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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.


The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market Is Out — Here Are 8 Reasons to Buy It (and Naturally I’m Giving Away Books!)

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The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is out and available in major bookstores! What better way to celebrate its release than a giveaway contest? The CWIM a great resource guide for writers of picture books and novels for kids (young adult, middle grade) as well as illustrators. The new 2015 edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is updated and packed with info. Now in its 27th 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.

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. Read more

“Plot Perfect” Agent One-on-One Boot Camp Starts Oct 24 — Let Agent Paula Munier Help Construct & Critique Your Plot

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Whether you’re writing a novel, short story, memoir, stage play, or screenplay, this boot camp will show you how to craft a great narrative scene-by-scene. It’s a hands-on event that provides personalized feedback on your story structure and plot.

The agents of Talcott Notch Literary Services share the secrets of creating a story structure that works – no matter what your genre – in this entertaining and informative online event. It’s all part of the 2014 “Plot Perfect” Agent One-on-One Boot Camp starting Oct. 24. In addition to the tutelage and instruction, every attendee gets a critique of their plot framework from the agent instructors. Seats for the event are limited, and WD boot camps frequently sell out, so consider signing up sooner rather than later.

Following are the details of what happens during the event… Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Alec Shane of Writers House

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He is seeking: Alec is now aggressively building his own list. On the nonfiction side, Alec would love to see humor, biography, history (particularly military history), true crime, “guy” reads, and all things sports. “What I’m looking for in fiction: mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and books geared toward young male readers (both YA and MG). What I’m not looking for: Romance (paranormal or otherwise), straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, travel memoir.” Read more

Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water: Nov. 13-16, 2014 in Florida

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Escape with your writing for the weekend! The Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water (Nov. 13-16 in Celebration, FL) is your chance to escape the demands of everyday life and immerse yourself in your craft for a few purposeful and peaceful days. Enrollment at this Retreat is limited—you’ll enjoy the close mentorship of the instructors and the attention to your individual manuscript that only an event this small and exclusive can provide.

At the retreat, your work will be read, discussed, revised and reexamined with the goal of prepping it for review (and consideration) by industry professionals. Whether your goal is to secure the attention of an agent or editor, or simply entice a reader looking for a great book, the Retreat will help to make sure that your initial pages and plot are as compelling and lovingly crafted as possible. You’ll also learn how to pitch your work and have an opportunity to practice with the group! The Retreat provides you with a relaxing environment in which to write for long periods of time without interruption or distraction. You’ll also participate in numerous sessions and critique groups where you’ll enjoy the camaraderie of your writing peers. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Rebecca Brooks

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Rebecca Brooks, author of the erotic romance, ABOVE ALL. 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. Rebecca’s agent is Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger.

GIVEAWAY: Rebecca 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. Read more

WordWise Media Services Seeks a New Literary Agent on Staff

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In the past, I’ve personally had the opportunity to meet a nice agent based on the west coast named Steven Hutson of WordWise Media Services. You can see his agency website here. Recently, Steven came to me and asked me to put out an alert for him because he wants to make his agency bigger. Here is his exact announcement about how WordWise is seeking a new agent:

“West Coast literary agency seeks an associate agent in New York or Nashville. Or in the alternative, a specialist to handle mystery, children, romance, etc. This is a perfect opportunity for a well-connected retired (or downsized) editor, or agency administrator. We bring you leads and send you to writers’ conferences…” (More after the jump.) Read more

3 Tips For a Better First Revision

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The first revision is probably the most important factor in sculpting your novel. One of my favorite quotes to express this idea is by Shannon Hale who wrote: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” The first revision is the building of those sand castles. There are numerous tips to a successful rewrite, but I’ve found three that I’ve put at the top of my list to make my novel better.

Conflict check: On my rewrite, I first do a conflict check. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that every character in a scene should want something, even if it’s only a drink of water. On my first draft, I will usually focus on the main plot point of the scene. In doing so, I miss opportunities to add tension, great and small, to a chapter. On the rewrite, I ask myself: what does every character in that scene want, and what obstacles are standing in his or her way. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Cassie Hanjian of Waxman Leavell Literary

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Cassie is seeking: page-turning New Adult novels, plot-driven commercial and upmarket women’s fiction, historical fiction, psychological suspense, cozy mysteries and contemporary romance. In nonfiction, she’s looking for projects in the categories of parenting, mind/body/spirit, inspirational memoir, narrative nonfiction focusing on food-related topics and a limited number of accessible cookbooks. Cassie does not accept submissions in the following categories: science-fiction, fantasy, paranormal, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Children’s, literary fiction, poetry, and screenplays. Read more

To Text or Not to Text: How Much Should Technology Show Up in Fiction?

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It’s obvious that technology in the last ten years or so has changed our daily lives to an extreme. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting…on and on the list goes, and it’s growing every day. The way we communicate has been utterly transformed. Face-to-face interactions have decreased, while gadget-to-gadget interactions have increased. What does all this mean for the writer? Especially regarding our characters, and the way they communicate with each other inside our stories?

First, I think writers have to learn to walk the tightrope of not letting technology interfere too greatly with characters or plot, while at the same time being realistic with it. For instance, it would be unthinkable not to have a single mention of a character using a cell phone in a contemporary story. But how much technology is too much? Two main points worth considering, when it comes to characters and technology… Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Tina Schwartz of The Purcell Agency

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Tina is seeking: Chapter books (all kinds except fantasy); Middle Grade (contemporary/realistic, sports, mystery, humor, multicultural, issue driven [no fantasy]); Young Adult (edgy, issues, contemporary/realistic, light romance, sports, mystery [no fantasy]). Tina is also seeking nonfiction Chapter books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult – all topics. She is not seeking: Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Paranormal or Picture Books submissions at this time. 
 Read more

Conference Spotlight: The 2014 Arizona Writing Conference (Nov. 21-22)

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If you read my blog, you know I am constantly traveling to be part of awesome writers’ conferences across the country. On that note, I am very exciting to be a part of the 2014 Arizona Writing Conferences — two full-day “How to Get Published” conference events in Arizona coordinated by the SSA (Society of Southwestern Authors). On Friday, Nov. 21, there is an all-day event in Phoenix; and on Saturday, Nov. 22, there is a separate all-day event in Tucson. (The one-day schedules are both the same.)

These writing events are a chance to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch an agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. There is even a “Writers’ Got Talent” event in the middle where registrants bring their first pages and get them read aloud. Faculty (literary agents) give their thoughts on what was working or not working with the writing. Read more

Tips on World Building for Writers — How to Make Your Imaginary World Real

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There isn’t a certified qualification or course on world-building (well, not in my neighborhood), but every story requires it. Whether your tale is set in a real place or an imagined one, you need to establish your characters’ world so that the reader can suspend disbelief and fully engage with their story.

Of course, the more differences to our own world you introduce, the more you need to focus on getting those details absolutely right – but you need to do it in such a way that they almost fade into the background so the reader is instead focusing on the characters and the story. You don’t need to explicitly create and explain all aspects of your world in the first couple of chapters. Without some story developing in these chapters your reader may not persevere further into the book. Read more

“No, Thank You” — On Rejection & Writing

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The most commonly acknowledged form of rejection for a writer is the rejection of one’s work by a publishing house. After spending months, if not years, shaping a story, you submit it hoping for acceptance and publication. Sadly, this is the exception, not the rule. The average writer is more likely to have a story rejected—often multiple times—rather than published immediately.

It’s important to note that this does not immediately translate to fault on the writer’s part. The acquisition process is subjective. A writer is at the mercy of the preferences of the editor and the publisher’s existing catalog. In other words, it may be that the story isn’t right for that publisher, not that the story isn’t worthy of publication. Hand-in-hand with this is the preference of the acquiring editor. As much as we all want to believe we are 100 percent objective, this isn’t so. Bias always exists and your story may not resonate with the editor leading them to reject it. Read more

“How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month” — Oct. 9 Webinar (With E-Book Download) All About Writing a Successful Fast Draft

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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 and amazing 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 upfront, you’ll have fewer rewrites later.

“Plot Whisperer” 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 in her new Oct. 9, 2014 webinar, “How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month: The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning.” It all happens at 1 p.m. this Thursday.

You’ll also receive a template (and a free download of Martha’s plotting e-book) 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, you’ll be ready to begin your one-month writing challenge. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

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Patricia is seeking: Patricia represents adult and young adult fiction, and is actively looking to build her list. On the adult side, she is interested in literary fiction and commercial fiction in the New Adult, women’s fiction, and romance genres. For YA, she is looking for contemporary/realistic fiction as well YA mystery/thriller, horror, magical realism, science fiction and fantasy. She is also interested in finding exciting multicultural and LGBTQ fiction, both YA and adult. In general, Patricia loves stories with complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships – along with writing that makes her feel completely pulled into these characters’ lives and worlds. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Jaime Martinez-Tolentino

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jaime Martinez-Tolentino, author of TAINO. 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. Jaime’s literary agent is Leticia Gómez, who founded her own literary agency, Savvy Literary Services. Read more

17th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Women’s/Upmarket Fiction

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Welcome to the 17th (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 women’s/upmarket fiction, this 17th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.) Read more

7 Ways to Add Sizzle to Your Next Book Event

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Have you ever seen a lonely author at a bookstore table—rearranging his book stacks, checking his signing pen, and making hopeful eye contact with the customers before they duck down the nearest aisle? I’ve been that author, and I’ve also stood for three days hawking my books at a country fair, where I ate up my meager profits in corn dogs and fried Snickers bars. But that was the old me.

When my cookbook 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BACON was released, I decided it was time to create an unconventional book event that my readers would actually enjoy. The launch party was featured in The Denver Post, and over a hundred people attended. I sold out of books, brought home orders for more copies, and here’s what I learned from the experience.

GIVEAWAY: Eliza is excited to give away a free copy of “101 Things To Do With Bacon” 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. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency

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About Julie: Before joining The Seymour Agency, Julie Gwinn most recently served as Marketing Manager for the Christian Living line at Abingdon Press and before that served as Trade Book Marketing Manager and then Fiction Publisher for the Pure Enjoyment line at B&H Publishing Group, a Division of LifeWay Christian Resources. Last year she was awarded Editor of the Year from the American Christian Fiction Writers and won B&H’s first Christy award for Ginny Yttrup’s debut novel Words.

She is seeking: Christian and Inspirational Fiction and Nonfiction, Women’s fiction (contemporary and historical), New Adult, Southern Fiction, Literary Fiction and Young Adult. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Lori M. Lee

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Lori M. Lee, author of GATES OF THREAD AND STONE. 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.

GIVEAWAY: Lori 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. Read more

“Find an Agent and Get Published” — WD Premium Collection is 11 Great Items Bundled Together at 80% Off

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Are you ready to get your book on the shelves? Whether you’re just starting to write your novel or have dozens of submissions under your belt, this new “Find an Agent and Get Published” collection includes everything you need to successfully get your work into the market. Learn how the publishing industry has changed and how you need to format and submit your proposal in order to build a solid reputation. Get insight from experienced agents on common mistakes writers make and how to craft an irresistible query letter. If you’re serious about having a long-term, prosperous career as a writer, you need to develop the business-savvy skills necessary to land an agent and get published. And the 11-item kit is yours for 80% off. (Not too shabby!) Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Dylan Landis

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2. Be a dedicated reader for at least two people. Funnel some generous literary karma into the writing community by offering to be a reader, even if you don’t have a dream reader of your own. (Such relationships are often not mutual, anyway.) Never doubt that in your writing life, what goes around, comes around. Besides, critiquing the work of another writer hones the ability to self-critique. I’m fortunate enough to trade “Monday pages” with a stellar writer named Heather Sellers. It’s a work relationship so intense I call her my “writing wife,” but I also read frequently for another excellent writer who doesn’t read for me.

GIVEAWAY: Dylan 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. Read more

5 Tips for Writing Suspense

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1) Structure Scenes like Mini-Novels: Each one should contain its own narrative arc, with rising action and a climactic moment that signals the end of the chapter. It’s good form to finish most chapters on a cliffhanger—especially the first one. A major dramatic question should be raised in the opening scene, and then resolved in an unexpected or unfavorable way to hurl the main character further into the conflict (and thus drag your readers into the story). Get your protagonist in trouble as soon as possible and never let her get too comfortable or too safe. As far as chapter length, I’ve found that an average of five pages (double-spaced, size 12) works well for keeping up the pace.

GIVEAWAY: Kira 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. Read more

How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critiques) Starts Oct. 1

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How do you hook an agent right away, keep them hooked, and make the most of your new publishing relationship? In this Boot Camp starting Oct. 1, 2014, “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. You’ll also work with an agent online (the instructing agents are from Sandra Dijkstra Literary) to review and refine your all-important query letter and the first five pages of your novel. As always, seats in the boot camp are limited, and many WD camps sell out — so consider signing up sooner rather than later. The Oct. 1 camp is a great opportunity to get professional feedback on your writing. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Brent Taylor of Triada US Literary Agency

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He is seeking: “Middle Grade: for younger readers I am on the hunt for a humorous, intelligent fantasy; a scare-the-pants-off-me ghost or haunting story; fast-paced literary writing similar in style to Jerry Spinelli and Cynthia Lord. I have soft spots for larger-than-life characters and atmospheric setting (creepy and/or quirky). Young Adult: I’m always looking for genre-bending books that can be an exciting puzzlement when thinking about how precisely to market; specifically mystery and crime for teens, the grittier the better; high-concept contemporary stories with addicting romantic tension. I’m a sucker for themes of finding your place in the world, new beginnings, and summer-before-college stories. New Adult: my tastes in New Adult tend to be more darkly skewed but I would love a well-executed story that shares the same excitement, wonder, and invigoration of books like LOSING IT. Although I appreciate any story that’s told well in great language, in New Adult I’m more concerned with being entertained and gripped by the edge of my seat than in being stimulated. Adult: I would love a psychological suspense based on actual events, i.e. CARTWHEEL by Jennifer Dubois which fictionalized the Amanda Knox trial and hooked me from beginning to end. Alternatively, I’d love high-concept women’s fiction; either an exquisitely told story huge in size and scope, or a less ambitious novel that simply warms my heart.” Read more

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