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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.


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

Genesis of a Memoir: How I Came to Write My Story

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In the fall of 1986, I was ten years old, and I found myself sleeping on the muddy ground of a temperate rainforest on an island in Washington State. The muddy bed was supposed to be temporary. My alcoholic Salvadoran stepfather was building a wooden pyramid for us to live in, one that would channel the occult magic of ancient Egypt. My mother was convinced he was the messianic revolutionary hero she had foretold in clairvoyant visions.

Before the pyramid could reach its glorious completion, however, my stepfather threatened to kill the neighbors in a drunken rage. We had to break camp hurriedly, before the cops arrived, struggling down the trail with our most prized possessions. The first thing I evacuated out of the mud was my crate of journals, the repositories for my creative writing and poetry. My correspondence with myself was often my only form of friendship, my only mechanism for processing the chaos and violence around me, and, most fundamentally, the only proof that I ever existed. I wrote to live… Read more

How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: July 15 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Awesome Critique for Attendees

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WD’s July 2014 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp is shaping up to be an awesome opportunity for writers of children’s books. The new topic is “How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: From Toddler to Teen,” and this boot camp is for writers of picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.

It all starts on July 15, 2014, and features the amazing agents at Full Circle Literary offering instruction and critiques to all attendees. Picture book writers get their entire book critiqued while MG & YA writers get a query critique and five-page critique. This is a great opportunity to get a professional’s thoughts on your work, and possibly attract the attention of an agent at the same time. There is a limited number of seats for this event (75, and it reached capacity last time it was done), and WD Boot Camps frequently sell out, so sign up quickly. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Jessica Arnold

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jessica Arnold, author of THE LOOKING GLASS. 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: Jessica 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. (An international winner would get an e-book.) You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary

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She is seeking: Whitley is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women’s fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky.

She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and craving cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).

She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults. Read more

You Should Write From Multiple POVs if Your Story Demands It

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When I first got the idea to bring Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow back to life in a young adult novel, I was faced with multiple dilemmas:

• Write it in a modern day or historic setting?
• Portray the outlaw couple as monsters…or humans who made mistakes?
• Create a love triangle, a love ‘em and leave ‘em story, or skip romance altogether?
• Who should tell this story––Bonnie, Clyde, or someone else?
• Do modern teens even know who Bonnie & Clyde are?

GIVEAWAY: Kym 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: Maureen A. won.) Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Allison Hunter and “A Royal Pain”

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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 68th installment in this series is with agent Allison Hunter (Inkwell Management) for Megan Mulry’s romance, A ROYAL PAIN (2012, Sourcebooks Landmark, part of the Unruly Royals series), which, in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called “a delightful love story… worth reading again and again.” Read more

Author Interview: Lindsay Cummings, Author of THE MURDER COMPLEX

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I love interviewing debut authors on the blog. This is because aspiring writers can look at their path to publication and identify what they did right. Today’s featured author is Lindsay Cummings, author of the YA futuristic thriller, THE MURDER COMPLEX (June, Greenwillow Books).

Lindsay Cummings is a 22-year-old author of YA and MG books at HarperCollins. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband Josh, her hedgehog named Hedwig, her two German Shepherds Hurley and Kai, her wolf cub Kimber, and a draft horse named Dan the Man. Lindsay deals with Chronic Fatigue issues, believes Jesus is the reason for all of her success, and swears that book hoarding is not a problem at all. She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts–it was probably just lost in the mail. You can visit her book blogging website for teens at www.booknerdigans.com. Her other books are THE FEAR TRIALS and BALANCE KEEPERS: THE FIRES OF CALDERON (Sept. 2014). Read more

Author John Searles Proves Nice Guys Finish First

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Someone once told me, “You can’t get by on just being nice.” But in the publishing world, if you’re nice to readers they will adore you and you’ll sell more books. Here’s proof.

I had no intention of buying John Searles’ novel Help for the Haunted when he visited Colorado recently. I have two shelves full of books by local authors I want to support. But I haven’t read them all. (You’re a reader and writer, so you own these lonely books, too. Admit it.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Alexander Slater of Trident Media Group

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Alexander is seeking: Alexander is interested in children’s, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction, from new and established authors. As he says, “I’m looking for projects that will rise above the rest…characters you’ll remember well past childhood…books that translate well to film because within them contain incredible stories, not because they’re the latest trend.” He particularly loves authors like Frank Portman, Jim Shepard, Jenny Han, and Rainbow Rowell. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Kristi Belcamino

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Kristi Belcamino, author of BLESSED ARE THE DEAD. 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. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Kristi 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: Must Love Musty Pages won.) Read more

Revise for Publication: Revision Strategies That Will Improve Any Draft — June 26 Webinar (w/Critique!) by Jordan Rosenfeld

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So you want to be published? It’s been said that after the wild creative outpouring, real writing happens in the art of revision. Your best chance of attracting readers is through strong revision, or “re-seeing” of your work, to appeal to readers of all stripes. Writers who learn to love revision are more likely to write publishable work that wins readers and leads to deeper satisfaction in the writer’s craft. This live webinar, called “Revise for Publication: Revision Strategies That Will Improve Any Draft,” will help any writer with the goal of publication learn to love revision. You can learn to enjoy revision by breaking it down into simple, successful “waves,” and easy-to-use “tools” that you’ll use over and over.

By the end of this webinar you will not only have tackled revision issues within your work but will be able to embrace remaining revision with a positive attitude. The webinar happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, June 26, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Sally Koslow

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5. Read your work aloud. You may sound full of yourself, but this is the best way to listen for rhythm–or lack of it, to zone in on klutzy spots and to hear words you may overuse: all, always, just, so, usually, very, perhaps, really… If you repeat words, be intentional about it. This reminds me…

GIVEAWAY: Sally 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: Sunshine1117 won.) Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Natalia Sylvester

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Natalia Sylvester, author of CHASING THE SUN. 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: Natalia 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: Pizzos3 won.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Mary Krienke of Sterling Lord Literistic

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She is seeking: Mary represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design. Read more

“Your Submission Tools: How to Write Excellent Queries, Opening Pages, and Synopses” — June 18 One-on-One Boot Camp With Corvisiero Literary

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During this all-new June 2014 boot camp (starts June 18) called “Your Submission Tools: How to Write Excellent Queries, Opening Pages, and Synopses,” literary agents will show you how to put together the best query letter, opening pages, and synopsis to hook the attention of agents and editors. As you learn what makes up an amazing submission package, 5 literary agents from Corvisiero Literary will tell you what agents look for when reviewing your work.

They will help each and every boot camp attendee draft and perfect your query letter, your book synopsis, and the first two pages of your book. Every participating writer will not only learn how to properly prepare a captivating submission package that will show results, they will also receive a critique with customized tips and suggestions from a literary agent. Seating is limited, and WD boot camps frequently sell out, so sign up today. Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Jim McCarthy and MIDNIGHT THIEF

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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 67th installment in this series is with agent Jim McCarthy (Dystel & Goderich Literary) for Livia Blackburne’s young adult fantasy, MIDNIGHT THIEF (July 2014, Disney-Hyperion). Read more

Live Near Cincinnati? Learn About Writing & Publishing For Free at the Downtown Library on July 15, July 22 and July 29

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I have the amazing opportunity to teach 3 summer evening workshops at the downtown branch of the Cincinnati Library in July 2014. Come out and learn! The flyer below will answer all your questions, but here is the gist. All events are two hours long (approx.) and free of charge. Attendees are welcome to ask questions. You don’t have to sign up. Just come to the downtown branch (address on the flyer below) and settle in for some learning. Click past the jump for details on the July 15, July 22 and July 29 events. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Craig Lancaster

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3. Patience is a virtue: You’ve finished with your book, but your editor has nine manuscripts he’s reading before he’ll get to yours. Negotiations on a book contract can take weeks. Your book has been acquired but is still months away from actually coming out. I’m not a patient guy by nature, but the writing life has taught me to deal with the slow-turning wheels of publishing. It’s why I fill my life with other projects and other interests. I design a quarterly magazine. I lead writing workshops. I have a long-running backgammon battle with my father. I have manuscripts in various levels of production—one actively being written, one being edited, one being marketed, at all times. Read more

Agent Andrea Hurst Seeks Women’s Fiction, Romance, YA, Memoir and More

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This alert from established literary agent Andrea Hurst (Andrea Hurts & Associates): “I am reopening my submissions this summer to unsolicited queries from June 1 – September 1, 2014.” This is a great opportunity for writers everywhere who are writing genres & categories that Andrea accepts. She is not always open to submissions, and wanted writers to know. More info after the break. Read more

5 Things to Look For in a Critique Partner

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Writing can be a very solitary profession. And most of us like it that way – huddled at our vintage desks or curled up on our couches, muttering to ourselves while our coffee grows cold.

But once that draft is finished…then what? Well, I suggest you don’t run a quick spell check, type up a query and then send that puppy to agents the next day. What I do suggest is you find yourself some critique partners, other writers with whom you can trade manuscripts and feedback. I can say, without a doubt, that my critique partners were a key ingredient to my success at landing an agent and a book deal. Without them, my chocolate cookies would be hard. My cake wouldn’t rise. My soufflé would be flat. My…well, you get the idea, right? But not all critique partners are created equal. Here are the top five things you should look for in a critique partner.

GIVEAWAY: Megan is excited to give away TWO free ebooks of her novel to random commenters. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: rampmg and meetmilena won.) Read more

How to Overcome the Sophomore Novel Slump: 5 Ways

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1. Know your quality-writing speed and stick to it. Though it took six months to write and edit my debut, The Outcast, I often worked eight-hour weekdays. I had an agent’s interest in the manuscript; this, combined with the fact that I was expecting our first child, let me know that I needed to strike while the writing iron was hot. My daughter was twelve weeks old when I began crafting the first draft of my sophomore novel, The Midwife, and I simply could not write full-time now that I was also a full-time mom. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Renee Nyen of KT Literary

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About Renee: Several years in the editorial department at Random House’s Colorado division provided Renee with the opportunity to work with bestselling and debut authors alike. After leaving Random House, she came to KT Literary in early 2013 to cultivate her passion for YA literature. Drawing on her editorial experience, she loves digging into client manuscripts and helping authors shape the best story possible. You can follow her on twitter @Renee_Nyen.

She is seeking: Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. “I’m always interested in YA historical fiction, mystery, sci-fi, and thrillers, but genre is not as important to me as strong prose and compelling characters.” Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jackie Morse Kessler

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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 Jackie Morse Kessler, author of TO BEAR AN IRON KEY) 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: Jackie 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, and international winners can receive an e-book instead. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Day Parker won.) Read more

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