Ask a Literary Agent: Nephele Tempest Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 27th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Nephele Tempest Answers Your Questions!We’re happy to have literary agent Nephele Tempest share her experience with the Book Country community! Nephele has been a member of The Knight Agency since 2005 and is based in Los Angeles. Nephele is currently seeking works in a wide variety of genres, including literary fiction, romance, and young adult.

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If you feel that a novel from a first-time author is strong (style, voice, premise, etc.) — but, could use some changes (more than simple tweaking) — are you likely to say to the author: Make these changes and then send it back to me? – Val

I have definitely done this in the past, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. If I really love a story concept and think the writing is strong but the execution of the story needs a great deal of work, I will occasionally relay this to the author and make a few suggestions with an offer to reread if they decide to follow up. Not everyone takes my suggestions, but I have seen revised manuscripts in this way, and on one occasion did end up signing the author. We did a few more rounds of revisions once I had signed her on before I submitted the book to editors and sold it, but that first round of edits she performed before I signed her on showed me both that she was capable of following directions and that she was willing to work to get the book to a salable point, both of which were great to know before I took her on as a client.

As a member of the Book Country community of writers, I have a manuscript (Historical Fiction/Personage) that lately has been receiving five nib (star) reviews. The book is virtually finished, but I am in a quandary as to whether to seek an agent or self-publish. I have worked on this story for many years, and it is the advice from other writers that has helped me bring the novel to this point. – Rob Emery

Only you can decide whether you are interested in going the traditional publishing route or if you want to self-publish. Each route has its advantages and disadvantages. The traditional route can be time-consuming, but you end up with a group of people working for you to help get your book into the world — an agent, an editor, a marketing department and sales team, etc. If you self-publish, you still need those people and will need to find them and pay them for their work, or else you need to do those jobs yourself, but you can get your book out into the world more quickly. I recommend you research both ways of doing things, and then pick which seems best for you. Either way, give the process time to work. Commit to the choice you make and really put in the time and effort to make your book a success. Too often I receive queries from authors who have self-published a few months ago and aren’t happy with the results, so now they want to try again the traditional way, and I can’t really do anything for them because all they’ve done is create a poor sales history for their project that will make it hard for me to sell to a publishing house. So whatever route you choose, give it your all. Continue reading

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Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

Posted by May 26th, 2015

It’s important for writers to be active in the online writing community. Editors and publishers are constantly promoting great books and author events on Twitter, so you’ll be able to know current trends and the kinds of books being published in today’s market. Plus, editors and publishers regularly tweet out book giveaways and host fun contests!

Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

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Ask a Literary Agent: Regina Brooks Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 20th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Regina Brooks Answers Your Questions!

Regina Brooks is the founder and CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC. In November 2010, Brooks co-founded and launched a new publishing imprint under Akashic Books called Open Lens. Regina shares the one thing all successful writers have in common and what writers should do to build a readership.

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What do you do if a book by one of your clients gets a cover that you find really ugly, but the publisher and the author love it? Do you hold your tongue or do you put in your 2 cents? – Lucy Silag

This has happened several times in the last several months. I evaluate book covers not only on my own sensibilities but whether I think the audience for the book will respond to the cover. When evaluating covers, I use the following criteria as my first line of communicating my hesitation on a design.

  • Does the author’s name appear clear and strong? Sometimes the title or other features can overshadow the author’s name on a cover. I’m always sensitive to making sure we build the author’s brand and the name is showcased prominently.
  • Does the cover incorporate a color palette that will resonate with the audience appropriately? For example, business books often use black, red, or blue. Girl books for younger audiences typically incorporate purples, pink, or yellow. Of course, covers can certainly veer from these conventions, but many years of research and theory have gone into selecting colors that work. One of my authors Elizabeth Harper has taught me a lot about colors and how they are received.
  • Does the cover show up well in a thumbnail size? There are often wonderful fonts and illustrations that work well in the print version but get lost in the ebook format. These days many consumers will first discover a book online, so it’s important that the title and author’s name are readily visible.
  •  Does the cover speak to the core demographic? Sometimes covers will look stunning but don’t play well to the audience. There might be confusion as to whether the book is for women,  millennials, academics, etc. The cover needs to strike a chord with the target audience.

I’ve been in the business for 20 years, so I’ve seen my share of ‘ugly’ covers. Aesthetics are very subjective, so I tend to table my commentary unless I have something clear and focused that speak to the questions I’ve mentioned  above. If it’s just a matter of taste, I will certainly tell my author, but I will often acquiesce to the author and editor if they are in sync. Continue reading

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Agents to Follow on Twitter

Posted by May 19th, 2015

Literary agents are incredibly active and forthcoming on Twitter, sharing advice about querying, breaking into the publishing industry, and building an online author platform.

Follow agents on Twitter to learn what genres agents are searching for and what agents look for in a great manuscript. Some agents even share critiques of manuscripts on Twitter, giving you a first-hand look of how they determine which manuscripts to accept or reject.

Agents to Follow on Twitter

Agents to Follow on Twitter

Agents to Follow on Twitter Continue reading

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New Top Rated Titles on Book Country!

Posted by May 18th, 2015

Check out the Top Rated Carousel on Book Country!

We’ve updated the Top Rated carousel on Book Country’s Read and Review page. Check it out!

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Ask a Literary Agent: Mary C. Moore Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 13th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Mary C. Moore Answers Your Questions!Please welcome literary agent Mary C. Moore to our latest round of Ask a Literary Agent! Mary is a Bay Area-based agent at Kimberley Cameron & Associates who loves representing authors who write unusual fantasy, grounded science fiction, and strong female characters.

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When reading a query letter for a work of fiction (esp. fantasy/sci-fi), I know that having both strong characters and a strong plot are important. But which will make you more likely to keep reading and why? – Vanessa Silva

For me personally, the opening scene has to have forward-moving action. If an author spends a lot of time giving back story, or telling us what the character looks like, they lose my interest. I want to feel like I jumped in the car with you and we took off for an adventure. This doesn’t mean the action has to be “high-stakes exciting” per se, it just has to have momentum. Continue reading

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Authors to Follow on Twitter

Posted by May 12th, 2015

Here on the Book Country blog, we’ve talked a lot about the opportunities there are for writers and authors on Twitter. At conferences, most of the questions I get from writers have to do with social media, especially Twitter. Folks always say, “I know I need to get on Twitter. But I don’t really know how.” It’s clear that most writers don’t struggle with the act of signing up for Twitter. Like most websites, registration on Twitter is easy. (See our post Twitter for Beginners if you need help.) More often, I hear that writers don’t quite know how to jump into the conversations Twitter is known for. They know that they are supposed to be tweeting–but what are they supposed to be tweeting?

One of the best ways to get started using Twitter is to follow other authors. You want to create your own voice on social media, of course, but using the example of other authors will help you get a feel for how to be authentic, informative, and fun–all the while getting attention for your work in a way that won’t turn off readers. When you have a group of authors to follow on Twitter, you’ll also get to see how they use this social network to engage with the writers they admire.

Elizabeth Gilbert on TwitterChloe Neill on TwitterAndrea Dunlop screenshot with frame Continue reading

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New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!

Posted by May 11th, 2015

New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!A new set of Waiting to Be Discovered titles is featured on the Read and Review page!

We are always blown away by the diverse array of books we feature. All thanks to you!  Continue reading

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Ask a Literary Agent: Carly Watters Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 6th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Carly Watters Answers Your Questions!We are so happy to have Carly Watters on the Book Country blog! Carly is a VP and senior literary agent with the P.S. Literary Agency. Her bestselling and debut authors include Rebecca Phillips, Danny Appleby, and Book Country member Andrea Dunlop. Carly frequently shares informative insights about the publishing industry on her blog and on Twitter. Below, Carly offers advice on how to get your name and book out there, what to do if you’ve already self-published a book and are seeking representation, and the state of erotica in today’s market.

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Do you participate in social media pitch campaigns like #PitMad on Twitter? If so, what can you share from your experience for those of us who might be thinking about participating in the future? – Kelley

I used to do more than I do now. I love working with debuts, and I’m always open to queries. However, I had one experience that made me step back from #PitMad and other online contests. Here’s the example: I favorited a tweet of a pitch I liked, and the author and I started to chat. When I offered representation on the phone a week later, the author said they’ve been interested in another agent for awhile now and used my offer as leverage to let her top agent know. I’m all for savvy business-minded people, but that made me reevaluate why I would spend my time searching out authors–and taking many days out of my year with these contests–when I have so many amazing queries in my inbox.

Also, I’ve written a guide to Twitter pitching if you want more tips!  Continue reading

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#TwitterFiction Festival 2015 Starts Next Week!

Posted by May 5th, 2015

The #TwitterFiction Festival#TwitterFiction Festival 2015 Start Next Week! will take place from May 11-15, 2015. During this time, writers from all over the world will live-stream unique and original stories to the “Twitterverse.” An incredible lineup of 22 authors–from Margaret Atwood to Jackie Collins to Eric Jerome Dickey–have been tapped to tweet new writing during the festival.

Writers like you are encouraged to join the fun and tweet your own stories, too, using the hashtag #TwitterFiction.

Let us know if you are participating!

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