Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Middle Grade Graphic Novel Deal for Christopher Baldwin

I'm delighted to announce a deal for Christopher Baldwin!  Little Dee is a wonderful graphic novel for middle grade readers about a girl who befriends a motley group of some of the quirkiest animals you'll ever meet on the page.  I love the humor in this book, which ranges from gentle to laugh out loud, and I'm so glad that we're working with Richard Johnson at Dial Books for Younger Readers! 

Visit Christopher at his website here:  http://baldwinpage.com

Congratulations Christopher!

Middle grade 

MAD Magazine artist Christopher John Baldwin's graphic novel LITTLE DEE, based on his online comic of the same name, about a girl who joins a gentle bear, crotchety vulture and daffy dog, to return a lost penguin to its home, to Richard Johnson at Dial, for publication in Spring 2015, by Susan Hawk at The Bent Agency (World).

Romance Internship Available!

TBA is looking for an intern who loves to read Romance--all genres, from paranormal to contemporary to historical to romantic suspense-and also New Adult. 

The internship is unpaid, remote, and requires about 20 hours of week a month.   No prior publishing experience required, we are just looking for obsessive readers who really keep up with what's going on in the industry. 

Please send an email to intern@thebentagency.com and tell us why you want the internship.  Please include two very important things:  a list of the last ten books you read and a list of your ten favorite books.  If you have a resume, you can include it, but it's not necessary. 

Thanks for applying! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Editing ‘As’ and ‘ing’ Phrases--a post by Gemma

As the hungry literary agent sat at her desk and thought about what to blog about this week, she remembered something she’d been noticing in submissions and client manuscripts recently.

Dashing out of the room and towards her bookcase, she pulled a book down from the dusty shelf. As she did, a big black spider fell on her face. Screaming and dropping the book, she jumped from the ladder and raced out of the door. The spider didn’t follow and as the door slammed, he climbed back into his book home, his little heart pounding at the horror of the agent’s bad hair.

Shaking a little, the agent sat back at her desk and pulled herself together. She was on a deadline for this blog post and had to get it written. Typing fast, she dumped all her thoughts onto the page, her fingers flying over the keyboard.

As the clock ticked over the midnight, she typed the end, hoping the post would be helpful to those who read it. Then she finally had dinner.

I’m hoping you can see from the above passage in italics the overuse of ‘as’ and ‘ing’ phrases. One of my favourite writing books, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and Dave King, talks about overuse like this making the prose sound amateur. They discuss the topic in the section of the book about sophistication – adding a bit more polish and professionalism to your writing. You should notice that the additions of ‘as’ and ‘ing’ phrases above affect the flow of the writing and weaken the sentences. (I won’t lie, it’s not the best piece of writing anyway, but give me a break on that!)

There is nothing grammatically incorrect about using ‘as’ and ‘ing’, but they do take away some of the action. ‘She dashed over to her bookshelf’ is stronger and more in the moment than ‘Dashing over to her bookshelf.’

Of course, you will need to and should use ‘as’ and ‘ing’ phrases in your writing – but as with ‘rules’ about clich├ęs, similes, exclamation points etc., use them with care. If taking out a ‘ing’ phrase means you add ten words and ruin the sentence, then don’t remove it! Just be aware of them in your prose, and if you see more than one or two per page, look for ways to strengthen some of those lines.

There are many ‘rules’ that tell you how and what to write. When I was at school, my teacher was obsessed with us not using ‘And’ and ‘But’ at the start of sentences. But these are used in lots of my favourite books and can really add to the voice and tone if used well. So to clarify, I don’t like the definitiveness of the word ‘rule’ in writing and I don’t like people who are too prescriptive about them. But it is still good to be aware of the rules before you attempt to break them!

If this was helpful, check out my previous editorial tips blog post here.

Also, I was interviewed this week by Middle Grade Ninja about my favourite books and wishlist – click here for that.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Fire Your Agent-a post by Jenny

No one likes to talk about it, but the truth is that sometimes it's just necessary to fire your agent. You could have the most successful agent in the world, but it just might not be a fit; you could have an agent that you feel was right at the beginning of your career but maybe isn't right now that you are in a different place. You might have had a great relationship with your agent at first, but things have petered out somehow and you don't really know why. Most of the time it's honestly no one's fault--it's just time.

No one is pretending, however, that firing your agent is easy. At best it's awkward and at worst it's contentious and unpleasant. I have a few tips and suggestions however which might make things a bit easier for all involved. After all, the whens and hows of firing your agent can have a significant impact on your career. Don't let it be an impulsive act, but a thoughtful and considered one.

1. Make sure you're doing it for the right reason. If you've had three agents over four books, it might be some time for a little self-reflection about expectations. It may also be just because you've had some really bad luck, but at the least it should trigger some thought about the way you choose a new agent. Make sure you know what you want and then perhaps do a little research with friends/colleagues on whether or not that seems reasonable and doable. Perhaps then make a list of your priorities and be able to discuss them with a prospective new agent. I can tell you many agents will be wary once you are on your third or fourth or fifth (hey, it happens) agent, so you really want to make sure that you are coming from a very reasonable place on this one.

2. Consider picking up the phone and trying to work things out. A few times in my career after I've had discussions with an author looking for a new agent, I've later received an embarrassed call or e-mail from the author saying that when they fired their agent, he/she convinced them to give it another shot. Point being, that why not talk to your agent about problems before giving them the old heave ho. Give them a chance. It may be that they really don't realize there is a problem but would be more than willing to try to fix things.

3. Consider the timing. This is really, really important. Here are times when you don't want to fire your agent, because it will make it much harder to find a new one:
a. you have just signed a six book contract. This means your new agent is going to inherit a whole bunch of work and not be able to get paid for a whole lot of time. Fire your agent before it's time for a new deal, not after.
b. your book has just pubbed. Most likely, your publisher will want to see how the book is doing before buying a new one. In the absence of any sales information, the best you are going to do is get an advance at the same level. Try to hold out for at least a few months to get some numbers and make the new agent's job a little easier and to help them be more effective for you.
c. your career is on a major downswing. Sometimes this one is unavoidable but here's the thing: if you have serious doubts about your agent, but your career is going fairly smoothly, you should still not hold off on terminating the relationship. If you're correct in your concerns about your agent then you should fire them before they have a detrimental effect on your career. You'll have a far easier time finding a new agent if things are going well for you.

4. Did you sign an agency agreement? Consult a publishing attorney to clarify what your rights are ahead of time. Some agency agreements can tie up your rights for a long time and that will play a role in whether or not you fire your agent and when you fire your agent.

5. How are you going to do it? I don't think you should pressure yourself to do it over the phone. The situation is awkard enough to have to stammer through it. Send a polite, kind e-mail or a note. Some agents might disagree on this one but I don't think a call is necessary.

6. No matter how pissed off you are, don't finger point. This is what you say: Dear Agent, I am so grateful for all you have done for me over the years. You have played an instrumental role in my career and I thank you. But I think the time has come for me to seek new representation and so I regretfully must terminate our agent-client relationship. I wish you nothing but the best and I look forward to working with you on our continued business.

In other words, pleasant and vague. You don't need to outline in detail all the reasons you fired them. Here's why. Your agent is going to continue to represent you for a very long time (read for the term of copyright or until one of you dies) for the titles that they sold.  If you're cordial and pleasant that increases the odds that they will continue to do a good job for you. Besides that, chances are they are still good friends with your editor and future editors who may buy you, or may even be friends with your new agent. It's too small an industry to burn bridges unnecessarily.

I know plenty of authors who have left their agents on friendly terms. That's always the goal and it won't happen if you decide to really tell them off before you go.

7. As a follow up to this one, if you badmouth your old agent enough, I can promise you it will get back to them. I'm constantly struggling with keeping my mouth shut, so I feel your pain on this one, but try to keep your complaints to your very closest friends. Again, it's a very small world.

 8. As a corollary to 2., if you possibly can, fire your agent *before* you start your search for a new one.  In agent-land, it's considered the courteous way of doing things.  

 Here are a few links I found on the topic which seemed reasonable to me. In the event of disagreement on this stuff, go with your gut. There is no one path, as I like to say.


(RIP Rock star blogger Miss Snark. How I miss thee.)


Good luck and godspeed! 


Middle-Grade Debut Deal for Lisa Tyre

I'm thrilled to announce a deal for debut author Lisa Tyre!  Lisa has written a contemporary middle grade novel that has everything going for it -- some of the best characters I've come across in a long time, small Southern town setting so real you'd swear you'd been there yourself, and some of the funniest lines I've ever read.  I love this book, and am so happy that we found it a home with Nancy Paulsen at her Penguin imprint!

You can learn more about Lisa and her book projects at her website, http://lisalewistyre.com/, or say hi on twitter: @LisaLewisTyre.


Middle grade 

Lisa Tyre's middle grade debut THE JUNKMAN'S DAUGHTER, in which a twelve-year old, determined to save her family's house from the meddling county, uncovers an ancestor's diary that holds clues to the location of a cache of Civil War era gold, a thief who might be her own great-great-great grandfather, and the hidden history of the Underground Railroad in her town, to Nancy Paulsen at Nancy Paulsen Books, for publication in summer 2015, by Susan Hawk at The Bent Agency (World English).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Deal announcement: Two book deal for debut author Jan Moran!

I was thrilled this week to close a two book deal for debut author Jan Moran.  Jan is a glamorous, gorgeous, Harvard MBA and former perfume executive who has written a wonderful historical saga about a strong heroine who triumphs against all odds during WWII.   Executive editor Jennifer Weis at St. Martin's will publish A PROMISE OF ROSES and another historical novel to be determined. 

Please join me in congratulating Jan on twitter at @janmoran and definitely check out her terrific website.

May 15, 2013


Jan Moran's A PROMISE OF ROSES, about a young French perfumer whose family is torn apart during World War II, who spies for the French resistance, and who begins life anew in America, struggling to rebuild the family perfumery, reunite her family, and find the love of her life, to Jennifer Weis at St. Martin's, in a two-book deal, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency

Deal announcement: Two Book deal for Rita Herron!

I'm so thrilled to announce that Rita Herron will be writing two more books in her bestselling (and bone chilling) Slaughter Creek series!  The books are titled WORTH DYING FOR and DYING FOR LOVE, and they were bought again by Montlake/Amazon Publishing, who published the first in the series. 

Please check out Rita's terrific website and join me in congratulating her on twitter: @ritaherron

May 15, 2013


Rita Herron's WORTH DYING FOR and DYING FOR LOVE, the next two books in the Slaughter Creek series, to Maria Gomez at Montlake Romance, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (World).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Picture Books and the Page Turn from Susan

I recently did an interview over at author Tara Lazar’s super blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them): http://taralazar.com/2013/04/19/susan-hawk/.  Tara is the author of The Monstore, in stores next month from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, and two more picture books, coming in 2014 and 2015.  Tara rocks and if you’re interested in picture books I recommend that you get on over to her blog with speed. 

As you might guess, we talked about picture books and what makes them work.  I listed some of my favorites – and I have a new one to add to the list, more on that in a minute – and what makes them special.  Each of them, different as they are, have three things in common: character, humor, and each is a very satisfying book.  These things are key for me in picture books.

Then, last weekend, I went to a really wonderful writer’s conference, The Niagara Writers Retreat.  I really enjoy writer’s conferences, and Niagara had an extra serving of awesome.  I met a ton of great people there, among them Little, Brown editor Susan Rich, who presented The Dark by Lemony Snicket and illustrations by Jon Klassen.  I’ve been hearing a bit about this book and was curious, so I scooped it up when Susan was done.  Instant, deep love.  I had to hug that book before I gave it back.

Then I thought about what I’d said to Tara about picture books, and if The Dark has those three qualities.  Character, check.  Humor, check.  Satisfying, check check!  It really has that last quality – to the degree that I didn’t want to let it out of my hands.  So, I wanted to have a think about what makes it satisfying.

Much of it has to do with the rhythm of the book.  It has spare text, so you turn pages fairly quickly as you’re reading.  This builds some tension, and establishes the rhythm.  And then, you come to a page that, comparatively, is full of text.  Effectively you stop – not stop reading, but stop turning pages.  And then you listen to the voice of the dark, which we’ve been building up to all along.  It’s very dramatic and pleasing to hear this: it’s what we’ve been waiting for and guessing about.  The key to making it work is the interplay between the text and the page turn.  It’s that page turn that keeps you moving, and stops you at just the right spot – that makes the rhythm – and that gave me the feeling of being satisfied.  There’s a lot more to love about this book, but this is a key ingredient in making it work so very well.

What does this mean if you’re writing picture books?  Make a dummy!  This can be very simple – take eight 8.5x11 pages and fold them in half across the middle.  If you staple them down the middle, you’ll have a small mock-up of a picture book, with 15 spreads, about how many spreads are in a published picture book.  Write your text into the pages.  You can make small sketches if you like, but the important thing is to think about the page break; where the text will pause as you turn to the next spread and how that affects your story, how that pause becomes part of your story. Does it build tension?  Does it allow your words flow, and build anticipation for what’s next? 

Good luck with your picture book texts.  As you think about character and humor, think about the page turn and rhythm that you’re creating too!

Internship application period has closed

We are now closed to applications for the internships.   We'll reopen again in the future--watch this space!  Many thanks to all who applied.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Deal announcement: Two book deal for Tera Lynn Childs

I'm so excited to report that Tera Lynn Childs is returning to the world she created with her Oh.My.Gods series and publishing GODDESS IN TIME with HarperTeen Impulse.  I know her fans will be as thrilled as I am.  She'll also be doing another novella in the Forgive My Fins series!  Please join me in congratulating Tera on twitter at @Teralynnchilds and check out her fabulous website here

May 8, 2013

 Digital: Young Adult 
Tera Lynn Childs's GODDESS IN TIME, a companion story to her Oh. My. Gods. series in which the teen descendant of a Greek god goes on a quest to travel back in time and undo the biggest mistake of her life, and an untitled novella set in the underwater world of her Forgive My Fins mermaid series, to Sarah Shumway at Harper Teen Impulse, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (world).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Deal Announcement: Six Book Deal for New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde

I'm so pleased to announce a new deal for New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde.   She's doing six more books with Avon Books, again with her wonderful editor Lucia Macro. I've worked with Lori for a long time and I couldn't be more thrilled about her success--couldn't happen to a nicer or more talented author!   Please check out Lori's terrific blog here or say congratulations to her on twitter at @loriwilde. 

May 7, 2013


NYT bestselling author Lori Wilde's untitled contemporary series, to Lucia Macro at Avon, in a major deal, in a six-book deal, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (World English).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Deal Announcement - Four-Book Deal for Debut Author Ruth Fitzgerald!

I am thrilled to announce a four-book deal for debut author Ruth Fitzgerald's EMILY SPARKES AND THE FRIENDSHIP FIASCO, a voice-driven, hilariously funny story about eleven-year-old Emily and her adventures (and disasters) trying to find a replacement best friend. 

I first met Ruth while running a workshop on 'Voice and Engaging Writing' for the SCBWI. I asked everyone to read the first two pages of their works-in-progress and when Ruth started to read from Emily Sparkes, I wondered if she should have been teaching the class instead of me! I signed her soon afterwards as the rest of the book was just as fantastic, and I'm so pleased Kate and the lovely folks at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers UK thought the same. We couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic home for Ruth and Emily.

Congratulations, Ruth!

May 6, 2013

International rights:
UK Children's 

Ruth Fitzgerald's debut EMILY SPARKES AND THE FRIENDSHIP FIASCO, in which an eleven-year-old has to cope with her best friend moving away and her mum having a new baby, all while competing with her 'sworn enemy' to win the friendship of the glamorous new girl, to Kate Agar at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers UK, for publication in 2015, in a four-book deal, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency (world).

For more info on Ruth, check out our website. For the deal announcement on the Little, Brown website, click here. And if you are on twitter, go congratulate her @writingruth

Friday, May 3, 2013

Is the stress getting to you? A post by Nicole

Yes, we love our work. And yes, we are lucky to be doing something we are so passionate about. But there is no avoiding the fact that this whole business of writing and getting books published can be a very stressful endeavor. 

As a writer, you carefully hone your craft, you pour your heart and soul into your work, you start down the path of seeking representation and getting your book out there…and then inevitably…you wait. You wait for trusted readers to get back to you with comments, you wait for agents to respond to your queries, you wait for editors to respond to your submissions with (hopefully!) an offer, you wait for your book to be published, you wait for reviews and sales figures…and all this waiting can really get to you.

In my years working in the publishing business, I have seen writers, agents, and editors alike who simply cannot take the pressure. Sometimes they give up and do something else with their lives, and sometimes the anxiety gets to them and they end up doing something hasty that they live to regret. Please don’t let this happen to you!

Here are some tips and ideas for these anxious times:

Seek out support
If you are not a member of a writer’s group, find one. Writing is such a solitary business. Sometimes the best way to deal with anxiety and fear of rejection is to seek out other people who know first-hand what you’re going through. Writer buddies can listen empathically and help to calm you down before you unintentionally lose your cool. You can get advice from people who have gone before you, and even better, you can get valuable feedback on your work along the way.

Keep your goals realistic
It’s hard to survive in this business without ambition. Ambition will help you recover from rejection along the way and allow you to bravely put yourself out there again and again. However, there are times when it’s appropriate to rein it in a bit. If you expect nothing less from yourself than an instant New York Times bestseller or critical recognition that you have just written the next great American novel, you may find yourself feeling frustrated.  Keeping your goals realistic will take some of the pressure off the process and allow you to enjoy the small victories along the way.

Don’t hit send on that email!
We’ve all seen the disaster that can result when a person caves to anxiety and sends off an emotional email without thinking it through. I’ve seen many talented writers fall into this trap, destroying potentially valuable relationships with people who really are there to help. Writers seem to be particularly vulnerable to this—maybe it’s because for so many of us the written word has become an important—sometimes our only—emotional outlet. I’m not saying those feelings you have aren’t completely valid or that you don’t have every right to be upset about whatever the issue may be… But it’s better practice to keep electronic communication with people in this business straightforward, brief, polite, and professional. If there’s a delicate situation that needs to be handled, please don’t hit send without speaking with your agent or a trusted friend about it and considering possible repercussions. This brings me to another important point…

Mind your manners
Publishing is a small business, and relationships are important. Don’t forget to be kind, polite, and thoughtful to everyone you interact with along the way. That lowly editorial assistant may not seem to have much clout, but in fact, she may be the one quietly advocating for your book behind the scenes. Also, since publishing tends to use an apprenticeship model, consider this: she may turn out to be one of those big shot people making the decisions one day. Take the time to learn her name, and don’t forget to thank her for the little things she does on your behalf, even if it’s just taking a message or responding to your email.  

Throw yourself into the next project
When you’re stuck waiting, don’t just sit there biting your nails. Instead, why not indulge in an all-consuming hobby that takes you to new worlds and eats up all your anxious thought processes? In other words, write another book! It will be a good distraction, and chances are as soon as you throw yourself into a new project with new characters, your old project will sell. 

Remember it’s not just you
As a writer, you are not the only one sitting on pins and needles, hoping that people will fall in love with your work. Although we may try very hard to project calm and confidence, the truth is nearly every agent and editor I know shares these feelings of anxious uncertainty from time to time. When we agents fall in love with a manuscript and put ourselves out there with an offer of representation…we want you to like us. We may spend the day anxiously checking our email and voice messages, hoping you’ll decide to let us represent you. When we send out your manuscript, we hope editors will fall in love with your work too—and we read into every little communication with them. When editors do fall in love with your work, those editors may anxiously wonder if their offer is attractive enough to make you choose them over some other publishing house. They want you to like them too. Then, of course, we all wait around together, biting our nails, hoping the readers out there will love your work as much as we do and validate all our efforts.

Hang in there! You’re not alone.