Reading

My Favorite YA Reads of 2018

I read a lot of books this year, more so than in recent past years. According to Goodreads as I write this I’m heading toward 80 books. I’m always on the hunt for possible comp titles for clients and to keep up to date in the genres I work in and to know what’s been done. Here’s a look at some of my favorite books from my reading this year, starting with young adult. A note: not all of these book were published in 2018, some are older.

The books are Strange the Dreamer, An Enchantment of Ravens, Spinning Silver, Ivory and Bone, Vessel. A shout out goes to the charming contemporary YA romance Christmas book I’m currently reading Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. A few other books that were close calls for the list include Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow and My Plain Jane. I admit I read a lot of fantasy this year in YA. Continue reading “My Favorite YA Reads of 2018”

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agenting · Editing · querying

Why Agents Don’t Give You Edits Until Signing

Something I’ve noticed as an agent is when I make an offer, authors are always interested in knowing what kind of edits are needed in detail, which is good. I’m very editorial, so it’s important to me that my clients are prepared to do revisions and if their current project doesn’t need them, future ones might. However many want to know all the details during the offer stage and there is a very important reason why we don’t give them at that stage. You won’t get more in-depth edits until you sign the contract. Sure during the offer I will let you know if it needs deep edits or light edits, but you won’t be getting an edit letter yet. Continue reading “Why Agents Don’t Give You Edits Until Signing”

Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Vessel

While I try to keep up with some of the latest books, I read all over the place including visiting older books. Vessel is a YA fantasy by Sarah Beth Durst and is an older book, by which I mean it’s from 2012. This book is a desert fantasy where religion plays a big role in the characters and plot. I see a lot of people hunting for non-European fantasy, and if that includes you I recommend this book. I love stories where a character is expected to sacrifice their self for their religion or other purpose only for them to fight that expectation. So this book was right up my alley.

Let’s get to what it’s about. Liyana is meant to be a vessel for her goddess, but when she doesn’t come Liyana finds herself on a journey to save the deities and her people. This story explores the role religion has for Liyana’s people as well Liyana’s changing feelings about the role laid out for her. You see when Liyana’s goddess comes, Liyana is meant to die. But once she starts to fall in love she isn’t so ready to sacrifice herself. However saving her people comes first. Continue reading “Book Review: Vessel”

agenting · Publishing Life

My Communication Style

When it comes to communication I’m a typical millennial, which means I prefer emails to phone calls. To me email is faster and more convenient than waiting around to schedule a call. The vast majority if not all of my communications with clients is done over email. Not only is it convenient for me, but it frees my phone up for emergency and editor calls. Having most communication done over email is pretty typical these days. If you are the type who relies on phone calls to discuss everything, then I’m probably not the agent for you.

As an editor I never did phone calls. Even my job interviews with houses were all done via email as well as my communication with authors.  Basically I got accustomed to doing everything via email. Not to mention many of my clients hold other day jobs and while they can’t do a call during work hours, they can email. I often wonder if the offer email will start to trump the offer call in the digital era. I have signed clients without phone calls and to me they are no different than clients who I called. The email signings went so smoothly I have considered switching to the offer email across the board. When I’m ready to offer, I let my prospective clients know when I ask to chat with them. If I have questions I want answers to before offering, I usually ask them while I finish reading or right after reading while I mull everything over. I do that because by the time it comes to me wanting to chat more with them to see about offer, I want to be sure about that offer and know everything I need to leading up to that so we can get right down to business when I make an offer. Continue reading “My Communication Style”

agenting · querying

Keeping Track of Editors

Ever wonder how agents decide who to submit a project to and how we keep track of all those editors? The very not glamorous answer is spreadsheets, networking, and Publishers Marketplace. Publishers Marketplace (PM) can help keep track of agents for querying authors as well. If you are willing to throw money at a membership, even if for only a month, you can learn a lot from PM.

I keep crazy long spreadsheets of editors arranged by house and imprint. I have one for YA editors and a separate one for editors accepting adult books. When I say long I mean my spreadsheets can go up to hundreds of rows long. PM’s newsletter announces when editors move, leave, or new editors get promoted. New imprints or closing imprints also get announced. My spreadsheet helps me keep track of what genres editors accept, where they are, if they recently moved, and what past titles they’ve bought that are similar to the type of books I either represent or want to represent. If I or a coworker talked to the editor recently, I make notes of what they said they are looking for. Editors move around a lot and my spreadsheet makes sure I keep track of those moves and possibly changes in their acquisitions focus with their moves. Continue reading “Keeping Track of Editors”

agenting · querying

Why I Reject Queries

Agents get a lot of queries, way more than we can represent. That means a lot of competition for querying writers. Believe me, I have plenty of experience querying as well and understand the frustration. Sometimes being an agent and knowing how it all works soothes the rejection, but not always. Rejecting queries is my least favorite part of agenting. I know how those rejections feel having been on the other end of them. But when it comes down to it agents might only take a handful of new authors a year but receive hundreds of queries. Currently I’m building my client list with vigor, which means I’m hungrily looking to fill out my list, but even then I still get way more queries than I can represent.

So why do I reject queries? A lot of people assume the majority of rejections are due to bad writing or us hating the queries. Most queries where the writing falls short just need another round or two of edits or are newer authors who will improve with time. Often a project needed one more round of edits before querying, but there is too much editing needed for me to feel comfortable taking on the project. I’m a big fan of Revise and Resubmits because if this is the case but I love the project, I’ll request a R&R to see how the author handles the edits. Being able to edit well is a key to success as an author. Continue reading “Why I Reject Queries”

agenting · querying

The Pitch Letter

I’ve been thinking about pitch letters to editors a lot lately, mainly because I’m working on several. Authors are always talking about querying agents, but I notice many don’t know what to expect when their agent pitches editors. Basically the pitch letter is querying 2.0, but this time to editors. What makes the pitch letter more difficult is they can vary more than your regular queries in style. I’ve seen completely different approaches to pitching. Agents hone their own pitch styles. Some even prefer to call up editors to pitch over the phone.

I remember during one of my internships we did an exercise where all of us interns wrote a pitch for the same project. None of them were the same. Even when we focused on the same aspects of the book, we all chose a different wording. All the pitches varied depending on each intern’s own style and what stood out to them. I’ve talked about subjectivity playing a role in offers and sales before, but subjectivity can also play a role in how an agent pitches. Continue reading “The Pitch Letter”