When It's a No

Monday, January 16, 2017

Recently, I've been reading really great manuscripts.  

And passing on them.  



I realized I wanted to write about that this week after doing my potential client match quiz, in order to hopefully encourage people who have had a rough time with something they've gotten positive feedback on, because, sometimes even though I think a manuscript is great, I don't end up making an offer for the following reasons:
  1. I'm not 100% in love
  2. I am in love, but I know that there are already too many similar books out there
  3. I need something more polished and don't have the time to get it there myself (this is usually something that results in an R&R)
  4. I recognize that the manuscript is fantastic, but it's not my cup of tea (e.g. adult high fantasy, really angsty teen lit, and so on)
In regard to #3, a lot of the reasons I am being more selective than I was a few years ago is that my client list is starting to fill out and I just don't have as much time to work on revising as I used to.  I still love being involved in helping shape my clients' manuscripts and consider myself a hands-on agent, but, for instance, I used to send line edits each and every time I read a draft of something, whereas now I usually send detailed editorial letters with suggestions and examples.  I also have wonderful interns who help me out!

Regardless, I know it's a bummer to told you have something worthy but still get a pass, which is why I wanted to write this post.  If this is something that has happened to you, you should know that you have the start of something with potential that you can work on and bring to the next level--either by pushing forward and continuing the submission process until you find the right agent, or looking critically at your manuscript (hopefully with helpful agenting feedback) and figure out what you need to do get your book over the edge into "super special" territory.

I almost always am willing to re-read projects like this or to look at other projects by the author once I have a memo in my brain that they are solid writers, so when you get feedback like that from me, don't write me off your list!  

Have you ever gotten a rejection from an agent that said your story was great but...?  Were their comments helpful?  What kind of feedback do you want to receive when you have a good project that just isn't getting an offer?

And Happy MLK Day, everyone!

Potential Client Match Quiz

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hi everyone! Since we are starting a new year, I know for a lot of people that means beginning a fresh round of queries. I decided to make a fun quiz to judge your potential relationship juju with me based on my interests, the way I work, etc.


  1. What genre/category does your writing fit into?

  2. MG or YA
    Commercial fiction, women's fiction, or historical fiction
    Memoir, other adult nonfiction, or mystery/thriller
    Fiction picture books or adult sci-fi/fantasy
  3. Do you enjoy working collaboratively?

  4. Not really
    I am willing to listen to other opinions, but want to have the final say
    I like having a back and forth, and am fine with compromise
    I love working with others to shape my manuscript
  5. How do you view the writing process?

  6. As something that I alone should control
    I work alone until I have a finished product and then share that with others to get their thoughts
    My process is to talk ideas over with others first, and then choose the best one to write
    As a creative back and forth that allows me to bring my writing and stories to the next level
  7. How often do you want to be in touch with your agent?

  8. Never
    Just when I have questions or there is something to say
    I like to have scheduled dates to check in
    All the time
  9. Are you comfortable with voicing concerns?

  10. Noooo, I get too scared
    I second-guess my concerns but will eventually share them
    I will speak out if my agent prods me first
    I have no problem expressing myself
  11. Do you believe in dabbling in different genres or sticking to one to build a reputation?

  12. I want to write in multiple genres because I want to write whatever strikes my fancy
    I write in two or more different genres and want to build separate author brands in those areas
    I mainly write in one genre, but am interested in dabbling in tangential genres, too
    I want to focus solely in one genre with my writing
  13. What do you want your agent's role to be?

  14. The person who sets deadlines and tells me what to do
    Just to focus on selling my books/the business side--I don't want them to be involved creatively
    I self publish, so I just want someone to handle subrights and maybe a new project here and there
    An advocate, sounding board, and person whose opinions I trust
  15. Are you interested in getting to know your agent's other authors?

  16. No, I don't think it's important
    I'm not against it, but I'm not really interested in it
    It would be cool to be able to talk to other authors in my genre that my agent works with
    Yes, I love the idea of having a community of authors agented by the same person
  17. What will you do if you have a hard time selling your first project?

  18. Give up and die
    Give up and die for a few days, but then bounce back to revise or try something new
    Keep pushing and revising on that first project until it sells
    I know publishing is subjective, so as long as my agent and I have a strategy convo, I'll be fine
  19. How do you feel about marketing, publicity, and social media?

  20. I think those areas are things my future publisher should focus on, not me
    Ehh not super interested. I think focusing all my energy on my writing is more important
    I know a bit but am eager to learn/do more in those areas
    I'm all about it
I hope this was fun and informative! Happy querying 

Query Critique

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!  We're kicking off 2017 with the first query critique of the year!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  And don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

Happy Day After Christmas!

Monday, December 26, 2016



Wrapping Up the Year

Monday, December 19, 2016

This is going to be my last real blog post of the year, so I wanted to take the time to reflect on 2016 in my favorite way...with lists!!

  

This has been a pretty awesome agenting year for me.  Each year has been stronger than the last, and I am THRILLED to say that this year was the best yet, with deals for:
:
·         Kristin Lenz for THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO (Elephant Rock Press) and the audio book (Audible)
·         Erin Peabody for Books 1-6 of her nonfiction Creatures of Legend series (Little Bee)
·         Meghan Masterson for THE WARDROBE MISTRESS (St Martins)
·         Suzanne Kamata for THE MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN (Wyatt-MacKenzie)
·         Alana Delacroix for her Shifting Love series (Kensington Lyrical)
·         Dorcas Cheng-Tozun for START, LOVE, REPEAT (Hachette Center Street)
·         Charles Maynard for his MG adaptation of I AM A SECRET SERVICE AGENT (St Martins)
·         Rie Neal for her IP project about a group of elementary-school-aged girls who start a band (Little Bee)
·         Lauren Smith for audio books for the next two books in her Wicked Rivals series, as well as the first two novellas in her The Seduction Series (Tantor)
·         Lauren Smith again for her three book dragon shifter series (St Martins)

Way to go, Team Carrie!!! 

We also saw lots of releases in 2016: 

·         THE ART OF HOLDING ONAND LETTING GO by Kristin Lenz
·         VENGEANCE by Shana Figueroa
·         CHARACTERS ON THECOUCH by Dean Haycock
·         The audio book ofMURDEROUS MINDS by Dean Haycock
·         THE CLEARING by Dan Newman
·         THE LINGERING GRACE by Jessica Arnold
·         THE WRECKING CREW by Taylor Zajonc
·         A WEIRD AND WILD BEAUTY by Erin Peabody
·         THE SECRET TO LETTING GO by Katherine Fleet
·         FANTASTIC FUGITIVES by Brianna DuMont
·         The Italian version of GOOD CHINESE WIFE by Susan Blumberg Kason

So many wonderful books, reviews, and other great things happened this year.  Can't wait to see what 2017 will bring!

Query Critique Winner

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hi guys!  The query critique winner this time around is Mariah Rose Cota.  Congrats, Mariah!  Here is her original pitch:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 
 
I am seeking representation for my novel, NIGHTMARE BEAUTY. It is YA Paranormal Romance. It is complete at 82,000 words.

Teenager Rachel Summers wants to sleep peacefully. But the nightmares are growing stronger. Suddenly, she finds love with an extraordinary boy. If Rachel is unable to defeat the nightmares, they will hunt for more victims.

Rachel Summers was only five years old when the nightmares chose her. After being reassured by her parents that nightmares aren’t real. They soon realized how wrong they are. As the nightmares have now tormented Rachel for years. The nightmares have stolen a vast amount sleep from Rachel. And she begins to struggle with functioning from day to day life. The schools were always concerned about what was happening at home. Years later, the Summers family seek outside help from Dr. Jefferson’s Mind Management Laboratory. As an elderly witch visits Rachel. She can’t help but sense that witch and her warnings are real. Despite her constant secret keeping in an effort to protect her friends. Rachel relies on her loved ones for a sense of normalcy. As the nightmares slowly begin to appear in public in the daytime. She learns she is not the only one that can see them.

Rachel discovers an extraordinary connection when she meets fellow teenager Aaron Winters. Suddenly, Aaron surprises Rachel as a tremendous shift in their relationship occurs. Now, they must work together to uncover the truth behind the nightmares. But, they will soon realize that the nightmares are not their only adversary.

I am a student at Allan Hancock College and I am currently working toward my Associate degree in English.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you. 
Sincerely, 
Mariah Rose Cota


And here is my critique!


Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 
 
I am seeking representation for my novel, NIGHTMARE BEAUTY. It is YA Paranormal Romance. It is complete at 82,000 words.
 
 

Teenager Rachel Summers wants to sleep peacefully. But the nightmares are growing stronger. Suddenly, she finds love with an extraordinary boy. If Rachel is unable to defeat the nightmares, they will hunt for more victims. [I would suggest cutting this paragraph, otherwise the following information seems redundant.]
 

Rachel Summers was only five years old when the nightmares chose herAfter being reassured by her parents that nightmares aren’t real. They soon realized how wrong they are. As the nightmares have now tormented Rachel for years. The nightmares have stolen a vast amount sleep from Rachel. And she begins to struggle with functioning from day to day life. The schools were always concerned about what was happening at home. [The information in this section is good, but the writing is very choppy and you're misusing punctuation your periods, which break up the sentences incorrectly.]  At first, her parents insisted they were nothing more than bad dreams, but after years of being unable to sleep and a steady decrease in her ability to function normally, everyone is concerned.  Rachel does her best, though, to keep the scariest aspect of the nightmares a secret:  the things she dreams seem like warnings of horrible things to come and that they are specific premonitions meant for her.  [I'm not sure if the part about premonitions are true or not, but either way, you need to give us more information here about the nightmares and also make the paranormal elements of the story stronger/clearer.] Years later, the Summers family seek outside help from Dr. Jefferson’s Mind Management Laboratory. As an elderly witch visits Rachel. She can’t help but sense that witch and her warnings are real. [The casual mention of a witch here confuses me.  Are magical people accepted and normal members of society, or is the fact that she is a witch a surprise?  Also, who is this witch?  Does she work at the lab?  How does she know to approach Rachel and what knowledge does she have about Rachel's nightmares?  Expand on this.] Despite her constant secret keeping in an effort to protect her friends. Rachel relies on her loved ones for a sense of normalcy. As the nightmares slowly begin to appear in public in the daytime. She learns she is not the only one that can see them.  Although she continues to shield her loved ones from the more disturbing elements of her dreams, it becomes clear that she won't be able to keep her secret much longer.  Her nightmares start acting themselves out in reality during the day and Rachel discovers she is not the only one who can see what is happening. 
 

Rachel discovers an extraordinary connection when she meets fellow teenager Aaron Winters. Suddenly, Aaron surprises Rachel as a tremendous shift in their relationship occurs. Aaron Winters has also been plagued by nightmares and once he and Rachel meet they realized Now, they must work together to uncover the truth behind the nightmares and who is causing them while also fighting their growing attraction to one anotherBut, they will soon realize that the nightmares are not their only adversary.
 

I am a student at Allan Hancock College and I am currently working toward my Associate degree in English. 
 

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
 
Sincerely, 
Mariah Rose Cota



This query has a good start on its hook--drawing people in with the question of what these nightmares mean--but the execution still needs some finessing.  As I mention above, thought, the language is very choppy and there are a lot of gray areas that need to be filled in.  Mariah, I hope you find my edits and comments helpful in revising those things.

Everyone else, chime in with your comments below!

Energy!

Monday, December 5, 2016

I am feeling so energized!!  It's very welcome after a few weeks of just wanting to hit snooze over and over, so to celebrate I've started my annual strategy sessions with my authors, phone calls I do every year to talk about plans, goals, etc. for the year ahead!  

I normally wait to start them after the holidays, but I wanted to take advantage of my alertness and also now that I'm balancing two full-time gigs, I wanted to get a head start since I have a feeling it's going to take longer to get them done than it has in the past.

Thanks to all the Excel training I've been getting at Cambridge, I was able to pump things up this year with a fancy Google Excel calendar to book everything.  Look at it!  Isn't it so cool?



On top of that, I got all my shopping done during Black Friday, so I am finishing 2016 with a extra-productive bang!  Now I just need to finish up all my contest reading and I can head into the unknown that is turning 30 years old with a light heart.
 
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