IN THIS ISSUE
The Knight Post: Authors Weigh in on Their Agents
New Clients on the Block
The Whitney Report
Author Tip of the Month: Mary Langager
The Informer: The Real World Edition of Publishing by Jamie Schlansky
Round Table: What Beginning Writers Should Focus On
THE KNIGHT POST: AUTHORS WEIGH IN ON THEIR AGENTS
A literary agent does much more than submit manuscripts to publishers. From offering encouragement to negotiating contracts and foreign rights to making suggestions for improving a manuscript, a great agent is invaluable to the authors he or she represents.
We talked to some Knight Agency clients who have new releases, and asked them what they like most about their agent.
I love that Lucienne Diver brings order to chaos. I may have a proposal out, a book mid-edit, a payment on the way from the publisher, and a contract under review, but Lucienne manages to keep all of those issues in mind and sorted—and she thinks to follow up on them. I've got a full-time day job and a complete writing plate, so it's invaluable to have a partner with an eye for detail and our (mutually-beneficial) long-term success. And it helps that she loves Merit as much as I do.
LEIGH EVANS: Here's the qualities you want in an agent: someone who recognizes talent, picks up on the hidden, knows everyone, fights for the great deal, goes to bat for her client, and has the guts to stand firm when standing firm is tough. My agent hits those marks and motors right past them—and for that I really do like her. But you want to know what I admire most about her? Her heart. Yup, underneath her blonde bombshell exterior is a one big honking heart. And that, folks, is why I love (not like) Deidre Knight.
MARILYN PAPPANO: Years ago Melissa Jeglinski was my editor at Silhouette, and we worked great together. She had a great sense of what worked and what didn't (things I sometimes overlook in the enthusiasm of starting a new book!) and she was a wonderful editor, plus she made me laugh. So a few years ago, when I'd parted with my former agent, querying Melissa was the most logical thing in the world. Who wouldn't want to work with someone she likes and trusts, and who likes her too?!
RACHEL CAINE: Lucienne Diver is simply amazing. How do I love thee, Lucienne? SO MANY WAYS. But the biggest one is that she encourages me to take risks.
She took me on as a client in a particularly low period in my career and she was the Chief Cheerleader for the first Rachel Caine novel, ILL WIND. When things began to go well on the urban fantasy front, she also encouraged me to branch out into Young Adult fiction (hey, Lucienne? I think it's going okay!) She's still cheering me on to explore new territory; when I mentioned my idea for PRINCE OF SHADOWS to her, she was the first to say I should go for it, despite the fact that writing about Shakespeare's plays is far removed from small-town vampire shenanigans.
She also keeps track of a dizzying array of contracts from around the world, and somehow manages to write really engaging and wonderful books while juggling all of us needy, insane clients.
I love her energy, enthusiasm, brilliance and charm, too. Consider me smitten!
CHRIS MARIE GREEN: I feel like Pamela Harty is personally invested in my success, and at the same time, I want her to succeed! We're in this together, and united we stand.
MIA ROSS: Elaine Spencer has been a tremendous asset to me ever since we connected in 2006. Early on, she offered editorial input that helped me hone my natural writing style into something more marketable. Now that I'm published, she's a tireless cheerleader who's always on the lookout for opportunities to continue growing my career. I wouldn't be where I am without her.
SAMANTHA GRACE: Nephele Tempest is the total package. She is professional, smart, down-to-earth, funny, and honest without being brutal. But what I like best about her is her ability to be tough and tactful at the same time. She is able to negotiate without putting my publisher on the defensive, while still taking a strong position on my behalf.
DIXIE LYLE: What I like most about Lucienne Diver is she's always there for me. If I have a question or a request, she responds quickly—and brilliantly.
NEW CLIENTS ON THE BLOCK
THE WHITNEY REPORT
This feature from our intrepid Girl Friday (a.k.a. submissions coordinator Whitney Wyatt) offers a quick rundown of the various types of queries TKA receives each month and what our agents are currently seeking.
In the past month, we received nearly 750 queries, with an increase in romance and New Adult submissions. Agents and editors are consistently asking for strong women's fiction and contemporary romance.
I have been asked to keep my eyes open especially for dark psychological thrillers, such as RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA
by Kimberly McCreight. We are continually on the lookout for non-paranormal Young Adult and Middle Grade queries and a variety of romance genres including historical, suspense, contemporary, and New Adult.
*Disclaimer: Our agency represents a wide variety of authors. Please use our submissions guidelines page to determine if your project might be a good fit for TKA.
Rachel Caine's The Great Library series, to Anne Sowards of NAL, in a significant, three-book deal by Lucienne Diver
- Maggie Black's CAMP FEAR, to Emily Rodmell at Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, in a nice, three-book deal by Melissa Jeglinski
- Syndi Powell's HOARDING LOVE, to Kathryn Lye at Harlequin Heartwarming, in a nice deal by Pamela Harty
- Amanda Sun's third and final book in the Paper Gods series, to T.S. Ferguson at Harlequin Teen, in a two-book deal (plus a related novella) by Melissa Jeglinski
Sales Roundup is a selective sampling of TKA's deals for the past month. For more info on our recent sales, visit www.knightagency.net/recent-deals
AUTHOR TIP OF THE MONTH
Marie Langager is the author of BEYOND OUR STARS, a young adult science fiction fantasy about refugees who flee a destroyed Earth and land on a new planet, only to find it already inhabited by a mysterious alien race.
Marie's Tip: I'll say the same thing I've been telling myself of late. Write a story you love passionately. I think there is always fear, and that there should be. But the best advice I've gotten recently is that if you aren't a little afraid of what people will think, a little afraid of the reaction to your story, then what's the point? I read to escape and to feel deeply, and that's what I keep in mind every time I sit down to write. I want the reader to react with emotion, so when I write I have to push the fear of what the reaction might be away for a while.
Learn more about Marie and BEYOND OUR STARS at www.marielangager.blogspot.com
Publishing: The Real-World Edition
by Jamie Schlansky
My first part-time job was at age sixteen, working as a cashier at a big department store. I came in for the initial register training, only to sit at a computer for four hours straight. The purpose of the computer was to emulate the point-of-sale process so that I would be ready for the floor. When I was finally finished, another coworker approached me and said, “Just so you know, you won’t really know what you’re doing until you’re actually ringing up customers!” And she was right. I stumbled along on that register for a full shift before I started to find my groove. But without the proper foundation, I wouldn’t have known where to start.
Publishing works in the exact same way. You can study all the processes, the details, and the industry itself, but you won’t really know
the industry until you’re immersed within it. When I graduated from the Columbia Publishing Course last summer, I was prepared for the reader reports, the pitches, the sales plans. But what I found when I started working at The Knight Agency was, in addition to each of those things, a real opportunity to grow not only as a professional but also as a person.
Prior to my time at TKA, I thought publishing was simply a fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world where editors fought over manuscripts and magazines hated book publishers (and vice versa). But I kept forgetting about the community surrounding it. Instead, I painted this picture in my head that portrayed “The Powers That Be” as aloof and unreachable superiors who didn’t have time for beginners like me.
Needless to say, I was quite wrong.
There is a sense of camaraderie among all parts of the publishing world—and TKA is no exception, being one of the biggest agencies in the southeast. We are constantly in contact with colleagues in New York City, and there’s always someone wishing good fortune on someone else. But most important, I was thrilled to find that it was indeed possible to leave a footprint in the publishing world outside of the big city—and a large footprint at that.
TKA not only manages an impressive client list while continually signing on new authors, but it also fosters a familial atmosphere within its ranks. I’m constantly encouraged and given a variety of work. My responsibilities range from editorial duties such as reading manuscripts to more technical duties that include generating sales reports. In performing these different tasks, I feel that I have the opportunity to add my own personal touch to the agency, and that my contribution makes a difference.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your work and forget to take in the fact that you’re contributing to something special—books
. So I’m thankful that my experience at TKA has not only reinforced what I learned at Columbia, but also enhanced something I hadn’t anticipated: the feeling of responsibility, of being a team player, and of helping contribute to the success of the agency. I came in with the nuts and bolts, but working at TKA gave me the final instructions.
AGENTS OF THE ROUND TABLE
Question: What is one area you would tell beginning writers to focus on in order to get published someday?
DEIDRE KNIGHT: Too many writers tend to rush the writing process without devoting themselves to crafting their most polished work. To some degree, I think that’s a function of our “instamatic” culture, where we need only blink and our ideas or wishes seem to gain a life all their own. Everything happens fast now, from photos to interactions on Twitter to self-publishing books. But that doesn’t mean standards for really great writing or stories have changed, and I’d love to see newer writers digging in and striving to make their work great.
PAMELA HARTY: Craft. Plain and simple. Write a lot, rewrite a lot. Have strong critique partners (not your mother or best friend). Take classes, attend conferences, soak up as much knowledge as you can on what it takes to craft a great story. And then just do it! Keep at it and write every day.
LUCIENNE DIVER: Voice. What distinguishes good writing from really great writing is the voice—how compelling, relatable and unique is it? Does this character have a refreshing and original perspective or way of phrasing him or herself? Is the story told with such depth and honesty that the reader is sucked in and refuses to let go until the last page is turned? This is what will get agents, editors, readers, and reviewers to really sit up and take notice. Word of mouth is still the biggest seller of books. You want to create a main character and a novel that people will be talking about well after they’ve finished the book.
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