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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.


6 Reasons Being a Pirate is Like Being a Writer

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Here are 6 things I learned from a pirate about writing. It turns out pirates and writers need the same things in their arsenal. Every pirate (and writer) needs:

1. A hook: Hooks grab the reader in the first few sentences or can be found at the end of a chapter to keep the pages turning. EXAMPLE: “Captain Hook stood on the edge of the plank. Below swam a wide-mouthed crocodile chomp-chomp-chomping at the air between Captain Hook and the sloshing sea…” Read more

Literary Agent Interview: Adam Schear of DeFiore & Company

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Adam is seeking: Adam is interested in literary fiction and well-crafted commercial fiction; work that captivates the reader with its prose and its plot. He is also seeking humor, YA, smart thrillers, historical fiction, and debut literary novels. For non-fiction, he is interested in memoirs, politics, science, popular culture, and current events. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far: G.M. Malliet

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3. Don’t invent a series character you wouldn’t marry. You may have to live with this character for a very long time. Agatha Christie famously wanted to throttle Hercule Poirot and his mustaches with her bare hands before she was done with him or he with her. By the same token, avoid Agatha’s mistake in inventing an elderly protagonist unless you yourself are elderly.

GIVEAWAY: G.M. 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: Julia Munroe Martin won.) Read more

Agent Jennifer Laughran Teaches the Webinar “Catching and Keeping an Agent” (and Critiques Registrants’ Queries!) on November 21, 2013

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This week, literary agent Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown Literary) is going to provide a ton of instruction in her brand new webinar for WD. The webinar’s instruction is about both the process of finding & pitching agents as well as what to do after you have an agent. But to round out the presentation, Jennifer is critiquing the query letter of all registants. Virtually no topic of the publication path will go unaddressed.

Jennifer will teach “Beyond the Query: Catching and Keeping an Agent” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, March 7, 2013. The webinar lasts 90 minutes, and each registrant gets their query critiqued by Jennifer. Read more

John Kenney: An Interview With the Author of the Debut Novel TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

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I love interviewing debut authors on my blog. This interview is with author John Kenney, a writer well known for contributing to The New Yorker. This is the story of how he got published and how he found his literary agent.

John Kenney has worked as a copywriter in New York City for seventeen years. He has also been a contributor to The New Yorker magazine since 1999. Some of his work appears in a collection of the New Yorker’s humor writing, Disquiet Please! He lives in Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, TRUTH IN ADVERTISING (S&S, Jan. 2013) was called an “outstanding debut” by Kirkus in a starred review, while Booklist said of it, “It’s a masterful blend of wit and seriousness, stunning in its honesty,” in another starred review. Read more

“Your Story’s First Pages: How to Engage Readers” — Jan. 24, 2013 Webinar With Critique by Agent Kathleen Ortiz

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It’s no secret that the first several pages of your manuscript are of the highest importance. The truth is that agents and editors size up your writing within a minute at the most. If you don’t have their attention on Page 1, they stop reading. It’s that simple. Because it’s imperative that your work starts strong and avoids overused techniques or cliches, we’ve enlisted literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary to help. Kathleen is teaching “Your Story’s First Pages: How to Engage the Reader” – a new webinar (with a critique of your first 500 words!) on Jan. 24, 2013. Read on to learn more. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Scott Dominic Carpenter

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Scott Dominic Carpenter, author of the short story collection, THIS JEALOUS EARTH. 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. Read more

Literary Agent Jessica Regel of Jean V. Naggar Literary Seeks New Clients

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It’s been 4 years since I featured an interview with literary agent Jessica Regel on this blog, so I thought now was as good a time as ever to touch base with her and ask what’s subjects and genres she’s seeking right this very minute. Seeing as how she is currently seeking new clients, she was happy to talk with us. Jessica is a literary agent at Jean V. Naggar Literary in New York City. Read what kinds of books she seeks on the full GLA page! Read more

13th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest (Young Adult and Sci-Fi)

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Welcome to the 13th (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 either a science fiction novel (adults or teens) or any kind of young adult novel, this 13th contest is for you! (The contest is live through January 31, 2013.) Read more

Elizabeth LaBan Interview: Meet the Author of the Young Adult Debut, THE TRAGEDY PAPER

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I love interviewing debut novelists and authors on the GLA Blog. There is nothing like a first novel from an up-and-coming author. Read through to see the story of how debut novelist Elizabeth LaBan got published. LaBan’s debut novel, THE TRAGEDY PAPER (young adult) was published by Knopf on January 8, 2013. Best-selling author Jennifer Weiner called the story “a beguiling and beautifully written tale of first love and heartbreak.” Read more

How to Research a Novel: 7 Tips

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1) You can’t do too much research. In the military, we often say time spent gathering intelligence is seldom wasted. The same concept applies in writing a novel. You never know what little detail will give a scene the ring of authenticity. In a college creative writing class, I wrote about how a scuba diver got cut underwater, and in the filtered light at depth, the blood appeared green. Though the professor didn’t think much of that particular story, he did concede he liked that detail. In fact, he said, “The author must have seen that.” And indeed, I had. Read more

New Literary Agent: Brittany Howard of Corvisiero Literary Agency

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She is seeking: Her first love is YA– from High Fantasy to Paranormal to to soft Sci-Fi to Contemporary– she loves all young adult. She also likes high concept, adventure themed, and funny MG, but a strong voice is MUST for her in MG. She’s willing to look at Picture Books, but is very selective.

For adult fiction, she prefers stories that are a romance at heart– Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Historical are all genres she’s been known to enjoy. Anything with theatrical or artistic or interesting historical elements will probably catch her eye, too. Read more

A Literary Agent True or False Quiz

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3. Your agent works for you. True. Your agent is your employee. She offers you a service—selling your writing to editors—in exchange for a fee. I highlight this because many writers, especially young writers, get this relationship backwards; they feel that the agent is the employer and they are the ones looking for a job. No, you’re hoping to hire someone. That said, notice that in the second paragraph of this post I wrote that my agent and I have been “working together ever since.” While it’s true that my agent works for me, it’s truer to say that we work together for both of us. We have the same goal—to launch my stories and novels into the world, to see them published with care and enthusiasm, and to help my books find their largest audiences possible. I trust her opinion—she knows the publishing world much better than I do—but she also trusts mine. She makes no decisions without me, and I make none—other than those related to the writing itself—without her. It’s a partnership. Read more

Charmaine Hammond Interview: Meet the Author of ON TOBY’S TERMS

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This author interview is with Charmaine Hammond, international transformational speaker, best-selling and award-winning author and radio host — helping people live inspired, resilient lives and is a leading trainer in corporate North America helping transform workplaces. Charmaine is also an award winning and bestselling author of On Toby’s Terms (Bettie Youngs Books, Sept. 2010), which Jack Canfield, creator of the Chicken Soup For the Soul books, described as: “Simply a beautiful book about life, love, and purpose.” Read more

Let an Agent Help You Revise Your Novel: Michelle Brower’s Jan. 17, 2013 Webinar

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They say, “Good writing is rewriting.” It’s true that your first draft is just that: your first draft. After the words are down on paper, you must begin the important process of honing, revising, and rewriting your work to eliminate weak writing and make your prose come to life. Rewriting is a process of polishing your words and eliminating all needless elements that can slow a manuscript down. Most work gets rejected simply because the novel/memoir is not where it needs to be in terms of quality. The writer just needed more revision and guidance! It’s with this important fact in mind that we’ve enlisted talented literary agent Michelle Brower of super-agency Folio Literary to teach a new 90-minute webinar called “The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission” on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Every attendee of the webinar gets a personalized critique of their work. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Trevor Shane

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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Trevor Shane.

1. Query in tiers. My most practical advice is to query in tiers. Everyone (myself included) will tell you to be careful to choose the right agent for your work. The problem is, when you’re trying to get your first book published, it’s really hard to turn down any agent who wants to represent you. The simplest solution is to query in tiers. Identify your top five dream agents. Send your initial queries to them and then wait (the waiting, as they say, is the hardest part). Only move on to tier two when you’ve exhausted tier one. Then rinse and repeat. Read more

Create an Awesome Premise That Hooks Readers (and Get Yours Critiqued) – New June 27 Webinar

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The most common mistake writers make happens long before they ever set pen to paper. Author, instructor, and story expert Lisa Cron will unravel exactly what the brain is hungry for in her all new webinar, “Create an Engaging Premise in 4 Steps and Deliver the Story a Reader’s Brain Craves.” It happens at 1 p.m., Thursday, June 27, 2013. (Keep in mind you do not have to make the live event to get all elements of a webinar.)

Lisa will walk you through the four steps necessary to create a premise that delivers these much-craved-for elements. You’ll learn how to properly frame the “what if” that sparks every premise, how to zero in on exactly who your protagonist is, how to find an opening that instantly makes the clock start ticking, and how to unearth your protagonist’s internal struggle (which the plot will then put to the test). Stop writing blind. There’s no reason to spend months (or years) rooting around in your plot, hoping to find a story. Arm yourself with a little brain science, and a lot of story know-how. Go into your next novel more confident, in control, and inspired! Read more

Literary Agent Interview: Susan Hawk of the Bent Agency

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This interview features Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency. She came to the agency from Children’s Book Marketing, where she worked for over 15 years, most recently as the Marketing Director at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and previous to that as the Library Marketing Director at Penguin Young Readers.

She is seeking: Susan represents authors who write for children of all ages: babies to teenage. She is seeking young adult, middle grade books, and picture books nonfiction and fiction (especially literary fiction). Within the realm of kid’s stories, she likes fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and mystery. Read more

Author Interview: Sean Pidgeon, Author of the Debut Novel FINDING CAMLANN

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I love interviewing debut authors on this blog. Their paths to publication are great examples for other writers. This interview is with debut novelist Sean Pidgeon.

Sean Pidgeon is a reference publisher at Wiley. Born and raised in the south of England, he now lives in New Jersey with his American wife and children. FINDING CAMLANN (Jan. 2013, WW Norton) is his first novel — a literary novel with strong historical connections. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Cecy Robson

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Cecy Robson, author of SEALED WITH A CURSE: A WEIRD GIRLS 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. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Margaret Bail of Inklings Literary

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Margaret is seeking: adult fiction only. Specifically, she seeks romance, science fiction, thrillers, action/adventure, historical fiction, Western, fantasy (think Song of Fire and Ice or Dark Tower, NOT Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia). Please do not query with YA, MG, or children’s books. Also, Margaret does not seek steampunk, Christian/religious literature, chick lit, poetry, screenplays. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far: Augusta Scattergood

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2. Pay it forward. I was lucky. When I decided to try my hand (no pun intended. No, really) at writing, one member of my newly-formed critique group had done a favor for another writing friend, now hugely popular, famous, and very, very kind. My own friend passed along my first manuscript to her, and I am eternally grateful. Whenever possible, share all the goodness others have bestowed upon you.

GIVEAWAY: Kami 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: Elizabeth Garner won.) Read more

How to Get Your Memoir Published: Agent Regina Brooks Teaches a Webinar on Jan. 10, 2013 (With a Query Critique!)

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Writing a memoir or your life story? Get it published in 2013! Instructor Regina Brooks is a literary agent as well as the author of You Should Really Write A Book: How To Write, Sell And Market Your Memoir. On Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, she is teaching a brand-new webinar called “How to Write, Market & Sell Your Memoir.” It’s an intensive all about memoir writing and publishing, and comes with an individualized query critique (from Regina) for every attendee. Read more

YA Trends: How to Stand Out in a Competitive Market — Dec. 5 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Kathleen Ortiz

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It’s no secret that the YA is a competitive market and saturated with several of the same genres. You have this great idea that no one else has thought of and then POOF: you see a listing for a similar project sold. Should you keep writing? Should you even bother to query it? Is it really even considered a YA book? What’s this ‘crossover’ thing people keep talking about?

Literary agent Kathleen Ortiz shares her ideas on what agents are looking for in the YA market and explains how to determine if you should keep writing (hint: writing is never something to stop). This live webinar will explain the differences between MG, YA, new adult and crossover, and how to determine which one your book is considered. Examples of each will be shared. Then she’ll review how to take your idea and create a pitch that is so incredibly compelling, an agent won’t be able to help but to read the pages. This new webinar — “YA Trends: How to Stand Out in a Competitive Market” – takes place at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed clients after seeing their work as part of a WD boot camp or webinar. Read more

Getting Perspective in Your Writing Journey

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Most writers write in the hopes that they will sell their book, connect with a readership, and make money from the sales. Their priorities may not be in that order, but it’s usually the goal when writing a novel or nonfiction manuscript. And that’s expected and reasonable.

Yet, often, upon completing her first novel, an author’s engulfing joy of writing becomes infiltrated with a subtle, growing anxiety. Soon to join that is a cocktail mix of emotions: trepidation, fear, self-doubt, worry, despair, frustration. Whether these come flooding into the writer’s mind and heart full force or just niggle at the back of her mind—they come. Read more

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