One Writer’s Journey

February 10, 2017

#MSWL Day: Boom or Bust?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:20 am
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twitter-1138522_1920Were you one of the many writers checking out all of the #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) tweets?  I planned to leave the feed up all day, stopping in to check every once in a while and read the latest posts.  But that plan went out the window when I got home from yoga and saw 400+ new tweets.

With so much being posted, I knew there was no way I could read it all.  So I’d scan the new posts when there were 20 or 40 but when I’d come back and find another 100 or more I simply refreshed the feed.

I know I missed a lot that way but I wasn’t too worried.  Toward the end of the day, I searched on a few key words.  #MSWL PB.  #MSWL picture book.  #MSWL  STEM.  #MSWL nonfiction.

As I found posts that interested me, I took a screen clipping and pasted them into a Word document.  All in all, I ended up with 9 leads.  Specifically, I was looking for picture books and nonfiction.  If I was looking for an agent who does young adult, I’d have had pages and pages and pages of tweets to go through.

There are three ways to see what a particular editor or agent wants.

Go to Twitter and read their feed.  This can be tough if it is someone who posts very often.

Go to Twitter and search #MSWL (agent or editor name).   This can be helpful if your target agents posts often.

Go to Manuscript Wish List.  Once there, search for your agent or editor of interested.  On their profile page, in the center column is a button that says “See my latest #MSWL tweets.”  Guess what?  Click it.  I’ve yet to figure out just how the tweets are arranged.  Not by date.  Not by reversed date.  Skim them and see if this agent still looks promising.

You can also like tweets as they are posted.  Then you go to your twitter profile and click likes.  Everything you liked is going to come up which might be a problem if you like a lot.

If you find a recent tweet that jives with something you’ve written, mention it in your query letter.  This is another way to show your agent or editor of choice that you’ve done your research.

Good luck!

–SueBE

July 21, 2016

Slush Pile Reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:04 am
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Palm, Hand, Human, Raised, Right, Open, Body, PartLast weekend when I was at the All Write Now! Conference, I witnessed my first slush pile reading panel.  It’s a little different from a first pages panel and works like this.

Conference participants get to turn in the first three pages of their manuscript.  During the session, the reader pulls a manuscript and then reads.  The panel, in this case mostly editors and agents, listen and when someone would stop reading he or she raises their hand.  Three hands up and the reader stops.  All of the manuscripts made it through the first page.  Many made it through the first three.

It was interesting to listen to the various panelists react to the manuscript.  Some of them told why they quit reading.  This was especially interesting when one person quit before the others.

Here are some of the things I gleaned from this session:

Don’t start with pure action.  If you do, the reader doesn’t know who the character is.  If the story is first person, they may not know gender, let alone age or anything else.  The reader has to care about the character and know what is at risk before they can really care about what is happening in the story.

Just as you can be too general, you can be overly specific.  Every time you mention the character’s car, we don’t need the model and color.

Summaries are a way of telling vs showing.  So are flashbacks.  If you have a flashback in the middle of chapter 1, trying moving it to the beginning of the chapter.

One of the most important things that I saw here was how subjective it all is.  One person might quit reading long before the rest of the group. Even when three people raised their hands, they did so at different points, some reading much more than others.  The lesson? Prepare your best work but understand that you may need to send it to many, many agents to find a good match.

–SueBE

April 28, 2016

Not Right for My List

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:52 am
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Book, Books, Bookshelf, Read, Literature, Heart, Hobby
“Not right for my list.” That’s one of those phrases that writers hate to see on a rejection letter.  It just seems to subjective.  What does it really mean? This week I read an interesting blog post on this by agent Janet Reid.  She pointed out that we all have a list.  Most of us just call it our reading list.

That made a lot of sense to me.  I’m not a huge fan of adult contemporary fiction.  Except for the Don Tillman series by Graeme Simsion.  I love those books!

And I love, love, love action books especially if they’re espionage.  Except for the one that I tried to listen to today.  I’m not going to pan an author by name but I wasn’t thrilled with the book but decided to give it one more try.  Ugh.  Not a rape scene!  And the rape of a teen yet.  Back in the library bag it went.  Maybe I should be more specific — I really like Suzanne Brockmann.

Urban fantasy?  Love it!   As long as it’s something like Jim Butcher’s Dresden files.  Unless it starts with sex.  Puh-lease.  Give me story and characters.  Not porn.  (And, yes, this would be another book that went back into the library bag.)

No matter what broad categories we love — I’m all for mysteries, sf, fantasy, adventure, spies and historical fiction — there are things we just don’t want to see.  You have to work really hard to hook me with anything about World War II because I’ve already read so much.  I love fantasy but I’m not a huge fan of faeries.  Never have been.  Snark, dark humor and sass are all good.  I don’t care what brand of shoes your character wears or where they play golf/yacht/summer.  I just don’t care.  Horse books — love ’em.  Dog stories?  Not as much.

I’m just a reader but if I was an editor or agent, this would be the literary baggage that I brought to my list.  Thanks to Janet Reid for helping me get a handle on “Not Right for My List.”

–SueBE

April 27, 2016

Editors: You’re on the Same Team

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:16 am
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Footballer, Football, Sport, Game, Boy, Jersey, CleatsI have to admit — I just don’t understand how some writers view editors.  Some see them as mysterious powers on high.  Mmm.  No.  They’re just people although some of them amaze me with their talent.  (I can be irritatingly egalitarian, sorry.)

Then there are the writers who see them as The Enemy.  Every interaction with an editor is approached with caution and/or dread.  Again, no.  Still people and they have, astonishingly enough, the same goals that you have.

Whoa!   What?  The same goals?

That’s right.  They aren’t trying to mess with you.  They don’t want to destroy your voice, steal your ideas, or mess with your vision.

Seriously.  They don’t.

They just want to make your work sing.  That want this, because when it sings it will be that much more likely to find its way into the hands of eager readers.  So keep the following things in mind when you interact with editors.

They are people.  That means that they are quirky, flawed and fabulous just like you.

They have likes and dislikes just like other people.  This part can be tricky because when an editor tells me that she likes quirky — wooo-who!  I can do quirky.  Oh, wait. That’s what you call quirky?  Cause that seems pretty vanilla to me.  Don’t just go by whan an editor says that they want.  Tastes vary.  Read what they publish.  Learn what funny, quirky and character driven mean to them.

They love children’s literature.  This isn’t an easy field.  No one is going to do it because they think they are going to strike rich. They do it because they love it.

They want to publish the best work for their readers.  They know what they’re readers like.  This means that if they reject your piece, it simply isn’t right for their readers.  It doesn’t mean that its bad.  And if the editor says something upsetting (and some of them will), remember that they are just people.

They aren’t super-villains. They’re editors.  For more on how an editor is your greatest ally, check out Editor: Ally or Adversary today at the Muffin.

–SueBE

 

September 23, 2015

Markets: Agents and editors seeking manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:22 am
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Call for SubmissionsHave you visited Manuscript Wishlist yet?  One of my writing buddies pointed out this great market resource.  This site lists literally hundreds of agents and editors and what they want to receive.  Need an agent that represents only children’s books?  Or picture books?  Then this is the place to look.  You can search by:

  • Agent/editor name
  • Genre
  • Keyword/Tag

This isn’t one of those sites that claims to provide up-to-date listings but then sits static for weeks or months.  There may not be new listings daily but there are listings posted each week.

I have to admit that I’m bad about checking sites like this but I added Manuscript Wishlist to my blog reader.  Now feedly will pull in the latest listings for me to check at my leisure.

Hopefully you will find this site as useful as I have.

–SueBE

 

September 18, 2015

Researching agents and editors

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:19 am
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Mine the PW rights report for information on agents selling your type of work.

If you don’t read the weekly “Rights Report” by Publisher’s Weekly then you should.  This weekly feature tells which agents have sold manuscripts to which editors.  Don’t shake your head at me.  This is a big deal.  This information isn’t as dated as most market listings.  It isn’t a laundry list of what someone might consider.  This is what they actually bought.

The report for 8/31 includes information about over a dozen editors including: Calista Brill (First Second), Karen Lotz (Candlewick), and Megan Tingley (Little, Brown).  While these editors are from closed houses, this is still important information.  Want to know which agents successully make sales to these editors?  Go to the end of the paragraph and you’ll see who prepresented each piece.

That’s the information that is most important for me right now.  From this single rights report I’ve found the names of five agents to explore.  Three represent narrative nonfiction (whoot!):  Bernadette Baker (Victoria Sanders), Stephen Barr (Writers House), and Eddie Schneider (JABberwocky).  Two more represent picture book authors who don’t also illustrate: Tracy Adams (Adams Literary) and Scott Treimel (Scott Treimel NY).

Yes these are the big names but why not shoot for the stars if they represent your kind of writing?  If they are accepting work and your work is a good fit, it makes sense to give them a try.

–SueBE

 

 

September 2, 2015

What Editors and Agents Want

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:52 am
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Recently, I read a post by agent Scott Eagan on why some agents and editors are reluctant to tell writers what they want.  At conferences, they give vague answers about voice and character.

They do this because they don’t want 100 conference participants to go home and write a contemporary YA or steampunk simply because that’s what one editor mentioned.  They don’t want you crafting humorous middle grade or a nonfiction picture book about pill bugs because that’s what an agent mentioned.  They want you to write what moves you. Then they want you to find the agent or editor that is a good match.

How do you do this?  It isn’t as hard as you might think.

  • Publisher/Agency site.  First things first, check out the BIG SITE.  See what they publish/represent.  If this looks like a good match, check out the individual.  Agents often list favorite books and/or sales on the agency site.  If not . . .
  • Google.  Before you submit to an agent or editor, google their name.  If they have a blog or a site, check it out.  Among the things that you will find are conference brochures if this person was a speaker. Bios often include books published/sold. Check them out.
  • Edited by . . . If you are a SCBWI member, don’t forget to check out the publication “Edited By…”  It lists a variety of publishers as well as who within that publisher edited that particular book.

Once you’ve gathered this information give it a hard look.  Does any of this work intrigue you?  If not, give this agent or editor a pass.  If so, read some of these books.  Are these your types of books?  If so, you have someone who might like your work.

The best part about this?  You don’t have to limit your search to agents or editors you’ve heard speak at a conference.  Now, happy hunting!

–SueBE

August 6, 2010

When You Can’t Meet A Deadline

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:21 am
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It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a blue moon a deadline is simply impossible to meet.  The last time it happened was when I was writing a Children’s Writer article.  I had contacted a herd of editors and a flock of writers and still didn’t have enough interviews.

I had two choices:

  • Write a stinko article and turn it in.
  • Miss the deadline.

I went with the second option.

How did I do it without freaking out my editor?   First of all, I have a long track record with this editor.  I started working with her about the time my son was born.  So I e-mailed her.  “I really want to get two more interviews but here is the problem.”   The deadline wasn’t right up against the production schedule, so she could give me the time to get another interview and produce a solid piece of work.

Here are some tips for breaking a deadline:

  • Make sure you really and truly have to break it.  Can you salvage the situation by putting in some time you’d rather spend doing something else?
  • Contact your editor.  This isn’t the time to get dodgy or evasive.  Drop your editor an e-mail several days before the deadline.
  • Explain the situation.  This is what I have now vs what I want to have for you.  I can pull something together, but . . .
  • Suggest a new deadline that you can realistically meet but isn’t w-a-a-a-a-y off in the future.  Otherwise, your slot may go to someone else.

Your editor is not the enemy.  You are part of a team working to produce quality literature or media for hungry readers.  Help your editor make this happen by letting them know when there is a problem that you can fix with just a bit more time.

–SueBE

July 15, 2010

Some of my work online

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 9:00 pm
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Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you know that my article Creating Scenes: Fiction’s Building Block is up on WOW. This was one of those articles that was good when I handed it in but then the editor asked for some changes — most notably to add some actual quotes to support my points.  There is a reason this newsletter is called WOW, because that’s how much this improved the original article.  I just love a good editor!

–SueBE

January 27, 2010

What Editors Want

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 4:10 am
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Don’t you wish you look get a notion about what your favorite editor wants more than anything else?  Conferences, blogs and articles give you insight but this is one of those cases where more my very well be better. Take a look at the Editors listings on author Ellen Jackson’s web site.

Ellen has taken the time to compile information from a variety of web sources to let you know what various editors want.  At this point, she has two lists.  One for editors with names A to C and another for D through K.

The listings vary in length from one editor to another and include things like what types of books this editor does as well as specific titles.  Definitely worth a look when you are studying markets for a particular project.

Special thanks to Ellen for the work that went into this project.

–SueBE

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