I've been reading queries for a long time. I still get surprised though when I see some of them. Lately I've been seeing some openings that don't exactly make the desired first impression.

A few examples:

"It took me more than twenty minutes to full recover from the shock of your gorgeousness."

"I chose to query you despite how much you enjoyed the Twilight series."

"I know you ask for pages, but excerpts are a better way to see the full range of my work so I've pasted them below."

"Attached is a book I wrote."

"This is only a concept rough draft."

"I have completed a plot synopsis I'd like to send you."

"I have an idea for a book."

Kristin Halbrook's fabulous second novel, Every Last Promise, is out today!

I love this book. It's so very real and raw. Here are the opening lines which grabbed me and sunk their hooks in when I first read them:

This is a story about heroes.
I am not one of them.

The third and final book in the Project Paper Doll trilogy is out tomorrow!

Here's a great question:
What are the "do's" and "don't's" of a great pitch session?
Here are some of my thoughts:

DO come prepared. You should do a bit of internet research on the agent you're pitching. Know what books they represent. Also know what you're going to want to say. Practice it in the mirror or for your friends so that you can say it without reading and without sounding like a robot.

DON'T just pitch for the sake of pitching. If a writer pitches me a business book, I'm not going to have anything constructive to say. I don't do business books. We are not a good match.

DO have a concise pitch. Be concise, but don't be afraid to include details that will tug at agent's emotions. If I were MarcyKate Connolly, I'd pitch Monstrous like this: I have a middle grade fantasy novel titled MONSTROUS. When her father recreates Kymera from the parts of her broken body, the wings of a raven, the tail of a serpent, and a cat's razor-sharp vision, he gives her life with memories or pain. But she has a mission. A wizard is stealing girls in her village, and it's her mission to stop him. It's Frankenstein meets Brother's Grimm told from the point of view of the monster as a teenage girl. It will appeal to readers of Anne Ursu and Natalie Lloyd. It's complete at 85,000 words.

DON'T try to cram a lot of backstory and subplots and supporting characters into your pitch. Main character, main conflict. That's it. That your protagonist has a mother who's half blind and a sister who lives in his basement might be relevant to the character's growth, but if they're backstory or subplots, don't tell me about them. Also, no play by plays.

DO have a conversation. Say hello and introduce yourself when you sit down. Ask the agent a question. Then launch into your pitch. Don't talk at them--say your quick pitch, then wait for them to ask you a question. (Prepare for things like "what inspired you?"  "what happens next?" or "what are your comp titles?" And have a few questions prepared that you might want to ask the agent if you have some time at the end.

DON'T try to pitch more than one idea at a time. Focus on the one project you are most passionate about.

DO actually send your manuscript if it's requested. A lot of people who pitch me don't send their material and sometimes I'm really disappointed!

DON'T be nervous. I know this is hard, but here's the truth. A pitch is great experience and maybe you'll meet an agent this way, but most of my clients just query me. So even if your pitch is a disaster, you could still just query the agent--and many others. If you are so crazy-nervous that you're going to get hives or shake or cry, don't sign up for pitches. Be a human at the conference. Talk to agents like they're people. They might ask what your query is about or ask you to query them. Or just send them a query.

DO be a good human. This means following social cues and acceptable business etiquette.

Along those lines DON'T stalk agents and pitch them in the bathroom, at the gym, in an elevator, while they have food in their mouth, standing in a small room and blocking the only door, when they're trying to go back to their hotel room (these have all happened to me). Also remember that no means no. If an agent says the book isn't for them, you don't want them as an agent. Yelling or trying to coerce an agent to change their mind, only makes them want to work with you even less.

I got a really interesting question today:
I'm not trying to be rude with my question but why is it Stephanie Meyer can get away with rather simplistic writing but any new writer who wrote like her writing style (like over use of adjectives for one example) would be chastised. And I don't even mean with the fourth book you can see it in the first book. Is there a point where personal bias takes over and the agent is so in love with the story and characters they don't care less about how it's written?
Here's my answer:


The YA market is over 10x more saturated now than when Twilight first published, which is a good thing, but it does make it harder then to get published. So the comparisons to older books can be hard.

Not all writing quality is created equal. Not everyone can write like Laini Taylor. This is okay. Not all readers (particularly reluctant ones) want that beautiful experience (ok obviously I do).

But if the writing style is more simplistic or the quality of writing isn’t starred review worthy, the book has to make up for it with phenomenal storytelling. The trick is to get people to read the book and get so swept up in it that they don’t care about adjectives or whatever.

Also and I’m just going to be argumentative here, but I loved Twilight. I actually said to a (now ex) boyfriend when he kept trying to interrupt me while I was reading the last book “I’m reading the conclusion to one of the great love stories of our time, can we talk about this later?” It did get starred reviews--three of them. And given it’s popularity, whatever it’s flaws, people certainly got swept up in it.
Jennifer Ryan's next romance is out today!

I'm not going to lie. After reading this, I kind of want to go spend some time in Montana.

Renita Pizzitola's newest swoonworthy novel, Just a Little Flirt, is here!

I already know I'm going to need to do another reread on a night when I don't have to get up early. :)

It's always been New Leaf's Policy that "No Response Means No" which means that basically other than the bounce-back email, you'll only get an email when you get a request. If two weeks pass and there's no response, that means we're passing.

I've always responded.

Until now. I'm going to stop responding to queries as of April 1st.

This has been a really hard decision for me. If I was querying, I would want to know that my email didn't just get lost in the ether. I felt that it didn't take that long to respond to each query, so I should keep doing it.

But the truth is, I get a lot of queries, that response time adds up, and my first responsibility is to my clients.

To give you an example. This weekend I sat down at 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and started responding to queries. I had just over 200. I didn't finish until 6:06 pm. I could have read half a manuscript in that time.

I will continue to try to do a lot to help authors, answering tumblr questions and going to writing conferences. But unfortunately I won't be responding to queries anymore after this month.

Update: The bounce-back you receive upon submitting your query is a confirmation of receipt. Also, I will continue to respond to all manuscript requests per usual.
I'm not normally a gif person, but...

Because Lori M Lee's follow up to Gates of Thread and Stone is out today.

That's right. The Infinite is here. And it is amazing!

The cover is gorgeous and the book is even better. Ninurta is definitely on my places I wish I could visit list.

I thought Nikki Loftin had outdone herself with Nightingale's Nest which is a book that changed my life, it was so powerful.

I was wrong. She wasn't done breaking my heart and putting it back together again. Her newest novel, Wish Girl, is out today, and it is briliant. It's pure genius.

I love this book so much. 

Jennifer Ryan's newest release At Wolf Ranch is here. I think this is her best one yet!

I am beyond lucky. Clearly I used up some major karma points when I convinced these two fabulously talented writers to work with me.

I fought with several other agents for MarcyKate Connolly after I read Monstrous. (The whole office celebrated when I got it).

And thanks to a film connection (yay Hollywood) I managed to snap up Victoria Aveyard and Red Queen up before she even queried anyone else.

Now, both books come out today!

Top 3 things these books have in common:
(other than, you know, me loving them)

1. I read them both in one sitting.

I read Monstrous in an afternoon at my desk while ignoring everything else I was supposed to do that day. MarcyKate already had an offer and I was desperate to read and get back to her and begin the fight.

I read Red Queen on a Sunday afternoon and then paced around my kitchen after the ending, unsure of whether I should cry, scream, of laugh giddily that I had found this book. I think I did a combination of all three.

2. The covers are stunning.

3. They are both ageless fantasies. 

Forget the fact that Monstrous is middle grade and that Red Queen is YA. These are both books that any aged reader can love. I plan to read them both aloud to my dogs, and I guarantee they will love it.

So yes, I'll stop gushing now. Happy Release Day to MarcyKate and Victoria. I love you.

One day a few years ago now, Cat Hellisen sent me an email that said, "Hey I wrote this thing..."

I was very excited.

This thing was a beautiful reimagining of the Beauty and Beast fairytale where Beauty and the Beast did not live happily ever after, and the curse was hereditary.

I read it in one sitting and was floored at Cat's genius. (Even though I did already know she was a genius).

I am even more excited today, because it is now officially in print and on shelves!

This is another book I didn't sell but am very excited about!

I recently signed TJ Kline and she has a new novella out right now: Runaway Cowboy

Here's the set up:
Five years ago, Jen woke up with a ring on her finger and her fiancé nowhere to be found. She swore she'd gotten over the betrayal, but when Clay unexpectedly hires on with the rodeo for a week, she finds herself torn between passion and regret.
I love a good cowboy romance :)