Agent Monday: Novel Revision Webinar!

conceptHappy Agent Monday, everyone. Notice the lapse in posts? Yeah, I’ve been SO busy over the past few weeks pitching client works to publishers, I haven’t had a moment to spare. But it’s been exciting! Are you working on a novel manuscript that you hope will excite agents and publishers alike? Then you probably know it’s vital to have that manuscript in its best possible shape before you send it out. Revision is a vital step, but where to begin? I’m excited to be teaching a  Writer’s Digest Webinar that can help…HOW TO REVISE YOUR NOVEL FOR SUBMISSION: SELF-EDITING TECHNIQUES THAT WORK.

This 90-minute live webinar runs on Thursday, November 17th, starting at 1 p.m. The cost is $89.99, which also includes a live Q&A with me where all questions are answered, plus participants get to submit their first 5 manuscript pages to me afterwards for a personal critique. I’m really looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned about revision techniques as both an author of novels, and as a Literary Agent actively acquiring clients and selling novels to commercial publishers. I especially like that this is such a personal approach, allowing me to really meet the needs of writers seeking guidance. And I also like that we can all do this from the comfort of our own homes, which is super convenient for everyone! Note that even if you can’t attend the webinar live, you can still register and you will receive the recording of it (as will all participants, so they can go back and review what was said), plus be able to sub those 5 pages for my personal critique. If you are interested, you can get more info and register by clicking here.

In the webinar, I’ll break down the revision process, revealing steps you can take to systematically self-edit your manuscript. I plan to share tricks I’ve picked up while editing my own novels, and show how to spot and correct problems with essential elements like pacing, structure, characters, dialogue and plot. Plus I’ll talk about how you can pull a reader (or an agent) deeper into your fictional world.

So check it out! And maybe I’ll *see* you there.

 

*Marie is a Literary 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.

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Slice of Life Friday: Got Basil?

In honor of Uncle Steve – here’s his world famous pesto recipe! Make it, enjoy it and share with everyone you love. Food is love!

Marie Lamba, author

We still have a few flourishing basil plants in our garden and it won’t be long before a fall frost blitzes them, so that means…It’s time for Uncle Steve’s Amazing Pesto Recipe. Duh!

Uncle Steve, my bro, perfected his recipe over two decades of intense gardening, taste-testing and readjusting.  Truthfully, he ate so much pesto over this time that he simply can’t even grow basil anymore. He’s done.

But his recipe lives on…

So here it is (you can thank me later):

UNCLE STEVE’S AMAZING PESTO RECIPE:

2 cups chopped basil
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts or parsley)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt

Blend in blender. That’s it!  Add pesto to soups and recipes. Slather it on bread with a slice of fresh mozzarella, a slice of ripe tomato (yum!). And of course it’s a wonderful coating for pasta.  If…

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Agent Monday: Inside Query Land

Office Worker with Mountain of PaperworkHappy Agent Monday, everyone!  If you don’t see me posting for a few Mondays, it’s simply because I’m THAT BUSY. This past Sunday, for example, I spent 6 straight hours delving through queries in my inbox, and I barely made a dent. Still, I did request 3 manuscripts – and that IS how I’ve found a number of my wonderful clients in the past. So what’s it really look like inside of Query Land? Here are some quick thoughts before I get right back to work here…

First of all, folks who don’t follow my guidelines get instantly deleted. And including your query as an attachment…anything as an attachment… I’m not gonna open those – would you?

Folks who can’t even bother to find out who I am or what I do? Deleted – Dear Sir. I know you are looking for Non-Fiction (I’m NOT! I don’t even rep it…and not a sir, thank you very much).  Addressed to no one, sent to EVERYONE. Saying please publish my book (I’m not a publisher…).

Writing your query as if you are your character NEVER WORKS. First it confuses me, then it once I figure out that you are not you, it comes off as really gimmicky and ridiculous.

When I send you a rejection, please don’t write back to ask me for advice or tips. I don’t have time and that is really not my job. Remember, an agent lives off a percentage of what her authors make once they sell…and that I spend HOURS reading queries just to find a person that has a manuscript that MIGHT interest me. Think of the 6 hours I’ve spent on a Sunday morning, in addition to a full week of extra long hours working for my own clients, and ask yourself, where would you spend your precious time if you were me?

When someone tells me their book is a young adult picture book romance thriller, I know they don’t know anything about the business. A book must fit onto a shelf and appeal to a certain audience.

An author’s writing is their product. When they can’t compose a simple query letter, I won’t be interested. Terrible grammar, multiple spelling errors, and long rambling prose? Not interested.

Please don’t tell me your book is the next bestseller, or that your neighbor read your book and loved it. A query should be composed so that I will love the book.

Conclusion? Yes, this is a business. Be a professional in your dealings, and I will feel confident I can deal with you and put you in front of an editor. The queries that prompted me to request a full manuscript? Well, they addressed ME, their queries were professional and intriguing, and the writers followed my guidelines.

That’s Agent Marie reporting from the query trenches. Over and out!

 

*Marie is a Literary 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.

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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 http://philadelphiawritingworkshop.com/

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

Miriam_Glassman_150dpi_1_5x2

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!

 

WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA: THE PROMOTION PUSH IN YOUR BOOK’S FIRST YEAR

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 (miriamglassman.com) 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.

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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.