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Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a fantastic start to the New Year! Today I have a fantastic guest post that's a conversation between debut author Monica Tesler and her agent David Dunton of Harvey Klinger, Inc. I learned so much from reading it and hope you do too. 

Monica's middle grade science fiction book BOUNDERS was released on January 5, 2016. There aren't many middle grade science fiction stories, and this sounds like a great one.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

In the tradition of Michael Vey and The Unwanteds, twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.

Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.

But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.

When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.

Now here's Monica and David!

A Conversation about the Author-Agent Relationship with Author Monica Tesler and her Agent, David Dunton of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Monica Tesler (MT): Thanks so much for having us on Literary Rambles. This blog was a go-to site for me when I was in the query trenches, so it’s fun to be here now as a published author.

In approaching this guest post, I thought back to the questions I had earlier in my publishing journey. The internet is filled with information about how to query literary agents. After a writer has piqued an agent’s interest, though, the advice dries up. While there are a few excellent posts by authors and agents out there, the author-agent relationship is still quite shrouded in mystery. I’m hoping this chat with my agent, David Dunton, can help demystify it.

The Call

MT: In querying writer speak, the first call between an agent and potential client is so epic that it’s
commonly referred to as the call without any need for elaboration. I remember the call vividly. True to my nature, I had a long list of business questions prepped. Within the first few minutes, though, David and I established a small world connection and really clicked. Although I’m sure I managed to get most of my questions answered, that moment of connection sealed the deal for me. I also wanted to make sure that David’s visions for the manuscript were consistent with mine, and fortunately they were. What about you, David? You’ve already connected with the manuscript—what are you looking for in a prospective client during the call?

David Dunton (DD): I’m looking to find out whether I like this person, whether I think he or she is a reasonable person. This can be an intense process, and if we’re going to work together (ideally, for a long period of time), it’d be good if we get along and understand each other, up front. You and I connected quickly, fortunately—that’s sort of how it has to go in that first call, since we’re unlikely to have a series of calls before you decide whether you want to hire me. (It was also nice that we were skiing in the same place and were able to meet, so early on in our relationship!)  I also want to make sure that the person’s vision for the process is in line with the likely reality—I’d rather, if need be, burst bubbles up front, so that there’s less disappointment and frustration down the road. Finally, I tend to want to find out whether the author has other ideas, for future books, since I want each relationship to be one for the long haul. Fortunately, Monica, you had a whole series you wanted to write!

Prep & Polish

MT: Thankfully you found a home for that series! I’ll be starting revisions on the second book in the Bounders world soon. Speaking of revisions, although not all agents are editorial, many authors and agents go through a round of revisions prior to submitting a manuscript to publishers. You gave me some editorial notes for Bounders, and I spent a short stretch revising prior to submission. In general, you made suggestions while giving me wide latitude in terms of how to implement changes. We had a few points we disagreed on, but after exchanging emails which resulted in some minor edits, we reached a place where we both felt confident about the manuscript. David, is that your typical process with new authors? Do you have any pointers for authors as to how best to communicate when they may not see eye-to-eye with their agent on a potential change?

DD: I’ve found it helpful, Monica, that you always speak your mind—you’re tactful, but you don’t hold back. I think it’s important for agents and authors to communicate as directly as possible—I need to know if something’s so important to you that you’re willing to argue the point. A lot of the time it’ll cause me to reconsider my initial objection. Remember, you’re not going to hurt my feelings if you don’t like my ideas—heck, it’s your book. I will, however, hope that I, in turn, don’t hurt your feelings if I tell you that including a particular aspect, to which I object, is likely to decrease the chance that your book will sell. I owe it to you to share my honest opinion, since I have a wealth of experiences from which I’m drawing after 27 years in book publishing. Besides, you and I have a shared objective: getting the book to sell, first to a publisher, and then to readers.

On Sub

MT: Speaking of that shared objective, another phrase authors throw around is being on sub. I’ve made the mistake of using that term with friends or colleagues outside of publishing, and they just raise their eyebrows in confusion. Being on sub is shorthand for the stretch when an agent has submitted an author’s manuscript to publishers but there’s not yet a deal. At least for me, being on sub was high-stress, even rivaling the query trenches. One thing you did that helped me enormously was clearly explain the process from the agent’s perspective. This allowed me to picture what was happening with my manuscript, even though the process was out of my hands. David, how do you like to communicate with authors who are on submission? Do you have any suggestions for authors as to how to keep their cool?

DD: Having a project out on submission is a terrible time for authors—it just is. I found you to be remarkably restrained during this trying time, and I know that couldn’t have been easy! Seriously, there’s nothing pleasant about waiting to hear whether you’ve passed muster with one or more publishers, and it’s made worse by the wait times. Publishers are hammered with submissions, and most take anywhere from one to four months to respond to a project they’ve received. I encourage writers to reach out to me any time they feel the need to check on the status of their book, but I also practice total transparency with them—whether good news or bad, I share the editors’ notes as soon as I receive them, unless the author has told me up front that he or she doesn’t need to see every rejection letter.

Big News

MT: I love telling the story of receiving David’s email letting me know I had a three-book offer from Simon & Schuster. I was alone in my kitchen, and when I read the message, I screamed and fell to the floor. After managing to recover, I thought how funny it was that no one witnessed my reaction, like a tree falling in the woods. Did it really even happen? So, of course, I had to reenact it for my kids later that day. David, how does it feel to deliver that news, particularly to a debut author? When a sale is imminent, an agent has to spring into action at the same moment an author is potentially realizing a life-long dream of publication, a very emotional experience. I remember what a nice touch you had on the phone with me before finalizing the deal, both celebratory but also bringing it back to business. How do you balance that?

DD: Well, it comes pretty naturally, the balance to which you refer—first, I’m so excited (and relieved) for my author, but then inevitably there are a bunch of details to review about the offer. I try to get the emotional part out of the way first, and then move on to business. And then swing back to the emotional. Because, really, it’s a deal! And then the real work begins.

After the Sale

MT: That’s so true. Once a manuscript sells, much of the day-to-day work shifts from author-agent to author-editor. With Bounders, I’m extremely lucky to be working with Michael Strother at Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. But the agent doesn’t fade completely into the background. You’ve helped me navigate some business issues and given me feedback with your expert industry perspective. Also, we’ve talked about my career beyond Bounders. David, how does the author-agent relationship typically change after a sale? Are there times you feel it’s important that an author involve his or her agent? Are expectations on agents to be more actively engaged with clients post-sale, such as involvement with marketing and publicity, on the rise? Is there anything else you’d like to add about the author-agent relationship at any stage?

DD: After a deal is made, the process varies by author. There are some writers with whom I am in constant communication, as they write or revise their manuscripts. Others will disappear for a long period of time, and then send me the draft so I can read it before it goes to the editor. After delivery, there’s a long period of drift, when the manuscript’s bouncing back and forth between the writer and the editor, and there’s less for me to do during that period. (I’m as involved in that part of the process as my writers want me to be, but ultimately, it comes down to a bunch of decisions about fine-tuning the manuscript, and I think that’s best left to the writer & editor.) As far as being involved on the marketing and publicity front, there’s not much for agents to do in most situations—calling the publisher and screaming (or even begging politely) for more marketing dollars or a stronger publicity effort is not going to produce results for almost any agent, I don’t care what anyone tells you. Instead, I try to help the writer manage his or her expectations, and I try to reinforce rule number one about this stuff: you are your own best advocate for your book, no matter the size of your deal or your publisher. They bought it, so they likely love it, but they also love most of the other projects they acquired and are publishing, so, you should always look out for yourself. You’re the one wanting to turn this into a career. Or at least, a seriously time-consuming hobby.

The End

MT: I can vouch for the time-consuming part! And I couldn’t agree more with your advice about
being your own best advocate. My experience leading up to the debut of Bounders has definitely confirmed that. Fortunately, I have the support of a great team at Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, and I’m extremely lucky to have you in my corner, David.

Thanks so much for having David and me on Literary Rambles. I hope our chat has pulled back the curtain on the Author-Agent relationship.

Thanks for all the fantastic advice, David and Monica. You can find Monica and David at:

Links to order BOUNDERS

Links to Monica Tesler’s website and fan pages:

Links to David Dunton’s Agency Website and twitter:

Monica has generously offered an ARC of BOUNDERS for a giveaway and David is offering a query critique. 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 January 23rdIf you do not want to be included in the query critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. The book giveaway is for U.S. and Canada and the query critique giveaway is international.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Messenger. Find all the other participating bloggers on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

On Friday I'll be participating in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great books or an Amazon Gift Card for you to choose from.

Next Monday I have an interview with debut author Lois Sepahban and a giveaway of her MG historical fiction PAPER WISHES.

The Monday after that I have a guest post by Gregory Funaro and a giveaway of  one book in his MG fantasy Alistair Grim’s Odditorium series. 

Hope to see you on Friday! 


Kristin Lenz said...

Great idea to have an agent/author interview, and I love how we get a feel for their personalities and warm working relationship. Congrats to Monica and David for getting Bounders out into the world!

Greg Pattridge said...

BOUNDERS sounds fantastic. I've added the title to my list of books to read this year. Monica's hard work paid off with a great agent and her kind of story makes me smile. Good luck with this series!

Liz Brooks said...

Wow, I really enjoyed reading that conversation. I haven't seen much online about what agents expect during their first interaction with a potential client, and all the stuff that comes after, so I really enjoyed learning more about that. Thank you so much for sharing, and thanks for the giveaway!

Bish Denham said...

It was nice to read about the "next step" after "the call." congratulations, Monica! Bounders sounds like a great MG read.

Karen Lange said...

Thank you, Natalie, it's great to meet Monica and David. "A time consuming hobby" - had to laugh at this, I can so relate. I'll pass on the giveaways this time around. Have a great week!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Love this author/agent conversation and learned a lot. I'm seeing this book everywhere lately! I'd be happy to win either the arc or the critique. Fantastic prizes, both of them. Thanks for the opportunity.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love reading stories about the call and what comes next!

Thanks for the giveaways - I'd love to win either.

Brenda said...

Loved reading all the insights into the author/agent relationship, but oh the waiting must be difficult. Bounders sounds wonderful with its military academy in space and the connection between brain structure and space travel. No need to enter me in the query critique, but would happily enjoy trying to win the book. Have a wonderful week Natalie.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for the rundown of what really happens. I went straight to a publisher, so I had no idea the steps involved with an agent.
Congratulations on Bounders!

Susan B James said...

Fantastic post. I'd love to win either. Added Bounders to my goodreads.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

Book sounds interesting.

Author & agent relationship is amazing.

Love the post.

cleemckenzie said...

The Call is a major life event! Loved reading this today.

Patricia T. said...

I can't wait to read Bounders! I so enjoyed the author-agent interview. It makes the entire process more real! Wishing you the best! You have a great agent!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Wonderful interview, and congratulations to Monica!
No need to enter me into either giveaway. I already have BOUNDERS and finished it days ago! Looking forward to the next book!

Jemi Fraser said...

Lots of great information here! Thanks so much for sharing :)

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Not entering any giveaways. Congrats on the new novel and a positive relationship between agent and author is key.

Rosi said...

Fascinating conversation. Thanks for the post. I will pass on the giveaway. Buried in books right now.

Penny said...

Great post. I enjoy learning about the publishing process. Bounders looks amazing. I'd love to win a copy. Please enter me in the giveaway.

Annmarie said...

I'd love to be entered in the giveaway.

Nora Lester Murad, Palestine said...

Please include me in the query critique. I'm about to re-enter that stage and a constructive critique would help move me along.

Unknown said...

This sounds like a fun book to read!

Danielle H. said...

This book sounds really dood and is on my to-read list. I'd love to be entered in the contest and have shared it on tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/137161094787/literary-rambles-agent-david-dunton-and-author

Snuffalupagus said...

Great interview and very intrigued by the title.

thebloggingbadger2032.blogspot.com said...

I thought this article was great because it reminded me that authors and agents are real people--they are people that can change your life, to be sure, but they are people first and foremost--not unapproachable sorcerers aspiring authors need to fear ;) thebadgerproject@hotmail.com this is a great author/agent interview!
http://www.literaryrambles.com/2016/01/agent-david-dunton-and-author-monica.html#comment-form …

Debra (Feldman) Getts said...

Great insight. Thank you for sharing. Sharing this on FB and Twitter. Thanks also for offering BOUNDERS and the critique.

K. said...

I learned a lot from reading this! Thanks so much for sharing it. :)

K. said...

I learned a lot from reading this! Thanks so much for sharing it. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

They were right, there isn't as much info out there about the post signing relationship. This was great!

Valerie Bodden said...

Great interview ... and fun! So personable! Sounds like a fantastic book, too. Thanks for the giveaways! I'd love to win either. valbodden(at)gmail(dot)com

jpetroroy said...

Fantastic and information interview. This book looks so fun!

Crystal Collier said...

Now that I think of it, there really isn't that much MG Sci-fi. Huh. Makes me wonder if my littles would like the genre.

M Pax said...

Sounds like a fun book. Congrats to Monica!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy these author-agent interviews. There has to be a solid relationship during this grueling publishing process. Alien society? This book sounds interesting.

Michael Devine said...

Sounds like an intriguing book. And a very informative interview. Thanks!

Stina said...

Love this interview. It's interesting reading about the publishing process from the other side of the query trenches.

Okay, I know what it's like because I've been there, and I'm sure my agent's ear is okay now after she phoned to tell me about my one book deal last year. I might have screamed. A little. But this is the kind of interview I would have loved reading when I was querying agents.

Good luck with the book, Monica. It sounds great!

Cindy said...

Oh wow, it sounds like a book my little cousin would really enjoy. Great interview! It was fun to read. As I do not write (I WILL get these floating ideas down onto paper. One day.), I would like to opt out of the query critique. Thanks for the chance! I followed via email xinyi1467 at gmail.

Holly Biggs said...

This would be so much fun! I would love to be the winner! ;) Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

Michael said...

I just bought Bounders the other day! Love it so far. Great voice. The cover drew me in too. So if I win... I'll happily give my copy to someone else. But I'll take the query critique!