Agent Monday: Starting your Pitch

Happy spring and happy Agent Monday, everyone! Since spring is also the start of conference season, I thought I’d reblog an “evergreen” post I did about crafting a sharp pitch…. And I’ll be taking author pitches in Philadelphia April 9th – maybe you can practice some of these mad pitch skills on me! For more info on that, visit

Marie Lamba, author

If you are on the hunt for a literary agent, then you are making your pitch, whether face to face at a conference, or in a query letter.  Sure, the “live pitch” and the pitch within a query are different in some ways, but they both have the same intentions: to pique the interest of an agent. One thing you don’t want to do is to confuse the agent, or leave her with fundamental questions that will distract her from hearing your story’s plot.

In a live pitch, one of the most disorienting things for me as an agent is when the writer does not tell me the genre of the book right away. While the writer launches into his story and characters, I find myself trying to figure out what, exactly, I’m listening to.  Picture a thought bubble over my head filled with the following: “Wait, is this a…

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Agent Monday: On Luck

Happy Agent Monday, folks! With St. Patty’s Day popping up this week, thought I’d talk a little bit about the role of luck in an author’s career. Then I found my post from 2014 – and it’s still exactly what I think is SO important for us to keep in mind. So here’s an instant replay for you all…and best of luck to you!

Marie Lamba, author

Green CloversTop ‘o the mornin’ to you all!  Happy Agent Monday AND St. Patrick’s Day.  With the luck of the Irish and pots of gold being much talked about, today I thought it’d be a fine time for me to talk about luck and the writer. Getting an agent, getting a book deal, getting a good review, getting great sales, even getting that perfect idea for a book at the perfect moment.  Some people are just lucky, and some people never get any breaks, right? Well…

As someone who is an author and an agent, I’ve had my share of good and bad luck. Looking back, the most significant bad luck I ever had as a writer was completely out of my control.  Debuting as an author (after MANY years of struggling to break in) just as the recession was starting? Beyond my control. Being one of the very first Random…

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Agent Monday: Great Book Promo Tips


Happy Agent Monday, everyone. These days, a writer not only needs to know how to write, but also how to promote their book once it’s published. Does this freak you out? Well, don’t panic. Today I’m excited to feature a guest post by our client, author and illustrator Miriam Glassman. She’s here to share marketing tips she wishes she’d known about before her first children’s book came out. Have some tips of your own? Please add to the discussion by leaving a comment. We look forward to seeing even more great tips. Now take it away, Miriam!



By Miriam Glassman


Marketing–Ugh. Promotion–Ick. These words make most writers go boneless with exhaustion and queasy with uncertainty. How much should we expect the publisher to do? How much is on us? I knew my publishers’ marketing plans but still, what I really needed was someone grabbing me by the collar and shouting in my face: “Don’t count on us, toots. Selling that book is mostly up to you!” It’s true. I wish someone had impressed upon me the reality of how much was on me to get the word out, and the important role promotion plays in that first year. So now knowing what I do, let me grab you by the virtual collar and share a bit of what I’ve learned about getting a running start:

1. Ready on the Set: Before your book comes out, act as if the marketing department is a figment of your imagination. Create your own marketing plan. Brainstorm a list of organizations, blogs, local stores, libraries, schools, local newspapers and publications that should know about your book. Then actually contact them. Send a press release, a postcard, or a book trailer–whatever suits your style.

Call Me Oklahoma!2. Is There a Refrigerator Magnet of My Book?: Don’t assume your publisher will create promotional materials for your book. If they aren’t, ask if they will reimburse you for any you create yourself. Chances are you’ll be doing that, anyway. So decide on your budget and what’s most worthwhile, whether it’s a book trailer, stickers, or…refrigerator magnets.

3. Know Thyself: What kind of promotional activities don’t make you want to fake laryngitis? Visiting schools and libraries, guest posting on blogs, leading a workshop at a conference? Pledge to do what best suits your personality. It will increase the chance of you actually doing it…and then doing it some more.

4. It’s All in the Timing: There’s this heady, precious window of time when reviews are rolling in, you’re giving readings, and someone is blogging about your book. Build on this. Reach out beyond Facebook to create a confluence of media, spreading the news to the bookstores, festival organizers, local news media, or whomever you feel should know about your book.

5. Selling Your Shiny New Book: Many schools will not sell your book if it’s only available in hardcover. This is a disappointing reality of school visits. Consider donating a copy to the school library, and hope that through all your other promotional efforts your book will go into paperback, which you then can sell at schools and book fairs.

6. Have I Got a Guide for You: Consider having a discussion and activity guide made for your book. Teachers and librarians really appreciate good supplemental materials, and having this can increase the chances of your book being used in a classroom or library book club. If you know an author who has a great discussion/activity guide, ask them who created it.

7. Appearing Next Week: Book launch aside, picture book authors/illustrators have an easier time bringing in a crowd than middle-grade and YA authors who have to compete with soccer practice and various older kid activities. Instead of a solo gig, try rounding up a couple of authors in your reader’s age range and present together. This works well for bookstores, too. And while you may not sell as many books, you’ll have a larger audience to learn about your book, and the pressure won’t be all on you.

8. I Wish to Go to the Festival!: There’s a bazillion book festivals out there. And many host a large assembly of authors and illustrators. Research those in your corner of the world, decide how far you’re willing to travel, and apply early. Most festivals plan many months ahead.

9. Let Me Be Your Tweetheart: Much as you’d love to, please don’t neglect this wing of social media. Librarians use it way more than you think, so the reach on Twitter can go way beyond your usual Facebook crowd. I understand how you feel. But seriously, just do it.

10. And Just as Important: Even if you feel like you could have done way more that first year, that’s no reason to now slip out of the room unnoticed. True, promotional activity buzzing around new titles can often make us feel like our own books are old news no one cares about. But guess what? Teachers, librarians, and kids really don’t care when your book came out! For them, discovering a story that they can connect to is what matters most. So rev up your promo mojo (without going crazy), and don’t stop working to help your stories find their way into the hearts of new readers. Because like the hokey-pokey, that what’s all about…right?

Miriam Glassman ( is the author/illustrator of the chapter book CALL ME OKLAHOMA! (Holiday House), which School Library Journal called, “A humorous and encouraging tale about standing up to bullies of all shapes and sizes and remaining true to oneself.” This title was selected as one of New York Public Library’s “100 Top Children’s Books of 2013,” and named one of “100 Magnificent Books” by School Library Journal. She’s also author of the middle-grade novel BOX TOP DREAMS (Delacorte), and the picture book HALLOWEENA (Atheneum), illustrated by Victoria Roberts. You can follow Miriam on Twitter @mgglassman


*Marie Lamba is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.


Agent Monday: 3 Things I’m Searching for in Fiction

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binocularsHappy Agent Monday, everyone!  With last week’s blizzard a distant icy memory, it’s time to dig into my submission inbox – hoping for some hot fiction I can represent. Often, though, submissions look so promising on one front, but don’t deliver on another. So I thought I’d share what I’m looking for in that “total package,” in case it’ll help you amp up your own fiction into that coveted must read for agents and readers alike. So here are the 3 things I’m searching for in submissions…

1. An Intriguing Idea

I know, duh, right? But this is essential. When I read what the book is about, I want to think: Oooo, that’s interesting! Not: Oh, THAT again? Or: And? I care because? If your idea is ho-hum, this presents a huge challenge for you the writer. Also, your idea should be handled in a fresh way that only you will show me.

2. Skill

Double duh. BUT, so very often I find that intriguing idea and think, “Yes!  This is something I’d love to read. So excited!” Then I start to read the manuscript and find the writer’s craft is lacking. They have a great idea, but can’t carry it off.

3. Follow Through

Writer’s that have an intriguing idea, and demonstrate skillful craft, must still be able to take that idea, and, with skill, develop it into a satisfying read to the very end. Too often, manuscripts start off well, and then plateau and disappoint. A great manuscript must promise something great to the reader, show skill, and then, and here’s the real key, deliver even more than what the reader had anticipated.

So a great manuscript grows that intriguing idea. The writer’s style and personality works perfectly with that idea to truly create a world and show us something even more insightful, moving, and or unique than we’d ever anticipated. That writer has truly taken us on a journey. We end the read more than satisfied. We are amazed.

What I’m often seeing are manuscripts that give me #1, but not #2. Or #2 but not #1. And when #1 and #2 are in place, #3 is missing. As an agent and a reader, I need all three elements in place. And when I find them, it’s reading magic.

Need some examples of projects that snagged my attention on all three fronts? Here are just a few from our client list:

Adult fiction:
DAUGHTER OF AUSTRALIA by Harmony Verna (releasing through Kensington this March)

Young adult fiction:
MENDING HORSES by M.P. Barker (Holiday House)

Middle grade fiction:
ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER by Carmella Van Vleet (Holiday House)
THE JUMBIES by Tracey Baptiste (Algonquin Books for Young Readers)
THE FRIENDSHIP EXPERIMENT by Erin Teagan (releasing through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Fall 2016)

Picture book:
TO THE STARS! by Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan (Charlesbridge)

As a writer myself, I strive for those 3 elements in my own fiction, and work hard to hold myself to those standards whenever I dive into my own fictional worlds. If you want to check out my YA novels, here are the links:

DRAWN by Marie Lamba
OVER MY HEAD by Marie Lamba
WHAT I MEANT… by Marie Lamba (Random House)

And coming in 2017, is my picture book:

GREEN GREEN (Farrar Straus Giroux) by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez


*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.






Agent Monday: News Bits

Dog with Birthday Hat and Balloons

Happy Agent Monday, everyone! It’s been a very busy time around here, and productive too.

I’m hoping to offer up some more regular Agent Monday columns soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d just pop in here to quickly share some news bits about a few of our clients over at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

So here goes:

DebbieSpecial MERMAID TALES Site

Simon & Schuster has launched a special online site for client Debbie Dadey’s wonderful chapter book series MERMAID TALES. The site features a host of fun mermaid activities kids will love.

traceybaptisteHeadshot 1-smallMore Honors for THE JUMBIES

Kudos to Tracey Baptiste! Her middle-grade novel THE JUMBIES (Algonquin Books for Young Readers) is included on the 2015 New York Public Library Top 100 Notable Titles list, and also on the We Need Diverse Books 10 Must Reads list for 2015.

SRC_DiverseBooksScholastic Book Club Titles

Congratulations to clients Jennifer O’Connell (HARVEST PARTY!), Lee Harper (TURKEY TRICK OR TREAT), and Tracey Baptiste (THE JUMBIES), who each have just had their books featured in Scholastic Book Club fliers! Baptiste’s novel is part of Scholastic’s special We Need Diverse Books edition.

woolburcrazyhairHarper’s Illustrations Acquired for Museum

The Mazza Museum in Ohio has purchased 6 original illustrations and 14 sketches by author/illustrator Lee Harper. Harper’s work will become part of the museum’s permanent collection, which highlights excellence in children’s illustration.

DAUGHTEROFAUSTRALIAVerna’s Debut Already Catching Attention

Harmony Verna’s debut DAUGHTER OF AUSTRALIA (Kensington) comes out in March, and is already catching attention throughout the world. Foreign rights have been sold to publishers in Australia, Germany and France. Library Journal calls Verna’s novel “a poignant, beautifully told story of love and courage,” and says it evokes the sweeping scope of THE THORNBIRDS. For more info, click here.

Congrats to them all!

*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.

Lifelong Dream Realized – Book Give-Away

Writing and Illustrating

traceybaptisteHeadshot 1-smallLifelong Dream Realized

I loved fairy tales as a kid. And I listened to a lot of jumbie stories. Jumbies are very tricky, very bad creatures in Trinidadian lore that will just as soon eat you as look at you. These were the stories parents told kids at bedtime. If you woke up in the morning with mosquito bites, you were told it might have been a soucouyant, a vampire-like creature who sheds her skin at night and flies around as a ball of flame to suck the blood of children. If you heard your name called at night, it might be a douen, a child-sized creature with backward feet and no face that would grab you and take you into the forest most likely to eat you. The lady that your uncle was dating might be a La Diablesse. You just had to get a good look at her…

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