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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.


    What to Expect From Your First Book Tour

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    I’ve been so busy running around the country I’ve hardly realized it’s been several months have elapsed since Crown published my book, Radio Shangri-La. Here’s a bit of what this first-time author has learned.

    First of all, let me say that I sent myself on the road. Most publishers these days are more likely to invest in what mine did, a “web tour,” where a third party is hired by and myriad blogs are approached with advance copies in exchange for the promise of a review. That was great; those free book giveaways that happened just as the book hit, to generate buzz. Read more

    Literary Agent Interview: Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency

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    This installment features Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency. A freelance copyeditor, Dawn reviewed mysteries for years before starting Blue Ridge Literary Agency in January 2009. She lives in Lynchburg, Va., where she also facilitates a local writers’ group and is very active in her church. Although she read mysteries for fun, she handles most types of fiction and children’s fiction. She also blogs and Tweets.

    She is seeking: mysteries, cozy mysteries, thrillers, urban fantasy, romance (no erotica), sci-fi, women’s, general, historical, Christian, young adult, middle-grade, and young readers. She does not seek: poetry, scripts, short stories, children’s picture books, memoirs, nonfiction, or screenplays. Read more

    7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Samantha Vamos

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    1. If your manuscript doesn’t sell and you’ve done all the editing you believe you are capable of doing, set the manuscript aside and begin another. My first two books, Before You Were Here, Mi Amor (Viking, 2009, illustrated by Santiago Cohen) and The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred (Charlesbridge, 2011, illustrated by Rafael López) were each written years before they sold to their respective publishing houses.

    GIVEAWAY: Samantha is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail with the comment or else we will not be able to contact you; 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: Colleen won.) Read more

    Gnome Attack Roundup: We Sell Japanese Language Rights; Screenplay Being Written; “Attack of the Garden Gnomes” Marching Band Music Actually Freaking Exists

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    1. We sold Japanese rights to GNOMES! This is very exciting. We sold Italian language rights in mid-2010 but had lacked any good overseas news until this month. It was a nice bit of good news, because you make little sums of money for every territory you sell to overseas. Hopefully, it will sell to other countries, as well. (Come on, Germany!) Read more

    The Advice I Needed Most as a New Writer (But Never Got)

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    Maybe I’m just dumb. But through years of creative writing classes and workshops, it took me forever to understand what lay at the heart of a good plot: conflict, conflict, conflict. Sure, we bandied the word about as we critiqued one another’s writing. But no one ever defined it in terms of how a writer uses it as a foundation for plot. In all those classes, we talked about dialogue. We talked about description. We talked about characterization. We split hairs over just the right word.

    GIVEAWAY: Thomas is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail with the comment or else we will not be able to contact you; 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: Garretwriter won.) Read more

    Synopsis Example: “Robocop” (Science Fiction / Cyberpunk)

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    Here’s another example of a fiction synopsis. This time it’s Robocop (1987). I took a crack at this one because my synopsis examples were light on cyberpunk and science fiction stories. Notice how a lot of the action is stripped from this, and the character of Bob Morton is not even mentioned. You have to keep a synopsis moving. But as quickly as it moves, we must see the main character’s arc, and you can see Murphy’s within this text below. Read more

    The 2012 Guide to Literary Agents Is Out! That Means Giveaways and 22 Reasons to Buy It.

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    The new 2012 edition of Guide to Literary Agents has more than 20 brand new literary agencies never before listed in the book. 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 21 years and that’s why it’s sold more than 275,000 copies. It works—and if you keep reading, I’ll prove it to you.

    THE GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post, and in one week’s time, I will pick three winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. (Update: Karen, Tammy and Anna won.) Read more

    Successful Queries: Agent Jenny Bent and “Oh. My. Gods.”

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

    The 56th installment in this series is with agent Jenny Bent (Bent Literary) for Tera Lynn Child’s book, Oh. My. Gods., (Speak; 2009) which Publishers Weekly called “an effervescent, fast-paced read.” Learn more at Teralynnchilds.com. Read more

    Agent Jon Sternfeld On: Breaking Through the Slush

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    Quite honestly, on days where I have the time (and the energy and the optimism) to go through the slush, I just want something that stands out among the hundreds of email queries. (And I mean ‘stands out’ for the right reasons – fresh, professional, original – the annoying overly-casual queries get deleted pretty fast).

    One downside of the digital revolution in publishing is that even more amateur writers are giving it a shot because it literally takes minutes to submit to an agent. As I have said ad nauseam to my colleagues, because everyone knows the alphabet, just about everyone thinks they can write. You don’t see so many people trying to be welders without the skill for it. Read more

    How I Got My Agent: Carson Morton

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    “How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. 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.

    Carson Morton is the author of Stealing Mona Lisa, a debut that the New York Journal of Books called a “well-crafted, beautifully written, and engaging mystery.” Read more

    My Adventures in … Hampton Roads

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    This past weekend, I was on the faculty of the Hampton Roads Writers Conference in Virginia Beach, VA. Sadly, it rained the whole time and I did not get to see the beach. Happily, the conference was fun and I met some really nice people. The hotel also had unlimited delicious cookies and I indulged in quite a few to say the least. (I may or may not weight 10 pounds more than when I arrived.) Read more

    How to Find Your Story and Craft a Pitch in 10 Easy Steps (and You Can Even Do It Drunk!)

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    How many of us have labored away earnestly in our younger and more profound days a a story, only to realize … there’s just no story there. If you want to save yourself years of heartache and get a jump start on your synopsis and query at the same time, I offer you my time-tested (okay, I’ve done it three times) personal trick: The Party Anecdote. Here’s how you play.

    GIVEAWAY: Rebecca is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; 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: JoeBear won. Read more

    7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Heather McCorkle

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    This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from YA writer Heather McCorkle.

    GIVEAWAY: Heather is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail; international winners will receive an e-book. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Dawn won.) Read more

    New Literary Agent Alert: Barbara Scott of Wordserve Literary

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    Reminder: Newer agents are golden opportunities for new writers because they’re likely building their client list; however, always make sure your work is as perfect as it can be before submitting, and only query agencies that are a great fit for your work. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time and postage.

    She is seeking: Adult Fiction: Full-length fiction, 65,000 to 100,000 words. General market or Christian market. Genres: Women’s, Romance, Suspense/Thriller, Mystery, Romantic Suspense, Historical, Family Saga, Amish, Political Thrillers, Mainstream, Supernatural/Speculative, including End Times. Short contemporary and historical fiction, 40,000 to 65,000 words. Christian market. Genres: Romance, Historical, Romantic Suspense. Will accept queries for Barbour, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Summerside Love Finds You, and Avon Inspire. Kids: Middle grade and YA books, and more. Read more

    5 Tricks Animal Writers Should Know

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    We only have to walk around the neighborhood, watch TV commercials, or open our e-mail inbox to see that animals continue to fascinate people. Writing about animals can be as fun as playing with them. Here are some things to keep in mind when telling animal stories.

    1. Respect what animals mean to your audience. Often, we can love animals in a pure way, free of the complications human relationships pose. When we write about animals, we might want to take off our shoes because we’re on sacred ground.

    GIVEAWAY: Patti is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; 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: Jodi won.) Read more

    Conference Spotlight: The South Carolina Writers Workshop (Oct. 21-23, 2011) Has 11 Agents Taking Pitches

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    What’s better than being on the South Carolina beach in October? Being on the South Carolina beach in October pitching agents who seek new clients — that’s what. If this sounds appealing, I highly suggest you check out the 2011 South Carolina Writers Workshop, held Oct. 21-23 in Myrtle Beach, SC. Eleven agents will be there. I’ve presented at the workshop before and loved the event. Keep reading to learn more. Read more

    How I Got My Agent: Jeff Ryan

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    Jeff Ryan is the author of Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, (Portfolio, August 2011), the story of how Nintendo rose to fame in America, with plot twists and face-offs worthy of a video game.

    GIVEAWAY: Jeff is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; 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: Billy won.) Read more

    Some Thoughts on Historical Research

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    When historical fiction is done right, it’s like taking a magical vacation to a different time, another land. Whether it’s Victorian London, the Australian Outback, or the American West, quality historical fiction has the ability to bring a story to life in ways nonfiction never will. But no doubt about it, if you want to write good historical fiction, you’re going to have to research.

    GIVEAWAY: Michael is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; 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: Airpig won. Read more

    20 Years Ago, Nirvana’s “Nevermind” Came Out; What Album Changed Your World?

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    20 years ago this week, Nirvana’s Nevermind was released. The album changed me so much, and awakened me to music and emotion in such a way that I had to write something … Read more

    Writing the Male Point of View

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    I’ve got a release coming out in September called Wasteland. It’s written in first person, male point of view. You might be thinking, But you’re a chick, how can you write male point of view? I guess we’ll find out if you think I can write the male point of view effectively after my book releases, won’t we?

    GIVEAWAY: Lynn is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail; Lynn has offered to send an ebook if the winner is international. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Dimea won.) Read more

    7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Ellen Airgood

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    This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writerEllen Airgood.

    1. Smile. A little before the release date, I wrote and asked my cousin Mary, a 26-year bookstore employee, if she had any advice for me about doing store events. “Make eye contact and smile,” she wrote back. I felt a sudden zoom of confidence. I knew I could do that. It was a skill I’d taught myself when I started waiting tables for a living. Her only other comment was, “Some of these authors, you’d think they were born under a rock.” So, note to self: avoid seeming as if born beneath rock. Read more

    Agent Sara Megibow Shows How to Write & Sell Romance/Erotica (and Critiques Your Work!) — New Webinar, Oct. 13

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    Writing romance or erotica? Want to get some inside info on how to spice up your work and sell your book? Well, do we have a treat for you. Literary agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary), who runs some of our most popular webinars here at WD, is doing a new intensive webinar called “What’s Hot in Fiction’s Hottest Genre: How To Make Your Romance Hot Enough For An Agent” on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. She is also giving all attendees some personal attention with a critique. Keep reading to learn more. Read more

    How I Got My Agent: Amy Reed

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    Amy Reed is the author of the edgy YA novels BEAUTIFUL (2009) and CLEAN (2011), both published by Simon Pulse.

    Amy is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; 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: Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency

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    She is seeking: romance, mainstream suspense, thrillers, mysteries, YA and inspirational novels are welcome. Also science fiction/fantasy novel and action/adventure.

    How to contact: nicole[at]theseymouragency.com. Send a one-page query pasted in the body of an e-mail. No attachments. Paste the first five pages of your manuscript into the bottom of your e-mail. “We make a conscious effort to reply to every query we receive. If you do not receive a request for additional materials within three weeks, you should assume that we are not interested in that particular project.” Read more

    7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Sarah Alderson

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    This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from YA writer Sarah Alderson.

    1. Trust your instincts. My brother taught me to trust my instincts. Actually my mother tried to drill this into me too when I was a kid, telling me a story about hitchhiking aged 18 in France, which ended with the lesson: Always listen to the voice in your head or you might get killed by a serial killer. But it’s not just relevant for hitchhiking, it’s also important for writing. Listening to your instincts (or some might call it intuition) is probably the best advice I can give. Read more

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