3 S.R. Johannes: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bookanistas Give Back!

Charitable donations are a very personal thing. There are so many ways our hard earned money can help others, and lately our world seems to be breaking into pieces around us. Needs are many and great. The Bookanistas want to give back, so in the coming months, we're going to be looking for ways to pour into communities, both bookish and worldwide.

For the month of April, the Bookanistas have chosen to spotlight Run For Your Life, an event that's raising money for a cancer hospital, largely because the framework is already set up (we'd like to keep it simple our first time out), and also because of personal connections to the cause. Most everyone has lost a loved one to cancer or knows someone who has.

To encourage you to donate, we're going to give away some sweet prizes! Here's how it will work:

2. Make a donation. $5 is suggested, but lower or higher is fine. (Also know that for every dollar you donate, you'll be entered to win a private, advance screening for twenty people for Breaking Dawn. The Bookanistas have NOTHING to do with that part - that's all Charlie Bewley and Summit Entertainment.)

3. Come back and fill out the entry form on this page.

We're trusting you to be honest about giving, and about the amount you give. Don't be a mamby pamby. Keep up our faith in mankind.

4. The Bookanistas will be giving away a selection of prizes (see list below). You will be entered one time for each dollar you donate ($5 = 5 entries). If you wish to be entered to win a specific prize, let us know in the designated section of the entry form.

5. We're following the guidelines set forth by Run for Your Life, which means this particular event will only be open to those in North America. Entries will be closed on April 30th, and we will contact randomly selected winners shortly thereafter.

6. Spread the word. Tweet, post the Run For Your Life logo (above) with a link to Charlie's site on your blog, or Facebook about the event, and receive an entry (one entry TOTAL for doing all or one of these things). Place a link/links in the place provided on the entry form.

HERE'S THE LIST OF BOOKANISTA PRIZES (this list WILL be added to, so check back):

A signed copy of WHITE CAT and a signed copy of RED GLOVE by Holly Black

A 50 page manuscript critique

A signed copy of MOONGLASS

A swag pack of POSSESS goodies and a query critique

A 50 page manuscript critique

A signed copy of AUDITION

A query and first chapter critique

A signed copy of LIAR SOCIETY and bookmarks

A box of ten mystery advance reader copies

A Dystopian Trifecta of Awesome - a signed copy of DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES by Carrie Ryan, a signed copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie, and a signed ARC of Elena's own POSSESSION


A signed copy of DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins, a signed copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, a signed copy of TORMENT by Lauren Kate, and a signed and annotated advance reader copy of HOURGLASS.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Winner(s) of Diana Fox Agent Pitch Contest!

CONGRADS everyone - here's Diana with the winners!

This was a hard decision, because there were so many great pitches in this contest! Thanks so much to Shelli for hosting it, and to everyone who entered.


1st place: A. Lockwood, OLYMPUS GATE

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Pitch: A girl from a broken future travels back to ancient Rome to stop her sister's murder, confront the gods, and prevent the coming apocalypse.

Comments: Post-apocalyptic dystopias, time travel, AND ancient Rome and the gods? I'm hooked!

2nd place: Elizabeth Briggs, ALTERNATE

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Pitch: A teen hacker is drawn into a war between parallel universes when she meets an alternate version of herself from another dimension.

Comments: I love the concept, it's kind of like Hackers meets Fringe.

3rd place: S. Kyle Davis, BLACKBIRD

Genre: YA Fantasy Technothriller

Pitch: Spy chick bypasses a top-of-the line security system to steal an object before the sorcerers do in this "Mission:Impossible w/ magic" tale.

Comments: This just sounds FUN!

Winners, please email your full manuscripts to submissions@foxliterary.com and mention the pitch contest in your subject line.

Top ten honorable mentions:


Genre: YA Contemporary

Pitch: If Carissa's oppressive parents weren't paying her boyfriend to be her bodyguard, art school would have been her perfect escape.

‪Carmen Ferreiro Esteban, THE REVENGE OF THE WOLF KING

GENRE: YA Medieval Fantasy

PITCH: Princess Ines's love for her whipping boy is put to the test when the king accuses him of the queen's murder and sentences him to death.

‪Elizabeth, FLICKER

Genre: Sci-Fi YA

Pitch: A grl w/a bad ♥ learns shes being kept alive by an alien virus that gives her the pwr 2 bend reality &save the wrld from an insidious force


Genre: YA urban fantasy

Pitch: In a world where souls can be ripped free and harnessed as a weapon, a 17yo boy learns the hard way that standing out can be deadly.


Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Pitch: To control the creature threatening to take over her, 16-year-old Scar joins an underground fight club of witches, werewolves and vampires.

‪Lindsay Cummings, CHANGED

Genre:YA dystopian

Pitch: After an ecological disaster caused by environmentalists, a girl uses enhanced vision to find where the Disappeared go in a walled-in world.

‪Tracey Neithercott, ALIVE

Genre: YA sci-fi

Pitch: When she discovers Eli's healing ability, Alex plans to bring her sister back to life. She never expects 2 uncover lies about her childhood.

‪Emma Hollingberry, SKYBORNE

Genre: Literary YA Sci-Fi

Pitch: The emperor forces a hardcore racer onto his assassin team and then pits her against the people who deserted her as a child in an inter-galaxy war she'll refuse to fight.


Title: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Friendship

Genre: MG Contemporary

Pitch: When selling her appendix on e-bay doesn’t work, ten-year-old Annie seeks other ways to save her best friend’s house from foreclosure.


Genre: Urban Fantasy

Pitch: An unexpected inheritance, a snarky rapier with delusions of grandeur, and a tall stranger put Leah in the middle of an ancient war.

If you have an honorable mention, I would LOVE to see your query and sample pages!

Please email me at submissions@foxliterary.com and mention the pitch contest in your subject line.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Belated Bookanistas - Going to "Dark and Hollow Places"

Sorry about the late post. (ugh a day late! to be exact)

Carrie Ryan is one of my favorite writers. If I could pick a writer to write like - Carrie would be in my top 3. Why? because I LOVE how she walks the line between commercial and literary.

I love that she can write beautifully while having a pacy novel.

Oh yeah and after I met with her
(And Megan Miranda) last fall for lunch (aka Mexican fiesta!), I developed a huge writer crush on her. Not only is she so sweet, but she is hilarious - and you all know how much I love funny, sweet people.

Now, if you have not read this series because you are telling yourself "I am not a zombie person" I want you to know - "I am not a zombie person either!"

But a couple years ago, I happened to watch
Forest of Hands and Teeth trailer on Amazon and it scared the crapola out of me. yet intrigued me so much I bought the book that day. And a) i never read zombie stuff b) hate horror, and 3) hate to be scared like that. But the words on that video pulled me in.

And I've read all 3 books happily.

So after just finishing the Arc of TDAHP (which btw the sequels are really companion novels because they follow 3 different characters though they are all connected closely) - here is my shout out:

My top reasons why I love Forest of Hands and Teeth series (especially The Dark and Hollow Places)

1. The writing is gorgeous! Carrie is amazing with words.

2. The fast paces and scare factor - seriously, I was reading until late at night even when I had to get up early (damn you Carrie!:)

3. It is written with such a beautiful style that when I first started it - I'd forgotten it was a zombie book. 

4. Carrie was a lawyer but wanted to write. So after long days at the office, she would go home and write a chapter for her husband.

5. the nice romance that is not with a bad guy. But in a bad  - okay fine - crappy -situation.

6. I love the covers!

7. In an SCBWI YA masters class, Carrie's editor Krista Marino taught us about voice by dissecting Forest.

You know what? I could talk forever about how much I love this book, but I don't want to hold you up from reading it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wrapping up loose ends - giveaways and contests!

Today, I have a few things to wrap up today....so here goes.

The winner of The Liar Society book from the Launch Day post is Brenda Drake.

The winner of Cheryl Klein's book from Part 2 (there was also a Part 1 you can check out) is Kate Higgins.

All of the books I have given away to date have been shipped and should have already been received. If you have won something on my blog and didn't receive it, please email me.

Now, on to the winners of the Pay It Forward Agent Query Contest.

Once again, I could not decide on only one so.... I picked one from each genre to suggest to Alyssa. To be honest, I really liked them all - it was more a matter of what I felt was more ready.
Congrads! :)

Please email me offline at sjohannes@bilaninc.com for my suggestions and instructions! There are a few conditions that go along with this win.

For the other three finalists, I'm sorry :( I know how disappointing it might be. Because I want to thank you for entering - I'd like you 3 to email me offline for an ARC of your choice.

To the 5 finalists, I am still working on the query critiques (but I'm under agent deadline) and hope to have them done in the next couple of weeks. At that time, I will send the query critiques and a few notes on the manuscript pages to help you move forward.

That's it for now! :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Part 2 - Cheryl Klein (Second Sight Giveaway)

Last week, Cheryl Klein stopped by to talk about her new book, Second Sight, An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults.

Part 1 aired last Thursday.

This week, in Part 2, Cheryl talks more about the editing side of her career.

Let's get started.

Cheryl, in addition what are the top 3 reasons you reject a book?

Not necessarily in order:

1. I don’t find the characters or their conflicts all that interesting.

2. The narrative voice annoys me, and therefore I don’t want to spend two years listening to it. (Most likely because of broadcasting, as above.)

3. It isn’t something that I think I can publish effectively, either because I don’t think it’s very good, or because there are a lot of books like it already in the market, or because it’s not really an Arthur A. Levine Books type of book (meaning it will do better published as something other than a literary hardcover book).

Can you give us an idea of day in the life of Cheryl Klein?

I get up between 7 and 8, do all the typical morning stuff, take the B train from my neighborhood in Brooklyn to the Broadway-Lafayette stop in Manhattan, and arrive at the office by 9:30, where I have a cup of tea and check my e-mail. I deal with any fires there, then try to turn to the first thing on my to-do list—whether it’s negotiating a contract (which can involve a lot of talking to other departments) or writing flap copy or preparing for a presentation or line-editing a manuscript or examining proofs.

The day then alternates among those tasks, attending meetings, and continuing to deal with what comes in from our production department or over the phone or e-mail—though when I’m in the middle of a novel line-edit, that tends to subsume everything else for me, because I find the work so interesting and absorbing, and because line-edits take a while.

The last thing I do every night at work is write my to-do list for the next day, so that I have my priorities set and ready to go the next morning.

There are so many books on writing out there. What is your favorite book on plot? How about voice? (besides your own of course :)

My favorite book on voice, by far (and character, too), is Orson Scott Card’s Characters and Viewpoint.

The book on plot from which I’ve learned the most is Aristotle’s Poetics, which I read for the first time in college, but I was really lucky to have a great professor teaching me the significance of all the jargony theoretical statements in the book (the edition we read, anyway).

I also like The Fiction Editor by Thomas McCormack, which is also jargony, but says some really useful things about the larger points toward which plots should work.

What is the one piece of advice you would give a writer who keeps getting so close but doesn't make it?

Figure out what (1) your two greatest writerly strengths, (2) your favorite subject to read about, and (3) your two biggest weaknesses as a writer are.

Develop (do not yet start actually writing) a book that uses (1) to portray (2) and minimize (3). For instance, if you know your strengths are awesome characters and dialogue, and your favorite subject is romance, but you’re terrible at plotting and creating tension, come up with your awesome characters, but put them in a simple story that doesn’t involve a lot of tension—a love story with a straightforward central conflict that lets the characters do their thing.

Then get help with (3) to improve it as much as you can before you dive in; then write the book and revise it.

And have fun. When writers have fun, readers do too.

In the spirit of Actor's Studio, here a few questions for you. We'll call it Editors's Studio. First, what is your favorite word?

My boyfriend will tell you the word I say the most is “Meh” or “Feh.” The word whose sound I like the most . . . I’ve always been fond of “spackle.”

Wait, is that a word? :) Okay, how about the word you hate the most?

Hmm. Soundwise, I think I must have blocked this offending word from my mind, because I can’t think of one! Meaningwise, “failure.”

What is your favorite thing to do in your personal time (you cant say reading! :)

I love cooking and baking—the absorption of putting all these ingredients together in just the right quantities, the ability to listen to music or NPR while I work, the deliciousness that results, the pleasure of serving it to others (sometimes!) and eating it.

And lastly, what profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

In the realm of reality, I think I really would enjoy being a professional baker. In fantasy, I’d love to sing and dance in a Broadway musical. Both of those professions are about being part of a community and making other people happy through your work, and those are two of my greatest satisfactions in being an editor, too.

Thanks Cheryl!

Comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Second Sight by Cheryl Klein.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Bookanistas love Cheryl Klein's new book, Second Sight

Cheryl Klein stops by to talk about her new book - Second Sight, An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults.

For those of you who have not heard Cheryl speak - I'm sorry :( because you are missing out. The woman is brilliant and every time we talk, I have so many "aha" moments.

I've had the pleasure of being on faculty with Cheryl and she was as fun and engaging as she is smart.

A personal tidbit I learned - she loves music. Like goes to concerts all the time. That's how cool she is.

Anyway, never fear, now all of her best, amazing talks are in this book.

This will be a 2- part interview with a giveaway on Part 2.

Hi Cheryl, tell us about yourself.

Hi Shelli. I’m a narrative nerd of long standing: I love stories of all kinds—true, false, books, film, theatre, biographies, for children, for adults—and thinking about how a good story works or why the bad ones don’t. I’m lucky enough to get to work with lots of brilliant writers and stories in my job as a senior editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. And I have a book coming out that brings together all the writing I’ve done over the years about plots, character, voice, and all those other great components of written stories. The title is Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults, but thinking about it now, I really could have called it The Collected Narrative Dorkery of Cheryl Klein.

What made you finally decide to do this book (besides all the begging we have done!)

Ever since I started putting a good number of my writing talks on my website, people had been asking me when I was going to publish a real book on writing. And while I love editing other people’s books, I thought it sounded pretty awesome to have a whole book of my own.

You talk a lot about plotting in this book. What do you find is the biggest problem writers have with plotting?

The writers are so close to the characters and understand so much of their backstory and thoughts that actions and plot developments that seem hugely significant to them (“them” meaning “the characters and writers”) only make the reader say “Um, what just happened there . . . ?” A lot of the work I do with my authors focuses on building in the backstory and character development that makes the action in the book matter as much to the reader as it does to the writer.

I've heard you say voice is so critical to you loving a book. What do you find is the biggest problem writers have with voice?

I’d say it’s either that the voice isn’t distinctive—that it sounds like a hundred other narrative voices already out there, with no particular personality or beauty to distinguish it from anything else; or that the voice too-obviously broadcasts everything the character is feeling, oncoming plot developments, other characters’ true natures, etc., etc., without regard for proper pacing of the information or emotional flow.

The book touches on how to write from various POVs. What can a writer do to write an effective 3rd person vs 1st person character?

A first-person narrator has to do three things effectively: (1) tell the story; (2) be believable and compelling as the voice of that particular character; and (3) bring a personality and richness to the story beyond mere factual narration—some imagination, charm, or elegance. In third person, (2) is removed, so all the voice has to do is tell the story well.


Was this enough for you? No? Cheryl will be back Monday with Part 2 - talk about a cliffhanger :)

In the meantime, what questions do you have for Cheryl?

Check out the other Bookanista posts:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I would give anything to be like....

NOTE: If you want to enter Diana Fox's agent pitch contest, enter here - the contest is open until midnight on Wed night. (If you include your entry on this post, it might get lost and not count.)

Kirsten Hubbard's Like Mandarin hits the stores this month.

In Like Mandarin, 14-year-old Grace Carpenter would give anything to be like 17-year-old Mandarin Ramey -- the bold,
carefree wild girl of their small Wyoming town.

Kirsten is running a contest on her blog so go check it out.

I love this book.

How many times growing up did you wish and wish you could be someone else?

When I was growing up, I always wanted to be like my mom.
I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true. Though, I'd never suck up my pride and tell her.
  • She was tall and thin and petite. I was short with an athletic build.
  • She had boobs. I didn't.
  • She could play tennis. I could only play if it counts when the ball bounces off your head because you forget to swing. Though my dad made me keep trying.
  • She went disco dancing with my dad every friday night. I could not dance if my life depended on it. Seriously, even Elane on Seinfeld dances better than me.
  • I loved her hands - so soft and petite. My hands - scarred from being dragged by a dog.
  • Her hair was blonde. Mine was mousy brown.
  • She never tooted, burbed, or made any noises that were less than ladylike. Me - not so polite.
  • She won 1st runner up in Ms. Palm Springs. I never won anything, especially not a pagent.
  • She had thin arms and long legs. I had stubby legs that made a hydrant laugh and muscular arms that I was self conscious about until ---- 5 minutes ago. Ok so they still bother me.
  • She looked great in tank tops. I did not (still don't)
  • She got to see Elvis. I saw Kenny Rogers and Dolly Pardon in the Islands in the Stream tour. (uh - not the same thing)
  • She is a summer color. Me a fall. Not easy to find in Florida because it is summer all year long.
  • She used to sing in a local theatre. I was in the audience.
My mom was everything I wasn't.
And to add insult to injury, people used to always tell me I looked like my dad ------ um gee thanks.

When I was in high school - it was Appolonia from in Purple Rain. (Specifically, I mimicked her cool striped eye makeup.)

When I was in college, it was my best friend, Beth (also a petite blonde).

When my ex-fiance called off our wedding, I wanted to be ANYONE but me.

Now, I want to be (okay, write) like Kirsten. (because I could never look this cool in grass Yes that is her adorable author picture. It's so good, it makes you sick right? Oh yeah, and she's funny too.)

So don't let me embarrass myself alone and own my pitiful, let's hear it in the comments. Who's your Mandarin?

Agent Pitch Contest - Diana Fox (Fox Literary)

NOTE - My Pay it Forward winner will be announced Friday!

It's time for another agent twitter pitch contest!

Today, the pitch is being judged by Diana Fox from Fox Literary. You can follow her blog or catch her on Twitter.

Here are some other interviews to help you get to know her taste and style:
Literary Rambles
The Blog Realm

Gets to submit manuscript!

When: Begins today, (Wed at 10AM EST) and ends tomorrow (Thursday) at midnight EST (I will close comments when it officially ends so if you get a comment in, you are counted.)

Why Twitter pitch? Because if you can't get your book in a Twitter pitch, you need to work on narrowing down the story and hook. You can check your character count either on Word (file, Tools/Word Count/Characters with spaces), on Twitter, or here.

  • Your pitch MUST only be 140 characters to be counted so please check it twice! This includes spaces and punctuation so you might have to be creative. If your pitch is over 140 characters when I test it, it will not be eligible.
  • Your pitch can be for adults or children.
  • This is for unagented/unpublished book writers only. (if you've published articles or essays - you may enter!)
  • You can only enter ONCE so choose wisely!
  • You MUST be a follower of my blog (and I'd love to see you on Twitter too.). It's only fair to those who are .
What To include: In the comments you MUST leave the following information to be considered:
  • title of book
  • genre
  • your Twitter (140 characters) pitch
  • your email
Title - Untraceable
Genre - YA Survival Suspense
Email - sjohannes@bilaninc.com

Pitch - When her forest-ranger father disappears,Grace uses her survival skills to search the NC mtns & finds a secret group plotting against nature

References: Here are a few articles on writing short, one sentence pitches:

Nathan Bransford (agent)
Rachel Gardner (agent)
Query Tracker
Scribe Chat
140 character pitch

Winner(s) will be announced next week!

Good luck!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Diana Fox (Fox Literary) talks Marketing

Diana's Agent Pitch Contest starts tomorrow and ends Wed night at midnight EST. Come back tomorrow for deets!

Here is Diana Fox to talk about marketing and tell you what she likes!

Tell us about yourself/your agency

I started my career as an intern at Writers House in 2004, and began taking on my first clients while working as an assistant there. In 2007 I opened Fox Literary, a boutique agency, primarily representing young adult and adult commercial fiction, along with some literary fiction and nonfiction with broad commercial appeal. Since then, I've represented a steadily-growing list, including some bestselling and award-winning authors I've been incredibly lucky to get to work with. I also love the challenges of running my own business, and I've learned so much in the last three years that I could never have learned any other way.

How do you, as an agent, encourage your authors to market themselves?

It depends on the author. Not every author is going to be good at marketing themselves in the same ways, so it's important for individual authors to figure out what works for them. But there are a couple of things I encourage all my authors to do.

1) Have some kind of online presence. What that is can vary--there's so much to choose from when it comes to social media these days, but it should be something the author is good at doing and doesn't hate, and which will help them reach their target audience. I also encourage authors to maintain a basic website with information about how to contact them and on their books (and links to where readers can buy the books!).

2) Network. This category is VAST and networking can take many forms, but I encourage authors to cultivate relationships both with potential readers and with people in the industry, like fellow authors, librarians, booksellers, and other publishing professionals. Some ways to do this include:

  • -- going to conferences
  • -- joining writers organizations (such as the Authors Guild or specialized groups like RWA and SCBWI, which are especially valuable for unpublished authors but can greatly benefit published authors too)
  • -- establishing relationships with local booksellers and librarians
  • -- offering to do school visits and talk to book clubs (either remotely or in person)
  • -- attending events to support fellow authors
  • -- authors promoting one another by doing things like participating in group blogs, retweeting and interviewing and guest blogging for one another, giving away books by other authors, planning events together, etc.
  • -- being active in writing forums like Backspace/Absolute Write/Verla Kay/OWW/Romance Divas
  • -- interacting personally with readers online (I'll never forget how pleasantly surprised I was the first time an author sent me a message on GoodReads thanking me for reading and reviewing her book--and I've thought well of that author ever since!)
  • -- last but not least, have other interests and participate in other communities that aren't directly related to writing and publishing.

Authors need to care about--and talk about--more than just themselves and their books, and often, other people who share their non-writing interests will be a good potential audience for the author's books as well. To give a brief example, my client Seanan McGuire participated in the science fiction community as a fan and a singer-songwriter for years, putting out several CDs and traveling to conventions to perform and building a fan base for her music that also eventually produced many readers of her books.

Now she goes to those same events as a published author and has a chance to interact with those readers, lots of whom she's known since before she ever had an agent or sold a book! So when it comes to building a readership I feel like the most effective and organic way for authors to do that is to participate in activities they enjoy with people who share their interests--both book-related AND not.

How have things changed with agencies promoting their author books? What things do agents/literary agencies do to help promote their author's books?

I think that in general, agents are taking over more and more of the work that publishers used to do, and that includes publicity. When I say this, I want to be very clear that I'm NOT saying publishers aren’t doing their part--I'm so grateful to the marketing and publicity teams who work with my authors, and I see how hard they work!--but given the ever-increasing amount of books being published and the proliferation of outlets for promoting those books, publishers have to be selective about where their resources are best spent.

As a result, I'm seeing more agents act as unofficial publicists and publicity consultants to their authors, especially when it comes to online promotion and social networking. Many agents have blogs, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages which they use to promote their individual clients in addition to themselves and their agencies. (Some editors do this now as well.) In addition, some of the larger agencies have publicity managers on their staff, or publicity and marketing interns.

As an agent, when evaluating whether to take on an author or book, I'm assuming you Google them.

Yes--and sometimes I Google them even earlier. If I see a fantastic query and request the manuscript right away, I’ll often Google because I’m excited to learn more about the author. If I’m on the fence, sometimes I’ll Google to see if they have a blog or website with further excerpts from the book I’m considering requesting, to help make up my mind.

And when I’m thinking of offering representation, I go through everything I can find: blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, posts on message boards and writing forums, online publications, etc. Mainly because I want to make sure my clients know how to act professional in public, but I also want to see what they bring to the table (in addition to a great book, of course!) and their online presence is a part of that.

When you Google authors, what do you look for? What would turn you off?

I look for clean, easy to read websites that get the job done. An author website doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles, at least not at the query stage--I just need to know who you are, what you write, and how to get in touch with you. Ideally, however, a website will also give some sense of the author’s personality and whether they know how to market themselves appropriately for the genre they’re writing in. For instance, when I first saw Elizabeth Loupas's website, I thought it was a perfect author website for Elizabeth; like her, it’s simple, classy, and relevant to the interests of the audience for her work, and that made me even more certain that she was exactly what I was looking for in a client.

What turns me off is a website that’s difficult to navigate and/or has spelling and grammar errors, and authors behaving unprofessionally online. Some agents spend a lot of time on the Internet, and if we see writers engaging in behavior we find unprofessional (such as trash-talking agents and the publishing industry, or constantly posting to message boards & hanging out on Twitter instead of writing their books), it will make us less interested in working with them. That doesn’t mean authors can never say anything remotely critical or negative--just that if they're doing so in a public forum, they should be aware of that, and choose their words and actions accordingly.

What advice do you have for authors trying to promote their books to agents?

The most important thing is to have written a good book! I know agents say this all the time, but it’s true: if the book is good enough, everything else is secondary.Beyond that, my advice for unpublished authors is pretty similar to what I encourage my clients to do.

Again, networking (both online and off) can really help authors looking to connect with agents. I find the majority of my clients through a combination of referrals, meeting them at conferences, and discovering them online; only about a quarter of the authors I currently represent queried me directly. I'd also reiterate that it’s useful to have a website, but if you do, it needs to look professional. A bad website is worse than no website.

And, authors need to be easy to find! I can’t stress this enough. Connect your social media--if I can find your twitter/Facebook, I want to be able to click through to your website or blog without having to spend a long time hunting around for the link, and vice versa.

Finally, I love authors whose online presence shows that they are savvy when it comes to self-promotion and marketing. A good example of this is when I see authors having fun putting together book trailers for their manuscripts, or authors who have already bought the domain for their book at the querying stage. (My client Michelle Hodkin bought maradyer.com, maradyer.net, and maradyer.org before we even sold her debut novel THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER, and I loved that she had done that.) I also love when authors put elements in their books which are brandable and lend themselves to marketing.

What are you looking for right now? What are you OVER seeing?

In young adult, I’m still enjoying the recent dystopian and paranormal trends, in addition to continuing to look for realistic contemporary YA. Historical can be a harder sell, but I'd like to find some voice-driven, literary historical fiction too (like Jennifer Donnelly or Judy Blundell). I’ve also just signed my first middle grade project after being like “I don’t really do middle grade” for the past three years, so now I want to see more middle grade in the hopes of discovering something else that awesome.

On the adult side, my wishlist includes romance--especially historical and paranormal romance--and historical fiction, either realistic or historical fantasy/alternate history. And I’m looking for a commercial thriller that breaks the mold a bit, since I’m kind of all over the map when it comes to what I read in that genre, which is everything from voice driven literary crime fiction to black comedy with serial killers to speculative high concept, high-octane thrill rides.

I'm not over seeing anything in particular, because I always look for a strong writing style and voice. If a book has that, I'm not concerned with whether I've already gotten fifty other submissions along the same lines that week. We retell beloved stories over and over--that's what genre and mythology are all about--but it's the WAY the story is told that makes it fresh and exciting. Either that, or the concept should be original and unique enough that it makes me sit up and take notice!

Here's a link to my submission guidelines (on my new blog): http://foxliterary.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-query-me.html

Thank you for stopping by!