Monday, October 30, 2017

Quiz Time

I decided to make a fun quiz for you to take this week.  My mind was occupied with numbers a lot last week and so I decided to use some numbers to show you guys a bit about my agenting life!  

Also, if for some reason the quiz isn't showing up on this post, you can also take it here!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Agent's Little Helpers

Hi, everyone, meet my interns!  I have three fabulous ladies helping me out and, this week, thought it would be fun to learn a little bit about them and hear what it is like working for me.  I have a lot of interns helping me out, which is sort of cheating, but they are A++++ amazing!

                                                                                   Bea                                                     Rosiee

So guys, tell us a bit about yourselves!
Bea: *Waves* I am currently chasing publication and Gothic atmosphere while querying a YA Victorian Mystery. When I am not writing (which is never), I am a Junior at Emory University in Atlanta, studying History and English. Professionally, other than my work for Carrie, I am the Editorial Assistant for the Internet Shakespeare Editions' academic journal "Scene."

Rosiee: I am a GED advisor by day, and a YA science fiction writer by... also day, cause I get tired early and nighttime is hard. I love nothing more than a good book and a hot cup of coffee--but don't tell my doggo, or she'll be jealous. I'm currently pursuing publication with my agent, Saba Sulaiman, and coming up, I'll be mentoring in Author Mentor Match (submit to meeee).

Tarie: My name is Tarie Sabido and I’m a professional fangirl in the Philippines. My fandoms are children’s and YA books, Asian beauty products, and K-pop!

My passion for books has led me to blogging at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind; organizing the Filipino ReaderCon and Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards with my friends; and serving as Chair of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People

What made you want to work as an agent intern?
Bea: I learned about this position through the #MenteesHelpingMentees program from my mentor Dianne Freeman (who learned about it through a mutual #PitchWars mentee). What I am saying is Twitter can be amazing for making connections and networking!! For the past two years or so I have been in the querying trenches (well I took a nine-month break and I am jumping back in soon), and I really wanted to learn more about the behind the scenes. As a college student with graduation looming on the horizon, I am at a pivotal moment in my life where I can explore careers/life paths. I have always been drawn to publishing and editorial endeavors, and I thought learning the inside scoop on the publishing world would not only help my writing but perhaps open new doors.

Rosiee: I 've always been curious about what goes on behind the scenes at an agency. I've been in the query trenches, and so much of what agents do is a mystery--Even after signing with my agent I still don't know half of what an agent does! I wanted a little experience on the other side of things to get a better handle on how everything works. Plus, I just really really like reading slush. Like a lot. I swear I'm not being facetious. I actually really enjoy it!

Tarie: I want to be an agent! I’d love to scout for, nurture, and promote children’s and YA writers and illustrators in Asia.

What kinds of things have you learned about during your internship?
Bea: First and foremost, I have a way better understanding of just how slow this industry is—everyone is waiting: not just the writers, but published authors, agents, editors, and even me (the lowly agent intern 😉). Also, EVERYONE gets rejected all the way up to editors and agents—keep on keeping on! As a writer, it’s been helpful to see what other writers are doing in my genre (YA Historical Fiction), and to learn more about marketability.

Rosiee: Carrie has been so great about giving me the opportunity to learn about a variety of things. I get to read the slush (yay!), but I've also learned about agent-editor relationships, how submitting to publishers works, and how to spot potential in submissions. I'm even starting to get an idea of how contracts work--which is both terrifying and also really cool!

Tarie: As an intern, I am learning about evaluating manuscripts; communicating with authors and editors; publishing contracts and how they are negotiated; and tracking advance payments, royalties, sub-rights, etc.

What do you do for Carrie?
Bea: For Carrie, I read the slush pile, requested material, write reader reports, work on organizing her Full Rights Guide, blog issues, and anything else she might need me to do. Carrie gives us a lot of freedom and control over how we want our internship experience to look like.

Rosiee: Mostly I read slush and requested material, and give Carrie my opinion on submissions. I send on what I think she'll like, and give detailed reports on requested partials and fulls so she has a better idea of whether or not she's interested. I also help keep track of submitted work on many many color coded spreadsheets (which, I promise, I also unironically love!)

Tarie: Right now I’m helping one of Carrie’s authors expand and engage with her social media community. I’m enjoying getting to know the author and brainstorming with her!

What is your favorite thing that you've done as an intern so far?  You're least favorite?
Bea: My favorite thing is when I get to tell you to request more of a manuscript or consider representing the author! It makes me really happy for other aspiring authors! My least favorite is when I am reading the slush pile and a manuscript has an amazing premise but is executed poorly, or when a manuscript has a "meh/overdone" premise, but the writing is up to chops. For me, it's so sad because it'll be that much harder for the writer to figure out what to change, especially since we normally reject them in the querying phase. 

Rosiee: My favorite moment by far has been reading a manuscript I loved and suggesting Carrie request the full. When the full manuscript came in, Bea (my co-intern) and I were so excited, we didn't turn off caps lock for about 15 minutes. 

My least favorite is the exact opposite--it's really tough when I don't connect with a MS, especially when it has a concept I love. I wish I loved every book that crosses my digital desk, and saying no to those is hard.

Tarie: I like everything! But my favorite project so far is organizing submissions lists. It’s taught me a lot about how agents pitch to editors, what editors are looking for, and how a deal is made!

Any insight into how Carrie's mind works? 😉
Bea: I would say Carrie’s tastes run more commercial than literary in general. She’s avidly looking for cozy mysteries and YA to add her list. Carrie loves YA Fantasy, but it’s a hard sell to her unless it’s really special and has a unique twist—the market is a little saturated at the moment. If you want to send a memoir, PLEASE, please, please do as much research as you can to find out what she’s interested in. More often than not, I have to reject memoirs because they don’t fit her list not because they’re “bad.” As an agent, Carrie is blunt and honest in her feedback—she’s always aiming for ways to make a work more marketable and the characters more authentic. She likes writing that can evoke emotion, plot, and character without being overwhelmed by overtelling or overwritten language.

Rosiee: Carrie's very picky! She's a busy lady who knows what she likes in a book. Even if one of us likes something and sends it on, it's no guarantee she'll agree. She has to have a lot of faith in a project concept to even request pages, and from what I've seen, she really believes in helping those authors develop great books that she'll hopefully one day be able to sign.

Tarie: I’ve noticed how patient and positive Carrie is with everything and everyone. And her enthusiasm for her authors’ works is contagious!

What have you learned/seen about agenting that surprises you most?
Bea: I think I have been most surprised by the volume of material an agent has to sift through. Some of it has been so bad it’s made me laugh out loud and some of it could truly be the NEXT BIG THING. Not only that but there’s so much Carrie has to do in one day besides finding new material, but helping her clients, living her own life, and staying up to date on the market by reading published books. It’s multi-tasking to the max.

Rosiee: How much work there is to do other than reading submissions. I remember back in the query trenches when people who certainly weren't me--I would never ;)--complained about wait times on hearing back from agents, it seemed outrageous how long it took to hear back. But realistically, agents have a lot more to do than read queries. They have client manuscripts to read, projects to prepare for submissions, editors to network with, contracts to negotiate, records to update--the list goes on! Agents are incredibly busy--and they work they do is tough and important! It's a miracle they get so much done!

Tarie: I was pleasantly surprised by how organized the agenting system is. I knew it was easy to find out about agents’ tastes and manuscript wish lists. But I didn’t know that agents have rankings (by the number of deals they make in each category/genre), which are regularly updated. And I didn’t know that you can find out things like agents’ typical response times and the best ways to query them. It’s all very helpful for writers! 

Do you envision a career in publishing for yourself?
Bea: Oh, definitely. My dream would be to start a Literary Agency with the other intern I work closely with—Rosiee. However, I’d also like to try my hand at the editorial side of things as well!

Rosiee: Maybe someday! I'm really enjoying the work I do for Carrie and working with my fellow interns and hope to learn more. I'm not sure what a career in publishing looks like for me yet--or I guess which of the many important roles in the process I'd like to someday fill--but for now, being an intern is incredibly rewarding!

Tarie: I definitely want to have a career in publishing!

Anything else you want to share?
Bea: Remember, the people reading your submission are just that—people. Don’t let one "no" deter you, but also be prepared to listen, revise, and evolve as a writer. Take your time—this industry goes at its own pace so it’s best to submit your best work. Start slowly, submit in 10 batches, step back and revise your game plan as necessary. Connect with other writers they will be your best allies and will improve your writing SO much. Remember your story matters and you’re the only one who can tell it best!

P.S. To all the sexist men who submit “complex female characters” to Carrie, STOP, please. They’re not complex because they have bodies like Sophia Loren in a five-foot frame and have been emotionally wrecked by bad love affairs. Also, can’t tell you how many submissions have had incest lately as well, I blame Game of Thrones. Word count is not an end all be all, but make sure you're hitting the range for your genre, 5000 words does not a novel make.
Rosiee: I get to see the whole of Carrie's query folder, and while she gets a lot of great stuff, I'd love to see more diverse submissions/authors in the inbox. If you're a marginalized author, please consider Carrie for your query list! I can never make any promises, but I try to make sure every diverse query gets the attention it deserves and I hope to do my part in boosting voices that need to be heard. Also a big wave to all the authors whose manuscripts I've gotten to read since I started my internship--you're all incredibly talented, and there are a number of you I'm secretly cheering on!

Tarie: This is a remote internship for me and I’m actually a little sad that I can’t do the typical intern things like get coffee for Carrie. [It's okay, Tarie, everyone is remote, so I get my own coffee!]

Tell us any hilarious interning stories that you have, whether while working for Carrie or someone/somewhere else!
Bea:  Hmmmmmm. I really can't think of anything, gah. There's probably something there that I compartmentalized because it was embarrassing. I think some of the really awful queries we get can be hilarious... 

Rosiee: Carrie's a big gifter. She likes sending people things (which is great, cause I love presents!) About a month ago, I got a pack of super nice nail polish in the mail with no note. This isn't the first time I've gotten something with no note--I got a nerf gun about a year ago with no sender, a box of books once, and most interestingly a potato that said "take care of yourself" on it in Sharpie. I'm no stranger to surprise gifts, and so I took to social media to figure out who sent it. No one claimed responsibility though, so I was at a loss until Carrie emailed to let me know to expect a treat--little did she know, I'd already gotten it and had set up an intricate (and color coded!) spreadsheet to discover the culprit. I guess the moral of the story is, it's a good thing I'm a lit agent intern and not a detective.

Tarie: I was once a professor’s assistant and checked student essays for her. One of the students said, “Professor, why is your handwriting different on these essays?” and she just said, “Oh, I was tired.” What?!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Query Critique

Query critique time!  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!  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Later Days

Hi all!  I'm taking this week off blogging so...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for USA Today bestseller Lauren Smith's GRIGORI, the first in a new paranormal romance series (Brothers of Ash and Fire) about an ancient family of dragon shifters who find love as they fiercely defend their lands and fortune.  It is a super fun series and one that I am very excited about and I hope you all pre-order your copies as soon as you read her interview below!

For everyone who doesn’t know, tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to start writing.
When I was ten years old I watched the movie Titanic with Leo DiCaprio and was stunned and horrified to watch him die. I came home and sat down and immediately began to write the entire movie as a book, hoping to change the ending. I didn’t know then that I was destined to be a romance writer, but from that first moment I put pen to page as a child, I couldn’t stop writing. I had plenty of ideas for my own characters and stories and it just felt like destiny. Now twenty-one years later I’m an attorney and a full-time writer. I live in idyllic Oklahoma and spend a lot of time traveling around the world when I can for inspiration for my next story!

You’ve written all types of romance, from Regency to contemporary to historical.  What is your favorite sub-genre and why do you write so broadly?
For me it’s always been the story, no matter what time period, no matter if there’s vampires, dukes, cowboys, or brooding billionaires. I follow a less traditional path as a writer by choosing to follow my stories rather than to simply churn out the same type of book over and over. I’m a story teller at heart, which means I often get very different ideas for books from day to day. I think historical regencies are probably my natural voice for writing, but I secretly love writing gothic romances or vampire romances the most (which is kind of funny because I haven’t written too many of those yet). I think each author has their own path to follow and the key is to listen to your inner storyteller. What do they want to share with the world? If it’s different every time, maybe that’s a good thing!

What are you really excited about for GRIGORI?  How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Ahh, Grigori, I really adore him. So if you didn’t know, Grigori is a Russian Dragonshifter from a long line of Imperial Russian dragons. By day he’s the CEO of a powerful industrial company in Moscow but he’s not human. I have been dying to write about dragons for at least four years. I was writing another story when I put a single line in there about how these supernatural hunters were using a spell that required the scales of a dragon and they joked about how dragons were obsessed with jewels and virgins and a bit territorial. An editor read that story and asked me if I could write an entire series around it and of course squealed with joy and said yes! Hence Grigori, the dragonshifter was born. What I’m most excited about is to see how readers like a mythology twist in their paranormal romances. I tied in a lot of Russian history and dragon mythology into this series to give it a layer of depth and yet it’s still sexy as heck too!

This is such a unique world.  Tell us about how you worked on world building and came up with the characters.  Did you draw inspiration from anything?
I drew a lot of Inspiration from Naomi Novik’s historical dragon series and I really tried to give it a real feel. It’s not a gritty dark paranormal like most paranormals out there. This book is dark in a different way. It focuses more on the human side to the shifters, what makes the men…well, men. And I use the heroines as a character foil to show how two people can heal the wounds of the past by loving and trusting each other even when they’re afraid of what that love might cost. I want readers to enjoy the world of Grigori and his future mate Madelyn, and immerse themselves in the gilded, snowy world of Russia and to become obsessed with the opulence of the story like a dragon would a pile of gleaming jewels in the farthest reaches of a cave.

What should we be on the lookout for re: fun marketing and publicity for this book/series?
I’ll be posting a ton of SEXY teasers on my Instragram and Facebook pages where you can find and follow me at : or on Instagram as @Laurensmithbooks plus I’m always running fun contests for free books or gift cards! I’m also hoping to launch a book trailer soon to show off the sexy series!

Anything you want to say to paranormal romance writers or to romance writers in general?
I know a lot of workshops focus on world building and while world building is crucial to having a stable reading environment for the reader to make sense of the characters and the story, never forget that it’s the characters and their chemistry that sell the book. Focus first and foremost on the character arcs and the passion being strong, and then you can layer in the world building elements.