Here's the question:
I've seen a lot of articles about what writers should ask agents during, "The Call," but what do agents usually ask writers during "The Call?" Thanks in advance!
Ooh, good question and not one that I think I've seen before. I'm happy to lay it out. Just know that every agent is different and "The Call" can vary depending on projects and the author as well.

Anyway, here's how they typically go for me.

After we say hello, I usually try to exchange a few pleasantries. I'm excited to talk about the book, of course, but this is also my chance to get to know the author. I might ask about where they live, or talk about the weather (I know, but come on, this weather!), or ask about the author's day job if they mentioned it.

Then as we move to the book, I'll usually start with all the things I really love about it. 

Some of my book related questions:

What was your inspiration? or How did you come up with the idea?

When did you write it? How long did the first draft take you?

If I have notes, I'll also mention them, or if I emailed them to the author, I'll ask if he/she has any questions on the notes.

Then I move to bigger/wider scope questions:

What else do you want to write? What are some of your WIPs that you're hoping to work on next?

Have you thought about the kind of career you want? Are there other genres/age groups that you want to write in?

What are you looking for in an Agent?

If it sounds like we'll be a good fit, I'll officially offer representation and tell the author more about me, New Leaf, and next steps. 

Then I'll end with "What questions do you have for me?"
Here's the question:
I just got some harsh feedback from a freelance editor on the first three chapters of my book. I found some good suggestions embedded in the advice and revised it further. He made a strong comment about style & my main character (MC) that I don't agree with. Ultimately, I think his reaction to my MC was rooted in a personal issue. I've worked hard on this novel and finally feel like it is polished & ready to send out, but now I'm worried. Should I go with my gut or pay close attention?


This is a really good question.

I heard Steve Barry speak at a conference one time and he talked about his critique group and how one of the things he struggled with was determine which editorial feedback they offered was gold vs. not so gold.

I'm going to try to answer this by asking you more questions:

Who has read these chapters? You mention you and the editor. You're both at odds.

What about others? Do you have beta readers or critique partners? Have you entered any contests or gotten feedback from other writers? (And people other than family or friends or yes people).

There are times when one opinion might not reflect a majority (just check out some of the 1 star reviews for Game of Thrones and Hunger Games). But if you have multiple people offering the same critique (even if it isn't as harsh) then you might have a legitimate concern.

Who is this editor (or the person giving you the feedback)? Think about who it is that's reading the work and what their credentials and professional background mean to your work.

For instance, if the editor has worked successfully on books that would appeal to the same audience as yours, you want to pay attention. If it's your mom donning an editorial hat or someone who never reads MG (and your book is MG), then maybe you want to seek another opinion.

Another thing to think about is underneath whatever harsh notes or suggestions there are, what is the underlying issue? I have certainly sent notes to authors before and offered up possible suggestions that they didn't want to take. That's okay! But usually there's some kind of underlying issue in there, some reason that I stopped reading in order to write down a note. That's what has to be addressed.

I'm not sure what your notes said, but you mention that you think the reaction to the MC is rooted in a personal issue. Does this mean you think the editor doesn't like your MC? Perhaps examine whether the MC is likable or sympathetic or at least compelling.

In the end, you don't want to ignore your gut, but you also don't want to be stubbornly blind to any issues. I think getting a second opinion is going to be the way to no for sure, where you are.
The sequel to one of School and Library Journal's Best Books of 2014 has arrived!

Polaris by Mindee Arnett is out today!


It's no secret that I'm a huge Mindee Arnett fan. And this book is no exception. The writing is amazing. Jeth is amazing. The twists (!)... I just have no words. And of course, it satisfies my deep need for an awesome space opera in my life. 

If you haven't read Avalon yet. The paperback is out today too. 

Okay, sit up and pay attention. This is quite a good one:
Dear Ms. Townsend, 
Most people remember their first crush, first kiss, and first day of school. Kymera remembers none of that. But she will never forget her first breath.

When Father recreates her from the parts of her broken body, the wings of a raven, the tail of serpent, and a cat’s razor-sharp vision, he gives her life without memories or pain.

But not without a mission.

Kymera knows who murdered her. A wizard in the city of Bryre who is sacrificing the girls of the countryside one by one. He is monstrous and now Father has created a monster to stop him.

Kymera sneaks into Bryre each night, rescuing the captive girls and doing her best to avoid the city’s human inhabitants. Then one night she meets Ren, the king’s page boy, and her resolve weakens. Her nightly missions take on a dual purpose—save the other girls and steal a few moments with the boy who has yet to see her without her cloak.

As she lingers each night, Kymera begins to overhear things: a snide remark about Father, rumors of a hideous beast, and whisperings of a black market dealing solely in live, human goods. Ever since that first breath, she’s known exactly who she is, but now she is forced to ask who is the real monster here—the wizard, her father, or worse, herself?

MONSTROUS, a YA fantasy complete at 85,000 words, is Frankenstein meets the Brothers Grimm told from the viewpoint of the monster as a teenage girl. I believe it will appeal to fans of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Graceling. I have a MS in Arts Administration from Boston University and as the former marketing director of a professional theatre, I can actively promote my work. My futuristic YA short story “Connected” was recently published in the Spring Fevers Anthology by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press.

I understand you’re looking for young adult fantasy novels and I thought you might be interested in MONSTROUS. Per your submission guidelines, the first 10 pages are enclosed below. I would be happy to supply additional sample chapters or a full manuscript upon request.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Regards,

MarcyKate Connolly
There's a lot to love about this query.

What struck me first, admittedly was the fact that only two days after she sent me this query, MarcyKate followed up to say she had an offer. So when I read the query, it came with an offer. But I've passed on things with an offer.

This one I had to request because it sounded hauntingly beautiful. Right from the beginning.

One thing that can be hard to queries is figuring out what details are the right ones to include. Here, MarcyKate includes the exact right details. If you look at the first paragraph, those details about people remembering their first crush and first kiss, set up the undertone of romance as well as the loss. Kymera will never have those things.

The writing on a pure language level is gorgeous. This query shows that no matter what's going on plot-wise, MarcyKate Connolly can write. I mean, the way she describes Kymera: created "from the parts of her broken body, the wings of a raven, the tail of serpent, and a cat’s razor-sharp vision"! That imagery gives such a clear vision of our main character that makes her very unique.

The structure is also great. It builds in intensity. Not just within the whole query, but also within each paragraph. The last line in each paragraph adds some new piece of information that makes you want to keep reading.

I knew probably by "But not without a mission" that I was going to have to request this and read it overnight. And I did.

What's also crazy about this query and this book, is that MarcyKate breaks several rules. First, in the opening scene, Kymera wakes up--not just from sleep but on the first day of her life.

And of course, now it's a middle grade novel rather than a YA. But it works. This is an example of when you can be an exception to the rule.

Look for it Tuesday, February 10th!


So the question is:
First off, thanks for answering all of these questions. It's a huge help! What does a writer do when faced with two requests for revise/resubmit from separate agents within one week? Should the writer be open and honest with both agents, or should the writer simply choose between the two agents and move forward?
Here are my thoughts:

I'm a big fan of open and honesty, but what you do in your next steps depends.

If you receive two R&Rs from two different agents, you also have two different potential situations.

1. Both agents have generally the same notes. They could have different suggestions for changes, but they could be looking at the same underlying issues with the manuscript.

In this case, I'd suggest being open with both agents and letting them know you also got an R&R from someone else too. In that case you'll want to discuss with them (separately) your planned changes and give them an opportunity to weigh in.

If they were asking for an exclusive, you can tell them, you'll only give the revision to the two of them (again correspond with them separately) first but that since they had similar notes, you can't pick one over the other.

2. The agents are taking the manuscript in different direction. The agents have different notes and different issues within the manuscript, reflecting a different editorial vision for the project.

I think this situation is harder and easier at the same time. You can't do both. I'd suggest going with your gut--which vision resembles your vision more closely. Go with those edits. Revise and resubmit and move forward. But also politely let the other agent know that you're thankful for his/her feedback, but you think you want to take the manuscript in a different direction.
Tracers by JJ Howard is available today!


Tracers is a pretty unique book. It's a book, and it's also about to be a Taylor Lautner movie (March 2015). 

Jen, the fantastically talented author, wrote the book on an insanely fast schedule, and then we made her keep mum about it until it could be all announced. But now it's here and we can tell you all about it!

Here's the official book description:
An action-packed romance—now a major motion picture starring Taylor Lautner! 
Cam is a New York City bike messenger with no family and some dangerous debts. While on his route one day, he runs into a beautiful stranger named Nikki—but she quickly disappears. When he sees her again around town, he realizes that she lives within the intense world of parkour: an underground group of teens who have turned New York City into their own personal playground—running, jumping, seemingly flying through the city like an urban obstacle course. 
Cam becomes fascinated with Nikki and falls in with the group, who offer him the chance to make some extra money. But Nikki is dating their brazen leader, and when the stakes become life-or-death, Cam is torn between following his heart and sacrificing everything to pay off his debts. 
In the vein of great box-office blockbusters, the high-stakes romance here sizzles within this page-turning thriller that will leave readers feeling like they are flying through the streets of New York.
And if you like visuals (or Taylor Lautner), here's the movie trailer: