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July/August 2014 Issue
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Is Your Manuscript Ready for Publication?
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Publication?
After an evaluation of your submission, one of the professional 2nd Draft critiquers will provide feedback and advice. You’ll not only learn what’s working in your writing, but what’s not, and—most important—how to fix it.
2nd Draft provides a high-level review of your writing, pointing out reasons your work may be getting rejected, or may not meet the standards of traditional publication.
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.
Enjoy a little piano music from time to time? Who doesn’t? Well I’m trying something fun today as a pick-me-up to try and get your week going. It’s my own crazy variation of NAME THAT TUNE and I’m calling it WD’S TUNESDAY. This is Volume 4. It runs until September 20, 2013.
The rules and the gist are simple. Watch the video below. I play 17 melodies (songs & movie themes) on the piano. You try to name as many of them as you can, and e-mail me your answers to literaryagent at fwmedia dot com. The person who names the most correct answers gets lots of cool writing prizes (see below). It’s a great excuse to call upon friends and relatives to help you ID the songs, as they are from different decades. It’s also a great excuse to blow off whatever dull work you’re doing and listen to music instead. And if you can’t name all 17 songs, feel free to enter anyway! If no one can name all 17, the closest number wins. ALSO: If you can simply name just 8 correctly, you automatically get entered into a drawing to a win a free WD book! Read more
Today, Friday, I’ve posting a double shot of fun musical blog posts. First, in this column find the answers to the third volume of Tunesday (the first piano edition). But before that, you will meet the winner of the third contest, Jessica Hoefer, a writer like you.
Secondly, make sure to check out the 4th volume of Tunesday, which went live today (Sept. 6, 2013) and lasts for 2 weeks. There are awesome writing prizes, and it’s free to enter. It’s essentially just “Name That Tune,” so if you like music and like writing prizes, check it out. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring J. Kent Messum, author of BAIT, a novel. 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. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk specifics.
GIVEAWAY: J. Kent is excited to give away a free copy of his 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. (UPDATE: Glenn027 won.) Read more
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 63rd installment in this series is with agent Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary) for Ashley Elston’s young adult thriller, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING (Disney-Hyperion, May 2013). Find Ashley on Twitter here. Read more
She is seeking: She enjoys literary and upmarket fiction of all types in addition to commercial—including well-researched historical and well-told women’s fiction. She also loves a page-turning mystery, suspense, or thriller with sharp wit and unexpected twists and turns. She has a soft spot for distinctive, strong, contemporary characters set in small towns. Amy always looks for an unexpected story arc, a suitable pace, and a compelling protagonist.
She is interested in narrative nonfiction when the plot and characters are immersed in a culture, lifestyle, discipline, or industry. She will also consider a travel or adventure memoir. Read more
When I started working on my young adult novel My Life After Now, which is about a teenage girl who learns she is HIV-positive, the only thing I was thinking about was telling a good story.
Okay, I knew I specifically wanted to tackle the subject of HIV/AIDS because not only has teen literature largely skirted the issue, but society as a whole has become somewhat complacent about the virus, now that people aren’t dying from it at the rate they were twenty and thirty years ago. I also knew I wanted my character to contract HIV throughout the course of the book, as a direct result of her own actions, since that is how most people acquire it.
GIVEAWAY: Jessica 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. (UPDATE: juliette19 won.) Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Lee Kelly, author of MANHATTAN SAVAGES (2015, Simon & Schuster). 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.
This installment from Lee Kelly is the story of how she found her literary agent, Adriann Ranta (Wolf Literary Services) and got a two-book deal at auction. Read more
2. Go tackle a new quest. There’s nothing like a new obsession to keep you from obsessing over submission. Sure, some books get snapped up by editors faster than you can say “six figures,” but for most of us, it takes longer. A lot longer. To dull the ache and fear of the inbox, start something new. Put everything you’ve got into it. The other, stinkier part of this is that your darling book-on-sub just might not sell. You need to have a horse to get back on if that manifests as reality. Read more
About Lisa: Lisa grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from California State University, Sacramento, in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a minor in German literature-in-translation, history, and culture (sadly, she doesn’t speak German, although it’s on her bucket list). She moved to New York City in 2012 to attend NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute and joined the JABberwocky team a few months later. She’s previously worked at San Francisco/Sacramento Book Reviews and Barnes & Noble, interned at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, and read submissions for Lightspeed Magazine.
She is seeking: science fiction, fantasy, YA and middle grade of all genres, and romance. Read more
Worldbuilding for Fantasy and Science Fiction: Aug. 29 Webinar (with Critique) by Bestselling Author Philip Athans
New York Times best-selling author and veteran editor Philip Athans, author of The Guide to Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction (Adams Media 2010), knows his stuff. He is a master of creative detailed worlds for his novels. That’s why we’re offering a new webinar from Philip on Aug. 29, 2013 called “How to Create Unique New Settings for Your Novels and Short Stories.” It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 29, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique.
In this new webinar, Philip gets into some seriously detailed techniques for creating worlds for fantasy and science fiction stories, novels, screenplays, and games, drawing from a quarter century of experience in creating new worlds. You’ll get hands-on advice on where and how to start creating a fantasy or science fiction world. We’ll discuss research and sources of inspiration, and the importance of setting and following your own rules. Sign up for the webinar here, and make your novel stand out to agents & editors. Read more
Ever since I could read, I’ve tried telling stories.
“Write a little every day, without hope and without despair,” wrote Karen Blixen. I was given this quote by my mentor, Scott Bradfield, on the first day of my MA. He stood over the seminar room, scrawled this on the whiteboard and said it was the most important piece of writing advice we’d ever receive. I disagreed with the entire quote save three words: “write every day.” Read more
1. Create a question in the reader’s mind right at the beginning. This might seem like a cheap trick, but even a literary writer like Marquez uses it at the beginning of a novel: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” What? The Colonel is facing a firing squad? How did he get there? Will he survive? And notice the secondary information: ice in this world is a novelty. Where is this place? How long ago is it? In my own first novel, the beginning is tighter: “The Senator’s wife was late. Very late.” Hopefully the reader is intrigued: Who is this woman? Why is she late? Will she show up? And as the protagonist of my novel waits for the Senator’s wife, the reader waits, too, and gets sucked into the story. Read more
Making Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest — Aug. 22 Webinar With Critique by Agent Danielle Smith
Picture this: 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 brand new live webinar, “Making Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest,” instructor and literary agent Danielle Smith 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, Aug. 22, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Don’t forget that at three literary agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more
Before I learned to ride my own motorcycle, I rode a hundred thousand miles on the back of my husband’s. I’d prop a book on his back and read during the boring stretches. One day, outside Kernville, California, a dog ran in front of the bike. After a gut-clenching scare, he trotted back the way he came. But it gave me a germ of an idea for a story that wouldn’t leave me alone.
I debated for over a year. Who was I to write a book? Authors were way smarter than I. One day, while staring at a blank Word doc, I looked down. Hey, I had a ‘delete’ key! I could write the book, and no one would ever have to see it. So that’s what I did. But a year and a half later, when I finished, I had a new goal. I wanted to hold a book in my hand with my name on the cover.
So I sent queries to agents — 170 of them. I had a few requests for full manuscripts, but ultimately, everyone turned me down. Read more
August 26-29 Boot Camp: How to Submit Your Work. Agents at Kimberley Cameron Literary Critique Queries, Synopses, Manuscripts & More
When your submission materials – a query letter, synopsis, manuscript, or book proposal – arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. Our all-new August 2013 Writer’s Digest Boot Camp is designed to help you streamline your submission materials to stand out in a good way. Attendees will learn how to write a dynamite query letter, tackle a one-page synopsis (for fiction) and a book proposal (for nonfiction). The instructing literary agents will also explain the importance of author platform in addition to basic etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics.
Lastly, all attendees will have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with an agent at Kimberley Cameron & Associates and submit 10 double-spaced pages of materials (in any combination–query, synopsis, book proposal, first pages of your manuscript) for valuable feedback provided by successful literary agents. It all happens starting Aug. 26, 2013. WD Boot Camps often sell out, and there is a limited number of seats. Read more
He is seeking: As an agent, Jacob is particularly committed to working closely with writers to bring their work to a higher editorial level. He is currently looking for journalists, bloggers, academics, Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers, playwrights, and memoirists contemplating relevant social and philosophical issues in new and creative ways. Read more
This interview features Frank Weimann of Folio Literary Management. The founder of the Literary Group International since 1986, Frank and LGI joined Folio Literary Management in July 2013 as Senior Vice President and Director of Operations. He has worked with celebrities, athletes, and novelists, as well as Pulitzer, Caldecott, and Nobel Prize winners, and his client list has included Joe Bonanno, Larry Bird, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Russell, Britney Spears, Gregg Allman, Sammy Hagar, Maria Menounos, Rodney Dangerfield and Nancy Grace. In addition to book sales, he has optioned and licensed numerous titles for film and merchandise, including October Sky, Flags of Our Fathers, and I Heard You Paint Houses.
He is seeking: Narrative and prescriptive nonfiction, memoir, military, history, diet & fitness, science, as well as young adult. He does not seek: Poetry, screenplays, or YA paranormal Read more
3. Publication will happen when you least expect it. You’ve sent in your amazing manuscript, one that will have editors clamoring to publish it, pushing the advance into the stratosphere. For the next two weeks, you sit by the phone (or carry it with you wherever you go) willing it to ring. With each little beep and buzz, you fish it out of your purse or run from the bathroom with your pants around your ankles so you don’t miss “the call”. Yeah, right. I was offered my contract while my husband and I were on a freeway off ramp, trying to keep the mattress we were moving from sliding off the truck. He was miffed I chatted on the phone instead of helping. He got over it. Hard as it is, it may take a while for you to hear – if you ever do. Send it in and move onto the next project. Read more
1. Stay scared. If you want to really scare people with your writing, you need to keep your fear close. You need to experience that fear. Often. Memory is a poor substitute for the real thing—that cold sweat heart-thumping spine-shaking hair-raising feeling of total, mind-numbing terror. That abandoned house you walk by on the way to work? Go explore it. The old insane asylum at the edge of town that was recently converted into apartments? Move in. See what happens. The neglected cemetery with all the ghost sightings? Be there, at midnight. That creepy pitch-black basement in your grandparents’ hundred-year-old farmhouse? Go down there, alone, after everyone else has gone to sleep. Leave the flashlight upstairs. Read more
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that, as the name suggests, comes from the idea that technology never developed beyond steampunk. The science can deviate a bit from there, but that’s generally where it all starts. It’s a look into what could have happened had science and industry taken a different turn, but didn’t.
Guest column by Matt Betts, author of the 2013 steampunk debut ODD MEN OUT. Read more
Julie is seeking: “Right now I’m especially interested in YA and middle grade fiction, and I’m always on the lookout for original and un-put-downable graphic novels and nonfiction — a great crossover genre that can work equally well for adults and young readers. In YA fiction I love smart, funny writing and complicated emotions (check Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You: for me, a perfect novel), and stories that are so extraordinary they cross genres and audiences (The Golden Compass). In both YA and middle grade I love adventure, fantasy, friendship, romance, mystery, and the occasional fast-paced thriller.” Read more
Amazing First Lines: How to Write Great Openings — Aug 15 Webinar With Critique by Agent John Cusick
Using examples from young adult fiction, literature, pop culture, film, and television, this 1-hour presentation will explore the craft of startling, intriguing, and unforgettable openings. Discover how to capture and hold a reader’s— or agent’s or editor’s— attention, interest, and excitement from word one.
In this live webinar, “Amazing First Lines: How to Write Great Openings,” instructor John Cusick (Greenhouse Literary) uses his unique expertise as both an agent and author to explore the power of opening lines to establish a relationship with the reader, create a strong first impression, and even encapsulate the whole of a story and theme in a single sentence or paragraph. The whole thing happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Don’t forget that agent-instructors Louise Fury, Barbara Poelle and Kathleen Ortiz have all signed clients after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar. Read more