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Agent Spotlight: Lauren MacLeod

This week's Agent Spotlight features Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency, LLC.

Status: Open to submissions.

HeadshotsmallElvis (800x800).thumbnailAbout: “Lauren MacLeod joined the Strothman Agency after graduating cum laude from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing.

“Lauren’s primary interests are young adult fiction and nonfiction, middle grade novels, as well as highly polished literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Some of her favorite (non-client) YA authors are Meg Rosoff, Maureen Johnson and John Green.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“The Strothman Agency, LLC is a literary agency dedicated to promoting authors of significant books through the entire publishing cycle. Our offices are located in historic Quincy Market in Boston, Massachusetts.

“Our extensive inside experience and knowledge of both the editorial and business aspects of publishing—how editors and publishers make decisions, the economics of publishing, the importance of focused and strategic marketing and publicity, the nuances of contracts—as well as our many contacts among independent booksellers give us the ability to provide effective support to our clients.” (Link)

Web Presence:

The Strothman Agency website.

The Stothman Agency blog.

Publisher’s Marketplace page.

Twitter.

JacketFlap.

AgentQuery & QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. (Link)

From the website (as of 5/2012):

“Looking for: Young adult & middle grade. Especially:  YA thrillers or mysteries, contemporary YA or MG,  YA or MG  romance or chick lit,  YA horror.  She is currently especially drawn to YA & MG projects with humorous situations, funny characters, a lovely romance or a great voice.

“Flooded with: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Tragedy Memoirs.” (Link)

From an Interview (12/2010):

“I’m really hungry for well-written contemporary YA without any fantasy or paranormal elements. I’ve seen a lot of manuscripts in the last year or two about teenagers who can read minds, open magic portals, or talk to ghosts. I think those stories are fascinating, but I’m increasingly interested in reading manuscripts with situations and characters that readers can relate to.” (Link)

From an Interview (06/2010):

“I’m always hungry for books that make me laugh and increasingly I’m looking for contemporary YA, especially romance.” (Link)

From an Interview (07/2010):

“I think what all editors and agents are really looking for-and I suspect this is as true today as it will be five years from now-are fresh, original voices.
In addition to a great voice, I’m always looking for funny books in any of the YA or MG sub-genres. Funny is very hard to pull off, but it is a real sweet spot for me. I’d also love to see more YA or MG horror in my slush pile.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

“Lauren is not accepting queries for picture books or chapter books or early readers at this time. She does not represent adult romance or chick lit.” (Link)

“I’m probably not the best for high fantasy.” (Link)

Quotables:

"A great story with dynamic writing will always be relevant. Write good books, don’t worry about trends." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“The Strothman Agency works closely with our clients to get a project ready for submission and we are always looking to help them build careers--not just sell one book. As an agent I’m always looking to fall in love with a manuscript--I’m really invested in the books and the authors I take on.” (Link)

"I still do editing, but I have to really, really, really love the book before I'll take it on. On the fence now equals no, more than before." (Link)

Clients:

The agency has a "Catalog of Published Works" on the website. Ms. MacLeod’s clients include:

Hélène Boudreau, Monica Bustamante Wagner, The Barbara Cooney Estate, Sashi Kaufman, Robert Lettrick, Jodi Meadows, Kathryn Miles, Philip Shabecoff and Alice Shabecoff, Bria Quinlan, Christopher White, among others.

Sales:

As of 5/2012, Ms. MacLeod is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 2 deals in the last 12 months and 10 overall. Recent deals include 1 young adult and 1 international rights.

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):

Send a query letter outlining your qualifications and experience, a synopsis, the genre and word count of your manuscript, and the first ten pages in the body of an e-mail. No attachments. You should receive an auto-response upon receipt.

Please see the Strothman Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips/Peeves:

“My biggest query pet peeve is when people try to query via a phone call, but a close second would be authors who pitch more than one project at a time. I find being presented with ten different ideas all at once very overwhelming.” (Link)

“Not following guidelines. There is so much information out there and so many agents writing really fantastically helpful blogs that there is no excuse for not doing your research before querying.” (Link)

Response Times:

“…every submission is read and considered. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, please allow three to four weeks for a response. If we have not replied to your query within six weeks, we do not feel that it is right for us.” (Link)

Stats on the web show Ms. MacLeod often responds to queries within days to a couple weeks and requested material within six weeks.

What's the Buzz?

Lauren has an active presence on Twitter and the agency blog and is popular with aspiring authors. Her clients are very loyal and happy in her hands. Her sales seem modest but balanced with her selective client list. Writers of realistic MG/YA fiction should definitely take note!

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Agent Chat transcript with Lauren MacLeod at WriteOn (05/2011).

Agent Advice Interview with Lauren MacLeod at Guide to Literary Agents (12/2010).

Interview with an Agent: Lauren MacLeod at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (06/2010).

Lit Agent Lauren MacLeod Has “Sweet Spot” for Funny Books, interview at GalleyCat (01/2010).

Around the Web:

See her bio on the agency website for conferences she’ll be attending.

See the agency’s FAQ for general agent info and tips.

Ms. Macleod is active on both the agency blog and Twitter.

The Strothman Agency on P&E ($, Recommended).

The Strothman Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Successful Queries: Agent Lauren MacLeod and “Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings” at Guide to Literary Agents (12/2010).

Client Jodi Meadow’s agent story and book sale story at her blog (2010).

"Straight Talk on Tough Times for Writers" at Mitali's Fire Escape featuring comments by Lauren Macleod, Colleen Lindsay, and Elana Roth (10/2009).

Lauren MacLeod was a Secret Agent for Miss Snark's First Victim's blog; follow the link and then locate the entries for that month (July 2009) to see her comments on each entry as well as her chosen winners.

"An Agent Talks Trends in MG/YA Publishing" featuring Lauren Macleod; what she's seeing a lot of and what editors are asking for (06/2009)

A relay of some #askagent tweets by Lauren Macleod on Words of Inspiration and Romance (06/2009).

QueryDay Q&A summary featuring many comments by Lauren Macleod on Writing For Kids While Raising Them (04/2009).

Notes from QueryFail at Writing For Kids While Raising Them. Check out the reasons Ms. Macleod and other agents might reject you (03/2009). 

Contact:

Please see The Strothman Agency website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 5/1/12.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/1/12.

***

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 and/or teen 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.

Guest Blogger Fiona Ingram: The Wonderful World of Words


Today I'd like to welcome guest blogger Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. When she e-mailed me about guest blogging, I was really eager to post this story about her daughter Mabel. I thought it would be a nice change from all the informative posts around here, and the story really touched me.

The Wonderful World of Words and One Child’s Journey There

I don’t remember actually learning to read; it’s as if I always did. Although we grew up poor (five children to feed, clothe, and educate), my parents always had books in the house. And then of course, there were the books we inherited from my grandparents. My very old copy of The Wind in the Willows, with those simple yet beautiful illustrations, is still on my bookshelf. Ratty and Mole were my heroes (and still are!). Other old friends are The Secret Garden, with exquisite color plates, The Water Babies, Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, my collection of the Lucy Fitch Perkins’ twin series, with her poignant stories of children of all eras and places around the world. I particularly loved Anne of Avonlea, The Little Princess, and many others.

The list of children’s classics is endless and not so long ago I read them all over again. I ‘inherited’ an African foster child from a disadvantaged background. This little girl came to me at age eleven, practically illiterate, scoring only 19% for English at school. Opening the doors into the wonderful world of books seemed insurmountable because she simply did not understand the connection between the written and spoken word. What to do? Begin at the beginning seemed a good idea.

I started off with my old favorites and Mabel loved them. Suddenly, the words were not frightening because she was hearing about places and people she’d never imagined. She’d lean over my shoulder, breathing down my neck as I read, my finger tracing the words as I sounded them out. The pages began to surrender the magical words, and she found them enchanting! Fired with success, we moved onto the rest of the library, slowly devouring my children’s classic book collection in very tiny bite-sized pieces. I was still doing most of the reading.

One day, Mabel decided she’d help out with the words, and began reading to me. It was still incredibly slow but I began to see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We got movies of books, watched them, and then read the books, just in case the moviemakers had left out some important bits. We expanded our repertoire book by book. I found other ways to sneak words into her day, not just when we were doing ‘serious’ reading. She read recipes with me when we baked; she read the instructions on the packaging to me while we prepared dinner; she read advertisements to me when we shopped. Suddenly words were a constant part of her life.

Mabel also began to show her imaginative side at school. Her poems and creative writing pieces began to change, reflecting more color, bigger words, more complex themes and emotions. What a breakthrough! The final moment of success came when just recently she turned to my mother and said, “Gran, will you buy me a book?”

My mother nearly fell off her chair and replied, “You can have as many as you like, darling.”

Mabel grinned. “Oh, then can you buy me all the Twilight books please?”

Thank you Stephenie Meyer for being the first author Mabel ‘owns.’ (Apparently vampires rock.)

Her latest ‘own’ books? Inkheart, and The Golden Compass.

Her latest marks for English? A magnificent 75%.

“I can do much better,” she said, frowning. “I’m going to have to improve on this if I want to be a writer.”

I have now adopted Mabel legally, not having my own children, and I can say the greatest compliment is that she has decided to become a journalist or a novelist (just like me).

Recently I called her and, hearing her voice coming from her bedroom, asked, “What are you doing?”

Reply: “I’m reading!”

Music to any parent’s ears!


About the Author: Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. The first book was inspired by an actual trip the author took to Egypt with her two young nephews (then aged 10 and 12).

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday #21

It's Tuesday! Again! That means I have another great tip to share. This one from aspiring author Lisa Nowak of The Tao of Webfoot. Please visit her blog after you've finished up here. Lisa's known for posting very genuine, inspiring posts that speak to me as a fellow writer.

Here she is:

"When I 'm writing I sometimes have trouble getting the words to flow, but I've found that a little physical activity will jog loose those ideas. I bought a digital recorder to capture my inspirations, and now I carry it with me whenever I take a walk or a drive. The model I use is a Panasonic RR-US450. It allows you to store up to 99 files in each of its folders, and you have to make a conscious effort to erase one, so you can't accidentally record over your old thoughts, the way you can with tapes. This machine comes with software that allows you to download your notes to a computer. The voice recognition feature isn't the greatest, but I understand that you can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking once the files are on your computer. Even without that feature, keyboard commands allow you to stop and start the file so you don't have to interrupt your typing to pause the recording. In addition, the recording reverses by several words when you resume playing, so if you're a lousy typist like me, you can easily catch what you missed."

I love this tip, Lisa. Recording myself is something I never would have thought to do, but I'm loving the idea. I think I'll have to pick up one of these recorders and give it a shot!

Awards! Part 1

I've been meaning to acknowledge and dish out some awards for awhile now and apologize to the lovely ladies who gave them to me that I haven't done it sooner (I'm looking at you Emily, Shelli, Elana, and Hilary).  And yet, I've just had a heck of a day and wanted to do something fun, so I thought awards!  I'll give people awards and I'll feel way better.  So I'm sort of glad I held out.  But, I'm also short on time so I'm gonna do it in parts. Hey, it's probably more fair to the awards that way, anyway. 

Silver LiningSo, today's award:  THE SILVER LINING AWARD given to me by Emily Cross at The Chronicles of Emily Cross

I feel honored to have been given this award because Emily created it, and I was one of the first five to receive it.  Here's the thought Emily put behind it, "So, in these bad economic times etc. its nice to be able to wander the blogosphere and see some really positive and optimistic posts. To honour these uplifting blogs i've made the silverlining award."

How cool is that?  Wowza!  Thanks Emily!

Here are the rules:

* Post the award on your blog.

* Let them know who gave it to you and link to them.

* Nominate five other blogs and link to them.

* Let your nominees know that they've received the award.

Okay, decisions, decisions.  I think I'll stick with Emily's purpose for the award and choose people who tend to be very positive in my eyes. I hate picking just five people, you all know that right?  Right?!?  Okay good.  Cause I love all my bloggy friends and don't get enough time to spend on all your blogs.  Here are the first five that came to mind.  Friends new and old:

Heather Kelly of Edited to Within an Inch of My Life.

Lisa Nowak of The Tao of Webfoot.

Tabitha Olson of Writers Musings.

Hillary Wagner of Hillary Wagner's blog.

Paul Michael Murphy of Murphblog.

Top 20 Spotlights

Now that Agent Spotlight has been going for almost a year (well, in March), I thought it would be interesting to see which agents have had the most visitors.  Given that some profiles have been up a lot longer than others, it's not a fair representation, exactly, but I think it's still interesting.  Here's the top 20 from March 2009 to Jan 2010 according to my stats:

Daniel Lazar

Nancy Gallt

Maya Rock

Jill Grinberg

Marietta Zacker

Alyssa Eisner Henkin

Stephen Barbara

Steven Malk

Ginger Knowlton

Faye Bender

Jennifer Rofe Jaeger

Stephen Fraser

Merrilee Heifetz

Jennie Dunham

Joe Veltre

Michael Bourret

Sara Crowe

Bill Contardi

Brenda Bowen

Jamie Weiss Chilton

 

See any trends?  I'm noticing agents with small web presence as well as some big names...

Agent Spotlight: Caryn Wiseman

This week's Agent Spotlight features Caryn Wiseman of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.

Status: Open to submissions.

caryn-2012-photoAbout: "Caryn has been an agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency for ten years, and she has sold more than 200 books. She handles children's books only: young adult and middle-grade fiction and non-fiction, chapter books, and picture books (fiction and non-fiction). She represents NYT bestselling authors, award-winning authors, debut authors, and authors at every stage in between. No matter the genre, Caryn is looking for books with emotional depth and a strong voice; excellent writing in a tightly-plotted, commercial story; and characters that stick with her long after she has closed the book. In YA, she gravitates toward books that make her think and toward books that make her cry; in middle-grade and chapter books, laughter tends to be the common thread. She loves books that are intellectually challenging and take risks, but in a very logical way.

“Caryn represents Tom Angleberger, author of the NYT and national indie bestselling ORIGAMI YODA series (Amulet/Abrams), and Nate Evans, co-author of the NYT bestseller THE JELLYBEANS AND THE BIG DANCE and its sequels (Abrams). Award-winning books include RABBIT AND ROBOT: THE SLEEPOVER by Cece Bell (2013 Theodore Geisel Honor book), FAKE MUSTACHE by Tom Angleberger (2013 Edgar nominee), HORTON HALFPOTT by Tom Angleberger (2012 Edgar nominee), DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK by Tom Angleberger (2011 ABC Best Books), THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA by Tom Angleberger (2011 ALA Notable and Kirkus Best Books of 2010), A YEAR OF GOODBYES by Debbie Levy (2010 Kirkus Top Ten Book of the Year and 2010 Sydney Taylor Notable Book), and ME, FRIDA by Amy Novesky (2010 Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Award—illustrated by David Diaz and 2011 ALA Notable).

“2013 titles include ART2D2 by Tom Angleberger (Amulet/Abrams), TIME AFTER TIME by Tamara Ireland Stone (Disney-Hyperion), INDIGO by Gina Linko (Random House), THE GATHERING DARK by Christine Johnson (Simon Pulse/S&S), CRANKEE DOODLE by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell (Clarion/HMH), ON A BEAM OF LIGHT: The Story of Albert Einstein, by Jennifer Berne (Chronicle), IMPERFECT SPIRAL by Debbie Levy (Walker), DRAGON RUN by Patrick Matthews (Scholastic), HOPE'S GIFT illustrated by Don Tate (Putnam/Penguin), GOLDEN BOY by Tara Sullivan (Putnam/Penguin), ICE DOGS by Terry Johnson (Houghton Mifflin/HMH), RED KITE BLUE KITE by Ji-li Jiang (Disney-Hyperion), and more books in the BALLPARK MYSTERIES chapter book series by David Kelly (Random House) and in the JO SCHMO chapter book series by Greg Trine (Harcourt/HMH).

“Caryn holds an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, and a BS from the University of Virginia. She is a member of SCBWI and she is a frequent speaker at writer's conferences.” (Link)

About the Agency:

"We are a mid-size literary agency based in California celebrating over 2,000 titles sold. We bring the best of both worlds to the table—the personal client attention of a small agency and the clout of a larger one. We invest a great deal of care in each project and each client. We devise a strategy at every stage of the writing process, from conception, to editorial, to publication, that is tailored to the client and will enable us to find the best publisher for his or her books. We are seeking long-term relationships with writers and illustrators whose careers we can develop and whose talent we can foster." (Link)

Web Presence:

Andrea Brown Agency website.

Publisher's Marketplace page.

Twitter @CarynWiseman.

AgentQuery.

QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult; fiction and nonfiction. (Link)

From her Website Bio (as of 6/13):

“Caryn is drawn to speculative middle grade or YA fiction—usually contemporary with a very smart science fiction or light fantasy element, but she also appreciates being carried away by great world-building in a unique story that isn't grounded in reality. Zombies, horror, and high fantasy will, most likely, not appeal. She would love to see a YA thriller with the pacing and twists of HOMELAND, and a YA Pitch Perfect or Big Bang Theory. She would be thrilled to see more contemporary multicultural middle grade or YA—books that deeply explore another culture, as well as books in which the ethnicity of the character is not the issue. She adores a swoon-worthy romance with an intelligent heroine who isn't simply swept off her feet by a hunky hero. A sweet, funny or poignant middle-grade novel, with a great hook that makes it stand out from the crowd, would hold great appeal, and she's partial to lyrical, non-institutional picture book biographies. She is always open to terrific children's work that doesn't fit these categories as long as it makes her laugh, makes her cry, and keeps her awake at night, either reading the manuscript or thinking about it. She does not represent adult projects. Please do not query her regarding adult work” (Link)

From an Interview (03/2013):

“Given today’s market, if you’ve got something paranormal or speculative, it needs to be unique and it needs to stand out from the crowd that’s already out there. I hate to say no to something that could be an amazing twist on themes that have been explored before, but dystopian is a pretty tough sell right now, so if you’ve got something dystopian, it’s unlikely that I’ll take it on, unless it has an amazingly fresh and unique spin. Same with paranormal. I’m not usually drawn to high fantasy, particularly if it requires maps, but if it’s something fresh and amazing, I’m open. Right now, I’d love to see a great contemporary YA – either completely realistic, or with a very smart science fiction or light fantasy element. No zombies, horror, or high fantasy. I adore a swoon-worthy romance with an intelligent heroine who isn’t simply swept off her feet by a hunky hero. Voice is paramount, but the writing and story need to be amazing, too. Specifically, I’d love to see a YA thriller with the pacing and twists of HOMELAND a YA Downton Abbey, a Southern gothic romance, and a YA Glee or Pitch Perfect or Big Bang Theory. I’d also be happy with a non-dystopian science fiction or light fantasy, in which the world-building just carries me off.

“For middle-grade, I’d love to see something hysterically funny that isn’t a one-trick pony, or a voice-driven, poignant story like WONDER, or a sweeping, epic adventure. I also love literary middle-grade like WHEN YOU REACH ME, as long as it has a great hook or twist.” (Link)

From an Interview (04/2010):

“Funny middle-grade, horror, dystopian, steampunk, multicultural fiction. No more vampires, werewolves or zombies. I’d like to see a middle-grade or YA novel that explores a fresh, new paranormal category or a new twist on a dystopian world. I’d love to see a wonderful middle-grade or YA novel in which the protagonist is multicultural, and that informs his/her decisions, but is not the focus of the story. I’d love to see a great environmental novel. Most of all, I’d just like to see manuscripts that make me laugh, make me cry, and keep me up at night.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Adult fiction or nonfiction projects.

Horror, vampires, werewolves, or zombies. (Link, Link).

Agenting Philosophy:

“My personal agenting philosophy is to be honest and transparent with authors and with editors. I expect my authors to be honest in return. I only take on projects that I am passionate about. If I’m not passionate about your work, I’m not going to be able to sell it, even if it’s something commercial. I also hope that my authors will not be defensive, but will take time to think about editorial comments before responding negatively. This is a partnership, and it’s built on trust and mutual respect.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

"I knew that agenting would allow me to do the things that I love best - reading and editing - and that, as an agent, I could discover wonderful authors, and help them get their books published."  (Link)

Clients:

There is a list of ABLA clients on the agency website.

Ms. Wiseman’s clients include: Tom Angleberger, Cece Bell, Jennifer Berne, Ryan Van Cleave, Gene Fehler, Amy Fellner Dominy, Nate Evans, A. G. Henley, Tamara Ireland Stone, Ji-li Jiang, Christine Johnson, Terry Lynn Johnson, David Kelly, Laura Lascarso, Debbie Levy, Joanne Levy, Gina Linko, Kevin Markey, Patrick Matthews, Amy Novesky, Amjed Qamar, Deborah Raffin, Tara Sullivan, Rhonda Stapleton, Don Tate, Greg Trine, Pamela Turner, Deborah Underwood, Michele Wood, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Brief query in the body of an e-mail. Put QUERY in the subject line. Include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits (if applicable). Only query one agent at the agency. Note if it's a multiple submission.

For PB: Include full text. Fiction: First ten pages. NF: Proposal and one sample chapter. No attachments.

Illustrators: Two to three jpegs of children and animals.

Please see the ABLA website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

The submissions page on the website contains query hints. The agency website offers Submission Advice, Do's and Don'ts, and Team Tips. Additional tips are available in the interviews linked below as well.  

Response Times:

The agency tries to respond within 4-8 weeks but does not guarantee a response due to the large number of submissions they receive. If you have not heard back in 8 weeks, assume rejection. (Link)

Ms. Wiseman usually responds to requested materials within 1-3 months.

What's the Buzz?

Like all of the Andrea Brown agents I've profiled, Ms. Wiseman is a wonderful literary agent. She has a very strong list of sales to large publishers and her clients seem very happy with her representation.

You can find Ms. Wiseman at the twice annual Big Sur Writing Workshop and on Twitter @CarynWiseman.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Interview with Literary Agent Caryn Wiseman at Stacey O’Neale’s site (3/2013).

Exclusive interview with ABLA literary agent Caryn Wiseman at LiveJournal and NaNoWriMo (11/2011).

Author-Agent-Editor Three-in-One Notebook Special | OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy at The Whole Megillah (09/2011).

Andrea Brown Literary Agent Chat with Jen Rofe, Kelly Sonnack, Jennifer Laughran & Caryn Wiseman at WriteOnCon (Press “Play”) (08/2011).

Caryn Wiseman - Andrea Brown Literary Agency at Tales From the Rushmore Kid (12/2010).

Lit Agent, Caryn Wiseman: No More Vampire Stories! at GalleyCat (04/2010).

Interview with Caryn Wiseman at Tales From the Rushmore Kid (01/2010).

Agent Advice Interview with Caryn Wiseman at Guide to Literary Agents (11/2007).

Around the Web:

Caryn Wiseman at P&E ($).

Andrea Brown Literary at P&E ($, Recommended).

Andrea Brown Literary Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

For deal info, there is a selection of Ms. Wiseman’s Representative Deals on the ABLA website, in her bio, and on the agency’s client page.

Secret Agent Unveiled: Caryn Wiseman at Miss Snark’s First Victim (01/2013).

How I Met My Agent by client Tamara Ireland Stone at her blog (03/2011).

Successful Queries: Agent Caryn Wiseman and ‘Escape From Camp David’ at Guide to Literary Agents (12/2009).

Contact:

Please see the Andrea Brown Literary website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 6/4/13.

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.

The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

Suzanne was sweet enough to have me sent an ARC of The Naughty List and I wasn't at all surprised to gobble it up within a day. I've long loved her ongoing story blog, Going Green, and knew TNL wouldn't disappoint. It didn't! As one of my goals this year is to promote the authors and books I love, I'm going to attempt to review it for you.

Title: The Naughty ListNaughty List final cover!

Author: Suzanne Young

Reading Level: Young Adult

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: February 4th, 2010

First line: Sigh. A padlock? Who padlocked their gates in this neighborhood?

Summary:

"As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?"

Review:

The Naughty List is as cute as the pink cover is bears, but hey, if you're just not into cutesy pink covers please stay and let me convince you of its fun fabulosity!

Head cheerleader Tessa, along with the SOS or Society of Smitten Kittens, spends her days keeping things peppy at high school and her nights catching cheating boyfriends. Through an anonymous cell phone and top-secret correspondence, the SOS receives cheater reports and then susses out truth and proof by going on daring missions and employing spy tactics. When Tessa's boyfriend Aiden shows up on the list after the transfer of a meddlesome, attractive brother-and-sister pair, Tessa begins to lose control. After all, the SOS has a 100% proven-guilty rating. What are the chances of Aiden being an exception?

I loved so many things about this book. Tessa and her friends make it easy to get caught up the story. The voice is original and fun and Young brings depth, realism, and intrigue to the cheerleader stereotype. There’s a lot more going on here than your average high school drama, a subtle message I think a lot of teens will relate and respond to. And who doesn't want to read about a secret society?!

But it’s more than just a great cast of characters with a fun story to tell. Young used her tools as a writer and found ways to make the writing and story really memorable. By incorporating fun Cheater Incident Reports, alternative cuss words (“Mashed potatoes and gravy!”), and other secret (and oftentimes hilarious) correspondence, I feel she turned an already fun read into something unique and engaging. I can imagine myself as one of these cooperative cheerleader spies, dishing out pep and bad news in equal, saucy amounts for the betterment of my high school.

It’s a fast, well-paced read with an engaging plot and story line. I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events and extremely satisfied by the ending. That’s a biggie for me. I have to give props to authors that can write a realistic, satisfying ending and Suzanne did. It’s not the perfect romantic ending we'd all wish for ourselves but it’s real and it’s hopeful. So, kudos Suzanne.

And guys? If I was in high school right now, I'd totally want start up an SOS after reading this. Cheating boys (and hey, girls too) across the nation, watch out!

The Naughty List is the first in a series of Naughty List books and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, So Many Boys, coming June 10, 2010.

Definitely check out Suzanne's blog, the SOS blog, and pre-order your copy today. And if you missed it, I interviewed Suzanne several months ago. You can read that here. Enjoy!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday #20

I have two tips to share with you today. The first, reposted with permission, comes from Becky of Rebecca’s Writing Journey.

"Use Forever Stamps on all your self-addressed stamped envelopes! You never know 1) how long it will take to come back to you and 2) when a postage hike will sneak up on you. If you use the forever stamp, you don't have to worry about not having enough postage on those reply letters you're so anxiously awaiting."

The second is that you follow Becky’s blog. Not only because she's chronicling her journey as a writer with great posts, but also because she posts a Tuesday Tip most weeks and has been doing it a lot longer than me. Check her archives!

I asked if I could repost the above tip because I think it’s a great one for anyone not already familiar with Forever Stamps. I learned about them last year and it’s all I buy now (unless I'm weakened by a particularly cute set of stamps – ha!).

Thanks Becky! It’s a great tip.

Guest Blogger Kristi Helvig: Why Critique Groups Rock

Please welcome guest blogger Kristi Helvig, a familiar face in the comment box. She's hear to tell you the many reasons why critique groups are awesome! When you're done reading her fabulous article, please visit her group blog, Sisters in Scribe.

Why Critique Groups Rock

So, you're an aspiring writer and have accomplished the amazing task of actually finishing a novel. Chances are you either patted yourself on the back or went shrieking through the streets proclaiming that you're a novelist (depending on your personality). However, then the moment comes when you sit back and think "Now what?" Well, here's what I think a fabulous next step should be -- before spamming the entire publishing community with the genius that is your manuscript. Join a critique group. "Why?" you might ask as defensive thoughts flood your mind such as: "My book is brilliant as is,” “I don't want outside influences muting my 'voice',” or “I don't want anyone stealing my never-been-thought of-in-the-history-of-time idea about space monkeys and their quest for the perfect banana." You get the idea.

Here's why
. If you find a GOOD critique group, be it online or in person (and there are pros and cons of each), they can do the following:

1) They are objective about your work. Well, at least more so than you. It can be extremely difficult to be objective about your own work. For instance, those of you with kids, how many of you think your child is not the cutest/most brilliant/talented example of small humanity out there. When you're attached to something - and after working on a novel for 6 months or 6 years, who isn't - it's difficult to step back and see where you might need help. Your critique group has that distance and can often point out problem areas much more easily.

2) They make you a better writer. Yes, really. No matter how great you think you are - and you might be great - you can get even better with the help of a good group. Writing in different POV's, characterization, story arc and use of dialogue are just a few examples of how the group can push you to do your best. They also can help point out your individual writing quirks - be it overuse of a certain word or the dreaded telling rather than showing. Also, critiquing the work of others in your group also makes you a better writer.

3) They encourage and support you. And not in a Paula Abdul, smoke up your ass kind of way. We share our ups and downs and have a "we're all in this together" mentality. Writing can be a tough and solitary experience, so it's nice having a built-in support group. When someone gets good news, it's so much fun to celebrate as a group and gives hope and motivation to the others. Plus, it's fun going to conferences where I actually know people there.

4) They serve as a collective barometer for your work. After getting a bunch of feedback from different personalities, part of your job is to decide which changes to incorporate and which don't serve your story. One of the best things about group feedback is you know there's a legitimate problem when more than one person points out the same issue with something in your story. For instance, I had multiple people tell me a line in my first chapter was funny but that the reference would be outdated by the time the book was published - so I changed it. On the flip side, when you have multiple people give you compliments on the same thing, you know it's well-earned and not the smoke up the ass thing.

5) They are a wealth of resources. I feel fortunate to be part of two wonderful critique groups and everyone has information that is shared with the group. Some of the published authors in my one group share information about publishing houses and editors that they like. Just this week, one woman in my group sent me a list of agents she thought would be a good fit for my book after reading my query. I've learned so much about the business end of things from my critique groups and it's been invaluable information.

As you can guess, I LOVE my critique groups. They consist of amazing, talented, persistent women who love writing as much as I do. So there you have my top 5 reasons to be in such a group. If you're in a group that doesn't have these 5 elements and feels more negative in nature, then maybe it's time to look for another group. NOTE: I found both of mine through SCBWI.

So, what have I missed? What are your favorite things about being in a critique group?
Bio: Kristi is a clinical psychologist and aspiring YA writer who is one of the contributors to the Sisters in Scribe blog.

WANTED: Critique Partner for Kareena

Hello, everyone!

classifiedKareena, a YA writer, e-mailed me wanting to know how she might find a critique partner online. I asked if she was interested in posting a "wanted ad" here on Lit Rambles and she agreed! Please read her details below and consider exchanging a few e-mails and pages with her to see if you're compatible.

Note: Comments are welcome; however, derogatory and/or harsh criticisms will be deleted if they arise. That's not what we're looking for with this posting.

***

My needs are simple. I am looking for someone to exchange a few pages with from time to to time and to bounce ideas off. They don't need to be editing experts- I have a friend who does that for me already- I just need someone who is widely read in my genre, who instinctively knows when something sucks or not and who can the grade the level of suckiness on a scale of 1-10, and of course can give some insight into why it sucks.

If they would be available for phone conversations at would be great too. I have skype. Just in case you are not familiar with it Skype is this great program that you can download for free from www.skype.com and once both parties have it on their computers you can talk or free anywhere in the world.

This book is written for teens ages 13-16. I would prefer a one on one critique with someone who writes in my genre (fantasy-science fiction) so I would love it if you placed the wanted add for me. I don't think I am ready to go totally public yet so I think I'll pass on the online critique group for now.

***

Excerpt From the Novel entitled, The Spinner's Wheel, written by Kareena Vassall

Chapter 2

Sara’s discovery

Earth-2010: Wichita Falls, Texas U.S.A

The soft morning light filtered into the sky blue room through filmy white curtains draping the two windows. A fragrant, warm breeze swept though a partially open window rustling the open pages of the science encyclopedia resting on top the bright yellow quilt covering the double bed, tuning the page from a picture of a DNA double helix to one of Halley’s comet.

At the foot of the bed, directly under the small figure huddled under the covers, lay a large brown and white cat sprawled inelegantly on his back, the tip of his tail twitching slightly. The small figure beneath the quilt flung out her foot suddenly and the cat leapt from what was obviously a comfortable spot with a frustrated hiss.

A soft chuckle emanated from the bed, and a small, heart shaped, freckled face framed by long dark red hair raised up briefly off the blue pillowcase and looked down at the disgusted feline glaring at her from the side of the bed and said without sympathy. “I told you to sleep in your own bed Mr. Piddles.” Mr. Piddles sniffed scornfully at her as if she smelled like a wet dog, turned and stalked off towards the corner of the room, his tail held high.

Sixteen year old Sara Gallagher looked to the left of her bed at the small white side table and reached out to shut off the alarm to the clock just as it struck seven. Looking at the clock, she glared and stuck out her tongue at the cheerful face of bug’s bunny whose head was currently cut in half by the long hand of the clock pointing at twelve.

Rubbing her eyes with the cuff of her black and white polka dot pajamas, she swung her legs off the bed unto the fluffy beige carpet and sat up. She peered at herself in the mirror that ran the length of the closet door and began the typical morning ritual of looking for any new freckles that might have miraculously popped up on her face overnight.

After satisfying herself that there were only the usual twenty two freckles adorning her nose, she stood, winked at Albert Einstein who gazed down at her from the poster pasted over the side table, his black pipe perched at the corner of his mouth, and shrugged on her fluffy white dressing gown.

Sitting down at the small dressing table with its heart shaped mirror, Sara carefully pulled back her hair into a ponytail, picked up her rechargeable toothbrush and headed towards her bedroom door. Suddenly, there was a loud crash from downstairs, and her mothers’ frustrated screech resounded through the house as delighted masculine laughter filtered up the stairs.

Sara grinned and threw down her toothbrush unto the bed. This domestic unrest could only mean one thing, her uncle Valerius had come to visit. Wrenching open her bedroom door Sara and Mr. Piddles bounded down the stairs, stopped by the entrance of the family room and watched the proceedings with interest.

Uncle Valerius was hiding behind the blue living room sofa. His muscular, six foot three frame was crouched down low, a difficult thing Sara thought for a man of his size and weight.Vibrant green eyes the exact shade of her mothers caught sight of her.

“Sara” he said with a gleeful smile upon his face, “take cover, your mother is on the warpath again.” He warily raised his head above the edge of the sofa and pointed to the tall, slim woman with the waist length dark brown hair who was currently rifling noisily through the broom closet in the far, right hand corner of the room, no doubt looking for something pointy and dangerous to jab her brother with. Mr. Piddles took one look at this irate vision in bright pink pajamas and ran back up the stairs.

Sara ducked behind the sofa and said laughingly, “you make it sound like she is this way all the time uncle Val, she is only like this when you visit,” she added, both of them wincing simultaneously when a large wooden carving came sailing over the sofa to hit the wall behind, bouncing to the exact spot where Mr. Piddles had been standing. Evidently her mother hadn’t been able to find anything in the broom closet.

Her uncle Valerius looked at the carving with an expression of great sympathy and said, “well I guess I bring out the best in her.” He was obviously enjoying himself immensely.

Valerius pushed out his booted foot and managed, with some effort to roll the bust to him. Indicating to Sara’s white cotton dressing gown he said,

“Lend me that for a minute Sara; I think its time to surrender myself to my fate.”

***

There's your teaser! If you're interested, please e-mail Kareena at kareenavassall(at)hotmail(dot)com. And if you're interested in placing your own wanted ad, e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Agent Spotlight: Emily van Beek

This week's Agent Spotlight features Emily van Beek of Folio Literary Management.

Status: Open to submissions.

EmilyAbout: "I moved to New York City from Toronto in 1999 armed with dual citizenship, a dream to work in children’s book publishing, and inspiration from my favorite (if clichéd) Zen magnet, ‘Leap and the net will appear’. Soon after my arrival in the city, I was hired as an editorial assistant at Hyperion Books for Children. During my three-and-a half year tenure at HBFC I became an editor working on projects by celebrated authors and artists, including Julie Andrews Edwards, Rosemary Wells, Susan Jeffers, and L.M. Elliott.

“In October of 2003, I decided to explore the view from the agent’s side of the desk, where I fell head over heels in love with my role as a literary agent. I spent the next six-and-a-half years as an agent and the rights director at Pippin Properties, Inc. Kathi Appelt’s Newbery Honor-winning THE UNDERNEATH (Atheneum/S&S, 2008), Jandy Nelson’s THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE (Dial, 2010), Jenny Han’s New York Times bestselling SUMMER series, and Erin Bow’s TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award-winning PLAIN KATE (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2010) are examples of some of the titles I represented before joining Folio in May of 2010.

“At Folio Jr. I represent a select group of illustrators, including the Caldecott Medal winning creators of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, award-winning artists Abigail Halpin, Irene Luxbacher, and Gabi Swiatkowska, among others. I also represent established authors, including New York Times bestseller Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian, Erin Bow, Kallie George, and Laura L. Sullivan as well as debut voices who write for the youngest readers on up through teen, like Juli Brenning, Sandra Bradley, Crystal Chan, and Meg Fleming, to name a few. I completely love what I do and hope never to retire." (Link)

About the Agency:

“Folio Literary Management places both fiction and non-fiction with major publishers throughout the U.S. and around the world. We represent many first-time authors, some of whom have gone on to become bestsellers and major award-winners. We also represent many well-established authors, and work closely with them to take their careers to new heights. Folio is proud to offer a full complement of literary services in a changing publishing landscape, and provide our clients with access to marketing services, website development, and media training that it takes to make each book a success.  We are dedicated to supporting authors across all platforms, from film adaptation to enhanced e-books and apps. 

“Folio Jr, the division of Folio Literary Management devoted exclusively to the representation of today’s most stellar children’s book authors and artists, is wholly committed to offering our clients 360º of impeccable, hands-on care.  We strive not only to find the most un-put-down-able new voices and the most can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it new styles of illustration, but also to guide our established writers and illustrators to new heights in their publishing careers.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Folio Literary website.

Folio Literary PM page.

Folio Literary Twitter.

Publisher’s Marketplace page.

Personal Facebook page.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres / Specialties:

YA, middle grade, and picture books. (Link)

From the Website (as of 3/2013):

“I am exclusively interested in acquiring projects for young and teen readers, from picture books by authors and author / artists, to authentic and fresh middle-grade fiction, to lyrical and daring YA.

“I’m looking for voices that won’t be ignored. I am open to considering all sorts of YA from mysteries to well-written chick lit, coming-of-age, the lyrical, the literary, and the laughable. I am looking for fiction that has an impact—whether it packs a punch or effects change with a more subtle hand, but something that can’t be put down, a manuscript that begs me to turn the page, work that changes me with the reading. I’m really, really looking for something that feels new, that I haven’t read before. I am not the best agent for fangs, claws, and wings. These topics have been very successfully published already. I’m looking for what comes after vampires and werewolves. I would love to be surprised!

“I believe it was Ursula Nordstrom who once wrote (of the process of considering a manuscript) something along the lines of: ‘If you can resist it, do.’ A tough love sort of approach to the process, but it’s a litmus test I often use to help me decide if I am the right agent to represent a particular project and to help an author achieve his or her publishing goals.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Adult projects and illustrators who only illustrate.

Quotables:

"I am very actively looking to work with debut authors, so aspiring writers should certainly feel free to query me. I love launching careers and having the chance to work with someone from the very beginning." (via e-mail)

"I am passionate about children's and young adult books. I am passionate about negotiating the best deal possible. I am passionate about working together with our experienced and esteemed subsidiary rights and contracts teams to squeeze as much juice out of a single property as it will yield. I find it incredibly rewarding to work with new voices (and I'm thrilled to say that I've discovered several irresistible projects by debut authors and artists in the submissions pile). I'm also committed to helping established authors and artists continue to grow their careers. [...]" (Link)

Her Advice to Writers:

"It's really important for aspiring writers to do their research when it comes to selecting an agent. It's useful to know about an agent's current roster of clients and the types of projects they feel passionately about (in terms of genre, format, and audience). Are your tastes compatible?" (Link with more!)

Editorial Agent?

"I am an 'editorial' agent, in that I'll work through as many drafts over the course of as many years as it takes to polish a manuscript I believe in to a high shine prior to submission. My goal is to build long-term relationships with authors and to help them publish books that will stand the test of time." (Link)

Clients:

There is a page of Ms. van Beek’s clients on the Folio website.

Clients include: R.W. Alley, Erin Bow, Susane Colasanti, Katie Finn, Kallie George, Abigail Halpin, Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, Erin E. Stead, Philip C. Stead, Gabi Swiatkowska, Siobhan Vivian, among others. 

Query Methods:

E-mail: No.

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: Yes.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Fill out Ms. van Beek’s submission form on the agency website. Do not submit simultaneously to more than one agent at Folio. For information on queries and manuscript formatting see the “Submissions” tab on the website.

Query Tips:

You can read a "submission cheat-sheet" (that addresses common slip-ups) in this interview with Emily van Beek at Cynsations.

Response Times:

Ms. van Beek is unable to respond to all queries due to the volume she receives. (Link)

Stats on the web suggest she usually responds within 1-4 weeks when interested.

What's the Buzz?

Emily is a well-respected and talented literary agent with a successful list of clients and sales. She heads up the agency’s children’s division, Folio Jr., representing properties for the youngest of children to the oldest of teens. Her clients seem very happy with her representation.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

A Conversation (interview) with Emily van Beek and Holly McGhee at Hunger Mountain (02/2010).

Interview with Emily van Beek at Cynsations (02/2008).

Around the Web:

There's a great list of resources on the Folio Literary website.

You can sign up for the Folio Literary newsletter here.

Folio has a “Recent Deals” page on the website that’s kept up-to-date. They also list deals on their Publisher’s Marketplace page.

Folio Literary Management at P&E (Recommended, $).

Folio Literary Management thread at Absolute Write.

Client success story at Kathy Temean’s site (08/2012).

Emily van Beek weighs in on using a freelance editor or book doctor at Through The Tollbooth (07/2009).

There are a few notes available on Emily van Beek in this post on the agent panel at a NJ-SCBWI conference at Writing For Kids (06/2009).

Great story about Emily van Beek and client Kathi Appelt at Day By Day Writer, if you like reading client-related stories (11/2008).

Contact:

Please see Folio Literary Management website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 3/12/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/24/10.

***

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 profiles focus on agents who accept children's and/or teen 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.

Featured Sweetheart! Who Me?

Just wanted to point you all to the Texas Sweethearts blog run by authors Jo Whittemore, P.J. Hoover, and Jessica Lee Anderson. I was interviewed as their newest Featured Sweetheart! If you're interested in reading more about me, you should definitely check it out. Don't you want to know how my life is like the game Jenga?

While you're there, please consider e-mailing the Texas Sweethearts a Sweetheart nomination. Oh, and you have until Sunday, January 17th to enter their contest for a chance to win a query and ten-page critique.

Enjoy and good luck!

Suggestions, Please!

So, I'm doing a study on voice in young adult literature for school and I'm trying to finish up my bibliography for it today. I'm mainly using novels told in first person but also need some in third, and maybe even second.

I've already got a long list of options, especially in first, but I'd love to know what YOUR recommendations are for YA authors/novels with exceptional voice. One thing I'm looking for is novels in third person that aren't fantasy. I'm trying for a variety of subgenres and it seems like every book I can think of in third is a fantasy novel.

So, what do you suggest? Who/what are your favorites?

Thank you!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

I have another great Tuesday Tip to share with you today. This one was sent in by children's author Beth Pollock, author of HARLEY'S GIFT and THE NEXT STEP. Please visit her website when you're done here. Enjoy!

"One resource that I find really useful is Harold Underdown's www.underdown.org. He is a children's book editor, and the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books". His website has an incredible amount of useful information. The page that I find most useful is "Who's Moving Where?" It gives a quick synopsis of movement among key players in the children's publishing industry. For example, he posted six updates for the month of December. This is a great way to keep in touch with movement in the industry as it happens.

"There are also great articles for writers of every experience level. One article deals with the necessity of dealing with an agent and what you should expect your agent to do. In addition, he provides links to agent resources, as well as three case studies on how to tell a legit agent from a shady one. This level of detail makes it a useful website that I visit regularly."


Thanks so much, Beth. I've visited the site several times before but haven't really dug in. I'll definitely be taking a closer look!

Questions From the Inbox

I wrote a YA novel. I am seeking publication. Any tips/advice?

I edited and polished my manuscript, however I am considering professional editing. I am currently seeking a literary agent and have queried several. I understand how the publishing process works. My goal is to publish my novels through a major publisher.

Earlier in the year I decided to join with Eaton Literary Agency. Eaton Literary Agency charges fees. I do not recommend, unless you plan to pay around $5,000.00.

Feel free to post the above information in your blog for other aspiring writers.

Now I am reevaluating my options. I am considering to pay for professional editing. But, if I land a literary agent, they can edit the novel themselves.

Ms. McCormick, how do you think I should handle this situation?

-Jessie Rose

Hi Jessie!  Lots to tackle here.  First of all, congratulations on finishing and polishing your manuscript! 

As for Eaton Literary, I'm very sorry you got tangled up in an agency that charges fees.  For future querying, please look up all the agents and agencies on your list at Preditors & Editors.  If the agent or agency isn't listed or there's no information available on them, consider checking with a large writing forum such as AbsoluteWrite for a thread on the agency.  AbsoluteWrite has a comprehensive Bewares and Background Checks forum.  And if you're still unsure, you can always get in touch with me or the staff at Writer Beware.

You mentioned you're considering professional editing.  Here's the thing, do you think your writing is good enough to gain you representation?  If so, then I don't believe you should bother with a professional editing service.  A good line-by-line edit can cost a couple thousand dollars, and a broad assessment hundreds.  If you feel your writing needs a lot of help, however, then it's something to consider.  I'm more likely to suggest joining a critique group, SCBWI, and/or taking some classes though.  To me, it makes a lot more sense to build the tools needed to be a professional writer than to rely on others.  As for agents, only some are editorial and many don't have the time to do line-by-line edits.  Your manuscript needs to be as perfect as you can make it before you query, and then an agent will offer input as needed, per preference.  It's not something you can count on, so I think it's good you're considering your options and evaluating your writing. 

Beyond what I've said here, please check the agent research posts I've done in the right sidebar.  I also highly recommend perusing agent blogs for informative posts on publishing.  Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, and Rachel Gardner are a few of the best resources out there, but I have a large list of agent and editor blogs in the left sidebar that you can get lost in for days.

All that said, my best piece of advice is this: Google and research everything!  Don't walk into anything blindly if you don't have to.  And don't be afraid to e-mail me more specific questions.  You're doing the right thing by asking and learning!

Now, I'll turn the blog over to my readers and see what advice and tips they have to share.  I didn't have as much time to list resources as I would have liked and I know they'll come through for you.  Thanks for e-mailing!

Guest Blogger Katharina Kolata: Review of Holly Lisle's "How to Revise Your Novel" Course



Hi all! I won't normally be posting two guest posts a week but this one came with an important timeframe attached! Holly's Lisle's revision course, "How to Revise Your Novel," reviewed here today by the lovely Katharina Gerlach, is only available until Saturday, January 9th (for the next few months, at least). I love Holly's website and have sung her praises a few times before, so I've no doubt the course is every bit as good as Katharina says. Enjoy!


Most of the writers I know stall when it comes to revision. Some writers hate it so much that they never touch their first draft again. Some correct a few spelling mistakes, others cut or add description and flesh out a character or two. Everybody agrees that revising your manuscript is necessary but it's hard to find sound advice on how to actually improve your novel. That's why I decided to join Holly Lisle's writing course "How to Revise Your Novel".

By the way, this is not a course about style; it's about improving your story. It is aimed at everybody who wants to tell stories with believable characters in an authentic setting with problems the reader can relate to. So far, I haven't regretted taking it. Holly's lessons are helpful and written in an amusing way. Also, there is a great forum available where many students (and Holly Lisle herself as time allows) actively participate to help others. It's great to have so much support.

Over a span of 22 weeks, Holly Lisle dissects her own revision process to teach her students what can go wrong in a novel. That doesn't mean that my manuscripts contain all the issues she points out. After all, I have nearly ten years of writing experience under my belt and found out a couple of things myself. But, and that's a big one, she manages to break down a daunting task into bite sized lessons that address all the problems you might ever encounter during a revision.

In the first lessons, we learned to define what kind of novel we want to end our revision with. Only with a picture of your finished story in mind, you can turn your manuscript into the novel you want. After that, we dissected our stories scene by scene. We looked for details that need to be fixed and just as thoroughly for details that are perfect the way they are. I was surprised, how much of my story was better than I had thought. It motivates to know that.

Currently, I am working on lesson 6: "Sharpening Your Characters", and I am amazed about the easy methods Holly Lisle came up with to objectively determine if something needs to be fixed or can be left alone. The next lesson will tackle world-building (which is not only an issue for writers of Fantasy or Science Fiction) and then, we'll learn how to fix the problems we found. As a bonus, the final lesson will condense the whole process into a tool that will enable the students to do their next revision in one single reading of the manuscript (which will be invaluable when I have to meet a publisher's deadline again).

There are many Creative Writing courses available but I am sure that this is the most detailed breakdown of the revision process. Also, at USD 47.00 a month for four months (that's $8.55 a lesson) it is very reasonably priced. If you are struggling with revision, Holly Lisle's "How to Revise Your Novel" is a course that can help you.


This post was written by Katharina Gerlach, a writer and triple Mum from Germany.



Agent Spotlight: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe

This week's Agent Spotlight features Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media.

Status: Open to submissions.

joannavolpeAbout: “Joanna Volpe has been a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, an editorial assistant with independent publisher Blue Martin Publications, an assistant and junior agent at FinePrint Literary Management and a full-time agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation, all before starting her own company: New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. She has worked on a number of exciting projects, including Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow & Bone, Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, Sandy Williams’ Shadow Reader series, Shelby Bach’s Ever Afters: Of Giants and Ice, and Sarah Frances Hardy’s picture book, Puzzled by Pink. For a full list of the New Leaf projects, go here. What she is most excited for right now is working with her amazing team at New Leaf. The company is off to a strong start, and they are looking to sign on more wonderful talent!” (Link)

About the Agency:

“New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. is a full service agency. We represent both juvenile and adult literature and work with only high quality writers. Joanna is an active member of SCBWI, RWA and AAR.” (Link)

Web Presence:

New Leaf website.

New Leaf  blog.

New Leaf Facebook.

New Leaf Twitter.

New Leaf Pinterest.

Publisher's Marketplace Page.

Twitter.

Goodreads.

Facebook.

AAR.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

“Joanna represents all brands of fiction, from picture books to adult. She has an affinity for stories that have a darker, grittier element to them, whether they be horror, drama or comedy. Her recent publications include The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams (Ace), Divergent by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books), Sway by Amber McRee Turner (Disney*Hyperion), and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt).

“Joanna is currently on the lookout for solid fiction in the following genres: women's fiction, thriller, horror, speculative fiction, literary fiction and historical fiction. Joanna prefers her stories dark, in tone, style and even in humor. Some recent reads that she enjoyed are: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn,World War Z by Max Brooks, The Breach by Patrick Lee, and The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas.

“In terms of the juvenile market, Joanna would love to find (Young Adult) horror, dark high fantasy, or literary novels; (Middle Grade) all genres (Picture Book) art-focused, 200-500 words.” (Link)

What She ISN'T Looking For:

“Joanna is NOT looking for: chapter books, text-only picture book submissions, hard science fiction.” (Link)

Quotables:

"From children's to adult the most important part of a manuscript to me is the voice. The characters really need to come alive for me on the page whether it's a fast-paced adventure for kids, a beautiful, family-drama for women, or a dark, horror for teen boys. I often look for more character-driven stories rather than strictly plot-driven (although plot is important, obviously). So I guess my taste in children's, YA and adult is the same: strong voice, no matter what it's about." (Link)

Her Advice to Writers:

"Remember that everything you write is important, even the stories that will never see the light of day. Each one you learn from and it gets you to the next. It's okay to put something in the trunk to work on something else. Every author I know has trunked stories." (Link)

"Don’t try to find out what the next ‘hot thing’ is. Just write what comes to you. Trends or no trends, agents and editors are just looking for solid writing." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

"Once I sign someone, I ALWAYS do another pass of the book before sending it out. So far, I have yet to sign anyone that has had the perfect manuscript. I am working with a lot of debut authors, but even my more experienced clients appreciate (at least, I think they do!) a polished revision before going out. I want to send it out in the best shape it can be." (Link )

Clients:

Eric Etkin, Maple Lam, Realm Lovejoy, Kody Keplinger, Amber McRee Turner, Lee Nichols, Veronica Roth, Karen Schwabach, Allan Woodrow, Sarah Frances Hardy, Lynne Kelly, Monica Vavra, Amy Lukavics, Loretta Nyhan, Adam Watkins, Lori Nichols, Shelley Moore Thomas, Shelby Bach, April Genevieve Tucholke, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send an e-query with the word “query” in the subject line, along with the agents name, i.e. “Query, Joanna Volpe.” You may include up to 5 double-spaced pages in the body of the e-mail. No attachments. Include all necessary contact information.  You should receive an auto-response confirming receipt.

Do not query more than one agent at the agency. 

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

Query Tip:

See the New Leaf blog for submission FAQ.

"The query letter is very important, but I’m not the kind of agent that will reject because of a spelling error or two…I’m more concerned about the story. […] If a query really conveys the tone of the story or the voice of the protagonist, I tend to get more excited about it. If it’s kind of standard but the premise is really cool, I might request some sample pages. But if it’s too brief or too long or unfocused, I most likely will be passing." (Link)

Response Times:

The agency only responds if interested, usually within two weeks. If you’ve received a partial or full request, you may contact the agency for an update after eight weeks, not anytime before.

What's the Buzz?

Joanna has a fantastic list of clients and sales and is popular among aspiring authors for her generousity in doing contests, critiques, and giveaways. She founded New Leaf Literary in June of 2012. Follow her on Twitter and keep an eye on the New Leaf Literary blog for updates and happenings.

Worth Your Time

Interviews:

Agent Joanna Volpe - The Pre-#LA13SCBWI Conference Interviews at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? (05/2013).

Agent Joanna Volpe, president of New Leaf Media at Honestly YA (06/2012).

INSURGENT Release Day: Perfect 10 Interview Agent Joanna Volpe at Julie Cross’ site (05/2012).

Introducing Joanna Volpe! at Pub(lishing) Crawl (01/2012).

A BBCHAT with Joanna Volpe at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire (08/2011).

Q&A with Joanna Volpe at Seeing Creative (10/2010).

Interview with Joanna Volpe at Renae Mercado's blog (09/2010).

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Joanna Volpe at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2010).

Audio Interview with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at AuthorMagazine (01/2010).

Interview with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at Write About Now (11/2009).

Marvelous Marketer interview with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe over at Market My Words (07/2009).

Agent Advice interview with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at Guide to Literary Agents (03/2009).

Interview with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at WordHustler (05/2009).

Guest Posts

Why Literary Agent Joanna Volpe Loves Middle Grade at Middle Grade Ninja (03/2013).

Middle Grade Memories: Agent Joanna Volpe at Claire Legrand’s site (08/2012).

How to Determine Your Author Fee at Pub(lishing) Crawl (08/2012).

The DOJ Settlement and Why We Should Care at Pub(lishing) Crawl (07/2012).

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth on Promotion and Publicity for Debut Authors at Pub(lishing) Crawl (05/2012).

NARB or Just Read! at Pub(lishing) Crawl (04/2012).

Bologna Book Fair for Beginners at Pub(lishing) Crawl (03/2012).

The Changing Role of the Literary Agent at Pub(lishing) Crawl (02/2012).

Guest blogger Joanna Stampfel-Volpe responds to a recent PW blog post on LGBTQ YA at The Swivet (09/2011).

Agent Joanna Volpe On: Why Realistic Teen Dialogue Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing at Guide to Literary Agents (11/2010).

The Dreaded Pitch -- What to Include in that One Line at the QueryTracker Blog (04/2009).

Guest post by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at The Swivet - "Reader's Block or, Stop and Read a Book Once in a While" (01/2009).

Guest post by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, "BNFFs," at Susan Adrian's blog (12/2009).

Guest post by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at The Insanity of Writerhood (details how she got into the publishing biz/agenting) (08/2009).

Around the Web:

New Leaf Literary & Media page at AbsoluteWrite.

New Leaf Literary & Media at P&E.

CONFERENCE 2013: Joanna Volpe, "The Dreaded Synopsis" at The Official SCBWI Blog (04/2013).

We Have News – New Leaf Announcement at the New Leaf blog (06/2012).

Query Series: April Tucholke and Joanna Volpe at YA Highway (05/2012).

Live Panel of Industry Professionals: Kate Testerman, Martha Mihalick, Joanna Volpe, Jen Rofe, Diana Fox at WriteOnCon (08/2011).

Live Event With Molly O’Neill, Joanna Volpe and Michelle Andelman at WriteOnCon (05/2011).

Middle Grade’s Got Heart by Joanna Volpe at WriteOnCon (08/2011).

Synopsis Tips from Agent Joanna Volpe, Part 1 at Writing While the Rice Boils (05/2011

Synopsis Tips from Agent Joanna Volpe, Part 2 at Writing While the Rice Boils (05/2011

Professional Panel with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Mary Kole, Suzie Townsend, and Anica Rissi at WriteOnCon - Press "Replay" (08/2010).

Query Critique #1 from Agent Joanna Volpe at WriteOnCon (08/2010).

Query Critique #2 from Agent Joanna Volpe at WriteOnCon (08/2010).

Successful Query story over on the Guide to Literary Agent's blog featuring Joanna and her client, Amber Turner (author of SWAY).

NYC Publishing Tips: The Movie! at YA Highway. A cute video featuring Joanna at the end (02/2010).

Agent Appreciation Day posts on Ms. Volpe here, here, here, and here.

Contact:

Please see the New Leaf blog and Ms. Volpe’s PM page for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 9/26/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent: 09/12/10.

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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.