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February 2014 Issue
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Welcome to the 14th (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 contemporary middle grade fiction, this 14th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, March 18, 2014.) Read more
“How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent” — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Awesome Critique Starts March 24, 2014
How do you hook an agent right away, keep them hooked, and make the most of your new publishing relationship? In this all-new March 2014 Boot Camp, “How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent,” you’ll learn how to get a literary agent’s attention through a great submission, and also how to navigate the process of working successfully with an agent. After hearing instruction from the agents at Kimberley Cameron Literary Agency, you’ll also work with an agent online to review and refine your all-important query letter and the first five pages of your novel with the agents. Read more
Why Agents Say No: The 20 Manuscript Mistakes That Keep You from Getting Published — Feb. 13 Webinar by Agent Kate McKean
You are probably making a lot of mistakes in your novel — right now. But that’s OK, because many other writers are doing that, too, especially in their first drafts. But how do you know what mistakes you’re making, and how do you fix them before you show it to an editor or agent? How do you prevent your manuscript from being rejected because of common writer’s pitfalls that can be easily fixed? This live webinar will show you the 20 most common mistakes novelists of any and every genre make, whether it’s your first or 21 novel.
Is your main character sympathetic? Are you sure? Do you know if you’re using too much detail? Too little? Do you know which darlings to kill? In this webinar, you’ll learn how to assess your manuscript like an agent or editor and recognize the most common mistakes that get between a writer and publication. If you think you’re not guilty of even a few of these things, think again. Are you sure? To answer these questions, literary agent Kate McKean is teaching “Why Agents Say No: The 20 Manuscript Mistakes That Keep You from Getting Published.” It’s a new webinar that goes down at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a personalized critique. Read more
Over-plotter, under-plotter? Struggles with plot are common among writers at all levels. This live webinar, “Plot Your Book: Scene by Scene,” will take the guess-work out of plotting by teaching you the key scenes that build your plot backbone, providing a refresher on the elements of a scene, and breaking down the specific kinds of scenes you’ll need at each of the three key Acts of a novel. Plots, after all, are simply stories comprised of well-placed and stylized scenes.
Jordan E. Rosenfeld brings over a decade of experience in teaching students how to use scenes to transform writing. She believes that scenes are fiction’s “magic ingredient” – activating writing so that your readers are drawn palpably into the experience of your character’s story, versus the flat habits of summarizing and expository writing. A former freelance journalist, she can help you to learn the difference between passive “telling” of a story and powerful, active demonstrating of a fantastic plot. All attendees get an individualized critique. Read more
If you want to get your book traditionally published in 2014—be it fiction, nonfiction, a children’s book, or memoir—increase your chances by knowing how to evaluate the commercial potential of your work and learning the best way to approach editors, agents, and publishers. Book publishing is undergoing a dramatic transformation as e-book sales increase and physical bookstores decrease in number. These changes affect the traditional book deals that get made—meaning that authors have to adjust their strategies to adapt to a risk-averse and uncertain industry.
This intensive and information-filled 90-minute webinar — titled “How to Get Published: Land a Book Deal in 2014″ – helps you think like an industry insider who makes decisions every day on what work merits print publication. You’ll get practical advice and tools to help you develop strong pitch letters and proposal materials for both fiction and nonfiction—plus back-door methods for networking with agents and editors. Avoid frustration—don’t embark on the submission process in 2014 without being fully educated about how the industry works, from an impartial point of view. You will better focus your time and energy, increase your chances of success, and learn to decipher the language of industry professionals. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more
The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission: Jan. 16, 2014 Webinar With Agent Michelle Brower
All published authors can tell you that their first draft looks nothing like the finished book they sign at bookstores. How do they edit their material to take their work to a professional level? What are agents/editors looking for today in terms of a polished manuscript? Is grammar all that important, or should the story speak for itself? How many revisions should a manuscript go through before it’s considered “ready”? What are some principles on cutting down your word count and streamlining your story?
In this popular, intensive webinar, “The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission,” literary agent Michelle Brower will answer these questions and more. The event happens at 1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees will get a personal critique from Michelle. You can submit either a one-page synopsis or the first two double-spaced pages of your novel. (Remember that several agents — including Barbara Poelle, Louise Fury and Kathleen Ortiz — have signed writers after critiquing their work through a WD webinar.) Read more
The 2014 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market Is Out — And Here Are 8 Darn Good Reasons to Buy It (and Naturally I’m Giving Away Books!)
The new 2014 edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is updated and packed with info. Now in its 26th 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. Read on to hear from several best-selling authors who endorse the book, including Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries), Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why), and many 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. (UPDATE: zippydoodah, Sheryl Davis-Troller & authoralyssamayley won.) Read more
Jan 13 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critique): Crafting Queries, Opening Pages, Synopses, and Nonfiction That Get Noticed
When your submission materials arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. Authors who get rejected tend to fall in one of two categories when submitting materials: they try too hard, or not enough. This Writer’s Digest One-on-One Agent Boot Camp, taught by the literary agents of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, 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, craft dynamite first pages, and more. 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 and submit several double-spaced pages of their manuscript and a query letter for valuable feedback provided by the agent instructors. It all starts on Jan. 13, 2014. All WD boot camps have a limited number of seats, and plenty max out, so sign up now. Read more
New Year, New Query: How to Write a Great Letter That Gets Attention — Jan. 9 Webinar With Query Critique
It’s no secret that a writer’s query letter is extremely important in their quest to get a literary agent and get published. Agents evaluate dozens of queries a day, and make requests for more material from the few letters that impress them. They’re crucial, and that’s why people never get enough articles or advice or samples concerning them. If you’re having trouble with your query letter, why not let a literary agent not only instruct you, but also critique your letter, as well? Sounds pretty sweet to me. The agent in question is the awesome Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary, and the webinar is “The Anatomy of a Query Letter” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Don’t forget that at least 3 agents have signed clients after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more
You Should Really Write a Memoir — Webinar by Agent Regina Brooks (With Proposal Critique), Jan. 6, 2014
If you’ve ever been told that “you should really write a book about your life” and you’ve decide to give it a try, this webinar is for you! Instructor and literary agent Regina Brooks will hone in on the three key measures necessary for aspiring authors to conceptualize and pitch their memoir to an agent or editor.
It’s all part of Regina’s webinar on Jan. 6, 2014 called “You Should Really Write a Memoir: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir.” It lasts 90 minutes, and starts at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Jan. 6. All attendees will get a critique of their memoir proposal. Don’t forget at least four literary agents have signed writers after seeing their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more
It’s no secret that the query letter is a difficult monster to tame. Plenty of people say that writing a concise, compelling query is not much easier than writing the manuscript itself. Because a query is your all-important first contact with publishing professionals, and because literary agents read the most queries, we’ve secured agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary) for our next webinar: “The Art of the Query: Winning an Agent From the Very First Page.” It happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get their query critiqued by Michelle. She may even request more material if she loves your pitch. Read more
The idea is paramount. If you can build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Too many perfectly good projects never sell because their … Read more
The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise That Sells — Dec.13 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Critique
The idea’s the thing. If you build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Often, a perfectly good project will go unsold because the premise on which it is based is too predictable, commonplace, or over-published. Whether you’re writing a novel or a short story, a screenplay or a memoir, you need to find a way to set your story apart from the competition — and the competition is tougher than ever in today’s marketplace.
But in this one-of-a-kind boot camp, you will learn the ins and outs of high-concept, as literary agent, author, and content strategist Paula Munier reveals how you can transform your story idea from “same old same old” to “high-concept hit.” It’s all part of the all-new Agent One-on-One Boot Camp called “The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise That Sells” Boot Camp (with a limited number of seats!). It starts at the end of the day, Dec. 13, 2013. More details below. Don’t forget that at least 4 literary agents have signed clients after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more
How to Find the Right Agent for Your Book & Career — Dec. 10 Webinar by Agent Kate McKean (With Query Critique!)
From industry standard terms and commission rates, to communication guidelines and a general list of duties, this webinar by literary agent Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) will de-mystify the role a literary agent can play in your writing career. You’ll finally understand how agents are paid and what services they actually provide. You’ll get answers to questions like: How fast should I expect an agent to respond to me? Will an agent help me edit my book or brainstorm ideas? Don’t agents just go to three-martini lunches all day and cash my checks? And can an agent really make a difference for my book?
The webinar is called “How to Find the Right Agent for Your Book (and Your Career),” and it all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a query critique from Kate. Don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed clients after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more
Write a Page Turner: An Agent’s Secrets to Creating Stories that Readers Can’t Put Down — One-on-One Nov. 15 Boot Camp (With 2,000-Word Critque)
As I write this, there are only 27 seats left (out of 60 total) for the forthcoming Agent One-on-One Boot Camp that starts this Friday, November 15, 2013. So I’ll get right to the point. Literary agents Paula Munier and Rachael Dugas (of Talcott Notch Literary) are teaching a brand new boot camp called “Write a Page Turner: An Agent’s Secrets to Creating Stories that Readers Can’t Put Down.” You have to sign up by 6 p.m., EST, Nov. 15.
First attendees will receive a recorded webinar on how to create exciting fiction. Then there is an open Blackboard time frame where you can ask your agent teacher/critiquer questions. And then all attendees turn in 2,000 words for a critique from the agents! The Talcott Notch agents have signed clients before after reading their work as part of a WD Boot Camp. Sign up for the boot camp here before it sells out. Read more
Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels: Nov. 14 Webinar by Cheryl Klein (of Harry Potter Editing Fame)
Readers may buy novels for their storylines—the facts that they can learn from the flap copy or an Internet blurb. But readers love books for their characters, because compelling characters bring feeling and meaning to what would otherwise be a mere list of events (also known as the plot). And if you’re trying to hook an agent or editor, nothing will make your opening chapters stand out more than truly distinctive characters: fictional people, whom you have made real, who compel that agent or editor to want to find out what happens next.
In this live webinar — titled “Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels” – Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic executive editor Cheryl Klein will teach you multiple strategies for getting readers interested and invested in your characters. She’ll draw on examples from popular middle-grade and YA novels to show you how successful authors work their magic, and provide a solid, actionable list of techniques that can be applied singly or in combination to strengthen your characterizations, from your protagonist and villain down to your supporting cast. By the end of the webinar, you’ll be well equipped to create characters who make agents and editors want to read more of your work, and eventually keep all readers turning the pages. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, and lasts for 90 minutes. Read more
Get an Agent For Your Middle Grade Novel: Secrets for Query Letters & First Pages Revealed — Oct. 31 Webinar with Critique
It might seem as though getting a children’s book published is easy—just look at JK Rowling! In reality, however, children’s books (and middle grade books in particular) are among the most challenging works of literature to craft. Nailing the narrative voice of middle grade, and finding the right balance of character, heart, and plot to keep child (and adult!) readers invested in your work is an art. And then you have to boil all that down into a cover letter for an agent or a publisher to read.
That’s why we have literary agent Brooks Sherman (FinePrint Literary) teaching a new webinar, “Querying Middle Grade: How to Grab an Agent’s Attention and Keep It,” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique of their manuscript’s first 2 pages. And don’t forget that at least 4 literary agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more
Yesterday we updated the Submission Guidelines for Writer’s Digest magazine (just some routine tidying—adjusting links, adding a couple sections, overanalytically tweaking a word here and there, then immediately changing it back, etc.). … Read more
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 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 up-front you’ll have fewer rewrites later.
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. You’ll also receive a template 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 and you’ll be ready to begin your one-month writing challenge. It’ all part of her new webinar, “How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month” — The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more
We have a very special new contest going down right now on the GLA Blog. Here’s the deal. On Broadway right now, there is an awesome play adapted from John Grisham’s novel, A Time to Kill. It features a huge cast, including some amazing veteran actors you’ve seen in a bunch of movies — such as Tom Skerritt of Alien, Top Gun and MASH. It was adapted to the stage by Tony® Award-winning playwright Rupert Holmes, and Grisham himself says the result is amazing. We’re giving away tickets on this blog. Keep reading if you want to win a pair! (UPDATE: Barrm and Nadre11 won.) Read more
Write Great Openings for Young Adult or Middle Grade Novels: Oct. 3 Webinar (With Critique!) by Agent Carlie Webber
The opening of your novel sets the stage for everything you want to accomplish. You only have one chance to establish a memorable voice and get readers to follow your characters into your story. Writing YA or MG presents the additional challenge of an audience of discriminating, impatient readers who won’t wait until page 40 for your book to get good.
That’s why we have literary agent Carlie Webber (CK Webber Literary) teaching the new webinar, “Writing Great Openings for Young Adult or Middle Grade Novels” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. After sharing her own best practices, Carlie will use opening pages from published books to show you the dos and don’ts of opening your YA or MG novel (including: never start with your main character getting out of bed), and the common mistakes that stop agents from reading beyond your first page.
Don’t forget that multiple agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar. Also, all attendees receive a critique from Carlie. Read more
Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward — New Sept. 26 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Jennifer De Chiara
Maybe you’re the next Stephen King, maybe you’ve written a New York Times bestseller, but if you don’t know how to query, no one will ever know. Learning how to write a great query, one that will not only make an agent want to read your book but pick up the phone and call you the minute he/she reads your query, is essential if you want to be a published author.
Literary agent Jennifer De Chiara will guide you, step by step, in writing the perfect pitch for your book. She’ll offer do’s and don’ts from her 16+ years of agenting and share queries that got her attention and those that didn’t. De Chiara will also give tips on how to find the right agents to query – if you’ve written a dynamite query, it’s still worthless if you’re not sending it to the right agents. It’s all part of her new webinar: “Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward.” The webinar happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees receive a query critique. Don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD boot camp or webinar. Read more
In this live webinar, literary agents Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) and Jim McCarthy (Dystel & Goderich) invite you to peek behind the curtain and watch exactly what happens when an agent considers your query. Working from the submissions they receive (all names on queries will be removed), participants will have the chance to read along with them as they decide whether to stop reading or carry on. You’ll see the exact moment in query letters that each perks up or passes. Think of it like AMERICAN IDOL: QUERY EDITION. Along the way, you’ll garner helpful tips on what to avoid as you write your own query, how to stand out from the pack (in a good way), and what goes on in an agent’s mind as they consider your material.
We’re calling this webinar “What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries: A Live Query-A-Thon.” It happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees will get a query critique from the literary agent instructors. Don’t forget that multiple literary agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more