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Last Post of 2009

I hate to double post on a Spotlight Thursday, but it just seemed all wrong not to have a "last post of 2009" and see what everyone's doing for New Year's Eve!

We don't have any particular traditions over here. When I was a kid my family partied with my best friend's family every year. We ate food, played games, stayed up and banged pans at 12. That was fun. Hopefully as my kids get older we can develop some kind of tradition like that. But for now, since they're so young, I think the kids will end up going to bed at the usual time and hubby and I will watch a movie or two.

What are your plans for New Year's Eve? Do you have any family traditions? Anything fun you do with your kids?

Happy New Year!

Agent Spotlight: Paul Rodeen

This week's Agent Spotlight features Paul Rodeen of Rodeen Literary Management.

Status: Open to submissions.

Paul RodeenAbout: "Paul Rodeen discovered his love of writing, editing and publishing at Knox College where he was the fiction editor and a contributor to the award winning college literary journal Catch. Paul was graduated from Knox College with a Creative Writing major in 2001. Later that summer, he attended the Denver Publishing Institute where he was encouraged to move to New York City to officially start his publishing career. 

"In late 2001, Paul received his first job with the highly respected literary agency Sterling Lord Literistic, Incorporated. He began his career as an assistant to Jody Hotchkiss, a film agent with Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. at the time. After a few months of reading and evaluating scripts, Paul was informed that a position was available in the children’s book division of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. as an assistant to George Nicholson, the legendary children’s book publisher turned literary agent. Paul welcomed the opportunity to work for such a respected figure in the publishing business and he quickly found that he still loved many of the genres he had enjoyed when he was a child and a teenager. During his three years working as an assistant to George Nicholson, Paul Rodeen signed his first client (the writer/illustrator Peter Brown) and he also closed his first book deal FLIGHT OF THE DODO.  

"In 2004, Paul Rodeen moved back to his home state of Illinois where he opened up a small satellite office in Chicago for Sterling Lord Literistic, Incorporated.  Between 2004 and 2008, Paul expanded his list of clients to include over a dozen talented writers and illustrators of picture books, middle grade novels and young adult fiction.  This group of talented artists became the backbone of what would become Rodeen Literary Management. 

"In late 2008, with much encouragement from his clients, editors, publishers and other agents, Paul Rodeen established Rodeen Literary Agency an agency devoted to supporting the careers of children’s book writers and illustrators." (Link)

What He's Looking For:

Genres of interest:

Children's fiction from picture books to young adult, middle grade and young adult non-fiction, illustrators and graphic novelists.

From AgentQuery:

"He is actively seeking writers and illustrators of all genres of children’s literature including picture books, early readers, middle-grade fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels and comic books as well as young adult fiction and nonfiction." (Link)

From a 2010 Conference Post:

“He currently represents between 20 and 25 clients and would like to build his list up to about 50. The five things that Paul looks for when reading submissions are: conflict, voice, character development, setting, and pace.” (Link)

What He's Not Looking For:

Adult projects. 

Web Presence:

Rodeen Literary website.

Shelfari.

Facebook.

QueryTracker, AgentQuery, & AuthorAdvance.

Editorial Agent?

Unknown.

Clients:

A list of clients is available on the website

Mr. Rodeen’s clients include: Linas Alsenas, David Barneda, Peter Brown, Luc Bouchard, Lauren Castillo, Jeff Newman, Neil Numberman, Aaron Reynolds, Julia Sarcone Roach, Michael TownsendFrans Vischer, Melissa Wyatt, among others.

Mr. Rodeen also has some of his client's books listed on his Shelfari.

Sales:

As of 5/11, Mr. Rodeen is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 1 deals in the last 12 months, 2 six-figure+ deals, and 13 overall. Recent deals include 1 picture book.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

E-mail queries only.  No hard copy submissions. Send a cover letter with contact information and up to 50 pages of material.

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

Response Times:

The website doesn't give a set response time, stating it varies based on schedule and submission volume.  Response times reported on the web range from days to several months with many instances of no-response.

What's the Buzz?

There is a lot of positive feedback on Paul Rodeen from clients and aspiring authors who have had experience with him.  He's reported to be a funny, down to earth guy.  He has a great work history in publishing and his agency seems to off to a great start.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

There's a very short, outdated (2006) interview available in The Acorn newsletter, otherwise no interviews that I could find online.

Around the Web:

Rodeen Literary Management thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Paul Rodeen on P&E ($).  Rodeen Literary Management on P&E.

Agent Appreciation Day post on Paul Rodeen by client Melissa Wyatt (12/2009).

A Google Blog Search brings up various conference notes and funny stories of an enactment he did for one of Lisa Yee's readings.

Contact:

Please see the Rodeen Literary Management website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 5/4/11.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent?  N/A

***

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.

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Need some help perfecting your query? Submit it to The Public Query Slushpile for public feedback from other writers. Every query gets at least a little feedback and the turn around time is much, much faster than the better know, formidable Query Shark. If you submit a query, make sure to take the time to give back to others.

Best to all you queriers out there!

If you'd like to send in a research or writing tip to be featured on Lit Rambles, please e-mail them to agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

A Belated Merry Christmas

For those that celebrate, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and for those that don't I hope you had a lovely Friday and weekend. We sure did! My mom is here visiting for the week, so I'll probably be scarce, out goofing around and shopping and the like.

If I don't post anything but the regular until then, I hope all of you have a very happy New Year and get a great start on all your resolutions and goals!

Cheers!

Agent Spotlight: Quinlan Lee

This week's Agent Spotlight features Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary.

quinlanAbout: "Quinlan Lee brings to Adams Literary a love of literature as well as administrative and project management experience. Prior to joining Adams Literary, Quinlan worked for eight years as a freelance children’s writer for Scholastic, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, working on licensed projects for Clifford Puppy Days, Dora the Explorer, Hello Kitty and the Planet Earth series.

"Quinlan has lived all over the United States—from the mountains of Western Colorado to the Garden District of New Orleans to downtown Chicago, and for the past eight years she’s been raising her family in Charlotte with her husband, Steve. She has three children who keep her busy with book clubs, homework and identifying creatures in the creek behind their home." (Link)

Status: Open to submissions.

What She's Looking For:

Genres of interest: Every age and genre in children's books from picture books to older, edgy YA.

From the website:

"Our clients’ work spans every age and every genre—from picture books to middle-grade and young adult fiction, from historical novels and fantasy to books that tackle important contemporary issues.

"While we give every submission its due consideration, we must admit a fondness for middle-grade and young adult novels with memorable characters and a unique voice. In particular, we're looking for literary stories, high-concept speculative fiction, unique fantasy adventure, humor, and character driven picture books. We gravitate toward the timeless, not the trendy." (Link)

From 03/2010:

"I love all children's and YA literature—from clever picture books to edgy YA. However, if I read the first pages of a middle-grade novel where the character's voice rings true or a YA novel that creates a world that seems familiar but lives only in the author's imagination, it goes to the top of my reading pile." (Link)

"Books that appeal to boys are often hard to come by—I'm always looking for something that would make my nine-year old son laugh out loud or stay up past his bedtime, reading with a flashlight under the covers. When I'm tackling the slush pile, I want the same experience—to be sucked in so completely by a character or story that I want to stay up past my bedtime to finish it." (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

"We don’t typically handle textbooks, novelty, craft, how-to or coloring books—and we don’t handle any adult works." (Link)

Quotables:

"I am a writer myself, so I know the absolute joy and horrors of a blank page. I am also aware of the dangers of thinking that being a 'published author' will make your life complete. I encourage all writers to learn the truth that Anne Lamott puts so beautifully in Bird by Bird, that 'Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. The thing that you had to force yourself to do—the actual writing—turns out to be the best part.'" (Link)

About the agency:

"Our philosophy is that we represent authors and artists, not books. As such, we don't work on a book-by-book or term basis, like some agencies do. Instead, we we work closely with our clients to intelligently manage the entirety of their children's publishing careers. We take a long-term view of the market, of our jobs—and of launching and building our clients' careers.

"Drawing upon our editorial expertise, knowledge of the industry, and extensive experience in contract negotiations, we provide editorial judgment and input, marketing consultation, rights management and long-term career planning and advice. In addition to placing and negotiating North American publishing rights, we actively market and negotiate film, UK, translation, audio, merchandising and other subsidiary rights on behalf of our clients." (Link)

Her Advice for Writers:

"Don't send something on the first day that you write the last word.  Patience! Let your writing sit for a while, let others read it and tell you what confuses or bores them, and then read it again yourself and see what worked better in your imagination than it does on the page. After that, revise. I see so many submissions with potential, but few with the confidence and maturity that comes from working on something until it is fully developed and ready for us to send it out editors." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Unknown, though I believe she makes revision requests as needed.

Web Presence:

Adams Literary website.

Adams Literary on Twitter (the best way to receive news and updates on the agency).

AuthorAdvance, & QueryTracker.

Clients:

A complete list of Adams Literary clients is available on the website here. Ms. Lee's clients include: Richard Ungar among others on the site.

Sales:

As Quinlan Lee is currently not a member of Publisher's Marketplace, no sales data is available. Via online research, I was able to verify a few sales including Richard Ungar's MG novel, TIME SNATCHERS, in a two-book deal, planned for Fall 2011.

Query Methods:

E-mail: No.

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: Yes (only).

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

"We accept submissions and queries only through the online form on the SUBMIT page of our website. We will not review—and will promptly recycle—any unsolicited submissions or queries we receive by post. Through the online form, please attach your complete manuscript as an RTF, DOC or PDF file; for artists in particular, please send a PDF of your illustrations and/or provide your web site so we may view your art samples." (Link)

Query tips: Let them know if your query is exclusive or non-exclusive. Notify them of any offers of representation. If you need to follow up, use their online submission form and reference your submission.

Read what will make your query stand out in a good way or bad way in this interview at the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

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

Response Times:

The agency's stated response time is 3-4 months, though they often respond sooner. I've seen reports of response in a matter of hours up to about the three month mark.

What's the Buzz?

There isn't a lot of info or buzz out there on Ms. Lee specifically, but the agency is well-respected and completely legit. Ms. Lee has verified sales and clients, though I can't tell how many given her (and the agency's) limited web presence and team philosophy. As a whole, they have a fabulous list of both. 

They were previously closed to submissions, so it's likely they have a pretty full list but are currently open to finding new talent with the addition of Ms. Lee to the agency a few years back.

Worth Your Time:

Interview with Quinlan Lee at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (03/2010).

Keep up with Adam's Literary News, Events, and Upcoming Conferences engagements on the website or by newsletter.

There's a fabulous line up of Adams Literary's recent titles on the website.

See all of Quinlan Lee's freelance books on Amazon.

Contact:

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

***

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

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Sign up for Google Alerts and have search results automatically sent to your e-mail. You can see what people are saying about you, your blog, your book, or any and all agents you're interested in researching. Whatever search term(s) you'd like to be continually alerted to! Just remember, you have to set up an alert for each seperate search term or phrase that interests you. For example, I have alerts set for Casey McCormick and Literary Rambles and some of the agents I've spotlighted.

Here's the help page if you'd like more information.

And if you'd like to send a research or writing tip in to be featured on Lit Rambles, please e-mail them to agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

Thoughts on 2009 & 2010

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking abut 2009 and 2010. What happened? What have I learned? What do I want out of this next year?

The answers have been somewhat surprising.

This time last year I was eight months pregnant and anxiously (miserably) awaiting the arrival of my second baby, Dresden, wondering how it was going to affect my life, my family, and my writing.

My goals for 2009 were centered on the desire to get something ready for submission, to overcome weaknesses, improve my blog, and generally just survive as a mother of two.

I feel like I failed in my writing goals, for the most part. I didn’t write anything I was comfortable querying, nothing I loved enough to polish, and rewrote the first half of one novel so many times it would make you puke.

But some wonderful things did occur this past year. I started Agent Spotlight and my blog sort of blew up. I joined SCBWI, Publisher’s Marketplace, spoke with agents who loved what I was doing, had people interview me (1, 2, 3), and became thoroughly ensconced in the writing and kidlit community. Not to mention had that baby (late!), got married, became a reader for a lit agent, and yes! survived as a mother of two, and managed all that I wanted to manage and more.

Despite not achieving my main writing goals for the year, there’s a lot to celebrate there, so I’m dubbing 2009 “The Year of the Blog.” Lit Rambles has been a vehicle for much love and success, and 2009 has been absolutely amazing if I stop and try to count all of its blessings.

And all of you are among those blessings! That’s a lot!

For this next year, one would probably expect me to keep on trucking towards the goals I didn’t achieve in 2009, and in some ways I will, but there is something that is going to set the pace of 2010, and there are some things I’ve realized that will really affect my goals.

Things, things, things.

This year I find myself anxiously awaiting something come January again. Not a baby, thank goodness, but school.

Yes. I’m going back to school, continuing my education. And I find myself pondering the same questions. How is school going to affect everything? Can I manage? What will suffer?

Family, House, Work, School, Interning, Writing, Blogging, Spotlights, Reading, Critiquing, Networking, Socializing, and so on and so forth, and all those other things that happen in a natural year.

That’s what I’m looking at having to manage in 2010.

I have a feeling something is going to fall to the wayside or have to go away completely, if not more than one thing, and it’s not going to be my family or house, of course! But what? I can’t imagine letting any of that go.

So I’m not going to just yet. I’m going to remain optimistic and see how I handle it all, but there are some things that do need to change slightly. Namely, my attitude, my main goals, and one of my blog features.

See, in all this thinking I’ve been doing, I realized something big. I went about my writing goals all wrong in 2009. I was focused on word counts and finishing and submitting and succeeding. It was all hurry, hurry, more, more, now, now and I lost sight of the goals that really matter to me.

I honestly don’t want to publish just to publish. If I’m going to do this, I want to publish novels that I love absolutely and can get behind 100%, novels that mean something to people, that matter. If I can’t do that, consider me out of the running. I don’t think I could handle the pressures of being a published author under any other circumstances. And as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t think I can write those kinds of novels yet, YET, but I AM happy to know this about myself.

Which brings us back to goals.

I have to stop focusing on word counts and getting to the finish line and get back to focusing on craft and quality. I have to stop all this hurry, hurry, more, more, now, now and go back to being satisfied with the slow, steady climb to my cloud of dreams.

So, my friends, I won’t be focusing on word counts this year, I won’t be doing writing challenges, and I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo. Yes, that means I won’t be doing Wednesday’s Words either. It’s been an amazing tool this past year, and I appreciate every one of you that has participated and encouraged me, but I’ve decided it's not what I need anymore. However, if you'd like me to keep posting WW for you, I’d love to do that, and I’d love to keep encouraging everyone that has been a part of WW in the past. Just let me know in the comments. I might put it up occasionally, anyway, to keep you updated on my writing.  I just won't be keeping track like I was.

So… after all that, what are my goals for 2010?

1) Manage school with everything else.

2) Learn to prioritize better.

3) Focus on craft and quality.

4) Be a source of support and encouragement for all of you.

5) Allow this writing thing to take as long as it needs to.

Now, how about you? Have you given much thought to the past, present, and future? Have you considered that you might be focusing on the wrong things, and letting the rush, rush get to you? What did you learn in 2009? What are your plans for 2010?

Please answer one or all these questions or tell me something else entirely. After reading my (long) ramblings, I’d love to know what’s on your mind!

Agent Spotlight: Kate McKean

This week's Agent Spotlight features Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Inc.

Kate McKeanAbout: "After earning a Masters in Fiction Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi, Kate McKean set out to start her publishing career as an agent in New York City. She joined Howard Morhaim Literary Agency [in 2006] after working previously with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and Brick House Literary Agents. Her interests lie in contemporary women's fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, sports related books, pop culture, and health and wellness. She is primarily interested in people and the strange, wonderful, surprising, and heartbreaking stories they tell. She's most happy immersed in a good book, especially Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Carver, and Chabon." (Link)

You can read another bio on Ms. McKean's website, Writing, et al.

Status: Open to submissions.

What She's Looking For:

"Her interests lie in literary fiction, contemporary women's fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, mystery, young adult and middle grade fiction, narrative non-fiction, sports related books, food writing, pop culture, and craft." (Link)

"I'm looking for a novel to fall in love with. I'm looking for excellent writing, with a plot that keeps me turning pages. I'm looking for the diamond in the rough. I know that that's not a helpful answer to writers looking to query me, but I find that if there's a certain topic I'm looking for, I know how to go out and find it. I'm now just looking for that serendipitous connection of a great story and impeccable writing---just like every other age nt and editor on the planet." (Link)

In 2008 she was reported to be looking for paranormal westerns, YA romance, issue-drive YA (with the caveat of needing a great, convincing voice), middle grade fantasy that isn't trying to be Harry Potter ("Fantasy that's perhaps a little more serious, not cartoonish"), and lots more urban fantasy. (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

"She is not accepting any epic fantasy, science fiction, or children's picture books." (Link)

"She does NOT want space odyssey science fiction, high fantasy, or sword and sorcery fantasy. She also doesn't like serious and dark fiction." (Link)

Her Advice to Writers:

"I believe that all writers who hope to be published should remind themselves daily that they're writing for their readers, not for themselves. Writing is definitely a personally gratifying experience and can have wonderful therapeutic and self-esteem building results--but if your reader isn't compelled to turn the page because of something the writer is *trying* to do with the narration or theme, then what good does it do? ..." (Link with a bit more)

Quotables:

About the agency:

"The Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is a boutique agency in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, New York. With over twenty-five years experience, Howard Morhaim has successfully represented clients in many literary areas, with a focus on history, biography, social issues, environmental issues, science, architecture, and self-help in non-fiction as well as a variety of literary and commercial novels." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Unknown.

Web Presence:

Howard Morhaim website.

Ms. McKean's Writing, et al. website.

Twitter.

LinkedIn.

AgentQuery, AuthorAdvance, & QueryTracker.

Clients:

There's a list on Amazon of some books Ms. McKean has represented.

Clients include or have included: Noah Scalin, Richelle K. Mead, Deborah Grabien, Alison Lewis, Alicia Paulson, Brett Perkins, Diane Gilleland, Bunny Crumpacker, Patricia Zapata, Debbie Nelson, Carey Wallace, Josh Wilker, Carla Breeze, Bunny Crumpacker and J.S. Picariello, Alan Beard and Alec McNayr, Bethany Keeley, Ellen Luckett Baker, among others.

Sales:

As of 03/10, Ms. McKean is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 11 deals in the last 12 months, 34 overall, and 3 six-figure+ deals. Recent sales include 11 non-fiction books (no children's). Past sales include 2 children's fiction.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

"Please send a cover letter and the first three chapters of your novel, or the full nonfiction proposal. Attachments are fine."

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

Response Times:

Ms. McKean's response time seems to range 4-8 weeks with an average around 6 weeks and occasional instances of no response.

What's the Buzz?

Great buzz. I don't think Ms. Mckean is especially well known in the kidlit community since she doesn't rep a lot of children's authors, but she seems to be a pretty big deal among the non-fiction set. Particularly, there's a lot of buzz out there regarding the fact that she has approached and signed several clients through either a website or Twitter feed, and then gone on to sell their proposals.

Worth Your Time:

Agent Advice Interview with Kate McKean on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (2009).

A query letter success story (for a non-fic) featuring Ms. McKean and one of her clients on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog.

Short video of Kate McKean regarding a valentine's day present she received (cute!).

Take-Home Notes on Kate McKean on Cheryl's Musings.

Will Tweet For Book Deal, an article about Ms. McKlean finding two clients via Twitter, as well as other related instances, at Fast Company.

A podcast interview with Kate McKlean and Christina Loff regarding publishing a non-fic craft book at CrafyPod.

Contact:

Please see the Howard Morhaim Literary website for contact and query information.

***

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

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

I have another fabulous tip to share with all of you today. Please welcome Roz Morris to the blog, and definitely check out her free e-book. It's fabulous and, yes, I did say free!

"I saw on your blog that you're interested in resources that might be useful to writers - and I wondered if your readers would be interested in my site?

"It's called Nail Your Novel, inspiration and creative provocation for writers www.nailyournovel.com and www.dirtywhitecandy.com.

"I'm a fiction writer (many bestselling ghostwritten titles published) and I also critique for a leading literary consultancy, teaching new writers how to get the best out of the novels they write. The emphasis of my blog (Dirty White Candy) is practical, quirky tutorials, to stimulate creativity and sort out those tricky questions that all writers have - and it's for everyone, whether they're new to writing or old hands. Some of my most popular posts have been Plotting - The Mamma Mia Lessons and How To Write The Time Traveler's Wife.

"Also, to coincide with the end of NaNoWriMo 2009, I'm giving away FREE copies of the pdf of my book, Nail Your Novel.

"In theory the process should be simplicity itself - no registration, no need to give any email addresses or personal details - just download, save the file and start to enjoy! (If you try it and find otherwise, do tell me - and that includes the enjoyment part too...)"

Thanks so much, Roz. These are truly great resources you're offering. I'm sure you'll get several visits to your site and many downloads of your book today!

I Think It's Time For Another....

...Blog Promo!

What are you blogging about this week? What new turns has your blog taken? Have you just started your first blog? Are you desperate for some new readers?

Please share in the comments what you're up to in the blogosphere and then click around and do some adventuring.

(Hopeful) Happy Monday!

An Interview... with Me!

I've had the pleasure of being interviewed twice as a blogger (links in the right sidebar, if you missed them), but now I can share with you my first ever interview as a writer!

Please stop by Heather Lane's fabulous blog, Edited to Within an Inch of my Life, and check it out! I'll be popping in all day to answer questions and reply to comments, if you're compelled to leave me some.

While you're there, make sure to take the time to follow or subscribe to Heather's blog. It's blossomed into a great, inspiring place for writers to be, and Heather has a new feature where she interviews aspiring authors journeying towards publication! Isn't that amazing? I love learning about fellow aspirees, their triumphs and tribulations, and it'd be great to see this feature continue.

See you over there!

Agent Spotlight: Swanna MacNair

 

Profile removed.

Ms. MacNair founded Creative Conduit, a transmedia content company, Sept 2010.  I do believe she is representing authors as a literary agent any longer.

-Casey

Wednesday's Word Count

Wednesday you come again, seeking the count of my words...

Current word count:
4,987.

Goal last week:
5,992.

Accomplished:
4,987.

Words 'til finish: 20,001/953 words a day until Dec 31th.

Goal this week: 6,671.

Comments: I did some tweaking and revising on what I wrote for NaNo earlier in the week, and then had the strong desire to start something new. So I did. I realize I'm practically famous for this by now, but it just had to be done. Inspiration struck and I ran with it. So... I'm changing projects for the time being, but keeping my goal of 25k for December, and so far it's going great. I haven't had a story this eager to spill out of me for awhile, so I'm pretty excited!

How is everyone else doing? Update me on your goals and achievements in the comments. I love following along with your progress!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Today I have another tip for you from Nancy Viau, author of SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD. Make sure to show Nancy the love by thanking her in the comments and/or visiting her website. Here's her tip!

www.rhymezone.com

"This is a terrific quick tool for rhymers, but that's not all! Hit the arrow on the second scroll box to the right and you'll get synonyms, antonyms, definitions, related words, similar sounding words, and a bunch more."


I've used this site on several occasions to find rhyme words, but I haven't dug into the extra features at all. I love using OneLook for related words, so I'll be definitely checking out Rhymezone for that in the future.

Thanks so much, Nancy!

(And readers, if you want to send a tip in, just e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com - I'm always looking for new tips to share!)

How Do I Format My E-Query?

A couple weeks back, after the post on manuscript formatting, someone requested I do a post on query formatting. I'm going to start with e-queries and save paper queries for another day, as I think it would be confusing to try to mesh the two.

Now, like manuscript formatting, there are all sorts of different ways you can format, and lots of different opinions on how to do so, but as long as it looks professional and is well-written, you're going to be fine. Don't sweat over it so bad that you never query! Agents will overlook a lot if the material is brilliant. But, you want to always put your best foot forward anyway, right? So, here are some guidelines...

Subject Line:

What you put in the subject line matters. I think it's best to include the title of your manuscript headed by an appropriate label such as "query" or "requested material." Examples: "Query: The Cat That Went Splat" or "Requested Material: The Cat That Went Splat. It also doesn't hurt to throw the genre in there, if you'd like to make that designation. This can be good if an agent has mentioned a strong desire to see more of the genre you write, i.e. "Query: Atomic Angst (YA). Just make sure you're not trying to fit your whole query in there. No need to have the title, the genre, the word count, the synopsis, and your check routing number in the subject!

Salutation:

Address your query directly to its intended recipient. Some agents don't care all that much, but a lot of others are put off by general salutations such as "Dear Agent" or "To Whom It May Concern." It doesn't say a lot of good about you and your search for representation if you can't even take the time to properly address the person you're sending it to.

Example: "Dear Mr. Bransford" or "Dear Ms. Reamer." NOT: Yo Nathan or 'Sup Jodi!

Tip: It should always be Ms. or Mr. Never Mrs. Miss, or Mister, even if you know the marital status of the agent. Treat your query letter as business correspondence -- that's what it is.

Tip: If you're unsure of the agent's gender, research until you find a first name, or reach out to fellow writers on a message board. It shouldn't take a lot of extra time to find out the agent's gender and knowing it will help you avoid having to use a general salutation.

Contact Information:

Yours:

As with paper queries, you still need to include your contact information. However, I suggest putting it at the bottom of your query rather than the top. Why? It's harder for an agent to skim down a query on screen than it is on paper, especially if they're using a handheld device such as a smart phone or e-reader. It's more time efficient and inviting for them to be able to open your e-mail up and start reading immediately. They still need all your contact information, though! so make sure you DO include it. Full (real) name, phone number, address, and website or blog (if you have one you'd like to list).

On the flip side, some people prefer to put their contact information in the left upper hand corner, like you would a business letter, arguing that that's where an agent will look first, if they're interested in contacting you. A valid argument, so you'll just have to decide on your preference there.

Tip: Wherever you put it, format your contact information as you would in a business letter, flushed left, name on one line, phone number on another, street address on another, and then city / state, etc. Confused? Look up business letter formatting or grab a stack of mail.

Tip: Always include more than one way to be contacted.

Theirs:

It's not necessary to include the agent's contact information, as you would on a paper cover letter. The agent knows who they are and, if the query is addressed to them and has arrived in their e-mail, they know it was meant for them.

Query Body:

I suggest writing (and rewriting) your query in a document where you can save a "shell" that you can then personalize for each agent before pasting it over into an e-mail.

As far as actual formatting: Single space, align left, no indents, 12 point font, Times New Roman (nothing fancy, peeps). Do include paragraph breaks! One space between each. Nothing worse than a huge block of single spaced text. Write no more than a normal screen's length of text. In other words, nothing too long. You risk getting skimmed or losing the agent's interest if your query is overly long.

Tip: Paste your query into Notepad or another program that will strip the formatting and make your text Plain Text rather than HTML or Rich Text (some e-mail programs will do this, others will not). This will save you a lot of formatting headache, as the conversion from your e-mail program to another will often adjust your text formatting and make it look all crazy. Plain Text, on the other hand, will transfer as it appears to you before you send it, and you can rest assured it's not turning into gobbledygook.

Tip: If you're especially anxious about your query, you can test drive it by sending it to yourself or a friend (especially a friend that uses a different e-mail program) to see how it comes through.

Closure:

Just like you began your query on formality, you should close it on formality. You can choose any number of standard business closures such as "Sincerely," "All the best," etc. and then "sign" with your full name.

Tip: Make sure you thank the agent for their time! And if you've decided to put your contact information at the bottom, now's the time to add it. Don't forget.

Including Material:

Your safest bet is to include sample pages in the body of the e-mail, under your closing line several spaces, as a general rule of thumb. Most agents request sample material be sent this way, if they request sample pages at all, but you should always follow each agent's specific submission guidelines, so if they happen to request that it be attached, attach it.

If you're including sample pages, I would highly suggest pasting the pages into Notepad, as you did with your query above, to strip the HTML or Rich Text formatting. This will remove your indents, yes, and that's fine, but it will ensure your formatting looks good and readable. Agent's won't care if your sample pages are or aren't indented when they're in the body of the e-mail. It's pretty standard knowledge that e-mail formatting is shifty.

If the agent requests more material, such as a partial or full, and does not specify whether or not to attach it, I would attach it. That's usually how they'll want it. It's easier for them to load onto their reading devices and will retain your original formatting.

Tip: If you do strip your pages of HTML or Rich Text, as suggested, it will also strip your italics and/or underlining. So, if they're important in your sample pages, you'll want to go back through when you've pasted your pages into the e-mail and put the emphases back on using your e-mail program's format tools.

***

Am I forgetting anything? Please, everyone, speak up in the comments and leave your own query preferences, how-tos, and tips. I'd love to hear what you've learned in the query trenches, and what you do differently or the same. Also, if you have any questions, leave those as well!

Agent Spotlight: Anna Webman


I received word from a client 7/31/12 that Anna's last day as an agent is 8/10/12. She is leaving the publishing industry all together. Writers should not submit.

Please query a different Curtis Brown agent.

~Casey

Wednesday's Word Count

I can't beleive it's time for a WWC again! Or that it's DECEMBER. Wow. Talk about time flying. This is my favorite time of the year though. We put up our Christmas decorations last Saturday and we're going to get our tree in about a week. So exciting!

Current word count: 26,038.

Goal last week:
2,100.

Accomplished:
3,135.

Words 'til finish: 23,962/856 words a day until Dec 31th.

Goal this week: 5992.

Comments: Well, I made my secondary NaNoWriMo goal, which was at least 25k. Yay! I'm thinking about making 25K in Nov a yearly tradition. Why? Because I've learned, between last year's NaNo and this year's, that I write really sloppy when I'm trying to write that much. Soo sloppy that I don't even want to revise what I've written, making it a darn-near waste of time.

As for this month, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I want to write another 25k but I'm kind of tired of the push and shove, especially with the holidays approaching and everything that's going on right now. I'm going to try (try! try! try!) but I might end up taking a break until the new year. We'll see!

Wednesday Question: What are your plans for December? Do you let your writing hybernate for the month? Are you holding off on submitting through the holidays? Or are you chugging along per usual?

Ahhhh!

Please tell me I need this. I need this, right? RIGHT?!

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=35758433&ref=cat1_gallery_9

Oh good, cause I bought it. ; )

Agent News: Susan Hawk Joins The Bent Agency

From the Bent on Books blog:

"Susan Hawk is joining the Bent Agency. She will represent authors of young adult and middle grade fiction. For the past 15 years, she worked in Children’s Book Marketing, most recently as the Marketing Director at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and previous to that as the Library Marketing Director at Penguin Young Readers Group. She is actively acquiring young adult and middle grade books; non-fiction and fiction (especially literary fiction), as well as fantasy, science-fiction, historical fiction and mystery."

For a more in depth bio on Ms. Hawk, and submission guidelines, see The Bent Agency website.

Such exciting news. Not only is The Bent Agency growing, but so is the number of agents repping MG and YA. Yay!

Best to the agency and all who query.

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Tuesday already? Another tip! Today's comes from frequent reader and commenter, Kathryn Jankowski. You're sure to have seen her in the comments if you come by often. She always has something sincere, helpful, or encouraging to say. Please take a moment or two to stop by, check out her blog, and say hi! Here's her tip:

"Your readers might enjoy http://www.writing-world.com/links/names.shtml, a list of character naming resources.

I actually found this via another, nearly overwhelming site that will take me ages to go through, but is so comprehensive I had to bookmark it http://www.internet-resources.com/writers."

Sometimes it's hard to find just the right name and these sorts of resources are the perfect place to turn to. And I agree, that second link will need some digging into. Thanks so much, Kathryn!

(Calling all readers: If you have a writing or research tip you'd like to share, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.)