Archive | March 2013

Ettiquette for authors after you’ve signed

I’ve seen a lot of posts out there around how authors should behave before they’ve signed with an agent or a publisher, but there’s no much around after you’ve signed, with the exception of the whole DON’T RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS.

So here’s some pointers on what you need to do once you’ve signed.

Know your industry: Understand how publishing works, be informed and know your role in this. (You should have done this already, but if you haven’t then catch up).

Know when to announce: Whether you’ve sign with an agent or a publisher ,it’s not okay for you to announce it until you’re told you can. This is especially the case for publishers as a lot of them will want the first announcement to be on Publishers Market.

Understand editors have a job to do: They’re not trying to destroy your literary baby. It takes a village to publish a book. Editors are there because of their experience and knowledge. They can see things that are needed that you can’t and will also consider commercial factors that you’ve never even thought of. Work with them, not against them.

Respect social media site guidelines: Goodreads has Guidelines for Authors so make sure you read them and behave accordingly on the site.

Don’t insult your agent/editor/publisher online: Even little comments complaining about edits, formatting or errors can put people’s noses out. I have a friend who had their Big Six publisher make a huge error in her book. It really upset her. But I never saw her talk about it online at all. I also know of a case where an author’s publisher didn’t fulfil their marketing obligations and the author didn’t do a peep online. It reflects poorly on you and your publisher.

Remember, agents have put their faith in you and are your advocates. Even if they’re not performing for you they way you want, online isn’t the place to vent. If you want to get a new agent, chances are they’ll check your social media and if they see you going off about agents and publishers then it’s not going to be in your favour.

Don’t insult potential readers: Don’t speak badly of other genres and categories – your readers could like those too. I’ve seen an author insult potential readers by degrading YA (why would you turn your nose up at readers of the best selling category?!).

Be understanding: Things happen. To memory I’m yet to read an eBook that hasn’t had a mistake in it. Even Big Six published ones. Just let your agent/editor know and they’ll deal with it.

Be aware of your obligations: There’s an expectation for authors to do their lion’s share of the publicist. Be ready for it and deliver. You’ll have deadlines to meet. Publishing is a time sensitive industry so you need to be on the ball.

In doing some research for this article I found this great site, Pocketful of Books, that has a section dedicated to Bad Author Behaviour. It highlights some of the various ways authors have done themselves damage with poor online behaviour. Do yourself a favour, behave on line and don’t get added to this list.

And here’s a list for authors on how not to behave whether agented or unagented, published or unpublished.

The key to remember is online you are very visible. Someone is always watching. People will see your posts and it’s likely to get back to your editor or agent. Even if you delete, people can screen shot it before you do. This has happened many times.

If you behave poorly regularly and give your agent or publisher a bad reputation, you may find yourself without and agent or a publisher. Once you have a reputation like that it’s hard to erase.

Publishing is a very small industry, so play nice.

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Pitch Madness observations

I’ve put together some interesting statistics on what categories and genres where included in Pitch Madness and showing how these pitches faired with agent interest. (If you don’t know what Pitch Madness is all about, check out here)

I’m not normally a maths person, so I’m giving basic statistics: number of entries and the percentage. I haven’t taken into account the various weighting of the darts that were thrown. Though I’m sure there’s a way, it’s beyond my maths patience.

What the Blog Hosts & Slush Zombies picked:

Magical Realism
Science Fiction
Urban Fantasy
Middle Grade
New Adult
Science Fiction
Urban Fantasy

And here’s how the agents responded to them:

Category Number of entries Percentage Number of darts Percentage
Adult 13 20% 30 19%
NA 7 11% 17 11%
YA 33 52% 80 52%
MG 11 17% 28 18%
Total 64 100% 155 100%
Contemporary 19 30% 66 43%
Fantasy 11 17% 20 13%
Crime 1 1.50% 1 0.50%
Suspense 1 1.50% 7 4.50%
Paranormal 2 3% 6 4%
Historical 4 6% 9 6%
10 16% 16 10%
1 1.50% 1 0.50%
Adventure 1 1.50% 2 1%
Mystery 2 3% 5 3%
Urban Fantasy 3 5% 6 4%
Literary 1 1.50% 1 0.50%
1 1.50% 1 0.50%
Thriller 3 5% 10 6%
Supernatural 2 3% 2 1%
Dystopian 1 1.50% 1 0.50%
Horror 1 1.50% 1 0.50%
Total 64 100% 155 100%

So that do all those numbers mean?

Well, for one thing is shows the Slush Zombies and Blog Hosts are pretty in tune with what agents are looking for (well done everyone!).

But it also shows that from a category perspective:

  • Agents are interested in New Adult.

  • MG and Adult are taking back some of the market.

  • YA is still going strong.

From a genre perspective:

  • It’s harder to get attention with Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and anything else under the Speculative Fiction umbrella. Your concept and writing has to be outstanding.

  • Contemporary is in (but we all knew that).

  • Thrillers, suspense and mysteries are a want.

 Here’s the pitches that preformed best with the agents:

YA Suspense – 7 darts
YA Contemporary (from Fairytale retelling) – 7 darts
Adult Contemporary – 6 darts
YA Contemporary – 6 darts
YA Contemporary – 5 darts
Adult Contemporary – 5 darts

As someone who predominately writes genre fiction in the Speculative Fiction realm, I could be a bit bummed by this. But I know that if my concept and writing are strong enough it’ll still get noticed.

This information can help you if you’re querying now, but don’t write to these trends. Write the story that’s inside you.

 Don’t forget #PitMad is on and you can pitch agents and editors via tweets! Check out more details here.

And finally, a huge thank you to Brenda, the other blog hosts, co-hosts, all the slush zombies and everyone who entered.

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Pitch Madness Agent Round

It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches and our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your game hosts have chosen sixty, along with four pitches saved by our slush readers, pitches for the game. If you’re new to Pitch Madness you can check out the detail here and our fantabulous agents here.

All the picks for Fiona and I are:

SJ1: Sacred Blood
SJ2: A Soul’s Desire
SJ3: Over the Sea to Sky
SJ4: How to Date Dead Guys
SJ5: Endings in Minor
SJ6: Johnny Drake Time Traveler
SJ7: Little Miss Evil
SJ8: The Founding of Josiah Turn
SJ9: The Aztec
SJ10: Great Uncle Gutenberg
SJ11: Princess of Swans
SJ12: Lay Down Your Weary Tune
SJ13: Crow’s Rest
SJ14: The Oak Lovers
SJ15: Cleverland
SJ16 Slush Zombie Save: Tiger Daughter

Comments are set to moderation so the agent’s won’t see their competitors’ bids. Please no comments other than those from the agents. After the game later on March 28, we’ll release the moderation and let you all comment on the entries.

Please note: We will email submission details for all requests by the agents. After the contest, agents will make requests to us for the pitches they loved and didn’t not win.

A HUGE thank you to Team Awesom’s sluch zombies (the all team’s slush zombies). We love a pitch eating gals:

  Brianna Shrum

Catherine Scully

Mina Vaughn

Congratulations to those who’ve made it into the game! For those who haven’t made it, we are hosting a Twitter Pitch Party on March 29 from 8AM to 6PM EDST on the hashtag #PitMad.

How do you twitter pitch? You can find all the details here.

After you read the pitches, go check out Benjamin Chiles at Story Multiverse‘s Musing about Pitch Madness. It’s wonderful!

SJ16 Slush Zombie Save: TIGER DAUGHTER

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 70,000

Down in Chinatown’s Animal Black Market, the kill-buyers and exotic-eaters are calling for the auction prize … but nobody knows the whereabouts of the rare panther — nobody, that is, except Mei Chang and she isn’t telling.

When Mei’s mother died, 47 cats attended her funeral.

Family and friends were there too, of course, and Mother’s colleagues from Chinatown’s Cat Clinic. But it was mostly American shorthairs and a handful of more exotic breeds. Chartreux, Manx, Siamese. The Sphinx even made it.

The cats came in carriers, a few on leashes.

During the service, they sat and slept and slinked under chairs. The Persian groomed. The Sphinx gazed.

In the mortuary’s eerie glow, the cats’ pupils narrowed into tiny exclamation points. And, as Mei’s eyes followed them back to the body, they went liquid, leaking salty tears.

How could Mother leave like this?

The question wasn’t: What killed Dr. Jun Chang? Mei knew that her mother had ignored symptoms of a Bartonella infection ― a rare and deadly case of cat scratch fever; it was just like the doctor to put her needs aside when there was work to be done. What confused Mei was: How could Mother just lay there when she had a 4.30 back at the Clinic?

It was a surgery, no less.

Thinking about practicalities ― as her mother would ― lessened the terrible distance growing between them. So Mei mopped her cheeks and ran through the rest of the (now defunct) afternoon schedule. After the Tonkinesse’s tooth extraction, they were booked solid with castrations and immunizations right up until the microchipping for that cute new client, Law Hsu. Mei would do the chipping herself. She smiled a little at the thought of it. Maybe she’d inject the boy along with his kitten but, in Law’s case, the tiny tag would be registered to M―


Genre: YA Fiction
Word Count: 65,000

In a dark retelling of Peter Pan, Wendy Darling joins the ‘Lost Boys’, or burnouts of South Seattle High School, in the clandestine group ‘Cleverland’, pulling pranks on bullies with inspiration from banned books.

When a star dies, it collapses on itself. The outside shell is blown away, leaving nothing but the pure white core, waiting to fade to black as time goes on. Each passing day, it darkens. The purity of the core disintegrates, just like the purity of an aged heart. As time moves along, every ounce of cleanliness -every chance of a tabula rasa -slowly fades away. Something that was once intact and whole is nothing more than dead star. If the star is a supergiant, the core twists enough to become a black hole, where not even light can escape its jaws as it drinks everything in until it’s surrounded by nothing.

If I was a star, which would I be? Would I be small and disappear? Or would I destroy everything with me, like the supergiants?

The only thing that would liven my wandering mind during Freshman Orientation is a copy of Nietzsche and some absinthe. Neither is present, so I make do with what’s given, which isn’t much.

My freshman advisor’s standing in front of me in a raccoon hat, the tail drooping past his left eye, expecting me to take him seriously. A few kids giggle as he leads us through unfamiliar hallways. He sends them dirty looks. In my opinion, if you come to school with a taxidermy animal on your head, you’re fair game.

“I’m sure you’ve seen it all on television. You’ve seen the jock fall in love with the nerd.


Genre: Historical Fiction

Word count: 99,000 words

In 1900, a minister’s daughter becomes muse and confidant to an ailing, married painter and discovers the only way to save the man she loves is to destroy him.


If asked which of the Niles daughters would one day be immortalized in a
hundred paintings, all eyes would have fallen upon my sister. I was easily
missed at eighteen, a short brunette with a small bosom and no grace
whatsoever. I knew better than to aspire to be a Gibson Girl.


Visitors to my childhood home would have found me sitting on the fringes of
any room, head bent over a sketchbook, pencil scratching. I drew everything
then, recording life rather than living it. Odd Martha. The unfortunate girl
born between Beautiful Helen and Clever Ned. The only time anyone paid me any
real notice was when I sang. I was a soloist in church and for the past few
years had performed at all the local weddings. Good enough to be on a
phonograph record, I once heard a neighbor tell my mother. She was right, it
turns out, though no one actually expected me to try.


Though neither Mother nor I spoke of it, the memory of my fingers being
pried from her petticoats at four-years-old was not easily erased, nor were the
thousand days I spent waiting for my family to fetch me from my grandmother’s.
I had no recollections of Father, who came home in a long, narrow box. The
woman and children accompanying him were strangers. Perhaps Mother felt she had
relinquished the right to choose my life’s path when she left me behind. I
asked for little from her and she refused me nothing.



Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 70,000 words

Avery wants to evict the creature who has taken residence in her boyfriend’s body, but preventing the corbin from fulfilling his mission will plunge the world into another Dark Age.

Mom woke me as we hit the outskirts of Crow’s Rest. “Brace yourself, Avery Girl.” She said this every time we visited Uncle Tam’s, and it still gave me a shiver.
July air streamed through the car window, coating my tongue with heat and iron-rich dust. Nearly there. . . As we took that last curve on the approach, tree branches arched over the road, blocking our view until there it stood.
A castle, its ruddy bricks warmed by the afternoon light. Looming over the Gold-Rush-era town at its feet, the Wilson School of Industry reformed bad boys for nearly a century before the state abandoned it to vandals and ghost hunters.
The usual mass of turkey vultures and ravens soared above, sinisterizing the turrets even more. Makes my shutter finger drool, if that’s even possible.
“The Castle’s so solid,” I said to my mom. “Like it grew here, with the oaks and granite.”
“Is that the start of one of your poems?” Mom teased. “Material for your next show?”
“Maybe,” I said, with a quirk of a smile as the Castle receded in the side mirror.
My first gallery show was last spring, pairing my pics with three-line, atmospheric poems. It got a write-up in the local paper and some flattering attention, but in spite of spending my savings on frames and mats, I sold a grand total of one photo. To a tourist who said she was buying it because the Stellar’s jay was the same blue as her recliner.


Genre: Adult, Literary Fiction
Word Count: 104,000
Jack Wyeth, a struggling journalist, accepts a gig as a ghostwriter for a reclusive folk music icon. After discovering that the musician’s mind is failing, Jack scrambles to unlock the past before it’s too late.
When little Sammy Sweet fished a waterlogged wool cap out of the river, Trooper Mark Calvin, of the New York State Police, said it was “definitive” proof that Eli had drowned. Case closed. Time to get on with our lives. But three days later, in the hollow behind the paper mill, Dell Wheaton snagged Eli’s bruised leather satchel from the murmuring backwash. At least half a mile upstream from Eli’s last known location, Dell’s discovery was fodder for a new round of conspiracy theories, conjectures, and what-if scenarios. To further infuriate the investigators, the bag’s limp, deformed body wore a small bullet hole just above its clasp. Members of the trolling media, busybodies, and Galesville’s newfound tourists all voiced the same question from the same village sidewalks and gas pumps and bar stools: “What the hell happened to Eli Page?”

Many believed his disappearance was an elaborate hoax, a ploy to sell records. Eli, after all, was known for his trickery and sleight of hand almost as much as he was known for his music. Almost. Even Hal Holland, the editor of the local paper, who once swore up and down that he saw a body plummet over High Rock Falls, backpedaled when word about the cap spread through town. Now, he tells everyone that will listen that it was just the morning light breaking on the water. Me? I’m not sure what to believe.


Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 84,000

To bring peace to her war-torn country, disfigured, sheltered princess Feyana Belmaron must journey deep into hostile territory to findand courta ruthless enemy prince. If only she weren’t falling for someone else.
Tavor Castle is beautiful, for a prison. The white stone castle is small but well-kept, and its fields and woods cover almost a square mile. Even the looming, twenty-foot walls enclosing the grounds have an odd charm to them. To protect you, Father says, but I know better. It’s to hide me. The only ugly thing in Tavor Castle is its princess.

I jam my foot into Lulari’s stirrup and glare up at the walls, wishing my hate could melt them. Only a little longer, until the war ends, and I’ll be free. Father promised that much, at least.

I turn away and cluck Lulari to a walk. The warm breeze ruffles my fascinator and fills my nose with the ripe scent of horse. I smile. Outside, there may still be walls, but at least there’s no ceiling. I brush back a lock of hair—and an ashen, black-cloaked woman appears in my path.

Lulari rears.

I clutch at her mane but grasp nothing. The ground races up to slap me, and pain jars through my shoulder and back. A stablehand races toward me, her dark hair flying behind her.

“Your Highness!”

Breathing hard, I stir my arms and legs, then probe my ribs for tenderness. Nothing broken, thank Dal. I sit up and groan.

“I’m fine,” I say. “Is she all right?”


The mysterious woman lies crumpled beneath her cloak, her face unnaturally gray. I crawl toward her, my shoulder throbbing, but the stablehand pulls me back sharply.


Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Word Count: 48000

Mainz 1454. Twelve-year-old Elsa hopes for a fresh start at her great-uncle Johann Gutenberg’s house. But when enemies from his past threaten to destroy his printing workshop, Elsa risks everything to protect her great-uncle’s secrets.

I looked backwards for a long time as we rode out of Frankfurt. First my father vanished as the cart rounded a corner. My younger sisters ran behind the cart for a while until they were too tired to follow. I waved until they turned back. Then I let fall the smile I had been forcingmyself to wear so they would not think I was sad. We drove through the bumpy, winding city streets until we reached the city walls. Frankfurt became a gray mist of spires which finally faded into clouds. When there was nothing left to see behind us, I turned around to face the road ahead.

 The sun climbed higher in the sky. It struggled to shine through the clouds that had been hanging over the countryside for nearly a week. The longer we were on the road, the stronger the light became, until it broke through the seams of the clouds and made sweeping shadows cross our path.

“I knew we’d have good traveling weather,” Lorenz said from his seat next to me, holding the reins of the horse loosely. “There’s nothing worse than trying to drive these carts in a rainstorm.”

Rain would have hidden the tears that I was trying my best to hold back. It would do no good to cry and Lorenz would think I was an infant, not a grown girl of twelve. The saints never cried when they were martyred, my mother liked to say. If they didn’t cry while their heads were cut off or their flesh pierced with arrows, then there was no reason for me to cry.