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Author Archives: Chuck Sambuchino

Examining the Wonderful World of Steampunk: Maritime Terrorists, Time Travelers, and Mad Science

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We have been writing Steampunk since 2009; and even after five years, we still face the question of the ages: What is steampunk? Perhaps a lazy, shallow way to look at the genre is to simply call it “Victorian Science Fiction” and that be the end of it. Truth be told, this is merely your first step.

While history looks at the 19th Century as the Industrial Age and the late-20th century as the Computer Age, the concept of computing devices were realized by mathematician, inventor, and engineer Charles Babbage as early as 1812. His mechanical computation devices at the time were considered more of a curiosity rather than innovation, but Babbage’s theories served as inspiration for The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Best known for their offerings in cyberpunk, Gibson and Sterling created an alternative Industrial Revolution where Babbage’s inventions were the norm, creating a struggle between the working class Luddites (who fear technology) and an “enhanced” elite that wanted as much integration with these technological wonders as possible. Read more

Have You Successfully Marketed Your Self-Published Book? Then WD Wants to Hear From You!

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Calling all self-published / independent book & e-book authors: Tell us about the promotional strategies that worked for you, and you and your book(s) could get even more visibility in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine.

We’re looking for the inside stories from indie authors who’ve developed successful strategies for marketing their own books. If you credit your self-made promotional strategy for your book’s popularity, profitability or sales, we’d love to hear the details of what you did, how you did it, and what you’ve learned. Your insights—alongside your bio and information about your book—could appear in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Stephanie Wahlstrom

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Stephanie Wahlstrom, author of THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. Stephanie’s agents are Stephanie Thwaites of Curtis Brown Creative and Tina Wexler of ICM Partners. Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group

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He is seeking: In fiction, he seeks Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Comics, Graphic novels, Historical, History, Horror, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Thrillers and New adult.

In nonfiction, he seeks Arts, Cinema, Photography, Biography, Memoir, Self-help, Sports, Travel, World cultures, True crime, Mind/Body/Spirit, Narrative Nonfiction, Politics, Current affairs, Pop culture, Entertainment, Relationships, Family, Science, Technology. Read more

“How to Craft Query Letters, Opening Pages, Synopses, and Nonfiction That Get Noticed” — Sept. 22 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Kimberley Cameron Literary

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When your submission materials arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. At that point, one of two things will happen. Either the agent will like the submission and request more materials, or they will reply with a rejection. Authors who get rejected tend to fall in one of two categories when submitting materials: they try too hard, or not enough. This Writer’s Digest Boot Camp, which starts on Sept. 22, 2014, is designed to help you streamline your submission materials to stand out in a good way.

Attendees will learn how to write a dynamite query letter, tackle a one-page synopsis. The instructing literary agents of Kimberley Cameron & Associates will also explain the importance of author platform in addition to basic etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics. Lastly, all attendees will have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with an agent and submit the first ten double-spaced pages of their manuscript and a query letter for valuable feedback provided by successful literary agents. Note that there are limited seats for the event, and WD boot camps frequently sell out, so sign up sooner rather than later. Read more

How I Got My Book Deal (and a Literary Agent): Mary Weber

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Mary Weber, author of STORM SIREN. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Mary is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

Research Before You Send a Query Letter

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Now, there are really two different types of rejection letters. The first one I don’t have a big problem with. These are the letters for projects that might not be quite right for what I am looking for, or for stories that might not be ready for publishing yet. With stories like this, we can often take the time to provide a few suggestions for improvement, or to discuss why the story is not right for us. Yes, writing the letters takes time, but when I hit “send” I feel as if this author might be one step closer to publishing. Read more

Conference Spotlight: The Indiana Writing Workshop

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I’m exciting about teaching some sessions in Indianapolis this November (especially since it’s so close to my hometown of Cincinnati). It’s all part of the 2014 Indiana Writing Workshop on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, which is an all-day event designed to give you all the information you need to know to move forward and get your book published. Read on to learn much more about the event, including the two agents & one editor in attendance taking pitches from writers — Jen Karsbeak of Foreword Literary, Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary and Andrew Scott of Lacewing Books. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Soumeya Bendimerad of the Susan Golomb Literary Agency

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Soumeya is seeking: She is actively seeking to represent literary fiction, upmarket/book club fiction, and select young-adult and middle grade. She is drawn to intelligent literary fiction with a fresh voice, coming of age stories, novels with elements of travel or stories set in other countries, family sagas, experiments with form, and complex but sympathetic characters. In non-fiction, she is seeking topics in popular culture, music and art history, unconventional business, politics, narrative non-fiction, sociology, cooking, travel, and memoir. Read more

5 Mistakes Writers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

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1. Thinking that your book will sell itself. I have five books published with Simon & Schuster and let me tell you: They do not walk off the shelves. I made the mistake of becoming complacent and thinking that because I had a huge publisher behind me that I didn’t need to do much PR work to promote myself. In the words of Julia Roberts: “Big mistake. Huge.”

I watched my friend and author Becky Wicks work like a demon to promote her indie book Before He Was Famous and within 12 hours of it going live on Amazon it had sold nearly 500 copies. She worked her BUTT off for months prior building an audience, interacting on Twitter and Facebook and building a fan base from scratch. She rocks. It’s totally inspired me to do the same. Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Katie Shea Boutillier and “THE ART OF FALLING”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.

The 69th installment in this series is with agent Katie Shea Boutillier (Donald Maass Literary) for Kathryn Craft’s novel, THE ART OF FALLING (2014, Sourcebooks Landmark). Kirkus said of the book, “Craft’s debut novel lovingly traces the aesthetics of movement and gently explores the shattering pain of despair. A sensitive study of a woman choreographing her own recovery.”

GIVEAWAY: Kathryn is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Stacy Testa of Writers House

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Stacy is seeking: Stacy is looking for literary fiction and upmarket commercial women’s fiction, particularly character-driven stories with an international setting, historical bent, or focus on a unique subculture. She also represents realistic young adult (no dystopian or paranormal, please!). For non-fiction, she is particularly interested in young “millennial” voices with a great sense of humor and a strong platform, startling and unique memoirs, and voice-driven narratives about little-known historical moments. Read more

Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction — August 14 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Jennifer Laughran

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Middle Grade books are generally defined as being books for children aged 8-12…. and at the moment, these books are hot-hot-hot. From the commercial successes of titles like DIARY OF A WIMPY KID and Rick Riordan’s LIGHTNING THIEF saga, to more “literary” award-winning fare, it seems most publishers are seeking the next great Middle Grade success story. But middle grade is also a tough category to write for. Much of what appears in the slush pile is cheesy or derivative, or just lacks “spark.” So what makes a great Middle Grade novel? What is selling? What are agents and editors looking for? And how can you make your book stand out and shine?

In this live webinar, “Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction,” instructor and literary agent Jennifer Laughran (of Andrea Brown Literary) will talk about what’s happening in the exciting Middle Grade market, as well as examine some recently published titles to see what they got right. She’ll also talk revision tips and tricks to help you take your work-in-progress to the next level. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug 14, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Kate Dyer-Seeley

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Kate Dyer-Seeley, author of the mystery SCENE OF THE CLIMB. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.

GIVEAWAY: Kate is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Catherine Luttinger of Darhansoff & Verrill

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She is seeking: Catherine is primarily interested in science fiction and fantasy. To her, that includes anything that could even remotely be labeled as such. Viable submission material includes everything from classic space operas to the apocalypse; alternative universes, dystopias, and eco-thrillers—as well as the paranormal, horror, zombies, plagues, and time travel. She is also willing to look at historical fiction, mythology re-told, YA, thrillers and mysteries. You may also pitch her pop-science nonfiction. Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Lee Thompson

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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Lee Thompson, author of A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

GIVEAWAY: Lee is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

“Your First Ten Pages” Agent One-on-One Boot Camp Starts August 22. Get an Agent Critique of Your Novel Beginning

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As many writers know, agents and editors won’t give your work more than ten pages or so to make an impact. If you haven’t got them hooked by then, it’s a safe bet you won’t be asked for more material. Make sure you’ve got the kind of opening they’re looking for! In this invaluable weekend event, you’ll get to work with an agent online to review and refine the first ten pages of your novel. You’ll learn what keeps an agent reading, what are the most common mistakes that make them stop, and the steps you need to take to correct them. The best part is that you’ll be working directly with an agent, who will provide feedback specific to your work.

It’s all part of the recurring popular Agent One-on-One Boot Camp called “Your First 10 Pages.” Sign up by the end of the day, August 22, 2014. It’s taught by the agents at Talcott Notch Literary. Read more

Agent Updates to the 2014 WD Conference

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As promised, here are the last minute agent updates (both additions and cancellations) to the 2014 WD Conference, Aug. 1-3, 2014, in NYC.

CANCELLATIONS (3)
1. Jordy Albert (Albert Booker Literary) has cancelled.
2. Alex Slater (Trident Media) has cancelled.
3. Kathleen Zakhar (Harold Ober Associates) has cancelled.

Click through to the full page to see the additions. Read more

How I Found My Literary Agent: Cassandra Dunn

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Cassandra Dunn, author of the novel, THE ART OF ADAPTING. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.

GIVEAWAY: Cassandra is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

WD Has Awesome Writers’ Conferences in both NYC and LA in August 2014. The NYC Event Has a 50-Agent Pitch Slam!

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As we do each year, Writer’s Digest is putting on some awesome (and HUGE) writers conferences on both coasts of the country. These conferences bring together writers from all over the country, and lead to all kinds of good things, like signing with agents, meeting your writer friends for life, keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry, and/or simply recharging your writing bat. Read on for more info. We hope to see you there. (The NYC event is from Aug. 1-3, 2014, while the LA event is from Aug 15-17, 2014.) Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency

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She is seeking: She is excited about representing all genres of young adult and new adult fiction, as well as adult romance. While she is looking for all sub-genres of romance, she is especially interested in romantic suspense and urban fantasy. She is also on the lookout for fun picture books. She’s a fan of dual POVs, loves both print and ebooks, and has a soft spot for marketing-savvy writers. Read more

5 Essential Tips for Writing Killer Fight Scenes

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Fight scenes are dangerous territory for writers. On the surface, they seem as if they’re guaranteed to keep the reader glued to the action in the same way as they often do at the movies. In reality, though, readers tend to skip over fight scenes – skimming the long, tedious, blow-by-blow descriptions in favour of getting back to the dialogue and character-driven drama that truly engages them in the story.

My novel, Traitor’s Blade, is a swashbuckling fantasy in which fight scenes are a crucial part of the storytelling. This means having to ensure that every piece of action is vital and engaging; it means that every duel must draw the reader in and not let them go until the end. So how do you keep the pacing, flow, and more importantly, the drama moving forward with so many fights?

GIVEAWAY: Sebastien is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

11 Steps to Finding the Agent Who’ll Love Your Book

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I was ready. I had an edited manuscript. I had a tiered list of agents. I had a spreadsheet. I’d read every scrap of information about getting an agent, and I was prepared, at last, to submit my novel. The process could take months, maybe years, I’d heard. I was in for the long haul, baby. The good news is it didn’t take years to get an offer of representation. The even better news: That offer came in the form of four magic words, words I’d been told to wait for by all the experts: I love your book.

Not just a Facebook-worthy thumbs up, not a “I think I can sell this.” Love. The reason you wait for true love in publishing is because publishing requires it, and not just from the author. Remember the feverish crush that helped fuel your first draft? Your agent needs that same big-eyed reverence for your book to take it out to editors, hoping for another love connection. So how do you snag one of these lovey-doveys for yourself?

GIVEAWAY: Lori is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Siobhan McBride of Serendipity Literary Agency

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She is seeking: Siobhan is actively seeking voice driven narratives whether Fiction, Memoir, or Non-Fiction. She holds a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Adult Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Thrillers (bonus points if they’re psychological), Historical, daring Young Adult, and narratives with philosophical undertones. For Memoir and Nonfiction titles, she seeks Investigative, True Crime, and dark/bizarre History. Siobhan enjoys the dark, macabre aspects of life where paranormal fiction and horror are viewed an under appreciated art forms deeply rooted in psychology, and looks for authors unafraid to delve into these inner workings of the human psyche. Read more

What All Agents Want in a Great Young Adult Novel — July 29 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Carlie Webber

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Teens are discriminating readers with a lot of demands on their time, so what can you do to ensure that your novel is the one they’ll all be dying to read? And does your book stand a chance at getting you an agent if it doesn’t have wizards, vampires, or a dystopian setting?

Literary agent Carlie Webber will share her ideas on what all agents want in a great YA novel, regardless of subject matter. The live webinar on July 29 will open with a presentation on what it means to write authentic YA voices, and will explain why crafting a YA voice is a different challenge from creating one for a tween or adult protagonist. After showing examples of strong voice, Carlie will show how setting, pacing, and tension all work with the voice to create a memorable novel. She’ll also talk about the elements that separate middle grade novels from YA, and YA from adult. Carlie will also address the art of writing controversial content, and the perennial question of how writers should – or shouldn’t – tackle YA literature trends.

This webinar will treat YA as an age range, not a genre, and it will include examples from contemporary and historical fiction, plus science fiction and fantasy written for ages 12-18. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

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