I often see a lot of confusion from authors regarding referrals and I see them used wrong all the time in queries. The query software I use has a box for referrals and I think that makes authors feel pressured to provide one. I often find myself considering getting rid of it because the majority of people who use the referral box do so incorrectly, making it kind of useless to me. My original intent was to use it to bring actual referrals to my attention quicker, but that hasn’t worked. So let’s cover referrals, what they are, how to use them, and what to avoid.
While some agents may hold different opinions, when it comes to referrals I want them to be from someone who actually knows me. Someone whose name I will recognize instead of going “who?” This generally means clients and other agents or editors I’ve worked with or any other publishing professionals I’ve met personally. Sometimes If I meet an author via an event I might ask them to include that even in the referral box to remind myself of where I requested from. Referrals are also different from someone simply suggesting you query me. Referrals are rare, which is what gives them more sway, but they don’t necessarily increase your odds of getting an offer. The writing itself is what I will make my decision on with or without a referral. Plus referrals give me higher expectations going into the query and sample compared to the average query and that can be hard to meet. Continue reading “Referrals”
I wish historical fiction would take off in young adult. Well technically I wish it would get way more popular across the board. It’s one of those tough genres that houses hesitate to take risks on and as a person who loves historical I’m sick of seeing mostly WWII fiction these days. Historical fiction can be a great way to get teens interested in history, so when I found Big Water I was excited to pick up a YA historical based on a real historical event and it didn’t disappoint. I would love to find some YA historical based on real history for my own client list too.
Big Water is based off the true story of the steamship Asia that sank in Ontario’s Georgian Bay in 1882. The only two survivors of the wreck were two teenagers. Christina is struggling with the death of her twin brother and believes her family wishes she’d died instead of him. She decides to run away to find work elsewhere and winds up on the ship Asia. When an unexpected storm whips up, the overloaded boat is no match for the large waves and the ship sinks. Christina finds herself in a fight for survival against the storm in a lifeboat alongside fellow passenger Daniel. She fears he might be a criminal but she has no choice but to rely on him if they both want to make it off the water alive. Continue reading “Book Review: Big Water”
I found myself wanting to post a lot of #mswl wants on Twitter lately and decided to do a big compilation post about what kind of manuscripts I’m currently looking for. Don’t forget I also keep my Goodreads page up to date for those who want to see what I’ve been reading lately to get a feel for my tastes. Keep in mind while this includes some of what I know I want, I love finding surprises in my inbox. Often times I’ll say I really want horror and the next book I sign ends up being romance or some other genre. I want to find things that surprise me. Stories I never could have imagined before reading them.
The below goes for both adult and young adult works. If you want to query me do so here.
I’m seeing a lot of stories about royalty, rebellions, evil leaders, and fighting for the throne lately and the market is crowded with those types of stories right now. I’m craving something different. Something fresh with intimate personal stakes. I want to find stories that surprise me and that I didn’t even know I wanted. I would love some fantasy set in Eastern Europe or Asia or other places with riveting history and myths that haven’t often been covered. I love fantasy about folklore but I like seeing new twists on it. In contemporary fantasy I would love something that isn’t your typical urban fantasy. I’m always craving historical fantasy and recently loved Enchantée. Humorous fantasy is always great as well.
Science Fiction Continue reading “Wish List Update”
I get a lot of queries from self-published authors. I want to discuss what I personally look for in hybrid authors as an agent as well as some querying advice for hybrid authors. I have made offers to hybrid authors in the past and likely will again. I also expect the number of hybrid authors to grow since I think that is the direction the industry is headed in and for the better. Authors need more options outside of traditional houses because frankly as an agent I see too many great books go unpublished.
Let’s start with the biggest and most common mistake I see. I get a lot of queries from authors who decided to self-publish but did zero marketing and in many cases didn’t hire an editor or have a professional cover made. They made very few sales and disappointed, decided to try for an agent next. Most agents won’t be interested in these books and if my slush is any indication we get a lot of them. Putting your book on Amazon isn’t enough to sell copies. You need to be willing to market no matter which route you choose.
As an agent I can tell you it’s hard to sell already published books to editors unless they are selling very well, by which I mean thousands of copies and not hundreds. Any other book I’d rather see before it’s published. I’d rather try to sell an editor on a clean slate than a book already published to poor sales. Sure the lack of marketing may be the culprit, but how can editors know for sure? In the end they care about numbers, not excuses. If you want to self-publish commit yourself to putting out a quality product and that means you need to think beyond the writing. Studying marketing is just as important as studying writing. Continue reading “Querying: Hybrid Authors”
Enchantée by Gita Trelease is a young adult historical fantasy. Personally I love historical fantasy so this hit the sweet spot for me. I can see this book appealing to other historical fantasy lovers and especially those who like a book placed within historical France, specifically Revolutionary France. This is the sort of historical fantasy I’d love to have on my client list. I enjoyed the strong personal stakes and the way the magic felt like it belonged in historical France.
At its heart this book is about two sisters (Camille and Sophie) trying to survive and keep themselves from living on the streets. With their parents dead it falls to Camille as the older sister to look after Sophie in a France that is being ravaged by poverty. But with their older brother racking up gambling debts, he is intent on taking everything they have to protect himself from. Camille refuses to let him destroy them and uses magic to walk amongst the aristocrats at Versailles and gamble at cards to win money. The longer she spends at Versailles the more she struggles to reconcile the real her with the pretend baroness she has become. However she isn’t the only magician at court and if she isn’t careful she’ll get ensnared in another magician’s web before she sees it coming. Continue reading “Book Review: Enchantée”
When I joined D4EO agency it gave me the opportunity to very excitedly switch over to QueryManger instead of using an email inbox. QueryManager will be known as Qm from now on and no that lack of space in the middle of the name is not a typo. The software is named QueryManager and if you don’t believe me check their website. Qm is how the logo shows up when I use the software. I’ve been with several agencies between interning, assisting, and agenting and I’ve seen many different query inbox systems. Qm is by far my favorite. However I get a lot of confused messages from authors about Qm, and so I’m going to discuss how I use Qm as an agent and clear up some confusion, including the fact that no, you can’t add indents to your query since it uses block formatting. The amount of messages I received about that when I first switched over to Qm surprised me.
What I love most about Qm is how organized it is. And since it has all my queries and requests, it keeps everything in one place instead of getting requests lost beneath dozens of other emails. Qm also hides my email and uses it’s own to send from, which cuts down on submission emails to my agency email and keeps my amount of emails under control. I think it’s important to note Qm is not designed to be messaging back and forth with authors, something I learned from experience. It’s set up to make it easy to reject or request and once we know we want to offer it’s assumed we will switch to email, which is what I do. Unfortunately that also makes it hard to respond to questions from authors so please just follow the submission guidelines and if you have questions about representation save it for when/if I offer since we will have a chat when I offer. If I have questions I will shoot you an email. Continue reading “QueryManger and Queries”
After my latest conference taking pitches from authors, I had some thoughts I wanted to share. Most queries to me end up as a rejection, and unfortunately that includes ones received from conferences. However that doesn’t mean pitching an agent can’t be worthwhile. For those who view agents as the scary gatekeepers, this is also your chance to see that we are real people too. And as an agent I enjoy getting the chance to talk to authors and hopefully be of some help. Publishing is a tough industry and I wish I could help more authors out, but my time is limited and my clients come first. Luckily I can give out tips on my blog!
In my experience a lot of people get nervous pitching face to face. The pitches usually aren’t as succinct as queries either. I tend to like to see the queries afterward because I don’t like to judge by a nervous pitch unless I know the overall concept definitely isn’t for me. My advice is don’t see that pitch to an agent as a make-or-break moment for your book and instead view it as an opportunity to practice pitching your work and getting to ask questions. Once you’re a published author you will get people asking what your book is about and if you can give a good pitch you might be able to convert curious people into future readers. You also may wind up in other networking positions where being able to pitch your book will help you. Continue reading “Pitching at Conferences”