Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Kelly Dyksterhouse Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/12/2022
  • Savannah Brooks Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/19/2022

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.

Lines of Courage Review and Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m super excited to share Jennifer Nielson’s new MG historical Lines of Courage. It made the New York Times Bestseller list. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know she is one of my favorite authors. She writes MG fantasy and historical and YA fantasy.

Here’s a blurb of Lines of Courage from Goodreads:

The stories of five kids living through World War I, each of whom holds the key to the others' futures... if they are lucky - and brave - enough to find each other.

World War I stretches its cruel fingers across Europe, where five young people, each from different backgrounds and nations, face the terror of battle, the deprivations of hunger, and all the awful challenges of war.

Felix, from Austria-Hungary, longs for the bravery to resist Jewish deportations before his own family can be taken.

Kara, from Britain, dreams of someday earning her Red Cross pin and working as a nurse - or even a doctor.

Juliette, of France, hopes her family can remain knitted together, despite her father's imprisonment, as the war's longest battle stretches on and on.

Elsa, from Germany, hopes her homing pigeon might one day bring her a friend from out of the chaos.

And Dimitri, of Russia, wants only to survive the front, where he's been sent with no weapon.

None of them will find exactly what they want. But the winds of fate may cross their paths to give each of them just what they need.
 

 My Review

Thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an ARC of Lines of Courage. This is a fantastic story. Here are four things I really enjoyed about it:

1.     The story is set during WWI. While I’ve read a lot of books set in WWII, I have not read many about WWI. I enjoyed learning about this time in history and the trains used by the Red Cross to treat wounded soldiers.

2.     As the blurb states, this story is about the lives of five young people who come from different backgrounds and countries. Jennifer Nielsen does a fantastic job showing us how the war affects their lives and creatively has their lives intersect throughout the story.

3.     I love Jennifer Nielsen’s writing style. It is so clean, and every word matters. Whenever I struggle with some aspect of my writing, I pick up one of Jennifer’s books to see how she handled it. It really helps me to move forward and figure out a solution to my problem.

4.     This fast-paced story kept me wanting to turn the pages. I read it in two sittings, which is unusual for me.

Giveaway Details

I’m offering my ARC of Lines of Courage 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 July 2nd. 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

Friday, July 1st, I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 6th, I have a guest post by debut author Elisa Bonnin with a giveaway of her YA fantasy Dauntless and my IWSG post 

Monday, July 11th, I have an agent/debut author guest post by Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori with a giveaway of Melissa’s contemporary/magical realism JR Silver Writes Her World and a query critique by Jennifer

Wednesday, July 13th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Jazmia Young and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, July 16th, I’m participating in the Hip Hip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 18th, I have an interview with debut author M.T. Khan Maaeda and a giveaway of his MG contemporary fantasy Nura and the Immortal Palace

Wednesday, July 20th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Alex Slater and a query critique giveaway

Monday, July 25th, I have an interview with debut author Derrick Chow and a giveaway of his MG retelling Ravenous Things

Hope to see you on Friday!

Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop


Happy Thursday Everyone!
Today I'm excited to participate in the Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're having a good summer. Tomorrow my daughter, her boyfriend, and I are going to a cousin's wedding celebration for the weekend. It should be a fun trip, and I'm looking forward to seeing family I hardly ever get to see in person. 

I have other exciting news. I just finished the first draft of my YA contemporary fantasy and typed THE END. It's only the second manuscript I finished. Now I get to do the fun writing--revising.

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 6/16 – 6/30/202 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, June 20th, I’m doing a giveaway of Jennifer Nielsen’s MG historical Lines of Courage

Friday, July 1st, I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 6th, I have a guest post by debut author Elisa Bonnin with a giveaway of her YA fantasy Dauntless and my IWSG post 

 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.

Agent Spotlight: Kayla Cichello Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

 Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kayla Cichello here. She is a literary agent at Upstart Crow Literary.

 Hi­ Kayla! Thanks so much for joining us.

 About Kayla:

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

My path to agenting was a bit serendipitous. I was working for SCBWI in Los Angeles and met several agents and editors at the SCBWI Summer and Winter Conferences each year. One of the agents that I became friendly with was Jennifer Rofé from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I was picking her brain about agenting, and she offered to let me shadow her one afternoon to see what an agent does on a day to day basis. After that afternoon, I was hooked. Soon after, I had the opportunity to become Jennifer’s assistant, and worked with her for three years until I joined Upstart Crow in 2020. Since then, I’ve been actively building my list of clients, which means reading queries every day and working with my small list of clients.

About the Agency:

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

Upstart Crow is a boutique literary agency focusing on children’s and adult fiction and nonfiction. We are a small team, and with that comes a collaborative environment, which I love. All of the agents are editorial, and we share ideas, questions, and advice constantly. One of the best aspects to the agency is the wealth of industry knowledge that comes from our various backgrounds. There is a collective effort to always focus on what’s best for a project and a client. And as a newer agent, I appreciate the veteran experience my colleagues have and their perspective.

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 represent picture books through YA in both fiction and nonfiction, and I also represent illustrators. The number one thing I look for in submissions is voice. If I connect to the voice of a character and the writing, then anything else that might need adjusting can be adjusted. If I’m not drawn to the voice, it’s not the right submission for me, and that’s okay. This industry is subjective and there may be another agent who does connect to that voice and style.

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

In YA, I’d love to find an intricately plotted thriller, like the Truly Devious series or A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER. I’d also like to find a fresh take on the enemies to lovers trope, something like the recent THE SEA IS SALT AND SO AM I. I’m also on the lookout for contemporary middle grade with an honest voice and a unique perspective, something like THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY by Marie Arnold or SMALLER SISTER by Maggie Edkins Willis. In picture books, surprise me!

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not the right agent for sci-fi, high fantasy, or chapter books. I’m also not a fan of ghosts, even cute ones!

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’m looking for authors and illustrators that are looking to build a partnership with me, and hopefully have a long-lasting career in publishing. I’m in this for the long haul, and I want clients that want to be as well. I’m looking for worker bees; those that are continuing to work on their craft, learn, and are open to feedback. This is a slow industry and there is more rejection than not, so I’m looking for clients who can take that rejection in stride, and perhaps learn from it for the next story.

In terms of the books I want to represent, I’m looking for stories that are going to have an impact on their audience. I want to help shepherd stories that can fill a void for someone; maybe it’s seeing themselves in a character or story, or maybe it’s a story that gives a reader a moment of escape that brings a smile to their face, no matter what’s going on around them.

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, I am an editorial agent. I love brainstorming with clients and talking things through. The process is different for each project in terms of how many rounds of revision something may require before going on submission, and it’s also dependent on what shape something is in when I see it. Usually, there are two rounds or more of feedback before something is ready. There may be times where a project is ready to go out on submission and then based on editor feedback, another round or two of revision is beneficial.

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?

Please use the submission guidelines on www.upstartcrowliterary.com and include the first twenty pages of your manuscript in the body of the email. Author/illustrators with dummies can include the dummy as an attachment. Illustrators please include a link to your portfolio and Instagram.

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

Many queries I receive don’t put the name of the manuscript or the genre in the subject line, and it’s not that I dislike it, but something like “query” as the subject doesn’t get me excited to read the sample pages.

Sometimes with first pages, especially in fantasy, the worldbuilding and the rules to how the world works are not clear and it can create confusion as a reader. It’s hard for me to get a solid footing in a story if I don’t have knowledge about how a world works or where we are starting in the story. This can apply to any opening scene; if there isn’t enough context presented to know where I’m starting with a character, then it can be difficult for me to feel engaged in the story rather than confused.

Response Time:

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

This really depends on what I have going on with my current clients. Some days I have more time to read queries than others, but I try and look at my query box each day. I wish I had the time to respond to every query I receive, but generally if I haven’t responded or requested more pages within twelve weeks, it’s most likely a pass.

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 am open to authors or illustrators who have self-published in the past or have been published by smaller presses. Sometimes that is the right choice for a specific story. I will say that querying with a story that has already been self-published is not preferable because it’s very rare, if ever, that a publisher will buy a manuscript that has already been self-published. If someone has self-published in the past, I’d like to know that information in their query letter, but please do not query me with a story that has already been self-published. Self-publishing gives complete creative control and freedom, so if someone is looking to go the traditional route and query an agent, I would suggest being open to feedback and being willing to let go of total control, because traditional publishing is a team effort, and ultimately the publisher has a lot of say in the final product.

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 has many facets, at least in my opinion, all centered around guiding a client’s career and helping them achieve their publishing goals, but also being an advocate for a client. This is ever present in contract negotiations; an agent is constantly working to make sure an author is getting a fair deal and that their rights are being protected in a contract. Even with the increase in publishing options, that part of the role doesn’t change, and is even more critical. Everything changes eventually to some degree, so the smaller roles an agent play may change, but I don’t see the major roles changing.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Ana Otaru, author/illustrator Kirbi Fagan, and Lupe Ruiz-Flores.

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.

This one is so helpful for picture book writers: https://katemessner.com/picture-book-math-and-why-you-should-write-something-new/

A podcast series I think is helpful in understanding the acquisitions process to any writer is Sarah Enni’s Track Changes: https://www.firstdraftpod.com/trackchanges

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please use the submission guidelines on the Upstart Crow Literary website: https://www.upstartcrowliterary.com/submissions

Writers can submit by following the instructions listed.

Additional Advice:

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

Keep writing, keep learning, keep making connections. You never know when a connection might turn into the spark that helps revise a manuscript, land an agent, or even sell a project. And, we all need friends that understand the need to write and create.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kayla.

­Kayla 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 June 25th. 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.

 

 

Literary Agent Interview: Chelsea Hensley and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Chelsea Hensley here. She is an associate literary agent at kt literary.

Hi­ Chelsea! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Chelsea:

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

I’m coming up on two years of agenting. I started back in the summer of 2020. Originally I was interested in pursuing editorial but found agenting checked a lot more boxes about the work I was excited about in publishing (in addition to enjoying more independence and autonomy in my work). I landed at KT where I’ve been ever since. I’ve been building my list—an exciting but slow-going process for me, I’ve found I’m a lot pickier than I anticipated being this early on, but I have a great, tight list right now and am working on sharing their work with their world.

About the Agency:

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

KT Literary is a boutique agency with a very collaborative, and positive, atmosphere. As well as handling domestic deals for our clients, we partner with our co-agents on foreign and film/TV rights. As a newer agent, I get lots of support and mentorship from senior agents Sara Megibow and Kate Testerman in ensuring mine and my clients’ success. A supportive and optimistic atmosphere is a big part of KT,  and forming connections among fellow agents and clients has been a priority of ours. Pre-covid there was a retreat for clients and agents (that will one day return), and we hold weekly office hours for all clients to come together and ask questions or just chat with us and each other.

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?

In children’s right now I rep MG and YA only. In MG, I’m a very hard sell on contemporary, I’m more into genre fare. In YA, however, I’m into all of it: voicey and emotional contemporary, twisty thrillers, magical fantasies, dark horror, all of it.

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

In YA, I’m particularly looking for dark and twisty thrillers (think Courtney Summers) with complex protagonists who aren’t very worried about being liked. I’m also hungry for horror with a more psychological, creepy, very intense vibe.  In MG, I’d love to see some rollicking fantasy adventures with plucky protagonists. Whimsy is a big must for me in this category.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Right now I’m not looking for any nonfiction, graphic novels, picture books, or chapter books. I’m also not a great fit for sports-centric themes or works that would fall under “issue” books.

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?

In building my list, I’m really looking for authors who I think I can have a longterm partnership with beyond their first or second books. Something Margot Robbie said she looks for in projects she’s pursuing for her own production company has really been resonating with me lately: she focuses on three factors: quality, variety, and longevity. That’s made a lot of sense to me over the past year or so, and I’ve adopted it myself, so I’m really looking to work with authors who are not only talented but have an ambition and curiosity that comes across in their work.

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. When working with clients, I approach edits much like an editor at a publishing house would. We start with a big picture pass where I write a complete edit letter then a second pass where we work in the manuscript though at this point I don’t go as in-depth as a full line-edit. With me, clients are working to get things as ready as possible for submission, but I don’t like to spend an indefinite amount of time on this so we don’t risk overworking my author or getting in the way of an editor and their vision.

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?

You can query me via Query Manager. With a query letter, I’m really wanting to get a good look at what the book is about. I’m looking for an enticing pitch that introduces character and conflict. In my experience, an imperfect query that gives me a good and solid introduction to the book is a lot more valuable than a gorgeously written one that doesn’t tell me anything.

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

With queries my one pet peeve is queries that don’t tell me the plot of the book. I get many, many queries that tell me about the author’s thinking or their reasons for writing the book, but by the end I don’t know enough about the book’s plot or characters or anything that’s “tangible” about the book.

Response Time:

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

Generally I strive for 2-4 weeks for queries. I’m not as quick with requests as I’d like to be, but I try to get back to people within 8-12 weeks. If it’s been longer, I encourage you to nudge me about it! Regardless of the answer, everyone who queries or submits to me will get a response so if you haven’t gotten one, something’s gone wrong somewhere.

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?

Absolutely. I recommend, if you’re looking for an agent to, like other authors, have a completed, new (which means also not a sequel to something self-published) and unpublished project for consideration.  

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?

 As any industry changes, people’s roles will shift. Publishing’s not any different, but the general –and most important—role of an agent is going to remain the same: to guide and advise authors to as successful and fulfilling a career as possible.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent several amazingly talented authors. M. Darusha Wehm is a Nebula-award nominated author who published KEYFORGE: THE QUBIT ZIRCONIUM last year. I also represent Ness Brown, author of the forthcoming THE SCOURGE BETWEEN STARS (April 4, 2023, Tor Nightfire). I also have a lot of authors on my list who haven’t published yet writing everything from funny and smart MG mystery to sharp and witty YA contemporary.

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.

If you think you might want to query me, you can find my MSWL on my website. You can also listen to my episode of the KT Literary podcast.

Links and Contact Info:

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

You can query me using Query Manager. If that presents an accessibility issue for you, feel free to send your query and first three pages to our agency’s generic query inbox: queries@ktliterary.com. Specify the agent you’re wanting to query, and it’ll be passed on and reviewed as time permits.

Additional Advice:

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

I think just as much as time as you spend working on your project and getting it ready for querying, you should also take time to prepare yourself, too. The querying process alone can be grueling and disheartening, and that doesn’t necessarily change once you’re agented. So I encourage you to find touch points that are going to revitalize and encourage you, whatever that may be.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Chelsea.

­Chelsea 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 June 18th. 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.

 

 

 

 

Berry Good Giveaway Hop


Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're all getting into your summer and have exciting plans. I hope this includes reading. I have a lot of books on my summer reading list.

Here are the newly released MG and YA books I'm offering in this giveaway hop. You can also choose another book in the series by these authors. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads. Here are your choices:

















If you haven't found 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 listed above or a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Open to entrants internationally as long as Book Depository ships to you for free, 13 years and older. Open for entry from 6/01 – 6/15/2022 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, June 6th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Chelsea Hensley and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 13th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Kayla Cichella and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, June 16th, I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 20th, I’m doing a giveaway of Jennifer Nielsen’s MG historical Lines of Courage

Friday, July 1st, I’m participating in the Sparkle Time 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.

The Publishing Process and How It’s Changed Since 2019 by Agent/Author Mary Moore and Emi Watanabe Cohen & The Lost Ryū and Query Critique Giveaway & IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Emi Watanabe Cohen and her agent Mary Moore here to share about Emi’s MG contemporary fantasy The Lost Ryū. I love historical fiction and fantasy and am super excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Kohei Fujiwara has never seen a big ryū in real life. Those dragons all disappeared from Japan after World War II, and twenty years later, they've become the stuff of legend. Their smaller cousins, who can fit in your palm, are all that remain. And Kohei loves his ryū, Yuharu, but...

...Kohei has a memory of the big ryū. He knows that's impossible, but still, it's there, in his mind. In it, he can see his grandpa – Ojiisan – gazing up at the big ryū with what looks to Kohei like total and absolute wonder. When Kohei was little, he dreamed he'd go on a grand quest to bring the big ryū back, to get Ojiisan to smile again.

But now, Ojiisan is really, really sick. And Kohei is running out of time.

Kohei needs to find the big ryū now, before it's too late. With the help of Isolde, his new half-Jewish, half-Japanese neighbour; and Isolde's Yiddish-speaking dragon, Cheshire; he thinks he can do it. Maybe. He doesn't have a choice.

 


Before I get to Emi and Mary’s guest post, 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 this month are SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Joylene Nowell Butler,  Jacqui Murra, and me.

I’m going to skip the optional question and share my good news. I wrote the words every writer wants to write: THE END. I feel really great that I finished my manuscript and will have it critiqued by my critique partners tonight.

I had to totally preserve and write it in 30 to 60-minute increments because I was dealing with daily emergencies for a community theatre play I was producing that just ended. I wish I could celebrate, but my mom's health has declined drastically, and I've been with her every day. Yesterday, she seemed back to normal. Yay! So now I have lots to celebrate. 

The Publishing Process and How It’s Changed Since 2019 by Agent/Author Mary Moore and Emi Watanabe Cohen

EMI: Hi everyone! Today, Mary and I will be discussing the process of publishing my debut novel, The Lost Ryū. I signed with Mary in the summer of 2019, and needless to say, a lot has changed since then. Sometimes it feels like I wrote a book in one world, then turned around and gave it to another world entirely.

Mary, how has the shift to WFH affected agenting? How has it stayed the same?

MARY: As a west coast agent, the shift was not as dramatic for me. I already worked from home eighty percent of the time. A positive aspect was it opened connections, as editors/publishers/authors became adjusted to online meetings rather than in-person. I used to go to NYC once a year, and fill my days there with multiple back-to-back meetings, which was an overwhelming whirlwind. Now I feel when I return to NYC, I won’t have to cram absolutely every meeting into that small window, as many people I can connect with online.

On the other hand, those important random connections that would be made from conferences, NYC trips, and gatherings didn’t happen and the collaborative nature of my office was sorely missed. And there was quite an uptick in submissions, combined with less time on my side, which meant it became really difficult to stay on top of the sub inbox. Writers had more time to write, but ironically agents and editors had less time to manage, so this disconnect created a bottleneck and was one of the factors in the industry-wide burnout. I had to close to submissions, as I needed to dedicate my energy to my current clients.

Speaking to your particular case, your experience would probably have been pretty similar, as your submissions mostly happened online.

EMI: Yeah, I will say, working from home as an author is basically just… working. And for all the drawbacks of not being able to meet in person, the normalization of remote events has meant I’ve been able to connect with authors I never would’ve met otherwise.

Now, you’re a very hands-on editorial agent— I remember doing multiple rounds of intensive revisions on my manuscript before we went on sub. Editing is an art unto itself—do you have any advice for authors who are revising their work before querying?

MARY: We did do quite a bit of editing! It is such a fun story and you are great to work with, so that made it easy.

EMI: Aw, shucks.

MARY: As for advice for revising authors, everybody is unique, but in general, try to have beta-readers, at least three. If possible those beta-readers should be writers in your genre or heavy-readers of your genre. Having other eyes on your work will be invaluable. If you can elevate those beta-readers to critique partners that can be even more helpful, i.e. have a regular exchange of editorial advice on all your projects. And read critically at least two or three current books in your genre while you are revising. I also recommend Save The Cat!: Writes a Novel for help with plot and character development.

EMI: In the case of The Lost Ryū, I was fortunate enough to have some really wonderful and insightful early readers, including another of your other clients, Van Hoang. Van writes folktale-inspired middle grade like me, so not only was her specific feedback super helpful, but reading her book was also incredibly instructive.

MARY: Agree, Van is awesome!!

EMI: And I emphatically agree with that point about reading recent releases in your genre. Studying books like Van’s Girl Giant duology and Tae Keller’s When You Trap a Tiger was a crucial part of revising The Lost Ryū. I got to see how other writers “did it”— how they integrated fantastical elements into realistic middle grade settings—and I got to enjoy the magic of our little subgenre, which has really been thriving these past few years.

Mary, here’s a question I’ve wanted to ask you for a while: Is there something you especially look forward to while working with us authors?

MARY: My favorite part is working with an author from the beginning of their career, nurturing them as they grow and expand, and then partnering with them as they fly. The resulting professional relationship that develops from that is amazing. I consistently humbled by my clients’ talent and surprised by how unique and individual each relationship is, even though they are all on the same career path. Seeing you, Emi, expand, as The Lost Ryū found its voice and then went through the intense lead-up process to publication, has been so exciting and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you.

On a small note, one thing I especially look forward to is the cover journey. At that point I’ve taken more of a backseat on the project and am able to simply enjoy reading the excited conversation between the author and editor about concepts and artists, feeling the nervous anticipation, then seeing the concept come to life, and of course watching my client reveal it to an excited audience, the whole process is so fun! 

EMI: The cover reveal for The Lost Ryū was so cool! Seeing my name on the WNDB website was such a surreal experience. It’s one thing to tell people my book has dragons, and another thing to be able to SHOW them those dragons. Tatsuro Kiuchi and Sheila Smallwood did incredible work illustrating and designing that cover.

MARY: Yes! It’s such a whimsical image and the design captures the poignancy of the novel so perfectly.

EMI: The past couple years have really given me a new appreciation for the interconnectedness of creative projects. I’m in awe of everyone who’s contributed to The Lost Ryū—not just the artists I’ve mentioned above, but also the specialized craftspeople you don’t hear about as often. How cool is it that typesetting is a thing?! And did you know that copyeditors also do fact-checking and continuity? Big props to Diana Babineau—she taught me how to use commas AND reminded me that sunlight doesn’t reach the bottom of the ocean. It takes a village to publish a book, and we all need our villages, especially in isolating and uncertain times like these.

Okay, one last big question, Mary. Do you think the future of publishing looks different now than it did when you acquired The Lost Ryū?

MARY: Publishing is constantly shifting, it’s like sand dunes on a beach, so to predict how it’s going to look in the future is difficult. I lean into the idea that the only constant is there is no constant. I use this philosophy to help my clients navigate the industry, while also trying to be that missing constant for them. The pandemic of course caused a more dramatic shift than expected however. The biggest factor that I could see directly impact my clients is the burnout, industry people are leaving their positions at faster and higher rates than before, creating an uncertain future for the editor/author relationship. Hopefully the publishers recognize the importance of this and start looking for ways to mitigate the burnout.

EMI: Aaaaand, rapid-fire round! Top five books read in the past two years. Go! 

MARY: AHHH! Okay here goes!

Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer, MD PhD

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

             EMI: Nice! For me it’d have to be…

                        A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

                        Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier

                        From Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos

                        The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

                        Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland

Thanks for having us, Natalie! Readers and authors, you can find us at www.emicohenwrites.com and www.marycmoore.com, or on Twitter (@cohemiwrites, @mary_c_moore) and Instagram (@cohemiwrites, @marycmoore).

 Giveaway Details

Emi’s publisher has generously offered an ARC of The Lost Ryū and Mary 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 June 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 ARC giveaway is U.S. and the query critique giveaways is International.

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Today I’m also participating in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 6th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Chelsea Hensley and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 13th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Kayla Cichella and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, June 16th, I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 20th, I’m doing a giveaway of Jennifer Nielsen’s MG historical Lines of Courage

Friday, July 1st, I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you later today!