Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori Guest Post & Query Critique & JR Silver Writes Her World Giveaway on 7/11/2022
  • Jazmia Young Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/13/2022
  • Alex Slater Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/20/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

Dashing December Giveaway Hop


Happy Thursday Everyone! I hope you're getting ready for the holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, and are planning to spend some time with family and friends and doing the things you enjoy. This is my last post of the year. I'm looking forward to a little break to read more, work on my manuscript, and spend time with family and friends. Thank you all for being followers and reading my posts and commenting. I really appreciate it.

Today I'm excited to participate in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I really appreciate that she offers so many giveaway hop opportunities every month. 

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card

I am offering a book of your choice that is $20 or less on Amazon or The Book Depository. I’m looking forward to seeing what books everyone is looking forward to reading. If you don’t have a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Giveaway Details

One lucky entrant selected by the entry form will receive a book of their choice for $20 or less at Amazon or The Book Depository or a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Open to entrants internationally as long The Book Depository ships to you for free, 13 years and older. Open for entry from 12/16 – 12/31/2021 at 11:59 pm EST. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email to claim this prize or a new winner will be selected.

Please note that you must be a blog follower and leave a blog comment to enter the contest. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, January 5th I have an interview with debut author Leslie Vedder and a giveaway of her YA fantasy The Bone Spindler and my IWSG post

Monday, January 10th I have an agent/debut author guest post with Charlotte Wenger and Nancy Tandon and a query critique and MG contemporary The Way I Say It giveaway

Wednesday, January 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Haley Casey and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, January 16th I’m participating in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Shannon Snow and a query critique giveaway 

Happy, Happy Holidays! Hope to see you on Wednesday, January 5th!

And here are the other blogs participating in this blog hop:

 

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

 

 

Agent Spotlight: Stacey Kondla Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Stacey Kondla here. She is a literary agent at The Rights Factory.

Hi­ Stacey! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Stacey:

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

Hi Natalie – thank you so much for inviting me to participate here!

I had met Sam Hiyate, the CEO, at a festival for readers and writers called WHEN WORDS COLLIDE in August of 2017. After working in the book and publishing world for around 14 years between being a field rep for Scholastic Book Fairs Canada, managing at two different Chapters/Indigo stores, doing beta reading, editing, and sitting on the organizing committee of When Words Collide for 8 years, I was really interested in agenting. I started doing some reading and writing editorial letters for Sam that fall and was super excited to start building my own list as of March 2018 when he promoted me to Associate Agent.

Since then I have built an incredible list of authors that I represent and have so far helped over 30 books find their perfect publishing home. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a range of publishers from small and medium size independent presses like Orca, Kids Can Press, and Thistledown Press to large publishers and imprints like Scholastic, Knopf, Delacorte, Lerner, Henry Holt, and Penguin Random House Canada.

I primarily focus on the children’s side representing authors with picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction. I have expanded my list to represent some stellar authors with adult works that range from nonfiction science writing to literary to horror and sci-fi. I like variety and read a variety for recreation as well. My consistent theme is that I do gravitate towards the quirky, unique and weird. I also love funny!

About the Agency:

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

The Rights Factory is a boutique agency that currently has 10 active agents, a TV/Film Agent, Karmen Wells, and a phenomenal Foreign Rights agent, Milly Ruggiero, who is based in Italy. We are a proven editorial agency and we work closely with our clients to ensure their books are the best they can be before we send them out on submission and actively seek to support our clients with sub-rights sales – like translation, audio, TV and Film.

What She’s Looking For:

3. 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?

I primarily focus on the children’s side representing authors with picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction. I have expanded my list to represent some stellar authors with adult works that range from nonfiction science writing to literary to horror and sci-fi. I like variety and read a variety for recreation as well. My consistent theme is that I do gravitate towards the quirky, unique and weird. I also love funny!

Currently, I am closed to queries, but plan to re-open hopefully early spring and will be tweaking my #MSWL to be quite specific. I’m at the point with my client list that I need to be very, very selective and not take on client’s that are a direct competition to my existing clients and need to start filling in some holes in what I represent. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my #MSWL and hopefully find the best queries arriving in my QueryManager when I re-open.

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

One of my greatest pleasures right now for my personal recreational reading is “books about books” – like I recently read THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS by Pip Williams, THE DARK LIBRARY by Cyrille Martinez, TALK BOOKISH TO ME by Kate Bromley, THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY by Django Wexler, and several others – and I would love to find a fabulous book, either fiction or nonfiction, children’s or adult, that is a “book about books” for my list.

I also love feminist stories and desperately want to find a contemporary/literary adult novel with a 50+ female main character written by a 50+ woman that rocks my world.

On the children’s side, for middle grade and young adult, I’m definitely hoping to find a contemporary, rom-com, or horror by an Indigenous author. I’d love to see more queries from more authors that are BIPOC and/or LGBTQ2S+, and also neurodiverse authors, especially for nonfiction in both children’s works and adult.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not looking for anything that is self-help, extremely political, anti-science, and it’s a hard no if a work is misogynistic. I’m not looking for gratuitous violence and intensely dislike rape as a plot device. I am also not the person for memoir.

Agent Philosophy:

6. 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?

I firmly believe that every book I help bring to market has the potential to change someone’s life. So it is very important to me to work on projects that mean something and can contribute to the world around us. I love working with authors that are easy going and see the humor in life. I truly see the author/agent relationship as symbiotic and love working with people who want to succeed together.

Editorial Agent:

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

I am an editorial agent. Honestly, every project is different, much they way many authors have said that every book they write involves a different process, the same concept can be applied to the editorial process. It really depends on where the project is and what level of editing it needs. Some projects I take on need more than others and some need less than others. I think it is important to not approach every project the same way as each author and novel or proposal are very different. Typically, I start with big picture story or structure changes and we work our way from there. I appreciate having an assistant to have a second set of eyes on projects I am too close to, and certain projects I will work with one of our agency editors through the process. The one consistent factor is that the editorial process is very collaborative and focused on helping the author make their project the best it can be before sending it out on submission.

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

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

Authors can check The Rights Factory website’s submission page and click on my link to see if I am open to queries. If I am, clicking the link will take you to my QueryManager form which asks for very specific information. Typically, I am looking for a one-line pitch, a full pitch, author bio, author website and social media tags, and the first 30 pages of the manuscript to sample.

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

I totally get that authors are busy people and filling out query forms and structuring queries for different agents can be time consuming and frustrating. For that reason I have kept my QueryManager form as very basic. I am asking for the bare minimum I need to make a decision so I don’t like it when things are not completed in full.

Response Time:

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

I wish I could say I am speedy fast all the time, but that would be a lie

Because I have a prolific list of signed clients, I have to prioritize their work and their reading first, so depending on the time of year and how many client projects are on the go, I can be either very fast, take a little time, or be tragically slow. And I am sorry for when I am tragically slow. I do my best. When I find that I am getting very slow on response time, I cut myself some slack and close to queries so I can catch up. Sometimes I miss out on great work because I am too slow and that does make me sad, but we all can only work so many hours and I honestly read a minimum of 2 manuscripts per week – my personal evenings are often spent reading manuscripts. And the thought of rushing through something is also awful. I want to give my focused attention to each project and that takes time.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  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?

Yes, but the project they query me with must be unpublished – it cannot be previously published. I know many talented authors that self publish or that are agented and also self publish as a hybrid author. There is no one single path that is right for every single author. My best advice to self published authors is to make sure you have a fresh project, not part of a series they are already publishing, that has not been published in any form and then be patient. Traditional publishing takes a lot longer than self publishing, so be prepared to wait.

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

I don’t think any role in publishing is safe from change as the publishing landscape continues to evolve and change as every year goes by. Of course, the role of agents will change and already has as we take a larger role in editing prior to pitching and in promoting our clients. I think the role of the literary agent in looking out for the best interests of clients, protecting their rights, and negotiating deals and contracts will remain static for a while yet. Having an agent to help liaise between the author and publisher can be helpful to both parties, especially in difficult situations or situations of disagreement.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Kalena Miller, the debut author of the YA novel THE NIGHT WHEN NO ONE HAD SEX, which just released in October, H. N. Khan, debut author of the YA novel WRONG SIDE OF THE COURT, releasing in March 2022, Dana L. Church, debut author of the middle grade nonfiction book THE BEEKEEPERS, which released in March 2021, Ali Bryan, whose YA novel THE HILL just released in March 2021, Mary Boone, whose middle grade nonfiction book BUGS FOR BREAKFAST recently released in October 2021, and many others with books that have already released or are upcoming and I could go on and on – it’s so exciting!!!

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

I don’t think I have any – older interviews won’t be helpful as I am overhauling my #MSWL for the new year and I’d rather authors not listen to old wishes.

Then again this online interview from a while back isn’t bad, I’ve just come a long way since then 😊 https://medium.com/the-partnered-pen/a-peek-into-the-world-of-literary-agents-part-one-stacey-kondla-74632f3198ba

Links and Contact Info:

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

I only accept queries through QueryManager, which can be accessed through the agency website here: https://www.therightsfactory.com/submissions

Alternatively, I do accept qualified referrals from my signed clients and I do participate occasionally in online virtual pitch events. I will tweet about those as they come up. Twitter is a good place to watch as I announce opening and closing for queries there.

Update on 1/13/2022: Stacey is now open to queries. You can find a link to her complete wishlist and can query her at https://querymanager.com/query/1760

Additional Advice:

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

I think that there is never enough said about the power of networking and developing relationships in the writing community. Make friends with other writers, editors, publishers, book store staff, readers, book podcasters, #bookstagramers, Book Tok-ers, everyone who loves books. Go to writing conferences, attend virtual book launch events, entrench yourself firmly in your local writing community. You never know when you will meet someone who will help you on your next leg of your publishing journey, and you never know who you may inspire to keep writing. Be kind out there and make bookish friends <3

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Stacey.

­Stacey is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through December 31st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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.

Agent Spotlight: Gemma Cooper Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Gemma Cooper here. She is a literary agent at The Bent Agency.

Hi­ Gemma! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Gemma:

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

After doing a business and psychology degree at university, I spent six years working in recruitment before moving from London to New York. There I got my real estate license and worked as a realtor for a few years. I had always been a big reader as a kid, but not so much in my twenties. Traveling around the city and waiting in the big Barnes & Noble on Union Square between appointments, I got the reading and writing bug again. When went to a writers’ conference and heard a literary agent talk about their job – the always brilliant Joanna Volpe—I knew that that was the only job I wanted. I landed an internship with Joanna and Suzie Townsend, and the more I learned about the job, the more convinced I was that it was perfect for me. I moved back to London, did another internship, undertook a maternity cover at an agency, and then I met the amazing Molly Ker Hawn from the Bent Agency and the rest is history. I’ve been an agent for over ten years now and became a director of the Bent Agency UK in 2020.

I specialize in children’s and YA fiction, with some picture books and children’s non-fiction. My sweet spot is series fiction with magic and/or humor. I love building brands and developing series that have kids queuing up with each new release. I also enjoy selling film/TV rights to my clients’ work. My clients have been New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers, and they’ve won the Barnes & Noble Children’s Book Award, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and the Australian Book Industry Overall Book of the Year, and their books have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Edgar Award and many more.

 About the Agency:

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

The Bent Agency was founded in 2009 by Jenny Bent, and now has offices in NYC and London, with twelve agents covering all ages and genres of books. We’re proud of our collaborative approach and we’re truly transatlantic – the two offices work as one big team.

What She’s Looking For:

3. 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?

Chapter books, middle-grade, graphic novels and YA, plus webcomics. I do represent picture book authors, but only if they also write fiction. 

My sweet spot is middle-grade fiction, where I have the widest taste: anything from mystery to fantasy, historical to funny, adventure stories to serious topics, and all the gaps in between.

 

In young adult fiction, I’d love a standout romance or something with strong friendships or sibling relationships – contemporary, funny, or fantasy based in the real world.

 

I love high-concept funny chapter books with series potential aimed at ages 7+. I’m also looking for graphic novels and highly illustrated books for emerging readers ages 5+, with simple concepts but laugh-out-loud pre-school humor. Author/illustrators in the chapter book, graphic novel and middle-grade markets get my immediate attention.

 

Across my list I’m looking for books that make me laugh. I like books that have obvious potential for dramatic adaptation, whether for a funny pre-school TV series or a big-budget feature film. I’m very keen to see writers from historically underrepresented communities, particularly those who write chapter books and middle-grade fiction.

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

A new take on Wimpy Kid – I’m a massive fan of the series.  

A big middle-grade fantasy with exquisite attention to detail in the world building and a feisty heroine.

A YA romance with massive end-of-the-world stakes. Think Angel and Buffy (season 2 finale)

What She Isn’t Looking For:

I’m not the right fit for books that are overly serious. I don’t like books that open with a kid being bullied. I’m also not a fan of dreams in books. I’m not the agent for YA high fantasy or big sweeping epics.

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

Picture books

Adult fiction

Adult non-fiction.

Agent Philosophy:

6. 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?

Publishing is a business and I want to work with authors who take publishing seriously and treat their work like a business -- answering emails in a timely manner, dealing promptly with paperwork, sticking to deadlines and so on. I also want to work with authors who don’t talk down to their audience.

I hope that the books I represent are hugged. That they get dog-eared, their spines broken from returning to favorite pages. I hope they get wet from being read in the bath and creased from being read under the bedcovers by torch light. I want to represent books that kids love. 

Editorial Agent:

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

Yes, very much so. I tend to do two rounds of edits with clients before submission: one big edit that encompasses structural and line edits, and then a final polish before submission. That said, every author is different, so it might be that I work on outlines with an author first, or I might read three chapters and then comment before they write the rest of the book. The agent/author relationship is very individual.

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

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

Email cooperqueries@thebentagency.com

Tell me briefly who you are, about your book, and why you’re the one to write it. Include the title of your project in the subject line of your email. Then paste the first ten pages of your book in the body of your email (not as an attachment, please).

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

I like a short query letter with comp titles or a good ‘X meets Y’ elevator pitch.

Response Time:

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

I respond to all queries within 4 weeks, but usually sooner.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  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?

Yes. Put as much information in your query letter as you can about your self-published history, including sales if you have them, and reasons for now wanting to get an agent/go down a traditional route.

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

BB Alston, Jessica Townsend, Shirley Marr, Aislinn Brophy, Deanna Kent and Neil Hooson, Katrina Charman, Robin Stevens, Matt Tarpley, Mike White, PG Bell

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.

https://www.thebookseller.com/insight/cooper-s-homecoming-proves-sweet-deal-979746

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/80669-a-debut-middle-grade-author-s-life-changing-tweet.html

https://cynthialeitichsmith.com/2017/03/2017-scbwi-europolitan-con-agent-gemma/

https://www.wordsandpics.org/2013/07/ask-agent-how-not-to-write-query.html

Links and Contact Info:

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

http://www.thebentagency.com/submission-guidelines

http://www.thebentagency.com/gemma-cooper

Additional Advice:

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

As an agent with a big client list, I only have room for one or two new authors a year, which means I have to pass on a lot of amazing books. Just because something isn’t for me, doesn’t mean it’s not publishable.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Gemma.

­Gemma is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through December 31st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.


Transitioning From a Self-Published to Hybrid Author by Author Karen Pokras and The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Karen Pokras here to share a guest post to celebrate the release of her MG historical The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler. It sounds like a great story that combines historical with mysteries to solve. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Eleven-year-old Danny Wexler, the only Jewish boy in his blue-collar town during the late 1970s, is obsessed with the Bermuda Triangle. When a local child goes missing, Danny's convinced it's connected to an old Bermuda Triangle theory involving UFOs. With his two best friends and their Spacetron telescope, Danny heads to his backyard to investigate. But hunting for extraterrestrials is complicated, and it doesn't help that his friend Nicholas's mom doesn't want her son hanging out with a Jewish boy. Equipped with his super-secret spy notebook, Danny sets out to fight both the aliens and the growing anti-Semitism in the town, in hopes of mending his divided community.

Now here’s Karen!

Hello and thank you so much for inviting me to write about my publishing journey!

My journey started out later in life, as it took me a while to figure out that I wanted to be a writer. In fact, growing up, I probably wanted to be anything but a writer. I was a numbers person (still am, really) and spent much of my professional life writing only law and tax related emails and memos. But I had a story floating around in my head and a nagging feeling that I’d be missing out on something truly amazing if I didn’t try to write it. Turns out, I was correct – just not about the story. That didn’t turn out quite as amazing as I’d hoped. I’m talking about taking the leap into writing. And while the road to publication has at times been rocky, I haven’t looked back since, although I still do love my numbers.

Putting aside my first non-amazing book, I wrote a second story just over ten years ago and thought it might be good enough to publish. But I knew even less about publishing than I knew about writing. I first learned about self-publishing and felt it was a great place to start, enjoying the business end of each process: editing, cover design, formatting, timing, and marketing. I continued down this path for several more books, winning a few literary awards along the way. But as much as I loved the experience of self-publishing, I met certain roadblocks when it came to stocking my middle grade books in schools and public libraries and became curious about other types of publishing and what they had to offer in terms of distribution.

Finding an agent took many years, several manuscripts, continued growth and learning as a writer, countless internal pep talks, and a lot of patience. At some point, I lost track of the number of rejection letters I’d received. But I’d also been receiving some requests for partial and full manuscripts. Those little inklings of interest, even though they didn’t turn into offers, kept me going, and I kept writing new stories. Then, in 2018, Barbara Krasner from Olswanger Literary offered representation for the manuscript that would become THE BACKYARD SECRETS OF DANNY WEXLER, and I was thrilled! Upon Barbara’s advice, I decided to first submit to PJ Library’s PJ Our Way program. My manuscript went through a few rounds of deep edits based on thoughtful and invaluable feedback from PJ’s young and grown readers, and I’m excited to say THE BACKYARD SECRETS OF DANNY WEXLER will be a PJ Our Way monthly selection next summer. From PJ, we found my publisher, Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing.

My book hit the shelves on November 1st!  Another thrilling moment!

Admittedly, after self-publishing for many years, I was worried that transitioning to a more traditional model might be challenging. I was used to having complete creative control over things like cover design and even editing, and everything moved much faster with self-publishing. Did I really have to wait nearly two years for my book to come out? But, once the process began, all of my worries disappeared. Each step of the publishing process has been truly exciting through this new experience, and now that DANNY WEXLER is out, there’s nothing better than seeing it in reader’s hands. It’s also great to see it in so many schools and libraries.

Going forward, I have two new middle grade manuscripts: one currently on submission, and another that has made its way through PJ Our Way’s critical eye and is ready to go on submission. I also have a new agent as Barbara decided to take a different career path. I’m so grateful for all that she did for me and look forward to an exciting future with my new agent, Sera Rivers at Martin Literary. Stay tuned!

Bio:

Karen Pokras is the author of the middle grade novel The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler (Lerner/Kar-Ben, November 2021) and the author of numerous award-winning self-published books. A numbers geek at heart with degrees in law and finance, Karen enjoys a good spreadsheet almost as much as she loves storytelling. Always an avid reader, Karen found her passion for writing later in life. Over the past ten years, Karen has spoken at various workshops and events on topics related to marketing books and writing for children. A native of Connecticut, Karen is a daisy lover, cat wrangler, occasional baker, and the proud mom to three brilliant teens/young-adults who still provide an endless stream of great book material. She lives with her family outside of Philadelphia. ​For more information, visit karenpokras.com.  Karen can also be found on social media, mostly on Instagram: @karenpokras_author  and occasionally on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/karenptoz and Twitter: @karentoz .

Giveaway Details

Karen has generously offered a hardback of The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by December 18th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, December 13th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jemma Cooper and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, December 15th I have an agent spotlight interview with Stacey Kondla and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, December 16th I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 5th I have an interview with debut author Leslie Vedder and a giveaway of her YA fantasy The Bone Spindler and my IWSG post

Monday, January 10th I have an agent/debut author guest post with Charlotte Wenger and Nancy Tandon and a query critique and MG contemporary The Way I Say It giveaway

Wednesday, January 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Haley Casey and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, January 16th I’m participating in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Shannon Snow and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!

 

 

What to Expect When Your Agent Is Submitting Your Work by Agent/Author Cortney Radocaj and Claire Winn + Query Critique & City of Shattered Light Giveaway & IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Claire Winn and her agent Cortney Radocaj here with a guest post to share about how it works for an agent to submit an author’s manuscript to celebrate the release of Claire’s YA fantasy City of Shattered Light. It sounds like an action-packed story.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.

As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she's more than her manipulative father's shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.

Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.

Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.
 


Before I get to my guest post with Claire and Cortney, I have my IWSG Post.

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

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!

The awesome co-hosts with me this month are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Jacqui Murray!

Optional Question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

The thing that stresses me the most is that I’m a slow writer. It makes me afraid to ever try to get published because I worry that I’ll be too stressed out writing on a deadline for a publisher. I’ve been writing four to five days a week for over a year now, and I am learning to write faster and get a chapter done in a few days to a week. But, I’m still nervous being a slow writer.

I do enjoy the process of writing. I also have been happy to see the quality of my writing improve. Even critique partners are commenting on it.

What stresses you and what do you enjoy about writing?

Guest Post by Claire Winn and Cortney Radocaj

Submission is the terrifying (and exciting!) stage after you’ve signed with an agent, who then sends your book into editors’ hands. But what happens, exactly, during that time? How is it different from querying?

      Querying vs Submission

Claire: Overall, I found the submission process less painful than querying.

Working with an agent means you have someone with insider knowledge of what’s selling, and who can vet future projects before you even finish them. You also get to skip the long, uncertain abyss of querying, which means fewer hoops to jump through for subsequent books.This can enable more creative freedom.

I also think the “bottleneck” is a little less extreme during submission. There are many more individuals querying books in your genre than there are authors on submission. Because many publishers only take submissions from agents, most editors have smaller slush piles to wade through than agents do. This means editors often spend a bit more time considering each submission, and you’re more likely to get thoughtful and positive feedback with rejections. However, it does not mean you’ll necessarily have faster response times—especially with the industry backed up after 2020.

Cortney: Definitely not on faster response times! A lot of agents can get back to you within a few weeks (at least on the initial request or decline); with editors, it’s not uncommon, particularly after the pandemic started, to have to wait months to hear back. This is partly because of workload, but also partly because of what editors are receiving—generally, submissions to editors are going to look a lot more polished and stronger than what agents see in their query box (that extra set of professional eyes really helps!). Editors have far fewer submissions, but the submissions they do receive are generally around the same caliber, which can make them more difficult to sort through quickly.

Claire: Submission also requires a few extra approvals before you’re offered a contract. Instead of a single agent falling in love with your book and deciding to rep it, an editor will likely need second reads and approval from an acquisitions committee before you get the book deal. Compared to querying, submission has its own complications, but I still think landing an agent is the toughest part of the process.

Cortney: Also on the author side, as something to be aware of, there also seems to be a lot more anxiety and feeling isolated from your peers. Something to watch for in yourself as you navigate submission!

      What does the submission process look like?

Cortney: Generally, submission looks fairly similar to querying—though there are some differences! The major one being you, as the author, don’t have to do most of the work; your agent is the one who will be building submission lists, emailing editors, nudging, etc. (though I do always ask my clients if they have any editors/presses/imprints they’ve had their eye on, and always make sure they’re happy with the finalized list). I always make sure we have everything prepared before sending off that first email, namely:

-       Full, polished manuscript, formatted to industry standard

-       Partial manuscript (~3 chapters, around 30-50 pages generally)

-       Pitch

-       Synopsis

-       Series synopsis/outline (if the manuscript is the first in a series/potential series)

-       Content warnings

Once we’re both happy with all of these, the submission process can officially begin!

I always start by building the submission list; they’re typically split into three separate “rounds”, depending on who we think might be the best fit and where each editor is at. Once we’re ready, I’ll send out the first round of emails!

….And then the waiting begins.

I nudge about every 3 months. When we get a rejection, I assess from there if we need to do any work on the manuscript, or if it just wasn’t the right fit and we can send to the next. Some agents will stick to individual rounds of editors; I prefer to keep the number of submissions we have out at any given time pretty steady, so when we get a rejection, I look to the next viable editor on our list.

Once you’ve gotten interest (i.e. an editor falls in love with your manuscript and wants to move forward), there are a few more steps that can happen, which Claire briefly mentioned earlier:

-       Second reads; the editor will have a couple other members of their team read the book and decide if they also think it should be picked up. If they agree, the book will move forward (Note: not every publisher has a second reads stage, though many do)

-       Executive approval; after the second reads, the manuscript can be sent to the executive editor, who will then decide if the book should move on to acquisitions or not (Note: not every publisher needs approval from the executive editor specifically, but a few do)

-       Acquisitions; this looks different from press to press, but can consist of the editorial team, marketing, sales, etc. The editor will pitch the book to them, and the team will decide whether to offer a contract. Sometimes there are multiple acquisitions meetings; sometimes the meetings with editorial and sales/marketing are separate.

At any point, the rest of the team can decide they don’t want to take the book on, for a variety of reasons (don’t think the writing is strong enough, won’t navigate the market well, etc.). There are many people a book has to go through to be sold—but be extremely proud of yourself, no matter where in the process you end up!

If your book makes it through acquisitions, the editor will extend an offer, and your agent will notify other editors you have an offer on the table (unless, of course, the offer is a pre-empt, where you take that offer only, and pull your book from consideration from other editors). Once you’ve decided if you want to take the offer, or choose another if you get one, your agent will move into contract negotiations with the publisher. This process can take a LONG time, sometimes months, which is why deals can be slow to be announced. But once negotiations are complete and the contract is signed, that’s when you’ll be able to announce the good news and dive into revisions with your editor! 

      Advice for authors on sub 

Claire: Pick a day—weekly or biweekly—for your agent to send you any rejections that have come in. This way, you don’t need to worry about getting rejection letters on vacation or during stressful times.

Cortney: Also decide if you want to see the rejection letters at all; you’re free to decide how much of a buffer you want your agent to be between you and those rejections. Some authors need to see the actual emails to feel closure, while others do better either just knowing the answer was no or getting a summary. (And you can always change your mind at any point in the process!)

Claire: Be flexible and willing to change anything that isn’t working. Just like querying, you might see trends in rejections that indicate more revision is needed.

And, though it might seem impossible, try to work on your next project. It’s hard to pull yourself out of the headspace of a story you’ve just polished—one with all the potential in the world—but sometimes the only way to avoid rejection heartbreak is to keep moving forward.

Cortney: And in the vein of avoiding rejection heartbreak—hold your author friends close. Submission can often feel more isolating than querying, for a variety of reasons (fewer resources to know what you’re getting into ahead of time, fewer authors to connect with, increased feelings of competition, increased feelings of failure if it doesn’t get picked up, etc.). Actively work against this when you can, and stay active in any writer communities you’re a part of. Getting positive feedback on something new can absolutely help reduce anxiety and disappointment when rejections come in!

           What happens if a book doesn’t get picked up? 

Cortney: This is a very real possibility for every book that goes out on submission—and a very normal occurrence. If you exhaust your list of editors with no success, that’s okay! It happens, and at that point you’ll discuss with your agent if it’s time to shelve the manuscript, if there are a couple other editors you could try, or if there are any revisions that could allow you to keep trying for this manuscript (i.e. if your book straddles age categories, like YA and adult, and you pitched as YA, you can discuss tweaking the book and sending out as adult).

But ultimately, if you shelve the book, you move on to the next. You’ll work with your agent on your next book, make it submission ready, and start the process again with a fresh manuscript. Shelving a book doesn’t mean it will never sell; sometimes books are better pitched once an author has a couple titles under their belt and the publisher sees it as less of a risk, since readers now know the author’s work. Sometimes the market just wasn’t quite right, and years down the line it might be. Sometimes the right editor wasn’t even taking acquisitions at the time, and now is. One book not selling absolutely does NOT mean another won’t, and it’s okay (and very normal!) for the book you sign with your agent to not be the one that sells first.

Claire: I haven’t had this happen on submission (yet), but the first book I wrote and queried is trunked for now. I’ve also grown as a writer since putting it aside, so it’s possible that those characters and concepts will be repurposed and sent on submission in the future. But it’s important to remember that you’ll always have more stories in you. 

      What should you expect of your agent during the sub process?

 Claire: It’s important that your agent keeps you in the loop and is willing to strategize with you frequently about next steps—editors for next submission rounds, whether revisions are required, etc. An agent who also checks in on your well-being is a godsend, and Cortney is amazing in that regard.

 Cortney: (<3 <3 thanks Claire!)

To expand on what Claire mentioned:-       Updates on what’s going on. How often and what you hear will vary, mostly on what YOU personally would like (i.e. some authors like updates as they come in, want the emails from editors forwarded to them, etc. and others prefer to use their agent as more of a buffer), but you should be aware of what’s happening with your book, and should always be able to get answers when you ask for them!

-       Nudging editors. Again, the exact details of this will vary from agent to agent, but you should expect your agent to nudge editors throughout the process. Not hearing from editors happens, and your agent can’t prevent that, but your agent should be doing what they can to get the response (within the bounds of publishing etiquette, of course).

-       Support. Subbing is scary! It’s a big unknown and can feel a lot more anxiety-inducing and isolating than querying for a lot of authors. Every author’s needs will be different and every agent’s approach to supporting their authors different as well, but if you have questions or concerns about what’s going on during sub, you should feel comfortable doing so, and your agent should be able to answer to the best of their abilities. There are a lot of things both agent and author won’t have control over during this process, but we understand that in itself causes anxiety in a lot of authors, and we’re here to support you and be your champion throughout! Be aware of and respect your agent’s personal boundaries (i.e. we can’t be therapists, for our own mental health), but if you’re concerned or need a little reassurance that you’re doing everything you can, ask! 

      Conclusion 

Overall, the mechanics of query and the submission process are extremely similar—but the nitty gritty of them are vastly different. Submission can feel overwhelming and terrifying, as a lot of the information on individual editors isn’t widely available for anyone to see (which is why agents connect with editors often!)—but having a good agent in your corner is a gamechanger, and they’ll get you through the process as smoothly as possible.

LINKS:

Claire Winn (Author, City of Shattered Light)

Twitter: @Atomic_Pixie

Website: www.clairewinn.com

Instagram: @clairewinnauthor

TikTok: @clairewinnauthor

Cortney Radocaj (Agent, Belcastro Agency)

Twitter: @CortneyRadocaj

Website: www.cortneyradocaj.com

Agency site: www.belcastroagency.com

Query: QueryMe.Online/CortneyRadocaj

Giveaway Details

Claire has generously offered a paperback of City of Shattered Life and Cortney has offered a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by December 18th. If you do not want to be included in the 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 the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is U.S. and the query critique giveaway is International.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, December 6th I have a guest post by debut author Karen Pokras and a giveaway of her MG historical The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler

Monday, December 13th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jemma Cooper and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, December 15th I have an agent spotlight interview with Stacey Kondla and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, December 16th I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday!