my personal rule is that all my swag should fit into a standard #10 envelope and mail with a Forever stamp.

There are other things people try that are often rarely worth the time and money. I’ve known some authors who have sent their swag postcards to every independent bookstore in the United States. Again, if this gives you joy and a sense of control, go ahead—but most bookstores rely on trade reviews to decide which books to stock. Your postcards might not make much of a difference, and the time and money they require may be better spent elsewhere. Like working on your next book.

I’d also like to mention professional publicists. You’re going to be hearing from some of them. I got several unsolicited emails. One guy actually got my home phone number and called more than once. I admired his enterprise, although he didn’t get the title of my book right. Some of these publicists will promise amazing things. Let me be clear: publicists can be great. I have one I consult occasionally. She gives me advice on the stuff I should be doing to publicize my book and how to establish an appropriate, professional online presence. I feel as if she’s worth every penny. But if I was going to pay for a publicity package of $10,000 or $15,000 (and, yes, I know of writers who have done this) I would want to know exactly what I was likely to gain in exchange for that money. To be clear, at most of the usual royalty rates you’d need to sell around 5,000 books to make $10,000 back. That’s a lot of books.

Okay, so what does seem to make a difference? School visits! If you can develop a good school visit, and get out there regularly, they can move the needle in terms of sales. And the money you charge for those visits will come in handy too.


You can always feel free to ask your agent for publicity and marketing advice as well.  We can help you to decipher publishing marketing plans and offer wisdom as to how you might best promote your book. While we might not have all the answers, we can always do some asking around to find out. As your agent, we’re invested in helping you to build your career—and we’re always on your side.

#6: Vent away about the book business—but it might be better to vent to family and friends instead of the Internet.


There's plenty to complain about in the publishing landscape today, from major chains dropping MG hardbacks to a lack of publicity from publishers to professionals who ghost us. However. . . please do consider seriously whether it's wise to complain about your advance, your publisher's publicity department, or your literary agency on social media for everyone to see. Remember that everyone at your agency and publishing house knows how to use the Internet, and they'll see your tossed-off complaints, and may take them really personally.


Exactly, Cathy! And just remember that your agent is a safe person to vent to (unless you’re venting about your agent, of course. Then, vent to your cat). Agents can also help you to discern whether you have a legitimate complaint (and what to do about it, if so) or if your frustration is something that is, unfortunately, commonplace in the publishing industry. (And maybe, in that case, there’s not much you can do about it. But, hey—don’t you feel better now that you’ve vented?)

#7: A thick skin can be useful.


Lately I’m grateful for my years in publishing when I sent out short stories to literary magazines. My record for rejections was 72 for one story. Why am I grateful for those years of repeated failure? Because they gave me the hide of a rhino.

You are going to reach out to a lot of people who decline to review your book on their popular Youtube channel or website. Most of them won't even bother to respond to your email. You are going to get negative reviews, some of which are stupid, and others of which really hurt. (It's hard to know which are worse.) People are going to say petty, unnecessary things to you about your book. I know someone who let me know she didn’t like the cover of Lost Kites and Other Treasures and Franny as a blonde was all wrong. So get ready for stuff like that. It’ll happen.


It’s definitely natural to feel the sting of rejection—but it also shows that you take pride in your work. It’s kind of like being nervous before a recital. If you didn’t get the pre-performance jitters it would mean that you didn’t care—which, of course, is not a good thing. But it’s also important to keep in mind that criticism is subjective (so, so subjective). Some professional reviewers seem to be more in the business of flaunting their own writing skills than giving useful feedback. Try the best you can to dismiss those hurtful jabs. However, if you’re getting the same criticism from several different sources, then you may want to start paying attention to those remarks. It might be good feedback that you could consider implementing in your next work.

#8: Get ready for visits from the green-eyed monster.


I'm talking about envy. It's one of the most common emotions for debut authors to feel, and not the prettiest one. Perhaps, as with so many other things, it's best to just accept its presence and move on.

As an author, you will always know people whose books have more reviews than yours on Goodreads, whose book gets four starred reviews while your book is having trouble scraping up any reviews at all, who get chosen for an interview in Horn Book or Publishers Weekly. This will not seem fair to you. Period. Just please understand that public envy is an ugly look. (I've had friends who dismissed envious social media posts as natural, but I've never seen anyone who really admired one or thought better of someone for posting it.) This is what your friends and family are for.


Yes, the hard truth about publishing (and life in general, really) is that there is always going to be someone who gets more recognition than you. But my advice would be to make your envy work for you, rather than against you. Use it as the fuel to help you focus on your own individual goals and keep your eye on the milestones you can control (finishing that next novel draft!) rather than the things you can’t (winning the Newbery). You’ll never be able to achieve that second goal without finishing that first.   


I love the idea of turning that envy into rocket fuel.

#9: Be yourself. Unleash your inner anchovy pizza.


When Lost Kites and Other Treasures came out, I posted a photograph of myself on social media that I honestly find embarrassing. I have a look of utter joy on my face, I'm holding Lost Kites up over my head, and my coat pockets are bulging in a weird way because my mittens are stuffed in them. I almost didn't post the picture¾but people loved it! So don't be afraid to express your real self¾your love of anchovy pizza, your extensive knowledge of top 40 hits, the picture of you when you were eight in awful eyeglasses with your hair flipped up on one side. Dance like no one's watching.


Have you been watching me dance, Cathy? Darn it! I thought no one had seen my killer Flashdance moves. Seriously though, genuineness is a highly likable trait, and one that kids (who are truly your main audience, lest we forget) especially value. Just think of the popularity of the BeReal app with teens. And they can spot a phony a mile away, which is why it’s all the more important to be yourself. (Speaking of, I’ve got to get back to my split leaps now. Where are my leg warmers?)

#10: Enjoy your debut!


It's so easy to forget this. So add it to your calendar. I'm serious about that. You've achieved a magnificent accomplishment, probably something you worked toward for years. Plan a great day for yourself. Treat yourself to some flowers, some good food, a long walk, or whatever you would enjoy the most. You did it!


You did do it. It’s a hard-won dream—and it’s certainly something to celebrate. You may just have to be intentional about it—just like you did this year when Lost Kites and Other Treasures came out, didn’t you?

CC: I did. We had pizza, wine, and Italian pastry—all on one fabulous weeknight. And I hope everyone with a book coming out this year has a debut day that gives them that much joy.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Cathy and Rachel. You can find Cathy at:

www.cathycarrwrites.com, Facebook at cathycarrwrites, and Twitter and Instagram @cathycarrwrites 

You can find Rachel at: https://www.prospectagency.com/ and Twitter @rachelprospect

Giveaway Details

Cathy is generously offering a hardback of Lost Kites and Other Treasures for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by April 6th. If your email is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or Cathy on her social media sites, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This book giveaway is international.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Friday, April 1st I’m participating in the Honey Bunny Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 3rd I have an interview with debut author Trish Lundy and a giveaway of her YA thriller The One That Got Away With Murder and my IWSG post

Monday, April 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Paula Weiman and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 15th I have a review and giveaway of Finally Heard by Kelly Yang

Tuesday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rain Drop on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Hillary Fazzari and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Friday!