Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why it take so long to hear back from agents and editors.

So love this from Jill Corcoran Literary Agency's newest agent Eve Porinchak as a comment in the A Path To Publishing FB Group on why it takes so long to hear from agents/editors:

I've been in this group and reading all the posts for some time. I am a new agent with the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency, and interned with Jill for a year, reading all submissions. As a writer for the last 13 years, I know how very frustrating your situation is. Now that I'm on the other side, I'll share my thoughts: Just in the last few weeks, I have received hundreds of submissions. It takes SO much more time than I thought to get to them in a speedy manner, especially between other work duties and life events. I'm an efficient person…I read ms subs constantly, from my home, the doctor's office, on my phone before bed and upon waking. Still, I cannot imagine getting to all of them within a month or so. This weekend and next, Jill and I will be at conferences, and have two more next month. We are both traveling to NYC soon as well. So, unfortunately, sometimes reading queries is something we have to fit in. Fortunately, I LOVE reading them! I have no problem with people nudging me, especially because things can get lost in the shuffle, and I KNOW your time is valuable. I would definitely check the response times on the agent websites. And, yes, unfortunately many agents now say, "If you have not heard from us in XX amount of time, consider it a NO." I don't like this practice, but I totally get it, in terms of saving time (for them). Last thing…I have requested full mss that are just really really long, and it's taking me forever to finish them before getting back to potential clients. It's tough to read that many novels in a few weeks. I agree with the other commenters; be patient. The fact that you are getting requests for full manuscripts is a great sign. Keep on keepin' on!! Hope this helps.

Eve Porinchak, Junior Agent, Jill Corcoran Literary Agency

Eve Porinchak graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in PsychoBiology. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Colby-Sawyer College and attended medical school at the University of New England.

Eve has always worked with children in some capacity. She taught Pre-K through First Grade, with a specialty in reading, she worked as a state foster care case manager, teaches creative writing to incarcerated teens, and serves as an aid worker in Tijuana orphanages.

An active member of SCBWI for 15 years, Eve interned at the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency where she was recently promoted to Junior Agent.

Fun Facts:
Subject to change so don’t hold her to them! ☺

•    Favorite Books: Monster by Walter Dean Myers, You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers, and The Stupids (That’s right, you heard me) by Harry Allard & James Marshall
•    Favorite Movies: The Breakfast Club (Most brilliant movie in the history of movies), The Blue Lagoon (Hey, at least I can admit it), Kings of Summer (BTW, if you haven’t seen this indie gem, go - run, don't walk - to see it now. GO!)
•    Dream Job: A Quality Control Tester at Cinnabon (For real, that's a thing!)
•    Death Row Meal: Lindsey Leavitt’s grilled cheese, vanilla cupcakes, gummy bears, white wine, Cinnabon


Jill Corcoran is looking for commercial concepts (your 1-3 line pitch gets me salivating to read your manuscript) written in stunning, accessible, penetrating prose. PB through YA, I am looking for books that are irresistible to their intended audience. I know this is not specific in content as I am more of a 'I know it when I see it' type of reader. If your book is for me my mind will immediately begin listing the editors I know will love your work and I will start daydreaming about readers raving and begging for more.

Eve Porinchak has eclectic literary tastes and is open to everything from picture books to young adult novels. She is currently looking for contemporary realistic fiction for teens that features unusual love stories with badass protagonists and cinematic writing.

From Eve: "Dark, edgy, psychological thrillers, gang-lit, realistic contemporary, mostly YA, but am open to anything. (I do love James Marshall's "The Stupids" after all!). Some of my favorite books to read over and over are: "True Notebooks" by Mark Salzman, "Monster" by Walter Dean Myers, "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, "You Shall Know Our Velocity" by Dave Eggers, "The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson, "This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, Inside The MS-13" by Samuel Logan. I am NOT a fan of fantasy; however, I love the Hunger Games, so that is the closest to fantasy-ish I will read. Also a huge fan of true crime, and loved NPR's SERIAL. If your story reads like a Tuesday night episode of "Dateline", send me your pages!

HOW TO SUBMIT: Send cover letter and the first 10 pages pasted into your email to either Jill or Eve at query@jillcorcoranliteraryagency.com.
Please indicate in your salutation line if your query is for Jill or for Eve. You will receive an auto-responder to let you know your submission has been received. Jill or Eve will contact you (pretty darn quickly!) if we are interested in reading your full manuscript via email. If you do not hear from us in six weeks, please know we have looked at your work and have determined it is not the right fit for our agency.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What’s the difference between ‘new’ adult and ‘young’ adult? PLUS a contest!

Guest post by Editor & Author of Writing New Adult Fiction Deborah Halverson, Writer's Digest Books (July 24, 2014), Sylvia Day (Foreword)

I bet the most common first question I field after telling writers that my new book is Writing New Adult Fiction is, “What’s the difference between ‘new’ adult and ‘young’ adult?” My answer usually starts with a single word: sensibility.

YA fiction has a youthful sensibility that matches the age range of its 12- to 18-year-old protagonists. Let’s leave the under-17s out of this, though, since it’s really the upper edge of teenhood that plays into this discussion. The way these older teens process the world and their place in it differs greatly from the way new adults do the same, and those differences play into how YA characters process their fictional world and react to it. Teens don’t have much experience with the world yet, so even when they are intellectually advanced, their emotional and social naïveté causes them to judge, act, and react differently than they will in just a few years, after they’ve lived through the hard stuff we throw at them in a YA story. These older teens are often desperate to get out from under their parents’ thumbs, or from under other authoritative oversight, and they believe that when they do, life will be so much better. They are an optimistic bunch—usually overly so, thanks to their inexperience. Their ability to put things into perspective is still budding.

NA fiction features 18- to 26-year-olds fully engaged in wisdom acquisition. They’ve got that freedom they dreamed of—only, now they carry the responsibilities that come with it. Turns out, it’s stressful living a self-responsible life when just about everything in your life is in transition. New social circles, new jobs, new living situations…. There’s lots of exploring and experimenting going on, lots of planning and reassessing plans and reassessing again. This is why NA fiction includes first forays into careers—that’s still a time of experimenting and assessing the Life Plan that they’ll settle into as adults with spouses, kids, and committed careers. New adulthood is also the time when young people use the wisdom they’re attaining to form their world view (which includes things like faith, political views, personal well being) and to establish their identities. They began identity exploration in their teen years but give it a serious work-through during this phase.

All of this plays out in a fictional character’s priorities, concerns, words, and actions, and in what the narrative focuses on (especially if that narrative is a first person point of view, which essentially puts readers inside the protagonist’s head). The things your characters talk about reveal their priorities and perspectives, and the way they act or react to situations makes those priorities and perspectives clear. A teen might think, “Is this what love feels like?”, whereas a new adult might say, “How do I behave when I’m with him? What do I want in a guy, in this guy? What do I need from a relationship?” All of these things—point of view, dialogue, action, word choice—contribute to a narrative’s sensibility.

So that’s why I say that the key difference between NA fiction and YA fiction lies is their narrative sensibilities. Yes, the ages of the characters are different and the settings may be different too (think high school versus college), but it’s the way the characters process their experiences that define the category. Send a seventeen-year-old protagonist to college early and she’s going to interact with that world through the emotions and social filters of a seventeen-year-old. Thus, it’s up to writers to make sure all the elements in our stories sync—character age, setting, problems, coping skills—so that the story is believable to its readership. NA characters talk and act like new adults and face problems that would befall new adults. If you don’t, you’ve got a YA that feels preachy or an NA that feels too young. And of course what we want is a book that feels right on target for our chosen category’s audience.

Luckily, as abstract as narrative sensibility seems to be, you can actively sculpt it from many different directions, using techniques and strategies for tangible elements like dialogue, plot choices, characterization, and even setting. That’s how I filled up an entire book with NA-focused writing advice, and why I dare to believe that writers will find Writing New Adult Fiction applicable as well
as informative.

WIN a signed copy of Writing New Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson!
In comments, let us know if you are writing YA, NA or both and then head on over to and join the A PATH TO PUBLISHING Facebook Group to talk with 1,600+ likeminded authors, editors, agents and illustrators:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/apathtopublishing/

We will randomly choose one person who both commented and is an A PATH TO PUBLISHING Facebook Group member to receive a signed copy of Writing New Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson! Winner will be chosen and notified via comments in this blog on October 15, 2014.

BIO: Deborah Halverson is the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Writing New Adult Fiction, the teen novels Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth, and numerous books for young readers. Deborah was an editor at Harcourt Children’s Books for ten years—until she climbed over the desk and tried out the author chair on the other side. Armed with a Masters in American Literature and a fascination with pop culture, she sculpts stories from extreme places and events—tattoo parlors, fast food joints, and, most extreme of all, high schools. She is also the founder of the popular writers’ advice website DearEditor.com. Deborah speaks extensively at workshops and conferences for writers and edits adult fiction and nonfiction while specializing in teen fiction, New Adult fiction, and picture books. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband and triplet sons. For more about Deborah, visit DeborahHalverson.com or DearEditor.com.

Here's to all of your publishing dreams coming true!

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I am often asked, how does a writer go about finding an agent. Here is a short list of sites I compiled and recently updated. If you have more, please put them in the comments and I'll add them to the post.

Websites for researching Agents

AgentQuery : http://www.agentquery.com/default.aspx

Absolute Write: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22
Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents Blog http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/

Literary Rambles (Agent In-Depth Reviews) 

Preditors and Editors: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/pubagent.htm

For Kidlit  - SCBWI Blueboards: http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php

QueryTracker: http://querytracker.net/

Lots of agent interviews, vlogs, blogs, twitters, etc all over the net. Google them and have fun researching.

Here's to all of your publishing dreams coming true!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why I Reject a Novel Based on Your First Page

Someone asked me the other day if I nix a manuscript based on the first page. Truthfully, I do.

The first page indicates your voice and the quality of your writing. As an agent with a pretty full list of clients, I am looking only for writers who are as good or better than the writers I already represent. Why? Because my reputation as an agent is based on my ability to spot talent. I owe it to my clients to uphold the reputation they have helped me build, to the editors I work with and hope to work with so I do not waste their time, and to myself.

Here are a few examples of what I consider fantastic first pages that represent each author's voice and talent. As I typed them out I realized that one thing that stands out to me in all these examples is the specifics the authors use.....

From A MATTER OF SOULS by Denise Lewis Patrick, edited by Andrew Karre (Carolrhoda LAB)

The Colored Waiting Room

Elsie Timmons had gone through the wrong door. Maybe it was a mistake. All she knew was that her mama, Luther Mae, was hollering at the top of her lungs for her to "Bring her womanish behind back, right now!"

In fact, there didn't seem to be any other sounds at all on that late summer day in front of Dr. Baker's neat brick office building. Just the strange, trumpeting tone of Luther Mae Timmon's words.

"Girl, I said come back here!" Elsie had to turn around. Her mama's voice sounded shaky, that way it always did when Pap bought her a tiny sack of peppermints along with his paycheck, or when that big black phone would ring and she'd sit down hard, because somebody-some cousin or aunt, or uncle's first wife-had died.

Elsie had to shade her eyes; fall hadn't set in deep enough yet to dull the brightness of the Southern sun. As the automatic glass door began to shut, Elise could see her mother out there, slapping her thigh in frustration...no, it was fear! The navy pleats fanned in and out each strike, and Elsie imagined the nasty red welts that must be rising on her mother's Carnation-milk skin. Elsie put her brown hand on the door handle. She was torn, and just a little bit worried.

But before she eased her mother's mind, before she let herself go back to being the "sweet, levelheaded child" that everybody at Galilee Baptist said she was, she had to see.

From SUPER SCHNOZ AND THE GATES OF SMELL by Gary Urey, edited by Kristin Ostby and Kelly Barrales-Saylor (Albert Whitman)

My name is Andy Whiffler and I was born with a humongous honker.

I'm talking a nose so big it should have come with a warning label, a schnoz so enormous little people could use it as a sledding hill, a pie sniffer so massive that if someone was walking beside me and I turned my head suddenly to the left, I'd knock them out cold.

You get the idea.

The weird thing is that everyone else in my family has adorable little button noses. Noses so perfect they'd make a supermodel jealous.

There's a reason why I have a huge beak. When mom was pregnant with me, the pharmacist mixed up her pre-natal vitamins with a steroid for nasal congestion. The effect was disastrous. The steroid overstimulated a gland in my brain that made my nose grow and keep on growing. And I can never have a nose job because there's a major artery that connects from my nasal septum to my brain.

If I snip off my snout, I'm a goner.

Besides the lawsuit money, there's only one good thing that came from the ordeal-I have an amazing sense of smell. I'm talking super-power worthy. I was around the age of two when I first became aware of this talent. My earliest memory is sitting in the living room when a luscious aroma wafted into my nostrils.

Chocolate-chop cookies.

My nose told me the smell wasn't coming from our kitchen. I toddled out the door in my diaper and walked into the street. Since Mom was asleep on the couch and Dad was at work, no one saw me leave.

The sweet scent let me across a main highway, through an auto salvage yard, across a set of busy railroad tracks, and finally to the little white house with yellow curtains. The two-mile journey took me four hours to complete.

From DRAMA QUEENS IN THE HOUSE by Julie Williams, edited by Nancy Mercado (Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan)

The theater is lit up like an opening-night gala celebrating the first show of the season. It's graduation night, the second Thursday in June, and this gala is all about me.

JESSIE JASPER LEWIS...my name on the marquee in lights.

well, the marquee actually reads THE JUMBLE PLAYERS. But a dozen Japanese maples dotting the patio are sparkling with lights. All the windows in the old mansion part of the theater are twinkling, too.

And there IS a huge banner strung across the stage door that reads WAY TO GO, JESSIE!

My dad hops out of the front passenger seat and runs around to open the limo door for me.

My best friend Bits leans over me, letting out a huge sigh. "Oooooh! I never see it like this. I'm always inside by now."

"I know! It's gorgeous, isn't it?"

"Like Broadway!" From Bits that's the highest praise. "And tonight it's all for you!"

She gives me a shove.

I tumble out into the driveway. For such a tiny person-not even five feet tall-Bits sure is strong.

She slides out after me. "Let's go see what David's got to eat..." She's also skinny as a rail and always hungry. I'm always hungry, too. But when your five foot eight at fifteen that's a given.

Mom had gracefully alighted from the massive Hummer limo. I envy that grace. She and Bits are the same hight and so much alike you'd think Bits was her kid, not her niece. (My aunt Loretta looks like a linebacker.) Like Bits and unlike me, Mom has full control of all her limbs.

She grabs my dad's hand, and they lead the way towards the stage door.

Let me just say, that though we live a dramatic life, we are not accustomed to this extravagant mode of transportation. Okay, the truth is I've never ridden in any kind of limo before. And Hummers are-well, kind of disgusting. Plus, we live only two houses down from the theatre (572 steps to be exact), and my main transportation for going anywhere else has always been the city bus system. If it weren't for our tech director's other life running a limo service, we'd be in the theater van.

From BLIND SPOT by Laura Ellen, edited by Karen Grove (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Winter stopped hiding Tricia Farni on Good Friday.

A truck driver, anxious to shave forty minutes off his commute, ventured across the shallow section of the Birch River used as an ice bridge all winter. His truck plunged into the frigid water, and as rescuers worked to save him and his semi, Tricia’s body floated to the surface.

She’d been missing since the incident in the loft six months ago. But honestly, she didn’t come to mind when I heard that a girl’s body had been found. I was that sure she was alive somewhere, making someone else’s life miserable. Maybe she was shacking up with some drug dealer, or hooking her way across the state, whatever. But she was definitely alive.

Easter morning that changed.

“The body of seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni was pulled from the Birch River Friday night. A junior at Chance High School, Tricia disappeared October 6 after leaving a Homecoming party at Birch Hill. Police believe her body has been in the water since the night she disappeared.”

I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. Tricia was a lot of things, a drug addict, a bitch, a freak, but dead? No. She was a survivor. Something—the only thing—I admired about her. I stared at my clock radio, disbelieving the news reporter. Ninety percent talk, AM 760 was supposed to provide solace from my own wrecked life that weekend. I thought all those old songs with their sha-la-la-las and da-doo-run-runs couldn’t possibly trigger any painful memories. I guess when a dead girl is found in Birch, Alaska, and you were the last to see her alive, even AM 760 can’t save you from bad memories.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Follow the Money! A Freelancer’s Financial Life

Follow the Money! A Freelancer’s Financial Life by Jen Arena
Invoices, W-9s, royalty statements. There’s more to freelancing than just writing—sometimes it means dealing with the financial side. Last week, I went back over the past year to get a sense of where the money was coming from. How much came from the books that I dreamed up and my agent sold? How much came from my licensed writing? I broke it down into percentages below.

I won’t tell you how much I actually made, but I’m relieved it’s significantly more than what The Guardian recently reported an average writer makes in a year. (To make things simple, I figured this out based on what I booked this year. So for example, if a received an offer on a picture book in May, I included the entire advance even though I may not get paid part of that advance until a year—or more!—later.)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers pubbing Sept, 2014

The breakdown:
Advances (3 books): 29.9%
Licensed writing (5 books): 29.7%
Flat-fee writing (2 books): 24.6%
Editing: 8.9%
Royalties: 6.9%

Here’s a little explanation of each category in case the terminology is unfamiliar.
Advances. This is the way many traditional book publishing contracts are structured. The publisher offers the author an advance against a royalty. The advance is a dollar amount and the royalty is a percentage of sales income. So, as a simple example, a publisher could offer a writer a $5000 advance with a 5% royalty. The copyright is in the author’s name, and sometimes the author will earn money years later on this book through royalties. The author may also earn money from subrights, such as translations, book club sales, etc. My books 100 Snowmen and Besos for Baby were advance/royalty contracts.
Flat fee writing. For a flat fee contract, the idea is often generated by the publisher and farmed out to a writer. The publisher offers the author a flat fee to write a manuscript, for example, $3000. Once the author completes the project, she’ll see no more money afterward. Sometimes an author will have the copyright in her name, and sometimes she won’t. Fair Is Fair and The Rainbow Mystery were flat fee projects.
Licensed writing. A license is a brand, like Barbie or Sponge Bob, or a movie, like How to Train Your Dragon. The licensor hires an author to write a book about characters it created. Like with a flat fee contract, for a licensed contract, the author is paid a set amount (for example, $3000) and doesn’t receive any money after that. The copyright is in the name of the licensor. Blondie: Rapunzel’s Royal Pony and Monsters University: Roaring Rivals were licensed contracts.
Royalties. Once a book earns out its advance (see above), the publisher pays the author royalties. Looking at that original example, on a book that costs $10, the publisher would need to sell roughly around 10,000 copies at the 5% royalty for the author to earn out her advance. (10,000 x .05 x $10 = $5000) I’m still earning royalties on my books Slinky Scaly Snakes and One Little Flower Girl.
Editing. In addition to writing, I freelance edit manuscripts for publishers, agents, and authors. Freelance edit jobs are a great way to smooth out the rollercoaster of writing, because they’re usually paid quickly and can be finished in a couple of days or a week.

What’s the takeaway? For me, the key is diversity. These five areas are ones that have worked well for me, but your five (or three . . . or six) may be different. School visits, for example, can be another way for children’s book authors to earn money, or teaching creative writing classes. By diversifying your sources of income, you spread out the risk. One year, you may do well with licensed writing and not so well editing, and the next year, those two categories may be reversed. Diversity is a great thing to add to your freelance career in other ways, too, such as writing for different age levels, writing different formats and genres, publishing with small publishers and large, or publishing traditionally and self-publishing.
Don’t let yourself be pigeonholed into just one category—you might surprise yourself with the different talents you have!

JENNIFER ARENA: Formerly an editorial director at Random House BFYR, Jen Arena has written over 50 books for kids under her maiden name, Jennifer Dussling, and under the pseudonym Tennant Redbank, including fiction and nonfiction, licensed and original. Some of the books she's written are Gargoyles, Bugs, Bugs, Bugs, Slinky Scaly Snakes, Pink Snow and Other Weird Weather, Fair Is Fair, Deadly Poison Dart Frogs, Gotcha!, and The Rainbow Mystery. Her books have been published by Scholastic, Grosset & Dunlap, DK, Scholastic, Kane Press, Two Lions, and Bearport Publishing and translated into French, Spanish, Korean, and Arabic. 

Booklist called Jen's recent book 100 Snowmen "adorable and educational, too," and One Little Flower Girl, published by Scholastic, won an Oppenheim Gold Award and was featured on Martha Stewart's wedding website. She has a number of books coming to print soon including Besos for Baby with Little, Brown, Marta Big and Small with Roaring Brook/Macmillan, Lady Liberty's Holiday with Knopf/Random House and a biography for Grosset & Dunlap's Who Was . . . ? series. When she's not writing or editing, you can find Jen in her garden, on a volleyball court, or curled up with a good book. http://www.jenarenabooks.com/

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