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  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

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  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

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!







Liza said...

Congratulations on finishing, Natalie! So pleased for you. Hope your mom continues to do much better. Thank you, as always for these interviews!

Anonymous said...

I celebrate your mom improved health. Sometimes, writing in snatches is the best solution and I can imagine the frustration, too. Congratulations on the completion of our manuscript. Huge accomplishment.
Thanks for co-hosting IWSG.
Lynn @ la-vita.us

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Awesome on writing the end and sorry your mother is struggling. Hope every day gets better.
Thanks for co-hosting today.

Greg Pattridge said...

Informative interview with the reflections and insights from both Mary and Emi. The book sounds like it has great characters with a unique storyline. Looking forward to giving it a read!

Pat Garcia said...

Hi, Congratulations!! It is a good feeling to have that first draft or second draft finished. All the best with the critiques you receive. Thank you for co-hosting. Shalom aleichhem

Debs Carey said...

Natalie, huge congratulations on getting to write The End, especially within the constraints you had. I hope your mother continues to improve so you can celebrate in style. Such an interesting interview - thank you to Emi and Mary - loads of information on the process of publishing and all it involves. Thanks Natalie for facilitating it and for hosting today.

Melissa said...

Congratulations! You DO have a lot to celebrate!
Thanks for co-hosting!

Erika Beebe said...

Congratulations on finishing your manuscript and I’m so happy your mom is doing better. Great interview too!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Congratulations on finishing the manuscript!

Hope your Mom continues to feel better!

Diane Burton said...

Natalie, I'm so excited you finished. Can't wait to read the final product. Sorry to hear about your mom's health. It's good you live close so you can be with her. I hope she continues to improve.

Emi and Mary, great interview. So much has changed in the past 3 years. We sure have to be flexible, don't we? Emi, your story sounds so interesting. Best wishes.

Cathrina Constantine said...

YAY!! Congrats on writing those 2 great words. The End. I hope your mother starts to feel better, and then you can all have a pleasant June.

Thank you for co-hosting.

Jemi Fraser said...

Congrats on finishing the MS!!! So exciting.
Sending big hugs to you and hopes for your mom.

Congrats to Emi - the book sounds wonderful!

Diane Burton said...

Sorry. I forgot to thank you for cohosting this month. Thanks.

Jamie Krakover said...

Great interview and info around editing. This book sounds amazing and I'm excited to check it out.

Natalie, congrats on writing The End, and sending positive thoughts to you are you mom.

Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I can imagine a lot of things have changed for the better since 2019...it must be especially nice not to have as many in-person meetings!

Anonymous said...

The book sounds great! I love how you normalized working together, online. There's a lot I like about that.

cleemckenzie said...

Wow! You've got so much here today, Natalie. First, a story with dragons--my all-time favorite for escape reading, then you've written The End to a story. That deserves a cheer, so here's mine!!!! And then Mary's excellent suggestions. Thanks for the great post and for hosting today.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, writing 'The End' is my favourite part :) A tight hug from me. Glad your mother is feeling better. Prayers for her speedy recovery.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You sound so busy, Natalie. I'm sorry about your mum. Congratulations on finishing your ms. Great post.

Tonja Drecker said...

Congrats, Natalie, and wow, you have a lot going on! Glad to hear things are looking up. And as to this read...it sounds fun. The interview was a treat, too. You have so much here today, too!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thrilled for you finishing the ms. I'd like to be a little mouse in the corner when you meet with your critique partners. Good news your mom is feeling better. Thanks so much for co-hosting!!

Jan Morrison said...

So completely thrilling to write the words The End! And then it is another beginning usually - sending to beta readers,revising or if finished that selling and then doing more edits and all the fun that follows! I believe it is vital to celebrate every step of the way!

Nancy Gideon said...

Woo Hoo! A finished project!! Take time out to breathe and think of what comes next while in the hands of your readers. It's the pause that refreshes!!

emaginette said...

Congrats on writing "The End". That's huge. And I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I hope she has many better days.

Anna from elements of emaginette

Loni Townsend said...

That is awesome that you got to The End, and I'm so sorry to hear it was overshadowed by your mother's health issues. That is rough. I still congratulate you on accomplishing such a big writing thing. That part is awesome.

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie! Thanks for co-hosting today! So sorry to hear about your mother. You both are in my prayers.

Bravo for typing "The End" in your work in progress. Way to go! Truly an accomplishment. And also, bravo for producing a theatre play. Truly difficult work, I'm sure. Another great accomplishment for you.

And thank you, Emi and Mary, for the great writing and revising tips. Always learn something new here, Natalie! Have a beautiful day!

Sonia dogra said...

Hi. Hearty Congratulations for the book. I enjoyed reading this interview of the author and the agent. Really liked that tip about reading similar genres and going for critique partners in the same genre. I do have critique partners for my short stories but we write different genres.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats on The End. I am so sorry to hear that about your mother.

Liz A. said...

Getting "the end" is wonderful. Sounds like an interesting book.

Olga Godim said...

Congrats on the end of your book, Natalie.
It was fascinating to read about the changes in publishing.

Sadira Stone said...

Congratulations on The End and on your play! Thanks for co-hosting.

Fundy Blue said...

Wow! Wow! Wow, Natalie! THE END!!! I'm so happy for you and proud of you! You know I will read your book, my friend! Thanks for co-hosting!

diedre Knight said...

Yay, you Natalie! How exciting! And a play, as well? You are unstoppable, good woman! That's an impressive line-up of new releases ;-) Cyber-hugs to you and your mom.

tetewa said...

Congrats, I'd like to get a copy! tWarner419@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Major kudos on finishing your manuscript! Savor the moment - you've earned it.

Very happy to hear that your mom is better. That kind of worry really wears on a person. Prayers for her continued improvement.

Arlee Bird said...

Congratulations on reaching your next step on the road to book release. I wish you well.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Shamyla said...

Love the interview. I would love to enter the query critique. My email is shamaila.siddique@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Congrats on both your mom and those beautiful words! You do have a lot to celebrate.

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for the dual interview today. I would love to read an ARC of this exciting book, so please enter my name for a chance to win a copy, but not for the critique. I follow Natalie on Twitter and shared on tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/yesreaderwriterpoetmusician/685954323859030016?source=share

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing about your journey and it sounds like a great book.

Kerry Hansen (she/her) said...

I love interviews that show the collaborative process between writer and agent. I follow Nataile and shared this giveaway on Twitter. kerryhansen@outlook.com

feecaro said...

That was a great interview-- I'd love to be included in both giveaways. Congratulations on finishing your draft!

Kate Larkindale said...

Great interview! And congratulations on hitting "the end". Such a great feeling!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Love the interview--and Emi's cover! Huge congrats to you for being able to type THE END!

Carol Kilgore said...

Sorry to hear about your mom. Hope she continues to improve. And huge congrats for typing The End! It's a wonderful feeling.

Jenni said...

Congrats on reaching THE END! It's great that you're taking time to celebrate. I hope your mom continues to improve. This was a really insightful interview! I liked hearing about how the switch to WFH affected the agent side of things.
Please count me out of the giveaways.

Lori L. MacLaughlin said...

Congrats on finishing your manuscript! I'm sorry to hear about your Mom's health issues. I hope she continues to feel better so you can celebrate together. Thanks for co-hosting IWSG!

Janet Alcorn said...

Congrats on finishing your manuscript, and I'm glad your mom is feeling better! Thanks for co-hosting.

Karen K. said...

Another great interview. I would love to be entered for the query critique. Thanks! kkobylar@gmail.com

Nancy P said...

Sounds wonderful. ARC only please. Thanks. positive.ideas.4youATgmail.com

polly said...

GFC follower/polly
Glad you Mom is on the mend!

Michelle Wallace said...

Natalie, congrats on finishing your manuscript! Awesome!
You always have such amazing things happening here at your blog.
Thank you, once again, for all the wonderful things that you do for writers.