Thursday, September 17, 2015

Anatomy of a Book Deal-a post by Jenny

I thought it might be interesting for people to see how the process of selling a book works, from the time the agent and author first meet to the day that the deal is closed.    I recently sold a wonderful first novel called STARTER HOUSE by Sonja Condit to Morrow in the US and simultaneously to Corvus/Atlantic Books in the UK.  It's a creepy gothic tale about a pregnant woman who moves into her dream home, only to discover she must solve the mystery of a decades old murder to rid herself of a ghostly little boy and save her unborn child.   Here, from start to finish, is how it all went down.

August 30, 2011: I get an email from an old friend and terrific writer Leslie Pietrzyk, inviting me to come speak at the MFA program where she teaches.  This is a great low residency program at Converse College--perfect for authors who can't be in school full time. (Link here)  I enthusiastically accept.

June 5th, 2012:  I have a great time at the program meeting with individual students who pitch me their work.  One of them is Sonja Condit, a writer and musician, who tells me about her novel STARTER HOUSE, a literary ghost story.  I love ghost stories and am immediately intrigued.

June 11th, 2012:  Sonja sends me the novel via email.  I'm excited and resolve to read it quickly.   Summer is a quiet time for me so the timing is perfect for me to sit down and devour it.

June 17th, 2012:  I finish the novel and send Sonja the following email:  Hi Sonja,
Can we talk on the phone this week? I want to offer you representation!  I'm very excited and hope we'll be able to work together. Let me know when you are free...maybe tomorrow afternoon?

June 18th, 2012.  I hear nothing.  I am biting my nails.

June 19th, 2012.  A response from Sonja, she is excited too and wants to talk!  We set up a time to talk the following day.

June 20th, 2012.  I am thrilled that Sonja accepts my offer of representation.   I send her my agency agreement which she signs and returns.   I tell her I will get to work on edits for her.

July 22nd, 2012.  I send Sonja a marked up manuscript and and a long editorial letter via email.  We are focusing on pacing and character development.

August 10th, 2012.  Sonja sends the revised manuscript.  Much progress has been made but this process takes time and there are still revisions to be done.

August 29th, 2012.  I sent Sonja another revision letter, still focusing on the characterization and the pacing.  I also send a marked up manuscript.

October 9th, 2012.  Sonja sends a revised manuscript.  Much, much improvement.  It's a joy to read this novel again and I mentally pat myself on the back for signing it up!  Characterization is now solid.   There is *still* some work to be done however, mostly in the form of cuts to work on the pacing. 

November 7th, 2012.  I send the last round of revisions to Sonja, and suggest cuts of about 20,000 words.

November 21, 2012.  Sonja sends the revised manuscript.  We do some last minutes tweaks back and forth, preparing for a submission right after the Thanksgiving break.

November 29, 2012.  I send out the manuscript to a group of US editors and also to a great film agent, Dana Borowitz at UTA, to see if she'd like to represent it for film.

December 5th, 2012.  I hear from Dana Borowitz that she loves it and wants to represent!  Hooray, a great sign.  She will wait until the New Year to start submitting as Hollywood closes down this close to the holidays.

December 6th, 2012.  I'm hearing from a lot of the US editors who love the novel.  I send it to Hellie Odgen, an agent in the UK, to see if she'd like to rep it there.

December 7th, 2012:  Hellie wants to represent it!  Hooray.  She prepares her submission list of UK editors.

December 7th, 2012: We get a first offer from a US editor and decide to go to auction next week.

December 13th, 2012:  Closing date!  And the lucky winner is Morrow--the fabulous Carrie Feron and Tessa Woodward love the book and make the winning bid.  Sonja and I are thrilled.

December 20th, 2012:  I hear from the UK, where Hellie has closed a deal with Corvus/Atlantic Books.  More celebrating!

After this, everything settles down a bit.   Sonja and Carrie talk edits on the phone and Sonja gets to work.  We wait for contracts, which can take a month to arrive, especially this close to the holidays.   Morrow now has a rough pub date of Fall 2013, but this can change as publishing schedules sometimes fluctuate.

What should writers take from this?  I think the biggest thing is that editing takes time!  Even after all the rounds of edits that Sonja and I went through, there were more from Carrie, even.  It's a process

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

TBA needs interns! [POSITION FILLED]

We are once again looking for interns! There are reading positions open in TWO separate categories. Please read the descriptions below. 

And please note: you don't need to have any kind of publishing experience or even publishing aspirations. We're just looking for people who love books and love to read. You do not need to live in New York; our internships are remote. We ask for a commitment of at least a ten hours a week. Please note that our internships are unpaid.



We're looking for people who enjoy books by authors such as:

- Erin Morgenstern
- Tana French
- Eleanor Brown
- Jacqueline Sheehan
- Jodi Picoult
- Gillian Flynn
- Lori Roy
- Laurie Notaro
- Celia Rivenbark
- Elin Hilderbrand
- Kristin Hannah
- Jeannette Walls
- Kate Atkinson

This is an eclectic list, so obviously you don't need to like everyone on it. But basically, you should like at least two of the following genres: humor, memoir, upmarket women's fiction and literary suspense. (Please do not apply if you are primarily a young adult/middle-grade reader.)

To apply, please email and put "Generalist Intern" in the subject line. Tell us:

  • Why you want the internship
  • The last ten books you've read
  • Your ten favorite books

Attach a résumé if you have one, although it's not essential.


YA/MG INTERN (closed)

We are also looking for Young Adult/Middle Grade fiction interns. Again, you do not need to have any kind of publishing experience, but you should love to read and be familiar with all sorts of fiction in these categories, particularly with Young Adult and MG books on the New York Times bestseller list. 

Interested? Send an email to and put "YA/MG Intern" in the subject line. Tell us why you want the internship and something about yourself, or include a résumé if you have one (although it's not necessary). 

Please include two lists: the last ten YA/MG books you've read and your top ten favorite YA/MG books of all time.


If you've applied in the past, you're welcome to apply again. We usually get a great many applicants and the application period will close fairly quickly; watch this space for details.

We look forward to hearing from you!

A Perfectionist Revises, Part One

We've been highlighting revision this month, and TBA client Alexandra Stewart was inspired by this post and this post, to think about her own process.  She shared her thoughts with us, along with this wonderful piece (which you can also see at her blog here).

I should start by saying I’m a neat freak, so when I receive an editorial letter from my super smart agent, my immediate reaction is filled with anxiety. I don’t like when things are messy and I want to hide all of this messiness in the bottom of a trashcan. Honestly, I picture throwing my manuscript into my blue recycling bin and never looking at it again.

This, as it turns out, is my work as a writer. To see that mistakes aren’t really mistakes, instead they are indicators of where I can dig deeper.

However, as I begin to dig deeper, I feel vulnerable and because I feel vulnerable, I have a tendency to rush through a rewrite. I cut out entire scenes with one swipe of the delete key and I quickly write new scenes just to fill the missing space. This technique does not work for me! When I rush, I end up with a story that is hollow.

So how do I keep from rushing? The moment I get an editorial letter, I remind myself I’m grateful for the feedback. Then I step away from the computer. I let myself feel uncomfortable. And, I wait. I do not go anywhere near my manuscript! During this waiting period, which usually takes a few days, the notes begin to move from my head and into my heart.

Here are a few things I tell myself while I’m waiting.

I will listen.

I will trust my process.

I will not throw my manuscript in the trash.

I also have this sentence tacked above my desk. I look at it everyday.

There are discoveries I haven’t made yet.

Find Alexandra on twitter here!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Deal Announcement - more early readers from Sam Hay and Sam Watkins!

I’m delighted to announce that new early readers from Sam Hay and Sam Watkins have sold to Franklin Watts for their Hopscotch Twisted Tales series! 

I’ve often talked about the skill needed to write a gripping and age appropriate story in just 400 words, and am always so impressed with writers who can do this – so big congrats and well done to both authors!  

September 14, 2015

International rights:
UK Children's 

Sam Watkins's PUSS IN FOOTBALL BOOTS, in which a football-mad boy plays the game of his life, helped by a clever cat with a bit of an itch, to Melanie Palmer at Hachette Children's, for publication in April 2016, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency (World).

September 14, 2015

International rights:
UK Children's 

Sam Hay's TOO MANY NIGHTINGALES!, when a kingdom becomes over run with clockwork nightingales, the noise drives the King mad, but a mysterious stranger has a plan to solve the nightingale nightmare...forever, to Melanie Palmer at Hachette Children's, for publication in April 2016, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency (World).

You can pre-order PUSS IN FOOTBALL BOOTS here, and TOO MANY NIGHTINGALES! here and go congratulate both authors on twitter - @samhayauthor and @_sam_watkins

Monday, September 14, 2015

Deal Announcement - Ministry of S.U.I.T.S by Paul Gamble to Little Island!

I am thrilled to announce that the UK/Commonwealth rights to Paul Gamble’s middle-grade novel THE MINISTRY OF S.U.I.T.S have been sold to Little Island!

As I mentioned when the North American rights were sold, this book has everything I love for MG readers – humour, mystery, adventure, plus dinosaurs, pirates and unicorns! I’d sign up to the Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things if it wasn’t that my job at TBA keeps me pretty busy. Paul is based in Belfast, so we are thrilled this book found a home with Little Island – a fantastic publisher who have been such fun to work with.

September 11, 2015
International rights:
UK Children's 
Paul Gamble's THE MINISTRY OF S.U.I.T.S., in which after joining the Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things, two kids discover that the world is not only weirder than they ever thought, but it also contains a lot more dinosaurs and pirates, to Siobhan Parkinson and Grainne Clear at Little Island, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency.


Congrats Paul!