Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And it's official!

I've moved agencies. I'm now a full time agent at Nancy Coffey Literary, and I couldn't be happier. Feel free to check out my bio here.

Even more exciting, I'm reopening to queries on November 1st! (That's a week from today!) The agency's official submission guidelines are here, and I've included my guidelines + updated wishlist here.

And the most exciting news is that I will be celebrating my move to Nancy Coffey and my reopening to queries with a QUERY CONTEST!


Here are the details:



Can you handle the truth?

Many writers want to know what an agent is really thinking when they pass on a query, right? You want the truth...but can you handle the truth? Well next week I will respond to the queries I receive in complete honesty. You may see something as simple as "Not bad, but just not for me." or "I don't represent legal thrillers." OR you may see something like "I stopped reading when you mentioned that the mailman was a vampire space zombie who has come to deliver a message of PAIN. Because come on...seriously?"

So, if you want the truth, query me next Tuesday morning, between 9-10 am EDT (as in the time it is in NY). Read on for the rules.

Rules:
  • The contest will be open for only ONE HOUR.
  • Queries must be submitted to Query(at)nancycoffeyliterary(dot)com between the hours of 9:00am EST and 10:00am EST Tuesday, November 1st, 2011. Any queries submitted before or after those times will not be qualified to enter and considered only as a regular query.
  • All queries entered must have this in the subject line: QUERY CONTEST - Yes, I can handle the truth
  • If it does not have this in the subject line, it will be considered a regular query only.
  • Queries must be in the body of the email. NO attachments!
  • Queries must be one-page length long, size 12 font. That's ONE PAGE ONLY!
  • No manuscript pages attached or included at all.
  • You will receive our usual auto-response. If you do not receive an auto-response, resend!

I will respond to all queries entered in the contest by Monday (11/7/11) at 5pm EST.

Further Guidelines:
  • Yes, if you've already been rejected you may resubmit your query. I will read (if submitted in the correct time frame) and let you know why it's been rejected. Don't say "You already rejected me..." Treat it like you've never queried her before.
  • Your queries will NOT be posted on this or any other blog. I will reply to you via your e-mail, only. 
  • You must treat this as an actual query process, which means you need to have a complete manuscript. If I do request your manuscript, I don't want to find out there isn't one!


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Art of Pitching

I've done several conferences in 2011. Actually I've done a lot, or ALOT. This means, I've taken a lot of pitches. Some were better than others of course, and there are some basic Dos and Donts when pitching to agents and editors out there. I even talked about some a year ago.

But there is one thing, that almost every writer who's pitched to me recently has struggled with:

COMPARABLE TITLES

And believe it or not, this is really important. As an agent, I want to know comparable titles for two reasons.

1. Comparable titles tell me the targeted audience for a manuscript, it gives me a better idea of whether I might like it, it gives me a better idea of where I might sell it, how I might pitch it, how editors could pitch the book to their sales team.

and

2. Comparable titles also tell me how well-read the writer is when it comes to their own genre. I can't tell you how important I think this is--that writers read in their genre--and it's a huge mood kill in a pitch when I ask a writer who's pitching me a MG manuscript for comp titles and they tell me they don't really read children's books.

So if you're pitching to an agent or an editor--or even if you're just writing a novel, make sure you read in your genre. Especially those books that are bestsellers. People are buying and liking them for a reason. Try to figure out what it is.

Then think about your audience. People who are going to buy your book are most likely going to be people who frequent bookstores and at least buy and read a few books a year. Non readers are most likely not going to wander into a bookstore, stumble upon your book, and buy it (sad but true). Which means, most book buyers have books or authors they like. What kind of book buyers are going to buy your book and tell their friends about it?

Be realistic and be honest. It's no good saying you've written Twilight meets Harry Potter meets The Da Vinci Code since those are three different genres and are frankly overdone in terms of comparisons.

A sweeter paranormal YA might be comparable to Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

A dark urban fantasy with a kickass female protagonist and a well developed world might be comparable to Kim Harrison's Hollows Series.

A fast paced thriller with a slight science fiction bent might be comparable to The Breach by Patrick Lee.

Writers don't necessarily need a tight logline (Indiana Jones meets Percy Jackson), though if you have one that works, it won't hurt. But saying that your manuscript will appeal to readers of Kelley Armstrong and Jeaniene Frost will go a long way.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Adventures in Vancouver

Today didn't start out so well. I woke up at 3:30 am, which is always a bad sign. I walked both by dogs and then took a car to Newark airport. My driver wasn't exactly awesome (we had a few moments I was sure we were going to die), but we made it there in 27 minutes (a new record, I think). Check in went okay, but the woman who took my bag had a terrible disposition (not that I can really blame her, who wants to work at 4:45 am or at Newark), and then some random guy in the airport asked me for money on my way to security.

But it got better. Way better.

I saw this fabulous book in the airport: 

Then I flew into Vancouver for the Surrey International Writers Conference. Air Canada had outlets so I could PLUG IN (so awesome), and I discovered, Vancouver is a pretty awesome city.

Of course, there was the minor hiccup when I first arrived at my hotel in Surrey because George W and Bill were doing a Summit at my hotel, and I had to go through literally 12 checkpoints and show my passport and explain that "I was on the security approved list" before I finally made it.

But the lovely and talented Sheryl McFarlane picked me up in Surrey and took me back to Vancouver. And while I
     1. Love NY
and
     2. Don't want to go anywhere colder
I found that I could see Vancouver being my kind of city.

So here are Sheryl's and my adventures in Vancouver told in pictures.

the view from the Granville Island public market

Where we saw some of the coolest local artists ever, including Michelle Vulama who paints on stone(!). I still can't get over how amazing she was. 

this bird watched me eat


these two did too

we parked under this tree at Stanley Park

and I've never been so awed by trees

we strolled through the park


until we got to the AQUARIUM!

where we saw fishes

starfishes

sea anemones

belugas!

sea otters!

dolphins!

and sea lions!

at Prospect Point, we checked out the views

(that's the North Shore)

we checked out the anthropology museum

specifically it's backyard (WOW!)

And then I finished off the night with some awesome sushi, and thankfully the Summit (and protestors) departed from my hotel in Surrey. It was a fabulous day.

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?