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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: Jen Karsbaek of Foreword Literary


She is seeking: “Jen is aggressively looking to build her list with women’s fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, historical fiction, and literary fiction. She looks for books with particularly well-developed characters and strong authorial voice. In historical in particular she is interested in books that bring the setting to life and maintain balance between historical accuracy and strong plot choices. She is also interested in mystery, fantasy, and occasionally romance approaches to any of the genres listed above.” Read more

9 Things That Will Help Get Your Novel Published


1: The Elevator Pitch. As I write this post, my first novel, The Promise of Stardust, is about to find its way into the world. It’s about a woman who suffers a devastating brain injury, and just as they are about to take her off life-support, they realize she’s pregnant. Oh yes, there’s more. The story spans twenty years. It’s a love story. It’s a family saga. It’s many things. But for an elevator pitch, it important to know what your story is about and to refine it down to a sentence or two. Read more

Literary Agent Interview: Laura Dail of Laura Dail Literary Agency


This interview features Laura Dail of Laura Dail Literary Agency. The Duke University graduate received her Master’s degree in Spanish from Middlebury College. She has served on the board of the Association of Authors Representatives (AAR) and currently chairs the AAR Royalties Committee. She also Tweets.

She is seeking: Laura’s now especially interested in historical and high-concept fiction, funny YA, humor, and serious nonfiction. Read more

Author Interview: Tamera Will Wissinger, Author of the Debut Middle Grade GONE FISHING


I am a huge fan of debut authors and new writers, which is why I interview so many on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog. Today’s getting-to-know-you interview is with Tamera Will Wissenger, author of the debut middle grade contemporary adventure, GONE FISHING (Houghton Mifflin, March 2013), illustrated by Matthew Cordell, which uses poetry in its writing. Reading how debut authors got published is a great roadmap for those looking to follow in their footsteps. Read more

Get Your First 500 Words Critiqued by Agent Roseanne Wells: March 14 Webinar on “The Essentials of Characters, Plot & Setting”


A lot of WD’s webinars are focused on a particular element or genre. Sometimes they’re on writing something specific like a picture book, while other times they’re intensives on query letters or synopses. But this week it’s time to get back to basics. It’s time to talk about the crucial and essential story elements of character, plot and setting. To accomplish this, we have literary agent and instructor extraordinaire Roseanne Wells (Jennifer De Chiara Literary) teaching the all-new webinar, “The Three Essential Building Blocks of Your Novel: Who, What, and Where,” on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The webinar starts at 1 p.m., EST and lasts 90 minutes. And there’s more: Each registrant gets the first 500 pages of their novel critiqued by Roseanne! Read more

How I Got My Agent: James Markert


“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring James Markert, author of the novel A WHITE WIND BLEW (Feb. 2013, Sourcebooks Landmark). 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. James’s story involves getting his book published with a publishing house and then approaching agents, including agent Dan Lazar of Writers House, who eventually signed him. Read more

5 Tips on Writing First Drafts


Set a deadline. A Violet Season was written over four summers—each summer, another draft. This was a crazy schedule, I know, but in some ways it was perfect. There was a clear end to the summers (sadly), and to my drafts. If you don’t have a deadline, you run the risk of one draft spilling into the next, and you may never feel a sense of closure or accomplishment. This is really important in a business in which we often work alone and without recognition. When you finish your draft, celebrate! Then start the next one.

GIVEAWAY:Kathy 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: Edwina won.) Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Elisa Lorello


This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Elisa Lorello, author of ADULATION) 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: Elisa 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: TakakoW won.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Kezia Toth at Union Literary

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Reminder: New literary agents (this spotlight featuring agent Kezia Toth of Union Literary) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Kezia is seeking: She is especially interested in narrative nonfiction, “big idea” books, American cultural history, and pop culture. Kezia is also passionate about all sorts of fiction, including young adult and middle grade novels. Read more

Judy L. Mandel: Meet the Author of REPLACEMENT CHILD (A Memoir)


I have always loved interviewing debut authors, both for the GLA Blog, and for Writer’s Digest magazine. Today, I’m happy to interview author Judy L. Mandel. These interviews are a great way to learn more about how new writers got published and found their literary agents.

Judy L. Mandel is the author of REPLACEMENT CHILD: A MEMOIR (Seal Press, March 5, 2013). She began her career as a journalist, branched out to public relations, and settled in corporate marketing, where she worked for more than 20 years as a marketing director for several Fortune 100 companies. Mandel is now a student in the MFA program of Stony Brook Southampton and lives in Connecticut with her husband. Read more

Write Like a Lawyer: 5 Tips for Fiction Writers


I often tell people that being a lawyer isn’t so different from being a fiction writer. The comment always elicits some laughs, maybe a suspicious squint or two, but I couldn’t be more serious. As a junior and mid-level corporate litigator, much of my day was spent writing briefs, witness statements and other court documents. Over the years, I developed writing skills and strategies that helped me finish my debut novel, THE HOUSE GIRL (Feb. 2012) while also holding down a day job. Here are the top five. Read more

5 Simple Things Agents Can Do To Make Writers’ Lives Easier (and 3 Things Writers Should Do Regardless)


1. Set up an auto-responder email letting writers know that their query letter was received. By doing this, agents will cut down on the number of repeat queries they receive from writers unsure if their e-mail went through correctly. For those agents whose policy it is to only respond if interested, writers won’t wonder if their queries were received in the first place or send a follow-up e-mail just in case. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Douglas Brunt


1. Don’t write more than 3 hours at a time. I write three hours in the morning, 9am – 12pm. Other people are best late at night. I try to go to the same place when I write, but that doesn’t matter much. I’ve done lots of writing on planes and in cars, hotels. The important thing is to write when your brain is at its best. Work edits or do outside reading with the rest of the day. Don’t worry about a daily word quota. Stephen King has said he likes to get 2000 words each day. That’s a mistake for most people. Good for discipline but bad for a well written novel. Three hours of creating is taxing on any brain and you should stop there. Some days you may stop without any words at all. It’s much easier to write new stuff the next day than to go through painful deletions of a day’s worth of crap you already wrote. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Emily Jeanne Miller


“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Emily Jeanne Miller, author of BRAND NEW HUMAN BEING (June 2012). 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: Emily 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: seichenblatt won.) Read more

Debut Author Interview: N. Griffin, Author of the Young Adult Novel THE WHOLE STUPID WAY WE ARE


I love sharing interviews with first-time authors here on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog. I think they’re a great resource for others trying to get published, as each interview serves as a mini-roadmap of what a writer did correct on their journey as well as what they wish they did different. Today I’d like you to meet N. Griffin, author of the young adult debut THE WHOLE STUPID WAY WE ARE (Feb. 2013, Atheneum Books). In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said of the novel, “Griffin’s portrayal of [the main characters' friendship and their] sense of injustice, frustration, and rage is wrenching and difficult to forget.” Kirkus Reviews said, “Readers who invest in this quirky set of characters and circumstances will be rewarded.”

GIVEAWAY: N. Griffin 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: DanielJayBerg won.) Read more

Literary Agent Jody Klein of Brandt and Hochman Literary Seeks New Clients


I’m not considering this a true New Agent Alert because agent Jody Klein (of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.) is not brand new. That said, this post resembles an Alert in that Jody did tell me recently how she is actively looking to build her client list right now — and that is something writers should be happy to know. All details below for those interested in querying her!

She is seeking: Jody is actively acquiring literary and commercial fiction, crime/suspense, historical fiction, graphic novels/memoirs, and magical realism, as well as narrative nonfiction (especially related to sports, science, or history), and prescriptive nonfiction. Read more

Conference Recap: The 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference


I recently returned from the 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference. The event was, as always, very awesome. It’s a conference co-sponsored by WD and the folks out west who organize it (Larsen Pomada Literary Agents and their comrades) do an excellent job with it. The event happens every President’s Day weekend at the Mark Hopkins International in Nob Hill, SF. It’s definitely worth a look for your years to come. At one point, there were a whole bunch of agents on a panel and 4 agents in a row that said they signed clients who came to them at past years of the event. (Confession: I met MY agent at this event! Crazy!) Read more

Agent Advice: Sara D’Emic of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC


This installment features Sara D’Emic of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC. The Emerson College grad has been an editorial/PR intern for Last Light Studio and an editorial intern for Hanging Loose Press, and she’s excited to be extending her client base. She also Tweets.

She is seeking: In fiction, she accepts adult and YA fantasy, sci-fi, horror, mystery, and mainstream fiction. She is also interested in nonfiction science and technology. Read more

Agent Kate McKean’s Feb. 28 Webinar With Synopsis Critique: “Find, Fix, and Finesse Your Plot into a Winning Idea”


Plot and structure are so important to a story. Heck, that’s the key word to all this: story. A plot and structure is essentially your story’s framework. Many whole books have been written on plot because it’s such a tricky complicated thing. How can you keep people turning the pages? How can you affect their emotions and get them to continue reading? Plot factors in huge.

Luckily for us, we’ve got literary agent and instructor extraordinaire Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary to teach “Find, Fix and Finesse Your Plot into a Winning Idea” — a brand new webinar at 1 p.m., Thursday, Fe. 28, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes and comes with an awesome critique of your entire synopsis! Read more

How Far Should Writers Go to Sell Themselves?


Recently, I put on an event called The Literary Gong Show at an infamous watering hole in Portland, Oregon called Dante’s Inferno. I was the host of the event, and had dressed myself in a tuxedo and a floppy-collared, bright yellow, pleated tuxedo shirt that I unbuttoned to the navel. This was intended as an impersonation of Chuck Barris, the host who fronted the 70s TV program “The Gong Show,” but I think I just looked like an aging writer in a cheap, untailored tuxedo who didn’t know how to button his shirt and couldn’t afford a bowtie.

The Gong Show event was the end of a string of such events. In a bookstore in Portland, I orchestrated a doughnut ring toss. In San Francisco, I ran a game of Jeopardy. In Santa Fe, I reenacted a scene from my book. Sometimes I simply read, but at odd venues: cafes, bars, even a high school. At one point I found myself on top of a safe, sandwiched between an Elvira pinball machine and a vintage photo booth, reading to a crowd of people turned the other direction, as they waited to order pastries… Read more

Author Interview: Susan Goodman, Author of IT’S A DOG’S LIFE


This interview is with Susan E. Goodman, author of the nonfiction children’s book IT’S A DOG’S LIFE: HOW MAN’S BEST FRIENDS SEES, HEARS AND SMELLS THE WORLD (July 2012, Flash Point). Of the book, Kirkus said “Children will be barking up the right tree with this enjoyable read.”

GIVEAWAY: Susan is excited to give away a free copy of her book 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: vrundell won.) Read more

Winners Announced: The 13th “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest (For Young Adult and Sci-Fi)


In January 2013, I ran the most recent (the 13th edition) of my “Dear Lucky Agent” contests. This one was for writers of either science fiction or young adult. The response was overwhelming. Thank you to all who submitted work in the contest.

Well, the weeks of review have gone by and our judge, literary agent Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, has chosen her 3 winners. According to her, this judging was incredibly difficult — so much so that she has chosen several runners-up. See all winners after the break! Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jordan Jacobs


7) There’s absolutely nothing the matter with kids today (at least nothing that wasn’t wrong with kids yesterday or the day before). The foxtrot did not destroy the greatest generation, MAD Magazine did not dissolve the moral fiber of our parents, and the PS3 will not rob our children of their souls. Every school I’ve visited on my book tour–public, private, rich, and poor–has shown me that kids are still the critical, curious, contemplative creatures they’ve always been. And they also still love to read. Read more

Is Your Book Your Baby?


If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard how a book is the writer’s baby, I wonder if it would take the sting out of having written for all these years for nothing but hope and heartburn? Probably not. But no matter, the question is: is it true? Is each story a spawn?

In a word, or three – not at all. Not for me, at any rate.

This has less do to with what I think of my writing than it does with how I think of my children. From the moment I knew they were there, they were never mine. Even earlier than that, before I had any symptoms and before I realized that everything was about to change, the DNA had already merged; the match was in the tinder.

GIVEAWAY: Jamie 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: Laura won.) Read more

“Get Your Nonfiction Book Published” Boot Camp Runs From Feb. 22-24, 2013. Get Professional Advice and Critiques From Editors!

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In this new February 2013 nonfiction boot camp, the acquisition team from Adams Media, Inc., publisher of such national bestsellers as Please Stop Laughing at Me, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Dude You’re Gonna Be a Dad, The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need, and dozens of others, will teach you exactly what they – and other editors – are looking for when it comes to acquiring projects that are most likely to find an audience, perform well, and make money. All attendees will be able to turn in some nonfiction book proposal materials and get a critique from their editor instructors. Read more

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