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Research Tip Tuesday

Another great writing research tip from Tara McClendon!

"For history writers, a good source of information can be histories of fashion. Often these books have drawings and definitions for terms used during specific eras. C. Otis Sweezey
provides a Web site with information on a text published from 1861 to 1880. Other modern books provide a look at a wider range of eras."

Tara is a freelance writer and editor. She maintains her own blog Eye Feathers.

Thanks Tara! Anyone else have any favorite web sites they frequent for historical research? Please share them in the comments.

The Post In Which I Become Scarce

Hey all -

I'm about to become scarce around these here blog parts for a week or two. I'm finally getting married this coming Thursday, and my mom arrived yesterday to help with all the last minute details I er... put off (me = wedding planner fail). After the wedding, we'll be taking two short trips and I'll probably be torn from my computer for most of that week as well.

Things are and will continue to be, in simpler words, busy.

The good news for you is that I'll still be posting my regular features (except maybe Wed), thanks to post scheduling (providing I don't have a schedule fail), and there might be some downtimes I can take advantage of while all this is going on. Though, I should use those to write since I have my new deadline and all.

I have some great posts planned for when I come back, and I'll be a busy blogger bug updating the Agent Spotlights. Some of them are becoming dated, it seems. If you've noticed anything of that sort or have any suggestions, please leave a comment or e-mail.

While I'm away, I'd love it if you wrote a guest post for the blog, submitted a tip for Research Tip Tuesday, requested an interview, or sent in a question by e-mailing me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Just don't expect an immediate response as I probably won't be responding to much e-mail until things settle down around here.

It seems I'll be away from my computer more in the next two weeks than I have been in the last couple years. What does it say about me that I'm more panicked about that than getting married? I probably shouldn't ask. ; )

I'll miss you much! Please keep me updated in the comments on the happenings of our fabulous blog community. I don't want to miss anything great.

Agent News: Teresa Kietlinski

Head on over to the Guide to Literary Agents blog and check out Teresa Kietlinksi with Prospect Agency. It sounds like she'll be representing all areas of children's fiction, but she is particularly interested in writers who also illustrate.

Best to all who query.

Agent Spotlight: Eddie Schneider

This week's Agent Spotlight features Eddie Scheider of JABberwocky Literary Agency.

Status: Open to submissions, actively building his list.

Schneider About: "Eddie Schneider is the VP of JABberwocky Literary Agency, which he joined in 2008. He is actively building his client list (see “What I’m Looking For,” below).

“Schneider is an Iowa graduate, where he studied fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction (mentors include Yiyun Li and G.C. Waldrep). He is also a graduate of New York University, with an M.S. in Publishing, and started out in book publishing with a post at Folio Literary Management.

“He has also been, at various points in his life, a magazine editor, computer salesman, short-order cook, archery instructor, freelance graphic designer, and ultramarathoner.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“JABberwocky Literary Agency, established in 1994 by Joshua Bilmes, is the world's leading agency for fantasy and science fiction, and our interests extend beyond these to many areas of trade fiction and non-fiction.” (Link)

Web Presence:

JABberwocky website.

Publisher’s Marketplace page.

Website / Blog.

Twitter.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

What He's Looking For:

Interests:

Literary, humor/satire, graphic novels, fantasy, science Fiction, MG and YA. Non-fiction interests include science, history, and narrative nonfiction, for adult trade.

From an Interview (07/2011):

“I would most like to see more middle grade science fiction. The adventure inherent to the genre lends itself really, really well to MG, but I haven't been getting enough of that. While I do like dystopian fiction, I want to also see sf that does something besides rewrite "Lord of the Flies" with more technology and various forms of warmed-over fascist governments.

“I'm also happy to look at realistic MG novels, as well as fantasy in its myriad forms.” (Link)

Sent via E-mail (11/2010):

“I am most passionate about literary fiction, sf/fantasy, and narrative non-fiction that involves the sciences, history, and contemporary social issues. I also have a particular interest in young adult and middle grade fiction. More on what I’m looking for in these, and the other genres I enjoy working with, follows.

Literary fiction – When I’m not reading a client manuscript or submission, my nose is often in a literary novel.  What I go for are novels that have a strong stylistic voice, a palpable narrative (even when they start to experiment, one non-client example being Italo Calvino’s IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER), and that are engaged in areas that expand beyond the middle-class concerns endemic to the literary novel of the last few decades.

Science fiction - I love sf, and some of my favorite novels fall into this category.  What I particularly enjoy here are novels in which the characters and writing show the same level of thoughtful attention as the -ologies being explored. Two examples of (non-client) novels that I enjoyed in this vein are Walter M. Miller Jr.’s A CANTICLE FOR LIEBOWITZ and David Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS.

“I am also very much interested in sf written from non-Western cultural perspectives, as well as sf written for YA and middle grade readers.  On the lighter side, if you have a thrilling space opera, send it my way!  That’s my favorite kind of popcorn.

Fantasy - With fantasy, my favorite novels have tended to be those that toe both the real world and the fantastic.  In any case, I go for stories with intricate, imaginative settings that are internally consistent, address political and social concerns, and have often found myself preferring tight writing to florid.  One example of a (non-client) novel that I particularly enjoyed like this was Ursula K. Le Guin’s LAVINIA.

“Fantasy is perhaps the broadest genre of all, so it might help to pinpoint areas of special interest to me.   These include magical realism, urban fantasy, and S&S/epic fantasy set outside of the Northern European milieu from which the genre originated.  I’m also very interested in YA and middle grade novels in any of these areas.

Graphic novels - I am interested in graphic novels by either an author/illustrator, or already established author-illustrator team.  Here, I prefer realistic subject matter to speculative, though I will certainly consider material with sf/fantasy elements.  An example of a (non-client) graphic novel I really liked was David Mazzucchelli’s ASTERIOS POLYP.

“I’m also interested in graphic projects that either are, or resemble, comic strips.  Here, what I’m after are projects that are well-written, humorous, and incisive.  One example of a book I enjoyed in this vein was Nicholas Gurewitch’s THE TRIAL OF COLONEL SWEETO.” (Link)

See the agency website for non-fiction particulars.

What He Isn't Looking For:

Picture books, early readers.  He advises that mysteries, high fantasies, hard sci-fi, and military sci-fi be directed to Joshua Bilmes. (Link)

His Advice to Writers:

"The best thing a writer can do to further his or her career is to make time every day to write, and to spend that writing time wisely. To spend it wisely means to continually try to improve. It's very similar to trying to become a concert pianist or an Olympic athlete, in that the writer much go all out in each day's writing. The more time a writer is able to dedicate each day, the fewer the number of years it will take to develop.

"The next thing that's necessary is for the writer to take agent research (and short story market research) as seriously as his or her writing. This means sending material to the right person, in the requested format, and being conscientious of how the process actually works.

"Lastly, it is also a very good idea for the aspiring author to join a writing group with one or more published authors in which people are honest with one another, and not cloying with encouragement or constantly fixated on their own work. Because humans learn better when they can see each other's body language, it's best to try to join a group that meets in person regularly, but online groups can also be helpful, in lieu of a good local group." (Link with more)

Quotables:

"Any decent agent will have the sense to carefully choose editors, and the result is that editors often get back to us quickly, and read the manuscript themselves as opposed to dumping it on an assistant or intern." (Link)

"I admit to being reticent to read someone's self-published novel, because it implies that the author has poor impulse control. That being said, there are books that people (publishers and agents alike) just don't get, and have to be shown, by sales success, that they ought to get. The world of vanity presses is also like playground basketball. The best playground players might make it in the pros, but most couldn't, and those that do will typically need some guidance before they really fulfill their potential." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Yes. "Typically, what I will actually do once I have a manuscript I'm interested in, is to work with the author to polish that manuscript so that all of the plot works, and that other things which an editor might use as excuses to pass on a project are also dealt with." (Link)

Clients:

A list of clients can be found on the JABberwocky website here.

Mr. Schneider’s clients include Tobias Buckell, Adam-Troy Castro, Frederick Durbin, Mark Hodder, Dene Low, E.C. Myers, Janci Patterson, Jon Sprunk, among others.

Sales:

As of 7/2011, Mr. Schneider is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 4 deals in the last 12 months and 9 overall. Recent deals include 2 sci-fi/fantasy, 1 fantasy, and 1 young adult.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

NOTE: The agency regularly closes and reopens to submissions.  Always check the website before querying. 

Snail-Mail:  Send a query with SASE.

E-Mail:  Send a query pasted in the body of an e-mail. No attachments.

A 1-3 page synopsis can be included but is not required. Do NOT send any manuscript material unless requested. Do not query by fax or phone.

See the JABberwocky website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Response Times:

Mr. Schneider’s response time on queries seems to be one to two weeks with occasional instances over a month.  Requested material usually gets a response within a month, sometimes two.

What's the Buzz?

Eddie Schneider has been agenting for a couple years now and is building a MG/YA list for the agency (as well as representing adult projects) with a focus on sci-fi, fantasy, and literary fiction.  Word around the web is great and his clients seem to love him.  I can’t wait to see the agency’s children’s list grow!

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Eddie Schneider at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2011).

Interview with Eddie Schneider at Fear of the Dark (06/2011).

Agent Advice Interview with Eddie Schneider at Guide to Literary Agents (03/2011).

7-Question Interview with Eddie Schneider.

Around the Web:

Keep an eye on the agency’s main webpage for news and updates!

You can find Eddie Schneider's conference/event schedule here.

JABberwocky Literary Agency on P&E (recommended).

JABberwocky Literary thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Agent Appreciate Day post on Eddie Schneider by client E.C. Myers (12/10).

If you have an AvantGuild membership, check out this article on the agency: "Pitching An Agent: Quirky Queries Wanted."

Contact:

Please see the JABberwocky website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 7/25/11.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 7/25/11.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Wednesday's Word Count

Happy Wednesday! Was yesterday the first day of fall? I love fall! Here's my report for the week. The rewrite is looking like this...

Current word count: 17,517

Goal last week:
4,000

Accomplished:
3,488

Words 'til finish: 37,483/750 words a day until Nov 13th.

Goal this week: 5,000

Excuses / comments: As you can see above, I've adjusted my goals some. I asked Heather to give me a deadline and make me accountable, and this is what she came up with. Though, I'm really supposed to hit 1k a day since this takes wedding plans into account. I think it's perfect, and we've both agreed that I'll sit out of NaNo this year to make it work. If I've fallen behind by the time Nov 1st hits, I'll definitely use NaNo to spur me on, but I won't be doing a new project. Sort of a bummer in some ways, but it's a definite relief in others. It feels good to have a manageable goal again.

Now, how are your goals coming along? What have you got going on for the week? Any new or exciting fall plans?

Research Tip Tuesday

Another great research tip from Ann Finkelstein today! You can check out her lovely blog here. Ann acquired these smarts from her local SCBWI-MI listserv where they had a discussion about formatting issues. Carrie Clickard supplied the most helpful of the tips, so we're plugging her as well (thanks Carrie!).

"Electronic queries with weird formatting aren't the best way to make a good impression on a prospective agent. This happens when text formatting commands aren't recognized by the recipient's email program. If you write query letters in a word processing program and paste them into email, or add formatting (like italics) to an email, it may look fine on your screen but terrible on the agent's.

Solutions that may help are:

1) typing the query directly in your email (don't cut and paste)

2) writing the query in Windows "notepad" instead of a word processing program

3) avoiding unusual fonts, bold letters, underlining and italics

4) avoiding non-English symbols or accents if possible

5) using plain text format.

6) setting email preferences so they do not allow HTML tags

You can test drive your electronic query by sending it to a friend who uses a different email provider."

Thanks so much, Ann! I always paste into Notepad first if I'm stressing about formatting. And peeps, if you'd like to send in a tip (please do!), see this post.

Guest Post: Heather Hansen on Dealing With Disappointment

Today I have a guest post by one of my fabulous critique partners, Heather Hansen.  You can visit her blog here where she's always posting some kind of cuteness or hilarity.  One word, people: PUPPY.

(Keep an eye on this girl.  Great, great books to come.)

Here's Heather!

Heather_2Dealing with Disappointment:

There’s lots of advice out there on the steps to get published. I have to admit, when I read them I can’t help but snicker. Yeah, sure, in a perfect world maybe you could write a book, query agents, land an agent, sub to publishers, sell and BAM! your book comes out in a bookstore.

It does work like that. It’s rare, but it happens. We all know someone that's happened to.

For the majority of us, we get stuck somewhere along that timeline. Sometimes for years… Sigh. *raises hand* I’ve been stuck between “land an agent” and “sub to publishers” for … oh, almost two years. :)

Guess what? I got past that hurdle.

There’s always going to be disappointment in this business. The trick is to use it to your advantage.

So what do you do when everyone around you is seeing success and you’re not?

Stay optimistic

Number one most important thing is to keep a good attitude. Sadness, depression, anger… these affect your writing. Either you can’t write or the writing is unintentionally angry.

And if you can’t stay optimistic – and I admit that I can’t! – get some friends who can be optimistic for you. There is nothing more important than having a cheering section!!!

(thanks Mom, Casey, Suzanne and Deb!)

Focus on your goals

All that energy that you’re using to get angry and/or cry (*raises hand again*), it’s more productive to use it to achieve your goal. Figure out what it is that you really want. That doesn’t mean “have a book in a bookstore.” Focus on something that is in your power to accomplish within the next three to six months.

Ask for help

I was shy about asking for help. I paid for that shyness for many years. Many. I could have been much farther along with my career if I had just stopped and asked someone to tell me what I was doing wrong.

I admire people who do ask for help. This is actually how I met Casey two years ago. She wanted to improve her writing and needed someone to bounce ideas off of. We clicked. Of course, now she outshines me!

Write another book

It may take 5… 7… 10 books to make it work. What I do know for absolute certainty is that you will never be published if you don’t keep trying.

Don’t put your eggs in one basket! If you’re subbing one book, you should be almost done with another. That way when you’ve completed your submission cycle you have another to pimp.

Key things to note:

Make sure the idea is BIGGER AND BETTER. Can you pitch your novel in one sentence? If not, go back and keep at it until you can… and then write it, not before!

Work on your craft. No one is a perfect writer. We all learn. Do not think you’re above learning.

Read! Read! Read!

Go to Conferences

Networking! I cannot stress enough how important networking is!

There are different conference stages depending on where you are in your career. In the beginning you’re there to learn. That morphs in to making friends with other authors (this is gold!). After that it becomes scoping out the agents/editors you want to work with.

You better believe that I have an opinion about whom I want to sub to. I can make that opinion because I’ve met/talked/hung out with the editors in question.

Rethink what you’re doing

Don’t bang your head against a wall! If you’re in a bad relationship would you just take it and never say anything? Never try to do anything different? No! You’d try to fix the problem. Why then do writers do the same things over and over again and expect different results?

For me, I was not understanding what my previous agent wanted. I don’t really think that was either of our faults. I’m sure she was trying to impart her wisdom to me and I was trying to learn it. Still, we broke up.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Okay, yeah, it didn’t feel that way at the time. It felt like I’d gotten a divorce and didn’t even get alimony payments let alone the bed, car, couch or the dog.

But then… I was open to accepting new representation. And I did. My current agent is Mark McVeigh – I’m only name dropping because I adore him. *gush* I wish everyone was as happy with their agents as I am.

You know what? I got it. He made sense to me.

Be proactive instead of reactive

Bottom line is this: You’re going to be disappointed. There are a million things you can’t control. Grab the ones you can! Do whatever it is you can to get ahead! Your biggest advocate is you.

***

Bio:  Heather L. Hansen lives on a tropical island in the East China Sea. With two kids and a marine husband, she writes to keep her sanity. Heather writes young adult novels that are a little particular, always sassy, with just a touch of angst. And of course kissing!  You can visit her for the daily dish at http://heatherhansen.blogspot.com

So Tell Me: Your Blog

I'm always discovering great new blogs (despite the groans of my reader), and I'm sure you are too. I was thinking it'd be fun if everyone piped in and promoted their blog a bit. I try to visit the blogs of everyone that comments, but I don't always have enough time to get a feel for what's all there. I'm sure I miss out on a lot.

So tell me, what do you blog about? Is there a focus? Do you have any regular features?

Please share, and make sure to keep an eye out for new blogs that might interest you. You never know what you'll find, and I'm sure everyone would like some new readers and friends!

Holy Moly, Hello & Welcome.

You know that saying, "I made you!"?  Well, in blog terms, I feel like I just "got made" with many thanks to Jenny Bent and Janet Reid, respectively.  Though, with any smarts on my part, they'll never have to say those words, as they're usually delivered with some kind of towering disapproval.  And yikes, who'd want to rile up someone Fiercely Bent on Books, or the Great Query Snark Shark?

But, joking aside, this blog has had a lot of champions since its ill-planned inception, and I'd like all my readers—old and new—to know it's nothing without you, your comradery and support, and your input.  Your encouragement and appreciation push me higher each month (I'd like to think), and I really hope everyone can find a little something here.  If not, well, feel free to make some suggestions or, you know, bugger off, yes?  ; )

That said, I'd like to welcome Lit Rambles' new followers, subscribers, and stopper-bys!  I'm opening up this thread to all of you, so please leave a comment.  Say hello, tell me about your writing, your blog, your writing-supportive animalpanions (or human companions, I suppose)—whatever you'd like.  And hey, this includes you lurker types, too.  Yes, YOU!  Come on, say something!  I'd love it.

And I'm really nice.  Promise. 

: )

Agent Spotlight: Joe Monti

Profile removed 11/2013.

Mr. Monti is now editor of Simon & Shuster's new science fiction and fantasy imprint.  He is no longer a literary agent. Do not query.

Wednesday's Word Count

Things have been pretty busy this week, and they're about to get crazier for the next two to three. What does that mean? If I start slacking off on the blog, and in my word count, don't be too hard me. ; )

Current word count:
14,029

Goal last week:
6,636

Accomplished:
3,331

Words 'til finish: 45,971/1021 words a day until October 31st.

Goal this week: 4,000

Excuses / comments: I only did about half of what I needed to in order to stay on track, but I'm still making progress so it's all good. I'd have to do over 7k a week to stay on track from here, and I just don't see that happening, but I'll push on and try to get to at least 4k this next week. Things are hitting the proverbial fan for my MC in my WIP right now, so I'm hoping that will drive a lot of words out of me in the next few days.

Hm, what else? I can't beleive we're already halfway through September! How are your goals coming along? Any news you'd like to share? I know a few of you about to start subbing - good luck!

P.S. If you missed my interview on Beth's blog on Monday, check it out (hope I don't read like a dweeb)! Beth's been so nice to feature me as her Blog of the Month. Thanks again, Beth!

Agent News: Ted Malawer Joins Upstart Crow

Ted Malawer has joined former Firebrand colleagues at Upstart Crow and will be specializing in children's fiction. The web site should be updated soon, but until then, the fabulous Guide to Literary Agents Blog has the latest details. Check it out:

YA: "I am really looking for books that walk the line between commercial and literary. I like high concept novels with great 'hooks,' unique premises, and great humor. I also enjoy lyrical fiction, as long as it has an authentic and compelling voice.  I'm a huge fan of mysteries, smart historicals, and urban fantasy about original topics (no vampires, please). I'm not so much into the snarky 'chick lit' voice, but great writing trumps everything...

MG: "I am drawn to unique coming-of-age stories.  I like stories that make me laugh, but if you can make me cry, even better. I like projects with fantastical/supernatural elements, too, and action/adventure plots.  I love fun and exciting chapter books, especially with multicultural characters."

Click over the Guide to Literary Agents Blog for this and contact info. I'll try to get Ted's Spotlight updated later today as well. Best to all who query.

Research Tip Tuesday

On this fine Tuesday, I'm featuring Tara MClendon, who offers a fabulous writing-related research tip. Check out her bio below! And remember, if you'd like to see your own tip featured, just shoot me an e-mail. Here's Tara:

"Writers who need to do research for the medical field can register to view journals and abstracts from Web sites like Free Medical Journals, which also has a subscription option. While some sites charge a membership fee, writers can find a variety of free ones by searching the Internet for "Free Medical Journals." Another great source of information is the Mayo Clinic, which provides in-depth information on nearly every known disease."

Tara is a freelance writer and editor. She maintains her own blog Eye Feathers.

Guest Post: Beth Revis, Book Comparisons In Your Query

I have a fabulous guest post by Beth Revis of writing it out to share with you today! 

I read one of Beth's queries awhile ago on the KT Literary blog, Ask Daphe, and she had one of the best book comparisons I'd ever read in a query (I usually don't like them), so I was pretty excited to receive this here guest post on the subject, and I'm equally excited to share it with you.  

Now... here's Beth!

*** 

Beth RevisIT'S LIKE THIS MEETS THAT

I know you've heard it a million times before: do your research before you query. But what, exactly, are you supposed to research...and how do you apply it in your query?

Beyond the obvious things (such as genres represented and submission guidelines) one of the top things to research for your query is what books compare best to yours.

Why you need comparisons
You've probably heard before that you shouldn't compare your work to others. And that is true. When I say research what books compare best to yours, what I do NOT mean is that you're going to include a list of bestsellers and tell the agent your book is at least as good as theirs. No. NO. Do NOT do this.

But what you DO need to do is prove to the agent two things: 1) You've done the research in your market, and 2) You have a book that will actually have a specific place on a bookseller's shelf.

Saying you have a romance/science fiction/literary/children's/masterpiece is a red flag to an agent. Saying you have a YA that would appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman's STARDUST is actually helpful.

Comparing to bestsellers
Don't do it.

Comparing to non-bestsellers
First, read *current* books in your genre. You're looking for something recent to the market that is moderately well known but not a bestseller. When I started pitching my YA SF, the obvious choice to compare it to would be Orson Scott Card's ELDER'S GAME (as the most popular YA SF of all time), Suzanne Collins's THE HUNGER GAMES (as the current bestselling YA SF), or Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST (as Stephenie Meyers is writing gold in these here parts). But those were all the wrong choices for me. Card's work is too classic--and you need to prove to the agent you've read things beyond the obvious and have your finger on the current market's pulse. Collins and Meyer's were too big of names--they're overused (much like Harry Potter and Dan Brown).

The point of comparing your work to others is so that you can stand out from the crowd. Do this by using a current, specific, work that suitably compares. I used Mary Pearson's THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX to compare my work to--it's in the genre, came out only a few years ago, and is well known but not overused.

It's all in how you phrase it
One reason why so many people say to avoid making comparisons to books in your query is because it makes you sound rude, cocky, and self-centered. Saying "My book is like X but so much better because..." makes you sound like the loud, annoying guy at the party everyone wishes would go home early.

So how do you say it? There's a couple of good approaches. First, the simplest way to compare your book to another one is by saying, "Fans of X may also like my work because..." The key is to have a good "because," one that proves you've read the book and that fans actually will like your work. For example: "Fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series will also like my book because I also tap into Greek mythology as a base for my character's problems." Make your sentences work for you--this one sentence has two purposes: to give a competent comparison to your work, and also to emphasize the use of Greek mythology.

This also works if you're having trouble coming up with a comparative title for your work. My WIP is a YA SF, and there's precious little of that on the market today. So, in addition to comparing it to THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, a YA SF title, I also used a middle grade title, Jeanne du Prau's THE CITY OF EMBER. My work isn't exactly like hers, but I do have a mystery line like she does, so I said, "Fans of the contained mystery in Jeanne du Prau's CITY OF EMBER may also enjoy my work."

Research the agent
Use sites like Query Tracker to discover what agents represent what books. If you can find an agent who specifically represents a book you think directly relates to your own, then be sure to send it to that agent. You better believe I'll be researching Mary Pearson and Jeanne du Prau's agents.

But also, check out blogs and interviews with agents. Often, an agent will mention a book they don't represent and how much they wish they did. Use that! Compare to books the agent likes, even if they don't represent them.

Likewise, look at their wishlists. If they say they like one book but are looking for a fresh twist, mention that. For example: "I noticed in your interview with Casey that you're looking for a Dan Brown with a twist; I think you'll agree that my use of X will appeal to Brown's fans, but my use of Y will add a fresh aspect to the genre."

Avoid sucking up
Just because you know an agent's full client list doesn't mean you should use it. Don't throw out a bunch of titles from the agent's list. Use them only if they are truly comparable, and if you've ACTUALLY READ THEM and know they're comparable. Agents can sniff a suck-up a mile away.

Using comparisons in your query shouldn't be the meat of your pitch--but if you do your research and use them well, they can be just the sweet dessert that makes your query stand out from all the rest.

Bio: Beth Revis is currently pitching a YA SF and writes at bethrevis.blogspot.com.

Agent News - Myrsini Stephanides, Erica Silverman, and Adam Korn

Announced via Publisher's Lunch yesterday, 09/10.

"Myrsini Stephanides joins the Carol Mann Agency, focusing on pop culture, music, humor, popular science, narrative nonfiction, and memoir, as well as offbeat literary, graphic, and YA fiction. She has spent ten years as a nonfiction editor and book packager of illustrated books."

The following were also announced, but I am yet unsure what they'll be representing.

"Erica Silverman, formerly a Senior VP at William Morris and ICM, has joined Trident Media Group as a literary agent.

"Adam Korn has joined DeFiore and Company as an agent after a short stint at Vigliano Associates. He had been an editor at Harper, Crown and Random House."

There was one other but the agency doesn't rep children's or YA.  I'll update this post as more information becomes available. 

Agent Spotlight: Merrilee Heifetz

This week's Agent Spotlight features Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House.

WritersHouseAbout: "Merrilee Heifetz has been at Writers House for over 20 years and was one of the first agents to handle comic books/graphic novels when asked
by a very young Neil Gaiman to represent his work with DC Comics (he did promise to write bestselling novels one day and she is very glad she took him at his word.) She is one of the few agents who is well known for representing both adult and children's books and she finds she has been very successful with authors who don't fall into categories and who can benefit from overall career management.  Her New York Times Bestsellers include Gaiman, Laurell K. Hamilton, Melissa Marr and Beth Revis, whose 2011 debut novel ACROSS THE UNIVERSE she placed in a major deal.  Her award winners include three Newbery Medals (Cynthia Voigt, Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman) a MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient (the late Octavia E Butler) and many best of the year awards such as the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award. For five years she chaired the Contracts Committee for the Association of Authors Representatives (AAR)." (via e-mail)

Status: Open to submissions.

What She's Looking For:

Fiction: Literary fiction, science fiction, commercial fiction, fantasy, young adult, multi-cultural, middle grade, graphic novels.

Non-fiction: Celebrity, pop culture, music, film & entertainment. (Link, Link)

Per AgentQuery, Ms. Heifetz "specializes in science fiction and dark fantasy, and she also does books on rock music and pop culture."

What She’s Not Looking For:

Picture books.

About the Agency:

"Writers House was founded in 1973 with a vision for a new kind of literary agency, one that would combine a passion for managing a writer's career with an integrated understanding of how storytelling works. With this two-pronged philosophy, Writers House has played a critical role in developing the careers of hundreds of novelists and non-fiction authors. We believe in offering our clients not only our expertise in negotiating contracts, but in contributing to all phases of the editorial and publishing processes. Our goal is to maximize the value of our clients' work by providing hands-on editorial and marketing advice, as well as leading the way in branding, licensing, and selling film/TV, foreign, audio, dramatic and serial rights." (Link)

"The Writers House children's book department, started by Amy Berkower in 1978, has grown to include seven agents representing many of our industry's most lauded and successful authors. Our list includes popular series like THE TWILIGHT SAGA, SWEET VALLEY HIGH, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE, THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS and JUNIE B. JONES -- as well as eight Newbery and Newbery Honor award-winning clients: Sharon Creech, Cynthia Voigt, Cynthia Rylant, Robin McKinley, Susan Patron, Neil Gaiman, Ingrid Law and Grace Lin. Writers House is also proud to represent the first two American authors to win Britain's prestigious Carnegie Award - Creech and Jennifer Donnelly; Christopher Paolini, who, at 20, is one of the youngest authors to hit the New York Times bestseller list; and the late Joan Lowery Nixon, the only four-time Edgar Award Winner recipient." (Link)

Quotables:

On agents: "Another way to view agents is that more of what new writers present is of interest to very few other folks. Our job is to find and develop the books that have the potential to reach a broad audience. Of course, everyone thinks their book is a potential bestseller... which is why publishers need us." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Unknown, though the quote above might suggest she does help "develop" her clients' projects if needed.

Web Presence:

Writers House website.

AAR.

Twitter.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, & AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

C.T. Adams, Sarah Ash, Octavia E. Butler, Cathy Clamp, Mark Crilley, Les Daniels, Ellen Datlow, J.M. Dillard, Kristine Grayson, Ellen Emerson White, Neil Gaiman, Laurell K. Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Alethea Kontis, Melissa Marr, Robin McKinley, Perry Moore, An Na, Beth Revis, Jean Stone, Elizabeth Vaughan, Rachel Vincent, Cynthia Voigt, Terri Windling, among others.

Sales:

As of 03/2011, Ms. Heifetz is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 3 deals in the last 12 months, 7 six-figure+ deals, and 19 overall. Recent deals include 3 young adult.

Note: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales and Ms. Heiftetz does not actively list.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Snail-mail: “Please send a query letter of no more than two pages, which includes your credentials, an explanation of what makes your book unique and special, and a synopsis. Also, please include a self-addressed-stamped-envelope for our reply.”

E-mail: She was accepting e-queries through her assistant, Jennifer Escott, but I believe she has a new assistant and am unaware if she’s still open to e-queries.  Postal mail is probably the safest choice.

Do NOT query multiple agents at Writers House simultaneously.

See the Writers House website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Response Times:

The agency’s stated response time is 6-8 weeks. Ms. Heifetz’s response time on queries seems to range from a week to a few months.  Requested material usually receives a response within a couple months. 

You can expect a response from her assistant initially.

What's the Buzz?

Ms. Heifetz is a highly respected agent with over 20 years at Writers House.  Her amazing clients and sales speak toward her ability and success as an agent. 

Neil Gaiman, who Ms. Heifetz has repped for over 20 years, considers her a great partner and friend, and another client described her as the type of agent that goes "beyond the call of duty." If you like the agent-author relationship / marriage analogy, she seems to have made some great "marriages."

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

None that I could find online.

Around the Web:

Writers House thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Merrilee Heifetz on P&E ($, AAR, Recommended). Writers House on P&E ($ Highly Recommended).

If you have an AvantGuild membership with MediaBistro, you might be able to find more information on Ms. Heifetz in the Writers House "Pitching an Agent" article.  Note, however, its from 2004.

Contact:

Please see Ms. Heifetz's AAR profile or the Writers House website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 3/21/11

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 3/21/11 (further updates to follow)

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

September Blog of the Month!

wio-award

Look! Isn't it purdy?

Beth Revis over at writing it out awarded me her Blog of the Month Award for September, and wrote the nicest post about me, too. 

Please go check it out, and consider following her blog if you're not already doing so.  Beth posts a fabulous variety of content from hilarious conversations in her class (love those!) to great writing-related articles (okay, so I love those too!). 

I'm honored to be the second recipient of her lovely award, and incredibly happy that Agent Spotlight is helping her in her preparation and search for representation. 

You can look forward to an awesome guest post by Beth on Lit Rambles next Monday, as well as an interview with yours truly on her blog that day too.  Cool, huh?  I'm so excited!

Wednesday's Word Count

Samantha over at Day By Day Writer does a neat little word count update where she posts her current word count, new words written, and the words she needs until her goal, including a fluctuating daily-required count. I love the idea of keeping track that way, so I've decided to steal her idea and do my own while keeping my weekly goals as well.

Current word count: 10,698

Goal last week:
5,000

Accomplished:
3,625

Words 'til finish: 49,302/948 words a day until the end of October.

Goal this week: 6,636

Excuses / comments: Things were busy this last week with my daughter's birthday and all the wedding planing going on. I didn't do as much as hoped, but I'm definitely making progress. If I want to make my goal of being done with a new draft by NaNo, I have to maintain 948 words a day right now, coming in at a total of 6,636 for this next week. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it with everything that's going on at the moment, but I've done 1k a day in the past (easily) so I know I'm more than capable. After all, I managed NaNo last year, and that was around 11,000 words a week, wasn't it? Right. So I'll just tell myself...I can, I can, I can.

How are your goals coming along? Anyone else waiting to hear who Tabitha's new agent is? The full story is supposed to come out tomorrow. Woot! Congrats Tabitha!

Research Tip Tuesday

Today's research tip hits on queries and comes from lovely blog reader Ann Finkelstein, "writer of young adult novels, former scientist, wife, mother, and delighted owner of a digital camera."  You can find some of her amazing photos and musings on writing on her blog, Ann Finkelstein - thoughts on writing, reading, math and science:

"An e-query can be overlooked because words or phrases in the query trigger the agent's spam filter. Imagine a YA novel about substance abuse. The phrase "prescription drugs" could shoot it right into the spam folder."

Ann founds this fabulous tip in a blog post called "Query Diagnostics" on Janet Reid's blog.  Click over and see what other reasons may have prevented you from getting a response. 

Please stop by Ann's blog and say "hi!" everyone.  If you want to see your own research tip featured, go here. Next week, a writing research tip!

Thanks so much, Ann!

Agent Spotlight: Rosemary Stimola

This week's Agent Spotlight features Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio, Inc.

rosemary-stimola About: "In more than thirty years of professional life, Rosemary Stimola has worn many hats, all of them centered on books for children and young adults. Her first work life as a PH.D linguist, teaching language and literature at the City University of New York, with a specialization in children’s literature, steeped her in the aesthetics of narrative, the power of the written word, and the nuanced partnership of word and art in the telling of story. Her second work life, as owner of A Child’s Story, an independent bookstore of national reputation in Teaneck, NJ, educated her in the business of children’s publishing, and brought her the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award, given by the National Women’s Book Association, for bringing children and books together. Given her experience and reputation as an educator, bookseller and literary agent bookseller, Rosemary has become one of the most sought after speakers at writer and illustrator conferences throughout the United States and abroad.” (Link)

Status: Open to submissions.

What She's Looking For:

From the Website:

"Eclectic in tastes but not in standards, the Stimola Literary Studio, highly selective in representation, invites unsolicited queries on picture books, novels, and graphic novels, as well as select projects in nonfiction, most of the year.

“At present, we are MOST interested in: Author/ illustrators, Humorous middle grade, especially for boys, Spare of language/illustrated picturebooks for the very young, Middle grade/young adult mysteries with a fun ‘puzzling’ dimension, Young adult thrillers, supernatural, and/or sci-fi novels, Multi-cultural middle or teen fantasy (African, eastern, middle eastern), Graphic novels for early, middle and YA, Nonfiction, with crossover appeal in adult markets, And, just to keep things interesting… we are also looking to add to our growing list of cookbook titles with unique concepts and niche market appeal!” (Link)

From an Interview (10/2010):

“Something fresh. Something that doesn’t feel like I have seen it a hundred times before.” (Link)

From an Interview (01/2010):

“I remain open to queries, ranging from picturebook to young adult. Taking very few new in the picturebook realm right now, looking for ‘fresh’ middle and tween fiction and always ready for compelling YA novels. In all age groups and genres, I need to be blown away.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

“We are NOT interested in: Picture book texts of 1000 words or more, Fables, folklore or traditional fairytales, Poetry or ‘mood pieces’, Stories for ‘all ages,’ Educational workbooks/activity books, Nonfiction for institutional markets, Message-driven or didactic stories, Civil War or Revolutionary War era historical fiction.” (Link)

She also does not represent adult fiction or illustrators who illustrate only. (Link)

About the Agency:

“A full service literary agency devoted to representing authors and author/illustrators of fiction and nonfiction, preschool through young adult, who bring unique and substantive contributions to the industry.” (Link)

Quotables:

On selecting an agent: "I often liken the selection of an agent to the selection of a spouse (without the romance, of course!). All writers deserve to work with a person they like and trust, a person with whom they communicate easily and share sensibilities and goals. Reputations exist for a reason, so I always recommend to potential clients that they interview editors and clients with whom the agent has worked." (Link)

Regarding potential clients: "I must see that the writer is capable of the kind of flexibility and patience that will be needed as we move through the publishing processes. I look for a person who understands the value of collaboration, when to compromise and when to stand strong. And most importantly, I look for a person who is a deep well of stories, with the first one representing just the tip of the iceberg." (Link)

On advances: "You don't want to over-burden a book (firsts, in particular) with a too-heavy advance. If it doesn't earn out, makes the the path to subsequent books more difficult. and there are ways to build in back end monies. On the other side, you want enough upfront to warrant some more than basic marketing attention. It's like walking a tightrope and it varies from book to book." (Link)

Pet-Peeves:

“Don’t apologize if you are unpublished. Don’t pitch your book as the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. Don’t tell me you read it to your four-year-old and she loved it.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Client David Macinnis Gill (author of SOUL ENCHILADA) reports that Ms. Stimola is a "hands off" agent (see comments).

Web Presence:

Stimola Literary website.

AAR.

Twitter.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, & AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

A list of Stimola Literary clients can be found on the website.

Clients include Suzanne Collins, Irene Latham, David Macinnis Gill, Mary E. Pearson, among many others!

Recent, upcoming, and past book titles can also be found on the website.

Sales:

As of 03/2011, Ms. Stimola is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 20 deals in the last 12 months, 14 six-figure+ deals, and 131 overall. Recent deals include 8 young adult, 7 picture books, 5 middle grade.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (preferred).

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

"Queries, no more than one page in length, including synopsis, credentials and statement of what makes the book distinctive or unique, may be sent via e-mail or snail mail.

“If you are sending query as a conference attendee where Rosemary has been a speaker, please note name of conference in your subject line.” (Link)

Include a SASE for snail mail.

See the Stimola Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

“I look for the ‘stand out’ in a concise and well-written query: a premise that intrigues, a character that appeals, an approach that breaks new ground. There is a wide spectrum for YA these days, pushing to boundaries of adult fiction and even crossing that boundary from time to time, so I am always looking for something new and wonderful in that realm. And then, I never walk away from a pitch-perfect, character-driven middle grade with the right blend of humor and pathos.” (Link)

Response Times:

“Responses to queries we wish to pursue further, generally within a week’s time, will provide further guidelines for requested materials, which require approximately 6-8 weeks response time. We prefer requested manuscripts be sent on an exclusive basis. (Link)

What's the Buzz?

Rosemary Stimola has incredible buzz! In my research I came across more than one mention that Ms. Stimola is a "rockstar" or "superstar” agent, and from what I can tell, this seems very apt. She has the experience, reputation, clientele, and sales to warrant the praise, certainly. She’s a top dealmaker, highly respected, and her clients seem extremely happy with her. If you can peak her interest, you’re sure to be in good hands.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

SCBWI Bologna 2010 Agent Interview: Rosemary Stimola at Cynsations (02/2011).

Interview with an Agent: Rosemary Stimola at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (10/2010).

Agent Perspective: Rosemary Stimola at Class of 2k10 (01/2010).

Interview with Rosemary Stimola at The Longstockings (05/2008).

Interview with Rosemary Stimola at Cynsations (02/2006).

Around the Web:

Rosemary Stimola on P&E ($, AAR).

Rosemary Stimola thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Keep an eye on the “News” page on the website for updates and happenings.

SCBWI Panel Notes on Ms. Stimola on the SCBWI Conference Blog from Jan 2011.

Client Irene Latham's experience with Rosemary Stimola (01/2009).

Leah Clifford’s Agent Appreciation Day YouTube video, which you can watch here (12/2009).

Client Leah Clifford's query (that gained her representation with Ms. Stimola) in an interview on QueryTracker.

If you have an AvantGuild mebership, there is a "Pitching An Agent" article available on Ms. Stimola (02/2009).

Contact:

Please see the Stimola Literary website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 3/16/11

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes

Last Reviewed by Agent: 3/16/11

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Wednesday's Word Count

Ah, September.

The month my daughter turns three. Also the month I planned to have my revisions done by. Not happening, seeing as "revisions" turned into "rewrite" and "rewrite" turned into chaos. Chaos subdued, I'm just now picking up steam on the new draft. *Whimper* The good news? Progress!

Goal: 3k

Accomplished: 5188

Goal for new week: 5k

Excuses / comments: I didn't realize I wrote as much as I did until I checked my word count this morning. I think I may have broken through whatever was holding me back. Time will tell. I plan on giving myself as much time as the project needs, but... you know me and goals. They push me forward. So, I'm aiming to have the rewrite done in time for NaNo. Probably not going to happen (two months?!), but you never know. I will manage a good chunk, at least.

How are your goals coming along? What does September mean for you? Anything?

Research Tip Tuesday

For our first research tip, I've pulled one from the comments that should kick things off hilariously. I give you the author of THE BOY WHO WENT APE, Ben Watson, who gives us some please-don't-really-do-this advice:

"I say if you're uncertain how reputable an agent is, search through their garbage cans. Do they recycle? Are there any plastic bottles in there? Too much paper? How's their diet? Getting enough fiber? Can't have your agent keeling over in the middle of negotiations. Big drinker? That could be good or bad. Social drinker, good at mixing with clients, private drinker-bad because there missing all those tipsy editor parties where publishing inhibitions are lowered. Lastly, coffee grinds? Let's hope so. They'll need some nervous energy to keep pushing that manuscript. No tea drinker is going to be aggressive enough.

So yeah, check their garbage."

Well, er... thanks, Ben! You didn't expect me to leave that languishing in the comments did you?

Make sure you check out Ben's fabulous blog, I, uh, think I killed my muse, everyone! And if you want to see your own research tip featured, go here. Next week, a query tip!