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Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and published author who runs the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, one of the biggest blogs in publishing. His site has instruction and information on literary agents, literary agencies, query letters, submissions, publishing, author platform, book marketing, and more.


How to Write and Sell Your Fantasy & Science Fiction — Nov. 10 Boot Camp (w/Critiques) Taught by Fuse Literary

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There has never been a better time to be a Sci-Fi / Fantasy author. With television shows like Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones and Outlander each in turn becoming massive pop culture phenomena, and Marvel’s superhero films dominating the box office, SF/F has gone mainstream like never before. The SF/F literary marketplace has also become more open to a variety of stories and points of view.

The SF/F agents of Fuse Literary (formerly Foreword Literary) will help you perfect your new Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror masterpiece in this online boot camp titled “How to Write and Sell Your Fantasy & Science Fiction.” It starts on Nov. 10, and all registrants will get individualized agent critiques as well as have the chance to ask the agent instructors any questions they wish. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Susan Blumberg-Kason

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of the memoir GOOD CHINESE WIFE. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.

Susan’s agent is Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. Read more

How to Choose the Right Age Category for Your KidLit Work-in-Progress

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1. Don’t forget your overarching concept. My MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, is about a young girl who becomes a folk artist; with her grandfather’s help, they turn their home into a folk art environment. My initial idea was to write a picture book—the illustrations, I imagined, would grow increasingly wilder as the property became covered in sculptures and whirligigs. Consistently, though, early editorial response was that the concept of folk art was just too advanced for the picture book readership—teaching me not to get so caught up in ideas external to the text that I lose sight of the main concept that the book is built around.

GIVEAWAY: Holly is excited to give away a free copy of either one of her two most recent novels to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Kate Testerman and “Steering Toward Normal”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.

The 70th installment in this series is with agent Kate Testerman (KT Literary) for Rebecca Petruck’s middle grade novel, STEERING TOWARD NOVEL (Abrams/Amulet, May 13, 2014). The book was chosen as a American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce New Voices selection as well as a Spring 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List selection. It was among Vanity Fair’s Hollywood’s “10 Books We’d Like to See Made Into Films.” Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Monika Woods of InkWell Management

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Monika is seeking: Her interests include literary and commercial fiction, memoir, and compelling non-fiction in food, popular culture, science, and current affairs. Some of her dream projects include historical fiction about feminists, the Roma, and Maxim Lieber, darkly suspenseful stories (both true and made-up) with unreliable narrators, anything about Poland and its history, nonfiction that is creatively critical, and above all, novels written in a singular voice. Read more

Make Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest — Oct. 30 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Danielle Smith

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You’re sending your children’s book manuscript off for its very first round of submissions, but you hesitate. Everyone questions their work and often wonder if it’s “finished.” After dozens and possibly hundreds of revisions when do you say enough is enough? When your hard work is ready to put into the hands of an agent, editor, or reader you want it to shine from the first to the last line. So how do you best accomplish this?

In this new live webinar called “Make Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest,” instructor and literary agent Danielle Smith (Red Fox Literary) will show you how to put the finishing touches on a manuscript and enable you to feel confident when sending it out to agents & editors. In addition to sharing her own tips and tricks, Danielle will examine pages from recently published picture and chapter books to show you examples of those spots that can often make or break your manuscript in the eyes of readers. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent (Through a Tweet): Jaimie M. Engle

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A tweet by any other name. In January, my best friend mentioned that agents were tweeting about their wish lists. I checked it out and came across an agent who seemed like she could be a match for my Norse-Viking upper MG. I subbed my manuscript, Dreadlands, in February 2013 and received a full request in a few days. I spent the next couple weeks reading every blog interview I could find featuring this agent. I read her agency’s website, cross-referenced her clients with books, and anything else to gather intel on my “future agent.” In early March, I received an email from her asking if I was available to talk by phone later that day. Of course, I was. I waited until finally … she called. Read more

The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market Is Out — Here Are 8 Reasons to Buy It (and Naturally I’m Giving Away Books!)

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The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is out and available in major bookstores! What better way to celebrate its release than a giveaway contest? The CWIM a great resource guide for writers of picture books and novels for kids (young adult, middle grade) as well as illustrators. The new 2015 edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is updated and packed with info. Now in its 27th year, the newest edition still provides great market and submission/contact information for book publishers, art reps, international publishers, literary agents, contests, magazines, conferences and more.

THE GIVEAWAY!!! Comment on this post and just say anything nice about any element of Writer’s Digest you enjoy — from a blog post to a class or a book or anything else. In two weeks, I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Alec Shane of Writers House

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He is seeking: Alec is now aggressively building his own list. On the nonfiction side, Alec would love to see humor, biography, history (particularly military history), true crime, “guy” reads, and all things sports. “What I’m looking for in fiction: mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and books geared toward young male readers (both YA and MG). What I’m not looking for: Romance (paranormal or otherwise), straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, travel memoir.” Read more

Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water: Nov. 13-16, 2014 in Florida

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Escape with your writing for the weekend! The Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water (Nov. 13-16 in Celebration, FL) is your chance to escape the demands of everyday life and immerse yourself in your craft for a few purposeful and peaceful days. Enrollment at this Retreat is limited—you’ll enjoy the close mentorship of the instructors and the attention to your individual manuscript that only an event this small and exclusive can provide.

At the retreat, your work will be read, discussed, revised and reexamined with the goal of prepping it for review (and consideration) by industry professionals. Whether your goal is to secure the attention of an agent or editor, or simply entice a reader looking for a great book, the Retreat will help to make sure that your initial pages and plot are as compelling and lovingly crafted as possible. You’ll also learn how to pitch your work and have an opportunity to practice with the group! The Retreat provides you with a relaxing environment in which to write for long periods of time without interruption or distraction. You’ll also participate in numerous sessions and critique groups where you’ll enjoy the camaraderie of your writing peers. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Rebecca Brooks

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Rebecca Brooks, author of the erotic romance, ABOVE ALL. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. Rebecca’s agent is Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger.

GIVEAWAY: Rebecca is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

WordWise Media Services Seeks a New Literary Agent on Staff

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In the past, I’ve personally had the opportunity to meet a nice agent based on the west coast named Steven Hutson of WordWise Media Services. You can see his agency website here. Recently, Steven came to me and asked me to put out an alert for him because he wants to make his agency bigger. Here is his exact announcement about how WordWise is seeking a new agent:

“West Coast literary agency seeks an associate agent in New York or Nashville. Or in the alternative, a specialist to handle mystery, children, romance, etc. This is a perfect opportunity for a well-connected retired (or downsized) editor, or agency administrator. We bring you leads and send you to writers’ conferences…” (More after the jump.) Read more

3 Tips For a Better First Revision

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The first revision is probably the most important factor in sculpting your novel. One of my favorite quotes to express this idea is by Shannon Hale who wrote: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” The first revision is the building of those sand castles. There are numerous tips to a successful rewrite, but I’ve found three that I’ve put at the top of my list to make my novel better.

Conflict check: On my rewrite, I first do a conflict check. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that every character in a scene should want something, even if it’s only a drink of water. On my first draft, I will usually focus on the main plot point of the scene. In doing so, I miss opportunities to add tension, great and small, to a chapter. On the rewrite, I ask myself: what does every character in that scene want, and what obstacles are standing in his or her way. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Cassie Hanjian of Waxman Leavell Literary

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Cassie is seeking: page-turning New Adult novels, plot-driven commercial and upmarket women’s fiction, historical fiction, psychological suspense, cozy mysteries and contemporary romance. In nonfiction, she’s looking for projects in the categories of parenting, mind/body/spirit, inspirational memoir, narrative nonfiction focusing on food-related topics and a limited number of accessible cookbooks. Cassie does not accept submissions in the following categories: science-fiction, fantasy, paranormal, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Children’s, literary fiction, poetry, and screenplays. Read more

To Text or Not to Text: How Much Should Technology Show Up in Fiction?

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It’s obvious that technology in the last ten years or so has changed our daily lives to an extreme. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting…on and on the list goes, and it’s growing every day. The way we communicate has been utterly transformed. Face-to-face interactions have decreased, while gadget-to-gadget interactions have increased. What does all this mean for the writer? Especially regarding our characters, and the way they communicate with each other inside our stories?

First, I think writers have to learn to walk the tightrope of not letting technology interfere too greatly with characters or plot, while at the same time being realistic with it. For instance, it would be unthinkable not to have a single mention of a character using a cell phone in a contemporary story. But how much technology is too much? Two main points worth considering, when it comes to characters and technology… Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Tina Schwartz of The Purcell Agency

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Tina is seeking: Chapter books (all kinds except fantasy); Middle Grade (contemporary/realistic, sports, mystery, humor, multicultural, issue driven [no fantasy]); Young Adult (edgy, issues, contemporary/realistic, light romance, sports, mystery [no fantasy]). Tina is also seeking nonfiction Chapter books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult – all topics. She is not seeking: Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Paranormal or Picture Books submissions at this time. 
 Read more

Conference Spotlight: The 2014 Arizona Writing Conference (Nov. 21-22)

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If you read my blog, you know I am constantly traveling to be part of awesome writers’ conferences across the country. On that note, I am very exciting to be a part of the 2014 Arizona Writing Conferences — two full-day “How to Get Published” conference events in Arizona coordinated by the SSA (Society of Southwestern Authors). On Friday, Nov. 21, there is an all-day event in Phoenix; and on Saturday, Nov. 22, there is a separate all-day event in Tucson. (The one-day schedules are both the same.)

These writing events are a chance to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch an agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. There is even a “Writers’ Got Talent” event in the middle where registrants bring their first pages and get them read aloud. Faculty (literary agents) give their thoughts on what was working or not working with the writing. Read more

Tips on World Building for Writers — How to Make Your Imaginary World Real

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There isn’t a certified qualification or course on world-building (well, not in my neighborhood), but every story requires it. Whether your tale is set in a real place or an imagined one, you need to establish your characters’ world so that the reader can suspend disbelief and fully engage with their story.

Of course, the more differences to our own world you introduce, the more you need to focus on getting those details absolutely right – but you need to do it in such a way that they almost fade into the background so the reader is instead focusing on the characters and the story. You don’t need to explicitly create and explain all aspects of your world in the first couple of chapters. Without some story developing in these chapters your reader may not persevere further into the book. Read more

“No, Thank You” — On Rejection & Writing

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The most commonly acknowledged form of rejection for a writer is the rejection of one’s work by a publishing house. After spending months, if not years, shaping a story, you submit it hoping for acceptance and publication. Sadly, this is the exception, not the rule. The average writer is more likely to have a story rejected—often multiple times—rather than published immediately.

It’s important to note that this does not immediately translate to fault on the writer’s part. The acquisition process is subjective. A writer is at the mercy of the preferences of the editor and the publisher’s existing catalog. In other words, it may be that the story isn’t right for that publisher, not that the story isn’t worthy of publication. Hand-in-hand with this is the preference of the acquiring editor. As much as we all want to believe we are 100 percent objective, this isn’t so. Bias always exists and your story may not resonate with the editor leading them to reject it. Read more

“How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month” — Oct. 9 Webinar (With E-Book Download) All About Writing a Successful Fast Draft

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Are you a writer who prefers to pre-plot? Or, do you simply like to jump in and begin writing without much pre-planning? Perhaps you’re just starting out and don’t know your plotting preference? Whatever kind of writer you are, you’re much more likely to finish a fast and amazing draft if you have a basic grasp of the dramatic action plot and the character emotional development plot of your stories before you begin writing. You’ll also find that if you do more pre-plotting upfront, you’ll have fewer rewrites later.

“Plot Whisperer” Martha Alderson works with writers from all over the world. She’ll share with you a simple, visual technique to help you pre-plot your story quickly in her new Oct. 9, 2014 webinar, “How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month: The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning.” It all happens at 1 p.m. this Thursday.

You’ll also receive a template (and a free download of Martha’s plotting e-book) to help you organize your time in the actual writing phase. We guarantee you’ll finish a fast draft of your story in a month. Once you assemble the plot items on her checklist, you’ll be ready to begin your one-month writing challenge. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

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Patricia is seeking: Patricia represents adult and young adult fiction, and is actively looking to build her list. On the adult side, she is interested in literary fiction and commercial fiction in the New Adult, women’s fiction, and romance genres. For YA, she is looking for contemporary/realistic fiction as well YA mystery/thriller, horror, magical realism, science fiction and fantasy. She is also interested in finding exciting multicultural and LGBTQ fiction, both YA and adult. In general, Patricia loves stories with complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships – along with writing that makes her feel completely pulled into these characters’ lives and worlds. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Jaime Martinez-Tolentino

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jaime Martinez-Tolentino, author of TAINO. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. Jaime’s literary agent is Leticia Gómez, who founded her own literary agency, Savvy Literary Services. Read more

17th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Women’s/Upmarket Fiction

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Welcome to the 17th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing women’s/upmarket fiction, this 17th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.) Read more

7 Ways to Add Sizzle to Your Next Book Event

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Have you ever seen a lonely author at a bookstore table—rearranging his book stacks, checking his signing pen, and making hopeful eye contact with the customers before they duck down the nearest aisle? I’ve been that author, and I’ve also stood for three days hawking my books at a country fair, where I ate up my meager profits in corn dogs and fried Snickers bars. But that was the old me.

When my cookbook 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BACON was released, I decided it was time to create an unconventional book event that my readers would actually enjoy. The launch party was featured in The Denver Post, and over a hundred people attended. I sold out of books, brought home orders for more copies, and here’s what I learned from the experience.

GIVEAWAY: Eliza is excited to give away a free copy of “101 Things To Do With Bacon” to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

“Plot Perfect” Agent One-on-One Boot Camp Starts Oct 24 — Let Agent Paula Munier Help Construct & Critique Your Plot

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Whether you’re writing a novel, short story, memoir, stage play, or screenplay, this boot camp will show you how to craft a great narrative scene-by-scene. It’s a hands-on event that provides personalized feedback on your story structure and plot.

The agents of Talcott Notch Literary Services share the secrets of creating a story structure that works – no matter what your genre – in this entertaining and informative online event. It’s all part of the 2014 “Plot Perfect” Agent One-on-One Boot Camp starting Oct. 24. In addition to the tutelage and instruction, every attendee gets a critique of their plot framework from the agent instructors. Seats for the event are limited, and WD boot camps frequently sell out, so consider signing up sooner rather than later.

Following are the details of what happens during the event… Read more

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