CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

MASK OF SHADOWS through September 30th
Danielle Burby Query Critique through October 7th
MARKED BEAUTY through October 21st
GRAY WOLF ISLAND through October 21st
Spooktacular Giveaway Hop through October 31st

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Molly O'Neill Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/23/17
Quressa Robinson Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/30/17

BREEANA SHIELDS INTERVIEW AND POISON’S KISS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Breeana Shields here to share about her YA fantasy POSION’S KISS. I love the premise of this book—that a girl kills with kisses.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like-- a poison kiss-- and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Hi Breeana! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks so much for having me!

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since elementary school, but a few years ago, I finally realized it was never going to happen until I made the time. I kept thinking I’d get to it someday, but really, I was letting the years pass without getting any closer. So, I decided to get serious and start writing toward publication. The first novel I finished got very close to getting me an agent, but it wasn’t quite ready. My second manuscript was Poison’s Kiss and I’m happy to say it found both an agent and a publisher.

2. That's awesome that you got so close to getting an agent with your first book. Where did you get the idea for your story, including the idea of the poison kisses?

I got the idea for the book while listening to a lecture series on espionage. The instructor mentioned a legendary figure in Indian folklore called a poison damsel (visha kanya in Sanskrit). These were women who were fed bits of poison from birth until they were immune, but deadly to everyone else. It was just a tiny portion of the lecture, only mentioned in passing, but it made my imagination take off in all kinds of different directions. When I couldn’t stop thinking about it a few months later, I knew I had my next story idea.

3. Love where you got your idea. It shows how ideas for stories are all around us! What was your world building process like and did you base it even loosely on a country like India?

Because the legend of the visha kanya came from India, it was important to me that whatever fantasy world I built reflected that. I did quite a bit of research, including reading dozens of folktales from all different parts of India, as well as researching its various cultures and languages. That provided a good jumping off point for the rest of my world-building. My goal wasn’t for Sundari to be an exact replica of India—there are many differences—but for it to pay homage to the origins of the visha kanya.

4. I met my husband in India so have a soft spot for all books set there. 😍 Reviewers have described this as a fast-paced story that they read in a day or two. It sounds like a page turner. Describe how you set the pace of the story and how you kept it up so that the reader wants to keep turning the pages.

Elmore Leonard advises writers to “skip boring parts”. I think it’s a great tip and it’s pretty much how I approach pacing. As a reader, I don’t like to be bogged down with too much info-dumping and scenes that don’t move the story forward, and I tend to write the same way.

5. I don't like boring parts either. Share a bit about Marinda. She sounds like a complicated character.

Marinda is full of contradictions. She’s deadly, which makes her enormously powerful, but she’s also
been kept extremely isolated and ignorant about her role in her kingdom, which makes her vulnerable. The combination of those two things was a really fascinating thing to explore as I wrote Poison’s Kiss.

6. Your agent is Kathleen Rushall. Tell us how she became your agent.

I found my agent (who is fantastic and wonderful!) through good old-fashioned querying. Kathleen requested the full manuscript and was in the process of reading when I got an offer of representation on the book from another agent. I informed all the agents who had the manuscript that I had interest and once Kathleen finished reading, she called and offered as well.

I spoke with several different agents before I made my decision—all of whom were amazing—but Kathleen’s vision of the manuscript was really spot on. She understood so well what I was trying to do and how to make the book better, that I knew she would be the perfect partner.

7. Good to know how old-fashioned querying still works. What was your submission process like?

Submission requires copious amount of patience and chocolate! In some ways it’s easier than querying—you finally aren’t going it alone because you have an agent on your side—but in other ways it’s harder. You have to cede control of the process to someone else and trust her to have your back. Luckily, my agent is amazing and kept me in the loop through every stage of the process. Getting the phone call that we had an offer was one of the best days ever.

8. Yes, the loss of control in the whole process of getting a book published can be challenging. What’s something that has surprised you about this last year leading up to your debut?

How easy it is to get bogged down in stress and promotion and forget to really enjoy the fact that this lifelong dream is actually coming true. My advice to any debut author would be this: while you’re trudging up the hill toward publication, don’t forget to turn around occasionally so you can see how far you’ve come and enjoy the breathtaking view that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

9. That is such great advice. What is something about the way you’re promoting your book that you’re excited about?

I don’t know if it’s anything I’m doing, per se, but one of the most exciting things about the promotion period leading up to publication has been having Advance Reader Copies go out to bloggers and reviewers and then having many of them respond well to the book. Not every novel is every reader’s cup of tea, but the readers who really love Poison’s Kiss, make it all worth it.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m in the final stage of editing the sequel to Poison’s Kiss, and then I’m turning to another fantasy set in a totally different world that I’m very excited about.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Breeana. You can find Breeana at breeanashields.com or follow her on Twitter at @BreeanaShields.

Breanna has generously offered a copy of POISON'S KISS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower anyway you want and leave a comment through January 28th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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. You must be 13 or older to enter. The giveaway is for U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday January 30th, debut author Celeste Lin will be here doing a guest post with her agent Rosemary Stimola and a giveaway of Celeste's MG THE BRIDE FROM HUNAN

Monday February 6th, debut author Dana Langer will be doing a guest post with a giveaway of her MG fantasy SIREN SISTERS

Monday February 13th debut author Elly Blake will be here doing a guest post with her agent Suzie Townsend with a giveaway of Elly's YA fantasy FROSTBLOOD and a a query critique giveaway by Suzie

Monday February 20th debut author Ali Standish will be doing a guest post with a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE

Hope to see you on Monday!

BEST OF 2016 GIVEAWAY HOP



Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year Everyone!  I'm really excited about 2017 for the blog. I have a fantastic schedule of interviews with and guest posts by MG and YA debut authors with ARC or book giveaways. For my writer friends, I also have some debut author/agent guest posts with ARC or book giveaways and query critiques by their agents. I'm hoping to schedule some agent spotlights with query critique giveaways as well. I'm also hoping to update some of the agent spotlights already on the blog.

My regular schedule is changing a bit. The first week of the month I'll be posting on Wednesdays instead of Mondays because I joined The Insecure Writer's Support Group that posts the first Wednesday of the month. I'll be posting on Mondays the rest of the month, with an occasional additional Wednesday post. If you are a follower who mostly stops by for these book giveaway hops, I hope you'll start stopping by on other days to enter my other awesome contests.

I’m thrilled to be part of the Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop sponsored by Book Hounds. There were so many good books in 2016 that I had to pick a lot. And I only scratched the surface in choices.

Don’t see a book you like? You can win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card instead. I hope you'll all enter to win a book or gift card for yourself or as a gift for someone.

So here are your choices. If you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads.

 


 


 


 


 

 If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower anyway you want and leave a comment through January 31st telling me the book you want to win or if you want to win the Gift Card instead. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free.

To find all the blogs participating in this blog hop, go to Book Hounds' blog.

Here's what's coming up:


Monday January 23rd, I'll be interviewing debut author Brianna Shields with a giveaway of her YA fantasy POISON'S KISS

Monday January 30th, debut author Celeste Lin will be here doing a guest post with her agent Rosemary Stimola and a giveaway of Celeste's MG THE BRIDE FROM HUNAN

Monday February 6th, debut author Dana Langer will be doing a guest post with a giveaway of her MG fantasy SIREN SISTERS

Monday February 13th debut author Elly Blake will be here doing a guest post with her agent Suzie Townsend with a giveaway of Elly's YA fantasy FROSTBLOOD and a a query critique giveaway by Suzie

Hope to see you on Monday!


JENNIFER TORRES GUEST POST AND STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm thrilled to have debut author Jennifer Torres here to share about her MG contemporary STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN. Stef sounds like a fantastic middle grader, and I love the multicultural themes in the story.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Estefania "Stef" Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family's taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It's no fun being known as the "Taco Queen" at school. But just when it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants, and her family's livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck's unlikely champion. 

Now here's Jennifer!


Extraordinary moments and ordinary lives

I started my writing career as a reporter, so the first stories I ever wrote professionally were true stories. True in the sense that they were about real things that really happened to real people. I covered issues like immigration and education, poverty and population change for The Record newspaper in Stockton, California. I wrote about interesting and influential events and trends and people. And, like any local reporter, I spent a lot of time at school board meetings and on the phone with watch commanders.

It was the best fun.

What I loved most about local news, I think, was that almost every assignment was an opportunity to uncover the extraordinary moments contained within ordinary lives.

(In fact, my picture book, Finding the Music/En pos de la música, was inspired in part by an obituary I wrote about a neighborhood mariachi teacher. “He wanted to rest in peace,” the man’s widow had told me at his wake. “But with music.” Someone like that, I thought afterward, is someone I want to know better.)

It’s been a while since I last wrote an obituary or even worked in local news. But I still draw on the
lessons of reporting in the writing I do now: I listen for voice, and I try to seek out the telling details that help capture and crystallize who a character really is.

And I am still inspired by the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.

Not too long ago, I chaperoned my daughter’s class field trip to a cherry-packing shed in the heart of Central California farmland. When I told my dad about the visit later, he laughed. “So we’ve gone from farm workers to farm tourists in three generations?”

That’s an extraordinary story. It’s also a true story— one about ambition and striving—shared by millions of other ordinary, real-life families, as well as by the fictional Soto family in my debut middle grade novel, Stef Soto, Taco Queen.

Stef is the first-generation daughter of Mexican-American immigrants who own a taco truck business. The truck (they call her Tía Perla) represents the family’s hope and hard work. But also, for Stef, a point of frustration and embarrassment—until she can recognize old Tía Perla as a source of strength too.

Like my picture book, Stef Soto, Taco Queen, was inspired, in part by a story I covered as a reporter. Not an obit this time, but part of a series about a struggling school working hard to improve student learning. While visiting the campus, I met Nancy, a third grader, and her dad. He read to her every night, and three mornings a week, he came to school with her to attend special English classes for parents.

He drove an ice cream truck, and after school, when he picked her up in it, Nancy’s eyes gleamed with pride in him – as much as he had in her.

I began to wonder what Nancy would think about the truck three or four years later. That’s where Stef’s story starts.

Thanks for sharing all your great advice, Jennifer. You can find Jennifer at:

Website: jenntorres.com
Twitter: @jennanntorres
Instagram: @jennanntorres

Jennifer is generously offering an ARC of STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN, for a giveaway. o 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 28th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is for U.S. 


Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday January 18th, I'm participating in the Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop.


Monday January 23rd, I'll be interviewing debut author Brianna Shields with a giveaway of her YA fantasy POISON'S KISS

Monday January 30th, debut author Celeste Lin will be here doing a guest post with her agent Rosemary Stimola and a giveaway of Celeste's MG THE BRIDE FROM HUNAN

Monday February 6th, debut author Dana Langer will be doing a guest post with a giveaway of her MG fantasy SIREN SISTERS

Monday February 13th debut author Elly Blake will be here doing a guest post with her agent Suzie Townsend with a giveaway of Elly's YA fantasy FROSTBLOOD and a a query critique giveaway by Suzie


Hope to see you on Wednesday!

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH MARK GOTTLIEB AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Mark Gottlieb here. He is a literary agent at Trident Media Group.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey. I will be providing all the same information we’ve shared in the past in an interview format. In addition, one lucky commenter will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Mark! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Mark:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

Unlike many people who choose book publishing as somewhat of an accidental profession, it was always expected of me that I would one day work at Trident Media Group, a family-owned and operated literary agency. I think it comes as a comfort to many of my clients that I’m not leaving the literary agency, nor book publishing anytime soon. Anyway, you could say I was sort of groomed for the position at a young age. That’s why I chose Emerson College in Boston, as they were one of the only schools at the time offering an undergraduate study in publishing. My company bio expresses my professional journey from my time at Emerson College, onward:

Mark Gottlieb attended Emerson College and was President of its Publishing Club, establishing the Wilde Press. After graduating with a degree in writing, literature & publishing, he began his career with Penguin’s VP. Mark’s first position at Publishers Marketplace’s #1-ranked literary agency, Trident Media Group, was in foreign rights. Mark was EA to Trident’s Chairman and ran the Audio Department. Mark is currently working with his own client list, helping to manage and grow author careers with the unique resources available to Trident. He has ranked #1 among Literary Agents on publishersmarketplace.com in Overall Deals and other categories. ​

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

What makes our literary agency unique is that we rank #1 on Publishers Marketplace for fiction, non-fiction and literary agencies, both in overall volume of deals and six-figure+ deals and higher. (Of course we do deals for more than six-figures, but that is what publishersmarketplace.com allows one to report). We’ve ranked that way for over a decade, which is about how long Publishers Marketplace has been around for. That ranking is a result of the tremendous resources available to us at Trident Media Group for advancing the careers of our clients. For instance, I think one would find it difficult to find another literary agency that has a Digital Media and Publishing department, focusing in large part on digital marketing and publicity strategy for our authors. Many clients of ours have greatly benefited from such a service, by hitting the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers lists.

Not to speak ill of the competition, but most literary agencies tend to be very small (several employees in a home office setting) and therefore they have to farm a lot of their work out to third party companies and they are more inclined to give rights away to publishers where they either can’t fend the publisher off or just plain don’t have the resources to properly sell those rights on their own. However, at Trident, we as a company of close to fifty employees with the entire 36th floor of a Madison Ave. building in NYC (huge for a literary agency and bigger than most independent publishers), do not farm our services out to third party companies. Trident Media Group’s contract review, accounting, foreign rights, audio books, film/TV, etc. is performed within our company walls. This is a huge benefit to a client, since we’re more inclined to keep communication between departments rather sharp and we hold onto film/TV, foreign and audio book rights for our clients more readily, in order to help them properly exploit those rights with other publishers. Were those rights to get tied up with a domestic publisher, they might never get made or properly exploited, plus the economics are not entirely in favor of the author in sharing those rights with a domestic publisher.

Ultimately because of the clout of our agency having many #1 New York Times bestselling authors and award-winning authors, and the fact that our business really goes to the bottom line of most publishers, we can get the very best things for our clients in their book publishing deals and contracts.

What He’s Looking For:

2. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

We represent all genres, generally excluding poetry, short stories, novellas, and textbooks.

We are always seeing a high demand for commercial fiction, genre fiction, thrillers, women’s fiction, romance, YA, literary/general fiction, high-end nonfiction and health books written by authors with major platforms in the areas of history/politics/current affairs, business books and celebrity nonfiction.

3.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

An ideal project would carry an important social message or moral to the story, and while not only being beautifully written, it should be accessible or have some aspects of commercialism to the writing, even if it is literary fiction. I also look for authors that have good writing credentials such as experience with writing workshops, conferences, or smaller publications in respected literary magazines. Having awards, bestseller status, a strong online presence/platform, or pre-publication blurbs in-hand for one’s manuscript is also very promising in the eyes of a literary agent.

What He Isn’t Looking For:

4. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I am not interested in cozy mysteries, erotica, urban fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, and personal (non-celebrity) memoir.

Agent Philosophy:

5. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

In the case of literary fiction, lending some accessibility is what I find to be important. The literary community as a whole tends to be very insular and the books themselves also read like they're too cool for school. Uncompromising literary fiction often contains prose that are more concerned with being stylish and flowery, thereby torturing the narrative and losing the reader in the poetics. A piece of advice I tend to share with clients in such a pitfall is a famed quote from the author Charles Bukowski: "An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." That will help the moral of the book shine through, which is ultimately what attracts me to a manuscript, since many of the books I represent are concerned with important social messages.

For genre fiction and commercial fiction, it is important to be aware of the genre conventions and tropes, in order to either generally avoid them, or spin them in a new and interesting way. For instance, I find it the strangest thing that in most every zombie novel, the protagonist wakes up in a hospital bed from a coma, to suddenly realize they're in a world full of zombies. I'm sure that was a neat trope when it started out, since the motif of dreaming/waking kind of plays with the zombie theme in reverse (our protagonist wakes from the world of the living to the dead, whereas his antagonists have fallen asleep from the world of the living to a dream-like state in the world of the dead). Nowadays that trope is just old hat to most readers of zombie books.

In nonfiction, I mainly make an evaluation based on the author’s platform.

A manuscript that recently spoke to me that I decided to take on, and subsequently sold to a publisher, is World Fantasy Award-nominated author Christopher Brown’s TROPIC OF KANSAS. Description: on the front lines of a revolution whose fuse they are about to light, a fugitive brother and sister are harboring explosive government secrets; pitched as a novel of political dissent akin to the Americana of THE ROAD, the brave new corporate world of JENNIFER GOVERNMENT, or a post-9/11 MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE; the story of ordinary people seeking to refresh democracy in a mirror America ruled by a telegenic dictator of a businessman. The famed and award-winning editor David G. Hartwell of Tor Books had bought the book in his very last book deal, but suddenly passed away in a terrible freak accident. We were able to move the project over to David Pomerico of Harper Voyager where the project now happily resides and is slated for publication in 2017.

What initially drew me to the project was that the author not only had a lot of “street cred” as an award-nominated author and short story writer—he had already collected pre-publication blurbs from William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Cory Doctorow, as well as trade reviews from Locus, Boing Boing, Tangent, and many other trade review sites and notable authors. Christopher had also tapped into the heart of near-future sci-fi with an important social message—a hot topic for right now in SF. 

Christopher’s writing focuses on issues at the nexus of technology, politics, and economics and often fit within the literary subgenre sometimes denominated avant-pop—"pulp fiction for smart people," in the words of the author, answering questions such as “Whatever happened to the guest appearance of Jorge Luis Borges on The Love Boat?” or “What if Beltway psychological warfare operatives co-opted Saddam’s Frazetta-dealer?”

Harper Voyager has also compared TROPIC OF KANSAS to READY PLAYER ONE, STATION ELEVEN and HIGH-RISE.

Editorial Agent:

6. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

If interested in a manuscript, I tend to offer representation upfront, with the expectation that an author will remain open to editorial discussion, if need be. Every manuscript is different; I have read manuscripts that read very tightly and needed few if any editorial comments from me. In those instances I might provide just a few bulleted points or so for the author to keep in mind. In other instances I have written ten or twelve-page editorial letters. While that may seem like overkill, it expresses my firm belief in an author’s career growth.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

7. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

My advice to authors along the querying process is to really nail the writing of that query letter. A query letter that reads well is usually a good indication to the literary agent that the manuscript will similarly read well, inclining the literary agent to request a manuscript. Oftentimes the query letter can go on to become the publisher’s jacket copy, were the publisher to acquire the manuscript via the literary agent.

A good query letter is: upfront in one-two sentences what the book is about in hook or elevator pitch fashion (should mention the title, lend a sense of genre, and contain one-three competitive/comparative titles that were bestsellers or award-winners, published within the last few years. If the author has pre-publication blurbs, those can appear before those first two sentences. Next is a couple of body paragraphs detailing some of the plot details without too many spoilers and in that space the literary merits of the manuscript can be mentioned. The last paragraph is usually reserved for a short author bio, mentioning relevant writing experience/credentials, and a link to an author site or social media page(s) can be included there.

In addition to what I mentioned above in terms of what attracts a literary agent to an author, once an author has gone as far as they can go with the writing / editing of the manuscript and honed in on a knock-out query letter / hook, then it is time to begin the process of querying a literary agent.

The Trident Media Group literary agency prefers to be queried by authors via our website at http://www.tridentmediagroup.com/
Our query letter instructions are there.

8.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

There are many mistakes that I’ve seen in query letters, but I will name just a few that would absolutely deter me from requesting the manuscript from an author.
-Submitting queries for novellas, short story collections, poetry or textbooks will usually turn a literary agent off, as most literary agents do not represent such things. Publishers tend not to buy from literary agents in those areas in the first place.
-Word count is also very important. Traditional book length is 80-120K, and commercial fiction tends to be in the 80-90K-word range. Going outside of normal book-length will not produce good results for an author querying a literary agent for a shot at going into major trade publishing.
-Writing within struggling genres such as cozy mysteries, erotica, or urban fantasy is also another way to turn a literary agent off in the querying process. We tend to be weary of that at Trident Media Group.

Response Time:

9. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

Literary agents differ in their response time to a manuscript. This will also depend on the length of the manuscript, how full the literary agent’s plate is already, etc. I think a reasonable response time is within a month’s time, though. Of course this is a hurry-up-and-wait sort of business, so it could take longer as it takes time to read. In my case I prefer to read within the first few days or week of receiving a manuscript from an author in order to express my level of enthusiasm, rather than just sitting on my hands.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

10.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

The self-publishing/indie sphere has become something of what the farm league is to major league baseball, but the odds of that success can be lower than were an author to try and approach a literary agent as an author attempting to make their major debut in trade publishing. The bar is quite high in terms of self-publishing to attract an agent or publisher. An author usually needs to have sold at least 50,000 copies at a decent price.

If an author is involved in the writing community at a grassroots level with conferences, workshops and has published in esteemed literary magazines, then that can help. As far as an insider tip goes, it’s great to see an author that comes to us with pre-publication blurbs from bestselling and award-winning authors. So it certainly doesn't hurt to reach out to well-known authors and ask them to review your work, if they're interested and if they indicate they do like it, see if they'll provide a short blurb.

Also Listing a few competitive / comparative titles that were bestsellers and / or award-winners, published within the last few years, is also key for a literary agent’s consideration.

At the end of the day, though, the manuscript must be an amazing read.

11. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

Yes, it is all too easy for an author to feel discouraged and turn to self-publishing or small indie publishing. However, many successful self-published authors eventually go into traditional publishing in order to take advantage of having a team of professionals who help them take their work to the next level.

A literary agency with industry knowledge and expertise can bring a huge value add to the table for an author, evidenced by many of the success stories we’ve created for our clients, the bulk of which are award-winning and bestselling authors. We’ve actually built a lot of self-published success stories into mega-bestsellers, giving authors a Godzilla-like footprint in the industry.

Trident Media Group is a full-service literary agency for authors, handling accounting, legal review, management, foreign rights (books in translation), book-to-film/TV, audio books, etc. We’re also a literary agency with tremendous clout in the industry, so we can get many things for authors from publishers and film / TV buyers that an author otherwise would not be able to get on their own.

I’d like to think that a literary agency would save an author a lot of headaches in order to help the author focus in on their own writing, thereby allowing the author to become more prolific. Meanwhile, the literary agent would work in concert with their subsidiary rights people and departments within the literary agency. In looking at a literary agent and considering paying them a commission on a deal, an author should be asking what they stand to gain in having a literary agent.

The digital landscape has seen our literary agency evolve. Thanks to the tremendous resources available to our company and our Digital Media and Publishing department, Trident Media Group often helps our clients in their marketing/publicity efforts. We also try to put the publisher on the hot seat in encouraging them to perform marketing/publicity tasks for the author, by sharing ideas and having in-depth meetings with publishers.

Trident will also make recommendations to our clients on how they can think about improving their social media presence and look to online efforts to market / promote their books. Otherwise, book publishers normally devote their marketing dollars and other resources toward authors that are huge successes or are making a major debut.

We at Trident might even recommend a private book publicity firm to a client, but that doesn’t come cheap. An author should still know that their role in marketing and promoting the book is integral to the process since, at the end of the day, readers / fans will want to hear from the author.

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

The Trident Media Group literary agency’s client list is viewable here: http://www.tridentmediagroup.com/

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

Mark Gottlieb | Literary Agents in NYC | Trident Media Group

www.tridentmediagroup.com/agents/mark-gottlieb

Publishers Marketplace: Mark Gottlieb

www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/gottliebm/

Literary Agent Spotlight: Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group ...

www.writersdigest.com/...literary-agents/literary-agent-spotlight-mark-...

Michelle4Laughs- It's In The Details: Query Questions with Mark Gottlieb

www.michelle4laughs.com/2014/10/query-questions-with-mark-gottlieb.html

The Grim Tidings Podcast » Talking Literary Agents with Mark Gottlieb

thegrimtidingspodcast.podbean.com/e/talking-literary-agents-with-mark-gottlieb/

Unicorn Bell: Agent Interviews

unicornbell.blogspot.com/2016/03/agent-interviews.html

Interview with literary agent Mark Gottlieb. | Amy M. Newman

https://theliterarymom.wordpress.com/.../interview-with-literary-agent-mark-gottlieb/

Links and Contact Info:

14. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

The Trident Media Group literary agency prefers to be queried by authors via our website at http://www.tridentmediagroup.com/
Our query letter instructions are there.

Additional Advice:

15. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

The most important advice I can give to writers just starting out is to learn and grow from constructive criticism and rejection, rather than being discouraged by that feedback. It is not an editor or literary agent saying the author’s writing is not good—we’re saying the writing is not good enough, at least not yet. So, hang in there…

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Mark.

­Mark is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through 1/28/2017.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know 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. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com.

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.






IWSG AND SHUTTA CRUM GUEST POST AND WILLIAM AND THE WITCH'S RIDDLE GIVEAWAY

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope you had a great holiday season and are looking forward to a great year. I really am career-wise, on a personal level, and with the blog. I've got lots of awesome debut authors scheduled and a number of author/agent posts with query critique opportunities. I'm also hoping to work on my agent spotlights, including updating some of the old ones.

Before I get to my awesome guest post by the amazing Shutta Crum, I want to start out with my first new change.


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Yes, I finally joined this awesome group! I will keep my posts short because they will be paired by an author interview or guest post. I'll be posting the first Wednesday of the month instead of the first Monday from now on.

I never talk about my own writing on the blog so thought I'd share a bit this month. I started out many years ago as an aspiring MG and YA fantasy author. I have one completed MG manuscript and a start on a YA idea. Over the years since I have been blogging, it has taken up all of my writing time because I've also been a full-time attorney, caretaker to my husband, who has since died, and a dedicated mom. 


About two years ago, I got laid off from my job due to funding cuts, and I now have a full-time career as a contract writer. I work at home for a web marketing firm and write articles for attorney websites. Like just about all writing jobs, it doesn't pay well and comes with no benefits. But I love it, and I get a pay check every month that sort of supports my daughter and me. I can't believe I'm supporting myself this way. Unfortunately, because I don't make much money, I have to try to pick up more paying writing jobs through my company instead of using free time to write fiction like I have loved in the past. So that type of writing is on hold. 

I'm okay with this though. Living alone and already writing, I need to get out of my writing cave, not spend more time in it. It's that writer's balance issue. And I really feel this blog provides a service to so many writers that I don't mind using my creative writing energy on this instead of personal writing. So I am a writer, but just a different one than I first imagined. And I never dreamed that I could support myself doing it.

That's it for today! Now onto a fantastic guest post from Shutta Crum, who I met as a children's librarian in Ann Arbor. She has since retired, but has a fantastic career as a writer. She may not hit it big with any one book, but she keeps on selling them--something vital if you want to grow your career. Today she's sharing her advice on how she was able to do this. 

Here's Shutta!

Making it in the Middle: The Mulish March of a “Mid-Lister”

When I was a child I always wanted to play teacher, or librarian. I read a lot and valued books, but they were scarce in our household. I begged, borrowed, stole and even garbage-picked them whenever I could. So when I became a librarian and was able to be surrounded by books everyday—it seemed like I had climbed the loftiest pinnacle. I loved that job!

Consequently, years later, I went through an emotionally difficult time when I decided to step down from library management and take a half-time children’s reference position—so I could spend more time writing.  I was taught you just don’t do this! I should have been working toward becoming the library director, instead. (And writing on the side, if I had to.) And here I was back-pedaling! To top it off, all I had to qualify me as an author was two books slated for publication the following year. It was a scary decision, but one I did not regret.

Since I was in a business frame of mind—and being a librarian—I went about in a very organized fashion preparing myself for my new career. I read writing books, hooked up with SCBWI, joined a critique group and, of course, continued to read voraciously.

Also, I asked myself a very career-minded question:  How will I know when I’ve succeeded as an author? After all, this was not going to be a hobby. From the outset I saw it as a career change. So it seemed to me there should be a definitive answer to that question.

If I’d become the library director I would have marked that with a big star. Check! So . . . how might I measure my success in this new field?

At that time, I answered the question from my perspective as a librarian. I liked it when I could go to the shelves and retrieve a couple of books by a favorite writer. And I liked it when authors seemed to have a new book out every year or so. So I thought, if I can get ten books published I’ll feel like I’ve reached some measure of success. Ten books seemed like a hefty enough oeuvre to retain a following of readers, and continued consideration by library selectors. Ten was my goal.

Now, some fifteen books and many wonderful relationships with other writers later, I see that my answer was incredibly naïve. There are many ways to measure success in an art form—whether it’s emotionally connecting with just one person, inspiring others, getting fan mail from kids, creating from “thin air” something that has never existed before and that will continue to exist after the physical body of the creator is gone. There are about a gazillion ways an author can rest assured that he or she has succeeded. I know that now.

It isn’t a matter of being at the top of a hierarchy as one might be in business—for example being a library director. It’s more a matter of recognizing successes as they come along and celebrating those, while knowing that tomorrow will bring more and other kinds of successes. There is no glass ceiling, as it were, in the writing world—other than having ability and a certain mulish stubbornness that keeps you at it.

That said, we all know authors who are one book wonders. The debut book shines and is gobbled up everywhere, and then nothing. Or nothing for years and years.

So what does it mean to make it in the middle—to be consistently published, but perhaps not to the same acclaim as others? Sometimes it’s hard to see that as a success. (We are always hardest on ourselves.) At other times it’s been a source of pride—and wonder. Check!

I no longer worry about measurements (nor objectives and goals). I write to please only myself. And if I happen to please readers along the way, that’s the colorful cranberry relish on the Thanksgiving table—something sweet and delightful that augments all the other dishes.

No one starts out wanting to be middling. But making it in the middle is a happy place to be. So here are a few tips about being a successful mid-lister.

1.  Be flexible. This means be willing to work with an editor on revisions, suggestions, etc. Try things he/she may suggest. If it doesn’t work, be honest about it. But most of all he/she wants to know: can I work with this person? So make it an enjoyable experience for the whole team. Your editor wants to enjoy his/her work as much as you do yours.

2.  Be experimental. You won’t become a continually published author if you’ve only got one basic story. Sure, some of us do series. But experiment, your editor wants to see fun, new ideas. And if you’ve accomplished #1 above, your editor will want to see you expand your range, as well. I write board books, picture books, middle-grade and young YA. That range is also what has made it possible for me to average a published book a year.

3.  Be trustworthy and upfront. This goes with #1—keeping your team happy. My editors know when
a book with a different company is coming out, so there’s no conflict. Keep everyone informed.
4.  Be trusting. This, too, goes with #1—keeping your team happy. Don’t nag your agent or editor. Sure . . . sometimes it seems like the Taj Mahal is being rebuilt during the lengthy gaps between communications. But the wheels are moving.

5. Be helpful. Once a book is out do all you can to promote it. Do public speaking, teaching, writing posts and articles for magazines. And have a social media stance. Make bookmarks and postcards. (Your publishing house may, or may not, be able to help with these costs.) And promote other authors, as well. Let your editor see that you’re a hard-working member of the team, and the children’s lit world in general.

6.  Be a devourer of the work of others. Read—a lot! Study the award winners. Read reviews. Look to see what’s being pushed in the market place. Meet with like-minded folks who tear apart technique and who discuss all those down and dirty details: voice, POV, pacing, mood, plot, etc. Along with this, be a listener. Really try to understand how others are trying to help you when they critique your work. In short, don’t stint this education that you need in order to do your job well. If you were doing brain surgery, you bet your sweet patootie you’d be up on all the latest techniques!

7. Be industrious. You have to trust that another book will be sold, so that means that you have to have another book ready. Do NOT take years in between! Editors move around to other publishers. Agents come and go. A relationship you may have one year, may be gone the next. So don’t take five years to get another manuscript ready to go into the pipeline. Keep honing your craft and flattening your butt (by keeping it in your chair). Sure, life happens and sometimes gaps are unavoidable. But once you get back in the saddle. Stay there!

8.  Be brave. If this is the life you want, then stand up for it. Demand time from your family and loved ones to be able to make your art. Set boundaries, and surround yourself with people who will support you and honor your work. (I know. This is often the most difficult thing to accomplish, but accomplish it you must.)

9. Be mulish. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do this. With the right tools, the willingness to educate yourself, and the time to work—you can do it. A mule is a hard-working breed that is a cross between a female horse and a male donkey. It has a certain flair from the wild beauty of horses, and a deep intelligence from donkeys. Fling that mane! Be mulish.
*******************************More about Shutta*******************************
Shutta’s latest novel is WILLIAM AND THE WITCH’S RIDDLE (Knopf). Many of her books have made best book lists, or were listed for state awards. Her picture book THUNDER-BOOMER! (Clarion) garnered four starred reviews and was an SLJ Best Book, a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book and an ALA Notable Book. And of MINE! (Knopf) the N. Y. Times said, “. . . a delightful example of the drama and emotion that a nearly wordless book can convey.” More about Shutta and her books at: www.shutta.com. And on Facebook at ShuttaCrum
Here's a blurb of WILLIAM AND THE WITCH'S RIDDLE from Goodreads:
A charming re-imagination of “Sleeping Beauty” in which a boy must solve a witch’s riddle in order to save his family and end a centuries-long curse.
 
William and his little brother, Pinch, have been left alone at their home atop the mountain ever since their mother disappeared and their father went to look for her. When William is visited by a mysterious witch named Morga, it seems their lives might be in danger—unless they help the witch solve a riddle and find a dark family heirloom.

William sets out on a quest that leads him into the heart of the Old Forest. There his mother rests in the deep sleep of an ancient curse, her only companions a boy who wakes up a different size every day and a tiny yellow dragon who can dream storms into life.

Can William solve Morga’s riddle, or will he unleash Morga’s curses upon the world?
 
Shutta is generously offering a copy of WILLIAM AND THE WITCH'S RIDDLE 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 January 21st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is for U.S. and Canada. 

Agent Query Critique Contest You Might Be Interested In

Agent Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency has an awesome query critique contest. FYI this contest announcement has a link to the post with the rules. This is follower Kristin Bartley Lenz's agent.

WriteOnCon Is Back

I recently heard that WriteOnCon, the online conference for writers' in children's publishing, is back with new organizers. The conference is scheduled for February 2-4.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, January 9th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Mark Gottlieb and a query critique giveaway

Monday, January 16th, debut author Jennifer Torres will here with a guest post and a giveaway of her multicultural MG STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN

Monday January 23rd, I'll be interviewing debut author Brianna Shields with a giveaway of her YA fantasy POISON'S KISS

Monday January 30th, debut author Celeste Lin will be here doing a guest post with her agent Rosemary Stimola and a giveaway of Celeste's MG THE BRIDE FROM HUNAN

Hope to see you on Monday!