Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Mary Moore & Ema Watanabe Cohen Guest Post & The Lost Ryū & Query Critique Giveaway on 6/1/2022
  • Chelsea Hensley Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/6/2022
  • Kayla Cichella Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/13/2022

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.

Getting Ready for Your Debut Year by Christina Matula and The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Christina Matula here to celebrate the release of her MG contemporary The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei. It sounds like a fantastic story with compelling characters and it’s set in Hong Kong. I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

This debut middle grade series follows a girl finding her place in a brand-new world of private school and frenemies when her family moves to Hong Kong.

Holly-Mei Jones couldn’t be more excited about moving to Hong Kong for her mother’s job. Her new school is right on the beach and her family’s apartment is beyond beautiful. Everything is going to be perfect . . . right?

Maybe not. It feels like everywhere she turns, there are new rules to follow and expectations to meet. On top of that, the most popular girl in her grade is quickly becoming a frenemy. And without the guidance of her loving Ah-ma, who stayed behind in Toronto, Holly-Mei just can’t seem to get it right.

It will take all of Holly-Mei’s determination and sparkle (and maybe even a tiny bit of stubbornness) to get through seventh grade and turn her life in Hong Kong into the ultimate adventure! 

Now here’s Christina!

Getting Ready for My MG Debut Year

Thank you, Natalie, for letting me share my journey to the publication of The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei with your readers.

I was thrilled to get an offer for my debut Middle-Grade book in the spring of 2020 from Inkyard Press. It was a time of much stress in the world and it was nice to have some good news. And the best part was the book would be part of a three-book series, all about Holly-Mei and her friends.

Twelve months to go

Working to the fact Book 1 would come out in April 2022, with Books 2 and 3 each one year after the other, I thought two years would be plenty of time to revise the book, but in the publishing world, a book needs to be ready a full year ahead so that advance reader copies can be printed and distributed.

I sent my final draft of The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei to my wonderful editor Claire Stetzer and turned my attention to other parts of the book, namely the Author’s Note (my motivation for writing the book), the Acknowledgements (to thank all the people who helped me on my journey), and the Glossary (to explain the Chinese phrases found throughout the book). I also got to test the two recipes I included in the back of the book – Ah-ma’s Dumplings and Millie’s Red Bean Creamsicles – which was an incredibly fun and tasty exercise.

Nine months to go

The book cover, by the talented Yao Xiao and designed by Erin Craig, was unveiled and I was able to share it across social media and my website. The image of Holly-Mei on Repulse Bay beach, one of my favorite places in Hong Kong, brought back so many memories of my time there.

After deciding which scenes would get illustrations (about a dozen throughout the book), I was able to review the draft sketches and give comments on some of the details, for example, in the Chapter 1 illustration, Holly-Mei should have a bike helmet because she follows rules, and in Chapter 3, Ah-ma should have wavy hair because she wears curlers in the morning.

The copyeditor came back with suggested changes and caught some of the echoes I had missed. Although I didn’t keep my Canadian spelling, (colour, flavour, etc), I kept some of the Canadianisms, such as Grade 7 instead of seventh grade, since the story begins in Canada.

I joined a 2022 Debuts group and it’s been a great resource for navigating the journey to my MG debut launch. The fellow authors are very helpful and supportive. The 22 Debuts group, the SCBWI Hong Kong chapter, and my Hong Kong University MFA writing group have all provided a wonderful and welcoming community.

Six months to go

The draft for Book 2 was handed in and a title agreed upon with my editor: The-Not-So-Perfect Plan (A Holly-Mei Book). I love that they kept the “The Not-So-” theme and I think it ties the series together nicely.

I am so lucky to have an accompanying audiobook and I got to hear samples from a few potential narrators. One of them stood out as what I imagined Holly-Mei would sound like and I’m so happy Natalie Naudus was able to record the audiobook.

I received the ARC of the book and was surprised to find a few errors even after meticulously going through the book countless times. One error was even in my Author’s Note – I wrote that my mom had ten siblings, but she had nine. It must have been a remnant of when I wrote she was “one of ten siblings” but changed the sentence without changing the number. I guess that’s why they call it an “uncorrected proof”.

On a happier note, the final book jacket was approved and I was thrilled to have some of my favorite authors write blurbs for my book – Erin Entrada Kelly, Kate Messner, Lauren Child, and Katie Zhao.

Three months to go

The final pass pages are what they call it when they send you the file as it would look in the final book. It was a bit nerve wracking going through it because this would be the last time I could read through the book before it went to print.  Luckily it was all good and ready to go.

I reached out to the librarians and teachers I met along my writing journey (some via school visits with my picture book, The Shadow in the Moon, some via volunteering at various literary festivals), and introduced my upcoming book to them.

The publisher sent me a draft of the educator discussion guide to read through. I was amazed at how some of the topics and themes I touched upon in the book could be used to enable deeper discussion with students.

One month to go

In the weeks and days running up to the launch, I spent a lot of time preparing guest blog posts and Q&As, making social media graphics (I’m getting really good at Canva), and having lots of back and forths with the marketing and publicity team at Inkyard.

I live in Finland and it wasn’t possible to do an event here, but the Saturday before my launch, I was thrilled to be invited to be on a Middle-Grade panel with Books of Wonder, an amazing NYC-based children’s bookstore. 

Launch day

It was actually a very calm day. After sharing my book birthday across social media, I had a low-key dinner with my husband and friends and treated myself to a glass of champagne. A perfectly peaceful end to a rather hectic year.

You can find me on Instagram @christinamatula and Twitter @MatulaChristina.

Christina Matula grew up in Ottawa, Canada. Being a child of immigrant parents, she has always been curious about other cultures and far-off places. Dumplings are her favorite food, especially her mother’s savory Taiwanese jiaozi and her father’s sweet Hungarian gomboc. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Hong Kong and now lives in Finland with her husband, two children, and puppy. Learn more at ChristinaMatula.com

Giveaway Details

Christina has generously offered a hardback of The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei 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 May 7th. 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. and Canada.

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, May 4th I have an interview with debut author Betty Yee and a giveaway of her YA historical Gold Mountain

Monday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Unter and a query critique giveaway

Tuesday, May 10th I’m participating in the Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 16th I have a guest post by Donna Gallanti and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Unicorn Island: Secret Beneath the Sand, and I'm participating in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 23th I have an agent/author guest post by Natalie Lakosil and Tracie Badua with a giveaway of Tracie’s MG contemporary Freddie vs. The Family Curse and a query critique giveaway by Natalie

Hope to see you on Wednesday, May 4th!

 

 

Agent/Author Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil Interview With Daughters of a Dead Empire and Query Critique Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Carolyn Tara O’Neil and her agent Andrea Somberg here to share about Carolyn’s debut YA historical Daughters of a Dead Empire. It sounds like a fantastic Anastasia retelling. I love historical fiction and am excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

An alternate history set during the Russian Revolution.

Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war—the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible—not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna's offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war.

Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now—regardless of her loyalties—Evgenia is too. 

Follower News

Before I get to my interview with Carolyn and Andrea, I have Follower News to share. Sandra Cox has a sequel to her paranormal police mystery series, Maeto’s Blood Brother, that released recently. Here’s a blurb: Behind the amicable façade is a man who’s tough and determined. He’s Mateo’s Blood Brother. Here is a buy link: https://www.amazon.com/MATEOS-BLOOD-BROTHER-Sequel-LAW-ebook/dp/B09VYNPPP6


Interview with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil

 Hi Andrea and Carolyn! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. For Carolyn: What was your querying process like and why were you drawn to Andrea as an agent?

I first queried Daughters in 2017; I wrote nearly 20 agents and got only 1 response. Something was wrong with my package. I realized the problem was my manuscript, not the query letter. I spent a year revising Daughters from a single-POV into a dual-POV novel, then queried again from scratch in late 2018. My results were much better the second time: 1/3 of the agents I queried requested a full, and two offered representation. I was initially drawn to Andrea’s portfolio of YA novels, the diversity of genres she represents, and her strong sales record, but ultimately it was her persistent and strategic approach to submission, her knowledge of the field, her client referrals, her patience, and her enthusiasm for my novel that really sold me!!

2. For Andrea: When you received Carolyn’s query and first pages, what appealed to you in her writing? What about after you read her entire manuscript?

I’ve been fascinated by Anastasia ever since I saw the 1980’s movie Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (it was on while I was at a neighbors’ house – I think I was probably way too young to be watching it at the time!). So, when I received in Carolyn’s query I was already intrigued. But as I read on, I soon realized that the book was a fascinating story that went beyond the legend, a really moving tale about the friendship between two girls who must bridge a huge cultural divide and way of being in the world. And I thought that, in many ways, the themes interwoven throughout really spoke to our current era. I also loved it because it was just a really fun and gripping read.

3. For Carolyn: How many revisions of your manuscript did you go through with Andrea? What did you learn from the process?

Andrea has a great eye for pacing, stakes, and character arc that helped make the manuscript much stronger before we went out on submission. It was a joy to have feedback that was so clear-eyed and purposeful, honed through years of working with authors like me. She helped me learn to be a little more demanding of what gets left in the story, and more willing to take things out if they aren’t earning their keep.

4. For Andrea: What is your approach to working with authors on revising their manuscripts before going on submission? What was something you enjoyed about working on revisions with Carolyn?

It’s such a tough market, with editors taking on fewer and fewer projects, and so it’s so important that the manuscript be as strong as possible before we go on submission. That might mean working together on edits on an overarching level – things like plot progression, character development, etc. – or it could mean tightening the prose on a line-by-line level. Caroline’s writing was already very strong so it was really just looking at the story to see if the tension could be increased in any way or the character development slightly more fleshed out. Carolyn is such a talented author that she was able to take any feedback – both from me and ultimately from her editor – and make what was already a really strong manuscript even better (it’s part of the reason why her book was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection). I think one of the most challenging parts of the process was figuring out a title! 

5. For both Carolyn and Andrea: Share about the process of going on submission and how decisions were made on which publishers to submit to.

Andrea: When I’m reading a manuscript for the first time, one of the things I’m thinking of is what editors would be a good fit. So by the time I offer representation, I usually have a good idea of who I’d like to send it to. I then consulted with Carolyn to get her thoughts – if there were imprints she was particularly excited about, editors she’d like to approach, etc. We had several interested parties but ultimately the editor who ended up acquiring the book, Mekisha Telfer at Roaring Brook Press, was someone who had corresponded with Carolyn previously during a DVPit critique giveaway, and was an advocate of the manuscript from the start.

Carolyn: So it turns out being on sub is just the worst! When you’re querying you’re so excited for every step forward, but going on submission is truly one of the most emotionally draining aspects of the publishing process. You are so close and yet close means nothing until you have an offer in hand. I’m incredibly grateful to have had Andrea guide my way with full transparency, interpreting for me what did and didn’t matter and what I might expect at every stage. I mostly deferred to her in terms of who we submitted to and when, and I trust her judgment and connections to make those calls.

6. For Carolyn: Once you signed your publishing contract, how often do you communicate with Andrea? How has she helped you now that you’re working with your editor?

This is another thing I had no idea of before I sold Daughters. While the goal is of course to sell your book, agents are just as helpful after the sale — in negotiating the terms of the contract. In monitoring and following up on royalties and payments. In selling foreign rights and translations and film rights. In advocating for you when things don’t go smoothly with the publisher. In looking for marketing opportunities and advising you on where to spend your efforts. Even in brainstorming ideas for your next novel. An agent’s work doesn’t end once a book is sold — they do so much.

7. For Andrea: What is your role in an author’s career once they get their publishing contract?

Getting the publishing contract is just the beginning – the hard part is ensuring that the book has the best chance possible to thrive once it makes its way into the world. So that means helping the author get blurbs, bolstering efforts by the marketing and publicity team, brainstorming ways to get attention for the book, selling subsidiary rights such as translation and film/tv, and making sure that the book is getting the support and attention it needs from the publishing team. And it also means strategizing next steps for the author’s career.

 

8. For both Andrea and Carolyn: How have you been working together on developing Carolyn’s next project?

Andrea: Carolyn has a lot of fantastic ideas, and we’ve been working together to brainstorm the next book and what makes the most sense for her career. Part of my job is to share my knowledge of what it is that editors – and the market – seem to be looking for, but I think that it’s also really important for Carolyn to be true to her passions and what she’s interested in pursuing. I’m here to help in any way that I can – read drafts, help brainstorm, and offer support every step of the way.

Carolyn: Book 2 is stressful for a lot of authors, and for me, as a pantser, the shift to thinking about market before I invest all my time into a story is a really hard one. I spent five years drafting Daughters before I signed with Andrea. As my business partner, she would probably hate to see me spend another 5 years on a new novel that didn’t go on to sell. Trying to shift my own process to focus on pitches that appeal to editors is a learning experience for sure. Here’s hoping it leads to some good stuff coming your way! :-)

9. For Carolyn: You already have been interviewed and been on panel discussions. Share how you were able to get these opportunities. What you have been doing promote your book when it released and post release?

Networking with other authors has probably been the best thing I’ve done — both for sheer fun, and for identifying those opportunities. My class of debut authors (the 21ders, and then 22debuts when my pub date got pushed back) turned out to be an incredible space to connect with other kidlit authors. We’ve applied for and been accepted to conferences together, attended (and even co-hosted) one another’s launch events, emotionally supported one another through the ups and downs, and continue to share what we’re learning as we move on to books 2, 3, and beyond. On my own, I’ve also reached out to blogs (like this one!) and bookstores to pitch events, Bookstagrammers who partnered on my cover reveal and release day, and done lots and lots of social media pushes and outreach. An author’s work never ends!

10. For Andrea: How do you help authors you represent to get the word out about their book? What advice do you have for debut authors on marketing?

There are so many books being published – getting attention can be one of the most challenging aspects of the entire process. When clients sign a book deal, I send them detailed information about marketing and promotion, but because every book is different it’s really important to take an individualized approach. Authors will of course be assigned a publicist and a marketing team by the publisher, but they have so many projects on their list, it’s important to make sure that the book is getting the attention it deserves. We’re also in a time when there is less and less space devoted to book coverage  -- it’s important to see whether there are audience-facing opportunities or other avenues to promote the book.

Thanks for sharing all your advice Carolyn and Andrea. You can find them at: www.carolyntaraoneil.com, www.andreasomberg.com, and on Twitter @CarolynTara and @AndreaSomberg.

Giveaway Details

Carolyn has generously offered a hardback of Daughters of a Dead Empire and Andrea 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 April 30th. 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, April 25th I have a guest post by debut author Christina Matula with a giveaway of her MG contemporary The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

Wednesday, May 4th I have an interview with debut author Betty Yee and a giveaway of her YA historical Gold Mountain

Monday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Unter and a query critique giveaway

Tuesday, May 10th I’m participating in the Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 16th I have a guest post by Donna Gallanti and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Unicorn Island: Secret Beneath the Sand, and I'm participating in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 23th I have an agent/author guest post by Natalie Lakosil and Tracie Badua with a giveaway of Tracie’s MG contemporary Freddie vs. The Family Curse and a query critique giveaway by Natalie

Hope to see you on Monday!

 

 

 

 


Raindrops on Roses Giveaway Hop



Happy Saturday Everyone! I hope you're all doing well and having a good start to spring. It's been kind of cold here in Michigan, but warmer weather has to come soon. I'm looking forward to planting my flowers and vegetables. Today I'm excited to participate in the Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox.

First,  want to share my exciting news instead. Literary Rambles was just selected as one of Feedspot's Top 25 Literary Agent Blogs and Websites. I'm so honored and happy to have been included in their list. And I'm hoping that the exposure will help me reach more writers who I can help on their journey to publication. 

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 4/16 – 4/30/2022 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

Monday, April 18th I have an agent/debut author guest post with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil and a giveaway of Carolyn’s YA historical fiction Daughters of a Dead Empire and a query critique by Andrea

Monday, April 25th I have a guest post by debut author Christina Matula with a giveaway of her MG contemporary The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

Wednesday, May 4th I have an interview with debut author Betty Yee and a giveaway of her YA historical Gold Mountain

Monday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Unter and a query critique giveaway

Tuesday, May 10th I'm participating in the Life's a Beach Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here are all 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.

Using Comparative Titles in Your Query Letter by Mary Kole and Book Giveaway

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Mary Kole here to share a fantastic guest post about using comparative titles in your query letter. Agents want writers to include comp titles, but it can be challenging to come up with the right ones. I know I struggle with this.

Mary shares some great tips on how to come up with them. I’m hosting a giveaway of one of her books to say thanks to her for sharing her great advice today.

Now here’s Mary!

Using Comparative Titles in Your Query Letter

Comparative titles—or comp titles—are an important part of the query and submission process for writers in any category, from fiction to picture book to memoir to nonfiction (where deep analysis of your competition is actually expected!). A lot of writers put a great deal of attention on this element—and it generates a lot of anxiety. I’m here to put comp titles into perspective and offer some suggested best practices.

 First, if you don’t have comparative titles for your project, I would recommend generating at least one or two. You can do the “meets” comparison or you can just talk about them. You’ll see some examples below. Generally speaking, what makes for a great comp title? The books you choose should be: 

·       Recent: Curate books that have been published within the last three or four years. If you choose one classic book in your comparison, balance that with a recent release.

·       Aligned: The comp should represent your book in some way, whether with a character or plot element, voice or writing style, premise, genre, or audience. That being said, it’s not unheard of to pull from a different realm—like film and TV.

·       Within Reach: Avoid naming obvious bestsellers, as your comparison of your work to Harry Potter will communicate distorted expectations of the market to the agent or publisher. If you do end up choosing a very familiar comp title, balance it with something more niche or obscure.

Yes, comp titles have gained focus in publishing circles. But they don’t have to be intimidating. You’re allowed to have fun with them. You can also choose certain elements of books, even if the title is not in the same genre or written for the same audience. For example, if you have written a science fiction story featuring an unreliable narrator who is building battle mechs on Mars, you might call it “The Iron Widow meets Before Mars”. Both books are recent. The former is a YA smash-the-patriarchy blowout, the latter is a story for adult readers with an element of psychological suspense. This hits upon the sci-fi mechs element, a psychological suspense plot, as well as the Mars setting.

Is this hypothetical mash-up of the two projects a perfect portrait of the book I’m pitching? No. The perfect comp title combination that hits upon each element of your project doesn’t exist. You should use comparative titles to get as close to approximating your project as possible.

Sometimes, that means highlighting elements from works if your comps aren’t exact. For example, you can pitch a sapphic contemporary romance with a snappy voice and real-world issues at its heart as having “the self-sabotaging romantic tension of The Falling in Love Montage combined with the poignant emotional exploration of We Are Okay.” Here, I’ve chosen specific elements from each of the two novels to call attention to. As I do so, I am pitching that the project has romantic tension and is emotional, rather than a light and breezy rom com.

You can also identify authors whose styles are similar to yours. For example, if you have a nonfiction project that explores the hidden economies of the food chain, you might pitch it as “a work for fans of Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Pollan.”

Think of using this sentence in your query—and yes, that’s really all it is … one sentence in a one-page cover letter—to send a signal to the agent or publisher. That signal is that you have done your research, you understand where your project might fit, and you have clear eyes when it comes to how you see yourself and your work.

To be perfectly honest, there’s a chance that the agent or publisher reviewing your query hasn’t been reading current releases. They might not even understand the references you’re making. You cannot anticipate all reactions to your story, your query, and your comps. Therefore, you need to do the best you can and use this element to bolster your query. But don’t stress over it or give it too much of your focus.

Comparative titles, when done thoughtfully and intentionally, will communicate the elements of your project that you believe are important to highlight. That is the real point behind this exercise. Solid comps can also demonstrate that you have a sense of the market and that you are well-versed in what’s happening on shelves today. However, it’s very unlikely that comparative titles will make or break your query letter.

Happy submitting, and happy reading—let your comp title research be a fun reminder to read in and outside of your category and keep an eye on the current market. It’s all part of being a writer on submission!

Former literary agent Mary Kole founded Mary Kole Editorial in 2013 and provides consulting and developmental editing services to writers of all categories and genres, working on children’s book projects from picture book to young adult, and all kinds of trade market literature, including fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and memoir. She founded Good Story Company in 2019 with the aim of providing valuable content—like the Good Story Podcast, Story Mastermind, and Good Story Learning—to writers of all categories and ability levels. In 2020, she partnered with literary agent John Cusick to create Upswell Media, an intellectual property company which develops compelling modern middle grade and young adult properties for today’s diverse and dynamic publishing marketplace. She also provides select ghostwriting and done-for-you revision services at Manuscript Studio.

She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Movable Type Management. She has been blogging at Kidlit.com since 2009. Her book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, a writing reference guide for middle grade and young adult writers, is available from Writer's Digest Books/Penguin Random House. Mary has appeared at regional, national, and international SCBWI conferences, as well as independent conferences including Writer's Digest, Penn Writers, Writer's League of Texas, San Francisco Writers Conference, WIFYR, Writing Day, and dozens of others. She has guest lectured at Harvard Extension, the Ringling College of Art and Design, the Highlights Foundation, and the Loft, and her classes can be found online at Writing Mastery Academy, Writing Blueprints, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning.

You can find Mary at:

Company: https://goodstorycompany.com

Editing: https://marykole.com

Blog: https://kidlit.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/goodstoryco

Facebook: https://facebook.com/marykoleeditorial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/goodstoryco

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kid_lit

Instagram: https://instagram.com/goodstorycompany

YouTube: http://bit.ly/ytgoodstory

Podcast: https://goodstorypodcast.com

Book: http://bit.ly/kolekidlit

Upswell Media: https://upswellmedia.com

Giveaway Details

Mary is offering followers of Literary Rambles a $25 discount of $400 or more of services.

I’m offering a giveaway of one of Mary’s books: Writing Irresistible Kidlit or Successful Query Letters, winner’s choice. 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 telling me which book you want by April 30th. 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.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Saturday, April 16th I’m participating in the Raindrops on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 18th I have an agent/debut author guest post with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil and a giveaway of Carolyn’s YA historical fiction Daughters of a Dead Empire and a query critique by Andrea

Monday, April 25th I have a guest post by debut author Christina Matula with a giveaway of her MG contemporary The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

Wednesday, May 4th I have an interview with debut author Betty Yee and a giveaway of her YA historical Gold Mountain

Monday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Unter and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

Agent Interview: Kari Sutherland and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kari Sutherland here. She is a literary agent at kt literary.

Hi­ Kari! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks so much for having me!

About Kari:

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

I began in publishing on the editorial side—first at Disney Press and then at HarperCollins Children’s before moving cross-country to CA and freelancing. But I missed the longer-term connection to authors, so I became an agent. This is my sixth year on the agenting side and I love the variety and flexibility I have as an agent to sign clients whose work I’m passionate about, to explore new genres and formats, and to work the hours I choose (which are sometimes very late at night).

About the Agency:

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

KT Literary is a terrific group of agents who are very collaborative and approach the industry with a positive attitude. For us, it’s about finding talented authors and championing their voices. We work directly with co-agents to place foreign, and film/TV rights and we’re always on the lookout for opportunities for our clients and ways to boost their backlist as well as upcoming titles. We have our own podcast: kt literary podcast on Apple Podcasts and Instagram: KT Literary Agency (@ktliterary) • Instagram photos and videos and offer office hours to our clients for questions.

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?

The focus of my list is middle grade and YA across all genres, but I also represent picture books, select chapter books, and graphic novels. In picture books right now my primary goal is to sign author/illustrators with unique perspectives and styles. In middle grade, I’m drawn to fantasy, light horror, and contemporary realistic with a lot of heart. For YA, I’m very open across genres—from contemporary realistic to fantasy to speculative to thrillers and everything in between.

What I look for in a submission first and foremost is voice—a character who sweeps me away or fully engages my attention. Beyond that, I love stories with layers—where themes are explored in new ways or woven together organically and that sift through human emotions and relationship dynamics with depth and heart. I am also a fan of stories that are compulsively entertaining with unexpected twists or loads of humor.

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

In the YA space, I’d love a thriller or horror novel that grapples with a real-world issue teens face today, explored either metaphorically or literally.

I would love to find a funny middle grade fantasy story with a female or nonbinary main character going on adventures with supportive, but snarky friends.

In nonfiction, I enjoy quirky topics and would love a Mary Roach-style project for middle grade readers or teens! I’d also love a nonfiction teen or upper MG project that digs into standards of beauty and celebrates all styles and looks, but also examines the economic, social, and psychological costs of the beauty industry.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I don’t like to say I’m closed to anything as sometimes I’m surprised by something I thought I wouldn’t enjoy. In general, though, I’m not the best match for sports-centered stories (unless there’s an additional layer to it, like a women’s team at a high school protesting the uniforms they’re forced to wear) or books that are sci-fi and plot-driven as opposed to character-driven.

I love reading novels-in-verse for pleasure, but I’m not the best match for them as an agent. I likewise am not usually the best fit for rhyming picture book texts.

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?

My aim is to work with authors whose stories inspire emotion—whether that’s feelings of coziness, rebelliousness, dread, hilarity, romance or something else—and whose voices are compelling. I’m eager to champion books that break the rules, explore universal truths through a specific lens, encourage readers to think in new ways and embrace who they are, and are books you can’t stop thinking about and just have to recommend to everyone you know so you can talk about it with someone!  

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, given my background. I will usually go through two rounds, sometimes more, with an author before doing a light line edit. I start with bigger notes that get at the crux of the story, pull out its heart and make sure we’re mapping out the character arc and plot beats, then a round or two of minor in-scene changes/tweaks. I aim to submit polished work, something that I consider “acquisition-ready,” but I don’t want to over-work projects as editors will have their own visions and will definitely be doing rounds of editing as well!

All my feedback are suggestions only and I always work with my clients to ensure that their story is the one being told.

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?

The best way to query me is through Query Manager (Query Submission (querymanager.com). I like to see a query letter, a short synopsis (spoilers are okay! Sometimes I need to know how it ends), and the first chapter.

If Query Manager provides an accessibility issue, KT Literary’s general query inbox is queries@ktliterary.com and you can address the email to my attention. But I tend to review my Query Manager submissions more frequently.

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

Please start at the beginning of your book, don’t choose a chapter from the middle and make sure to specify your genre and age range in the query letter.

Response Time:

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

Longer than I’d like. I aim to respond to queries within 4-6 weeks. Partials and fulls take another month or two beyond when I receive them.

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?

I’m happy to look at work that hasn’t been published before, so if someone has self-published or released through a smaller press, my advice is to query with your next project (that is not a sequel to the published one). You may want to indicate whether you’re willing to use a different name with your new project to separate from any existing sales track. I’ve had authors go from smaller presses to large publishers in the past, especially in a new format.

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?

An agent’s role is still to advise and guide an author’s career so while there are new avenues opening up, agents can discuss which pathways are best for an author’s particular publishing goals and then advocate for them whether it’s with a small, independent publisher, an app designer, an IP project, etc.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I’m very lucky to represent a slew of talented people! Some of my authors whose titles have released include: Saadia Faruqi (the Yasmin series, A Thousand Questions, Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero, and co-author of A Place at the Table); Laura Pohl (author of the New York Times bestseller The Grimrose Girls and the Last 8 duology); Kelly Coon (the Gravemaidens duology); PJ Gardner (the Horace and Bunwinkle series); and Dr. Amitha Jagannath Knight (Usha and the Big Digger). I’ve got two authors debuting this year: Isabel Cañas (The Hacienda – on sale May 3) and Rimma Onoseta (How You Grow Wings – on sale August 9th).

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

My manuscript wishlist is posted here and I try to update it every few months. You can find my KT Literary podcast interview here.

Links and Contact Info:

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

You can find my Query Manager page here: (Query Submission (querymanager.com)

From time to time, I will close to catch up or close to certain genres/formats if I’m focusing on a different direction. You can also find more information about me on the KT Literary website: www.ktliterary.com.

Additional Advice:

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

You’ve heard it before—read widely! Both in the genre/format you write in and also in other arenas to help you hone your craft. Remember when composing your pitch (that oh-so-dreaded, but valuable x meets y line) that you can refer to characters from TV shows/movies or use podcasts or songs to help convey the vibes/content/themes of your project. Build an online presence based on positive energy. Evaluate what your particular writing/publishing goals are and don’t compare your journey to others’. Everyone’s path is different! Find willing and helpful beta readers and return the favor. Learning to critique others’ writing can help you analyze your own. Remember that at the end of the day, your writing should bring you joy as that will shine through in your manuscript.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kari.

­Kari 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 April 23rd. 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.