Guys, this book

It is so heartbreakingly honest and real.

Happy release day to Alexis Bass, one of the most brilliant new voices in YA literature.

I read a lot of books this year. Here are my favorites (that New Leaf doesn't represent):

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Reader by Traci Chee

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

The Truth About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

What were some of your best reads in 2015?

Heather Lyons newest is out today! For anyone loves a royal romance, this one's for you.

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).

Cora Carmack's third Rusk University book is out today. All Played Out is Nell and Torres' story and got the same sexy romance and amazing humor that all her books have.

After the Bologna Children's Book Fair, I started getting a lot of questions asking about the Fair and about what was hot and what wasn't etc.

Well, I didn't go this year. Last year and the year before, I was lucky enough to go and see this (among other things).

This year, that honor went to Joanna Volpe and Jess Dallow. So to answer all the questions, I have the fabulous Jess Dallow, reporting here on the goings on in Italy:

Hi everyone!

I'm Jess. I'm both a literary assistant here at New Leaf, as well as the foreign rights assistant. Since Suzie didn't attend Bologna this year, she asked me to write up a little something so everyone can have an idea of what happens at these fairs.

This was my first full year in foreign, therefore it was also my first time at the Bologna Book Fair. I heard a lot of things before going, mainly how great it was, and it definitely did not disappoint! Joanna and I got there a few days early and spent some time acclimating to the time change (it definitely did not help that we had to go through the European time change - once is enough, thank you!) There were publishing parties, lots of delicious food, and since I had never been to Italy I got to experience some of it while also meeting a ton of new people in publishing that I didn't know beforehand.

Then Monday rolled around and it was time for the fair to start. The best way to describe it is to imagine a huge, huge warehouse filled with booths, people, and books. Publishers from around the world had their stations set up with information about their books, as well as copies so people could leaf through them. There was walls that filled with illustrations from people and by the end of day three it was art upon art upon art. All the agents were upstairs at the Agents' Centre where rows of tables were set up . Some agencies had one, some had two (New Leaf did so that way we could take double the amount of meetings.) That is where I spent my 8 hours a day, every half hour filled with a meeting (minus lunch and a break which was necessary since they took away our bathrooms!) It was really cool to see which books agents brought to represent their clients and it was fun to leaf through them on our breaks.

The overall mood was great. Everyone was excited to be there, the weather was gorgeous, and it was one of those things where you could tell that everyone genuinely loved their jobs. Even with the long hours, everyone was high energy and buzzing with excitement. Publishers seemed to be looking for less fantasy this year and more contemporary. While fantasy is still working both in the US and overseas, because publishers have bought a ton of it in previous years, they are now looking to change things up a bit. That's not to say some fantasy wasn't a hit, but I definitely got more requests for contemporary.

There were no big books of the fair this year, but in light of the way our world is excitedly changing, transgender stories seem to be up and coming. New Leaf has a transgender novel that got a lot of attention, as did some of the other ones at the fair. But other than that, there wasn't one thing getting a ton of attention over another!

All in all, it was a really great fair and I can't wait to go back next year!
So again, this book isn't mine. I recently signed the amazing TJ Kline because I was such a fan. But the first book in her new series, Heart's Desire, is out today and I seriously love it.

It makes me want to go out and buy a ranch and start an animal shelter and fall in love with everything. Perfect weekend reading now that it's starting to warm up around here.

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 :)
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.


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!