Writer's Block Party

Today we have the incredible Claribel Ortega joining us! Not only is Claribel the author of the upcoming, untitled GHOSTBOOK from Scholastic, but she is the powerhouse behind GifGrrl where she creates gifs and trailers for authors’ books. Adding to her impressive repertoire is her new podcast, WRITE OR DIE. 

  1. What is WRITE OR DIE about?
    Write or Die is a podcast about writers who had a hard time breaking into publishing. Sometimes it’s because of timing, their craft not being where it needs to be or because they come from a marginalized community which has historically been kept out of publishing. I’m trying to tell stories from a lot of different perspectives but I hope to highlight authors who identify as queer or disabled, writers, people of color and Native writers, especially because they have the hardest time breaking in.
  2. You’ve got awesome projects like GifGrrl and your upcoming…

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This post was originally published in the December installment of my WITCHES & WONDERMENTS newsletter. To sign up for future newsletters, go here.

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Like just about everything writing related, there is a lot of bad advice out there on the internets about how to utilize social media as a writer/author. I’ve made meaningful connections on Twitter and even found my agent on there, so it can be a powerful tool for your career. It can also be a powerful tool for making a complete fool of yourself.

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Want to avoid making a huge mistake? Here are a few tips I’ve learned in my time on Twitter, I hope they’ll help you avoid being a butthead.

1. Follow, don’t stalk:

It’s painful to watch one person liking and replying to every last thing someone, who is clearly not their best friend, tweets. Twitter is made for interaction, yes, but there are also limits and boundaries. When you’re querying, it’s tempting to follow agents and try and decipher clues from their tweets about your MS (more on than later) but it’s also important to remember that A) You are not the only person querying them and B) hanging on an agents every word is not only not effective, it can get super annoying super fast.

Same goes for authors. I understand the impulse to tweet excitedly to and about your favs, but you should also be careful you’re not flooding their mentions everyday and becoming a nuisance.

Pay attention to how many times they interact with you. If you’re always tweeting someone and they never respond, scale it back. This could mean they’re busy and didn’t see your tweets or that they don’t want to respond to you, especially if you’ve tweeted them multiple times: take the hint and utilize your time and effort with someone who’s interested in interacting – but display the same respect for their boundaries as I mentioned before.

2. Don’t be Generic

This sounds meaner than it is, but what I’m really trying to say is unless you have something funny/meaningful/important to add to a conversation – you should probably stay out of it. When an agent tweets about yet another querying author being rude to them, you can be sure there will be at least five, “PEOPLE DO THAT?” comments from querying authors.

This comes off as desperate, because it is. We want to show agents WE would never do something like that, so we respond with manufactured shock, with a question that you already know the answer to. Yes people do it, that is why they are tweeting this. It sucks, but you don’t have to respond unless you have something that’s actually adding to the conversation. If your tweet is the same as ten other authors, you’re not adding anything but clutter.

This also applies to conversation on more sensitive topics like racism in publishing. I’ve seen authors who, likely trying to be good allies, reply about that one time an agent rejected them too because they wrote about an old woman and isn’t that just so ageist and when will our plight as women end? (yes I have seen this exact thing play out) in response to a black, brown or Asian writer expressing their frustration at the state of publishing. Not everything is about you, so it’s okay to like something and not respond or, even better, boost the voices of marginalized writers instead.

Lastly, there are the people who tweet things like “Just had coffee,” or “Just picked my kid up from school.” I am sure these are all thrilling events for you, but at least give us a gif, or something to make the tweet interesting. For example, “Just had coffee,” would be a lot more interesting if it read something like, “Just had coffee and I’m ready to tackle my day/revisions/not fall asleep at my desk.” Add a cute gif like this one:

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And your tweet will be fun, easier to relate to and not…pointless. Think of your tweets as a line in your book, unless it’s moving the plot forward (contributing to the conversation in some way) then cut it. That doesn’t mean every tweet has to be some deep, meaningful thing, trust me I tweet ridiculous things all the time, but it does have to serve a purpose, otherwise why did you tweet that particular thought as opposed to the 5 billion others floating around in your brain. Filter it out for us so we see the good stuff 🙂

3. Find Friends Who are on Your Level

I know the writing community can seem cliquey at times (& yep sometimes it is) but there’s a logical reason for this: Writers often come up together. Meaning, writers who become friends before they have agents/are published can sometimes form little circles and stick together. Usually this isn’t for any of the stuck up or exclusionary reasons we might suspect, but more like when you’re in school and have a graduating class. It’s just something that happens naturally because going through the querying process and going on sub are stressful experiences that lead to lots of crying together and bonding.

So how do you “break in” to what seems like a super closed off circle of people chatting with one another? Make friends with authors who are on the same step as you. Interact with authors who are querying too, who are still revising, who are plotting out a new book because they had to shelve the old one. It can be a lot easier to relate to someone who is in the same place you are in your career, especially since the problems don’t end when you reach certain goals.

I’ve run into situations where some of my writer pals get angry at their more established friends for complaining about something like a slow submission process or issues with their cover. How can they complain about that when I don’t even have an agent! You might think. Or I’d be happy to just be published, they’re so ungrateful! But the truth is there are problems no matter where you are in the process and it’s hard to understand being frustrated over a badly timed cover reveal when you’ve been working on chapter seventeen for the past nine weeks. I get it. But remember that there will be pressures and problems in every phase of your publishing career. That doesn’t make those issues more established authors face better or worse, they’re just different.

This is not to say that you can’t make friends with established authors too, you totally can and you can learn a lot from them! But don’t think you have to be friends with JK Rowling to be part of the writing community. The community is what you make of it.

4. Don’t be Precious, Be humble

So, there is a big difference between interesting and special snowflake. Lots of new writers crash into the Twitter scene expecting to make an impact immedietly. They pitch agents at inappropriate times, tag people they don’t know on their blog posts over and over again, and have a general disregard for Twitter etiquette because they think rules don’t apply to them. They think they’re super special.

I know your mom probably told you you were special and she was likely right, but you’re also just one voice in a sea of voices that have already been talking for years before you arrived. Respect the space and read the room. Follow the example of other writers who are well regarded in the community, they usually have their own “brand” which really just amounts to their personality. Make sure your personality is not being misinterpreted as “annoying AF.”

This can apply to authors who have already achieved some level of success too. If you are constantly tweeting about how you got your agent and how, “YOU CAN DO IT TOO!” or how, “I’m so lucky!” your feed is gonna get real old, real fast. I can already guarantee you’re muted by at least twelve people. I’m probably one of them. It’s totally cool to help authors and tell your story, I do it all the time, but try not to come off as a humblebrag either. Publishing is a wild ride and that person you’re condescending to could lap you before you can say New York Times Bestseller.

5. Stop Thinking Everything is About You

I know it’s hard not to think things like:

“Omg this agent just followed me and I queried them last night that means they’re gonna sign me!”

or

“Omg this editor just liked my tweet about my dog and I am pretty sure this means they are going to buy my book!”

or

“Omg this agent just tweeted about a manuscript with a weak ending that they’re rejecting and I KNOW FOR A FACT IT’S ABOUT ME!”

I have done all of these things and more and trust me none of it leads anywhere good. You’re stressing yourself out for likely no good reason. The only news you should rely on as accurate, is the news you receive via your inbox. Don’t read into tweets, follows, likes or subtweets. Every time you feel the urge to, get off Twitter and go write for ten minutes, or take a walk. Seriously, it’s good training for the future because being on submission doesn’t make the temptation to read into things any easier.
6. Be Yourself. No, Really.

The big secret to success on social media really amounts to this generic piece of advice right here: be yourself. OH NO I BROKE MY OWN GENERIC RULE! Jk I made it funny with this sentence. It sounds simple because it is. Do you like video games? Tweet about them. Are you angry that they cast some ugly troll as one half of your OTP? Yell about it. Did you get a beautiful new lipstick that looks amazing on you? Snap a selfie and post it. Social media for authors isn’t about books and writing all the time, nobody wants to follow a book robot.

If you feel passionate about the things you’re tweeting, it will show. When someone treats Twitter like an awful task, that shows too. Have fun with your account, talk about the things you enjoy as well as writing and you’ll have a much easier time of building a platform.

7. Bonus Tip: Don’t tweet agents links to your book on Amazon.

When an agent tweets that they’re searching for a certain kind of book, they mean in their query inbox not an already self-published book. Responding to an agent with a link about how great your book is will not help you unless it’s already a run away bestseller and I’m guessing if you’re tweeting it at agents, it’s not. Similarly, you might want to hold off on tweeting at them about the book you plan on querying them with too. If they ask for something on twitter using the MSWL hashtag for example, mention that in your query but not on Twitter. It can work on very rare occasions but the truth is the only way to truly know if an agent wants your book is to query them.

I say this with love, stop being annoying and good luck!

This post was originally published in the October installment of my WITCHES & WONDERMENTS newsletter. To sign up for future newsletters, go here.

 

querying
What querying feels like sometimes

DVpit happened this week and a big high five to all the authors who put themselves out there and gave it a shot. I hope you got some likes! If you didn’t that’s really okay too (unless you were a jerk to me bc in that case 😊. ) But for the rest of you non-jerks, pitching contests are not the only path. Cold querying has worked for many more writers than contests have. But no matter which path you take, there’s one thing nobody should skip out on: researching agents.
I did a small thread on this on Twitter a few days ago, which got a lot of traction because of the idea that “No agent is better than a bad one.” That’s still true and although I know how hard it is to say no when you have an offer from anyone, signing to a questionable agent will only hurt and not help your career. Not only do you run the very high risk of not selling your book and having to shelve it, but you might also become distrustful of everyone in publishing, which is a hard thing to overcome. It sucks to work with someone who is not the right fit for you, and although this can also happen with a “good” agent, you should take every possible step to avoid it. How? I’m about to show you!

Step One: The Internet is Your Friend

There are a few websites I always recommend when it comes to researching agents.
Publisher’s Marketplace is the first, which lists agent/agency sales & ranks. It’s an incredibly useful tool if you’re trying to figure out if an agent has sales in your genre and to which houses. If any agent has multiple sales to the same house it can be also be an indication of strong relationships with editors. Publisher’s Marketplace is where I got my “Most Beyoncé List of YA-Agents” List from and I’m sharing it here for any of you who’d like to take a look! *Please note this list is based solely on PMP sales which I talk more about below
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Now, while all this information can be very helpful it’s also important to keep in mind what literary agent Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch expressed on Twitter: ” …not having a sales record ≠ being a schmagent…”
Saba went on to say that many established agents took years to get to where they are and that many newer agents are also sitting on book deals which they haven’t been able to announce yet. This is all so important to keep in mind and in my opinion, when faced with a lack of information for an individual agent, looking at what agency they’re with and what support they’ll have in turn, is a great way to gauge if these newer agents might be a good fit for you. Publisher’s Marketplace costs $25.00 a month and I would definitely recommend signing up for a month or two at minimum if you can afford it. You should also, always, check an agent’s agency website. This is where their submission guidelines, emails and sometimes updated wish-lists are posted.

Aside from Publisher’s Marketplace some of my favorite researching websites are:

Absolutewrite: A forum where authors can dish on agents, publishers and more.

Query Tracker: A fantastic resource for, you guessed it, keeping track of which agents you’ve queried and also see comments left by other querying writers.

Literary Rambles: Helpful interviews with kidlit agents, great for finding specific agent wants to include in your query letter!

Manuscript Wishlist: See what agents and editors are looking for!

Jim suggests questions to ask a prospective agent! : Once you have an offer, these questions from agent and legendary-beard-haver Jim McCarthy is the go-to list of questions to use for the call.

Step Two: Google It (aka Google is also on the internet and also your friend)

When an agent is considering signing a new author, many times they Google them. You should do the same for agents you are querying. Aside from the dedicated websites above, many authors blog about their experiences with signing to their agent and sometimes though not as often *gasp* horror stories. Doing an in-depth google search might help you find a helpful interview or information about prospective agents. Also, you wanna make sure they’re not a vampire. Or maybe you want to make sure they are. Listen, I’m not judging you. Edward Cullen would’ve made a great agent, he watched Bella sleep and everything! #Persistent

Step Three: Gossip!

Okay so maybe not gossip per say but word of mouth is a crucial step in the agent research process. Why? Because as I said above, horror stories aren’t often shared out in the open. There is always a fear of stepping on toes or retaliation against your career (especially for marginalized authors) so often times the most useful information is the one shared in private settings. Reach out to former clients if you can, join private Facebook groups (like this one I set up specifically for people of color!) and reach out to other writers who have been around longer in the community. It’s likely someone you reach out to either has information or knows someone who does. The writer grapevine is essential and you should definitely take advantage of it.

Step Four: Listen.

Steps one through three don’t matter if you don’t listen to the warning signs. If you have a bad gut feeling, if you’re getting bad information from multiple writers, if you aren’t happy with multiple aspects of a prospective agents profile and career, it’s better for everyone involved that you not query or sign with them. As I said in the opening, no agent is better than a bad one, and although it takes incredible self restraint to say no to a lone offer it won’t be the last time you’re forced to wait in publishing and you should consider it practice for the future. You should also consider it an investment, in yourself. In your writing and the time you put in to finish your book. Don’t put all the hard work and time into the hands of someone who doesn’t appreciate it as much as you do. Do not sell yourself short & good luck in the query trenches! I’ll be rooting for you.

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If you follow me on any of me seven billion social media accounts you would’ve seen that last night my debut novel was announced! I am unofficially calling it #GHOSTBOOK just to give people something to refer to it by until my official title is announced. Here’s a quick blurb from the announcement:

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You can add the book on Goodreads here and make sure to enter my giveaway to win cute ghost swag!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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We are smack in the middle of NanoWrimo 2017 and I hope you’re all plowing through your words! I’m being a rebel this Nano and finishing a 50K project of which I already had 15K written. I’m only at 20K now but I hope to pick up the pace for the rest of the month and finish on time!

I know I’m not alone when I say snacks definitely keep me going through writing sprints so I’m starting a new series on my blog to discuss my fav snacks to eat while writing! First up is Bakerly USA who was nice enough to send over a GIANT BOX OF SNACKS for me to eat and review.

First, the bread. Omfg the bread.

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The box literally smelled like a bakery. The bread was super fresh and delicious and I used it to make both garlic bread and sandwiches and was very upset when they finished. The bread was probably my favorite item I was sent. I used the baguettes for sandwiches and had the dinner rolls with lasagna and a few other pasta dishes I made throughout the week. Not gonna lie, also stuffed the rolls with cheese and munched away on them as I tried to hit my word count for the day.

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The Strawberry crepes were good, but a tiny bit dry for my liking. If you dip them in something though (LIKE NUTELLA) they’re perfect. The chocolate and caramel filled crepes were delicious and since I’m trying to lose weight (LOL @ the bread) they were a great snack choice at only 130 calories for each crepe. They were also SUPER delicious with coffee in the morning so 10/10 would recommend.

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I’m not a huge fan of getting food via the mail on a consistent basis but I would definitely order some of these Bakerly products in the future, especially if I have a deadline coming up. The good peeps at Bakerly also sent me a hat and pencils which I can’t eat, but which were super cute.So if you’re looking for delicious, healthy and freshly made snacks for your next writing session, check out bakerly.com!

 

 

 

Pitch América

Name: Stefany Valentine

Genre: Middle Grade/ Fantasy – Urban

Title: Alchemist of Apeiron

Word Count: 51,000

Themes: #ownvoices

35-Word Pitch:

A 12-year-old Latina must rescue her sister from an alternate dimension by absorbing the power of The Infinite Book of Alchemy.

First 500 words:

The tour guide led us up the steps from Astor Hall to the McGraw Rotunda. My eyes panned the scene as the walls shifted from stonework to wood. Murals hung along the walls capturing snapshots of ancient history. Deep burgundy wood carved into a set of arching pillars and climbed up the walls before holding the elaborate ceiling in place. A gold accented frame encasing a painting of some naked guy holding fire in his hands. I thought the portrait was weird, but my lips inadvertently shaped into and O with awe.

“If you’ll look around, you’ll see that the New York…

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Knotmagick

Last week I shared my favorite knitting podcasts, and this time I thought I’d show you a few of my favorite book related podcasts. Some of these are just review shows, others concentrate on the craft of writing or on publishing. If you were daunted by the long episodes on the knitting list, fear not. Writers are natural introverts, so most, if not all of these, average shows that are between 5-15 minutes long.

First, there’s iWriterly. Meg LaTorre-Snyder is a literary agent, and talks a lot about the ins and outs of the publishing industry, usually with a cheeky twist.

Another industry-related channel is the Historical Novel Society. This isn’t so much a podcast as it is a series of videos from conventions, with interviews and panels with authors of historical fiction. Sometimes they’re geared toward craft, other times it’s more about publishing itself, or research.

Claribel Ortega tends to…

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Kat Cho

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It’s HERE! That time of the year when Pitch Wars is starting up and we are finally able to share our wishlists! Claribel Ortega and I are co-mentoring as #Teamoji this year and we are so stoked! Send us all of your YA fantasies and spec fic so we can devour them! (Nom nom nom)
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First a little about us!

teamojiGIF.gifClaribel Ortega got her start editing student’s often times hilarious ads and ramblings on the back page of SUNY Purchase’s Independent Newspaper. From there, she became a small town reporter, where she enjoyed going to board of education meetings and texting the town mayors about the line at Starbucks. Today she’s busy turning her obsession with eighties pop culture, magic and video games into books. She lives in New York with her motorcycle-riding poet boyfriend & her suspiciously intelligent yorkie, Pancho Villa. She is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf…

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I’m very excited about this post.

New series alert! I’ve been hoping to feature literary agent interviews on my blog for quite some time and I finally have my first post to share: an interview with Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency! Like anything I do though, Gifs are involved, so below you’ll find out more about Molly’s career as an agent, what she’s looking for now and a few choice Gifs to describe her job. Enjoy!


 

1. I know it’s different for almost every agent I’ve ever spoken to so, how did you get into agenting?

I worked for years in various roles in children’s publishing, and then I took a few years off and had children, moved from New York to London, and thought about what I wanted to do next. Jenny Bent and I are old friends, and she approached me about joining the Bent Agency. I had no experience as an agent, but I had plenty of publishing experience, and the idea of trying something new was really appealing after being away from the industry for a few years. I joined the agency in 2012.

 

2. What are the top three things you look for in a query/any tips for querying authors?

Well, thoughtfully-chosen comp titles are always really useful. Obviously “for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and HARRY POTTER” isn’t helpful at all, but if the comp titles are books that were original/unusual themselves, or books that I’ve said I particularly enjoyed, I’ll always be intrigued. I always appreciate when authors use the query letter to tell me more about their book than about themselves — I see a lot of queries are more life story than pitch. And if there’s a specific reason an author is querying me, I like to know — whether it’s because they enjoyed a book by one of my clients, or they feel they have something in common with me, or they remember something useful/amusing/embarrassing that I said on Twitter.

3. What are some things that will make you stop reading requested material?

Just one thing will make me stop reading: feeling bored.

4. What do you look for in a story? What really grabs your attention?

I look at writing even more than I look at story. I love language; I love feeling like a writer has chosen every word carefully. Craft is important to me as plot. That said, I like stories that make me forget that I’m evaluating them. Anything that draws me in to the point where I’m just enjoying the ride is special. 

5. Anything in particular you’re looking for right now?

I’d love to find a witty MG adventure or fantasy that will appeal to both American and overseas publishers. And for a long time, I’ve been interested in writing from the South Asian diaspora — I’d love to find a YA project that feels like Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy or Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

6. Do you have any trend predictions for what’s next in the kidlit world?

I think there’s a real openness right now to perspectives that feel fresh and different to publishers, and a desire to think about the readers who don’t often see themselves in MG and YA fiction. Books that would have been considered ’too niche’ a few years ago are getting a lot more visibility. My hope is that that’s not a trend, but a shift in the way we think about publishing. It’s long past time.

7. Describe your ideal client.

Talented, patient, resilient, responsive.

8. Anything exciting coming up for your clients?

Too many things to mention! I’ve been sitting on a bunch of deal announcements for various reasons (did you know some publishers won’t let a deal be announced until the contract is signed? And I’ve sold a few on proposal that I’ll announce when we have full drafts to share with foreign publishers). I sold one at auction to an editor who described it as ‘the meta-YA project of my dreams’; another is from one of my clients who already has a wide audience for their YA fantasy. My client Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock is shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in the UK and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (I’ve been practicing pronouncing that) in Germany, which is hugely exciting. Kendra Fortmeyer’s debut HOLE IN THE MIDDLE comes out in the UK this summer, and I think it will establish her as a really powerful new voice in YA. And much more. I could kvell all day about my clients!

9. What’s your favorite/least favorite part of being an agent?

The day I forced myself to admit that I will never, ever catch up on my reading was a tough one. There will always be more submissions to read. For someone like me, who basically gets high on completing tasks, this is a grim fact.

On the other hand, there’s nothing like the thrill of finding gold in my submissions. I remember reading an incredible manuscript on a flight from London to New York once — with no wifi on the flight, and none of those seat-back phones you used to find on airplanes — and asking the stranger sitting next to me to read a page of it, because I had to share my excitement with someone. I wish I’d got her address so I can send her an ARC when it comes in.

10.   Describe being an agent in three GIFS.

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To query Molly, please review The Bent Agency’s submissions guidelines
Then email hawnqueries@thebentagency.com

Molly Ker Hawn represents authors who write for the young adult and middle grade market.

Determined
Heyo! It’s been a while but I am back with another post for the #Amquerying series, with the always sassy and super-amazing, Kosoko Jackson! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic.
You can follow Kosoko on Twitter here and read below to find out how he got his agent, how he actually misses querying (WHAT?!) and why anything is possible in publishing!
1. How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?
I was a huge fan of query-tracker and I used the paid service obsessively. It was a great site to have everything in one place and made the information easy to find. QTs search feature isn’t the best (for example, if you are looking for an agent that does “Young adult” and “thriller” it gives you agents that do “YA” only, “thriller” only AND “both” instead of just the both), so I also used MSWL; the hashtag & the website. I then would spend several minutes searching for interviews to help personalize the query letters.
2. Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried? 
Ha. Nope. A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER is the 3rd book I queried. Effectively, this is the 3rd iteration of this novel, so you could say it’s my 5th novel written.
 
3. What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent? 
Sure! If you include all 3 version of A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER, and even the R&Rs from patient agents, I sent 257 queries. From those I got I’d say in the ‘upper 30s’ for full requests. I ended with 3 offers.
My agent timeline was long. I got a “Favorite” from Louise Fury in #DvPit in 2016. She sat on the full, and then I nudged her saying I go into Pitch Wars in August. She then got the revised version in November, and I nudged her again when I got an offer in March. It was about 11 months from when I sent her the first query, to when she offered. This goes to show anything can happen!
 
 4. How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool? 
I liked querying (and I kinda miss it?). It was fun to learn about new agents, seeing and learning about agents and such. It felt a little like a scavenger hunt. I think there’s a querying learning curve; with any novel you query. The first full is an exceptional feeling; the first full rejection stings, and the same with queries. I strongly believe in the “you need to grow thick skin” mentality when it comes to querying. Consequently, with 250 rejections, I learned to breeze through them and not really feel any sort of personal hate or pain. This is a business, and the quicker you learn that the better. Sometimes, you write something that’s good–it’s actually great–but not great for the market. It happens.
I will say my emotions went through the whole spectrum, as I feel all querying authors emotions do. That’s normal, and that’s part of the fun. I’d suggest embracing it. You learn a lot about yourself during querying–and how you deal with stress. Publishing is a slow game. Querying, is the fastest part.
 
5. How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else? 
Personally? I bury myself in my work. When I got a rejection? I sent out 10 more queries. Not 1. not 4. 10. I just push through. I’m stubborn. It’s adorable, to be honest. (bold by me, Claribel, because this is both true and hilarious) I would NOT suggest this to anyone else. Reason why? When I had to nudge agents I had to nudge 78 of them. That was a lot of manage.
And like any author, I worked on other things while waiting.
6. Anything unexpected about the querying process for you? 
I think what was unexpected was the kindness of strangers. When I first wrote this novel, it was a speculative ‘what if’ version and far more political. I had a line in my query letter that suggested parallels to a specific war. An agent who asked for a R & R she suggested I base the novel in that war, instead of making a reference to it. That simple change got me where I was today. It made my novel unique, insightful and tapped into something no one really talked about in YA. This agent didn’t have to tell me that. She didn’t have to write a whole page note from my 10 pages. But she did, and I’m here–with an agent–because of it.
I should note that though this was from the kindness of the agent’s heart, I know it came from my social media presence. Be kind to everyone, folks. Engage. Agents are people too. They like what you like. They love what you love and they will chat with you like a normal person if you don’t view them like some Gods on high. It can help and make an agent put in that little bit of effort.
 
7. If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be? 
Throw caution to the wind! Many people will disagree with me but when I say query widely, I mean like VERY widely. Here’s how I did my novel. To its benefit or detriment, my novel is Historical, a Thriller, LGBT, And a little more lit-ficy- than most YA. So I searched for agents using those parameters. If they OPENLY said they were looking for any of those 4 factors in YA, they were ‘tier one’. If they said,  “I like WXY but not Z” Tier 2. Tier 3 were people who never openly said no to any of the genre’s mentioned, but didn’t say yes. This not only made a priority list in my mind, but also helped to see how agents worked.
8. Did other writers comes into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages? 
 
I participated in every critique or pitch event I could to help hone my first pages. I also have a very loyal friend who pushes me, challenges me, and really helps me to be the best I can. She was amazing and instrumental in this novel getting to where it was now, mainly because of her ingenuity of turning tropes on their heads and her knowledge of the market and trends. ADVICE: don’t be afraid to make friends with people you never thought you would. Sometimes, those people have the best advice.
9. When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?
Louise wasn’t the agent who got the ball rolling. She was actually someone I nudged and was my last call (12 hours before my deadline). I was on the way to a conference and pulled over to have the call with her. Off the bat, Louise flying back from South Africa to call me was really a good sign. Additionally, she had amazing insight about the novel, how to fix it, what to make better, me and my career, the type of writer I wanted to be and the type of person I was. Yes, an agent is a business partner but, especially being a young author, someone who I can grow with, challenge me, help me expand, and take what I think are my strengths and capitalize on them while bolstering my weakness, was important. Louise brought me all of that and more. We talked for 2 hours and I haven’t looked back.
10. Describe the querying process in 3 gifs. 




11. Tell us a little about your upcoming book
 
A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER follows seventeen-year-old James Mills, the adopted son of 2 USAID parents, on his family’s final humanitarian mission, which takes them to Kosovo. For James, this is the first trip without his older sister, Anna, and he expects it to be a fairly dull one. But when the Kosovo-Serbian war breaks out, and he becomes separated from his parents, James must navigate a war-torn country and unearthed familial secrets, if he hopes to get him and his Brazilian boyfriend back home safely.

12. Anything else you’d like to share??

Really enjoy the process. It all seems like a lot of wall hitting and annoyance. It’ll feel like you’ll never get there, but no ones road is the same. I know people who got accepted on their first novel, some on their 12th. Some after 1 year of writing and subbing, some after 5 years. No story is the same…but make sure you don’t lose what makes you who you are in the quest to follow your dreams. Because the right agent will love you for you, and when you find them; it’ll be amazing.
kosoko
Kosoko is a Washington D.C. native who has been writing novels since 9th grade. With a goal of bringing marginalized voices to the forefront of all genres of literature, Kosoko finds beauty in addressing complex questions & themes for young adults, aided by complex prose. Kosoko is a digital media associate for Rock the Vote and finishing his BS in Public Health with dual minors in History & Communications. When not writing or working, he is trying to finish his 100 movies in 2017 goal, walking the streets of DC, or trying to convert believers to the Cult of Wonder Woman.  He is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Kat Cho

I haven’t really been doing wrap-up posts, but I realized how much I’ve randomly gotten done/decided this year already. So I figured I’d talk about the books I’ve read, the shows I’ve watched, and plans for 2017!

Here we go!

Things I’ve done and future Plans for 2017

My critique group and I started a writing blog called Writer’s Block Party.

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It was born because we realized that most of our group chat conversations were us dissecting craft issues and books we loved. And we wanted to share our weirdness with the world. We’re also lucky to have a few industry insiders (agent assistants and publishing assistants) in the group. And of course our amazing CP’s who are debuting this year! (Shout out to Foody and Axie!)

I finished a giant round of revisions for GUMIHO and started drafting a new WiP (that I am currently calling Dragon…

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Hi all! With the change in pricing to BookExpo ($300!) plus the upfront payment and stricter application process, many bloggers won’t be able to go to next year’s show. Scholarpitch wanted to do something to help marginalized bloggers so we’re happy to announce we’ll be choosing TWO bloggers from the PoC, LGBTQIA+ or Native American communities to get all days passes to BookExpo 2017. (One pass per blogger)

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There’s more! I know some of you won’t be able to come to NYC for the event so in addition to the two passes we’ll also be giving away a collection of ARCS from the show (Titles TBD) to help you experience BookExpo, even if you can’t be there.

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We have a form below where you’ll be able to choose between the BEA Pass or ARCS (*ARCS are only for people who can not attend the show.)

PLEASE only fill the form out once. If you do it more than once you’ll be disqualified and I’ll be really cranky with you for at least a week.

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Please only select BookExpo Pass on the form if you either live in or know for sure you will be able to travel to NYC. Travel expenses are *not* part of the prize. We’re not made of money, pals (but I sort of wish I was.)  So that’s it! Please fill out one of the two forms below & good luck!

(DEADLINE FOR THIS GIVEAWAY is JANUARY 15th, 2017)

 

FORM FOR BEA PASS or ARC Giveaway

  • Please note, you will need to provide either your blog, Instagram or BookTube link to be eligible. Please fill out at least one of those fields or as many as you have. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey all! I’m pretty new to the YouTube world and run an AuthorTube (writing)/Booktube (duh, books) channel. I’ve started my very first tag called #Diverse8!

Diverse8 is eight questions about books and diversity meant to expand the conversation about equal and respectful representation in literature and the need for those books to be reviewed, discussed and promoted on BookTube. I’d love if you could like and share the original video and if you have your own BookTube channel please consider filming your own #Diverse8 tag video as well! Please find the video & questions below!

 

 

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Hey all! I recently wrote a thread on Twitter about writing diversely which you can see here:

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From that thread the term Magical Diversity Council was born and you can get your very own tshirt, sweatshirt or mug with the Magical Diversity Council logo on it. 50% of all proceeds from the merchandise will go to The David Ortiz Children’s Fund which is committed to helping children in New England and the Dominican Republic who do not have access to the critical pediatric services they need. 50% of all proceeds go to the fund and the merchandise is on sale for 10 days only!

Order your merchandise here: https://teespring.com/magical-diversity-council-merc#pid=370&cid=6546&sid=front

Moto Poet:

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Se encontraron las masas en aquella esquinita floja.
Los niños no supieron distinguir el mal del bien,
creo que la sanidad no los dejaba.
Y por un instante pasamos desapercibidos.
Todos éramos uno, sin odio, sin agravio, llenos de amor.

El otoño apenas asomaba sus colores,
el Hudson vitrineando como siempre con su briza.
El tren con su vaivén bailando sobre el horizonte.

¿Y quién se encarga de pintar todas estas casas?
¿Quién decora las fachadas que resguardan sus tesoros?
¿Quién se inventa este arcoíris de inspiración?

Arte y chucherías, prendas, música,
comida, de todo un poco, y de nada hay mucho,
Y gente sobre la gente, sin incomodar a nadie.

El fiambre cantando sobre aromas confundidas
Desde la Chestnut hasta la West,
el Hudson Hill’s y Moo Moo’s ice cream,
el Bouchon y Silver Spoon.

Y los incrédulos levantan la mirada entregándose al casi mar del rio,
a la majestuosa…

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Hello friends! If you’d like to follow along with my boyfriend’s trip from NY to Argentina make sure to follow his blog. It’s a nice escape during trying times ❤

Moto Poet:

Moring Delight

Woke up at around 9 and slowly rolled out of bed. Motor 1 and his wife offered to make me some porridge and coffee to kick start the day. This place is awesome, I feel like I’m at a resort with a lake, trails, my own RV, gourmet food, plus right next to famous roads.

It turns out that the Dragon (Read More) is one of America’s most famous motorcycle roads, and it’s located in Motor 1’s backyard. This is basically a racetrack going up hill with a million curves – actually 318 in 11 miles- and drop offs on one side, plus crazy riders coming from the opposite direction eager to show their skills (or lack thereof), throw in a few photographers that take cool shot of you while you lean (or plop) on the curves and you are a professional racer.

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After breakfast we geared up…

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Moto Poet:

I left with the road in mind,and adventure as a matter of fact.I rode with what I left behind in mind,and sad as a matter of fact.And ahead were more day to leave behind,and roads to have ridden in the past.I left with the end in mind,and adventure, as a matter of fact!

img_20161028_122015You see, I was originally planning to leave on Thursday the 27th but due to a combination of procrastination , horrible weather, and a last minute cold I ended up leaving on Friday the 28th instead. Once I had left I realized I still had to run a couple of errand, so all things considered I officially left at 10am.

My plan was to head to Austin, TX as quick as possible (3 – 4 days) where I would meet Pat from 2ridetheglobe who has provided great insight in planning the…

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