The Art of Writing the Other: Online Class

I mentioned this course — The Art of Writing the Other — the last time it was offered, and it’s coming up again. It will be a shorter, more intensive version, and therefore cost less than the last course did. However it takes place over the New Year’s holiday weekend: January 1-3. Registration opens tomorrow, December 5th. Head over and check out the details ASAP if you’re at all interested. It should be a really great course.

With Conference Comes Plague…

For those of you wondering where I am, I did not decide to stay back east and indulge in bookish revelry or extended vacation time. In truth, I succumbed to the age old tradition of the conference plague. By the second day of RWA, I had laryngitis, and by the time I left the city Friday afternoon it was turning into an actual cold. I spent last week at my parents’ house, gargling and drinking tea with honey and blowing my nose, and thanks to a much-delayed flight back to LA that had me sitting on a plane for eleven hours, I spent the weekend on my couch doing many of the same things.

I have been assured that what I have is viral, which means not strep, but also means I don’t get any of the good drugs. It’s more annoying than anything at this point, because it is holding on tight, but all I can do is wait for it to decide it’s finished having its wicked way with me. In the meantime, I’ll be back to posting as soon as I have more than a few meagre hours of brain power to allocate to the day. Go read something good while I’m gone…

Referrals, or The Art of Giving Yourself Away

I never thought this was something I would need to explain to people, but recent trends in my inbox suggest otherwise. So I am taking a moment here to discuss how referrals work in terms of sending me a query for your project.

If you begin your query letter by stating that so-and-so referred you to me, then I need to actually know that person. And by know, I mean they are my client or an editor I work with or a friend with whom I chat at conferences/online/by phone/in person on a fairly regular basis. Just because I spoke with someone once at a conference eight years ago, does not make them a valid connection. It needs to be a person with whom I’m comfortable confirming that referral, as in, “Hi, did you send such-and-such author my way?” Because I will do that. I will check up on you. So do not name drop if it won’t stand up to my verification.

Also, please understand what a referral actually is. It is when someone who knows both of us specifically suggests that you drop me a line. It is not a referral if someone you know read my name in a round up of agents who represent a specific genre. It is not a referral if your critique partner (who does not know me personally) suggested you add my name to your submissions list. Nor is it a referral if we know someone in common, but they never actually suggest you query me. Referrals are based on real-world connections, and involve a suggestion that we might work well together.

Now, I realize writers talk among themselves and brainstorm and share information, and it’s wonderful if your fellow writers or industry friends give you lists of agents to check out because they represent your kind of book, or represent some author you love. This is how the business works, how you come across people to query. But suggestions and recommendations are not the same as referrals, and it’s important to keep them separated in your mind, and in your query language.

Every writer hopes to find that foot in the door, the trick that will help get them to the next level, and referrals, when genuine, certainly qualify. As an agent, I’m always looking for ways to weed through the material coming my way for a clue as to quality, so if a writer or editor I know and admire suggests that I take a look at something, I trust their judgment and give that writer’s work a chance. That doesn’t mean I’ll sign someone just on someone else’s say so; I still need to love the writing and feel I can sell it. But a true referral definitely serves as a short-cut to my desk.

And that’s the key. It has to be real. Because no agent wants to work with a writer who lies to get a foot in the door, and there’s no quicker way to find yourself with a rejection letter than to pretend a connection that does not exist. I’ve seen a sharp increase in name-dropping in my inbox the last few months, and maybe it’s something I should simply ignore — shake my head and send the rejections and let the writers in question struggle on. But I suspect some of these are honest mistakes, a misunderstanding regarding the terminology that results in some writers giving an incorrect impression, so I’m putting this out there in hopes of setting them straight.

On Holiday

I’m visiting my parents in Connecticut for Christmas, so I’ll be taking a few days off from posting. Expect the next update before the new year. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me here on the blog. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season, and the very best of everything for 2015!


Learn to Write a Synopsis: This Week!

I posted about this a few weeks ago, but I wanted to repost for anyone who might have missed it or who might be on the fence about whether they want to sign up.

Last year I taught a webinar through Writer’s Digest on how to break down the sometimes daunting task of writing a synopsis, whether you need a short one to serve as a blurb for your query letter or something more substantial to send to an agent or editor on request. It went very well and I still have people query me or come up to me at conferences, mentioning that they took the course and found it helpful. So, I’m happy to say I’ll be teaching the class again, Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool, on Thursday, August 21, 2014, at 1pm ET. Even if you can’t make it live, please keep reading to learn why you might still wish to register.

The class airs live online via a PowerPoint presentation, with me calling in to teach, and everyone attending able to type in questions as we go, which I then answer at the end of the session. The class gets recorded, so attendees receive the presentation with my narration and all the Q&A material afterwards. In addition, the course includes a synopsis critique. Attendees have a couple of weeks following the class to take everything they’ve learned and apply it to writing or revising their own synopsis, which they can then send to me for feedback.

Please note that while you can purchase the course materials after the fact, only writers who register for the live class on August 21st will be eligible for the critique. You don’t need to actually attend live if your schedule conflicts, but you should register ahead anyway if you want a chance to submit your synopsis for some comments. I’m looking forward to helping more people tackle the synopsis hurdle, and I hope a few of you will join me!

Assorted and Miscellaneous

Just popping in with a few brief announcements today, of the “hear ye, hear ye,” variety.

First off: If you have purchased an electronic copy of Nalini Singh’s novella Declaration of Courtship, the original file posted to the e-tailers accidentally included the epilogue from Texture of Intimacy. This wasn’t instead of anything — the full text of Declaration was in the file. The publisher is uploading a revised version so going forward the file should be correct. However, because Nalini feels bad that readers briefly thought there was more to the story than there ended up being, she’s going to write an all-new epilogue for Declaration of Courtship. Further information is available on Nalini’s Facebook page.

Next up, though the observant among you may have already noticed this, I’ve added a Wish List page to this site. The link is up above, next to the About Me link. This new page lists a few of the types of books I’m really hoping to find in my submissions box. This is different from my list of genres I represent; it’s a little more specific, going into the sorts of stories I’d really like to read at the moment. I’ll be updating periodically, removing and adding as my interests change or I find some of the projects I’m seeking.

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!

End-of-Summer Push

It’s probably going to be a bit quiet around here for the next week or two, not because I’ve planned a fabulous end-of-summer vacation, but because I’m going to ground to get through an enormous pile of work reading so I can reopen to submissions soon. Friday Links will be up per usual, but otherwise I’m going to be keeping my head down for the most part.

However, I do have a question for all of you. Once fall hits, I’d like to get back to some more serious, content-driven blog posts. Call it the back-to-school syndrome; all those years of academic training have me twitching for books and school supplies and essay writing come September. And while I have a few things planned, I’d love to know what you’d all like to hear more about here on the blog. I’m not looking for questions, precisely — this isn’t a Q&A sort of situation — but subjects that interest you.

Do you want more posts on submissions? On marketing? On what an agent does? Let me know in the comments section below what has you curious, and I’ll use them as a jumping off point for some of my upcoming blog entries.

PSA: State of Submissions

Greetings, all. This is just a quick announcement regarding submissions. I’m in the middle of digging out of a backlog right now, so I am going to be closing temporarily to new submissions. This is just me — I don’t speak for the rest of the agents at TKA. I need some time to play catch up and lately I’ve been getting new material in far faster than I’ve been able to read it, which has made it impossible. So…

I will be closed to new submissions starting June 1, 2013. While this will be temporarily, I’m not yet announcing a date when I will resume taking new material. I’ll post additional details both here and on Twitter when I have decided.

This does not include materials I have already requested, either at a conference or through general submissions. If I’ve asked you to send something already, please go ahead and do so, just make sure to label your email accordingly.