Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TBA Monthly Wishlist - March 2015

It's time again for the Monthly Wishlist!  Here's the ONE project that the TBA agents would love to see in their submission inbox. If you have something that fits with the below, please check out our submission guidelines on the website and send it over. We can't wait to read! 

Jenny Bent: A twisty turny suspense novel (for adults) with a female protagonist like GIRL ON THE TRAIN. 

Beth Phelan: I’m always looking for (but particularly hungry for it right now) diverse YA and MG authors writing stories with diverse, lively characters in epic leading roles, in any genre.

Molly Ker Hawn: I'd really like to see an emotionally resonant YA novel whose narrative structure is as inventive as Todd Hazak-Lowy's in ME BEING ME IS EXACTLY AS INSANE AS YOU BEING YOU.

Heather Flaherty:  MG or YA about the social issues girls face in school - especially the complicated relationship one has with their "best friend" and what happens when one doesn't want to be friends anymore. Or when a girl is kicked out of a friend-group. Girl social dynamics please!  

Gemma Cooper: Animals and anthropomorphic characters—I love stories with either animals as the main character, or with a close bond with a child. Examples: CHARLOTTE’S WEB, A DOG CALLED HOMELESS, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. Or what about historical fiction seen through the eyes of an animal—major events in history with a dog or cat or pig or...etc. narrator?

Victoria Lowes: A contemporary romance with a hint of magical realism like The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Susan Hawk: A MG mystery or detective novel, especially with a historical element. Think FROM THE MIXED UP FILES or CHASING VERMEER.  Fast-paced, with complex characters.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

From the archives: Some Query Tips from Victoria

Continuing our month discussing queries, we have a great post from the archives from TBA agent Victoria Lowes:

As I make my daily trek into the slush pile, I’m often quite surprised at just how many authors make the same easily-corrected mistakes. So here are a few tips for those of you currently looking for representation to go over before you hit the send button.

1. Always follow the submission guidelines.
I’m always a little shocked at how many authors ignore our submission guidelines — like not including sample pages, or attaching them rather than embedding them. (You can find our submission guidelines here.) Each agent has her own preferences and you should make the necessary tweaks to your query to meet their guidelines. While it’s policy here at the Bent Agency to respond by asking the author to correct their mistake, for some agents, it means an automatic form rejection.

2. Make sure you get the agent’s name right and skip the mass email.
While you should certainly query multiple agents simultaneously, take a second to be sure that you’ve gotten the agent’s name correct. We won’t be insulted or take it personally, but you don’t want to come off as careless. Also, skip the 'To whom it may concern' and opt for addressing each agent personally.

3. Proofread.
One or two spelling/grammar mistakes won’t prove fatal for your query (we’ve all done it), but more than a few will be sure to raise a red flag with an agent.

4. Do your research.
Be sure to research the agent and what she’s currently looking for to make sure your project fits the bill.

5.  Be specific.
If you’ve been published before, we definitely want to hear about it. However, if you say that you have publishing credentials, be sure to include the details!

6. Don’t over self-promote.
It’s great to be enthusiastic and passionate about your work, but try to avoid going overboard tooting your own horn. If your project is that good—and it may very well be—we’ll be able to tell. You should use that space to give the agent a better sense of what your project’s about.

7. Keep it short and sweet.
You should be able to tell the agent what your book’s about, the hook and why you’re the author to write it in less than a page. And while you should always include a bio, try to keep it brief and only include relevant facts, like publishing credentials or what makes you the ideal person to write your novel.

8. Finish your book before querying.
While you may be anxious to find representation, avoid querying before you’ve finished your novel. Agents want to see full manuscripts that have gone through one or two rounds of edits first.

9.  Start your query off right.
It’s best to start your query off with your hook or synopsis, rather than your bio.

10.  Be creative.
Try to avoid starting your query with rhetorical questions like “What would you do if…” and “Have you ever wondered what it would be like if…” Be creative with your hook! You want your query to grab the agent’s attention right away.

Click here for the great Ask Agent that Beth and Victoria recently did on queries

Monday, March 23, 2015

[CLOSED] Ask Us Anything! Beth and Victoria will answer your query questions HERE from 12-3PM EST!

Today is the day! From 12-3PM EST, Victoria Lowes and Beth Phelan will answer your pressing questions about queries, the art of querying, the agonizing rejections, the energizing requests and offers, and anything else related to queries that you can think of! We promise transparency and minimal bathroom breaks. 

Please remember that Beth and Victoria are human beings and this is a subjective business – nothing they say is meant to be taken as a hard and fast rule of querying, but they offer their honest answers and hope that gives you some perspective. 

Please also remember to keep your questions broad and not too specific to your unique situation as we want all the questions and answers to help other authors too!

They’ll answer as many questions as they can between 12PM and 3PM EST when duty calls and they have to return to their magnificent clients. 

Post your questions in the comments section BELOW this blog post. Comments will be moderated so please wait a few minutes before trying to repost.

Thanks for joining us!

[EDIT 3:02PM EST] We are now closed to questions! Thank you all so much for bringing so many wonderful questions! 

Friday, March 20, 2015

AMA Coming Your Way!

Head’s up everyone!  Beth Phelan and Victoria Lowes will be doing an Ask Me Anything session this coming Monday, from noon to 3:00 pm, EST time.  As we’re talking about queries this month, please send in questions on that topic. 

For more on Beth and Victoria, please look here.  They’re answering questions about queries for any genre or readership (even if it’s not a genre they rep).

See you Monday and bring on the questions!

EDIT: If you are reading this right now because you think this is where the questions will be posted/answered, you are in the wrong place! 

To find the live AMA post, please go this way! Please do not post questions here. Thank you!

Deal announcement--Three-book deal for debut Paul Gamble's comic MG series

Like every agent, I dream of getting that perfect submission in my query inbox. That one where the author comps their book to my favourite book, and I really am the perfect agent for their project. Paul Gamble was one of those authors. His query letter mentioned Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and he found my name by googling 'literary agent' and 'Robert Rankin' — one of my favourite authors of comic fantasy and someone I mention a lot in interviews. I started reading Paul's book immediately, and laughed until I cried. It really was the perfect book for me!
And so, as announced in Publishers Weekly, I'm thrilled to confirm a three-book deal for Paul's debut novel, THE MINISTRY OF S.U.I.T.S.

This series is probably best described as conspiracy theories for middle-grade readers, twisting everyday occurrences into something far more unusual. Our main characters, twelve-year-old Jack and Trudy, join the Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things, and discover the explanations for a variety of mysteries such as the business model of the Tooth Fairy, what happened to the dinosaurs and why unicorns are evil! I am so excited for it to publish so you can all start looking at the world in the same curious way Paul does.

Monday, March 16, 2015

deal announcement: LOTS of subsidiary rights deals!

So many amazing subsidiary deals to report!  

Congratulations to the following TBA clients:

Becky Albertalli's SIMON VS.  THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA sold in Spain to Urano.

LH Cosway's SIX OF HEARTS sold in Germany to Lyx.

Alwyn Hamilton's REBEL OF THE SANDS sold in Germany to CBT/Random House in a three-book deal, in France to Pocket Jeunesse in a three-book deal, in Italy to Giunti in a three-book deal, in Turkey to Dogan Egmont in a three-book deal, in Spain to Planeta in a three-book deal, in Brazil to Companhia Das Letras in a three-book deal, in Israel to Modan in a two-book deal and in the Netherlands to Luitingh-Sijthoff in a three-book deal.

Harriet Reuter Hapgood's SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER sold in Germany to Fischer in a two-book deal, in Brazil to Intreseca in a two-book deal, in France to Pocket Jeunesse, in Spain to Urano in a two-book deal, in Italy to Rizzoli Ragazzi in a two-book deal, and in Russia to AST.

Sandra Hill's VAMPIRE IN PARADISE sold in the Netherlands to Audax.

AG Howard's ENSNARED sold in Germany to CBT/Random House.

Jan Moran's SCENT OF TRIUMPH sold in Lithuania to Sofoklis.

Lynsay Sands' THE IMMORTAL WHO LOVED ME sold in the Netherlands to Audax.

Lynsay Sands' HIGHLANDER TAKES A BRIDE sold in Turkey to Yabinici Yayinlari.

Adam Silvera's MORE HAPPY THAN NOT sold in Turkey to Pegasus and in Spain to Urano.

Lori Nelson Spielman's SWEET FORGIVENESS sold in the Netherlands to Meulenhoff, in Bulgaria to Knigopis, and in the Czech Republic to Euromedia.

Robin Stevens' MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE, ARSENIC FOR TEA and FIRST CLASS MURDER sold in Brazil to Editora Fundamento.

Hope Tarr's TEMPTING sold in Spain to Libros de Seda.

Wow! It's been a busy few months and we are thrilled for everyone.


Deal announcement: Two more books in the MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE mystery series

As announced in this morning's Bookseller, I'm thrilled to confirm two more books for Robin Stevens in her MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE mystery series. Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells have been embraced by readers of all ages, and this is apparent with ARSENIC FOR TEA hitting the Bookseller's children's bestseller chart and MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE being nominated for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize.

FIRST CLASS MURDER (book 3) publishes on 30th July and can be pre-ordered here. Robin has given a hint that currently untitled book 4 will return the girls to Deepdean school. I can't wait to read it!

Please congratulate Robin on Twitter.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

From the Archives: Making a good impression with your query letter--a post by Gemma

After our month talking about conferences on the blog, we are now going to spend some time on query letters and submissions. Next week agents Beth Phelan and Victoria Lowes will run a query letter Ask Us Anything (stay tuned for more info), and today I'm reposting a popular old blog post about how to make a good impression with your query letter.

Molly and I analysed a lot of queries on our regular Ask Agent column last year (here, here, here, here and here) so for today’s blog post, I thought I’d talk about things outside of the meat of the actual pitch.

You all know to avoid the basic errors like cc’ing multiple agents, not personalising to the agent’s name, comparing your book to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, etc. (check out this post for a more detailed list of these). 

But there are other things that you can avoid to ensure you make the best impression with your submission letter: 
  • Don’t apologise for taking up an agent’s time. If they are open to submissions then they are happy to hear from you. Reading submissions is an important part of our job. 
  • Don’t put down your own work or your writing skill. If you are negative, it’s going to rub off on the agent and they will look at your work already expecting it to be bad. 
  • Don’t be too over-familiar – commenting on photos agents post on social media may seem like a compliment, but it can come across creepy.
  • Not attaching massive files seems obvious. But don’t add in smiley faces and other small images, either. These often look like they are embedded in the email when you send, but come though as an attachment, so your email will be deleted or get stuck in spam. (And also, don’t use smiley faces – this is a business email).
  • In an email, there is no need to put the agency address at the top. It’s an email, not a letter. You can put your own address under your name. We shouldn’t have to scroll through a page of addresses to get to the actual query. Speed is everything, so help us get to the best bit quickly!
  • Make sure you title your email – not just ‘A book,’ ‘Query’ etc. That isn’t very descriptive. If I see a query come in while I’m at my desk and it has a really snappy title, I’ll be more likely to take a look at the pages sooner. ‘My book’ says nothing to me, but  ‘YA romance/REALLY AWESOME TITLE/Author Name’ will get me excited without even reading a word.
  • Don’t ignore submission details – we all get a lot of queries with the words, ‘I know your submission requirements are pasting the first 10 pages, but instead I have...DONE SOMETHING ELSE.’  We have to have a system, and it will immediately get an agent’s back up if you can’t follow our first simple rule. 
  • Don’t give extensive details of your availability to talk on the phone, with all your holiday dates and hospital plans (yes, that has happened). Just give your contact details and we’ll get in touch. It’s very rare we wouldn’t email you first to arrange a call as we want you to be prepared with questions.

I always say that people over think query letters. Keep it simple is my best advice.

Dear [Agent’s Name],

I am seeking representation for my [age - MG/YA etc.] [genre] manuscript [title] complete at [word count rounded to nearest 1000 words].

[Insert Pitch - 1 or 2 paragraphs explaining your plot. Introduce your main character. What does she want? What’s preventing her from achieving those goals? And what are the stakes if she doesn’t achieve them?]

According to your submission guidelines I have [consult the specific guidelines for the agency, posted on its website. For the Bent Agency, you’d say, ‘pasted the first ten pages of the manuscript below.’]

I am a member of [any writing organisations] and have won [any relevant writing prizes]. [Then add anything relevant to your role as the best person to write this book.] Thank you for your time.

All best,

[your name]

This was originally posted April 2014