Query Round-up 2/18

Here’s a quick query round-up for those who find them helpful.

Queries Read: 134 (light week but lots of great projects!) 

Requested: 4

Romantic Suspense – great concept, loved the writing

YA Fantasy – sounds really different and unique and the voice grabbed me immediately

YA Paranormal – it’s about time for paranormal to come back, right?

Literary MG – was instantly in love with the voice

Passed to NL colleague: 6

YA Paranormal Fantasy with great writing, great comps and great opening (too similar to something I recently sold)

Contemporary YA – great writing and solid concept, but a little too musical/dance/theater for me (context: I hated Glee)

Literary coming of age novel – not right for me but great concept

YA contemporary – loved the writing but too similar to something on my list

Non-fiction – not for me, but the author seems to have an interesting platform

Historical fiction – really interesting story, great writing, a bit too similar in themes to something I’m working on

Regretfully Passed: 2

MG - enjoyed the voice, read all the pages, but was worried the concept didn’t quite stand out enough

Historical YA - great query, but didn’t love the pages

Personal Response: 

Literary distopic fiction – great query, but no pages; I asked to see the first 5-10 pages

YA fantasy – good engaging writing, but voice and concept felt more suited to MG in my opinion

Adult fantasy – loved the query but just didn’t get sucked into the pages, would love to see this revised

General observations:

If you’re writing fiction, go ahead and write your bio, rather than just linking to your website. I know it’s going to sound lazy of us agents, but giving us extra work to do isn’t going to necessarily help your case. (If you’re an illustrator, linking to your portfolio is fine). 

Still seeing a lot of YA fantasy and adult fantasy

Highest word count: 155k YA romance

Lowest word count: 17k comedic fiction (adult)

100 Days of Booklr, Day 49

My sister and I were talking last night about book publishers, because someone we know knows which publishers are her favorite based on their books. My sister and I don’t pay any attention to that sort of thing, so we thought that was interesting.

What about you guys? Do you pay any attention to which publishers put out your favorite books? Do you have a favorite publisher?

Tips from a YA Editor by Anne Regan: Crafting a Query Letter

What’s a query letter?

  • A short (single page) introduction of you and your book to a publisher or agent
  • Use professional business letter format, font, and language
  • Do your research about the publisher or agent so you can:
  • Personalize the letter to a specific person (for example, the acquisitions editor)
  • Show how your book meets their submission criteria

Start with the most important information first

  • A “hook” – one sentence that captures the essence of your story and makes them want more
  • To save his world, a hobbit must destroy a powerful magic ring.
  • A farm boy joins the rebellion against an evil galactic empire.

State how your story fits what they publish or represent.

  • I enjoy your fantasy novels and would appreciate your considering my novel Hobbit Wars.
  • Always include the title, genre, and word count.
  • Be sure these meet the submission guidelines for your target publisher or agent.

Include a brief synopsis of the story

  • No more than one or two short paragraphs – ideally no more than 150 words
  • Focus on your main characters, their goals, and the obstacles they face to achieve them
  • Don’t overdisclose – leave the editor or agent wanting to read more
Wrap it up
  • Include a sentence or two about yourself
  • Include any writing credits, awards, or special background that influences your story
  • Thank the editor or agent for their time and consideration
  • Based on the submission guidelines, include the manuscript or excerpt or let them know it is available on request
On Sensitivity Readers in Kidlit

A new trend is emerging in the publishing world. After the creation of #WeNeedDiverseBooks in 2014, writers, editors, and publishers became (finally!) concerned with the accuracy of cultural representation.

Sensitivity readers, sometimes called beta readers, review manuscripts featuring a marginalized or minority group about which the author is writing but does not belong. This happens ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME. in publishing. It’s such a lily-white industry, and instead of getting members of marginalized communities to write the books themselves, (usually) cis white authors write about them and assume that “meets” the “diversity quota.” 

This is not to say white writers shouldn’t include marginalized or minority characters in their stories, but left unchecked, these well-meaning portrayals can easily get skewed or veer off into stereotype territory. 

Enter sensitivity readers!

Now, there are plenty of people who will roll their eyes at this concept and say it’s a pointless exercise in political correctness. To those people I say: sit the hell down. Although it’s not the perfect solution, sensitivity readers are a really good start.

This is especially important in children’s literature, because part of engaging reluctant readers is showing them relatable and realistic stories. Achieving an accurate portrayal is important for all audiences, not just minority ones; stereotypes are cultivated when problematic depictions are recycled without a second thought. We can and must do better.

Of course, this is a very subjective process. There is no one way to be LGBTQ+, one experience of being Jewish or Black or Latinx, or one understanding of ableism. But people who have lived this experience are FAR more likely to have a nuanced understanding of it than a someone writing from a position of privilege. Intersectionality brings a whole host of complications, as multiple identities often cannot be distilled into one affiliation. 

But that doesn’t mean the process isn’t valuable!

Open dialogue between authors, sensitivity readers, and editors is essential. It’s important to respect various viewpoints and experiences, while recognizing privilege and problematic depictions. Exchanges between sensitivity readers and authors may prove most valuable when authors don’t view a sensitivity read as a one-off service, but a departure point for further conversation.

anonymous asked:

Heya! After a few years of posting original works online, I've slipped back into fanfic, but I'm super out of touch. I'd tried to write fanfic the way I write original stuff, and it just didn't work- I'd written something novel-length and novel-style, but looking back now it doesn't feel appropriate (and the hit count is miserable, haha!). Have you got any tips on the differences between writing original fic and fanfic, and how to jump back into the pit without embarrassing myself again?

Hi there, anon!  Thanks for your question :)

I have personal experience with this struggle, I assure you.  It seems like when a writer first transitions to original work, they feel like it’s a one-way trip – like once you’ve made the shift, you can’t go back.  But that’s purely psychological, and once you overcome it, you’ll be able to transition seamlessly between the two!

Although I’ve found that writing original fiction isn’t all that different from writing fanfiction, I’ll give you a few tips for slipping back into “fanfiction-brain”:

  • Watch (or read) the source material.  Novel-writing is all about being original, with your characters and your writing style – but fanfiction is about creating stories in the world (and in a way, the style) of the original creators.  You wouldn’t write a Captain America fanfiction in the same mindset as you wrote your high-fantasy adventure novel!  So immerse yourself in this separate world and your mindset will follow.
  • Read fanfiction in this universe.  Find some quality fanfic, with similar themes to what you’d want to write (e.g. angst, fluff, etc.).  And read it through writer’s eyes, which means paying attention to how chapters are opened and closed, how long they are, how much detail is included, and, maybe most importantly in your case, how they’re presented and marketed to readers.  Your hit problem may be more to do with your presence in the fanfiction community than anything else!
  • Re-learn the audience.  People reading original fiction are looking for new characters, universes, and conflicts to fall in love with – but fanfiction readers already love the setting and the characters.  They already know what they want, and they’re going to click away if you don’t, in some form or another, give them what they want.  So if you’re writing a complex story that’s tagged as angst, you’re going to need to put some emphasis on the angst.  If you’re writing for an audience who want feel-good fluff – no matter how much your novel-brain is saying, “This isn’t enough to fuel a story!” – you have to include some feel-good fluff.
  • Adapt to an episodic style.  Every installment of your fanfiction is going to need some sort of hook, to ensure that your readers follow up with the next chapter.  Remember that no one is paying for the whole fanfiction, so they have little reason to invest time in something that isn’t gripping their attention.  The good news: fanfiction allows us to be self-indulgent with things like angst and fluff filler, because our readers will likely enjoy it as much as we do.  So the pressure of keeping readers interested is matched with the cushion of filler!
  • And lastly, make use of your personal voice.  Fanfiction is sold by personality, just as much as story – your author’s notes, your summary, and your narrative style – so make sure to develop a stage presence.  This will make it easier to address your readers when asking for feedback, and will likely net you more followers!

That’s all I’ve got at the moment, but if you have another question, send it in and I’ll get back to you!  Thanks again, and good luck :)

If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask me!

On Editing

This was forwarded to me by a former colleague who attended a course on how to publish/edit a book. You probably already know most of these tips, but there might be something you’ll find helpful, who knows…


GENERAL STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK (what the story is and how it is being told):

  • What is the book about? What is the driving force behind the narrative?
  • Who is the audience for this book?
  • Is it based on real experience?
  • Does the story work? Are there any parts that feel unconvincing or where the narrative drags? 
  • Are there any parts I don’t understand?
  • What is the trajectory or the shape of the story?
  • Does the story start in the right place?
  • How quickly do I become immersed in the book?
  • Are there any points where my immersion in the story is broken, or I lose interest?
  • Do I believe in what I’m reading?
  • How satisfying is the ending? Does it feel inevitable?
  • Does it feel like anything is missing?
  • Is there anything extraneous (characters, detail, unnecessary plot points)?
  • What is the narrative point of view (first person, second person, third person)? Does it change? Is it consistent? Does it work? What might be lost or gained if the story were told another way?
  • Is the tense consistent? If it changes, is it necessary?
  • Does coincidence feature as a plot device? If so, is there another way to engineer the same events?

Keep reading

Roxane Gay Pulls Book From Simon & Schuster In Response To Milo Yiannopoulos Controversy
The Bad Feminist author pulled her forthcoming book How to Be Heard from Simon & Schuster over Milo Yiannopoulous's $250,000 book deal with the publisher.
By Jarry Lee

A big round of applause for bisexual author Roxane Gay!!!!

thecoffeecoyote  asked:

Hi Mama Bree, I was curious to know your thoughts on CreateSpace as a publishing platform. I'm looking to publish eventually and I know you've published through them a few times, so I wanted your take on their services. Pros and cons and such, y'know?

Grovedaughter Witchery is my first time publishing through CreateSpace as a solo author. Anna ( @ean-amhran ) handled the publishing end of things for The Sisters Grimmoire and The Witches’ Cupboard.

That being said, for a first-time user, the experience was very good. The site is straightforward and easy to use. The process is laid out step-by-step and there’s a dashboard where you can check on your project and see which step it’s on. There are little symbols next to each step so you’ll know if you’ve missed something or if action is needed on a certain item. You can select your pricing and it will let you know what the print costs are and what your royalty for each copy would be.

CreateSpace lets you choose your distribution, which can be pretty widespread (CreateSpace online store, Amazon in at least a dozen countries, and the Barnes & Noble website, primarily), and suggest categories for your listing to reach your target audience. There’s also a link to Kindle Direct Publishing once you’re finished with your manuscript, so you can release an ebook as well as a print version.

There’s a cover creator that lets you design a cover from premade templates or upload your own full-cover image. I tried the templates, but none of them really had the spine options that I wanted, so I wound up having Anna create a cover design with my photography and uploaded that.

Once you submit the final copy for review, the site will let you know if things are outside the print margins (and there are various book size options) and if there are errors that would interfere with printing. They don’t check for spelling or grammar, you’ll need to do that yourself. The review usually takes a couple of days, but then you’ll be able to approve the proof online or order a printed copy. I recommend ordering the printed proof, just to make sure the cover and the interior look the way you want them to. That can be hard to suss out in PDF form.

Once you approve the proof, an Amazon listing will be created within 72 hours. It’s faster with Kindle Direct Publishing; the ebook is generally live within 2-8 hours, or even faster. You’ll be responsible for marketing the book and getting the word out to interested parties after that. CreateSpace will keep track of your sales and royalties, and you’ll receive a check or electronic payment at the end of the following month.

I haven’t gotten my first payment yet, that’ll be the end of this month. From what I know, CreateSpace will send you tax forms and such for whatever money you make, since you may need to pay income tax on it later.

If you have questions regarding royalty payments or tax info, I suggest talking to Anna Zollinger @ean-amhran. She’s published half a dozen books through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct, and she’s very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the end processes.

Hope this helps! :)

Hi! I have a question about co-authored books. How would (pen)names work when the book is written by a whole group of people (let’s say four). Should the group just pick an acronym for on the front of the book, or should they put all their names on the cover? (like a row of names in the corner of the cover) I would love to hear your thoughts!

A pen name would be a great way to cut down on the clutter, but there’s nothing stopping you from listing everybody, as long as your cover is designed in a way that’s not distracting. You could have a lot of fun tweaking the cover in any way you want (I assume you’re self-publishing, so have fun!). If you decide the group effort is going to produce a lot more material, a pen name would be just fine.

Ultimately, as long as proper credit is given (you’ll bound to have all the authors listed in the publishing details), it’s up to whatever looks good to you!

anonymous asked:

Hi M, I hope you don't mind me asking. In which ways do pre-orders make a book more visible?

Not at all. Think of it like this: pre-orders are like Google searches. The more of them there are, the closer to the top of the heap your book is going to be. The more people who are buying it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, from Indiebound, or who are even just adding it on Goodreads, the sooner it will pop up and the more people will see it. Also, it creates demand before a book is even released, and stores and websites getting a lot of orders for a title will go, “Okay, we should make sure we have a lot of these in stock,” and that helps, too. So basically pre-orders go a long way towards helping sales, online and elsewhere. So if you’ve pre-ordered Villains, you’ve done me and the Flatiron team a big favor!

I always think of life as a bunch of stepping stones leading the way, but sometimes we have to cross through some bad stuff to get the good.
But it’s very important to remember, how some environments will never let you grow in the person you are meant to be. Stay strong when you realize this step-back. Never let the persecution of others bring on the depredation of your character. Don’t let any negative environment change this. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to the person you are meant to be. And let your compassion over-flow with your true light. You can’t let them or the negative energy that surrounds them suck the life or compassion out of you. Stay focused only on what is important and don’t let the lies of others distort the truth. Let your own light flow bright.
You cannot fix a person that cannot see an issue with their actions or realize the lie they live day to day. Their foundation was built with lies in order to stay afloat and eventually their boat will sink from the weight of those lies.In the end you need to focus on your own path, don’t let them hold you back.

Remember each stone has a purpose in helping you realize your true potential. You will always be where you are meant to be.
Every place in your life you had to cross a threshold of stepping stones, each stone had a purpose, but all stones have a beginning and they have an end. Don’t fret when you reached the end. Because the end is nearly the beginning of something new, something brilliant that is waiting for you to cross over to your next journey in life. And a new trail of stones will appear magically before your eyes; those stones are there to help you move forward in life as long as you still believe in your steps.


Joanna Strafford 

How to Improve Written Dialogue in 6 Steps

Dialogue is often one of the clunkiest elements I read in a requested manuscript. It’s difficult to balance the nuances of real-life speech and the guidelines for written conversation, but it doesn’t take much to improve the dialogue you have already created. Here are six steps to improving written dialogue: 

Step 1: Sit at a coffee shop and listen to conversations.
Write down fragments of what you overhear. This is the best way to get real-world inspiration for your dialogue. For example, if you’re writing a book about teenagers, then listen in on a conversation between teenagers. No matter your protagonist, you can find real-world inspiration for how they talk, what they care about, and how they connect with other people through conversation. If a coffee shop doesn’t work for your research, then pick another public location. Parks, libraries, bookstores, restaurants… almost anywhere will work. 

Step 2: Avoid dialogue tags.
Dialogue tags are almost always unnecessary. If two characters in your book are having a conversation, readers don’t need to know who said what after each line. Your readers can assume that the speech is moving back and forth. Dialogue tags can make your writing look clunky and also waste your allowed word count on absolutely nothing. 

Step 3: Look up other ways to say “said”.
Even when you try to avoid them, sometimes you will need to use dialogue tags in order to let the reader know who is speaking. And when you do, occasionally find different tags than “said” to keep things interesting. 

Step 4: Remove (almost) all name mentions.
Most writers have a bad habit of including characters’ names in speech in the early drafts of a novel. People rarely call each other by name in real-world conversation. Don’t let every line of dialogue start with someone’s name because it’s unrealistic. 

Step 5: Get rid of the small talk.
Many people will tell you, when advising how to write dialogue, to make it sound as close to real-life speech as possible. This is one exception. Small talk happens a lot in real-life (how many conversations about the weather have you had in your lifetime?), but it shouldn’t be in your novel. No one wants to read small talk; readers are looking for interesting dialogue that is engaging and moves the plot forward. 

Step 6: Read all dialogue out loud.
Go ahead. Do it. Read every single line out loud. Pretend your dialogue is the script of a play and act it out. The way you’ve written it (and the words around the speech) should include hints at the emotion behind the words. Reading your dialogue out loud is the best way to catch errors, judge its compelling nature, and check that it sounds authentic.

Now go forth and write great conversations! 

anonymous asked:

Since you mentioned it in your last post—did you write the flap copy for your own novel? I always had the impression that it was somebody's job at the publisher.

Our flap copy was a collaborative effort. My editor wrote the first draft, and then my agent and I tweaked and changed it–and at one point my editor’s assistant even weighed in–until we had something we were all happy with. Writing flap copy is like writing a query letter; it’s hideously difficult because you want to give a reader an honest, intriguing snapshot of a book without giving the whole thing away.