Twitter Pitch Fest with The Knight Agency!

Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01-300x237The Knight Agency celebrates 20 years in business in July, so to kick things off with a bang we’ve announced our first ever Twitter Pitch Fest. The pitch fest takes place tomorrow, June 29th, from 9am to 5pm Eastern Time under the hashtag #TKA20. You’re welcome to pitch us any genre that we as an agency represent, as long as you have not already submitted it to us through normal channels. TKA agents will “like” your Tweet to indicate interest. Full details, including how to follow up on agent interest, are available on TKA’s blog here.

I’m currently seeking projects in the following genres: Women’s fiction, single-title romance (including contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal), historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition, I’ve updated my Wish List with some things I’d especially love to see.

We’re all very excited about this Twitter Pitch Fest, so I hope to see many of you out there participating!

Happy Book Day!

A very happy book release day to Nalini Singh, whose ROCK COURTSHIP, the next installment in the Rock Kiss contemporary romance series, is available in e-book format today!

RockCourtship_final

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s new contemporary romance novella is pure hard rock and scorching heat…

What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients—or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

 

Quick Query Advice

Today I bring you a few quick tips on writing and sending out queries. This isn’t meant to be an all-encompassing how-to post. Rather, this is me looking at some of the things sitting in my inbox, shaking my head, and plopping down in front of my keyboard to throw out some key points.

  • Follow submission guidelines. I’ve said it before and I will no doubt have to say it again. Go to the website of the agency you’re interested in submitting to and READ THE GUIDELINES. Then follow them. Do not follow guidelines on some aggregator site that is “helpfully” providing information for multiple agencies. Chances are they have at least some of them wrong.
  • Make the bulk of your query about your book. If you’re writing fiction, this means your very short story synopsis/blurb about the story should take up the most real estate in your query letter. Probably one or two paragraphs. Yes, feel free to include something about you — any publishing history or whatever. But remember that the purpose of the query is to get someone to ask to read the manuscript. So talk about the story. I see more query letters with two paragraphs about how the author has self-published the book and had twelve sales, while only including two sentences about the story…. Don’t do that. Sell me on the story. Everything else is icing.
  • Query more than one person at a time. Be clear that you are doing so. Then let agents with your query/material know if someone has offered you representation. In other words, don’t waste anyone’s time — yours or the agent’s. Nothing makes me sadder than an email checking on the status of a submission that’s been in my box for two months, which casually informs me that I (unbeknownst to me) have it exclusively. Except perhaps reading a project and getting excited about it, only to learn the author signed with another agent three weeks prior and never let me know the project was no longer available. Please communicate. It’s far better than the alternative.

Now, go forth and submit your little hearts out. Happy writing!

 

Happy Book Day!

OneRogueTooManyBig congratulations to Samantha Grace, whose latest book, ONE ROGUE TOO MANY — the first in her new Rival Rogues Regency series — hits stores today! This fun, romantic, sexy title received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Be sure to check it out! (Seems like they might have a rogue to spare…)

From the Betting Book at Brook’s Gentleman’s Club:
 Wager: £2,000 that Lord Ellis will throw the first punch when he discovers Lord Throne is wooing a certain duke’s sister.

All Bets Are Off When the Game is Love

Lady Gabrielle is thrilled when Anthony Keaton, earl of Ellis, asks for her hand in marriage. She’s not so pleased when he then leaves the country and four months pass without a word. Clearly, the scoundrel has changed his mind and is too cowardly to tell her. There’s nothing to do but go back on the marriage mart…

When Anthony returns to town and finds his ultimate rival has set sights on Gabby, his continual battle of one-upmanship with Sebastian Thorne ceases to be a game. Anthony is determined to win back the woman who holds his heart — but he’s not expecting Gabby herself to up the stakes…

 

Happy Book Day!

Declartion_CourtshipCongratulations to Nalini Singh, who has two new e-novellas available today: Declaration of Courtship and Texture of Intimacy. Both of these Psy/Changeling shorts appeared in the recent collection, WILD INVITATION, and now appear individually in digital format for anyone looking to add them to their e-reader. Enjoy!

A dominant changeling wolf, SnowDancer lieutenant Cooper is not known for his patience. But when it comes to courting the shy, sexy woman he wants in his life and in his bed, he’ll have to use every ounce of control in his body to keep both man and wolf in check…at least until he convinces Grace he only bites a little.

One of the most submissive wolves in the SnowDancer pack, Grace knows nothing can come of her sensual fascination with big, bad, beautiful Cooper. He might possess her over and over in erotic dreams that leave her aching for the rough heat of his touch, but she knows that in reality, he is far too dangerous for her to handle. Then Cooper decides to change all the rules…

Textureof_Intimacy

SnowDancer healer Lara knows primal ecstasy. She wakes to it every morning, skin-to-skin with the hard male body of the quiet, powerful telepath who is her mate. Lean muscle and rough heat, Walker is the only man she has ever wanted to call her own. But being mated to a man formed in the ice-cold cage of the PsyNet has its challenges.

Born into a race where emotion is a crime, Walker’s will is a creation of cold steel. Scarred by the life he has lived, the terrible choices he was forced to make, he never expected to find happiness. Now, his heart belongs to Lara and he will fight to the death to protect the bond between them…even knowing he might have been too long in the ice of the PsyNet to give her what she needs.

Before Lara and Walker can claim the wild, beautiful promise of their future, they must first face the painful shadows of the past…

 

 

Happy Book Day!

Archagels_Legion_fcovA great big congratulations to Nalini Singh, whose latest installment in her Guild Hunter series, ARCHANGEL’S LEGION, is available today. This is a sexy, tense, exciting read that finds Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and Archangel Raphael pitted against an unknown enemy that has seemingly struck the city like a plague.

Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force.

Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.

Elena and Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels.

Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York… and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never be the same…

Check out this edge-of-the-seat novel today!

 

Happy Book Day!

A very big congratulations to Helen Keeble, whose humorous YA novel NO ANGEL hits shelves today! This highly entertaining novel will keep you laughing, even as you inch toward the edge of your seats, awaiting the next twist or turn. Be sure to check it out!

No Angel cover artRafael Angelos just got handed the greatest gift any teenage boy could ever dream of. Upon arriving at his new boarding school for his senior year, he discovered that he is the only male student there. But Raffi’s about to learn that St. Mary’s is actually a hub for demons—and that he was summoned to the school by someone expecting him to save the day. Raffi knows he’s no angel—but it’s pretty hard to deny that there’s some higher plan at work when he wakes up one morning to discover he’s sprouted wings and a glowing circle around his head. . . .

Levels of “No,” or Why I Reject Manuscripts

A few weeks back, I asked you all for input on what you’d like to hear more about here on the blog in coming months, and received a number of lovely suggestions. Among them was a question from Jacquelyn Ayres regarding manuscript rejection, and if I’d ever taken on a project for a writer after having rejected a previous manuscript. The short answer is yes, I have, but the actual response is more complicated, so today I’m going to chat a bit about rejections in general, and all the reasons that might lurk behind any given negative response.

As an agent, I generally consider projects at two levels: partial manuscript and full manuscript. Queries go through the agency and get screened there, and when I request material at a conference, I mostly ask for at least a partial. So when I sit down to consider material, I’m starting off with the first three chapters.

What Do I Look for in a Partial?

Partial manuscripts need to pull me in, hold my attention, and leave me anxious to read more. I’m already interested in the premise, or I never would have gotten to the partial stage, so at this point I’m looking to get wowed by the execution. I want a vivid voice, good characterization, a strong opening paragraph, steady build of tension, a nice blend of action and narrative with an emphasis on showing vs. telling, and a high level of general mechanics — word choice, rhythm, grammar, etc.

And I’m looking for an excuse to stop reading.

That may sound harsh, but the reality is that I have an in-box full of manuscripts waiting for my attention, so any serious flaw in the first three chapters — which have ostensibly been written and rewritten and polished and critiqued — will lose me. If the first three chapters don’t hold up, I have little hope for the complete manuscript and so I will pass.

Please keep in mind, that’s a pass for the project, not the author. I’m always happy to take a look at another project down the line. Writers get better at their craft, so the potential of one project rarely has much to do with the potential of the next one.

What about Complete Manuscripts?

Things get tricky when we get to the full manuscript because the longer the material, the more places there are for me to say no. I go in looking for a continuation of the promise I saw in the partial — all the same qualities, plus the addition of excellent pacing that keeps up through the end of the manuscript, a lack of plot holes, a strong climax, and a satisfying resolution. I also want to lose myself in the story; in essence, I want to forget I’m reading an unpublished work and feel like I’m reading something I picked up at my local bookstore. The closer I can get to that feeling, the more excited I get about a project.

But the reality is that I still reject most full-length manuscripts, for many reasons, but 98% of the time, those reasons can be boiled down to “I don’t feel like I can sell this.”

At the end of the day, publishing is a business, so there is a difference between not liking a book and not thinking you can sell a book. I need to have both to take on a project — enthusiasm for the story and the writing and the author on a personal level, as a reader, and also a gut feeling that I can sell the work. If I love a project but don’t think I can sell it, well, there’s not a lot of point in my taking it on.

Most manuscripts I reject are not ready for publication. Most writers send out work that still needs to be edited and revised. Many unpublished writers who are submitting material are still in the early stages of learning their craft and acquiring the skills they need to be successful writers, and in these instances it’s likely that they will write one or two (or more) additional projects before they break out and publish something. In other cases the writer is close, but the project itself has major flaws — issues with motivation, believability, plot holes. Sometimes a project is well written but too predictable or too similar to what’s already in the market, while lacking a spark of originality to set it apart.  Other projects have poor or non-existent resolutions.

If I love a project and believe that I could sell it if only one or two issues are resolved, I will let a writer know that I’d consider revisiting the manuscript if they make certain edits. The ball is entirely in their court; they don’t need to take my advice if they disagree with my suggestions, or if they decide to keep looking for an agent willing to take the project on as is. But on occasion those writers do consider my comments and come back with a revised submission — and I have been known to sign clients as a result.

But Do I Ever Just Not Like Something?

Very rarely do I read a full manuscript and just dislike it. I’d say that’s only happened one or two times since I’ve become an agent. And that’s not because I’m easy to please, but because I generally rule out projects that aren’t to my taste long before I reach the full-length manuscript stage. So while I’ve rejected projects from a writer only to sign them on for a later work, I’ve always had some level of interest and enjoyment in the earlier manuscripts. When I pass because I don’t “love something enough,” it’s not because I don’t love it at all, but because it’s not where it needs to be or because it isn’t something I believe I can sell.

Sometimes the submissions process can be magical. A writer submits a project, I love it, and I offer representation. But mostly it’s a process, where I might read a partial for a project and reject, then get to a full manuscript with that writer’s next project, and perhaps sign them on a third. The journey varies from writer to writer, and project to project, as does every aspect of the writer’s career.

The Autumn Agenda

Welcome to a new week! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. As promised last week, I’m here to make a few announcements regarding business in general and this blog in particular. Today is just the beginning, so be sure to keep dropping by for all the updates.

First and foremost, and I suspect most anticipated, I will be reopening to submissions as of next Monday, September 23, 2013. Please note that standard submissions guidelines will apply, so if you’re interested in submitting materials to me, please do head over to the agency site and read over the rules carefully before you send anything. Submissions that fail to follow guidelines are routinely deleted or relegated to the circular file. You’ve been warned.

In addition, I’ve got some giveaways coming up. The first one will be announced tomorrow and run through this week. In the past, all of my giveaways have been open internationally, but going forward I’m going to be making announcements on a case-by-case basis. I’d love to be able to open them to everyone every single time, but the cost of postage and the time it takes to deal with customs forms is making that less than practical. So please be sure to read the giveaway announcements in full, and I’ll do my best to make sure there’s fun stuff available for everyone from time to time.

Finally, those of you who participate in NaNoWriMo know that November is suddenly on the horizon. With that in mind, I plan to look at different ways you can prep ahead of time if you’re disinclined to just fly by the seat of your pants. So keep your eyes open in October for some discussions of plotting, characterization, and other building blocks for your NaNo-novel.

Regular, informative posts will be resuming, and Friday Links will continue as always. I’m looking forward to a great autumn season of writing and book chatter, so I hope you join me!

Friday Links + Odds and Ends

Happy Friday, everyone! I have all sorts of things going on, including some announcements before I get to the formal links session. First of all, next week I’ll be in Atlanta for the national RWA conference, along with all the rest of the ladies of TKA. If you’re attending and have burning questions about the agency or just want to chat, we’ll be hanging out for a couple of hours Thursday, July 18th, from 3pm to 5pm in the High Velocity Sports Bar in the Marriott. Feel free to drop by and chat. You can get the full details at the agency blog.

My second announcement is regarding submissions. I’d hoped to reopen next week to coincide with the conference, but there’s been a higher ratio of client reading to submission reading than I anticipated, so I’m still in catch up mode. I will update as soon as I have a better fix on when I’ll resume taking submissions. Of course, as always, if I’ve already requested something from you at a conference etc., please do go ahead and send. I’m definitely working through the backlog and will get to you as soon as I can.

Okay, on to links! I think it’s a good round up this week, so I hope you enjoy. Happy writing!

The Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview – I love these lists of upcoming books from The Millions. They’re by no means exhaustive, but they always mention at least a few intriguing titles I didn’t know were coming. Wreaks havoc on the to-read pile, but it’s difficult to care.

Short Story Workshop in September – Author Mary Robinette Kowal is teaching another of her online short story workshops this fall, and she’s opening to registration July 20. Classes are small and fill up quick, so check it out.

520 Days of Solitude – What would you take to read for a year-and-a-half in space? A look at the Mars500 Expedition.

Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer – Interesting look at the career of a respected book designer (also father of Ruth Reichl, foodie and former Gourmet magazine editor).

What’s Right, What’s Wrong? – 17 phrases you might be saying incorrectly.