Thursday, April 12, 2012

And So We Say Good-Bye

In 2006 I had the idea to start a blog. Not a lot of thought went into this idea other than the fact that blogs were the hot new medium for marketing and it could help not only build our agency but our clients as well. At the same time I was cutting back on my conference speaking schedule and missed the interaction with authors and the ability to teach what I know. The blog seemed the perfect way to continue this.

It's been five years and a terrific ride, but after much thought and deliberation I've decided that it's time to say good-bye to the blog (obviously my work with BookEnds and the agency will continue). And while I can't promise I'll stay away forever (watch for the occasional blog post to pop up) I also can't promise those posts will pop up.

It doesn't seem like blogs have as much "power" as they used to, especially with the ease and speed of sources like Twitter and Facebook. Most important, however, I don't have the passion for the blog that I once did. While I will surely miss hearing from the authors I've learned so much from, I think I will find other ways to interact.

The blog and all posts will remain up indefinitely for those who are still learning or want to refer to previous posts and you can always fine all of the BookEnds agents on Twitter if you have questions or want to know what we're up to.

I can't thank you enough for all I've learned from you. Because of feedback and comments I've grown as an agent and changed a number of BookEnds policies. Because of you I've stayed connected with the writers and, hopefully, gained a better understanding of what this business is like from your end.

I'm going to miss the blog and all of you. I feel like I should have something grand and profound to say, but all I can come up with is a slight bow, a wave, and a heartfelt thank-you for joining me in this journey.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Publishers Taking Risks

We've heard so often the complaint that publishers never take risks, that agents never take risks, and of course there are some who will say those are the reasons we're seeing the "downfall of publishing" today. I don't necessarily believe that. I think given how many new authors are published each year and how many of those succeed as well as how many fail shows that publishers take risks every day. Every book is a risk, whether it's a debut or not. No matter how much experience we all have we're never quite sure what's going to grab the attention of the reader.

That being said, recently when I heard that lament it made me think back to a publisher I once worked for, and by publisher I mean the individual, not the company. This particular publisher was a dreamer and a believer in all the good ways. The publisher loved the business and was enthusiastic about all the things about it, especially the books. One of the things this publisher charged was that each editor was allowed to buy one "book of the heart" each year. What that meant was that even if everyone in-house had doubts about whether the book would sell or could sell, the editor was given the ability to make a modest go of it, meaning the editor couldn't spend a million dollars for a book no one thought the house could do justice, but the editor could take a chance on something everyone else felt a little on the fence about.

For a young editor like me this was a really exciting opportunity, and while I never was able to buy my "book of the heart" before the publisher went another way, I held that feeling of excitement and carry it with me as an agent today.

I can't begin to tell you how often I've offered representation to an author for a book that I honestly thought would be a challenge to sell, but one I was excited about. And before all of my clients get worried, upon making the offer I've always been up front with the author about my belief that the book might be a long shot, but one that I thought was worth the risk. Some have sold, others have not, but either way I've never regretted taking the chance.

One caveat to all of this is that, as a writer, if you have an agent or publisher taking a chance on your book you still want to make sure it's a place that has some knowledge of where they're taking the chance to. In other words, you probably don't want me to take a chance on your illustrated children's book since that's so outside of my knowledge base that it just wouldn't be a smart move. I wouldn't even begin to know where to sell it to. You probably wouldn't want a business publisher taking a chance on your romance novel. Again, do they have the sales force available to even talk to the right buyers?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012


There's been a lot of discussion in small business circles about whether or not interns need to be paid for the work they are doing. The concern is that companies are "hiring" unpaid interns to do work that should be done by paid assistants. That an unpaid internship should be a learning experience. And I agree. I agree with much of what's being said. What I have concerns about, however, is what's defined as "learning."

When one gets a job in publishing you usually start out as an assistant of some kind, whether an agent assistant, an editorial assistant, publicity, etc. As an assistant you aren't expected to know the ins and outs of publishing, although some knowledge can be to your credit, but you are expected to do a whole bunch of menial tasks. As an editorial assistant I was in charge of all the filing. Lots and lots of filing, and my boss didn't check the files. It was my job to find a paper for her whenever she needed it, and quickly. I was also in charge of the Science Fiction library, which meant lugging boxes of books in and out of a small windowless room every month to stack, sort and rearrange, to make sure we had enough copies of each author and to find the space for them on the ever-crowded shelves. I spent a great deal of time faxing, collecting faxes, making photocopies, fixing the copy machine and sometimes, yes sometimes, I had to do things like run out for a cup of coffee or clean out the disgusting office refrigerator. Was it glamorous? No. Was it a job I loved? Absolutely. I also got to read and edit yet-to-be published books, meet famous authors, get autographed books for Christmas presents, and I got to read and discover new authors. It was my dream job, or would be once I jumped through the hoops.

These are exactly the kinds of jobs (minus running for coffee and cleaning out the fridge) I ask both my assistant and my interns to do. Because what I've sadly discovered is that learning how to file is something that a lot of interns need. I'm amazed at the number of people who have come through the BookEnds doors who don't seem to have a basic grasp of how to file or how to fax (or figure out for themselves how to fax) or even how to mail a package. I wonder if doing these tasks would be considered learning, because in my mind they should be.

I remember Kim telling me once about her own internship at Berkley and how one of her tasks was cleaning out and reorganizing all of the files of a huge NYT bestselling author. She said she loved it. She got to read revision letters and contracts and correspondence between the author and her editor. She learned a ton about the process of publishing. And that's something I've noticed with my interns. Filing is a huge part of this job and some of them will pull up a chair and spend the day filing and reading the files and papers and, yes, learning. Others just seem to chuck the files in any folder (and yes, this has caused us many a headache) and not bothered to use the experience to learn.

Another job I often give the interns is reading. We ask the interns to do a great deal of reading and write readers reports, and I think all of us make an effort to give feedback on the reports and show the intern how to write a stronger and better report (something they'll need to do when applying for any editorial job). What they do with that is up to them. They can learn from the feedback we give them or ignore it. Again, I'm amazed by how many ignore it.

I also ask interns to review contracts for me. These are typically contracts I've already reviewed and negotiated, but now I want a second set of eyes to compare it to the one I negotiated and make sure every "i" is dotted, "t" is crossed, and comma is in its place. Let's face it, for any of you who have ever read a publishing contract, there is a lot of "stuff" in that stack of papers, and yet I'm amazed by how few interns have ever asked me questions about the contract, even when I ask if they have any questions. Isn't this a huge opportunity to learn?

An internship is not like school. No matter whether you're paid or not you're not going to get written assignments, papers and tests. You're going to be given tasks that will help the agency or business move forward. How you decide to learn from these tasks is up to you. In my mind, it's a first step to adulthood and a career outside of school. If you want success in this world you have to be bold enough to take the steps to find it and to participate in it. That's how you're going to learn. Two of the assistants I've had were interns. They were the kind who read the files, asked the questions and made themselves invaluable in their short time here. In fact, the interns who learned the most were always the ones who spoke up and showed a desire to learn more. We were always happy to give them more to learn from.


Monday, April 09, 2012


Those of you who follow us on Twitter have probably seen the news already. All BookEnds agents have new email addresses that should be used for future submissions and queries.

All changes have been made accordingly to our website Submissions and About Us pages. And, in addition to telling you about our email addresses, we thought we'd use this opportunity to let you know what we're looking for these days.


Jessica Faust

Jessica is currently accepting queries via referral only. There is an office rumor that she might open for a month or so at a time later in the year. If that occurs she'll be looking for cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, historical romance, steampunk (romance and otherwise), and a very limited amount of paranormal romance. She's also looking for women's fiction. In nonfiction Jessica is looking for business books only.

Kim Lionetti

Kim is currently closed to submissions. Please check the Submissions page of the BookEnds website periodically for an announcement about when she's open to queries again.

Jessica Alvarez

Not too much has changed in what I’m looking for since this post in September. I still have a fairly narrow focus—romance, women’s fiction, and female-focused erotica—but I’ve decided to add cozy mysteries to the mix. In terms of romance, I’m looking for all types of adult romance (in other words, not YA). I had some success in 2011 with historical and inspirational romance, and would like plenty more of those, but I’d like to see contemporaries and books with high sensuality too. With my editorial background at Harlequin, I am open to category romance submissions. I will warn you now that I have been very tough on my romantic suspense and paranormal submissions. I’m still looking for books in both areas, but they have to be phenomenal to keep my attention. Please note that I’m not looking for fantasy, sci-fi, YA, novellas, or nonfiction.

Lauren Ruth

In fiction, Lauren is looking for: romance—all genres; literary fiction; commercial fiction, especially up-market urban fantasy with romantic elements; middle-grade—all subgenres; young adult—all subgenres; mystery, with a strong focus on cozies; women's fiction on the literary side; and smart chick lit, a la The Devil Wears Prada. On the nonfiction side, she's looking for memoir, parenting and family, relationships, food and lifestyle, business, popular science, popular culture, and popular psychology.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Updating Your Website

Websites for published authors are becoming more and more important, not just for your readers but for the future of your career. I can't tell you how many times I go to an author's website to check out not just the author's books and career but for quotes and reviews. Which is why it's important to keep your site updated as much as possible. If you have a section for reviews but nothing is there, it looks like you've gotten no good reviews.

I know how hard it is to keep up a website, I know that there are plenty of things I've missed when I don't update enough, which is why, over time, I've simply removed those sections from my site. If you find you can't blog regularly or haven't blogged in months, then simply take down your blog. I think it looks better not to have one than to have a neglected one. The same holds true of reviews. If you can't remember to get in there once a month and update those sections, then simply remove them.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Bitter or Misunderstood?

I've just had a disappointing experience. I'd joined a big writers' network in my state, hoping to find some community but also because they offer a critiquing service. "The Network’s roster of critiquers is selected in accordance with the highest standards of excellence, including publication requirements and extensive mentoring and editing experience."


Well, I chose my critiquer and also began following her on Facebook. (She has an author's page.) Hours before I was going to send the manuscript to the administrator, who would then forward the Word doc. on to the critiquer, I needed a break from reading my novel for the 77th time and went on Facebook. A post from my chosen critiquer just happened to pop into my news feed: New ms for me to critique coming from the ... Writer's Network. Oh boy. My favorite job.
about an hour ago · Like · [Comment]

I did not hit "Like." That's my ms she's complaining about! Now, I know a lot of this work is f@#%ing tiresome. I'm not a professional writer, but I've taken a LOT of classes and reading bad writing is painful. But, then again, I SIGNED up for the class. If the woman, a published author, a teacher (for Gawd's sakes) doesn't want to participate in the critiquing service, why in blazes is she doing it? Why is this industry filled with so many damn bitter people? And I've read plenty of agents' and writers' blogs to know it to be true. (Not Bookends, of course.)

I guess my question, after the whinefest, is how does an unpublished author find someone to edit or critique their manuscript who will approach it with the best intentions, not already pissed off that they HAVE to read another novice's manuscript? How do we find someone who can help us improve? Who will not make us feel as though we're some stray dog showing up at the backdoor, begging for scraps.

I could sign up for another class, but, for one thing, I want my entire novel read, not just the first thirty pages. Also, I'd rather have a one-on-one with someone with skills, not, this time, participate in a big class.

I think this is one of the big problems with social networking. We all think every Tweet could be or is about us and we all read Tweets, blogs, statuses, etc., with our own anxieties in place. In other words, I can't even begin to tell you how many times a blog I've written has been misinterpreted by someone who came to it with their own experience and interpreted what I said in their own way, and in a way I never intended.

I'm sure everyone will have their own impression, but I did not read this in the same way you did. I read this as the status from someone who is enthusiastic about the critique she's about to be doing. I didn't see it as complaining at all.

I suppose it's easy to say that this industry is filled with bitter people, but I guess that also depends on how you see things. When I read the blogs, websites, Tweets and statuses of my colleagues I mostly see enthusiasm and excitement. Of course I'm in the mix too so I know that often the complaints aren't necessarily bitterness, just something to talk about since, honestly, most of us feel that about 80% of our actual day can't be talked about. I can't Tweet when I'm in the middle of contract negotiations. I can't Tweet about the specifics of phone calls I'm having daily with authors and editors, I can't Tweet about the painful revisions I just sent back to a client, etc. I think, based on the comments I see on my own blog, there's bitterness everywhere and, trust me, I know, it's easy for the negative to overpower the positive, but when I take a step back and really look at what people are saying I'll quickly realize that most people are happy and positive.

If you don't feel the person critiquing your book did a good job you can certainly look for someone new, and I suspect the best way to do that is to ask others who they've used or to form a group of your own. Honestly, I think some of the best learning experiences come not from the critiques we receive on our own work, but on what we see or don't see in the work of others. I would skip the classes and find a critique group and/or some beta readers.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Agent Contract Expiration

If you sign with a literary agent and have no success placing your novel over the course of a year, what are your options after the official contract runs out? Can you search for a different agent and try again after some serious re-writes and editing? Is self-publishing worth considering? Is it time to give up, even if you believe the novel has potential?

Well, that depends on the contract. We don't have a contract that automatically expires so I'm not sure I'm the best one to answer this question. Our contract, in all jest, is for the rest of your life. What I mean by that is while we have a very easy termination clause, we hope to take on a client for a career and we don't want to be limited by time, either on our behalf or yours.

So I guess what I would ask you is what does that contract say. Does the expiration date mean automatic cancellation or does the expiration date only mean that you are now allowed to terminate? Once a contract is terminated, however that happens, you are allowed to do whatever you want. You are allowed to search for another agent, self-publish, or even quit and do something different. You know, you are also allowed to take a new project to your agent and continue with that. Many of my clients were signed with one project and first sold with another. Just because you sign with a project doesn't mean that's the one you're going to sell. Signing that contract should be a commitment on both sides to venture forth and build a career together, not just sell a book.

What I would say is that if the book has already been around, and a year has passed, I would hope that you have something new and fresh to take back to your old agent or to new agents. It never does a writer any good to spend a career focusing on just one book.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Permissions for Quotes

I am revising the draft of my first novel, and part of it takes place in a school setting, where can see different inscriptions/quotes above doors and in various other places. These quotes are from works by well-known science fiction writers like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov (such as "Violence is the last refuse of the incompetent" from Asimov's Foundation series). I am curious whether or not I need to approach these writers' estates and ask permission to use them, or if that falls under a caveat in copyright law.

Quotes are probably okay, but don't quote me on that. Whenever you use any material from other sources--quotes, song lyrics, poems, etc.--it is your responsibility as the author to obtain permission for use in whatever format the book will be published. That means use in print, ebook, possible audio, in the U.S. and probably around the world. It is also your responsibility to pay for those permissions should any fees be required.

I can't tell you specifically which quotes you will need permission for and which you won't. I can't say that without knowing exact details and I'm not going to give advice here for fear I might be wrong. That being said, what I can tell you is that you don't need to get the permissions prior to submitting the material. The publisher will require all necessary permissions prior to publication, but for submissions you'll be fine.

What I can also say is when in doubt, ask. In other words, there are definitely copyright laws and then there is the protectiveness of an estate, which can be two separate things. If you have concerns it never hurts to contact the estate to ask.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Episodic Nonfiction

Reading your April 8, 2008, blog about narrative nonfiction, I wondered about the storyline for nonfiction, e.g. The Perfect Storm, In Cold Blood, Jon Krakauer's work, and other well-known stories.

Is there such a thing as "episodic" narrative nonfiction? Where the stories are short vignettes? So instead of one continuous long thread, a series of short threads that maybe by the end become a total memoir?

The reason I ask: I am a poet who also writes creative nonfiction, but they are not continuous chapters. They are episodes.

Well, I'm a believer that pretty much anything can be done if done well. Certainly there has been nonfiction published that's really a series of essays. Are you talking about something different from that? I think there's been a great deal of nonfiction published that's really a collection of stories that create a larger tale. If that makes sense.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Agent Shopping

I currently have an agent who has a good reputation and has a decent track record. I have done all the background checks I can and when I signed felt I would be well represented by this person. However, through a series of situations and over a six month period with 0 submissions to publishing houses despite a great deal of talk about multiple submissions, I am beginning to believe that this business relationship is not a good match.

What I would like to know from you is, is it bad protocol to start feeling out the waters with other agents (querying) while still under contract? I don't want to do anything unethical or something that would tarnish my reputation as a new author, however I also would like to have an agent that is doing their job asap. And if it is okay to start querying while under contract, do I mention that I am under contract and looking for a more suitable agent?

First let me congratulate you on making the decision early on that this might not be the right relationship. Too often I see authors flounder with an agent who they don't feel is a good fit, but out of fear they won't find another. Taking control of your career from the beginning is a smart move.

I'm going to assume that you've talked with your agent about your concerns. Often I find that assumptions are made about what others are doing without really knowing the facts. For example, I'm constantly shopping books, talking to editors about the work my clients do, hounding publishers for money and contracts, etc., but I'm not always filling my clients in on every step I'm taking for them. For all you know, the agent could be talking you up to editors.

Okay, on to your question. Yes, it's bad protocol to shop for an agent while you're under contract. Honestly, it's a breach of contract and puts all parties, including the agents you're talking to, in a very uncomfortable position. What if your agent happens to be best friends with one of the other agents you're talking to? How does it make you look to other agents if they know you're the kind of author who might go behind their backs when unhappy? That being said, it does happen all the time. While certainly some agents will feel "protocol be damned," others might tell you to get back in touch after your relationship has been dissolved.

The smart and easy thing to do is quit the relationship and then query. After all, what if you're querying at about the same time your agent decides to start talking to editors about your book? Suddenly you're not going to have much of a project to talk to agents about since by that time it will have been shopped.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Handling a Referral

I sent a query, synopsis and 10 pages to a popular agent who is no reply = no. Two weeks later, I received an amazingly sweet letter in which she gave compliments, made suggestions and then told me she'd already sent an email to a colleague of hers (the VP of their agency) and really thought she'd like it so would I send it to the colleague as well, with the referring agent's name in the subject header. Firstly, wow - because this was based on the 10 pages and synopsis, which I know because she referred to plot points. That was in [6-8 weeks ago]. My first assumption is that a referral will at least garner a rejection letter, even from an agency that doesn't reply if not interested. (Is this a bad assumption?) I don't intend to nudge, since it's just a query, but I also think it was awesome for the first agent to go through the trouble and would hate to not be diligent about the opportunity she sort of created. After getting writer feedback that insists I should nudge, I thought I'd better ask an agent (I trust). :)

This is really exciting. Congratulations!

According to the dates you are giving me the agent has had the material, which I assume is a full manuscript, for 6-8 weeks. At this point you're probably on the early edge of hearing back on a full submission, even if the material was requested. My suggestion is give it about 10 weeks or so (while some agents are really fast, it's not uncommon for agents to take an average of three months to respond to full submissions), and then I would send an email to check the status.

I agree that you should definitely receive a response on requested material, but I don't have insight to this agency's exact policy either.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Making Twitter Personal

I'm no Twitter expert and have never claimed to be. That being said, I always have plenty of ideas about what works and doesn't work in social networking, primarily because I use it.

A lot of the people I follow on Twitter I follow because I'm a fan. Sure, I follow other industry experts and friends, but I also follow a lot of chefs (in my case). People I admire for their culinary skills. Some of my favorites are those I've gotten to "know" through various food competitions like Top Chef, Food Network or even their cookbooks or blogs. Not too long ago I was leaving Atlanta after a great conference with the Georgia Romance Writers. While waiting at the airport I Tweeted that I was leaving ATL and was bummed I didn't have the chance to visit Flip Burger and I included chef and owner Richard Blais (@RichardBlais) in my Tweet. Just a few short hours later @RichardBlais tweeted back "not as bummed as we are."

Okay, call me a fan geek, food geek, whatever, but I was on cloud 9 all day over this silly tweet. Over the fact that one of my chef heroes tweeted me back and actually seemed bummed that he wasn't able to see me. Does it matter how truly bummed he was? No. Not to a fan. When you admire and respect someone you're excited to be acknowledged by that person. And you should be. Life is too short not to get excited over the little things.

So here's my question to you writers. Are you giving your fans the little thrills that make their days, that give them reason to spend hours, heck days, talking about you? After my Tweet from Richard Blais (which by the way resulted in a number of people asking about this Flip Burger) I went to my personal Facebook to tell my friends and then I told everyone who would listen and now I'm telling all of you. That's buzz and that's the sort of thing that sells a product. It has nothing to do with the Tweets @RichardBlais himself has made, but everything about the "retweeting," so to speak. It's about the connection.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Defining "Unsolicited Manuscripts"

When a publisher doesn't except "unsolicited manuscripts", does that mean they will only except an ms or query from an agent?

Below is some information I've found. Can you verify if it's true or not?

"No unsolicited manuscripts" does not mean you can't send something to these publishers. (Those who are truly closed will say something like "Not accepting submissions.") "No unsolicited" just means you must send them a one-page QUERY first. If they like your idea and feel your book is a possible fit for their list, they will reply to your letter inviting you to send your manuscript. Then, WHEE! Suddenly you're sending a solicited manuscript.

This is one of those questions that's hard to answer without more specifics, but I'll do what I can. Unsolicited manuscripts would mean specifically that you don't send any manuscript unless it's been requested. That could mean that the publisher accepts queries first and will request manuscripts, or it could mean that they don't want anything unsolicited.

Most publishers (and I say most because I suppose there are some smaller publishers that might not like working with agents) will accept submissions from agents, but even agents tend to contact editors first before simply sending off a manuscript.

If the publisher has submission guidelines on their website, but they say "no unsolicited manuscripts," then they will expect a query first. If they have no guidelines for submissions it's likely they aren't accepting unsolicited submissions of any kind, and that includes queries.


On a related topic, please note that Kim Lionetti has closed to all queries in an effort to catch up on submissions and any unanswered queries she's received to date. This is only temporary. Kim will be opening again once she's all caught up. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please see our submission guidelines if you'd like to submit to one of our other agents.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Keeping It Real in YA

I'm writing on YA fantasy novel (for want of a loose description) and I'm wondering about the use of profanity and drinking in a YA novel.

While swearing is not a massive part of the story there is the odd bit of what would be described in a movie as 'low level' language and I also have a fairly major party scene (it all goes wrong).

My initial instinct is to write what I want to write and worry about censoring it later as at this stage I'm part way my first draft especially as I hate reading YA where the characters say 'oh drat' or the equivalent. What are your thoughts on teens drinking and swearing?

Back in another lifetime I edited YA. I loved it and wanted to do more, but quickly became frustrated with what was popular at the time and what I was limited to doing based on what was supposedly selling. Now, keep in mind I was not working at a YA house and I imagine if I was I might have had a different experience, but still, what I was seeing published were not YA novels I would have ever been interesting in reading. In my opinion, they talked down to the reader, were written to appease adults, and didn't at all reflect the real life of teens.

Thank goodness times have changed.

The reason, in my mind, YA works so well today and has become so popular is that we are no longer afraid of adults. We are actually writing and publishing books that truly speak to kids. There is drinking, swearing, sex, abuse, love, hate, and bullies. We are no longer just writing about jocks and cheerleaders, but also about geeks and freaks and the one in between who is easily forgotten. Today we are writing about real kids and the real worlds they inhabit (sometimes).

I think your frame of mind on this is perfect. Write what you want to write and keep it real. When you've finished the book, read and edit and make sure that it sounds real. That the words your characters are using are fitting to the situation and to them. If there needs to be drinking and swearing, leave it in there. If it seems gratuitous, take it out. But don't take it out because you're afraid of what an editor or agent might think. Take it out only because it no longer suits the book (if that's the case).


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Choosing a Title

I am in the process of finishing my first book. I believe the title I have chosen is a real eye-catcher but I'm concerned it may be too dark. My book is nonfiction or should I try to come up with something softer. I don't want the title to scare people off.

This question actually came as a comment to the previous blog post I did of the same title, but since I thought it was an important question, I thought it deserved its own post.

If there's one thing I've learned in life it's that you should go with your gut. In other words, if you're questioning something about your book, your plot, your title, your submission plan, your characters, whatever it is, you're probably right. If there's a niggling feeling that something isn't working, it's probably not working. It's amazing to me how often I'll give revision suggestions to a client and the client will turn around to say that she had the same concerns, but wasn't sure how to fix it. Hopefully at that point we've figured out how to make the fix.

It's hard to know if your title works without knowing anything about the book or specifics about the title; however, if you think it's too dark and doesn't properly represent the tone and voice of the book, no matter how eye-catching, the title probably isn't working.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Blind Book Date Follow-Up

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and curl up on the couch because it's time to find out the dirt on your blind date with a book.

I was really excited about this idea and even more excited to see the unique list of books everyone came up with.

Up to the point of the blind book date I had been reading a lot of romance and women's fiction. Previous titles on my just-read list included Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Madeiros, and Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (all of which I'd recommend, by the way). So when I first met my date and discovered that it was The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker, I was excited. Not only was this something very different from what I had been reading (which is what I'd hoped for in this exercise), but I had also never read Alice Walker.

There's no doubt this book is very different from what I had been reading, and while I can certainly agree with the many who will say Alice Walker is an amazing writer, I have to confess that I just didn't love this book. In fact, I didn't finish the book. I gave myself permission long ago to not finish books I'm not enjoying. Life is too short and there are too many books I will enjoy to force myself to finish something, and while I didn't find this painful it was ultimately not my cup of tea. I suppose someone is going to say that it's not a romance and that's why I didn't enjoy it. I don't think that's the case. I think I'm savvy enough to recognize when I'm not liking something because it's not in the genre I'm in the mood to read vs. when I'm not liking something because I'm not connecting with it, and in this case I just didn't connect.

Will I read something from Alice Walker again? Probably not, but never say never.

Was I happy to have tried? Thrilled that I was given the opportunity to experience this iconic author.

Did this open up new reading possibilities for me? I'm not sure. It's not really classified as a genre and therefore not something I've never experienced (like a SF book for someone who has never read SF, for example), but it also didn't close any doors.

Would I participate in something like this again? Absolutely. My to-be-read list has grown exponentially thanks to the suggestions on the blog.

Now it's your turn. What book did you read (or attempt to read) and how was the experience for you?


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Random Questions

Do you automatically reject a query if the author does not have a college degree?

No. I don't know of any agency who would. Unless you're an expert writing nonfiction on a subject that would require a degree of some sort, I don't care if you've never been to school.

Is "mainstream literary fiction" an appropriate term/genre to describe a novel in a query letter? I'm getting ready to submit a book that doesn't fit easily into either category. Bret Easton Ellis would be an example of an author that writes this type of fiction.

Yes, mainstream literary fiction is fine.

Do you work with authors from other countries?

Absolutely! We don't care where you're from, only that you've written a good book. We have authors from all over the world.

I have two nonfiction books published (under my married name) and am now working on a novel. I may be taking back my maiden name in the future and am wondering if pursuing publication using a different last name will affect the career I hope I can have as a novelist.

Since nonfiction and fiction are two different markets, it shouldn't matter at all which name you publish under. Of course, there's always an "it depends," in this case based on what kind of nonfiction you wrote (memoir, for example) or how successful your nonfiction was, but ultimately writing under two different names should be fine.

When an agent requests pages, are they referring to the physical pages in a word document, or is the referring to 250-word pages?

I assume you mean page count. These days I think you can go by the word count in your Word document. However, if you feel more comfortable with the 250-word per page count, go with that. Honestly, it doesn't make that much of a difference to the agent. If you mean how many actual pages, the agent will look at the number on the bottom of the Word document, so go with that.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Ms. Faust:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit to the BookEnds Literary Agency query workshop. Don’t Mess with Mick is a completed Romantic Suspense of 75,000 words.

This is a great opening. Succinct and respectful.

Amateur photographer, Rachel Copeland, is in trouble. An early morning wildlife shoot at the deserted Salton Sea, soon becomes a shoot-em-up. And she is the one being fired at. Held at gunpoint, and her male attacker demanding her camera, she fights back and escapes.

Newly transferred detective, Michael Delaney, is on surveillance at the sea. Rumors have circulated that a Mexican Kingpin and his brother, who evaded capture when their drug compound was toppled by a U.S. DEA agent, are out for revenge. It’s Michael’s assignment to find them before they can identify the agent who has turned civilian and resides in one of the California desert cities.

Hearing gunfire, Michael gives chase. He apprehends the guy only to find an angry, but very sexy, redheaded woman. She tells him she was shot at, had her camera stolen, was subjected to a harrowing highway chase (by him), and she is grieving the recent disappearance of Grandpa Henry, a wildlife photographer and her only living relative.

The above paragraphs read like a synopsis of the beginning of your manuscript. We don’t need to know exactly what happens, play by play. Instead, we want to know who the characters are, what their conflict is, what is standing in their way and how they might get around it. We need the larger scope of your story.

Michael learns Henry’s isolated cabin is at the edge of the Salton Sea, and that he has a dark room. He’s convinced that photographs might hold a clue to the whereabouts of Henry, and the Saurez brothers. Rachel is sure that Henry is not dead, and Michael begins to believe her. While they uncover clues, and their mutual attraction grows, someone is waiting for them to produce what he needs, and then he has a plan of his own: to extinguish them both.

This last paragraph comes the closest to telling me the gist of the story, but it should be expanded to the size of the whole query and should absorb pieces of (but not all) of the paragraphs above it. The skeleton of the story here is that two people need to find the same guy—Grandpa Henry—for different reasons and they come together to make that happen. But we don’t learn this information until the last paragraph and by that point, you seem to be wrapping up.

I am a member of RWA and the Los Angeles chapter, LARA, and have attended many of your panels at the national RWA conference, and also enjoy your daily blog. Should you wish to read more of Don’t Mess with Mick, it is completed.


Although I think there is an intriguing story here, I would reject this query because it takes some time to get to the point and I worry that would continue in the full manuscript. I wish you the best of luck!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Switching Agents within an Agency

What would happen if the author, after due time with one of the new agents, felt one of the other agents would be a better fit? Do authors ever move to a different agent at the same agency?

This question actually came as part of another question, but it's something I've often wondered about myself so I thought it deserved its own post. If you like the agency you're with, but over time maybe you or your agent has changed directions, would it make sense to request that you be transferred to a new agent within the agency. I guess it depends on the agency and how that agency operates, but I think it's a very reasonable request. After all, we've made the request on behalf of our authors that they switch editors within a publishing house, so why couldn't you ask the same of your agency?

We've never done this at BookEnds, unless of course an agent has left, but I know I'd be willing to do it if the author felt it was best for her. First of all, why would I want the agency to lose good talent, and secondly, I wouldn't necessarily see it as a slight against the agent. What if you've decided that you want to write mysteries instead of romance and the agent you're working with said that she has no real interest in mystery, but another within the agency does? Wouldn't it make sense for you to switch if that other agent would have you? I think it's worth asking.


Monday, March 12, 2012

New Agents at BookEnds

When an author is considering Bookends LLC, should the disparity between levels of experience between the agents play a major part, or can she trust that even a new agent at your agency will have the support and expertise of the other more experienced agents behind her? Is it all right to query the new acquiring agents even if you have already queried other agents at Bookends LLC, since that agent was not available to query (or have the query referred to them) at the time of the original query?

As someone who, at one time, was just starting out, either as an editorial assistant or a new agent, I'm a strong believer in "new blood." In fact, even today I seek out smart new assistants to submit to. They are hungry, they have time on their hands, and they are excited to work with new authors and promote those new authors to the people who make the decisions. The same holds true of new agents. They are excited to build a list, hungry to add new authors to their list and, if I can be so bold as to speak for the "new" people at BookEnds, incredibly smart.

I think there's no doubt that experience can play a role in how an agent operates, but so can an agent's personality. When selecting an agent at any agency I think it's more important to look at how that agent works and how well you communicate. A new agent at any agency has the backing of the agency's name and the experience of the other agents to rely on. We work very closely at BookEnds. We discuss proposals, manuscripts, submission strategies, editors, authors, and even revision suggestions with each other. I have a ton of faith in the people I work with and each of them has their own set of strengths. It's amazing how the opinion of one, and the experiences of one, can help all of us.

When sending out your submission to any agent I wouldn't discount the new or the younger agents. In fact, I would look at them first. They are the people who have the time to take chances and are looking to grow a list. Agents who have been around for a long time tend to be pickier because they can be. They don't have as much time to take a rough project and spend time working to build on the potential they see. And yes, they will always have the support of the others within the agency.

And yes, feel free to query other agents within the agency even if you've already queried someone. The worst that can happen is a pass.


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Do I Really Need an Agent

i just recently signed with a publisher... on their website, it said submissions only accepted by agents etc

i ignored that and it turned out okay! (i didnt have an agent and still dont)

my question is.... ive already signed the contract with them.... should i still look into getting an agent?

It's a tricky situation because it sounds like you really don't want an agent, however it's important to note that an agent does a lot more than simply submit a work. Sure, negotiating a strong contract is a huge part of what an agent does, but so is career management and guidance. An agent will also help you understand the business and learn what you can expect from the publisher, she can answer your questions and explain things you might not understand, and she can help spot trends and see where you might fit when it comes to building a career.

I think at this point it's going to be difficult to get an agent until you're getting ready for your next contract. At this point, there's not a lot in it for the agent. You've already negotiated and signed the contract so she's coming in to help manage something she's never going to get paid for, but of course I would suggest that you consider getting an agent for your future works. There's a lot an agent can and will do for you, and submitting to the publisher is the least of it.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Ms Faust

Every 100 years there comes upon this planet a writer whose work enlightens that generation and those that will follow. Until that person arrives you'll have to make do with me.

While I did chuckle a bit at your opening line I wonder if the self-defeating tone might hurt you in the end? It didn't bother me, but I'm not sure other agents wouldn't have a different reaction.

Mae Clarke is a nineteen year old girl who's been alive for six months after being created in a test tube having been brought up by robots and an insane non-scientist. Her mother, Carla Neill, is on the starship Dravid (currently patrolling the Colonial side of the Zone), trying to avoid everyone and who everyone tries to avoid. Her father, Alan Radford, is passing the rest of his life on early twenty-first century Earth hoping that he won't be kidnapped and sent into the future again.

I'm having some trouble following this. Your first sentence was one I had to read twice and I guess the introduction, this entire paragraph, doesn't grab me. Nothing about this feels particularly riveting or different.

All three are destined to meet (there wouldn't be a novel in it if they didn't) at least that's what Harold, the insane non-scientist obsessed with his and their destiny, thinks is their destiny. Aided, abetted and obstructed in his plans are two robots, a seven foot reptilian doctor, the commander of the Dravid and a dictatorial Dagon who is determined to resurrect her military career by breaking as many rules as she can without her rusting brick of a ship falling apart.

I like how your humor comes through. I think that's my favorite part of your query, your asides, however since I doubt you do that in the novel I'm not sure it's going to be enough to make me want to request the book. I think part of the problem with this is that you're so focused on trying to put the comedic elements into your query that I'm getting no sense of what the book is about or the story. When querying a humorous story the humor needs to come through in the showing of the story, not trying purposely to be funny.

A Stitch In Time is a Science Fiction comedy written by [redacted] (that's me) and has some vague similarities to Blonde Bombshell by Tom Holt and the Space Captain Smith Trilogy by Toby Frost.

Good comparisons.

I have had two short stories published in failed ezines, two on failed websites and two non-fiction articles for succesful magazines as well as being a regular book/film/tv reviewer for the irregularly published SFF ezine Hub. I have three teenage boys, an old car, a rented flat and act out my fantasies for the Knebworth Amateur Theatrical Society twice a year, as well as being the author of this stunning query.

I think this is funny. Obviously I appreciate your humor, I only wish I could get it in the blurb of the book, without you trying to be so in-your-face about it.

I look forward to hearing from at your earliest convenience.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Evolution of My Rejection Letter

All of the talk lately about whether "no means no" is an appropriate response for agents to give to query letters had me thinking about my own rejection letters over the years. I agree with Janet Reid when she says that a response is not only important, but pretty easy. It's something we've always done at BookEnds--responded to all queries and submissions--and something I think we all agree is important and plan to continue to do.

That being said, it's amazing how things have changed in the past 12 years and how much my queries, submissions, and responses have changed. When we first opened the agency we were hungry agents looking for great authors. Everything in those days (2001) was done by snail mail, so we had an open policy to unsolicited partials. That meant that without even getting a request you could snail mail us a copy of your query/cover letter, the first three chapters of your book, and a synopsis. Man, you should have seen the piles of mail. More often than not it took multiple armloads just to get from the mailbox to our desks. That was every day.

At that time, because we were hungry, I somewhat personalized every rejection. I had several forms, sure, but I actually took the time to type into each letter the name and address of each person I was rejecting. I'd love to know how much time that took me each week.

Over time, within probably 3 to 5 years, we were getting busier and busier, actually tending to our clients, because we actually had clients. So instead of the personalized rejection, we started to go the way of the "Dear Author" form. Away went the address and name and instead we had a stack of letters printed out that we could just stick into envelopes and send off. This was for unsolicited material. For solicited proposals we were still writing in the names and addresses.

And then email really took hold, at least for submissions. Agents became less afraid of being inundated with queries in their email inbox and opened to email submissions. We were right there with the rest. By this time we had done away with the unsolicited partials and were accepting queries only via email and we came up with a very clever way to reply to those queries. That magical signature line. Most email programs allow you to have multiple signatures to choose from. Maybe you have your business standard and another for personal use. Well, we have somewhere around 10. I have my standard signature that goes on the bottom of all email, and then I have the "letter" signatures or the form rejection signatures. I have one that says I'm closed to queries, one that requests material, one that rejects material, one I can easily modify to make more personal, and those that give some specific information (like the book is too short or too much like a magazine article).

I've found it's never hard to pop on that signature and hit send, and hopefully it allows me to keep networking with authors and helps them to keep thinking of me.


Monday, March 05, 2012

Gifts 101

I love my agent. I think she's fabulous, and I never want her to doubt for an instant that I think she's fabulous.

Are there "rules" governing gifts from the writer to the agent? I figure it's okay to send cookies just 'cuz, but what about a gift when the agent sells your manuscript? Is it okay to send flowers? A bottle of the agent's favorite wine? (I've recently found out you can have anything delivered in Manhattan.)

For the record, my agent has never asked me for anything other than a splendid manuscript.

You sound like a sweet and fabulous client, and what I love most about this post is that I don't often get questions from readers telling me they love their agent. Yay for you and yay for your agent. It sounds like you're a good match.

There are no "rules" when it comes to giving gifts to your agent. Of course no agent expects gifts (editors don't either) and certainly they aren't required, but sometimes we just like giving gifts to show our appreciation and some of us are just natural gift givers.

When it comes to giving gifts I think it's about the giving and not the gift. If you want specific ideas, though, get to know your agent a little and see what she likes or just think about what you see from Tweets and blogs. For most agents, anyway, you can never go wrong with food or booze. I think any of the thoughts you have on what you send your agent will be touching and greatly appreciated. Heck, I'll tear up over a thank-you email from a client. Sometimes that's the best gift I can get.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

An Agent's Acknowledgment

I think on a number of agent blogs you've read how much an acknowledgment or a dedication to an agent in a client's book can mean to an agent. I never get tired of reading them and I never feel anything less than humbled that the author would consider me when writing this most public of thank-yous. But today I'm feeling a very special appreciation for all of my clients. I don't have a book in which to acknowledge them, but I do have this blog.

Each day my clients make me better at what I do. They provide me with information on the industry, hot topics among authors, and information that I can use to become better at what I do.

They humble me with their combined and individual talents. I'm continually amazed by the ideas they come up with, the skill it takes to write a book, and the perseverance each of them has to succeed and excel in this industry.

I'm thankful to know them both professionally and personally. I'm thankful for the support they give me in my job and I'm thankful that they are willing to listen to my ideas and sometimes take them without laughing.

So while I won't list you all by name, you know who you are. Published or unpublished I appreciate every single one of you. Skol!


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

In Morning Glory gardens are used as family escapes in to and out of abuse, silences, solitude, and depression, and through the revelations of both family and landscape history, the author slowly discovers how nature—specifically as gardens—has confronted his own dark character.

First, I really like to see some sort of greeting in a query letter. Call me a nit-picker, but otherwise, I feel like you dumped something in my lap without warning and walked away.

This ”parasentence” confuses me. Why would anyone want to escape into abuse or depression? After the word “depression,” you’ve lost me already. I’m still trying to figure out what could be so bad that someone would want to escape into abuse while you’re rambling through this run-on sentence.

However, if you could find a more concise way to get your idea across to me, I do find it intriguing that a person’s gardening history could make such an impact.

MORNING GLORY: A STORY OF FAMILY & CULTURE IN THE GARDEN is my completed 75,000 word memoir. At once a history of my mother instructing me how to be a gardener as a child, it is also an exploration of our careful relationship, and an unearthing of who my mother and I are in the shadow of her own childhood.

Memoirs are tough. The reason for this is that no one really cares about anybody else’s life unless you make it spectacularly interesting. Unless you are a celebrity, have a life that is heartbreakingly poignant and can write like a master, a memoir is going to be a tough sell. I do not think a mother teaching a child to garden is intriguing, nor do I particularly want to know how anybody else shaped their relationship with their mother. Who you are and who your mother is are very interesting topics to you, but to me — a person sitting miles and miles away who has never met you — they’re boring as white rice. I would like to point out, though, that I like your word choices. “Unearthing,” “exploration” and “shadow” make me feel like I’m in a garden.

As I grow older and begin writing this book, my mother forces herself to reveal her past and how it has shaped her and a larger family obsessed with silence, fear, and distrust.

Is your family well-known on a huge scale? Otherwise, I can’t say I find it interesting that your mother reveals her past or that your family has issues like anybody else’s. If the issues are unique to your family, that’s something I’d love to know.

These revelations ultimately help me to identify and confront my own harmful nature in a young marriage. Through narratives on topics such as science, religion, ecology, philosophy, and garden design—as well as lyrical sections on landscape and place—Morning Glory proposes that the answers to ending our violence toward each other may rest in ending our violence toward the planet, and vice versa.

Now I’m really confused. This began as a memoir of a mother, child and the larger family surrounding them. Gardens were a focal point. But now you tell me science, religion, ecology and philosophy are involved. I have a hunch that you’ve given smaller threads of your book grandiose mention here with these puffed-up words. Ecology would be present in this book, as would religion and philosophy—as they apply to the gardens involved and to the family involved here. But you make it sound as though this is a preachy diatribe, a plea to the world to treat the planet better. I’m not sure which is the case, but I have trouble believing this could be both.

I have an MFA and PhD in writing, and have received several fellowships, awards, and Pushcart Prize nominations. My creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in almost fifty literary journals, anthologies, and textbooks, while I have also published two poetry chapbooks: [redacted]. I am the author of a top 80 blog on the #1 gardening blog portal Blotanical, which features over 1,500 international sites; I often post material from my manuscript and am frequently asked when it will appear in book form. Including my many blog readers, and the over 40 million intermediate and advanced gardeners in America, there is a ready audience for my work.

This is great information. Knowing that you’ve published work before, even if it is not in the same genre, is helpful. However, I don’t think that just because there are 40 million gardeners in America those 40 million people might buy your book, which is a memoir and not a gardening book.

If you’d like to see more material please let me know and I’ll send it out immediately. I look forward to hearing from you.

This last sentence is fine.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is Your Promotion Making Sense

You've been told by someone what you have to do. Now that you have a book out or coming out you need to be blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, LinkedIn, Glad-Handing, and selling your soul. You need to add an extra 12 hours into each day just to manage the new schedule your publishing contract requires. But is any of it actually working and are you paying attention to that?

I think I've always been very open about the fact that I don't necessarily believe that social networking and all of the "have to" publicity and promotion you hear about necessarily works or should be required of all authors. I don't necessarily think that blog tours sell books, especially if you don't even know the audience you're reaching with each blog. What I wonder, though, is how many of you are actually tracking the success of the publicity you're doing.

When sending bookmarks to writers conferences, for example, do you really pay attention to how many bookmarks are taken from the table versus how many are simply tossed in the trash at the end of the weekend? When you do a blog tour do you actually follow up with the host of the blog to see how many readers (not hits) the blog gets both before and after your post? Have you ever polled your readers through Facebook, Twitter, or your website to actually learn what brought them to your book?

I guess what I'm trying to say is are you running your publishing career like a business or are you simply throwing stuff into the wind book after book, the same "stuff," and assuming because that's what you're "supposed to do" it must be the right thing to do?

Do blog tours sell books? I don't think they can hurt, unless you're spending hours and hours on a blog tour and not selling one book. Time is money and losing all that time is losing money, so in that sense then yes, I guess it can hurt. Great publicity and marketing means changing things up. It means not doing the same things book after book, and it also means that you need to understand that what might have worked for one book or one author doesn't work for another, even if you are the same author with another book.

When planning your publicity and promotion it's important to work smart. If you're going to spend time and money doing something then I think it makes sense to spend time figuring out if that something worked. If it didn't, then for your next book it's time to switch things up, think outside of the box. Just like you did when you wrote the book, it's important not to follow the crowd. If everyone is doing a blog tour, does it make sense for you to jump in and join the pack, a very full pack, or find a new way to sell yourself and your book?


Monday, February 27, 2012

Dreams of Working in Publishing

Hello, I read your blog (Jessica's) about getting a job in publishing. I want so badly to work with new authors everyday, to be involved in the process of publishing and be with great works from the beginning.

It seems clear the main place to be is New York City. I live in West Texas. I am an English major (minor: Communications) and I will be certified to teach high school upon graduation. I do not have the resources to just up and move to the city. I was thinking of completing my Bachelor's degree and using teaching as a way to live comfortably and realistically be able to relocate to the city. That way, I could search for entry-level positions without fear of being destitute or having to move back home.

Is this a good plan?

I know it sounds like I'm not fully committed to my dreams of working in the publishing industry, but I think success stories I hear involve people who have money and resources. I have neither. And I've tried moving to big cities and waiting tables- let's just say that's not an option for me.

It warms my heart to hear someone say that their dreams are to "work with new authors" because that's really what publishing is all about. So many people go into this business because they want to be writers. I'm not sure I ever wanted to be a writer, but I wanted to be a part of the process, which is why my job is perfect for me. I get to work to my strengths and hopefully encourage authors to work to theirs.

You are correct that the right place to be is New York, and I think you have a good and smart plan. It's not easy to simply pack up and relocate to a new place. I know. I did it. When I first decided to move to New York to "make it there" I had nothing but a degree in hand. Okay, I lie. I also had five years of waitressing experience on my resume and, let's face it, you can almost always get a job waiting tables. I knew that I could find a waitressing job while I searched for my calling. That was my plan.

I think packing up to move to a new city and working at something while you achieve your true dreams is commitment. A huge commitment. Once you get to the City there are a lot of opportunities available to those who are searching for jobs in publishing. Both NYU and Columbia have publishing programs. I'll let others comment on the usefulness of those. I don't think they are at all necessary (I know more people who did not do those than did), but I understand they can be good for networking.

Publishers Marketplace has a Job Board that is a definite must for anyone looking for a job in publishing. I know there are other publishing job boards, but I can't say I know what they are off the top of my head. Watch the comments, I'm sure someone will post a list of other places.

There are internships every summer that might work perfectly for you if your "other job" is teaching. Most are unpaid or barely paid, but they will get your foot in the door. And lastly, send resumes blindly. You never know when an opening will come up, so every few months or so send a round of resumes to every publisher you're interested in working for. If you love mysteries, scour the mystery bookshelf and submit your resume to all of those publishers; if you love romance, do the same with the romance shelf.

And good luck. I think your plan is solid and it sounds like you have the drive to achieve your dreams.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maybe I Missed These Lessons . . .

All right, so I wrote the novel, revised the novel (and again ... and again) and thought I was all ready to jump into querying. Not so fast. Unsurprisingly, I ran into several questions, and I'm hoping you can answer them.

1. My novel has a prologue, but the "voice" in the prologue is much different from the "voice" in the rest of the book (long story...). If the submission requirements for Agency X want the first ten pages of the manuscript with your query, is it better to include the prologue in those ten pages, for clarity (my prologue is less than ten pages), or just begin with chapter one? In my case, at least, the prologue is referenced many times in chapter one, and I don't want to confuse agents.

If your prologue is truly integral to the story, then there should be no question that you should include that in any submission to the agent. If you feel that you should or could eliminate the prologue when sending pages or chapters to the agent, then my suggestion is to look more carefully to see if you need the prologue at all.

2. Maybe this is obvious, but I was wondering: If an agent's submission guidelines ask for a query and the first ten pages, those ten pages should be double-spaced, right? I don't want to be sending more or less than I'm supposed to! (Maybe I'm alone in this, but I always write with single-spaced lines. It wasn't until I started researching "how to get published" that I realized my idea of ten pages might be very different from someone else's.)

Any pages you send should always be double-spaced. The only exceptions are the query and the synopsis. Those can be single-spaced. This "rule" stems from the "old days" when all agents read on the printed page. The double-spacing allowed editors and agents to make notes on the pages, and it also protected their eyes. Now that agents read on ereaders this probably doesn't matter as much, but that's assuming you know for sure that the agent you're sending to is doing all of her reading on an ereader. Since you don't know that, always double-space your manuscript pages.

3. I've read many times that it's a mistake to put too much about yourself in a query letter; that agents don't care how old you are, etc. I'm 16. Does that make it different for me -- should I mention my age in the initial query? I don't want to risk an agent just hitting "delete" on my query or throwing it out when he or she sees "16," without considering me for my writing first. I also don't want an agent to feel like I was deliberately holding back information or being dishonest, if I'm lucky enough to get beyond that initial query stage and actually talk to an agent about representation (at which point I realize my age would definitely have to come up). Would the idea of working with a teenage author really cause an agent to back away?

It's not different for you. Your age doesn't matter. It's all about the book. I agree that it's a mistake to put too much of yourself in the query. That doesn't mean we don't want to know a little about you and who you are, but what we really want to know first and foremost is what your book is about. Never mention your age whether you're 16, 60, or 96. It just shouldn't be important.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Ms. Ruth,

I have read your interview with Monica B.W. and your reply to question number five leads me to feel that you would be a good agent for me. I see that you represent mysteries and was wondering if my completed 70,000-word manuscript, Led By Lies, would interest you.

I think think is a great opening. Professional, personal and gives details. Perfect. Nothing fancy, but still good.

Imagine finding out someone close to you is linked to the murders you’re investigating, or worse yet, involved in the death of your sister.

To me this sounds like a rhetorical question without the question mark. I'm not a fan of this sort of plot introduction. It falls a little short for me. I'd rather you get right into the issues Lily has.

That is what second-generation detective Lily Blanchette endures when she is assigned her first case as lead in a double-homicide. After arresting the man she believes is responsible, another body surfaces and family secrets are unearthed. Left with no other alternative, Lily kidnaps her suspect hoping he’ll reveal who else is involved. In the shocking revelation more of her family’s deception is exposed.

I'd rather we start the entire description with Lily. Make it all about her and give it some oomph. Honestly, this entire blurb falls a little flat for me. The biggest problem is that there's nothing here that hooks me or makes this book feel like it's going to stand out from the many other similar books on the market.

In 2007, I worked at the State Public Defender’s Office where I did Intake for the Milwaukee Police Department. In 2009, I won honorable mention for my screenplay, [redacted], in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

Good bio.

If you would like to see the manuscript, I can send it via e-mail or regular mail. I look forward to hearing from you.

You wrote a very professional letter, but I question whether you'll get many bites since the hook falls short for me.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Typos in Queries

Many times on Workshop Wednesdays typos are pointed out by fellow writers in the comments, and rightfully so: making your query and your manuscript as clean as possible is important. However, recently one commenter pointed out a typo in the first line and asked, "Would a typo in the first line not make you want to reject it?"

There's a distinct difference between a typo and a writer who doesn't have a good grasp of the English language. I'd like to think that a lot of the time I can tell the difference. Sure, typos might hurt your query and you should do your best to eliminate them, but a good query, a great and intriguing story, will rise above all typos.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Twitter Tips

I love getting book recommendations. I mean face it, I'm a book person, I love to read and I love it when someone emails me or sends me a Tweet to tell me about something new they have just discovered. That being said, there's a big difference between Tweeting about your book release and spamming your book.

If you're a Tweeter it's perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, to let all of your followers know when your book releases, when you received your new cover, or where your edits stand. Of course, it's also encouraged to let them know where you are on vacation, what you're eating for dinner, what you're reading and other more personal bits of information.

It is unacceptable to send Tweets directly to other Tweeters (starting your Tweet with an @BookEndsJessica is what does this) to tell them about a "great new read" and have it be your book. Frankly, it turns me off. If you're telling me about someone else, I'm interested and appreciate it; if you're telling me about your own book, it's spam and it's irritating, and out of irritation I will probably not read your book.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Working with Your Agent

I'm often asked what makes the "perfect client," and the only answer I have is a great sense of communication. The desire to keep me posted on all things good and bad so that if something can be done (even if you don't know it can) I can jump in and do it.

One thing a few of my clients do that I LOVE is send me monthly or quarterly updates. Even if it's information I know or have it's extremely helpful. I get an email that says something like this:

Delivered Book 3 in series X, awaiting revisions
Finished copyedits on Book 2 in series Y, love the new cover
Starting promotion on series Y
Release date of series x is next week
Had long talk with editor about new ideas and will run those by you when I have time to think about them more.

Now, I do try to check in with clients occasionally, and to some maybe I check in too often, but an email like this helps the author center herself and feel a sense of completion and helps the agent step in with thoughts she might have. Maybe I never saw the cover so can remind her to send me a copy for the website, or maybe I just had my own brilliant idea for a new idea for her and this is the perfect time to send it along. Even if I have nothing to add, keeping an agent in the loop helps everyone work together better, which is what we're all striving for.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear BookEnds,

This greeting is probably for the blog, but in a query letter, you should address only one agent.

Zell Jinn doesn't do things like a normal teenager would. If he did, he would've met Shyla Franklin at school or online, rather than inside Hell.

These are small things: “Zell Jinn” sounds like “Sell Gin.” Is this deliberate, and if so, why? The word “inside” above irks me because, unless Hell is something that has physical dimensions and is enclosed like a box, this is the wrong word.

But for the modern day paladin, putting a soul back inside a vampire, then falling in love with her, and managing to literally piss off the Devil in the process are average days.

If he literally pissed off the Devil in the process, he’d be standing on top of the Devil and urinating off him while simultaneously falling in love with a vampire whose soul he just replaced. Please be careful with the word “literally” because you’re asking people to take what you say completely literally. You can’t call a figurative statement literal.

If only handling the weight of being the top point guard in the state and most popular kid in school was as easy as ganking the undead.

I like that Zell is living a double life, and I also think it is interesting that he’s the popular kid rather than a geek. “Ganking” is probably not a good word choice because as far as I know it only exists in video games like World of Warcraft with which literary agents might not be familiar.

But since Shyla's rescue, things have gotten bizarre. Or as the other paladins are used to saying: things have gone all to Zell. After returning from a mission in the Sierra Nevada broken and almost dead, Zell learns a new type of undead is stalking him.

I feel a little lost. What does returning from a mission broken and dead have to do with the new type of stalker undead? What does Shyla’s rescue have to do with it?

I’m not sure I know what’s going on and this is because you’ve made up a world in your head and then discussed it with me without telling me how it works. Above, you set your reader up to receive new information about a plot turn (“But since Shyla’s rescue, things have gotten bizarre . . .”) and then it seems to take forever to actually get the information . . . two sentences to be exact.

This enemy looks human and can block his ability to sense the supernatural. Now a danger to everyone, he is forced into seclusion. No paladin can help him.

Why would Zell’s inability to sense the supernatural make him a danger to everyone? When I think about it, I can assume that this ability is necessary for paladins, but this is vague and confusing. Further, why would he be so dangerous to others that he is forced into seclusion? Wouldn’t having the abilities of his comrades nearby make more sense? Why can’t the other paladins help him? What’s a paladin? Paladins are Medieval champions for others’ rights, so you can’t commandeer this term without clearly giving it a new meaning for your world.

The fun continues. A hellrift opens up on the coast of Maine, threatening to unleash hordes of undead.

What is a hellrift? This is one of the largest problems with this query. Because the story takes place in a world that I know nothing about, I’m confused and disinclined to want to read more of this.

Much is placed on Zell as he has to leave Shyla in the care of a man who wants her given back to the vampires, and go into a portion of Hell that has already claimed one of his friends.

What man? What friend? Shyla was taken away from the vampires? Why is it significant that she’ll return to them? Why does Zell have to do this, with his vulnerabilities?

Through these battles truths and powers will be revealed, explaining why normal has never pertained to him.

What battles?

Of course first, to make everything more Zell-like, he'll have to do something no paladin has ever done before: kill a host of demons.

We do not know what Zell-like is. We don’t get a very good sense of Zell, which is another problem in this query. His high school status, by this point, has been forgotten about and that makes me think you threw it in to make this YA.

Since “kill a host of demons” is the last line of the query and comes after a colon, it seems like you’re trying to give it weight. But we already know that Zell “ganks” the undead, so this is ineffective unless there is some type of characteristic the demons have that’s much stronger than those of other beings.

My main concern in this query is that there is not enough world-building. I need to know, at a minimum, the basic information needed to understand what is happening, its significance, and why it is happening, and that is not the case here. I’m also concerned that Zell’s high school life has been abandoned at the start of the query. I worry that your book will have all sorts of terminology only you know and situations that are unexplained. I worry also that it might seem contrived and forced that Zell is a high school student since this is not given enough attention.

OF FIRE AND FAITH is a YA urban fantasy novel, complete at 100,000 words. It is a first in a series following Zell's journey through paladinhood. The sequel, OF ANGELS AND ASHES, is already in the works.

I have been published by Keen Publications in their anthology [redacted] and by

The last sentence is good. It is always helpful to know if a writer has been previously published, small scale or large.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have to admit, this is one of my favorite holidays. Who doesn’t love the idea of a celebration of love and friendship? For Valentine’s Day this year I wanted to change things up a little, and thanks to my public library I came up with this terrific idea. Okay, I stole this terrific idea.

Today we’re going to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Blind Book Date. How it works is that you comment in the comments with your favorite book, and the person who has commented before you has to read that book. In other words, it’s a blind date with a book.

How it works: The very first commenter will post the title and author of a book he or she loves. Since no one has commented before them, that will be the book I will read. Then, the first commenter’s blind date with a book will come from commenter #2, and so on and so on. If you’d like, you should also feel free to include some information on what the book is about or why you love the book.

The event will end at midnight on February 14, EST. At that time (or soon thereafter) I will post my book (the final blind date offering). Then, I’d like all of us to return on March 19 to discuss our experiences. Did we love the book? Hate the book? Was it something different, maybe a genre we’d never read? I’ll post some questions on March 19 for us to discuss.

The only rules are that you are NOT allowed to post the title of a book you have written. This is not an opportunity for self-promotion, but an event for readers and book lovers. If you want to post the book of a friend I can’t stop you from doing that, but I hope that we all look at it as readers and not writers and post books we love, books that have changed us or that we just want others to experience.

I debated requiring that the book be available in print and ebook, but I don’t want to rule out the fact that you might have read a book you love that’s only available in ebook format. What I would suggest, however, is that if you’re debating between two books, pick the one that’s available in both print and ebook format to give those readers who haven’t yet gone tech the opportunity to read the book as well.

And finally, there are no rules regarding genre. A pick you love could be new, a classic, YA or horror, romance or mystery. Whatever it is, please share it. I’m eager to see what everyone comes up with and what we’ll all be reading.



**one additional note. Any comments that are specifically to promote your work will be deleted. Thanks.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Choosing a Genre

I have written a novel where the main POV character is around 18 years old. There’s also a secondary POV character who’s 45 years old. This secondary character takes up almost as much page space as the younger character. It’s maybe a 60-40 split. There’s a mystery involved, and while the younger character gets involved in the mystery, his story is really a coming of age. The secondary protagonist’s job is to solve the mystery.

My beta readers all say I have written a young adult novel.

Based on the younger protagonist’s POV then yes, I can see what they’re saying. Also, my writing style fits YA quite well. However, almost half the book is from an older woman’s point-of-view.

I might add that the book was not written as YA. It’s just that the protagonist was young.

If I take the basic rules of query writing – stick with the character you start the story with and follow their arc – then when I query it’s going to be about the kid. Sample pages will be from the kid’s point-of-view, because the first couple of chapters are his.

Does it matter if I say it’s a young adult novel and then have a major secondary character who is a lot older?

If I say it’s an adult novel – or rather, don’t say it’s YA – how will an agent feel when they read the query and the sample pages? This author has no idea of her own market?

Do I need to explain about the two different protagonists in the query?

Does the very thought of a combination like this make you, as an agent, throw up your hands in horror?

This is one of those situations where I would have to read the book to know which genre it fits into. Honestly, based on your plot description, it doesn't necessarily sound like a young adult though. It sounds like for one character you have a coming of age, but the book overall is a mystery.

Ever since YA became "the thing" there's this assumption that just because you've written a great young adult character in a book the book has to be characterized as young adult. Not true. There are many fabulous works of fiction that have included well-written young adults, but would not be classified as young adult. One that pops into my head at the moment, or an author that pops into my head, is Jodi Picoult. Jodi regularly includes a character arc for a young adult character and often that character arc plays as strong of a role as the adult's arc, but never (to the best of my knowledge) have her books been classified as young adult. Part of that is that she doesn't have a young adult voice.

I think what matters is knowing who your audience truly is. Is this a book that would fit in today's young adult market, that would sell on those shelves to those readers? if so, it's definitely young adult. Or would you say this is a book that would appeal more to mystery readers because the mystery is truly the element that's the strongest? What about fiction, is this maybe a piece that's better classified as women's fiction or literary fiction? Who do your readers otherwise commonly read? Where is that author placed on the shelves? Maybe that will help you have a better understanding of where you should classify it.

I don't think you need to explain the two different protagonists per se, but I do think it's important that you explain the story as a whole. If the older woman plays as strong of a role in the book as the younger character, are you misrepresenting the book by only talking about the story arc of the one character? In other words, is it the story of "two very different people..." instead of focusing on individual characters?

A lot to think about, I know, but without reading your query and knowing your book I'm afraid I don't have any specific answers.


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Updated Publishing Dictionary

It’s become an ever-popular post, my Publishing Dictionary. This is the fourth version I’ve done. Some of the words and definitions remain the same, but at your requests there have been a number of additions. For those who have been regular readers of the blog, I apologize for the repetition. But just like any good dictionary, we need updates, and here is the New and Updated Publishing Dictionary.

AAR: The Association of Authors’ Representatives is an organization of literary and dramatic agents that sets certain guidelines and standards that professional and reputable agents must abide by. It is really the only organization for literary agents of its kind.

Advance: The amount the publisher pays up front to an author before the book is published. The advance is an advance against all future earnings.

ARCs: Advance Review Copies. Not the final book, these are advance and unfinalized copies of the book that are sent to reviewers. Sometimes called galleys.

Auction: During the sale of a manuscript to publishers sometimes, oftentimes if you’re lucky, you’ll have an auction. Not unlike an eBay auction, this is when multiple publishers bid on your book, and ultimately, the last man standing wins (that’s the one who offers the most lucrative deal).

BEA: BookExpo America is the largest book rights fair in the United States. This is where publishers from all over the world gather to share rights information, sell book rights, and flaunt their new, upcoming titles.

Blurb: A one-paragraph (or so) description of your book. People often compare a blurb to back cover copy, and while it’s similar, it’s frequently more streamlined and focuses on the heart and the chief conflict in the story. This is the pitch you use in your query letter as well as the pitch you would use in pitch appointments.

"Blurb" can also be used in a publicity sense. You might ask someone to "blurb" your book, in which case they'll give you a positive quote that can be used to help sell the book.

Book Proposal: The author’s sales pitch for her book. A good book proposal is used to introduce agents and editors to your book and show them not only why it’s a book they need and want for their lists, but also how well you’ll be able to pull it off.

Category or Category Romance: “Category” is the shortened term often used to refer to category romances. These are romances typically, and almost exclusively published by Harlequin/Silhouette in their lines. Examples of category books are published in Silhouette Desire, Harlequin Superromance, or Silhouette Special Edition. Note that not all Harlequin/Silhouette imprints are considered category.

Commercial Fiction: Fiction written to appeal to a large or mass-market audience. Commercial fiction typically includes genres like mystery, romance, science fiction and fantasy. Popular commercial fiction writers include Nora Roberts, John Grisham, and James Patterson.

Commission: The percentage of your earnings paid to your agent, typically 15%.

Copy Edits: Edits that focus on the mechanics of your writing. A copy editor typically looks for grammar, punctuation, spelling, typos, and style.

Cover Copy: The term used to describe all of the wording and description on the front and back cover of your book.

Cover Letter: This is the letter that should accompany any material you send to an agent or an editor. A cover letter should remind the agent that the material has been requested, where you met if you’ve met, and of course the same information that is in your query letter—title, genre, a short yet enticing blurb of your book, and bio information if you have any. This can often be interchanged with Query Letter.

Credentials: What make you qualified to write a book and knowledgeable in your field of expertise. Credentials are usually defined by your level of education and experience on the job.

Editor: The person who buys on behalf of the publishing house. While jobs differ from house to house, typically the acquisitions editor is your primary contact throughout the publishing process. Her editorial guidance comes in the form of the book’s overall structure and writing. She’ll supply major revisions if needed.

Fiction: A story/book based on research and imagination.

Foreword: An introduction to your book that’s always written by another person, preferably someone well known and highly credentialed.

Full: A full manuscript.

Galleys: Another word for ARCs. Galleys aren’t always bound, but are also sent to reviewers as well as other sources for publicity. Galleys are often a copy of your Page Proofs.

Genre: The classification of books. Examples of genre in fiction include mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, and in nonfiction you might see sub-genres like business, health, parenting, pets, art, architecture, memoir, or current events.

Hardcover: A book printed with a hard cover.

Hook: What makes your book stand out from every other title on your bookshelf. If you’re writing mystery it’s that one element that makes your book different from other mysteries, outside of the mystery. If you’re writing a business book it’s how you make your business book different from the others in your field.

Imprint: The name within the publishing house that the book is published under. Usually done as a way to market certain types of books. For example, Aphrodisia is an imprint of Kensington. It is still a Kensington book, but by publishing under Aphrodisia you are branding the book as erotic romance. Prime Crime is an imprint of Berkley that brands the books published as mysteries.

Literary Agent: A literary agent works on behalf of the author to sell her book and negotiate with publishers. A literary agent also helps with career planning and development and sometimes editing and marketing.

Literary Fiction: Fiction that appeals to a more intellectually minded, smaller audience. Literary fiction tends to have a stronger focus on writing, atmosphere, and style than commercial fiction might. Popular literary fiction authors include Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, and Elizabeth Strout.

Marketing: Marketing is advertising that is paid for, including ads in magazines, display units in stores, and things like postcards or posters.

Mass Market: Also called “rack size,” these are paperback books originally designed to fit in rotating book racks in non-bookstore outlets (like grocery stores and drugstores). Mass market paperbacks are roughly 4" x 7" in size.

MWA: Mystery Writers of America is the national organization of mystery writers and a great source of information for all writers.

Narrative Nonfiction: Nonfiction written in story form like memoir, biography, autobiography, etc.

Nonfiction: Writing based on fact.

North American Rights: These are the type of rights licensed to the publisher, allowing the publisher only to handle and represent book rights in North America. This means that the author and the author’s agent are responsible for selling/licensing rights anywhere outside of North America (and usually a designated set of territories).

Novel: Book-length fiction. Therefore, note that it is redundant to say “fiction novel.”

Option: Also called the right of first refusal. This is a clause found in almost every publishing contract that gives the publisher the right to have a first look at your next book before you can show it to any other publishers.

Partial: A partial is frequently what an agent will ask for when taking a book under consideration. For fiction and narrative nonfiction a partial usually includes a cover letter, a designated number of chapters from the book, and a synopsis. For non-narrative nonfiction a partial usually contains an extended author bio, an overview of the book, an expanded table of contents, detailed marketing and competitive information, and of course sample writing material (usually a chapter or two). Also called a Proposal.

Pitch: Frequently verbal, the pitch is your Blurb. It’s a one-paragraph (or so) description of your book. It’s what you use to describe the story and entice readers to read the book.

Placement: When your book gets special treatment in the bookstore. Outside of just putting your book on the shelf where it belongs, publishers can pay to have it put on tables or in displays. This is called giving your book placement.

Platform: A term typically used for nonfiction authors, it’s what makes a writer stand out from all of those with similar credentials. A platform is more than just your work experience or educational background, it is the media coverage or speaking engagements that give you national, or at least local, recognition to potential readers.

Preempt: When a publisher makes an advance and royalty offer high enough to take the book off the auction table. In other words, a publisher offers enough money that the author and agent agree that they will sell the book without asking for bids from other publishers.

POD: An abbreviated term for Print on Demand.

Print-on-Demand, aka POD: With improved technology it is now possible to print copies of books based on exactly how many are purchased. Print on Demand books can be electronic or paper.

Proofs/Page proofs: This is the last stage of editing that a book goes through. They are a copy of the designed pages, and the author is given one last chance to review the typesetter's “proofs” to check for typos or other small errors. Proofs are also what are used to make review copies for reviewers and sometimes rights sales.

Proposal: A proposal is frequently what an agent will ask for when taking a book under consideration. For fiction and narrative nonfiction a proposal usually includes a cover letter, a designated number of chapters from the book, and a synopsis. For non-narrative nonfiction a proposal usually contains an extended author bio, an overview of the book, an expanded table of contents, detailed marketing and competitive information, and of course sample writing material (usually a chapter or two). Also called a Partial.

Pseudonym: A fictitious name often used by writers who want to hide their real identities. The use of a pseudonym can happen for a variety of reasons. Some writers prefer to keep their real identity hidden because they are writing something controversial (erotic romance, for example), while others like to create alternate identities for different styles of writing, and even others use a pseudonym as a way to re-launch a stalled career.

Publicity: Advertising that is free. Publicity includes magazine and newspaper articles, radio and television interviews, and of course MySpace and other networking Web sites.

Query: A one-page letter sent to agents or editors in an attempt to obtain representation. A query letter should include all of the author’s contact information—name, address, phone, email, and Web site—as well as the title of the book, genre, author bio if applicable, and a short, enticing blurb of the book. A query letter is your introduction and sometimes only contact with an agent and should not be taken lightly.

Revisions: This is when the bulk of your edits are done. Revisions are typically done with the editor acquiring your book and sometimes with your agent before even submitting a project. Revisions can include anything from fixing punctuation to rewriting the entire book. It’s a collaborative process between the agent or editor and the author.

Royalties: The percentage of the sales (monetary) an author receives for each copy of the book sold.

RWA: Romance Writers of America is the national organization of romance and women’s fiction writers and a great source of information for all writers.

SASE: Short for self-addressed, stamped envelope, a requirement for any author who wants a reply to a snail-mailed query.

Sell-Through: This is the most important number in publishing. It’s the percentage of books shipped that have actually sold. For example, if your publisher shipped 100,000 books but only sold 40,000, your sell-through is 40%. Not so great. However, if your publisher shipped 50,000 books, and sold 40,000, your sell-through would be 80%. A fantastic number.

Serial Rights: These are rights for serialization often sold to magazines. Cosmopolitan magazine, for example, has started serializing erotic romances, which means they pay to publish a portion of the book around the same time the book is first published.

SFWA: Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is the national organization of science fiction and fantasy writers and a great source of information for all writers.

Single Title: A term typically used in romance (the romance genre) to differentiate category books from those published by other publishers. Single title books tend not to follow strict guidelines like category romances do and can be published by publishers like St. Martin's Press, Berkley Publishing, Random House, etc. Mira and HQN are Harlequin imprints that also publish single title. Single title tend to be longer, 80,000 to 100,000 words. Note, single title books can be part of a series.

Slush/Slush Pile: Any material sent to an agent or an editor that has not been requested.

Stand-Alone: Stand-alone books are those that are not part of a series. This is a phrase often used in mystery, but can definitely be used in other genres as well.

Subsidiary Rights, aka Sub Rights: These are rights to use the books in other formats. Sub rights could include foreign translation rights, book club rights, movie rights, audio rights, etc.

Synopsis: A detailed, multipage description of the book that includes all major plot points as well as the conclusion.

Tag Line: The one line often used on the front cover of the book to grab a reader’s attention. Tag lines, while fun for writers to write, really aren’t necessary until you have a publishing contract.

TOC: An abbreviation often used in publishing to describe the table of contents, otherwise thought of as the general outline and organization of your book.

Trade: To make it easy, trade is the shortened name for trade paperback books and is basically any size that is not mass market. Typically though they run larger than a mass market edition.

Vanity Press: A publisher that publishes the author’s work at the author’s expense (not a recommended way to seek publication by most agents or editors).

Voice: The author’s style or characteristics of the author’s writing that are unique to that person.

World Rights: When World Rights are sold/licensed to the publisher the publisher has the ability to represent the book on the author’s behalf and sell foreign translation rights anywhere in the world. Keep in mind that the author does get a piece of the pie no matter where the book is published.