Saturday, July 30, 2011


I think it is interesting that some writers are turning to agents to have their ebooks pubbed. Personally, I do not have the time nor the inclination to handle the production/promotion/sales of ebooks for clients, especially for new projects. In my opinion, there are better freelance editors out there than me, production is the easy part so authors should learn and apply, and that is an interesting part of the equation. I probably have more marketing experience than most authors and/or agents, but marketing ebooks could easily be a full-time job for someone in an agency, and I don't want to divert my attention from what I love...discovering talent, nurturing talent and making a love connection betwn authors and editors.

For backlist, epubbing is often the only alternative for authors/illustrators, and I just spoke to Ronnie about it and I know she is trying to figure out how to get our clients' out of print books out as ebooks....Ronnie, who is also a well published author, has a strong backlist of her own so I think she will start by thinking about this for her own books and then go from there.

Things are changing so quickly it is making everyone's head spin, and I think everyone is really trying to do the best for their clients while tapping into what they know how to do and/or are willing to do. I keep hearing the words 'money grab', but I really doubt agents who are trying new ventures are just trying to hold on to every possible dollar flow. I think they are trying to grow and reinvent with the industry.

Things will shake-out and who knows which business model will be the answer, but authors (and I am one too so this is not coming from some podium) need to decide what they want in an agent. If you trusted your agent before, do you suddenly question everything you thought about them because they are offering some services that you are not interested in?

Actually, I see a lot of conflict of interest in some of the biz models, but agenting + epubbing is evolving and time will tell. For now, if you have an agent and he/she is doing a great job for you and you are happy, stop fretting and enjoy your relationship. If you are looking for an agent, decide what you want and query those agents who offer what you are looking for.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Beck McDowell's THIS IS NOT A DRILL to Nancy Paulsen of Nancy Paulsen Books at Penguin Young Readers

I am thrilled to announce the sale of Beck McDowell's debut THIS IS NOT A DRILL to Nancy Paulsen of Nancy Paulsen Books at Penguin Young Readers.

Here is the Publishers Weekly announcement!

Nancy Paulsen of Nancy Paulsen Books at Penguin Young Readers has acquired This Is Not a Drill, a debut YA thriller by Beck McDowell. The story is told from alternating viewpoints of two teens who must protect kindergarteners from a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder who opens fire in the classroom. Publication is scheduled for fall 2012. Jill Corcoran at the Herman Agency did the deal for world rights.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL is one for the record books! I signed Beck within 24 hours of receiving her query, and we received our first offer within 36 hours of subbing to editors. Plus, within 5 minutes of the book's sale announcement in PW Children's Bookshelf I started getting Hollywood interest. go, Beck!

I gobbled up THIS IS NOT A DRILL, and when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it, and the characters and horrific but oh so true images that still haunt me.

When high school senior Emery Austin finds herself locked in a kindergarten classroom with eighteen five-year-olds and a guy she's sworn never to speak to again, she must search for a way to help the tiny hostages. Brian Stutts, a U.S soldier back from Iraq who’s suffering from PTSD, only pulls out the gun to scare the teacher into handing over the son he's not allowed to check out because of a custody battle. But the situation turns deadly when a security guard appears at the door and Stutts impulsively opens fire. When the teacher lapses into a diabetic coma, suddenly her life and the lives of the children are in the hands of Emery and Jake, whose shares Emery's low opinion of himself after a recent drug arrest.           .

While Jake searches for a way to communicate with the policemen surrounding the building, shy Emery, fighting her panic disorder (and POTS), courageously  reaches out to the wounded soldier. She learns the source of his problems, gains a new understanding of the hidden damages of war, and discovers remarkable strength in Stutts’ small son. The story, filled with kindergarten comic relief, moves to a terrifying, surprising, and touching conclusion that leaves three people dead and Emery and Jake reevaluating their relationship.

In a paranormal-filled market, THIS IS NOT A DRILL is a fresh, fast-paced, realistic story told in the alternating viewpoints of two ordinary teens who share the grief of losing a parent (Emery through divorce and Jake through death) and the uncertainty of reestablishing trust in relationships damaged by betrayal.

Beck McDowell is a beloved (this I know for a fact!) former High School English teacher. Check out , a project Beck pioneered with her students over a two year period. The site offers student reviews of 50+ books and 60+ student produced book trailers that are amazingly professional.


Sunday, July 24, 2011


Remember back in July, 2010 I announced ANASTASIA SUEN'S 4-BOOK DEAL TO KANE/MILLER

And I said...This newest chapter book series is hush-hush since Anastasia and Kira came up with a new concept that is not yet on the market and we know will be a huge hit with middle grade girls.

Well, hush-hush is over and I am thrilled to let you all in on the secret....

All-Star Cheerleaders (Book #1), 
Tick Tock, Taylor
Author: Suen, Anastasia
Illustrator: Mitchell, Hazel

Country of Origin: United States
Ages: 5 - 9
Themes: FriendshipSports

Paperback $4.99

Will Taylor be able to do the moves fast enough to help Glitter take first place? Teammate Sophia doesn’t think so
but readers of this first-ever series for young readers about competitive cheerleading will cheer, "Big D Elite, Can’t Be Beat!"

Each book in the All-Star Cheerleaders series will follow one member of the Glitter squad as they practice, compete,
make new friends, learn new moves and most of all ... have fun!

Ready to buy? Click HERE 

PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-61067-000-5

ALL- STAR CHEERLEADERS website is now up and running. Read an excerpt from BOOK #1 now!

So how does a deal like this come about? Over lunch in sunny San Diego, Kira mentioned a concept for a chapter book that she'd love to publish and I immediately thought of Anastasia. After researching the topic we realized that a new series was in the works from another publisher so it was back to the drawing board for Kira and Anastasia. They met at IRA and brainstormed ideas until Kira's aha moment and Anastasia's extensive research proved they had stuck gold with a ultra-popular activity for middle grade girls and yet not a single chapter book with this subject on the market. I think this is whatDonny Deutsch would call The Big Idea:)

A Series Proposal and three written chapters later, a new, fabulous chapter book series is born!

Anastasia Suen is the author of 129 books for children and adults, a literacy blogger, a children's literature consultant for several publishers, a former K,1,5, & 6 teacher who visits schools to teach the six traits of writing, and a workshop instructor for SMU and online who teaches adults how to write for children. 

So has getting the sale always been a slam-dunk for Anastasia? Take heart, breaking in is tough for everyone. From her bio on the Herman Agency Website:

Children's books have always been a part of my life. My mother started reading to me when I was a baby and we went to the library every week. I wrote my first picture book when I was eleven and I've been writing books for children ever since. I wrote hundreds of manuscripts and collected rejection letters for years...and then it happened. On my fortieth birthday, the phone rang. After writing for twenty-nine years, I sold my first book! Today I've sold 129 books: board books, picture books, easy readers, and chapter books (including a book for adults about how to write children's books). I've also written articles, poems, and stories for textbooks, magazines, and the web.

In 1995 I began working as a children's literature consultant for Sadlier-Oxford. Later I joined the Rosen Publishing Group Reading Advisory Board and became a "Classroom Connections" reviewer for Book Links. I have also consulted for Brown Books Publishing Group, Lee & Low Books, National Geographic School Publishing and Scholastic. Today I write about children's books in my monthly Hot Topics column for Booklist's Quick Tips for Schools & Libraries and Monday through Friday on my booktalk blogs.


Thursday, July 14, 2011


Before I go into what I am looking for I want to talk about what makes a book sell. 

It is NOT how fabulous your website or blog is. It is NOT how many facebook or twitter friends you have, how many publishing links you forward or put on said website, blog, facebook and twitter. It is not how much editors and agents like you, though being a pain in the arse will NOT help you in any way, shape or form. 

What sells a book is THE WRITING coupled with an ORIGINAL, COMPELLING CONCEPT! 

You have heard that great writing will rise to the top and find its way. Yet we all know that not all great writing sells. There is marketing and sales to contend with, and even in my 2 short years of being an agent I have had quite a number of books that editors loved and sales and marketing told them that it would sell, but just not enough....and the books are still not published. Breaks my heart. Breaks the editors' hearts. And oh, the author. So very unfair. BUT, publishing is a business and fair is not the leading part of the equation here. 

But couple GREAT WRITING with an ORIGINAL AND COMPELLING CONCEPT and you are 75% there. The rest is luck, timing, bizarre unknown factors that none of us understand but we kill ourselves trying to, and kismet. When HARRY POTTER, TWILIGHT, WIMPY KID, 13 REASONS WHY, etc were brought to acquisitions meetings and given the green light, publishers made an educated guess that these books would sell. They make those educated guesses on other books (and in some cases pay big advances and pump marketing dollars into them) that are equally fantastic but for some mysterious reason never find their audience. I worked in marketing for a couple of decades and this is just how it goes. What made the Pet Rock, Silly Bands, Chia Pets, Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear Soap, etc sell? Don't know.

Is it all word of mouth? Is it superior product--maybe yes in books, but in Pet Rocks? What do you think?

What I am looking for is based on what I personally gravitate to mashed up with what editors have told me they are looking for. Please know this is not the same list that every agent will want, nor every editor. Every agent is different, and that is why it is so impt to do your research to find the right agent for you.

WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR updated July 2011:


-THRILLERS-up the stakes and make me unable to put down the book until I know that everyone is OK, or not. 

I am NOT talking about Boxing Helena or Shutter Island, as I am a huge chicken and will have nightmares. I am talking more CSI and Law & Order,  Die Hard and Armageddon (yes, I am a Bruce Willis fan), Men in Black and Independence Day (and a huge Will Smith fan). Thrillers are cinematic. As I read I want the movie playing in my head.

-ROMANTIC YA-Contemporary, mystery, paranormal, historical, scifi, ROMANTIC COMEDIES...doesn't matter---it is about characters--soul-searching, groin-yearning, heart thumping, heart breaking, fast paced, laughout loud, cry out loud, make me want to be your character ROMANCE!
BTW, I want my romance from the GIRL's POV. I have amazing male writers who are writing romance and YA from the male POV so I am looking more for girl povs.

-Original/Out of the box PARANORMAL MG & YA that keeps me at the edge of my seat and has a fantastic payoff at the end.

-Upper MIDDLE GRADE that captures the reality of Middle School with an intriguing plot + authentic emotion. 7th & 8th grade = hormonal roller coaster where kids strive to be independent yet are still such babes in the woods.

-Younger MG-FUNNY BOY & GIRL illustratable for 3rd-5th grade be it b/w line art all the way to graphic novel. I'm talking IVY & BEAN, CLEMENTINE, FANGBONE (new from Michael Rex), BIG NATE, LUNCH LADY.

-COMING OF AGE GIRL MG & YA with commercial hook and beautiful writing. School stories, sibling stories, friendship stories but with something fresh and NOT QUIET

-MG ADVENTURE that is not episodic and where the main character is as imperative to the story as the action. A character who readers will want to follow into the clutches of death and back again.


-Regarding picture books, I am so, so very picky that I don't even have an actual want list on this. I would say very short...max 700 words, prefer 500 or less. 

-Look at our agency website, we rep some of the top pb author/illustrators, illustrators and authors in the world, so your book has to be better than that! 

LIST OF RECENT DEALS--a few more will be listed in the next couple of weeks:)

BTW, when I say I want something fresh/out of the box/original, I mean that you should know what is out on the market and make yours different. None of us have the time to read every book but you sure can do some research to see if yours is truly original. RESEARCHING COMP BOOKS

Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Martha Brockenbrough's TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE DEAD to Arthur Levine at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic!

I am thrilled to announce the sale of Martha Brockenbrough's YA debut TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE DEAD to Arthur Levine at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic pubbing Summer, 2012!

Here's the PM listing:)

July 12, 2011
Young Adult 
Martha Brockenbrough's TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE DEAD, in which a guardian angel in a rehabilitation program for wayward souls accidentally kills the girl he's supposed to watch over, fails to get her into heaven, and may or may not cause lasting psychological damage to a squirrel, to Arthur Levine at Arthur A. Levine Books, in a pre-empt, for publication in Summer 2012, by Jill Corcoran at The Herman Agency (World).

How I met Martha is one of those kismet stories. In the summer of 2009, I tweeted about how I was going to the SCBWI LA Working Writers Retreat and everyone should sign up. Little did I know that Martha Brockenbrough saw that tweet, signed up for the retreat and ended up in the same group as me...LUCKY ME! Being in the same group meant I got to hear Martha's funny, innovative, brilliant writing 5 different times over the weekend as we read and had our work critiqued by editors and writers. The final critique of the weekend was with Arthur A. Levine, and Martha, for the first time, read pages from her then WIP, TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE DEAD. 

We were all blown away!

TEN COMMANDMENT FOR THE DEAD is like nothing you have ever read before. The writing is smart, snappy and commanding. The characters pull you in and take you on a wild and willy ride. The pages leave enough white space to allow the reader to to think all the while that they are furiously page-turning to find out what will happen next. 

As many agent-writer stories go, I did not sign Martha on the spot. She already had a fabulous agent who, months after the retreat, sold Arthur Martha's debut picture book, THE DINOSAUR TOOTH FAIRY. But what did happen for Martha and me is that we became friends. Friends bonded in the way only stripping yourself naked in front of other writers and editors and reading your work out loud and not climbing under your chair as the critiques roll in can cement a friendship. Twitter, facebook, phone calls, meeting up at conferences (thank you SCBWI!), deepened that friendship and when Martha and her agent amicably parted, I found out as a friend. 

During one conversation I asked what happened with TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE DEAD as I had never gotten that story out of my head...yup, it sticks with you! Martha sent it, I loved it, and I was thrilled to sign Martha as my client.

When editors heard I had signed Martha, many got in touch to see her work. But interestingly, Arthur, like me, could not get TEN COMMANDMENTS out of his head and asked what is happening with that book. I sent it and the rest is history, as they say. 

Look for THE DINOSAUR TOOTH FAIRY and TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE DEAD soon on a bookshelf (or e-bookshelf) near you!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011


LA KidLit Drink Night #2
Sunday, August 7th 6pm at Pink Taco

Walking distance from the conference!

EVERYONE IS INVITED! This is not an SCBWI sponsored event, it is not an only-LA people event, it is not a u-have-to-be-published event. It is just pure fun! 

FYI--there is no giant bill to go in on, just pay as you eat/drink. Lee Wind, Greg Pincus, Rita Crayon Huang, Sara Wilson Etienne and I put this together but it is just a call to meet up, not a we-r-having-a party party.

Inspired by the Kid Lit Drink Night cooked up by Betsy Bird and Cheryl Klein in NYC, Los Angeles whips up our own version of the drop-by-for-drinks-and-food-(you-buy-your-own)-and-great-conversation-with-cool-people-in-the-Children's-Literature-Industry Evening! Masterminded by Lee Wind, Greg Pincus, Rita Crayon Huang, Sara Wilson Etienne and Jill Corcoran! Help spread the word and invite YOUR Kid Lit World friends...


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