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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.


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

New Literary Agent Alert: Madeleine Clark of Sterling Lord Literistic

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About Madeleine: Madeleine Clark joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2011 after working for several years in the editorial department at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Born in London, raised in Virginia, and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Madeleine is an unabashed anglophile and an avid runner. She now lives in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter. She will be taking pitches at the 2014 Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC (Aug 1-3).

She is seeking: Madeleine is interested in commercial and literary fiction as well as narrative nonfiction. She is particularly drawn to realistic YA, literary thrillers, novels that can believably introduce a bit of fantasy/sci-fi, and books that draw heavily from their environment whether that is geographical or cultural. Read more

Writing the Breakout Middle Grade Novel — Webinar (w/Critique!) by Agent Carlie Webber on May 29

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Middle grade (MG) books, intended for readers 8-12, aim to capture an audience that appreciates thrilling adventures, stories of everyday kids just like them, and everything in between. Writing an enthralling voice and selling it in just the right place and time to hook this audience, however, can be a challenge. In this live webinar, “Writing the Breakout Middle Grade Novel,” you’ll see what makes a success story in the MG market, through examples of popular books from Percy Jackson to Origami Yoda. By looking at these popular books and seeing what they do-or don’t-have in common, you’ll learn what piques the interests of middle-grade readers and the editors who work on books for them.

Drawing on her experience as both a literary agent and a librarian, Carlie Webber (CK Webber Associates) will take you through a brief history of popular MG fiction, show you where the market stands right now, and how you can build a future for yourself as a writer of MG fiction. It all happens at 1 p.m., Thursday, May 29, 2014, and starts at 1 pm, EST. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Nicole Conway

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Nicole Conway, author of FLEDGLING (The Dragonrider Chronicles). 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: Nicole 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, whereas international winners can get an ebook instead. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Andy Kifer of The Gernert Company

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About Andy: Andy joined The Gernert Company in 2012 after two years working for Aram Fox, Inc., where he scouted books for foreign publishers. He grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, lived in North Carolina for five years, and worked briefly as a cross-country coach at a boarding school before starting his career in publishing. He lives in Brooklyn and runs in Prospect Park.

He is seeking: “I’m looking for literary fiction, smart genre fiction (in particular, high-concept thrillers or sci-fi), and nonfiction with a strong narrative bent. I’m a sucker for love stories and inventive narrative structure.” Read more

“Don’t Let Your Hurt Stop You” = The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received

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Some people don’t place a lot of weight in zodiac signs; they think they’re arbitrary and pointless. But as a typical Leo, I measure my very worth by my sign: we’re generous, loyal and proud. Most of the time, the last trait serves me well; it bolsters my confidence and provides me with an innate sense of ability and optimism. But there’s a reason that pride is one of the deadly sins, often proving more hurtful than helpful.

My first job out of college was as a junior copywriter at an advertising agency. In this entry-level position, I was relegated to the status of a newborn, having to learn everything with a fresh set of eyes, even if I had been told I was a great writer… Read more

Help WD Choose Our Next Annotated Classic. We’re Considering Huck Finn, Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes, and More!

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Have you ever wondered how your favorite literary classic became a celebrated work of fiction, or how the works of Dickens, Twain, or Conan Doyle have stood the test of time? With Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics, you can explore the most memorable and important works in literature through the lens of a writer. By studying the authors’ uses of plot, structure, theme, character, setting, dialogue, and more—and by assessing how each decision affected and influenced the story—you’ll learn valuable lessons you can apply to your own novels.

Right now, we need help picking the next classic to annotate. To formally vote, take our short survey (2 questions). Read more

4 Reasons You’re Procrastinating Instead of Writing

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You have ideas for stories, but when you launch your word processor, you stare helplessly at a blank page. Every time you try to write, you end up spending the evening watching videos of cats on YouTube instead. Why is this happening? We’ve all been there. Here are a few things that might be getting in your way:

1: You don’t know which story to pick. You don’t just have one idea, you have several. Writing a book is a big commitment. You want to take time to carefully consider what you’ll be spending the next year slaving over. No sense rushing in to things, right? Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Jessica Watterson of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

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About Jessica: Jessica Watterson joined SDLA in late 2013, and currently assists Sandra Dijkstra and Elise Capron. She graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in Sociocultural Anthropology and English. Jessica has made books a serious part of her life for many years. During college, she started an indie review blog which has featured author interviews and has reviewed several self-published books that eventually ended up on the New York Times Best Seller list.

She is seeking: Jessica is most interested in all subgenres of adult and new adult romance, and women’s fiction. She is looking for heartfelt and unique romance that will instantly draw a reader in and keep them hooked. Read more

Agent One-on-One Boot Camp: Your First Ten Pages — Starts May 16, and Includes an Agent Critique of Your First 10 Pages

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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 Agent One-on-One: “Your First Ten Pages” Boot Camp that begins on May 16, 2014. Seating is limited. Read more

How to Critique Friends’ Writing

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When friends know that we’re writers, they sometimes ask us to read and critique their works-in-progress. Handling these requests can be awkward. As friends, we want to help; as writers, we want to protect our own writing time. If we offer professional critiquing services, as many of us do, we also want to protect our earning time. Here I offer several perspectives, from rather delicate situations, on how to handle friends’ requests.

When You’re a Fellow Writer: Pearl told me a truly horrendous story about helping a colleague. She had met Lydia (names changed for protection) in a local coffee shop. They bonded over a mutual devotion to mystery novels, respective blocks, and laptop frustrations, and started meeting monthly… Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: A. Lynden Rolland

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring A. Lynden Rolland, author of the YA supernatural novel OF BREAKABLE THINGS. Her agent is Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent.

GIVEAWAY: Lynn 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 print book, whereas other readers worldwide can win the ebook. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: naturalred78 won.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Michael Sterling of Folio Literary Management

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He is seeking: Regarding fiction: “I love literary, commercial, and upmarket fiction. Thrillers with tremendous commercial appeal and strong writing are of particular interest to me—I’m a fan of anything from Lee Child to John le Carré. As a reader, I enjoy period novels in any genre. 20th century wars provide some of my favorite temporal settings, for instance. I love novels with high concepts (think THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker, or LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson) and books that can teach me about new cultures and transport me to new countries are always among my favorite.” Regarding nonfiction: “A self-avowed foodie, I avidly devour cookbooks and am interested in working with authors who share this passion of mine. My tastes veer towards books with a strong narrative element—I’m seeking political books, memoirs, investigative and journalistic works, or titles that place a specific region, historical event, person or thing under a microscope. For instance, I’d love to read more about the Middle East, especially works in which contemporary issues are explored in new ways.” Read more

How to Write & Sell New Adult: Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (w/Critique) Starts May 8

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In this new boot camp starting May 8, the agents at Foreword Literary will help you understand New Adult fully from all aspects of the business. Whether you need to know the rules of the category, how to pitch it to agents, or how authors are hitting the bestselling lists with modern marketing techniques, Foreword has the answers for you.

Once you register for this May 8 One-on-One Agent Boot Camp, you’ll be assigned your own personal agent for the event. He or she will review the first 1,200 words and 1-page synopsis of your work-in-progress. You’ll get personalized feedback on the quality of your writing, as well as insights into how to generate the most revenue in today’s market. At the end of the boot camp, you’ll have a greater understanding of which publishing options to pursue and how to make the most of them. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Maria Ribas of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

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Agent Maria Ribas is seeking: She’s interested in cookbooks, self-help, health, diet, home, parenting, and humor, all from authors with demonstrable platforms. She’s also interested in narrative nonfiction and select memoir, but she’s looking for a story that is absolutely un-put-down-able. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and proficient in Italian and will be working with select foreign authors. Read more

How to Write Middle Grade Horror: 7 Tips

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I scare children for a living.

As the author of a middle grade horror series, my job is to deliver stories that frighten and thrill my readers. Those readers tend to range in age from ten to fourteen, which makes delivering on that task more difficult than you might imagine. My readership is growing up in the age when video games are rife with monsters and violence, when YouTube offers limitless access to scary independent films and, of course, when “The Walking Dead” is the number one show on television. So, if I want to inspire some good old fashioned fright in my fans, I need to do more than yell “Boo!” Here, then, are seven tips for scaring the pants off of young readers:

GIVEAWAY: Ty 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: Lisa won.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Michelle Richter of Foreword Literary

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Agent Michelle Richter is seeking: Michelle is primarily seeking fiction, specifically book club reads, literary fiction, well-crafted women’s commercial fiction, thrillers, and mysteries. For nonfiction, she’s interested in fashion, film, television, science, medicine, sociology/social trends, and economics for trade audiences. Read more

My Adventures in … Fort Collins 2014

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Recently I gave the keynote speech at the 2014 Northern Colorado Writers Conference. The whole event was an amazing blast. The NCWC is based in Fort Collins, CO, an amazing city to visit. It’s filled with college students, fun people, indie shops, microbreweries, and the like. I have pasted some fun pictures from the event below in the post. If you like anywhere in the area of Fort Collins, check out this event in years to come. It’s hosted in the spring (usually March or April) and has great people, agent pitching, sessions, gatherings, critiques, and more. It’s my second time teaching (after 2008) and I’m glad I went again. Read more

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