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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.


New Literary Agent Alert: Soumeya Bendimerad of the Susan Golomb Literary Agency

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Soumeya is seeking: She is actively seeking to represent literary fiction, upmarket/book club fiction, and select young-adult and middle grade. She is drawn to intelligent literary fiction with a fresh voice, coming of age stories, novels with elements of travel or stories set in other countries, family sagas, experiments with form, and complex but sympathetic characters. In non-fiction, she is seeking topics in popular culture, music and art history, unconventional business, politics, narrative non-fiction, sociology, cooking, travel, and memoir. Read more

5 Mistakes Writers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

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1. Thinking that your book will sell itself. I have five books published with Simon & Schuster and let me tell you: They do not walk off the shelves. I made the mistake of becoming complacent and thinking that because I had a huge publisher behind me that I didn’t need to do much PR work to promote myself. In the words of Julia Roberts: “Big mistake. Huge.”

I watched my friend and author Becky Wicks work like a demon to promote her indie book Before He Was Famous and within 12 hours of it going live on Amazon it had sold nearly 500 copies. She worked her BUTT off for months prior building an audience, interacting on Twitter and Facebook and building a fan base from scratch. She rocks. It’s totally inspired me to do the same. Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Katie Shea Boutillier and “THE ART OF FALLING”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.

The 69th installment in this series is with agent Katie Shea Boutillier (Donald Maass Literary) for Kathryn Craft’s novel, THE ART OF FALLING (2014, Sourcebooks Landmark). Kirkus said of the book, “Craft’s debut novel lovingly traces the aesthetics of movement and gently explores the shattering pain of despair. A sensitive study of a woman choreographing her own recovery.”

GIVEAWAY: Kathryn 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. (UPDATE: L Chavez won.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Stacy Testa of Writers House

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Stacy is seeking: Stacy is looking for literary fiction and upmarket commercial women’s fiction, particularly character-driven stories with an international setting, historical bent, or focus on a unique subculture. She also represents realistic young adult (no dystopian or paranormal, please!). For non-fiction, she is particularly interested in young “millennial” voices with a great sense of humor and a strong platform, startling and unique memoirs, and voice-driven narratives about little-known historical moments. Read more

Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction — August 14 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Jennifer Laughran

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Middle Grade books are generally defined as being books for children aged 8-12…. and at the moment, these books are hot-hot-hot. From the commercial successes of titles like DIARY OF A WIMPY KID and Rick Riordan’s LIGHTNING THIEF saga, to more “literary” award-winning fare, it seems most publishers are seeking the next great Middle Grade success story. But middle grade is also a tough category to write for. Much of what appears in the slush pile is cheesy or derivative, or just lacks “spark.” So what makes a great Middle Grade novel? What is selling? What are agents and editors looking for? And how can you make your book stand out and shine?

In this live webinar, “Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction,” instructor and literary agent Jennifer Laughran (of Andrea Brown Literary) will talk about what’s happening in the exciting Middle Grade market, as well as examine some recently published titles to see what they got right. She’ll also talk revision tips and tricks to help you take your work-in-progress to the next level. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug 14, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Kate Dyer-Seeley

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Kate Dyer-Seeley, author of the mystery SCENE OF THE CLIMB. 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: Kate 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. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.) Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Catherine Luttinger of Darhansoff & Verrill

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She is seeking: Catherine is primarily interested in science fiction and fantasy. To her, that includes anything that could even remotely be labeled as such. Viable submission material includes everything from classic space operas to the apocalypse; alternative universes, dystopias, and eco-thrillers—as well as the paranormal, horror, zombies, plagues, and time travel. She is also willing to look at historical fiction, mythology re-told, YA, thrillers and mysteries. You may also pitch her pop-science nonfiction. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Lee Thompson

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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Lee Thompson, author of A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

GIVEAWAY: Lee is excited to give away a free copy of his 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. (UPDATE: DanielR won.) Read more

“Your First Ten Pages” Agent One-on-One Boot Camp Starts August 22. Get an Agent Critique of Your Novel Beginning

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As many writers know, agents and editors won’t give your work more than ten pages or so to make an impact. If you haven’t got them hooked by then, it’s a safe bet you won’t be asked for more material. Make sure you’ve got the kind of opening they’re looking for! In this invaluable weekend event, you’ll get to work with an agent online to review and refine the first ten pages of your novel. You’ll learn what keeps an agent reading, what are the most common mistakes that make them stop, and the steps you need to take to correct them. The best part is that you’ll be working directly with an agent, who will provide feedback specific to your work.

It’s all part of the recurring popular Agent One-on-One Boot Camp called “Your First 10 Pages.” Sign up by the end of the day, August 22, 2014. It’s taught by the agents at Talcott Notch Literary. Read more

Agent Updates to the 2014 WD Conference

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As promised, here are the last minute agent updates (both additions and cancellations) to the 2014 WD Conference, Aug. 1-3, 2014, in NYC.

CANCELLATIONS (3)
1. Jordy Albert (Albert Booker Literary) has cancelled.
2. Alex Slater (Trident Media) has cancelled.
3. Kathleen Zakhar (Harold Ober Associates) has cancelled.

Click through to the full page to see the additions. Read more

How I Found My Literary Agent: Cassandra Dunn

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Cassandra Dunn, author of the novel, THE ART OF ADAPTING. 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: Cassandra 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. (UPDATE: TheWritePlace won.) Read more

WD Has Awesome Writers’ Conferences in both NYC and LA in August 2014. The NYC Event Has a 50-Agent Pitch Slam!

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As we do each year, Writer’s Digest is putting on some awesome (and HUGE) writers conferences on both coasts of the country. These conferences bring together writers from all over the country, and lead to all kinds of good things, like signing with agents, meeting your writer friends for life, keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry, and/or simply recharging your writing bat. Read on for more info. We hope to see you there. (The NYC event is from Aug. 1-3, 2014, while the LA event is from Aug 15-17, 2014.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency

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She is seeking: She is excited about representing all genres of young adult and new adult fiction, as well as adult romance. While she is looking for all sub-genres of romance, she is especially interested in romantic suspense and urban fantasy. She is also on the lookout for fun picture books. She’s a fan of dual POVs, loves both print and ebooks, and has a soft spot for marketing-savvy writers. Read more

5 Essential Tips for Writing Killer Fight Scenes

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Fight scenes are dangerous territory for writers. On the surface, they seem as if they’re guaranteed to keep the reader glued to the action in the same way as they often do at the movies. In reality, though, readers tend to skip over fight scenes – skimming the long, tedious, blow-by-blow descriptions in favour of getting back to the dialogue and character-driven drama that truly engages them in the story.

My novel, Traitor’s Blade, is a swashbuckling fantasy in which fight scenes are a crucial part of the storytelling. This means having to ensure that every piece of action is vital and engaging; it means that every duel must draw the reader in and not let them go until the end. So how do you keep the pacing, flow, and more importantly, the drama moving forward with so many fights?

GIVEAWAY: Sebastien is excited to give away a free copy of his 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. (UPDATE: Mutineer won.) Read more

11 Steps to Finding the Agent Who’ll Love Your Book

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I was ready. I had an edited manuscript. I had a tiered list of agents. I had a spreadsheet. I’d read every scrap of information about getting an agent, and I was prepared, at last, to submit my novel. The process could take months, maybe years, I’d heard. I was in for the long haul, baby. The good news is it didn’t take years to get an offer of representation. The even better news: That offer came in the form of four magic words, words I’d been told to wait for by all the experts: I love your book.

Not just a Facebook-worthy thumbs up, not a “I think I can sell this.” Love. The reason you wait for true love in publishing is because publishing requires it, and not just from the author. Remember the feverish crush that helped fuel your first draft? Your agent needs that same big-eyed reverence for your book to take it out to editors, hoping for another love connection. So how do you snag one of these lovey-doveys for yourself?

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. (UPDATE: Christa4F won.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Siobhan McBride of Serendipity Literary Agency

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She is seeking: Siobhan is actively seeking voice driven narratives whether Fiction, Memoir, or Non-Fiction. She holds a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Adult Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Thrillers (bonus points if they’re psychological), Historical, daring Young Adult, and narratives with philosophical undertones. For Memoir and Nonfiction titles, she seeks Investigative, True Crime, and dark/bizarre History. Siobhan enjoys the dark, macabre aspects of life where paranormal fiction and horror are viewed an under appreciated art forms deeply rooted in psychology, and looks for authors unafraid to delve into these inner workings of the human psyche. Read more

What All Agents Want in a Great Young Adult Novel — July 29 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Carlie Webber

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Teens are discriminating readers with a lot of demands on their time, so what can you do to ensure that your novel is the one they’ll all be dying to read? And does your book stand a chance at getting you an agent if it doesn’t have wizards, vampires, or a dystopian setting?

Literary agent Carlie Webber will share her ideas on what all agents want in a great YA novel, regardless of subject matter. The live webinar on July 29 will open with a presentation on what it means to write authentic YA voices, and will explain why crafting a YA voice is a different challenge from creating one for a tween or adult protagonist. After showing examples of strong voice, Carlie will show how setting, pacing, and tension all work with the voice to create a memorable novel. She’ll also talk about the elements that separate middle grade novels from YA, and YA from adult. Carlie will also address the art of writing controversial content, and the perennial question of how writers should – or shouldn’t – tackle YA literature trends.

This webinar will treat YA as an age range, not a genre, and it will include examples from contemporary and historical fiction, plus science fiction and fantasy written for ages 12-18. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

7 Things I Learned So Far, by Heather Sellers

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3. Come in through the side door. If you are too on the nose, you lose your reader. Coming in through the front door means your piece is about exactly what it says it is about. But our pleasure in reading is figuring things out. Set up the writing so your reader gets to be smart; trust that she truly wants to figure things out. Write so that the words point to your point but don’t spell it out directly. Readers are brilliant. And powerful writing creates an envelop for the reader to slip into. When writing about despair and meaninglessness, start with a bug. When writing about transcendent love, start with something as unexpectedly to the side as a sandwich.

GIVEAWAY: Heather is excited to give away a free copy of her book, CHAPTER BY CHAPTER, 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. (UPDATE: Turtle8 won.) Read more

16th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Middle Grade Fiction

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Welcome to the 16th (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 middle grade fiction, this 16th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.) Read more

Conference Spotlight: The Minnesota Writing Workshop in St. Paul (Sept. 6, 2014)

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If you live anywhere near the Minnesota area and are looking to get writing instruction as well as pitch agents & editors, then keep reading. Coming up fast on September 6, 2014 is my appearance at the Minnesota Writing Workshop. (This is my first time teaching in Minnesota, so I am pumped.) This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Sept. 6, 2014, at Subtext Books in St. Paul, MN. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and instruction designed to give you the best advice concerning how to get your writing & books published. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres and writers for all age groups are welcome. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Mackenzie Brady of New Leaf Literary

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She is seeking: Her taste in nonfiction extends beyond science books to memoirs, lost histories, epic sports narratives, true crime and gift/lifestyle books. She is particularly interested in projects with a strong narrative and a female bend. She represents select adult and YA fiction projects, as well. Her favorite novels are almost always dark, visceral reads focused on the complexities of being a human. Think Breaking Bad and The Wire but in book form. She also represents illustrators (with or without book projects of their own). In the end, all she wants is to be told a good story. Read more

Be Your Own Editor: Tips For Self-Editing Your Own Work — July 15 Discount Webinar by Harold Underdown

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If you write for children or teens, whether you are a complete beginner or a published author, you know how important it is to make your manuscript be the best it can be before you send it out. How can you do that? Editing your own writing is difficult—how can you be objective about the plot and characters you created? How can you polish the final draft and find the mistakes you missed earlier? You can turn to others for feedback, and use a variety of techniques that help you get a new view of your manuscript. In this all-new webinar on self-editing titled “Be Your Own Editor: Tips For Self-Editing Your Own Work,” instructor Harold Underdown (The Purple Crown website) will teach you these techniques—ones he uses in his own work as an editor. He’ll also point you to more useful resources to make sure you feel confident revising your work before submission.

This is a special discounted webinar (about half the price of normal webinars), so take advantage of the lower cost, and the chance to ask Harold questions. It all happens at 1 p.m., ET, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, and lasts 60 minutes. Read more

Self-Editing Advice: How to Tackle Character Consistency

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Keeping your character(’s) traits consistent is very a important step in polishing your manuscript, especially if it’s written from multiple points of view (POVs). For example, if you have one character who … Read more

From Solitary Writing to Low-Cost Book Release Party — The Story of My Book Launch

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You’ve written a book. You know what it is to work with the elements, to muster something slippery and intangible into something with form. Likely, you’ve sweated on it and dreamt it.

Finishing my first novel, The Untold, felt to me like crawling out of a dark room after a winter that lasted too many seasons. Draft after draft, revision after revision, I had remained in that dark room determined that what was on the page would eventually match the vision I held for it. These things take time, as it happens, so much time. And it must be a solo process. I don’t know any writers that work well with their legs or arms twisted around another. So, aside from the inherent challenges of actually writing a novel, you must also get very good at spending long periods of time with yourself. For better or worse. There are times when I felt that I had aged a year in a day and that the book might actually bury me. But it didn’t. I finished it. The winter ended… Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Paul Lamb of Howard Morhaim Literary

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About Paul: Paul Lamb of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and was a recipient of a POSSE Scholarship. Paul joins the agency after nearly a decade in Marketing at both Penguin and Random House, with various imprints. Owing to his professional experience in trade publishing, Paul has a strong sense of publishers’ needs, and a unique insight into the representation of authors.

He is seeking: His tastes lie strongly with nonfiction in a wide variety of genres and subjects, notably business, political science, sociology, memoir, travel writing, sports, pop culture, and music. He is also interested in crime, mystery, and literary fiction. Read more

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