CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

UNDER LOCK AND KEY through May 20th
THE BLACK WITCH through May 20th
THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE through June 3rd

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

KIT GRINDSTAFF ON MARKETING FOR NEWBIES AND FLAME IN THE MIST GIVEAWAY



Happy Halloween Everyone! Today I've got debut author Kit Grindstaff here with tips on marketing. I'm definitely one of the nervous--okay terrified--ones who really appreciates Kit's advice. And she's offering a copy of her fantastic creepy fantasy book, THE FLAME IN THE MIST.

So here's Kit.


PROMOTING A DEBUT KIDLIT NOVEL: Tips for Nervous (and not-nervous) Newbies, and a giveaway.

Halloween is the time when spirits can supposedly cross freely from their world into ours. But to me, the prospect doing in-person events for my debut middle grade novel was far more scary. Public speaking? Lifetime terror # 1! Give me zombies swarming my house or werewolves howling beneath the full moon any day. They, after all, aren’t real—but presentations are.

Two things helped me a lot with my fear. First was something called Speaking Circles. These are groups that exist all over the U.S., where you can practice speaking in front of a small group of people. With its supportive environment and expert guidance, my all-out quake reduced to inner tremble in just two sessions.

Also, there’s safety in numbers. So as well as being part of an online group of debut 2013 authors called the Lucky 13s, I joined a local group of published kidlit authors who do events together. The company of more seasoned authors definitely eased my newbie nerves. Additional benefit: each member of the group is responsible for bringing in a few events a year, which increases visibility.

If there’s just one piece of advice I’d give on the nerves front, it’s this: Let your book speak for itself! People want to hear about it. Communicate your passion for it and its themes and meaning to you when you talk—whether to groups or individuals—and listeners will be all ears. Think of it as telling its story, with you in the support role. That made it easier for me. As I began to do events, my confidence increased, and anxiety lessened. Some ‘firsts’ were capital-‘S’ Scare-reee, but remembering what’s important—getting the book out there, and connecting with readers— helped me keep it in perspective. Nerves began to take a back seat. Now, I look forward to events.


So, fear factor notwithstanding, what events can authors do? What works, and what doesn’t? Here’s my list, and a bit about my experience with each.

BOOK STORES

1. Book Launch
Celebrate the triumph of your book’s release! The support of friends and family is a great way to get over First Event anxiety. It’s motivating. Exciting. And hard to feel nervous with all that positive energy around.

Check with your local store early; some book a couple of months out. Make the event go with a bang—it’s your book’s birthday party! I had balloons, food (friends were happy to help), a raffle, swag. I spoke for maybe 10 minutes, with just a flutter of anxiety. If not for Speaking Circles, I know I’d have been a wreck. But all went fabulously…and I was on my way.

2. Group Signings
Avoid very large in-store events! Research shows that given too much choice, people don’t choose. My experience agrees. At two multi-author events with upwards of 20 authors, few of us sold many, if any, books. However, an event of nine authors, with just three of us in the store’s kidlit department, was terrific. We knew each other, so talked up each other’s books. That kind of mutual support is wonderful, and can make group events way more fun than solo ones.

3. Solo Signings
The four I’ve done have been my best events. The downside is that unless you’re already a known author, at some point you’ll experience people walking right past your table of books as though you’re invisible. And you can feel very lemon-like sitting there with a “Hi! I’m me and feel totally comfortable right now!” smile plastered on your face.

Here’s a tip, though: people often don’t know that you’re the author of that lovely pile of books. Even with a poster of you/your book cover right there!! I realized that when someone asked me, “Where’s the Sci-fi section?” So write a sign saying something like, “Yes! I’m the author!” More people stop. They’re curious. Some have never met an author. For many, that’s a thrill.

Also, doing presentations is definitely better than just sitting with your books. Stores publicise them more, and even a handful of expectant listeners makes all the difference.

4. Educator presentations for teachers and librarians
These are organized by stores—though not all do them—so let their events organizers know you’re
available. Once on their radar, you’ll be on their list of possible presenters. Usually it’s a panel format where authors either to talk about their books or about some aspect of writing.

Like any event, they’re hit and miss. Best case scenario: In some states (e.g. NJ), educators can gain continuing education credits by attending. That motivates them to go, giving you a captive audience. Make sure you take whatever educator materials you have to hand out—school visit information, etc. You never know who’ll pick one up and book you for an event down the line.

5. Book Fairs
Usually held at the store, kids go to in droves with their parents to buy the books on their school’s reading list. Being invited to attend as a signing author is great (the store needs to get the Ok from the particular school, of course). Kids are excited to have an author there. And their enthusiasm is the icing on any event cake.

CONFERENCES
In June, I attended the NJ SCBWI’s (Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators) ace conference—my first from the author side of the fence! I co-presented two workshops with YA author and Jennifer Hubbard  (she’s a fellow member of the local kidlit group), which made it way more fun and nerve-managable than doing it on my own. Once you’re published, check with your local SCBWI chapter what the possibilities are.

Thanks to another local author friend, I was also invited to be on a panel at the PA Library Association conference this month, where I met loads of lovely librarians. A fabulous opportunity!

BOOK FESTIVALS
Though some are huge book-biz or commercail affairs, there are many that authors can apply to themselves. I’ve attended three so far, all great, in very different venues (schools, street, etc.) Check here for upcoming ones, and apply early!


SCHOOL VISITS
Generally, there are two kinds: assembly presentations (Power Point or similar), or writing workshops. I haven’t tackled writing workshops yet (coming in 2014!), but assembly presentations were a Big Dread for me. When it came to it, though, I had enough smaller events under my belt to make my fear manageable—and my first school visit turns out to be one of my favorite events to date. (For a full account, read about it on my blog.) 

BOOK TOURS
They’re very rarely organized by publishers these days, especially for newbies. So a few of us MG authors from the Lucky 13s banded together and organized a mini tour of our own, coming up soon! Each of us approached stores in our area, and we’re hitting 6 venues on the east coast. (For full details, check The Lucky 13s blog on 11/11) Not something I could have pulled off on my own—so chalk up another for groups.

If all that seems a lot, just remember: This didn’t happen all at once. As you get out there and connect with other authors, you get to hear about events through them, and one thing leads to another. You help each other. Kidlit authors are notoriously friendly and helpful—just as are the wonderful bloggers on the online side, like Natalie here at Literary Rambles. You’re part of a community, online and offline. The trick (and treat) is to take it one step at a time. Push the envelope just a little. Then, none of it is so scary.

To wind up, here are some random closing extras:

Keep expectations realistic! Don’t expect to sell/sign a zillion books at every event. You won’t, at least till you’re already a best seller. (In which case, you can sign them all in the limo.)

Publicise events on social media. Twitter, Tumblr—whatever your favorite is. For local events, create a Facebook event and invite people. If you belong to local writer groups, make announcements on their forums.

Leave time for Q&A at the end of presentations: It’s easy on you, and audiences love it.

Don’t lose heart! Remember, you never know what can happen. For example:
~ An author friend spoke at a conference. She sold one book at the event. One! But her book was nominated for her state’s reading list because of her presentation. That is huge.

Smell the roses: Promoting a book isn’t life or death! So remember to breathe, and live a little in the between (just a little).

Remember the kids you’re writing for. They are the BEST! Their enthusiasm makes it all worthwhile.

Enjoy them, and the process. And remember to live the rest of life too!

Thank you, Natalie, for hosting me. And Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thanks for all the great advice, Kit. It really is helping me feel less nervous and I'm terrified of this promotion stuff.

You can find Kit at:

Kit’s website: www.kitgrindstaff.com
To check out the trailer for The Flame in the Mist, click here.

Here's a blurb of THE FLAME IN THE MIST from Goodreads:

 Set in an imagined past, this dark fantasy-adventure is for fans of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Features  Jemma, a fiery-headed heroine held captive in Agromond Castle, yet destined to save mist-shrouded Anglavia.
Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma's past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia. 


Kit is generously offering a signed hardback copy of her book for US/Canada or an e-book for International winners. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's what's coming up:

Next  Monday I’ll be interviewing Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman and giving away an ARC of THESE BROKEN STARS. It’s a fantastic sci-fi story which really got me in touch with how similar sci-fi world building can be to fantasy, my favorite genre.

The following Monday I have an interview with a 9th grader for my ASK THE EXPERT series and EARTHBOUND and UNTHINKABLE giveaways.

Wednesday that week I have a big Indie giveaway. I'll have lots of great book choices by our followers. I'll also be announcing a new feature to help all of my followers on their writing journey and will be asking for some advice on promoting our Indie authors.

Friday that week, I'll be doing a Gratitude Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great choices of YA books I've either read or am dying to read. 

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you Monday!

TIP TUESDAY #173 MARIA DISMONDY ON GIVING BACK TO YOUR FANS



Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Natalie here. Today I’ve got a great tip on giving back to your fans by Maria Dismondy, who has shared several other great tips with us. Maria is the author of THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP: DISCOVERING WHY KINDESS COUNTS

So here’s Maria.

Giving Back to Your Fans

As authors, we write books to share a story with our audience. Our fans purchase our books, which makes it possible for us to keep writing. It’s a wonderful cycle of doing what we love, and being rewarded in return. But have you ever stopped to give back to your fans? Here are some simple ways I like to show readers my appreciation. 

Prizes Galore

Everyone loves a prize! So I like to give away trinkets at my book signing events. The Oriental Trading website is my go-to for inexpensive items that I can buy in bulk. To pick the item, I find an object that relates to my book’s theme. Things like baseballs, stars, cookies, etc. work great. Bookmarks are always nice, too. And even though candy is easy (and delicious!), I like to stick to ‘things’ vs. anything edible. Whatever you choose, include purchasing information and book images for an added special touch.  

“Can I Have Your Autograph?”

Readers love having a book signed by the author. Even I have waited in long lines just to christen my book with my favorite authors’ John Hancock! Giving fans a chance to meet you in person is an exciting opportunity. Bookplates are also a nice option – simply sign and mail to any fans that request an autograph but can’t make it to your event. To set up a book signing and let the fun begin, simply contact your local bookstores – they’ll know the drill!

Sign, Sealed, Delivered -- Fan Mail!

As a former teacher, we studied a different author each month. We spent time reading their books and learning about their writing styles. At the end of each study, we would write a letter to the author. It was always a treat to receive something back in the mail. We didn’t always get a hand written note, which is completely understandable, but the handwritten ones were treasures we held onto! Open the door to receiving fan mail by setting up a P.O. Box in your pen name. Then post the address on your website and watch the letters roll in!

Review Rewards

When a blogger reviews one of my books, I like to say, “thanks” by sending a free, signed book their way. Then they can give it away to their own fans and keep the circle of gratitude going! Coffee gift cards are another one of my go-to gifts. 

Free, Fun Downloads

With each book I write, I offer a free download on my website. For teachers/parents, this includes lesson plans and activities that correlate to my book. (I’ve written Reader’s Guides myself but, more recently, I’ve hired teachers to create the lessons.) For the kids, I offer coloring pages designed by the illustrators of my books. It’s added touches like these that go a long way in the eyes of your fans – young and old!
Maria Dismondy, mother of two (with one on the way), reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan. You can find Maria at:

Website

Here’s a blurb of THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP from Goodreads:

Champ and Walter Norbert Whipplemoore are about as different as two kids can bewell, except for their love of baseball and potato chips. Champ had everything, but always wanted more. Walter had very little, but was never seen without a smile on his face. In the end, it is Walter and some crunchy potato chips that teach Champ a lesson about character that can't be taught in school.

  
Hope to see you tomorrow when I have a guest post by debut author Kit Grindstaff and a giveaway of THE FLAME IN THE MIST, a MG creepy fantasy.

EXILE AND LET THE SKY FALL GIVEAWAY

Hi Everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. I had Friday off and it was fantastic having a three day weekend. Parts of it were even relaxing! I had lunch with my critique partner, Lori Sawicki. If you missed my interview with her and giveaway of her awesome contemporary middle grade book, THE POWER OF TWO, click on the link at the top of the blog to check it out. Besides sharing about her great story about bullying and friendship, she has some great ideas on marketing from the perspective of someone not on Twitter, Facebook, or blogs.

There’s been a lot going on in my work life. I can’t share much because it’s not good to say too much about things like this on the Internet. But layoffs have started at our company. Some of you know I’m an attorney for a pre-paid legal services plan for UAW members working for the auto companies. In October 2011 our contract was not renewed and we’re moving toward closing by 2015. I was not laid off this time, but expect I will get my notice next February or soon after. It’s so hard seeing people I enjoy working with and have worked with for over 10 years laid off. We’re a small office—only 5 attorneys and 4 secretaries. I’m grateful that we’re all so supportive of each other. This is one of those big challenges in life I’d rather not have to face. But I’ll be ready to get through this kind of torturous work experience and move onto new opportunities.

So let’s move onto happier things. First I have winners to announce. Yay!

The winner of THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK is Rachna Chhabria!

The winner of MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL is Akossiwa Ketoglo!

The winner of WOLF MARK is M Pax!

The winner of CAT GIRL'S DAY OFF is Judith Roth!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your books. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

On October 1st Shannon Messenger was in Ann Arbor doing a panel discussion with other YA authors at our public library. I had to meet her even though my in-laws just got to town late the evening before for a week visit.

I went a little early and was able to spend some time chatting with Shannon. It was so cool! And I’ve seen on some of your blogs that some of you were also able to meet her at a stop in your town.

Here’s a picture of Shannon and me:



And of the YA panel:




I’ve got a treat for you today! First I have a signed ARC of EXILE to give away. Thanks to Simon Pulse for providing me with the ARC. Here’s a blurb of it from Goodreads:

Sophie Foster thought she was safe. Settled into her home at Havenfield, surrounded by friends, and using her unique telepathic abilities to train Silveny--the first female alicorn ever seen in the Lost Cities--her life finally seems to be coming together.

But Sophie's kidnappers are still out there. And when Sophie discovers new messages and clues from the mysterious Black Swan group, she’s forced to take a terrifying risk—one that puts everyone in incredible danger.

As long buried secrets rise to the surface, it’s once again up to Sophie to uncover hidden memories—before someone close to her is lost forever.

In this second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must journey to the darkest corners of her luminous world in a sequel that will leave you breathless for more.

First of all, I always need reminders in a series of what happened in the last book I read. Shannon did a fantastic job supplying just enough information without those info dumps. And because she did this, I think anyone could read EXILE and know what’s going on even if you haven’t read KEEPERS OF THE LOST CITIES.

I loved learning more about Sophie’s life and the elfin world she lives in, both the good and darker sides of it. Shannon’s created a very imaginative and unique elf world. And I loved Silveny, the sparkling alicorn, (flying unicorn) that Sophie befriends and finds she has a connection with.

We get to see a whole lot more of Keefe and I liked him more in this book. And it’s fun watching Dex and him compete for Sophie’s attention. I did wish we'd seen more of Fritz though I understood why we couldn't given the plot. Don't want to spoil it by telling you.

Like I said, there is a darker side to Sophie’s world. And she’s drawn into it more trying to find out more about the mysterious Black Swan group and trying to help her friends. This is a fantastic story filled with danger and plot revelations. And awesome Sophie and Silveny.

I also bought a signed copy of LET THE SKY FALL, Shannon’s YA fantasy for a giveaway too. Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his
parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

So I’m giving away my signed ARC of EXILE and a signed copy of LET THE SKY FALL for a giveaway. There will be two winners. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment telling me which book you’d like through November 9th. I’ll announce the winner on November 11th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter.This is for US/Canada only and there will be one Canadian winner at most due to postage costs.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find all the other bloggers participating today HERE.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Tomorrow I've got a fantastic Tip Tuesday by Maria Dismondy on giving back to your fans.

On Wednesday, Kit Grindstaff will be doing a guest post on marketing tips for those of us who are nervous about it and there will be a giveaway of her MG spooky fantasy, THE FLAME IN THE MIST. Kit’s interview was super popular so I’m excited to give you another chance to win this. I already read the post and it’s really helpful.

Next Monday I’ll be interviewing Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman and giving away an ARC of THESE BROKEN STARS. It’s a fantastic sci-fi story which really got me in touch with how similar sci-fi world building can be to fantasy, my favorite genre.

The following Monday I have an interview with a 9th grader for my ASK THE EXPERT series and EARTHBOUND and UNTHINKABLE giveaways.

Wednesday that week I have a big Indie giveaway. I'll have lots of great book choices by our followers. I'll also be announcing a new feature to help all of my followers on their writing journey and will be asking for some advice on promoting our Indie authors.

Friday that week, I'll be doing a Gratitude Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great choices of YA books I've either read or am dying to read.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Agent Spotlight: Josh Getzler

This week's Agent Spotlight features Josh Getzler of Hannigan, Salky, Getzler Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

JoshBW-300x297About: “Josh left Harcourt in 1993 to get an MBA from Columbia Business School. After Business School, Josh spent 11 years owning and operating a minor league baseball team (the Staten Island Yankees). He left baseball in late 2006 and rejoined the book world on the agent side. Josh worked at Writers House until November 2009, building a list of adult novelists, YA and middle grade authors, and the occasional nonfiction writer; then joined Russell and Volkening. In May 2011 he partnered with Carrie Hannigan and Jesseca Salky, and has been actively and happily running his list.

“Josh represents more than 40 authors, including Geoff Rodkey (THE CHRONICLES OF EGG series from Putnam Children’s Books), Sam Thomas (THE MIDWIFE’S TALE—Minotaur), Cali Yost (TWEAK IT!—Center Street), EJ Copperman/Jeff Cohen (THE HAUNTED GUEST HOUSE series from Berkley Prime Crime, and Dana Cameron (SEVEN KINDS OF HELL—47 North).

“For more information on Josh’s most recent sales, please see his Publishers Marketplace profile. Josh also tweets under @jgetzler, and is the Tuesday blogger on Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“HSG Agency is a full-service literary agency founded in May 2011.

“Carrie Hannigan, Jesseca Salky, and Josh Getzler met at the venerable literary agency Russell & Volkening, Inc. where they were mentored by the inimitable Tim Seldes. They have operated as a dynamic team on behalf of all of the authors on their varied lists and among them have more than thirty years experience in various sectors of book publishing.

“They see forming HSG, in this changing world of publishing, as an opportunity to bridge the traditional agency model with a more progressive mode of representing authors, using creative methods to keep abreast of the new avenues to distribute content.

“They primarily pursue traditional publishing opportunities for their clients, while considering alternative methods of publication and distribution that reflect the growing digital marketplace and new means of sale and publicity for books. They work with each individual client to develop a strategy appropriate to the genre, style and goals of the author.” (Link)

Web Presence:

HSG Agency website.

Publisher’s Marketplace page.

Twitter @jgetzler.

Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room (Tuesdays).

AAR Profile.

HSG Agency Tumblr.

HSG Agency Facebook.

QueryTracker.

AgentQuery.

WeBook profile.

What He's Looking For:

Genres / Specialties:

General Fiction, Mystery, Suspense/Thriller, History, Sports, Historical Novels (especially mysteries), Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction (Link).

Additional genres listed on his AAR profile.

From His Website Bio (as of 10/2013):

“Josh is particularly into foreign and historical fiction; both women’s fiction (your Downton Abbey/Philippa Gregory Mashups), straight ahead historical fiction (think Wolf Hall or The Road to Wellville); and thrillers and mysteries (The Alienist, say; or Donna Leon or Arianna Franklin). He’d LOVE a strong French Revolution novel. So send in your ruthless doges and impious cardinals…and your farmhouse cozies! (He does love cozies…) Give him atmosphere, let him learn something about another time or another place (or both), and kill off nasty Uncle Mortimer in the process—Josh will be yours!

“Josh has also been taking on a significant amount of middle grade and YA: mysteries and adventure stories, strong contemporary girl books, and well thought-out retellings of classics.

“In nonfiction, he’s interested in increasing his list in history, business, and political thought–but not screeds.” (Link)

Via Twitter (6-10/2013):

“#MSWL Would like a cop procedural in Eastern Europe--Donna Leon in Budapest, say...with serious atmosphere.” (Link)

“French Rev novel w/Badass fem protag; Thriller in 19-teens Eur; MG Girl Wonder, YA thriller that reads like YA, w/girl. #MSWL” (Link).

“MG with sweetness and wit (not necessarily snarky). #MSWL” (Link).

“Also this RT: An MG or YA historical set in Ancient Israel. #MSWL” (Link).

From an Interview (12/2009):

“…I’m looking for a voice that will make me put down my coffee and make an exclamation point on the paper. That could be a unique or fun subject, a compelling voice, or a character that comes alive right away. You have five pages max to make that first impression, and the good ones do it in less than that!” (Link)

What He Isn't Looking For:

African-American Literature, Christian Literature, Comix, Graphic Novels, Poetry, Puzzles, Games, Romance, Science-fiction, Fantasy, Western, Arts, Cinema, Photography, Cooking, Food, Wine, Crafts, Hobbies, DIY, Health, Diet, Home, Garden, Mind, Body, Spirit, Nature, Ecology, Relationships, Family, Religion, Spirituality, Inspiration, Science, Technology, Technical, How-To, Textbooks, True crime, Picture Books, Early Readers, Dramatic Works. (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“While I will gladly take a clean novel in a heartbeat, I typically am a VERY hands-on editor before submitting. I’ve worked on projects for YEARS before submitting them, and I’ve sent a couple out with very few tweaks.” (Link)

Clients:

There are pages of client titles on the agency website.

Mr. Getzler’s clients include: Osahon Akpata, Authoress, Frankie Bailey, Ph.D, Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D., Dr. Otis Brawley, A.B. Bourne, Krishnadev Calamur, Dana Cameron, Jeff Cohen, James Crowley, Lolly Daskal, David Deutsch, Asha Dornfest, Jack Dougherty, Victoria Dougherty, Gerald Elias, Lisa Falco, Paul Goldberg, Keir Graff, Traci Hall, Lauren Hennessy, Steve Hermanos, Steve Hockensmith, Linda Hull, Whitney Johnson, Christine Koh, Toni LoTempio, Mary McCoy, Beth Anne Miller, Todd Moss, Jennifer O'Connell, Karen Odden, Karen Olson, Brian O'Reilly, James Phelan, Elaine Powell, Geoff Rodkey, Tania Roxborogh, Linda Sands, Samuel Thomas, Ph.D., Helen Wan, Cali Yost, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Query only one agent at the agency.

“Please send a query letter and the first five pages of your manuscript (within the email – no attachments please!) to the appropriate agent for your book. If you were referred to us, please mention it in the first line of your query.”

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

Query Tips:

See this interview with Mr. Getzler at Operation Awesome, and this interview at Cats, Books, and… More Cats!

Response Times:

“We generally respond to queries within 4-6 weeks, although we do get behind occasionally.” (Link)

Stats on the web show a response range of days to several months for both queries and requested material, most getting a response within 3-6 weeks.

What's the Buzz?

Josh Getzler is an established agent with a good list of clients and sales. He specializes in mysteries, thrillers, and historical fiction but represents other genres, including young adult and middle grade. Picture book queries should be sent to his colleague Carrie Hannigan.

Keep up with Mr. Getzler on Twitter and Tuesdays at Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Agent Q&A Part One: Revisions at Operation Awesome (01/2013).

Agent Q&A Part Two: Querying at Operation Awesome (01/2013).

Agent Q&A Part Three: Marketing & Publicity at Operation Awesome (01/2013).
Agent Chat #7: Josh Getzler at Write On (09/2011).

Literary Agent Josh Getzler – In Rocco’s Hot Seat (Part 1) at Cats, Books, and… More Cats (07/2011).   

Literary Agent Josh Getzler – In Rocco’s Hot Seat (Part 2) at Cats, Books, and… More Cats (07/2011).   

Agent Interview: Josh Getzler of Russell & Volkening at Elissa Cruz’s blog (04/2010).

Agent Advice: Josh Getzler of Russell & Volkening, Inc. at Guide to Literary Agents (12/2009).

Blog Stuff:

Mr. Getzler’s posts are categorized here on the Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room blog. Selected posts include:

The Query Guideline Story (08/2013).

What I Do (06/2013).

The Modifier Zone Redux (02/2013).

2012: An Agent’s Year (01/2013).

Around the Web:

Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Josh Getzler at Preditors and Editors.

Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency at Preditors and Editors.

Mr. Getzler and HSG in the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents via Google Books.

An Interview with E.M. Powell - A QueryTracker Success Story- (04/2012).

Secret Agent Unveiled: Josh Getzler at Miss Snark’s First Victim – read the contest entries that month for his comments (03/2009).

Contact:

Please see the HSG Agency website for additional contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last Updated: 10/24/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 10/24/13.

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LORI SAWICKI INTERVIEW AND THE POWER OF TWO GIVEAWAY


Today I’m thrilled to have my critique partner and author Lori Sawicki here to share about THE POWER OF TWO, her middle grade story that released on July 31, 2013. I loved how Lori brought Jamie and Pru to life as characters. You can so see them and how they’re such different kids in everything about them, including their bedrooms. And Lori does a fantastic job weaving a story about bullying and upper elementary/middle grade girl popular girl issues without being preachy.

Here’s a description from Amazon:

When sixth grader Jamie Corman is kicked out of Sadie’s Too Cool Club, she discovers what it’s like to be an outcast. Bullied by Sadie and ignored by her friends, Jamie wishes for a way back in.

Then she meets Pru Wheeler—the strangest, smallest girl in sixth grade. Tiny Pru reads Robert Frost; understands Jamie’s self-centered sister and too-busy parents; and knows why Sadie holds all the power. After Sadie declares that both girls have Loser Syndrome, Pru and Jamie forge a friendship. And when Pru introduces Jamie to the game of lacrosse, they start a team that includes everyone who was ever shunned by the Too Cools.

But just as the game catches on, a sudden, horrible tragedy brings Jamie face-to-face with Sadie in the biggest confrontation ever to happen at Wheatland Elementary. Will Jamie’s friendship with an unusual student help her stand up, even if she stands alone?

Hi Lori! So excited to have you here!

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

Thanks so much for having me, Natalie! I’ve always felt the need to capture the world in words—first in short stories and then through poetry. It started early. I remember being at a lake once when I was about ten and feeling an actual physical need to describe the way the moon was hitting the water at night. I was an avid reader as a kid and loved Trixie Belden books. I dreamed of belonging to a secret club like Trixie’s. I wanted to have adventures that I could write about. I used to type out stories on an old Underwood in my basement, and my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Leonard, let me stay in at recess to work on those stories using his typewriter. After all these years, I still have them along with a box filled with spiral notebooks and folders of poetry from the time I was in grade school to now. Those stories and poems helped me survive all the angst of growing up. And the poems were useful when I discovered that my main character in The Power of Two wrote poetry, too (wink).

2. Awesome you wrote as a kid too. I wish I had too. Where did you get the idea of THE POWER OF TWO?

The kernel for the story was an incident that happened in my son Nathan’s second grade class. He’s a junior in college now, so it took some years for the idea to come to life. I watched a girl, a lot like Sadie, the bully in Power, exclude certain people from a game she was playing at recess. Girls stood at her locker with raised hands and waited to be chosen (or not). Like Sadie, this girl wasn’t nice, and she seemed to enjoy the power of ignoring and not choosing some of the girls. It was unsettling to see this one seven-year-old have that kind of control over an entire group of bright, energetic girls. So, Power became a fictional account of how that kind of power can manifest into something more. Exclusion is one of the worst types of bullying because it’s not overtly aggressive, but it’s still very damaging. I’m a bit of an anti-bullying advocate, so I always knew I’d write about what I saw that day. And while Power is definitely about bullying, it’s also about dealing with tragedy and, in the wake of something terrible, deciding how to take the best of a friendship, a relationship, or a person and use it to move forward. All of this grew out of that incident in my son’s class.

3. Any bullying is terrible. And something to be taken seriously. There was just a story in the news about a middle grade girl who committed suicide as a result of bullying by other girls. I love Jamie and Pru as characters. Jamie is the insecure dreamer and secret writer while Pru is so mature for being in 6th grade. And they have such different family situations. Share a bit about you developed them as characters. Do you have any advice on how to create unique characters so vividly? 

If anything helps my characters come alive it might be that I don’t try not to know them very well when I
first flesh out a story idea. I have a sense of who they are, but I don’t consider their motives or their behavior when I first put down the story because I’m basically just sketching out the plot points. For example, I could never fill out that character questionnaire about the people in my novels—although I tried and failed once at a writer’s conference workshop. I actually don’t want to know that much about my main characters before I start writing or even in the early drafts. If I do, I’m afraid of force-fitting them into the plot. And I could miss so much about them. I understand those questionnaires, but they don’t work for me. After multiple drafts, I still discover things about my characters I didn’t know at first. And for me, that’s really important. I even find surprises when I’m thick in revision. I think it keeps my characters honest because they react to the plot in a natural, realistic way.

4. Yay! Glad I’m not alone in not liking worksheets. And your characters are always so well developed that you don’t need a worksheet. One of things you do well as incorporate themes in your stories. In THE POWER OF TWO, you use the image of Aunt Judy’s CAKE that doesn’t taste well. How do you decide on themes for your stories and what tips do you have for the rest of us?

Thanks for that nice compliment, Natalie! One of my critique partners, Erin Fanning, described those themes as image systems. I’ve always thought of them as ‘threads.’ I usually find them once I understand my characters pretty well. When I understand what motivates them, what they’re afraid of, and what provides their greatest angst, I’ll often find or ‘feel’ a symbol to represent one of those things. In my next middle-reader book, WHEN TRUTH PUTS ITS SHOES ON, due out this winter, one thread is the protagonist’s hair, which he describes as an ‘uncontrolled poodle.’ Cyron’s hair evolves from a Frizz Level 1 to 5 depending on the situation. I use the ‘FL meter’ as a phrase throughout the story to symbolize Cyron’s state of embarrassment or uncertainty at that moment. Sometimes those threads come naturally; sometimes I have to go looking for them. In Power, all of Jamie’s relatives hate Aunt Judy’s cake because it tastes awful. They ignore it at every reunion. And because Jamie often feels ignored and left out, that thread came pretty easily. I like using threads for two reasons: One, it provides a common and familiar language to use with readers to highlight a certain personality trait about a character. Two, it’s usually visual, so it’s an easy connection for the audience to make.

4. I’ll have to see if I can use your technique. Share a challenge you faced in writing THE POWER OF TWO and how you overcame it.

I needed to make sure the bullying incident wasn’t over the top and the result too much for sixth grade—to find the right balance between drama and reality. Even though I knew something aggressive and BIG would probably be more interesting, Jamie wasn’t a character who would ever have a huge screaming match or fist fight with the bully, and she’d never respond with a perfectly scripted comeback. I needed something that kids could relate to without being too excessive or overblown. I worked hard to make the confrontation ‘scary enough’ so that readers would feel Jamie’s stress and anxiety, but not something they’d see on TV or in a movie. The incident needed to be real and age appropriate. It didn’t feel easy at first to find the right mix of tension and authentic. And I vetted this part in particular through a lot of beta readers to make sure it seemed realistic. Using ‘exclusion’ as the bullying technique has seemed to resonate with a lot of kids who’ve read Power but even more so with adults. They’ve told me they appreciated a story about this type of bullying, which is sometimes overlooked.

6. So you decided to self-publish THE POWER OF TWO and then within a few months your website was live and your book was on Amazon. What resources did you find helpful in setting up your website and doing all the essential steps of publishing your book?

For the first six months, I spent my life on Google. I researched everything I could about indie publishing. I can’t say one site helped me more than another, but there’s a wealth of information out there. I had to learn a lot of new stuff I call the ‘mechanics’ or guts of self-publishing. I taught myself how to use the Amazon CreateSpace tool, to create Mobi files for reviewers (had never heard of it, and I’m still not sure if I pronounce it right), to use PhotoShop elements, to create a website, and about a hundred other technical things needed to get the book ready. It’s been a lot of hard work. Really hard. More hours than a regular job. But I have to say, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.

7. It sounds like a lot of work. But it’s awesome how many other self-published authors are willing to share what they’ve learned. And now I'll have you to help me if I ever get published. Share something you learned from self-publishing your story that would be helpful to the rest of us.

The most significant for me was how to revise my definition of credibility. It took a long time for me to be able to do that. My first book, Because Sometimes a Miracle is a Pussy Willow Tree, was published during a time when writers submitted directly to publishers. When Miracle was accepted by Tudor Publisher, Inc., that felt credible. I guess I felt credible.

Later, when writers submitted through agents, I had an agent who became very interested in Power, along with two of my other manuscripts. And so that felt like a credible path. But unfortunately, she kept Power and those other manuscripts for almost a year. And then, I learned through a friend that her agency had closed, and I never heard from her again.

At that point, so much was changing in the world of publishing, and I guess I felt the need to try something different. My family had been encouraging me to go in a different direction for a long time—to at least try a different approach because I’d received a lot of positive feedback about Power (I say humbly). I’d vetted it through many beta readers including a sixth grade teacher; a pediatric psychologist; an elementary school counselor; sixth grade students; and a lot of adults, so I decided to break out on my own. But first, I had to get past that old belief that self-publishing wasn’t legitimate. It took me almost two years to do it. And I actually feel a little late getting to that mindset. We’ll see how it turns out. But I know that I believe in this product, and that’s carried me through a lot of doubt.

A second lesson, but just as significant for me, was about being fearless. I’m not a bold person. It’s not my nature to wave my hands around and try to get attention. But I learned how to be brave when I solicited people for time, space on their book shelves, or support. I learned I could still be genuine while putting myself out there.

8. It’s an exciting time to be a self-published author and no one should feel less of an author by going that route. I was super excited when you told me you were going to do this. So you’re taking a different approach to marketing. You don’t blog and aren’t on Facebook or Twitter. How are you marketing your book and how’s it been going?

You’re right, Natalie. I don’t do Facebook or Twitter, and I don’t blog. The reasons for that are probably not all that interesting. But after setting up my website for Identity Novels, I had two marketing goals for this self-publishing (ad)venture: 1) Exposure; and 2) what I call “Feeding the Pipeline.” And I think they kind of go hand in hand. ‘Sales’ was not a priority, but getting people to read the book was. Right now, it’s about giving books away, selling them at a discount, having people visit my website, and getting Power into the hands of as many people I can—all in the hopes that they like it and might be interested in my next book, WHEN TRUTH PUTS ITS SHOES ON.

I did a lot of the basics: Getting Amazon and Kindle reviews, although I’ve resisted paying for reviews…asking friends to post a link to my site and Amazon…citing my new publishing company on Linked In…putting articles in local papers, etc. But beyond that, I researched bookstores and libraries that supported Indie writers and sent Power to them. It’s amazing, really, how many there are. And Power is now in places I would never have expected. I contacted many schools to get Power into the hands of school librarians and counselors. I’ve volunteered to speak at or participate in as many free events as I can. These events have been critical because before each one, the hits on my website shoot up like crazy. Do they equate to sales? It doesn’t matter at this point. It means that someone out there found out about Power who didn’t know about it before. And I have a page long more of strategies I haven’t even started.

One successful strategy was contacting a professor at a local university who, after reading Power, has agreed to use it in two of his Intro to Children’s Literature classes. I didn’t know this professor, so his enthusiasm surprised me. It’s been amazing to learn how many people are willing and want to support local authors. They’re not averse to self-publishing at all. They don’t really care where a book comes from as long as they like it. I didn’t expect that.


9. Awesome that you were able to connect with so many bookstores and libraries. I’ll have to pick your brain more the next time we go to lunch. What are you working on now?

I’ve got three books in the works right now, and I think you’ve edited and reviewed all of them, Natalie! WHEN TRUTH PUTS ITS SHOES ON is about an eighth-grade boy whose Best of Show win at the town’s annual cake bake-off sends the women in the community and one eighth-grade home ec (drama) queen into a revengeful frenzy. I also have two young adult novels that I’ve finished beta testing and should be ready late next year: I VOTED FOR THE FAT GIRL and THE HANGING MAN. All three books are part of my Identity Novels collection, which I launched in July.

Thanks for all your advice, Lori. You can find Lori at www.identitynovels.com

Lori has generously offered a copy of THE POWER OF TWO for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through November 9th. I’ll announce the winner on November 11th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. The giveaway will be a print book for US or an e-book for International winner.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday, I’ll be giving away my signed ARC of EXILE, book two in the MG fantasy series by Shannon Messenger and a signed copy of her YA fantasy, LET THE SKY FALL, and sharing about getting to meet Shannon. It was SO awesome!

Next Wednesday Kit Grindstaff will be doing a guest post and there will be a giveaway of her MG spooky fantasy, THE FLAME IN THE MIST. Kit’s interview was super popular so I’m excited to give you another chance to win this.

The following Monday I’ll be interviewing Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman and giving away an ARC of THESE BROKEN STARS. It’s a fantastic sci-fi story which really got me in touch with how similar sci-fi world building can be to fantasy, my favorite genre.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you Monday!