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Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and published author who runs the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, one of the biggest blogs in publishing. His site has instruction and information on literary agents, literary agencies, query letters, submissions, publishing, author platform, book marketing, and more.


How I Got My Literary Agent: Margo Kelly

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Margo Kelly, author of the YA thriller WHO R U REALLY? 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: Margo 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

Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and “Falls the Shadow”

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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 66th installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary) for Stefanie Gaither’s young adult novel, FALLS THE SHADOW (Sept 2014, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Kristi Helvig, author of BURN OUT, said of the book: “[It's] a smart, futuristic thriller that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the very last page. This is a fantastic debut.” Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Lana Popovic of Chalberg & Sussman

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She is seeking: Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction: Contemporary/realistic, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical, horror, sci-fi. Adult Fiction: Literary thrillers, sci-fi, horror, romance, erotica, women’s literary fiction. Adult Nonfiction: Pop culture, blog-to-book, literary memoir. Lean more about querying her by clicking on the blog link and seeing her entire spotlight. 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

The Writer’s Journey: How Much Can Someone Possibly Stand?

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Above your desk is a bulletin board, crammed with outlines, assorted index cards with character descriptions, fliers from places you went for research, cards from agents and editors you met at assorted writers conferences, a postcard from a favorite book (note to self: next query don’t forget to mention your story is just like this one!), yellowed movie stubs from Crazy Stupid Love and Pride and Prejudice, a calendar indicating all the dates from sent queries, and a plethora of erratically stuck Post-it notes of varying colors and sizes holding minutiae ranging from brilliant snippets of dialogue to the color of the suit your villain will wear when he jumps the hero behind the warehouse. Read more

Empowered by Embarrassment: The Value of Adding Humor to Your Manuscript

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You know those times when you wish you were completely alone? Not because you wish for peace and quiet, but because you hate the fact that others witnessed what just happened to you? I’m talking about those embarrassing moments, the ones when your face burns so hot that you feel like you might just melt down into the ground – and you wouldn’t mind if you did! You know, those moments!

Here’s my advice for what to do next time you have a mortifying moment: harness it. Use it to fuel your writing. Allow yourself to be empowered by embarrassment. It can add humor to your writing and boost audience appeal. Trust me, humiliation is hot. It is!

GIVEAWAY: Kami 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

The 2015 Guide to Literary Agents is Out! Here are 47 Reasons to Buy It (and a Giveaway Contest!)

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The new 2015 edition of the Guide to Literary Agents is out, all updated and packed with info. I realize there are other places you can turn to for information on agents, but the Guide to Literary Agents has always prided itself as being the biggest (we list almost every agent) and the most thorough (guidelines, sales, agent by agent breakdowns, etc.). That’s why it’s been around for 24 years and that’s why it’s sold more than 320,000 copies. It works—and if you keep reading, I’ll prove it to you below with proof from 47 people.

THE GIVEAWAY!!! Comment on this post and just say anything nice about any element of Writer’s Digest you enjoy — from a blog post to a class or a book or anything else. In two weeks (Sept. 25, 2014), I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Genevieve Nine of Andrea Hurst & Associates

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She is seeking: Within young adult and middle grade, she’s looking to acquire: Fantasy (open to all subgenres except game-related), Science Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Retellings (classics, fairy/folk tale, myth), and Contemporary Realism (especially with elements of humor). She also represents the following adult and new adult categories: Mystery (detective/PI, amateur, cozy, historical, comic, caper), Thriller (supernatural, historical, disaster, ecological), Gothic/Hauntings/Quiet Horror, Historical Fiction, Retellings (classics, fairy/folk tale, myth), Romantic Comedy, Magical Realism, Food Memoir and Travelogue/Travel Memoir. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Julie Lawson Timmer

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Julie Lawson Timmer, author of FIVE DAYS LEFT. 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. Julie’s literary agent is Victoria Sanders of Victoria Sanders & Associates.

GIVEAWAY: Julie 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: Valerie Noble of Donaghy Literary Group

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She is seeking: Valerie is seeking Young Adult, and New Adult — in the following areas:

• Science Fiction YA/NA
• Fantasy YA/NA
• Historical Fantasy YA/NA
• Historical Fiction YA/NA

Valerie loves YA/NA science fiction and fantasy (think Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins) but reads everything under the sun. For her, it’s more about the writing and less about the genre. In saying that, Valerie is generally not interested in romance or paranormal. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Sarah Creech

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Sarah Creech, author of SEASON OF THE DRAGONFLIES. 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: Sarah 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

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 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. (UPDATE: Jordan Kopy won.) 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. (UPDATE: L Chavez won.) 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. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.) 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

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