Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Marlo Berliner and Refe Tuma Guest Post With Frances and the Monster and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/15/2022
  • Lynette Novak Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/17/2022
  • Sarah Fink Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/12/2022
  • Jazmia Young Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/21/2022

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.

Agent/Author Teamwork by Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori & JR Silver Writes Her World and Query Critique Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Melissa Dassori and her agent Jennifer Unter to share about Melissa’s MG contemporary/magical realism JR Silver Writes Her World. I love the blurb and have heard great things about this book so I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

What if you could write your dreams into reality with the stroke of a pen? 

Sixth grade is off to a difficult start for Josephine Rose Silver. Her best friend, Violet, returns from camp with a new best friend; her parents refuse to grant her more independence; and her homeroom teacher, Ms. Kline, is full of secrets. When Ms. Kline unveils a collection of old Gothamite magazines and tells her students to build their writing skills by crafting short stories inspired by the iconic covers, J.R. discovers a peculiar power: The stories she writes come true. Soon J.R. is getting a cell phone, scoring game-winning goals, and triggering school cancellations. But it's not long before she realizes that each new story creates as many conflicts as it does solutions. And when J.R. tries to write about her fallout with Violet, all of her problems converge.
 
With a pinch of magic, mystery, art history, and language arts woven into a journey of growth and self-confidence, this promising debut is a heartfelt and satisfying tribute to the power of words.

Now here’s Melissa and Jennifer!

Melissa: Thank you, Natalie, for having Jennifer and me on the blog! I love these author/agent pieces and seeing all the ways writers and their advocates work together, which brings me to the topic of this chat—author/agent teamwork. It’s one that reflects a theme in my upcoming debut, J.R. SILVER WRITES HER WORLD, which is a story about eleven-year-old J.R. Silver who’s struggling with watching her best friend, Violet, slip away. J.R. is anxious to get their two-person team back together but has a hard time saying so. Eventually she figures out, through a combination of magic and personal growth, that even if their relationship changes, it can still be strong.

One thing I knew from the minute you signed me as a client was that I was very happy for us to be a team, especially as I navigate these debut waters! As an agent, how do you decide which authors you want to partner with?

Jennifer: When I read a query letter, the idea of the book really has to grab me.  What I remember first liking about J.R. SILVER is the freshness of the story combined with nostalgia. It reminded me so much of the books I loved as a child, the feeling of real possibility and innocence, but from the view of the 21st century. I look for real scenarios in novels that I want to represent. Many are enhanced in some way, either by magic realism or other worlds or fantasy, but the issues the characters are dealing with are rooted in real life issues. 

Once I love the idea of the book, then I evaluate the writing of the query, and the bio of the author. If the author has really honed their skill, I can tell by both the writing and what they have done in the past in the writing arena. Even if this is their first book, if they have been to conferences or have a writing group or have published pieces, then I know they are serious about their craft.

Melissa: I love that you were taken with J.R. Silver from the start and had helpful ideas for me on revisions before we began to submit the manuscript to editors. Beyond that, though, it’s been so helpful to have someone willing to field my candid questions and advocate for me. I remember, just as an example, being so surprised that my deal would be announced before the contract was signed, and you assured me this was totally an industry norm. Then there are things like what to ask during our meeting with the publicity team, or how to assess whether their plans were robust, which luckily they were. All of those behind-the-scenes processes were so new to me, and I found it invaluable to have a partner with perspective. I know your client list is a mix of experienced writers and debut authors like myself, including a middle grade writer named Sally Engelfried whose September debut I just read an advance copy of and loved, LEARNING TO FALL. What kind of guidance do you find first-time authors need and how have some of your relationships with long-standing clients evolved over time?

Jennifer: My first -time authors are usually just unsure of the whole process and it really can be a lot. Editors do a great job guiding them through the editorial process, but I find I’m needed most for publicity/marketing, subrights, and then on to royalty statements, which most authors have a hard time figuring out. Long-standing clients have publicity contacts and have been down the publishing road many times, so they know what to expect.

Melissa: Readers probably won’t be surprised to hear that I hope that J.R. SILVER is the beginning of a long and fruitful career as a middle grade writer. Fingers crossed! From your perspective, how do you advise your clients to think about developing their careers? Are there industry trends you’re currently watching, or ways in which you’ve seen writers connect with audiences that set them up especially well for success?

Jennifer: I do watch industry trends, but often by the time it’s a trend, it may not stay that way. My advice for authors is usually to write from their heart and do what they love as opposed to following trends. As for connecting with audiences, the writers who are the most successful are the ones who want to find their readers, whether it’s on social media, at festivals, in bookstores, or otherwise. The ones who put in the time to meet their fans are the ones who reap the most reward.

 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Melissa and Jennifer. They can be reached at:

 Melissa:

      www.melissadassori.com

      Twitter: @mdassori

      Instagram: @melissadassoriauthor

 Jennifer:

      www.theunteragency.com

      Twitter: @JenniferUnter

      Instagram: @jenniferunter

 Giveaway Details

 Melissa’s publisher has generously offered a hardback of JR Silver Writes Her World and Jennifer 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 July 23rd. 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 Canada 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 Guest Posts

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 her 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 Wednesday!

 

38 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Magic and mystery is a good combination! Best wishes with this release. :)

Anonymous said...

I would love to read Melissa's book. Thanks for the giveaway offer. The interview of this team was valuable and interesting!

Greg Pattridge said...

What a great sounding plot! The characters and themes have it high on my future read list. Also—A very informative interview from both sides. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

Jacqui Murray said...

What a clever story! I can see why Jennifer grabbed it. Kudos to the author.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

What a great opportunity! Your new release sounds wonderful, Melissa. I've shared this giveaway on Twitter and Facebook.

Danielle H. said...

I would love to win a finished copy of this exciting novel. I shared on tumblr and follow Natalie in Twitter. Please exclude me from the critique giveaway https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/yesreaderwriterpoetmusician/689495806352474112?source=share

Rajani Rehana said...

Great blog

DMS said...

I recently read a review of this book and I added it to my TBR list. It sounds awesome. I would love to win a copy. Thanks for the chance to win. Best of luck to Melissa!

Brenda said...

So nice to see you're highlighting this awesome book!! No need to enter me in the giveaway. Congratulations to Melissa on its release.

Kerry Hansen (she/her) said...

Congrats to both of you on what sounds like a magical debut. And thank you for the opportunity to win a copy and query critique. I also posted the interview on Twitter.

Liz A. said...

I love the concept of this book.

feecaro said...

I'm putting this book on my TBR pile-- it sounds fantastic! What an interesting and helpful interview, too. Thank you for including me in the giveaway and critique raffle.

Laurie Calkhoven said...

Looking forward to reading the book, and would love to be entered into the critique giveaway.

Ilona Bray said...

Nice interview; I enjoyed Jennifer's reminder that no matter the setting or genre, characters need to be dealing with real-life issues. Please enter me in both giveaways!

Julie S said...

Great interview and I'd love to win a copy of this book. I tweeted the giveway too :) Thank you for the opportunity!

Tammy W said...

Love the plot basis! Can't wait to read. Thanks for all the publishing/editing/etc. wisdom.

Kelly said...

Love the imagination and creative concept! Looking forward to reading and the possibility of a query critique :)

Damyanti Biswas said...

Fascinating Premise!

Anonymous said...

Excited to read this debut!

Anonymous said...

Having your stories come true. Can you imagine? Great premise.
'Lo, Natalie;)

Liz Hanson said...

I'm so intrigued by this premise! I love the friendship and magic components and am curious about the art history. I'm excited to read J.R. SILVER WRITES HER WORLD and would love a query critique.

Shamaila Siddique said...

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

Maria Antonia said...

This looks good! Thanks for featuring it this week :)

Eric H. said...

I definitely want to read this book right now! Please enter me in the giveaway. And my query can always use another critique! Thank you!

Lauri Meyers said...

Ahh...be careful what you wish for! Love the theme of this book. I tweeted the giveaway, too. :)

Ella said...

Thank you for the amazing interview!
I would love a query critique. I tweeted the giveaway
email: ela.mishne@gmail.com

Jennifer Phillips said...

Congratulations, Melissa, on bringing your book into the world! And thank you, Jennifer, for offering a critique opportunity. jjpseattle@comcast.net

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the post, sounds good!

Rosi Hollinbeck said...

This book has been getting a lot of buzz. I can see why. Thanks for the info. I will pass on the giveaways.

Mary said...

Thank you, Natalie, for all you do for the kidlit community, highlighting authors and new books, and introducing agents. I'd love to be entered in the critique giveaway and tweeted about it.

Patricia T. said...

I love JR Silver's storyline. Enjoyed the interview. All the revisions paid off. Look forward to getting a copy.

Nancy P said...

Book only please. It sounds intriguing. Following.

Tonja Drecker said...

That is an interesting surmise, and enjoyed the interview. (no giveaway for me, please)

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction said...

I've been super intrigued by this cover for a long time, but I hadn't read what the book was actually about! I love this premise - I actually read a similar book a couple of years ago (but definitely not the same, of course) and really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Fionnghula Thel said...

Would love a query review and the book too since I write middle grade. Found your blog through another writer's group! Finally feel like I'm building community as a new writer. Lots of great info on this blog, keep up the good work.

Anneliese said...

I started reading while researching Jennifer Unter, and ended up with her near the top of my Agents to Query list, and with "JR Silver Writes Her World" on my (considerably longer) TBR list. Thank you on both counts!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you found my blog and like it. Thanks so much for being a follower. I appreciate it.

Andrea Mack said...

I was immediately attracted to the title of this book, and then when I read the premise I just thought how many kids seem to have to cope with friendships that are changing, especially as they get into middle school. Sounds like a great read--I'll be looking for it.