agenting · querying · self publishing

Querying: Hybrid Authors

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 Authors need more options outside of traditional houses because frankly as an agent I see too many great books go unpublished.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”

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Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Enchantée

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”

agenting · Meet An Author · querying

QueryManger and Queries

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”

agenting · querying

Pitching at Conferences

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”

Reading · Writing

Love Triangles

I’ve found myself thinking about love triangles in fiction lately. I admit I tend to associate them more with young adult books simply because I see them there more often than in adult. Love triangles can be very popular. Think Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Selection. Some people can’t get enough of love triangles, others hate them. Personally I love a well done love triangle, but I think they can very difficult to do in a way that feels natural. I’m going to discuss my personal tastes here with complete honesty and I’m going to use a few book examples, but don’t take them as gospel and remember it is my opinion and mine only. If you are considering querying me and your book features a love triangle, this post will help you decide if I’m a good match or not. And if you are a love triangle fan then this post might give you four more books to read.

Warning: Spoilers for the books below in regards to the love triangles. And remember, I’m probably way more critical than the average reader.

16071367In The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni, the author took an angle on a love triangle I really liked. One of the men involved isn’t actually in love with the main character (Verity), he is just trying to get close to her to manipulate her and protect his own self-interests. I also enjoyed the way the author used the triangle to explore how Verity isn’t sure how to recognize love. She also struggles with the love triangle and the feelings of being interested in two very different men and actively tries to pull away from the second because she feels it is the right thing to do. What made this romance captivating for me is that the first man is an arranged marriage, and the second isn’t, adding an extra layer of intrigue and character exploration to the triangle. Continue reading “Love Triangles”

agenting · Editing · Writing

Being an Editorial Literary Agent

One of the questions I often get asked by potential clients is whether or not I’m an editorial agent. With my background in editing the answer is of course. That leads to authors wanting to know how much editing I do, which depends on the amount of work each individual project needs. Editorial agents are becoming more common and I think the increased competitiveness of the industry is going to lead to most if not all agents becoming editorial agents eventually. Honestly I’m glad I started on the editorial side first to work on editing since these days it’s an important skill for agents. While I don’t give specific edit notes until a client has signed with me, on the offer call I try to cover my expectations of what needs edited to clue the author in how many edits we’d be doing together.

When it comes to my clients, as an agent I tend to work with authors who don’t need heavy line edits and I tend to focus on developmental edits instead. By that I mean their overall style is polished and the changes needed are usually not grammatical issues that pop up throughout the whole story like passive versus active voice or too much telling. My clients are authors who have put in a lot of time to studying the craft and aren’t still learning the basics. They are also often experienced with taking critique as well. Continue reading “Being an Editorial Literary Agent”

Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Contagion

I’ve been reading a lot more science fiction lately and I find myself gravitating toward YA sci-fi due to the fast pacing. One of my latest reads was Contagion by Erin Bowman. This book was fantastic and I loved the tension and mystery of it. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a creepy science fiction read and I would especially recommend it if you’re a Riddick Pitch Black fan. Overall this book has great tension and exceptional writing.

When a SOS message is sent from a mining site on a distant planet, a search-and-rescue crew is sent. However when they arrive there appears to be no survivors and not enough dead bodies to account for the missing. A note left behind by one of the dead proclaims “It Got In Us.” With no idea of what the note means they search for answers, but once they find the dead, they quickly wish they hadn’t. Continue reading “Book Review: Contagion”