Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • 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.

Literary Agent Interview: Laura Gruszka Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Laura Gruszka here. She is a junior agent at Writers House.

Hi­ Laura! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Laura:

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

I’d always known that I wanted to work in publishing, but, like many young people, hadn’t heard of any other position besides editor. After interning at a few different agencies, it became evident to me that agenting—and agenting in the children’s space specifically—was where I wanted to stay! Not only do I get to work editorially with brilliant creators throughout their careers, but I also have the privilege of telling everyone about just how talented they are. I started at Writers House assisting senior agent Rebecca Sherman, and now, I’ve been promoted to junior agent. I’m so excited to be actively building my client list!

About the Agency:

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

Writers House has a long and impressive legacy as an agency representing writers and illustrators of all genres and styles. Our high standards, experienced staff, history of success, culture of collaboration, and dedicated contracts and global licensing departments are all essential elements in building and sustaining clients’ careers.

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 best place to get a thorough breakdown of my submission requirements and interests is my Publishers Marketplace profile: https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/lgruszka/

As of the date of this interview, I’m open to projects for all age groups, PB through YA (and select adult). I’m looking for fiction in all age groups and am open to, but more selective in, nonfiction. In picture books, I look for memorable artwork with a voice and stories with a strong voice. In MG and YA, prose is very important to me, whether it’s pitch-perfect slice-of-life or breathtaking new worlds.

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

In picture books, I love stories that tune into kid-specific frequencies—ones that don’t talk down to kids, but rather understand and speak to their humor, logic, and independence. I’m also a sucker for watercolor and a consistent, evocative palette.

In MG and YA, I especially appreciate casts of characters with distinct, memorable personalities who love each other fiercely—the kinds of characters readers can’t help but make 100-song playlists and moodboards for. And I love projects that jump headfirst into their uniqueness (or even weirdness), whether it’s retelling a mythology not ubiquitous to Western pop culture, upending a genre convention, or building an unforgettably lush, real-feeling world (magical or not).

I’m also an avid concertgoer and video game enjoyer (particularly, though not exclusively, narrative-driven games and RPGs), and I have a special soft spot for the Midwest/Great Lakes region. I also played percussion, including concert percussion and drumline in marching band, for many years. If you’re working on a project that taps into any of these, keep me in mind!

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

It might seem self-explanatory, but I’m not looking for submissions outside of the specified genres on my profile. This includes picture book text-only submissions and adult nonfiction submissions. In terms of subject matter, I generally steer away from overly didactic or strictly pedagogical stories without an overarching narrative, regardless of age range. I’m also picky about historical fiction—I prefer thoroughly-researched stories about less-commonly-seen times and places.

I’m not the right person for projects about police, true crime, voluntourism, fantasy with “evil” races, or horror predicated on mental illness and physical disability—unless your project is upending genre conventions or commenting critically on the history of or our cultural relationship with any of these. Relatedly—and I wish this went without saying—please don’t send me anything promoting racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, fatphobia, misogyny, and anything else of this nature.

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?

Especially in the realm of children’s books, I’m looking to work with creators whose books will be life-changing for a young reader, whether it’s by finally seeing an authentic representation of their own experience, learning about a subject not discussed in their everyday life, or igniting their lifelong love for reading. I’m committed to uplifting traditionally underrepresented voices and stories in publishing. I want to help creators publish the books they wish they’d read when they were younger—and get those in the hands of today’s young readers. On the technical side, I seek to work with creators who are open to and intentional about editorial work, yet also don’t lose sight of their unique voice and ideas.

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 definitely am! My goal is to help each creator best achieve their vision for their project and to lean into their talents. I approach the editorial process by asking, “What does the writer do well? What needs work—and how can the writer use their talents to strengthen those parts?” I work with authors in the format most helpful for them, whether it’s emailing an editorial letter or hopping on a call to discuss top-line points. We’ll go back and forth as necessary until we both feel the project is in its best shape to be submitted to editors.

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?

Queries should be sent to gruszkasubmissions@writershouse.com. Longer works should include the first 10 pages and a detailed synopsis; picture books should include a dummy and a sample of final artwork or a link to a portfolio; graphic novels should send a detailed summary, sample pages/thumbnails of at least one chapter, and a sample of final art or a link to a portfolio. Again, please read my Publishers Marketplace profile for the most up-to-date query guidelines.

Query letters that remain focused and accurate are the best! In general, I like to see a quick pitch of the project, a summary, any other relevant details about why you wrote it, some current comparative titles, and a bit about your writing background if applicable.

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

It may be funny to say, but I dislike when query letters don’t follow submission guidelines. Writers House submission guidelines ask that you only query one agent at the agency at a time—so if your query is addressed to 10 of our agents, you’re off on the wrong foot. Check, then-double-check, your queries: make sure you’re up-to-date on the genres I represent, my submission guidelines, the email address I receive queries at, and the spelling of my last name!

In first pages of longer works, I often like to see a day in the life or a minor conflict faced by our protagonist before the apocalypse begins/they find out they have magic powers/someone close to them dies/they step through a portal. I find it harder to connect with characters undergoing huge life-or-death events if I haven’t gotten to know them first, as flawed or unlikeable as they may be. This isn’t a strict rule, though, just a general preference!

Response Time:

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

Please give me 6 weeks minimum to respond to your query (and a bit longer if a bank holiday falls within that time frame). I reply to every query I receive, and that takes time!

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I’m certainly open to representing authors who have self-published, but re-publishing self-published books is a complicated matter best addressed case-by-case. It is always helpful to query with a new work of yours, though!

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?

While publishing may be changing, I feel the role of agents remains the same: commitment to supporting clients’ careers and goals, supplemented by industry knowledge and experience.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I’m very excited to be working with Binnie Kearns, a phenomenal artist whose work I’ve followed for years: www.writershouseart.com/binnie-kearns   

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.

N/A

Links and Contact Info:

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

As mentioned above, please visit my Publishers Marketplace profile for up-to-date detailed submission guidelines: https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/lgruszka/

Additional Advice:

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

It’s so important to have a creative community to support you and your artistic journey. Attend a workshop, join a writers’ group, enlist some critique partners! Not only will your peers help strengthen your submission, but they’ll also provide valuable community and continued education and growth. Books are a business, yes, but writing, illustrating, and creating are lifelong endeavors that are rewarding in themselves. It is my hope that, through it all, all aspiring authors and illustrators find a way to keep alive the joy of making art.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Laura.

Giveaway Details

­Laura 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 February 10th. If your email 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 follow me on Twitter or 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 email 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.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Thursday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart 2 Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Marc Gregson and a giveaway of his YA dystopian Sky’s End

Monday, February 12th I have a guest post by author Sherry Ellis as part of her blog tour and a blog-tour giveaway

Friday, February 16th I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 26th I have an interview with debut author Megan Brennan and a giveaway of her MG graphic novel Kira and the (Maybe) Space Princess

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Tips on Surviving the Long Haul—Writing for Life by Author Shutta Crum

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author Shutta Crum here. She is a talented picture book and middle grade author as well as a poet. I’ve known Shutta for decades. She was also a librarian at my library, and I used to take my daughter to her story time events. She’s also been a member of the Michigan SCBWI for decades and is always willing to help aspiring writers and authors. Her most recent book releases are two picture books, Grandma Heaven and Grandpa Heaven.

Shutta is here today to share tips on surviving the long haul of a writing career.

Here’s a blurb of Grandma Heaven from Goodreads:

Heaven is a place where one can have fun. Or so thinks award-winning author Shutta Crum. When asked about death by one of her grandchildren, she imagined the perfect heaven. A place where grandmothers play hockey, have iguanas as pets, jump rope, find treasures at jumble sales, and keep a loving eye on grandchildren. Grandma Heaven, and its companion book, Grandpa Heaven, provide reassurance to young worriers that heaven is a happy place and that love never dies.

Follower News

Before I get to Shutta's guest post, I have Follower News to share. Sandra Cox recently released Sheriff
Tyree, book 2 in her Keeper Series. Here's a tagline: There's a new sheriff in town. And here's a buy link:
https://www.amazon.com/Sheriff-Tyree-Keeper-Book-2-ebook/dp/B0CN3S271W

Now here's Shutta!


Tips on Surviving the Long Haul—Writing for Life

A friend of mine recently sent me a compiled list of writing tip lists. It’s here. (Do check it out, there’re some really good ones.) That got me thinking. I’ve been in this game for a long time—traditionally published for about forty-eight years with over 160 poems in print and 20 books out. And, of course, I’ve been writing for much longer than that. Which means that I, too, have a handy list that might supply the fuel for some of you when things feel like they’re dragging, or you just can’t get your butt back in the chair another day. And since we traditionally reflect upon where we’ve been and where we’re going at the start of each new year, here’s my list of eleven things to do to keep you writing for a lifetime. Why eleven and not ten? Because I’m a fan of that hilarious rock-mockumentary This is Spinal Tap. Besides, why not?

1.     Love—be open to it.

Let your guard down. Live your life to the fullest with all its ups and downs. To write is to create something that will be held up to the light. That creation will come from a place of caring—even if your life is tough. Love is the propellant that will empower your writing—love of reading, love of conversation, love of creating, love of simply being. 

2.     Experience—walk about.

A writer needs an ocean to draw from. Get out and about. Wade in the ocean. Do things. Do not coop yourself up in a stuffy room or dark corner staring at a blank screen or piece of paper. Walk out. Walk widely. Walk with an open heart. Breathe in that salt-filled air. Fill your ocean with wonderful adventures. 

3.     Stand back—and use your senses.

Telling you to stand back may seem like an odd admonition, especially as I’ve just advised loving and living widely. But in order to create you have to take a step back and examine your life and the adventures you’re having in that walk-about, and in those relationships. Stand at a little distance and touch, taste, smell, hear, and look at what/who interests you. Touch an emotion you felt as you walked about. Can you put your hand around it? What is its heft? Does it sing to you when you put it to your ear? 

4.     Scribble—let your inner toddler out.

Jot things down. Record your thoughts. Slap chocolate covered hands against walls. It doesn’t matter how you do it, or how messy you are. Just get it in writing, or get it recorded. Collect your thoughts. I have a friend who wrote occasional lines on scraps of paper and tossed them into a laundry basket. When he wanted to write a poem, he’d pull a handful out and see what came of it. Yes, it can be that disorganized. In fact, I believe it’s preferable to be unorganized! Don’t slow down to critique yourself or be so concerned with orderliness that you can’t fling open the gates and let your imagination run free—while hitching a ride on it. 

5.     Revise—play with the mess.

Are you sensing a theme here? The joy of just living, loving, creating? Revision is a critical component. Sure, some writers grumble about revision, but it can be fun as well. Pull out a few notes that seem to connect to each other and, like a tangram puzzle, move things around. See what kind of shape(s) you can form from a variety of prompts, emotions, ideas, scenarios, characters. Whether you write poems, short stories, novels, non-fiction, plays, gaming scripts, whatever—grab hold of the bits and pieces, play, shake them up and see what begins to clump together. Can you breathe life into it? 

   6.     Plan—start adulting.

You always knew there’d be a time to grow up. Well, at least, to put that toddler down for a nap. Okay—now is the time to ask yourself, what is my intention regarding my writing? Try to get clear about this—knowing that it might change later.  Are you writing for strictly personal reasons and have no desire to share with the world. Fine. Do it. Do you want to share/publish? If so, figure out how you’re going to go about it. Now is the time to get organized and get help. Join a critique group, and a professional organization like SCBWI or other writing groups, like the Poetry Soc. of America, Mystery Writers of America, etc. 

7.  Submit—go for it!

If your plan is to publish, really go for it. That old saying is correct, “You can’t jump a chasm in two leaps.” (Variously attributed to Twain, Churchill, or Chesterton.) Research and get yourself an agent. And/or start submitting to publishers/journals/media outlets yourself. There are many printed and online sites that will provide instructions on how to prepare a submission, who to submit to, and what those publication agencies are looking for. (Duotrope and Submittable are helpful. As are many of the writer’s market guides put out by Writer’s Digest Books.)  Do your homework. Most writer organizations can help with research and recommendations, as well. 

It’s good to get your family on board at this point. They need to understand that this writing business will take some of your time, your energy, your attention, and your money. And it really helps to have a couple of cheerleaders amongst your near and dears. Their hopes and good wishes for you can buoy you up when you need it. 

8.  Scribble & Revise again—play while you wait.

Don’t ignore the fun part of all this. Continue to scribble, take notes, journal, and draft as you wait to hear from agents or publishers. Feed that creative half of your brain with new projects. Artwork of any kind helps to fuel the writing. Love mosaics? Collage? Car restoration? Keep your creativity on a sugar/caffeine high. Now is a good time to learn to juggle. You want to continue to play messily while also being well-organized with your submission record keeping. You can do it! 

9.  Scribble, scribble, scribble . . .

Don’t stop! And keep living large and reading widely to find new ideas and ways of seeing/feeling that you are going to take note of. Sure, there will be down days—days you get yet another rejection. But without the lows how could we feel the joys of the high days? Just steady yourself and remember that you are a creative person. Your words, your art matters. The good you put out into the world can have ramifications beyond your wildest imaginings, and that may start with a single soul who adores what you’ve done. 

10.  Revise, revise, revise . . .

Love revision. Invite it into your boudoir with a copy of the Kama Sutra. Enjoy yourself. 

11.  Love your path.

Love the path you’ve decided upon. You can always change your mind about publishing/or not. And love the people you’ll meet along the way—most will be helpful. Contribute to the zeitgeist of the book world. Support your fellow writers. Here’s an article I wrote about writers supporting writers: Effective Ways to Help Us All Succeed.  Check out the ways you can help. 

And, if you meet those who belittle your efforts or try to discourage you, recognize that there are some unresolved issues in their lives. The fault does not lie in you.  Give them space but continue onward according to your plans for your writing. It’s your gift, don’t let anyone spit on it. 

12.*  Celebrate—as much as possible!

Don’t skimp. Don’t be shy. A neighbor comments on a piece you wrote for a neighborhood flyer—have an extra sip of wine in its honor! If a book, an illustration, a poem, or a story gets accepted be proud. Let folks know. And join the celebrations of your fellow writers. We’re all in this together. Celebration is the butter and cream that’s baked into a rich life. 

*(I know, I only said there’d be eleven. But there’s twelve. What can I say? I turned my sound system up two notches above 10! Take that, Spinal Tap!)

 Resources:

45 Writers Rules for Writing

Duotrope

Submittable

Writer’s Market

Society of Childen’s Book Writers & Illustrators

Shutta’s Links:

www.shutta.com

www.facebook.com/shuttacrum

Twitter: @ Shutta

Instagram: @Shuttacrum

Thanks for all your advice, Shutta!

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Wednesday, January 31st I have an agent spotlight interview with Laura Gruszka and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart 2 Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Marc Gregson and a giveaway of his YA dystopian Sky’s End

Monday, February 12th I have a guest post by author Sherry Ellis as part of her blog tour and a blog-tour giveaway

Friday, February 16th I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 26th I have an interview with debut author Megan Brennan and a giveaway of her MG graphic novel Kira and the (Maybe) Space Princess

I hope to see you on Wednesday!

 

 

 

Debut Author Interview: Anthony Nerada and Skater Boy Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Anthony Nerada here to share about his contemporary YA romance Skater Boy. It sounds like a real page-turner that tugs at your heart. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb:

In this YA pop-punk debut about queer romance and destroying labels, a teen risks everything to write his own story. Perfect for fans of Sonora Reyes and Adib Khorram.

Stonebridge High’s resident bad boy, Wesley “Big Mac” Mackenzie, is failing senior year—thanks to his unchecked anger, rowdy friends, and a tendency to ditch his homework for skateboarding and a secret photography obsession. So when his mom drags him to a production of The Nutcracker, Wes isn’t interested at all . . . until he sees Tristan Monroe. Mr. Nutcracker himself.

Wes knows he shouldn’t like Tristan; after all, he’s a ballet dancer, and Wes is as closeted as they come. But when they start spending time together, Wes can’t seem to get Tristan out of his head. Driven by a new sense of purpose, Wes begins to think that—despite every authority figure telling him otherwise—maybe he can change for the better and graduate on time.

As a falling out with his friends becomes inevitable, Wes realizes that being himself means taking a stand—and blowing up the bad-boy reputation he never wanted in the first place.

From a debut author to watch, Skater Boy delivers a heart-wrenching, validating, and honest story about what it means to be gay in a world where you don’t fit in.

Hi Anthony! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Sure! I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Coast Salish Peoples. I’ve spent my whole life writing—whether that was doodling picture books as a kid or writing screenplays in my high school Film & Television course—but I really started taking writing seriously after I finished my first full-length novel way back in 2010 and pitched the idea to a literary agent at a local writing conference. After that, it took me nearly ten years to land an agent, and another two years to get a book deal, but I like to think I was always preparing to become a writer (it just took me a little longer to get there).

2. I'm definitely taking longer to get there too. Where did you get the idea for writing Skater Boy?

After a year of working at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I was driving home to Canada with my partner when Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne came on the radio. Instantly, I was brought me back to a time when I used to secretly change the pronouns to all my favorite songs so that I could picture myself (and my own lived experience as a gay male) within the lyrics I so loved as a kid. For the rest of the drive home, I couldn’t get the idea of an angry gay skater boy falling in love with an out-and-proud ballet dancer out of my head and the rest is history.

Your Writing Process

3. How long did it take to write the first draft and then revise Skater Boy before you began querying? What part of the process did you enjoy more? Why?

Upon arriving home to Canada, I sat down at my desk and was able to pump out the first draft of Skater Boy in two months. I really did treat it like a full-time job. After that, I shared my manuscript with a handful of trusted beta readers and spent the next few months editing and revising the story before participating in #DVPit; an annual pitching event (then hosted on Twitter), that gives unagented, marginalized voices the chance to pitch agents online.

As weird as it sounds, while I do enjoy the initial writing of the story, I absolutely love the editing process because it’s like a huge puzzle you have to solve and gives you the opportunity to really hone in your voice and writing style. When you edit, it’s almost like you can watch your story getting tighter and stronger in real-time.

4. I can’t believe you wrote Skater Boy in two months. I love the editing more too. From reading reviews, it sounds like Skater Boy is a page turner. How did you keep increasing the tension? What tips do you have for writers writing a contemporary story for writing a fast-paced story?

No matter what I’m writing, I always tend to visualize my projects as movies in my head. That way, by putting my story on the proverbial silver screen, if I ever get “bored”, I know there’s still work to be done to fix it.

To increase tension in Skater Boy, I just kept asking myself; how would Wes feel in this moment? What would he do that may differ to how I would react right now? Most of the time, it meant putting Wes in situations where he was forced to grow or learn something about himself.

I am in no way an expert, but my tip for writers wanting to write a fast-paced contemporary story would be to visualize your story as if you were in the audience at a movie theater and—if you feel yourself becoming bogged down by the details or feel like a scene is dragging on when it doesn’t need to—to kill your darlings!

5. That’s a great tip for all genres to think of your story as a movie. Wes’ journey is not only about accepting that he’s falling for Tristan. It’s also about the changes and stands he takes in other aspects of his life. Share a bit about how he developed as a character and what you learned about character development in general from writing this story.

What makes Wes’ journey really beautiful to me is that he starts off as this angry, kind of lost, hot-head, but by the end of the book, he’s more receptive to those around him and maybe even a bit gentler—without ever really losing that initial anger. I always like to say that we, as humans, contain multitudes so our characters should reflect that on the page as well. Perhaps what I learned most about character development when writing this story is that it’s okay to have your characters not know all the answers and it’s okay for them to make mistakes because that’s just part of the human experience and ignoring that would be a real detriment to readers looking to find themselves within a story.

Your Road to Publication

6. Maria Vincente is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to getting a publishing contract like?

My road to publication was slow and long! I went out on submission with Skater Boy in 2020 at the onset of the COVID pandemic—when the publishing industry came to a roaring halt. After two years on submission, I wasn’t even sure if it would ever sell (and questioned my own writing ability every day) before Soho Teen came in with an offer. I’d like to think of it as a blessing in disguise though because, if it hadn’t taken as long as it did, I never would have worked with my incredible editor (and I wouldn’t have traded that for the world)!

I actually signed with Maria earlier this year after leaving my former agent (because that does happen and it’s perfectly okay/all part of the process when it does) and am so excited to see what we accomplish together!

7. Share what you learned about the craft of writing and how to make your story stronger from working with your editor.

In the short amount of time that we spent together, my editor at Soho Teen (Alexa Wejko) taught me so much about the craft of writing. Because I had spent so much time in Wes’ head before selling Skater Boy, I mistakenly assumed readers would understand him the way I intrinsically understood him to be. What Alexa did beautifully is that she taught me to pause and really look at my book from an outsider’s perspective to identify where the gaps in Wes’ perspective might be. In doing so, I was able to deep dive into his psyche and further explore his thoughts and feelings on the page, which I hope resonates with readers when they pick up Skater Boy.

On Marketing Your Book

8. What are you doing to promote your book for its release and in the upcoming months? How are you marketing in the U.S. when you live in Canada?

In this day and age, anyone can tell you how hard it is for an author to get noticed on social media, but that doesn’t mean we’re not out there doing everything we can to promote our work! In the coming months, you’ll find me embarrassing myself on Tik Tok, highlighting some of the amazing blurbs I’ve been fortunate enough to receive from some of my favorite YA authors on Instagram, launching my pre-order campaign for some exclusive Skater Boy swag, and heading out on a 5-city Pacific Northwest book tour.

Being perpetually online does have its perks and I’ve been able to make some really great connections with readers and book influencers across North America (and beyond). A lot of what I do to promote Skater Boy is just talking with people, making videos I hope will resonate with the larger YA audience, and trying my best to put my name out there in the lead up to my launch date.

9. It sounds like you have a great marketing plan. You have a publicist at Soho Teen and Penguin Random House in Canada. What has it been like working with your publicists? What advice do you have for other debut authors about working with a publicist?

It’s been great! Both my publicists at Soho Teen and Penguin Random House Canada have been so wonderful throughout everything. During a publicity meeting earlier this year, they laid out what to expect in the coming months and opened the floor for me to ask questions and provide feedback on any preliminary ideas they had planned. It’s been a super collaborative partnership and I cannot wait to see what they will do leading up to Skater Boy’s release.

My advice to other debut authors working with a publicist would be to come prepared with any questions you may have and a rough idea of what you’d like to see happen leading up to your publication date. Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to publicity and every author’s journey looks different, but in my opinion, it never hurts to shoot for the stars and see where you land. That being said, if you have any local media connections or know of any review publications that might be a good fit for your book, bring your ideas to the table because you never know what could happen.

10. What are you working on now?

Without giving away any spoilers, I’m currently in the middle of writing/editing a Young Adult romance/contemporary that pays tribute to one of my favorite musicals of all time. Growing up, I always wanted to be part of the musical theater world, but never really had the opportunity, so this is very much my way of exploring what could have been. The story itself is campy and full of emotion with a cast of characters I absolutely love, and I cannot wait to hopefully share it with the world one day (fingers crossed).

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Anthony. You can find Anthony at @AnthonyNerada (on Instagram, TikTok, X, Threads, and Bluesky) or www.anthonynerada.com.

Giveaway Details

Anthony’s publisher is generously offering an ARC of Skater Boy 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 February 3rd. If your email 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 or Anthony on his social media sites, 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 ARC giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, January 29th I have a guest post by author Shutta Crum

Wednesday, January 31st I have an agent spotlight interview with Laura Gruska and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart 2 Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Marc Gregson and a giveaway of his YA dystopian Sky’s End

Monday, February 12th I have a guest post by author Sherry Ellis as part of her blog tour and a blog-tour giveaway

Wednesday, February 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Stuti Telidevara and a query critique giveaway

Friday, February 16th I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 26th I have an interview with debut author Megan Brennan and a giveaway of her MG graphic novel Kira and the (Maybe) Space Princess

I hope to see you on Monday!

 

 

 

Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Tuesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're getting through the winter storm okay. In Michigan, January and February tend to be our coldest and snowiest months. I'm grateful  I work from home because we have snow and the high temperature will be 10 for the next few days. Yikes! 

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card

I'm offering a book of your choice that is $20 or less on Amazon. 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

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 January 31st telling me whether you want a book, and if so, which one, or the Amazon gift card and your email address. Be sure to include your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites 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. only and the Amazon gift card giveaway is International.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, January 22nd I have an interview with debut author Anthony Nerada and a giveaway of his YA contemporary Skater Boy

Monday, January 29th I have a guest post by author Shutta Crum

Wednesday, January 31st I have an agent spotlight interview with Laura Gruszka and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!

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

Here are all the blogs participating in this blog hop:


 


Literary Agent Interview: Leah Moss Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Leah Moss here. She is an associate agent at Steven Literary.

Hi Leah! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Leah:

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

2.    

I started at Steven Literary as an assistant in January 2023, where I assisted Megan Manzano with queries and a few projects. When Megan left the industry in July 2023, I was promoted to associate agent, which was very exciting! Since becoming an agent, I’ve mainly been working on building my client list and working with my current clients to prepare for going on sub soon!

About the Agency:

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

Steven Literary is a small, fairly new agency founded by Pam Pho. At Steven Literary, we strive to bring new and diverse voices into the industry, both on the author side with our clients and the agent side with assistants and mentorship. Pam and I both keep our client lists small so that we can give each author and project that time and focus that they deserve.

 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 2023, I was open to a lot of different age groups - picture books, YA, NA, and Adult. This year, I’m switching things up and want to focus on just MG, YA, and NA/crossover titles. I’m always looking for strong hooks, marketable concepts, diverse characters, and lush, beautiful storytelling.

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

I love fantasy stories that push the boundaries of what we’ve seen before. Non-traditional mythologies, original magic systems, and spellbinding new lore are things that I would love to see.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I have a comprehensive list of what I’m not looking for on the Manuscript Wishlist page of my website, but to mention a few big topics that I’m not interested in, I’m really not into high, epic fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings or The Name of the Wind, hard scifi stories, dragons, historical fiction, or stories about racism/homophobia/transphobia.

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?

As a neurodivergent woman of color, I definitely strive to bring diverse, marginalized authors into the industry. However, I will never be exclusionary and reject someone purely because they’re not marginalized - all stories are welcome in my eyes! As for the books I want to represent, I want to bring evocative, unique, and captivating books to market.

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! I like to work in 2-3 rounds of edits prior to going on sub with editors. The first round consists of big picture developmental edits that tackle issues like plot, pacing, and character motivation. The second round is about spotting inconsistencies that might have happened after the first round was completed, as well as diving deeper into things like word choice, sentence structure, and more. The 3rd round is the final polishing step before the manuscript goes out to editors, where I scan for any significant grammar or spelling mistakes, as well as making sure that any in-line comments are removed and the formatting looks good. The amount of rounds can fluctuate depending on what the individual manuscript and author need, but that’s my general process.

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?

I accept queries via my Query Manager link, which makes submitting manuscripts quite easy. I love a very streamlined, easy to read, and attention grabbing query letter. Bonus points if it’s personalized to me with comp titles from my wishlist, but that’s not a requirement by any means. Above anything, I love a strong, clear hook that sucks me into the query and makes it impossible to look away.

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

First, let me say that I always fully read through every query, even if it contains elements that I dislike. That said, I tend to dislike queries that strongly deviate from the standard query format. Query letters that are exceptionally long, incredibly brief, or fail to introduce the story to me tend to lessen my interest in the submission. There are many resources available online on how to structure an attention grabbing query, so make sure to check them out, for your own benefit!

When it comes to first pages, my dislikes are much more subjective and depend on writing style, character voice, and the hook of the story, so it’s hard to pinpoint a specific “dislike.”

Response Time:

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

In the past year, my response time has been much longer than I’d hoped, unfortunately. There have been several queries in my “maybe” pile for a few months. In 2024 I’m striving to keep my response times for queries, partials, and fulls fairly quick, out of respect and consideration for the authors.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

Yes, I am! As long as the project the author is currently querying hasn’t been previously published and is a new work that’s unrelated to their previously published stories (no sequels, please!) then I’m open to seeing it. My best advice is to make sure that the queried piece really shines and can stand on its own.

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?

This is an interesting question. For the most part, no, I don’t see the role of an agent changing very much, as this industry has remained pretty steady in terms of the roles and duties of authors, agents, and editors. However, with the unique phenomenon of self-published indie authors thrust into fame due BookTok and sometimes having their books acquired and republished by traditional publishers, I could imagine a world where agents start acting almost as recruiters to snatch up these pre-established authors and pitch their catalog of books to editors. Situations like that are rare though, and at this early point in my career, I’d rather work on helping my authors build their careers from the ground up.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I currently represent two authors, Brittany Evans and Kayla Morton. They’re both fantastic authors that I feel so honored to work with!

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.

I love Alexa Donne’s youtube channel; she has lots of great information about writing, querying, and publishing in general. The Bookends Literary channel is also a goldmine of information that writers should check out.

Links and Contact Info:

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

I only accept queries via my Query Manager link. I am currently closed to queries, but I’ll be reopening soon! Follow me on Twitter at @LeahNovaMoss for updates on when I reopen and other fun posts!

Additional Advice:

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

Please remember that this industry is so subjective in every way. I know that the rejections hurt (I personally hate having to send them!) but keep querying, keep writing, and keep believing in that dream of yours. It’s gotten you this far, so don’t give up!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Leah.

Giveaway Details

Leah 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 January 20th. If your email 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 follow me on Twitter or 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 email 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.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

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

Monday, January 22nd I have an interview with debut author Anthony Nerada and a giveaway of his YA contemporary Skater Boy

Monday, January 29th I have a guest post by author Shutta Crum

Wednesday, January 31st I have an agent spotlight interview with Laura Gruszka and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Tuesday!