Writing News: My Guest Post over at GLA

As you may or may not know, I am a contributor to Writer’s Digest Books (with articles forthcoming in the 2011 and 2012 editions of Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents as well as the 2011 editions of both Alice Pope’s Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market).  From time to time, I also interview literary agents  for Chuck’s Guide to Literary Agents blog.

My article in the upcoming GLA deals with maximizing your writers conference experience, and to gear up for that as well as my speaking engagement at the 35th annual Southeastern Writers Association conference next month, I guest blogged over at the GLA blog today.

Here’s the link to my post, “How to Have an Awesome Time at a Writers Conference.”

Hope you enjoy!

In the Blogosphere: 4/5-4/23

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

SOME HOW-TOs

Over at her blog, Kidlit.com, Andrea Brown literary agent Mary Kole discusses how to layer points of view.

On the Guide to Literary Agents blog, guest blogger and kids’ author Laura Manivong tells us how to target submissions to specific agents.

ONLINE PRESENCE

QueryTracker’s own YA author extraordinaire Elana Johnson did a great little series on blogging.  Here are but a few of the several awesomesauce posts she dedicates to this topic:

  • Here, Johnson talks about why one should blog and touches on what one should blog about
  • Here, she explains what to do once you have a blog
  • Here, she suggests where to spend your blogging time in order to gain some blog traffic

Like I said, she gives all sorts of helpful tips, but I’ll let you poke around in her blog on your own and decide what you need the most help with.

TWITTER

Looking to get the best writerly experience you can out of TwitterWrite Anything’s Annie Evett lists several hashtags for writers here.

Once you’ve found your way around the Twitterverse—Twittersphere?—and you’ve discovered your favorite hashtags, check out Tweetchat.  By entering the hashtag of your choice, you can more quickly and easily follow the conversation during Twitter chats.

CLICHÉS

We all trying to avoid clichés in our writing—right?  Over at YA Highway, contributor Emilia Plater presents the five protagonists you meet in young adult literature.

For a little bit of a different take on a similar subject, on her blog, up-and-coming YA author Steph Bowe exposes the problems with many conventions often used in YA lit by supposing what things would be like if real life were like a teen novel.

And, the good folks over at And Now for Something Completely Unnecessary make a confession about using “confessions” in titles . . .

...they're cliché.

Have a nice weekend, everybody.

How and Where to Find Literary Agents

I’m not sure if there’s just something in the air besides all the pollen, but in the last week, several folks have asked me about how and where to find literary agents.  While I’ve only been querying a short time and while I’m not represented yet, I’ve had some encouraging results from querying some folks I’ve found using the following resources—and I’m happy to share!

RESOURCE 1: GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS

The first place I go to find an agent is Guide to Literary Agents (F+W Media) or the Guide to Literary Agents’ blog.  The printed publication is a goldmine in terms of all things agent and query-related, as it offers several helpful articles at the beginning and lists just about every agent and agency under the sun, categorizing them in a number of ways.

The blog features “Agent Advice” interviews, which are especially useful in deciding whom to weed out of my query pool and whom to query (and—bonus—some of the interviews are by moi!).  After I indulge in a bit of narcissism, I focus on some of the blog’s other features that offer great insight as far as agents’ preferences of genre and submission guidelines: “How I Got My Agent,” “Successful Queries,” and “New Agency Alerts.”

RESOURCE 2: AGENTQUERY

I also use AgentQuery—it’s a huge database, where you can do basic or advanced searches (by genre, agency, agent, etc.).  The profiles matching your search criteria often list what areas the agents seek, personal preferences, clients of theirs, links to Web sites and interviews featuring the agents, and sometimes even recent sales.

RESOURCES 3 & 4: QUERYTRACKER & ABSOLUTE WRITE WATER COOLER

QueryTracker is another database that does a lot of the same things as AgentQuery; however, it offers something AQ does not: queriers’ comments.

While it’s not perfect information, it gives one a sense of the agent’s response times, which sometimes differ greatly from what their agency Web sites denote.  Of course, when reading these messages, I take them for what they’re worth.  For the most part, though, the comments are informational—it’s not folks griping about being rejected.

For instance, someone will note the date they queried.  Then, they’ll come back and note the date of their rejection, sometimes whether or not it was a form rejection, the date of their requests, etc.

Absolute Write Water Cooler is good for this as well, but not all agents are in there because it’s a forum, not a database.  I don’t use AWWC as much as the AQ and QT, but if someone requests material from me, I like to dig a little deeper.

Ooh - is that my dream agent I see?

RESOURCE 5: AGENCY WEB SITES AND/OR AGENT BLOGS

While AQ and QT offer lots of great information about agents, the trouble with these sites is that the information isn’t always 100% accurate.  I just don’t think every agent updates his profile often enough.  It doesn’t happen frequently, but on occasion when I’ve used an AQ or QT profile for writing agent interview questions, the agent will come back with: “I don’t rep (insert an area of fiction or nonfiction here).”

That’s why, for the most up-to-date information, I rely on an agent’s bio on his agency Web site or posts he’s written on the subject on an industry blog.  It’s true—not all agencies have sites and not all agents blog—but a good number of them do, and it would behoove you to find out before you send that query.

RESOURCE 6: GOOGLE

Sorry, Bing—I’m just not on board yet.  But, be sure to do whatever kind of Internet search floats your boat.

You can find interviews, profiles—all kinds of info to help you craft a query that will connect with a specific agent—through simple name searches.  (It sometimes helps to add “literary agent” after the name.)

 

Research is not that hard, people.

DO I EVER GET TO QUERY?

After I’ve done all that, if I feel like the agent might be interested in what I write, then—yes—I write the query and send it on its merry way.

In the Blogosphere: 3/8 – 3/12

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.

QUERY FAIL

I’ve heard of being a query spammer (addressing an e-query to every agent in the country), but this is ridiculous.  Notorious query spammer Oscar Whitfield ruins it for all of us—but his 7,000 rejections should make one feel better about one’s fraction of that many rejections.

Agent Jennifer Jackson of Donald Maass Literary Agency tallies her queries, and guess what: over half of the queries she receives do not follow the submission guidelines close enough to be considered.

Tsk, tsk, tsk . . . I’m not sure what’s worse, Oscar Whitfield’s query bombs or some of the things Lowenstein Associates, Inc.’s Kathleen Ortiz says authors are guilty of when it comes to their query etiquette—or their lack thereof.

RESOURCES

Listy listy.  The good people over at Guardian.co.uk have compiled lists of writing tips from several writers—including the likes of the inimitable Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood—in the spirit of Elmore Leonard‘s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction .

Although she said Janet Reid wrote it, middle-grade and young adult sci-fi writer Blee Bonn put my guest blog about the FinePrint Literary agent’s query tips at the top of her “Awesome Advice (for Writers)” post.  Yay!

In this Writer’s Digest oldie-but-goodie post, find out what agents hate (as relayed by Guide to Literary Agents editor Chuck Sambuchino).

On his Web site, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers Michael Hyatt discusses the importance of defending your “brand” in the digital age.

UP FOR DISCUSSION

In case you missed my announcement earlier in the week, I did a little guest blogging about leetspeak (“text message lingo”) and the ramifications of its increased acceptance in young adult lit over at Australian author Steph Bowe‘s blog this week.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

DOWN TIME

Are you a workaholic?  Over at zenhabits, guest blogger Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist talks about the importance of resting.

Need something to distract you?  Check out Letterblox over at OMGPOP.

CONTESTS

Over at Inky Fresh Press, Kate announces a call for submissions as well as a contest at Narrative, an online publisher and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the literary arts in the digital age.

As well, Writer’s Digest is hosting their 79th annual writing contest with a chance to win $3,000 and a trip to New York City.

SHEDDING SOME LIGHT

Been getting lots of rejections without much feeback?  Here, D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard offers some reasons she passes on fulls.

If you’re looking for some “inside” information, the people over at BubbleCow divulge 7 secrets publisher don’t want writers to know.

Have you ever wondered how book covers come to be?  On Orbit, Laura Panepinto posted a YouTube video on that very subject.

Think you’re a diva?  Not sure?  The Waxman Literary Agency offers three questions to ask yourself in order to find out.

Or . . . ask yourself if you're Aretha Franklin. No? Okay, you're probably not then.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME SLIGHTLY SICK

I know Wicked was The Wizard of Oz seen in a new way—and I love it (well, the musical).  However, if they remake it á là Tim Burton, as per this Los Angeles Times article, I may actually vomit.

First The Hills‘s Lauren Conrad and now Hilary Duff?  *tear*

RANDOM

Apparently, certain words and phrases—like “seek” and “flee”—are too sophisticated for people to use outside of print.  Well, that’s what Robert Feder says the higher-ups at WGN believe, anyway.

I loves me some Coco.  And, according to USA Today, O’Brien has changed the life of the one, random Twitter follower he’s chosen.

I loves me some Cleveland Cavaliers, as well.  And, according to Cleveland.com, Eastlake, Ohio, resident Jerry Tomko and a radio essay contest are responsible for the team’s name.  (I’m so proud, having grown up five minutes from Eastlake!)

I’m so excited!  Jodi Meadows and I are going to YA author Maggie Stiefvater‘s book signing in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.  Will you be there?

In the Blogosphere: 2/15-2/26

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week—and last week, as I slacked and didn’t do a Blogosphere post last week.

SOME SPLAININ’ TO DO

I don’t know if it was just the places I was checking, but it seemed like a lot of industry peeps wanted to explain a lot of things to writers this week.  Maybe the winter freeze is making people write bad queries?  Or maybe it’s making writers whinier?

Among my favorite entries were by WordServe Literary‘s Rachelle Gardner and Carina Press‘s Angela James.

On her blog, Gardner explains why lit agencies have submission guidelines as well as why she might reject one’s work after she’s requested a partial or full.

James explains why they don’t give personalized rejections as well as why manuscripts are rejected in the first place.

LIT AGENTS

Ever a sweetie, Curtis Brown Ltd.‘s Nathan Bransford reminds us, as writers, to appreciate our biggest supporters, our loved ones.

Love you—and thanks for everything, Kyley T!

Over at Greyhaus Literary, Scott Eagan gives some advice on how to write young adult lit—or how not to write it.

This post on titles by FinePrint Literary‘s Janet Reid made me laugh, and it also answered some questions I had about the process.

RESOURCES

On her blog, Write on Target, YA and women’s fiction writer Debra L. Schubert posted this vlog, wherein she and her agent, Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Baker’s Mark Literary Agency talk publishing.

Being that much of my job now relies on waiting for responses from others, this post, by Peter Bregman over at Harvard Business Review, helps put a lot in perspective in terms of what to do when your voicemails and e-mails go unanswered.

Ring, dammit, ring!

QUERY HELP

On her Web site, kids’ lit author Hélène Boudreau makes writing queries look easy with this breakdown.

Here, Nathan Bransford talks about the difference between being savvy and sucking up; and here, he discusses the theory some have about querying in batches.

For another take on dissecting queries, check out QueryTracker‘s Query Ninja, Elana Johnson.  We’ve got sharks, we’ve got ninjas . . . what’s next? 🙂

. . . And here two takes on post-query etiquette:

-and-

TONGUE-IN-CHEEK QUERY HELP

On her Probably Just a Story blog, Laura Ellen Scott parodies Writer’s Digest‘s 21 tips on how to get out of the slush pile.

REALITY CHECKS

Andrea Brown Literary Agency‘s Mary Kole reminds us that getting an agent is not a magic bullet to publication; and, in this post, The Intern talks about why agents and editors would *like* to set you straight when you send bad queries—or non queries, as it were—(but why they just can’t).

As seen on TV.

CONTESTS

Some awesome peeps are giving away some awesome prizes!

Break out your tap shoes: Kids’ lit author, the award-winning Beth Kephart wants to know your definition of dance.  She’s giving away signed copies of her second YA novel, House of Dance, to two lucky commenters with the best entries (contest ends March 5).

Want to have your fiction published in Writer’s Digest?  Here, WD’s Zachary Petit lays out how to enter their monthly Your Story contest.

The paperback, out this March.

ALSO

Check out my recent interview with Books & Such Literary Agency‘s Etta Wilson on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

Writer’s Digest and Writer’s Digest Books is calling for reviews and success stories, so show them some love, if you’ve ever used one of their trillions of resources and hearted it.

We Have a Winner…Well, Actually, We Have Three

The contest results are in!

WINNER

You guys made it tough, but I chose Jessica Guerrasio‘s Web site/blog entry—YA writer Natalie Whipple‘s blog—as the contest winner for a few reasons:

  • I’m not sure if Jessica intended this or not, but Whipple writes YA—and being that I too write YA, this blog seems a good fit for me.  It felt to me like Jessica tailored her pick to something appropriate for me specifically, and even if it just happened to be a coincidence, I appreciate its relevance to my own writing.
  • Whipple is repped by Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown Ltd., which pretty much makes me completely jealous of her.  While she is unpubbed, she represents what I hope to be the next step in my writing career, and I think I can learn a lot from her.  I believe the story is that she entered one of his blog contests and snagged him that way, so I need to learn all I can from her!

Up-and-coming YA author Natalie Whipple

  • The post Jessica chose is interesting and informative, which were really the only requirements.  In it, Whipple discusses her revision process and lists questions she asks herself at every stage.  If the rest of her posts are like that (and, in the poking around I’ve done on her Between Fact and Fiction blog, I’ve found that many are), then I’m a happy girl.
  • It wasn’t a site or blog I’ve ever seen or visited.  Some of the entries I got were Web sites I already use, and while you wouldn’t have known that for most of them, a few entries I got were for sites I have linked right on my blogroll.

So, congrats, Jessica!  If you can e-mail me an addy where I can send your 2010 copy of Guide to Literary Agents, I’ll get that in the mail for you.

As well, I decided to institute two runner-up awards.

RUNNER UP goes to Marice Kraal because:

  • She’s from Australia (that’s not really why, I thought it was cool.)
  • As well, like the winning entry, it showed thought went into the decision, as Mary Kole is an agent who seeks YA lit, which, like I said, is what I write.

MOST RETWEETED goes to JRFrong (Muftopmom/Twittahbug) because:

  • I already use her entry (Janet Reid‘s blog), but it’s a really great resource.
  • Her own blog cracked me up.
  • She RT’d my Twitter posts all last week.

Runners up get their choice of a free critique or edit of up to 30 manuscript pages (good at any time).  Please e-mail me to redeem.


Thanks to all who participated, and stay tuned for another contest soon.  I have another fabulous book just dying to be won!

In the Blogosphere: 1/18-1/22

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.

RESOURCES

Over at his blog, The Book Deal, editor extraordinaire Alan Rinzler shares some tips on hooking agents and editors.  He also gives examples of good hooks.  This blog is chock-full of all kinds of writing tips and just brimming with awesomeness, so check it out.

Over at WOW! Women on Writing, fellow Writer’s Digest contributor Kerrie Flanagan gives tips on how to pitch an agent.

The Oatmeal has become one of my favorite sites, with its hilarious lists on various subjects.  I mostly love it for its grammar and spelling tips—although, I’m a little biased, as its style is reminiscent of the approach I used when I taught grammar.  This post on spelling had me laughing out loud (ROTFL).  This is my favorite:

I wrote two posts this week, mentioning poetry and screenwriting.  If these areas are foreign to you, the folks over at Writer’s Relief can shed some light on them.  Learn some poetry lingo here, and get some screenwriting resources here.

At Editorial Anonymous, learn a thing or two about deciphering those rejection letters with this tongue-in-cheek post.

As I discussed earlier this week, when I came to the end of last week’s fight to finish my manuscript, I realized my original title no longer worked.  Desperate to be done with the thing and eager to apply the icing on my literary cupcake (what??), I, naturally, turned to the Internet for assistance with titles.  I found some help at Writing-World.com, Writer’s Digest, and eHow.

LIT AGENTS

Blogger sisters Lisa and Laura Roecker give some of Nancy Coffey Literary agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe‘s tips on synopses.

WordServe Literary‘s Rachelle Gardner offers some advice on perfecting that elevator pitch.

As well, FinePrint Literary‘s Janet Reid details what a writer needs to have ready when looking for an agent for fiction, memoir, and nonfiction with this straightforward list on her blog.

Last but not least, The Last Will of Moira Leahy author Therese Walsh of Writer Unboxed asks her agent, Elisabeth Weed of Weed Literary, about voice—something not easily defined, yet something every agent seeks.

UP FOR DISCUSSION

Over at Fiction City, my writer buddy, Lisa Katzenberger, asks: How Soon Do You Start Critiques?

Here, Robert McCrum of The Observer talks plagiarism and lists some famous examples of authors’ works which have been accused of it.

In this guest post on Rachelle Gardner‘s Rants & Ramblings, editor Chuck Sambuchino asks, “Would you pay more for an agent?” And many weigh in…

CONCERNING A WRITER’S NEUROSES

I shall keep these three posts close by during this query (and, hopefully, submission) process:

Yes, that's "Monk."

OPPORTUNITIES

Like to read?  Like to blog?  Here, Thomas Nelson PublishersMichael Hyatt tells how to get your hands on free books and get your name out there by reviewing them.

Don’t forget to enter my contest here on the blog.  Click here for details on my easy-peasy contest, and see how you can win a brand-new 2010 Guide to Literary Agents!

JUST ‘CAUSE

I’m with COCO.

Ketchup & Contest

I’m back, my lovelies—and apparently creepy! (Lovelies? Really??)

This is how much catch-up we need to do!

A LITTLE BIT OF CATCH-UP

For the past seven days, I Cullened it up with my sleep schedule, and around 8 o’clock Friday morning, I officially finished editing and formatting my manuscript.

In the last five months, my novel got a bit of a facelift—including a 20K word cut and a new title—and it’s looking better than I could have imagined when I started it three years ago.  Now, it’s full speed ahead toward the rejection—I mean query—process!

On slightly-more-normal-hours, I had a nice celebratory dinner with the hubs last night (man, was it nice to leave the house!), and we treated ourselves to a weekend of home improvement, which has begun with painting our living room, dining room, and kitchen in our new house.  (I decided to take the weekend off from writing…and, of course, haven’t stuck to it at all!)

THE CONTEST

Feeling a little out of the loop from being MIA for a week, I’d like to kick off my return to blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking and showering (I mean, um…) by hosting a little contest here on the blog.

THE PRIZE

As a nod to the beginning of my querying journey, the winner will receive a brand-new copy of the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino!

Here’s the Writer’s Digest description of the book, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with this fabulous resource:

“Now in its 19th year, Guide to Literary Agents is a writer’s best resource for finding a literary agent who can represent their work to publishing houses, big and small. This edition offers more than 750 updated listings for individual agents, and more than 80 pages of original articles on finding the best agent to represent your work and how to seal the deal. From identifying your genre to writing query letters to avoiding agent pet peeves, the Guide to Literary Agents helps writers deal with agents every step of the way. Includes exclusive access to online listings on http://www.WritersMarket.com.”

There might be second- and third-place prizes as well, depending upon the amount of entries I receive, the overall awesomeness of them, and whether or not I can come up with something else.  I have a few ideas brewing…I’ll keep you posted.

THE RULES

Now that I have your attention with the awesome prize, here’s how to get your grubby little hands on it:

I am always reading and researching writing Web sites and blogs (see my last blogosphere post, if you don’t believe me).  At the same time, I am always looking for new ones to add to my online library.

For this contest, all you need to do is provide me with the URL of your favorite writing Web site or blog.

Entries can focus on anything from crafting to the industry.  **If you’re picking a blog, please send me the specific URL of one of your favorite posts from said blog.**

All entries should be informative or awesome—but preferably both!  I will be the sole judge, and my favorite will be the winner.

TO ENTER

All you need to do to enter is either:

  • leave the URL of your choice in the comments of this post

-OR-

  • e-mail it to me at ricki@rickischultz.com

BROWNIE POINTS

Although my blog traffic has quadrupled since November, I want to reach more writers!

Mmm - peanut butter swirl!

That said, any entrant who Retweets my blog posts this week (I always Tweet them as I post them) or posts a link to my blog on his or her blog will earn “extra credit.”

I will check my Twitter replies daily, but if you blog about this contest or link to my blog somewhere, please shoot me an e-mail to let me know so I can figure in your “extra credit.”

If you’re not already following me on Twitter, click on my Twitter ID (@RickiSchultz) or my latest Tweets, located at the bottom right of this blog.

**If you don’t have a Twitter account or a blog, fear not.  This will not necessarily determine the winner – but it will probably help me in the event of a tie.

DEADLINE

All entries must be received by Tuesday, January 26 at 12:00 A.M. EST. No exceptions!

Questions? No? OK—good!  Now, get out there and dazzle me with the most mind-blowingly amazing writing sites and blogs you’ve ever seen!

If your sites are so-so, you might want to consider using a Bedazzler. How much more badass is this crappy Hello Kitty PC?