29
Sep

Example Query: Renita Pizzitola 

Here’s another example query for you to feast your eyes on. Renita queried me with her NA manuscript The Unity of Opposites in October last year. 


THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES is a New Adult Contemporary Romance complete at 70,000 words.

When nineteen-year-old Brinley Monroe runs into Ryder Briggs—an insanely desirable, tattooed bad boy and the other half of her disastrous first kiss—she knows she’s in trouble. Since that humiliating day four years ago, when she experienced a moment of Ryder-induced-bliss followed by nose-diving into a swimming pool, she’s hated him…every delectable square inch. Now in college, her past has reappeared and, by the looks of it, still hasn’t grown into his ego.

Despite their scorching chemistry, a guy like Ryder is the last thing Brinley needs in her life. As the product of a teen mom, who now loves vodka more than her own daughter, Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life. But while spending time with Ryder, she discovers there is more to him than the image he broadcasts. Though complete opposites, they share the same fear—repeating their parents’ mistakes. And as Ryder’s desire not to hurt her drives him away, her trust in him draws them back together.

But when Ryder’s involvement in a campus-wide scandal comes to light, the only person to pay is Brinley. As much as she wanted to believe otherwise, learning from her past means leaving people from it out of her future. Now, in order to protect her, Ryder must fix the mess he’s caused then do what he should have done from day one. Walk away.

I am a romance author currently published through Lyrical Press. (YA Paranormal Romance series—October 2012 and September 2013, and an Adult Urban Fantasy Romance—March 2013). I appreciate your time and consideration and sincerely hope to hear from you in the near future.

 Here’s what caught my eye:

The Title. Now, we actually changed it—more on this later—but I loved the title. It automatically intrigued me. (Maybe I always go for people who are my opposite, I don’t know).

That first paragraph gives a great set up. I love that Brinley and Ryder have a history and that it’s humiliating for her. A disastrous first kiss followed by a nose-dive into a swimming pool—and it’s made her hate him? That feels so very authentic. I still have a high school kiss that makes me cringe whenever I think of it. And if I ran into that guy now, oh I wouldn’t be a fan.

But what really gets me with that paragraph is that Ryder “still hasn’t grown into his ego.” This is such a great example of voice and characterization in a query. It’s a little detail, worded in a way that reflects exactly something that Brinley would say and it tells me so much about her and about the book.

The second paragraph sets up more conflicts. This is a book that is a romance but each of the characters have their own conflicts going on as well. Brinley’s relationship with her mom comes into play here. More than that though, I also love that “Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life.” This tells me that she’s a strong character, she might have history and family issues like all of us, but they’re not going to get the best of her.

And of course the tease of a campus wide scandal really got me too, but what I liked about the ending is that this feels like a romance that’s more than just a will they/won’t they—it sounds like a relationship story, something that requires working through every day conflicts and struggles. It feels so real and authentic to the college experience.

Of course Renita is a fabulous writer so when I started reading her pages I was totally hooked. And I wasn’t the only one. 

THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES and two companion novels sold at auction to Random House Flirt. We changed the name to Just a Little Crush and now it comes out October 21st. That’s almost 12 months to the day that Renita queried me!

2
Sep

The Wishlists—-now with working links! 

gah! sorry—I fixed it!

Recently on tumblr someone asked me if the NL team had their wishlists somewhere online. I have mine on the blog and try to keep it current-ish, but I thought updating all of our wishlists and posting them would be a great way to kick off the fall.

So here they are—click on our names to be directed to the wishlist!

Mackenzie Brady

Kathleen Ortiz

Suzie Townsend

Joanna Volpe

Happy Fall!

2
Sep

New Leaf Wishlists! 

Recently on tumblr someone asked me if the NL team had their wishlists somewhere online. I have mine on the blog and try to keep it current-ish, but I thought updating all of our wishlists and posting them would be a great way to kick off the fall.

So here they are—click on our names to be directed to the wishlist!

Mackenzie Brady

Kathleen Ortiz

Suzie Townsend

Joanna Volpe

Happy Fall!

22
Aug

So tell me…Can You Handle the Truth? 

Apparently I don’t hold up well under peer pressure….

It’s August, I am about to head out for vacation, and I’m excited to come back in September and finish 2014 with a bang.

So you asked for it: Can you handle the truth?

What am I talking about?

I always hear from writers that they want to know what an agent is really thinking when they click to send a form rejection.

If you fall into that category, this is your chance.

When I’m back from vacation, I will respond to the queries I receive in complete honesty. I will either request your manuscript or I will pass and tell you exactly why.

No form rejection.

Now, this isn’t a critique. Please don’t expect that. I would never again see the light of day.

This is just an honest response to your query, but if you’ve been getting a lot of form rejections, this might tell you why. (hopefully it’ll be at least a little helpful?)

You may see something as simple as “Not bad, but just not for me.” or “I don’t represent legal thrillers.” or “Mermaids creep me out.” OR you may see something like “I don’t understand your plot” or “I stopped reading when you mentioned that the mailman was a vampire space zombie who has come to deliver a message of PAIN. Because come on…seriously?”

So, if you want the truth, query me for the next week (so right now until 11:59 pm EST on Saturday 8/30) and follow the directions very carefully.

Directions:

  • Queries must be submitted to Query(at)newleafliterary(dot)com. 
  • All queries entered must have this in the subject line: QUERY SUZIE - I can handle the truth
  • If it does not have this in the subject line, it will be considered a regular query only.
  • Queries must be in the body of the email. NO attachments!
  • Queries should include the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email below your query. 
  • One query per writer please. (Don’t think you can trick me with different email addresses either)

I will make an announcement when I have responded to all the queries. I’ll be aiming to have them all answered by Sunday 9/7.

Further Guidelines:

  • Yes, if you’ve already been rejected by me (or someone else at New Leaf) you may resubmit your query. But revise your query first. Don’t say “You already rejected me…” Treat it like you’ve never queried her before.
  • Your queries will NOT be posted on this or any other blog. I will reply to you via your e-mail, only.  (Make sure your email doesn’t require me to fill out some form to prove I’m not a spammer—I’m not going to go that above and beyond to get back to you).
  • You must treat this as an actual query process, which means you need to have a complete manuscript. If I do request your manuscript, I don’t want to find out there isn’t one!

Okay, ready go!

14
Jul

Example Query: Lori M Lee 

It’s been a while since I shared a client query, but if you’re looking for a good example, I have one for you. This one was written by my fabulous client, Lori M Lee.

A few weeks ago, Lisa Desrochers sent you some pages from my YA cyberpunk fantasy HARBINGER, and I was thrilled to hear you were interested in taking a look. I’m honored to have Lisa’s referral, and I hope you’ll enjoy the story. I wasn’t sure how many of my pages Lisa sent you or what I should send now, so I figured I would just submit what’s listed in your submission guidelines. 

People are disappearing in the city of Ninurta. Like the rest of the citizens, seventeen-year-old Kai pretends not to notice. With her own survival to worry about, she doesn’t have much concern to spare. But when her brother vanishes, Kai will do whatever it takes to find him, including using the ability she promised her brother to keep secret—Kai can see and manipulate the threads of time. 

With the help of an annoying and distracting friend—distracting because he’s beautiful, and annoying because he knows it—Kai discovers a secret war between Ninurta’s governor and a rebel named the Black Rider. The Rider has been kidnapping Ninurtans and transforming them into cybernetically enhanced soldiers called Golems. 

Kai sets out to find the Rider and discovers a shocking secret: the Rider is actually the Harbinger of Famine. And Kai? Not as human as she thought. Now, Kai will have to face down the Harbinger and uncover the link between herself and the secret war before her brother gets sent for dehumanization. 

Equal parts sci fi and fantasy, HARBINGER is complete at 75,000 words. An excerpt from HARBINGER also won first place in the San Francisco RWA Heart-to-Heart contest in the YA category, and Adam Wilson at Harlequin Teen expressed interest in seeing the full manuscript. He informed me that while he recently moved to Simon&Schuster, he would still like to see the manuscript and wants to forward it to Harlequin Teen. 

I included the first chapter below. Thank you so much for your interest, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing from you.

This is interesting because there’s a referral in the first line. It’s important that if you use a referral that it’s a real referral though. Every once in a while I get a query with a referral from one of my clients—and the client has no idea who the author is. So don’t lie—you might get caught.

Lori’s referral was in fact true and I was very happy to receive her query.

What I love about this query is that it’s a really great example for a fantasy novel—or any novel with a lot of worldbuilding. Rather than start with her main character, Lori starts with a problem in a way that grounds me in the world: People are disappearing in the city of Ninurta.

This query is predominantly about Kai. I get a strong sense of her personality and who she is in this world (and what she can do!) in a very quick span. Obviously this is a fantasy world, but it’s Kai and her missing brother that I’m most interested in.

Now the title of this novel changed and in revisions it became much more of a straight fantasy, but it’s now called Gates of Thread and Stone and will be released in August!

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24
Jun

Congratulations Stacey Kade! 


Christian Trimmer at Simon & Schuster has bought world English rights to After Life, a contemporary novel by Stacey Kade, in a preempt. It’s the story of the teenage son of a mega-church pastor who survives a car accident that kills his twin, and the mysterious girl who turns out to be only one of his brother’s secrets. Publication is scheduled for spring 2016; Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media was the agent. 

 

17
Jun

Chelsea Fine’s newest novel is out today: Perfect Kind of Trouble 

I signed Chelsea several books ago for her YA novels, but every book she writes I like even more than the last one. This new adult book is a stand alone but set in the same world as Best Kind of Broken and the upcoming Right Kind of Wrong. 

Chelsea does characters and relationships that make me laugh and tear up and smile, all in the same book. I’m so honored to be a part of this whole series. 

6
May

New Deal: Stacey Kade is doing her first new adult book! 

New Adult
The Ghost and the Goth author Stacey Kade’s debut 738 DAYS, about an abducted teen who, at nineteen, two years after her return home, is still suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia when a publicity stunt throws her together with the former TV heartthrob whose poster was her only friend in captivity, raising the possibility that they might be the only ones who can save each other, to Whitney Ross at Tor, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Suzie Townsendat New Leaf Literary & Media (NA).

10
Mar

Ask Me Anything: The Submission Process 

Recently I got a question on tumblr about submissions and what the process is like. It’s a rather lengthy answer so I figured I’d talk about it here. 

Once a writer signs with an agent—and after they go through any revisions, be it a polish or a more lengthy edit—the next step is going on submission.

In short, this means their agent will submit the manuscript (fiction) or proposal (non-fiction) to editors. 

What this means…

I can only speak for myself, but the process actually starts when I first sign a new client. During my first read, before I’ve even decided whether I should represent a project, I’ll be thinking about submission. Obviously, if I’m thinking ahead, I’m thinking how much I love the story, but I’m also thinking about which editors will love the manuscript as well. 

After I sign an author, I make up a spreadsheet with the Publisher, Imprint, and Editor.

(This sheet is blank because it’s fake, and I’m using these editors because I work with them on recently released books—Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin, A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, and A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier). 

I think about what imprints are the right fit for the book and what editors at those imprints would fall in love the manuscript like I have. (One of the things I have to keep in mind is the different rules of submitting to each house—like you can’t submit to two editors at the same imprint and some house you can submit to multiple imprints and some you can’t.)

Then when the manuscript is all ready and polished, I pitch the manuscript to each of the editors on the list. Pitching could mean calling or talking to them in person if we have drinks or lunch or if I know them really well and we’ve worked together before, I might send an email.

After I pitch the project, ideally an editor will be as excited as I am and ask to see it. In that case I’d send them the manuscript with a written pitch (sort of like a query). If the editor isn’t interested (maybe they just signed something similar), I would call and pitch to someone else instead. 

Once the manuscript is with everyone on my list, it’s officially on submission

But that isn’t the end of the process. 

I’d love to say that I always hear back within a few weeks but that isn’t true. Just like writers wait for agents to respond at the querying stage, we agents have to wait for editors to read and respond. Sometimes it happens quickly (there are times when I’ve gotten responses in a week or less!) but other times it takes weeks even months. 

This is where following up comes in. 

I follow up with editors (how soon after submission is based on the project or if there’s any news and also based on what’s happening in life or in publishing). This reminds them how much I love the project and makes sure the ms doesn’t slip through the cracks.

When responses come in, I usually ask the author how they want me to handle it. Do they want to see the responses or do they want me to just tell them about it or do they only want to hear from me when I have good news, etc.

Once the book is on submission, there are a variety of different possible outcomes:

An Auction: This is where multiple editors are making offers. 

(It’s not like an auction at an auction house or anything. It’s largely done over email). I’ll set a date and a time, and ask every editors to get me their first bid—or offer—by then. Once all the bids are in, I’ll go back to all the under bidders and ask for more and that will keep going until we have the best bid from each house. I’ve had auctions with two houses that last one round and I had an auction once that was seven houses and a different auction that lasted a week long. 

Auctions can be stressful for everyone involved, but they also leave room for a lot of choice on the author’s part. It’s about more than just advance. Royalties, pub schedule, rights granted, the editor’s vision for the book, etc—all of these are factors that I’ll discuss with an author before the author makes his/her decision about what offer to accept. (I’ll give my opinion/advise, but it’s always the author’s decision).

A Pre-Empt: This is where an editor makes a “offer you can’t refuse.” 

Sometimes the editor might be the only editor to see the project. Other times they’re just so excited about it that they come in with an offer before anyone else. Pre-empt offers are often higher or better than a first bid for an auction, but that doesn’t mean that all pre-empts are huge. A quiet literary middle grade for instance isn’t going to get the same advance as a huge commercial YA novel. But the reasons to accept a pre-empt are usually that it’s the best offer including advance and terms and the editor’s and publisher’s enthusiasm.

An Offer

This is the most common positive outcome—it only takes one!

In all three of these cases, as an agent, I’m doing a lot of negotiation. And again, the advance is one of those negotiating points but royalties, publication schedule, subrights splits, rights granted, etc are things that I’m asking about. Sometimes I’m even asking for specific language to be in the contract a later date.

No Offer

Hopefully this isn’t the outcome, but it does happen—more than you’d think. We all announce the manuscripts that do sell, but we don’t announce the ones that don’t. If there isn’t an offer, I usually work with the author to revise and do another round of submission or I work with the author on their next project. 

16
Dec

Suzie’s favorite (Non-New Leaf) reads of 2013 

I read over a hundred books during the course of 2013—in addition to my own clients’ books of course. Some of them are books that came out this year and others came out a while ago. 

Here are my top ten favorite non New Leaf books. Each of these books are ones that I could read fast enough. A few of them had me up all night. All of them were on my mind long after I stopped reading. If any of them are books you haven’t read, you should.

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Summer and Bird

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Night Film

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The Darkest Minds

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The Duchess War

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Beautiful Bastard

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It Happened One Autumn

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Blue-Eyed Devil

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Sharp Objects

Hyperbole and a Half

What are your favorite reads from this past year? I’d love to have more recommendations for next year!