The holidays are getting closer! And that means....


Romance fans!

I love this book. It makes me wish I lived in Colorado!

It's been a while since I did a query round up. They were all starting to sound the same, but back by request is a new one.

As of 10:00 pm last night, they're done!

Queries Received312

Queries Requested2 (MG fantasy, Mystery)

Queries Debated2
(These are queries I thought seriously about but ultimately passed.)
Fantasy comped to The Night Circus - didn't seem unique enough
Thriller - I made it through the query and was still considering, but there were no pages

Most Common Rejection Reason:
There were a lot of books that sounded like they could be good, but I didn't find myself sucked in--mostly because it felt like something I'd already read before.

Just a Little Kiss by Renita Pizzitola is out today!

This is Mason's story and while I never thought I'd say this, it's also my favorite.

That means Jennifer Ryan's third Montana Men novel, Her Lucky Cowboy, is here!

Happy release day to the super talented Abigail Baker! Her debut novel, The Reaper's Kiss is out today.

I met Abby at a conference and was so excited about the premise of her novel (then called DEATHMARK), and I was even more excited when I had the chance to read and fall in love with it. I'm so glad that it's out in the world!

I have a new question:
Hi, Suzie! You quoted The Janet Reid as saying, “Any idiot can sell a book. It’s all the hard work after the sale that makes you a good agent.” Would you mind sharing what that post-sale hard work entails for good agents? I've always wondered what happens AFTER the sale! Thanks so much for answering our questions. Your Tumblr is a gem!
First, I have to acknowledge The Janet Reid's wisdom. She taught me quite a bit.

But to answer your question, I'm going to give you a rundown of a number of things that I do post sale. For the sake of argument, I'm including negotiating deal points and then the contract into the "sale" category.

Edits: I read my clients' works at every step of the process. If there are any edit questions or discussions, I'm there to weigh in on them.

Subrights: audio, translation, film, merchandise, etc. These are all rights that can be licensed after the US sale (or sometimes before/during).

Brand Building: I talk to my clients a great deal about what they want their brand to be. This may sound silly, but for all the books are an art and a passion, they're also a business and a product. With so many books out there, it's important to establish the author so that readers know what they'll be getting from that specific author's books. This is an overarching conversation that leads into a lot of the other things I do....such as:

Cover: Does it attract the right kind of readers?

Positioning: Does the copy and the publisher's plans reflect the target audience? Where are the readers who will love this book--and how do we make sure it's visible to them.

Long term career planning: What steps do we need to take in order to get there?

Other Projects: What's the best follow up project to our first one? What's the best project to help break an author out? etc. I'm often very involved in future projects.

Publicity/Marketing: What is the publisher going to do for publicity and marketing in trade and also in the school & library markets. Once we know that, I discuss with my authors what their plans are, what I think their plans should be, and how New Leaf and I can support them...and even how we can include the publisher on all this too. This is a big conversation.

All the Details! I've negotiated and set up events, I've helped clients organize their calendar and coordinated with their domestic and foreign publishers, I've books speaking engagements and school visits, and worked with freelancers (school and library, publicity, etc) to facilitate client promotion, I answer a lot of questions or find the answers to them, I put out fires or mediate issues, I talk to authors, editors, publicists, or anyone else who's involved in the book. I've even designed posters, advertisements, and swag.

There's more too, depending on the book, author and what comes up! I pretty much tackle it all.

For a look at a day in my life as an agent, read this article.

Today The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett is out!

This book marks the end of the Arkwell Academy series--such a bittersweet moment. I love this series so much and Dusty is definitely one of my favorite characters. I couldn't be more satisfied with an ending, even if I didn't want this series to end.

It's been a while since I did a query round up. They were all starting to sound the same, but back by request is a new one.

As of 1:00 pm, they're done!

Queries Received: 248

Queries Requested: 4 (women's fiction, NA/romance, fantasy, YA historical fantasy)

Queries Debated: 4
(These are queries I thought seriously about but ultimately passed.)
A great New Adult concept where the writing showed real potential, but even the sample pages needed a heavy line edit.
Good concept, good writing, first scene feels very cliche.
Query from the POV of a serial killer I couldn't tell if this is a memoir or fiction (so you know, if something happens to me, you know where to start looking)
Cool concept, but the writing feels like it's trying too hard to be literary (lots of imagery and similes/metaphors that feel forced)

Queries Passed to a Colleague: 8

Queries That Got a Personal Response: 4
There's a reason the debated queries matches up with this one.

Common Rejections Reasons:
I love this concept but the writing is flat.
I can't tell what this is about.
I just don't feel enticed.*

* This is the biggest problem I see with queries. It might be put together structurally okay, but it just feels like words. Now before you get annoyed (I know they are words), here's what I mean. You need to hook me. I just read 243 queries in 2 hours--how do you make yourself stand out in that? You have voice and great details that make me interested. I have to want to know more to request.

Random Thoughts:
For all the talking about outliers I do, I get a lot of queries with crazy comps (The Epic of Gilgamesh, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Divergent meets Twilight/The Selection/Hunger Games/The 100/Harry Potter)
No attachments, please
Don't overdo it with formatting: bold, italics, crazy fonts--they're all a great example of "less is more"

The #1 Spot on My Wishlist:
A great mystery or thriller for adults with really great writing and awesome pacing (like Tana French)

Book Expo America is an annual convention that a lot of publishing people attend and talk about. A few weeks ago it was probably all over my social media feeds. So I got a question about it. 
What is an agent's role at BEA? Is it to meet with other publishing professionals? Get an idea of what other books are on the market? Scout for potential clients? Support any agency authors who might be there? (And if so, how?) Fangirl/boy over the ARCs they want and get books signed like any other reader would? Thanks!
The answer is essentially all of the above. 

BEA is fun and exciting and a lot of work for agents. I love to see what publishers are advertising--it gives you a great sense of what they're excited about and what's working in the market.

There's also some great industry news put out in the PW Daily each day. You can read about different events and trends and what fans are lining up for, etc.

And yes, there's also some swagging and fangirling involved. This year, I fangirled Alexandra Bracken and was super excited to read Passenger. And you know, I like books. Free books are like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. 

And walking the floor and picking up ARCs is also a really great opportunity to do the market research. Knowing what books are coming out from the different publishers--and knowing what books are getting various marketing budgets is something important for agents. It helps me better serve my clients and also know what else to look for. 

For instance, my favorite things to go to at BEA are the Editor Buzz Panels. There's one for adult books, one for YA, and one for MG. The five editors of the books selected (by a BEA panel) usually talk about the book and what it was like to get it on submission and why they loved it and also why they're excited for all the great things coming up for the book. 

These are the books from the Editor's Buzz Panel. (Sorry not the best picture). After listening to all the editors I was most excited to read Home is Burning, but they all sound great. I can't wait to dive into them. 

To give you some context on what this means, some other titles that were part of the Editor's Buzz Panel in different years: The Night Circus, Brain on Fire, Five Days at Memorial.

There's also meetings. Jess and Kathleen take a lot of foreign publisher meetings. This year Jackie and Jaida took a number of audio publisher meetings. Then there's meetings with editors. I had a lot of Starbucks meetings and endured the long lines.

I also had meetings with a few library distributors and book merch people. I met with the lovely people at Litographs and got myself a TS Eliot tattoo.

Then there are client events. As an agent, I do a lot of going to client events and helping out, taking pictures, etc, and then often meet with the hardworking client. 

Then there are the BEA parties after the night. Many of the publishers have a BEA party and agents typically go to them with clients who are attending BEA or with other agents so that we can network up a storm. 

 Then we go home and then wake up the next day and do it all over again. So the only thing I'm not doing is scouting for new writers. That's still done best via the slush pile in my opinion. 

I didn't sell this book, but I do love it: Taking Heart by TJ Kline is out today!

So I get asked a lot of questions about where writers can find their critique partners and beta readers. The truth is that I don't know. I'm not on the frontlines looking for readers so I don't necessarily have the best advice here.

But I got this question twice on Saturday and I took to twitter to find the answer.

Here's the link to the tweet if you want to see all the answers, but below I've compiled some of the replies that might be useful.

Local NaNoWriMo Meet Ups

Twitter (through contests, hashtags)

Authors or Sites that put out a call for CPs (AuthoressAnon Critique Dating Service, Maggie Stiefvater's Crit Partner Love Connection, CPSeek,

Friends and family, friends of friends

Writing organizations (SCBWI, RWA)

Local bookstore writing group

Facebook writing groups

Writing classes

There are lots more, but hopefully this is a start.

A few years ago, I volunteered to be a Ninja Agent for Write on Con. I read queries on the forums and offered some feedback and thoughts from an agent's perspective. Several of those queries were quite good, and I requested them.

One turned into an offer.

I'm so happy to be able to say that now it's a book: The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. Hurst is out today.

I'm back with another query that worked.
Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Alora was found wandering in the woods with no memory of her life. It's 2013 now and the blackouts have started again. Each time Alora wakes up in a different place with no idea of how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

In 2146, seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. Who, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, was never assigned to that time. He’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent the murder of someone.

Someone named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.

Told in a dual point of view, THE EDGE OF FOREVER is a 98,000 word YA science fiction novel. It is stand-alone with series potential and may appeal to readers of Marie Lu’s LEGEND or Myra McEntire’s HOURGLASS. Thank you for your consideration.
This is a great example of a query that introduces a book with two narrators.

It's also a great example of a query that builds. We find out some information about Alora--including the fact that someone is following her. That first paragraph introduces some heavy conflict. The next paragraph introduces even higher stakes in the conflict--impending murder.

And oh yeah, it's Alora's murder.

This is also a query that introduces good worldbuilding details in a subtle way, so that they don't get in the way of the story. It's concise and every word counts.

After I signed Melissa, I sold the book to SkyPony and it comes out June 2nd!

Back when I was a baby agent, there was always a new milestone to hit: my first client, my first sale, my first foreign sale, my first middle grade sale, my first adult sale, etc. You get the idea.

Selling a book felt like the most amazing feat. I would celebrate--and I still do. But after being in the business a while, you know that selling a book is only the first step of the battle. There's so much more that goes into this job.

As a result, the milestones become less about the sale and more about things down the line. Only every once in a while, you're reminded what it felt like when you first started.

Case in point.

When New Adult first exploded onto the scene I was really excited about it, and I wanted to see the age group expand into many genres. A really fabulous writer based in the UK named Laura Salters asked me a few questions on twitter and we talked NA.

Then she queried me with a New Adult Mystery she described as Harlan Coban meets John Green. I loved that idea so I requested. And it was amazing. The novel needed some revision, but it was the kind of book that I couldn't stop thinking about long after I'd finished. I loved it. (Jess Dallow who was one of my first reads on it, loved it too).

We sent Laura some notes, she revised and I signed her. We revised again and then went on submission. It ended up becoming a bit less NA and a bit more mystery with crossover potential, but we liked it that way.

I sold it to an editor at HarperCollins in my first ever mystery sale. I couldn't have done it without such a talented author and such an amazing book.

I'm happy to say that today is the release of that novel, Run Away. Here's to many more. (Hopefully they'll be just as amazing and pageturning as this one).