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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: 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

How I Got My Literary Agent: Margo Kelly

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Margo Kelly, author of the YA thriller WHO R U REALLY? 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: Margo 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

Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and “Falls the Shadow”

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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 66th installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary) for Stefanie Gaither’s young adult novel, FALLS THE SHADOW (Sept 2014, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Kristi Helvig, author of BURN OUT, said of the book: “[It's] a smart, futuristic thriller that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the very last page. This is a fantastic debut.” Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Lana Popovic of Chalberg & Sussman

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She is seeking: Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction: Contemporary/realistic, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical, horror, sci-fi. Adult Fiction: Literary thrillers, sci-fi, horror, romance, erotica, women’s literary fiction. Adult Nonfiction: Pop culture, blog-to-book, literary memoir. Lean more about querying her by clicking on the blog link and seeing her entire spotlight. Read more

The Writer’s Journey: How Much Can Someone Possibly Stand?

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Above your desk is a bulletin board, crammed with outlines, assorted index cards with character descriptions, fliers from places you went for research, cards from agents and editors you met at assorted writers conferences, a postcard from a favorite book (note to self: next query don’t forget to mention your story is just like this one!), yellowed movie stubs from Crazy Stupid Love and Pride and Prejudice, a calendar indicating all the dates from sent queries, and a plethora of erratically stuck Post-it notes of varying colors and sizes holding minutiae ranging from brilliant snippets of dialogue to the color of the suit your villain will wear when he jumps the hero behind the warehouse. Read more

Empowered by Embarrassment: The Value of Adding Humor to Your Manuscript

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You know those times when you wish you were completely alone? Not because you wish for peace and quiet, but because you hate the fact that others witnessed what just happened to you? I’m talking about those embarrassing moments, the ones when your face burns so hot that you feel like you might just melt down into the ground – and you wouldn’t mind if you did! You know, those moments!

Here’s my advice for what to do next time you have a mortifying moment: harness it. Use it to fuel your writing. Allow yourself to be empowered by embarrassment. It can add humor to your writing and boost audience appeal. Trust me, humiliation is hot. It is!

GIVEAWAY: Kami 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

The 2015 Guide to Literary Agents is Out! Here are 47 Reasons to Buy It (and a Giveaway Contest!)

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The new 2015 edition of the Guide to Literary Agents is out, all updated and packed with info. I realize there are other places you can turn to for information on agents, but the Guide to Literary Agents has always prided itself as being the biggest (we list almost every agent) and the most thorough (guidelines, sales, agent by agent breakdowns, etc.). That’s why it’s been around for 24 years and that’s why it’s sold more than 320,000 copies. It works—and if you keep reading, I’ll prove it to you below with proof from 47 people.

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 (Sept. 25, 2014), I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. (UPDATE: Parkhillonline, dymphna st james, and sonicshrew won.) Read more

Conference Spotlight: The 2014 Colorado Writing Workshops

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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 … Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Genevieve Nine of Andrea Hurst & Associates

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She is seeking: Within young adult and middle grade, she’s looking to acquire: Fantasy (open to all subgenres except game-related), Science Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Retellings (classics, fairy/folk tale, myth), and Contemporary Realism (especially with elements of humor). She also represents the following adult and new adult categories: Mystery (detective/PI, amateur, cozy, historical, comic, caper), Thriller (supernatural, historical, disaster, ecological), Gothic/Hauntings/Quiet Horror, Historical Fiction, Retellings (classics, fairy/folk tale, myth), Romantic Comedy, Magical Realism, Food Memoir and Travelogue/Travel Memoir. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Julie Lawson Timmer

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Julie Lawson Timmer, author of FIVE DAYS LEFT. 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. Julie’s literary agent is Victoria Sanders of Victoria Sanders & Associates.

GIVEAWAY: Julie 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

New Literary Agent Alert: Valerie Noble of Donaghy Literary Group

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She is seeking: Valerie is seeking Young Adult, and New Adult — in the following areas:

• Science Fiction YA/NA
• Fantasy YA/NA
• Historical Fantasy YA/NA
• Historical Fiction YA/NA

Valerie loves YA/NA science fiction and fantasy (think Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins) but reads everything under the sun. For her, it’s more about the writing and less about the genre. In saying that, Valerie is generally not interested in romance or paranormal. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Sarah Creech

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Sarah Creech, author of SEASON OF THE DRAGONFLIES. 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: Sarah 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 Craft Query Letters, Opening Pages, Synopses, and Nonfiction That Get Noticed” — Sept. 22 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Kimberley Cameron Literary

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When your submission materials arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. At that point, one of two things will happen. Either the agent will like the submission and request more materials, or they will reply with a rejection. Authors who get rejected tend to fall in one of two categories when submitting materials: they try too hard, or not enough. This Writer’s Digest Boot Camp, which starts on Sept. 22, 2014, is designed to help you streamline your submission materials to stand out in a good way.

Attendees will learn how to write a dynamite query letter, tackle a one-page synopsis. The instructing literary agents of Kimberley Cameron & Associates will also explain the importance of author platform in addition to basic etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics. Lastly, all attendees will have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with an agent and submit the first ten double-spaced pages of their manuscript and a query letter for valuable feedback provided by successful literary agents. Note that there are limited seats for the event, and WD boot camps frequently sell out, so sign up sooner rather than later. Read more

Examining the Wonderful World of Steampunk: Maritime Terrorists, Time Travelers, and Mad Science

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We have been writing Steampunk since 2009; and even after five years, we still face the question of the ages: What is steampunk? Perhaps a lazy, shallow way to look at the genre is to simply call it “Victorian Science Fiction” and that be the end of it. Truth be told, this is merely your first step.

While history looks at the 19th Century as the Industrial Age and the late-20th century as the Computer Age, the concept of computing devices were realized by mathematician, inventor, and engineer Charles Babbage as early as 1812. His mechanical computation devices at the time were considered more of a curiosity rather than innovation, but Babbage’s theories served as inspiration for The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Best known for their offerings in cyberpunk, Gibson and Sterling created an alternative Industrial Revolution where Babbage’s inventions were the norm, creating a struggle between the working class Luddites (who fear technology) and an “enhanced” elite that wanted as much integration with these technological wonders as possible. Read more

Have You Successfully Marketed Your Self-Published Book? Then WD Wants to Hear From You!

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Calling all self-published / independent book & e-book authors: Tell us about the promotional strategies that worked for you, and you and your book(s) could get even more visibility in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine.

We’re looking for the inside stories from indie authors who’ve developed successful strategies for marketing their own books. If you credit your self-made promotional strategy for your book’s popularity, profitability or sales, we’d love to hear the details of what you did, how you did it, and what you’ve learned. Your insights—alongside your bio and information about your book—could appear in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Stephanie Wahlstrom

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Stephanie Wahlstrom, author of THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE. 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. Stephanie’s agents are Stephanie Thwaites of Curtis Brown Creative and Tina Wexler of ICM Partners. Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group

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He is seeking: In fiction, he seeks Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Comics, Graphic novels, Historical, History, Horror, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Thrillers and New adult.

In nonfiction, he seeks Arts, Cinema, Photography, Biography, Memoir, Self-help, Sports, Travel, World cultures, True crime, Mind/Body/Spirit, Narrative Nonfiction, Politics, Current affairs, Pop culture, Entertainment, Relationships, Family, Science, Technology. Read more

How I Got My Book Deal (and a Literary Agent): Mary Weber

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Mary Weber, author of STORM SIREN. 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: Mary 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: Jordan Kopy won.) Read more

Research Before You Send a Query Letter

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Now, there are really two different types of rejection letters. The first one I don’t have a big problem with. These are the letters for projects that might not be quite right for what I am looking for, or for stories that might not be ready for publishing yet. With stories like this, we can often take the time to provide a few suggestions for improvement, or to discuss why the story is not right for us. Yes, writing the letters takes time, but when I hit “send” I feel as if this author might be one step closer to publishing. Read more

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