Tag Archives: Geekomancy

Beyond NaNoWriMo: Literary Agent Sara Megibow on Top Publishing Trends

Posted by December 4th, 2013

NaNoWriMo has come to an end, and I’m sure many of you are itching to share your work: publish it or place it into the hand of a literary agent. Finishing a novel is incredibly exciting, but make sure it’s as ready as it can be, first, before sharing it with your readers! Do your research. Edit. Strategize. 

Today we have the third part of our interview with agent Sara Megibow–a special treat for those of you who are gearing up to query agents in the next months. Be sure to check out the first part of our interview, in which she shared specific query advice and the second part, where she talked about what’s behind a good author-agent relationship

Here, we discuss publishing trends, erotic romance, and sci/fi submissions. ~NG

NG: As an agent, you have a birds-eye view of the publishing industry. Are there any trends you see growing or contracting in terms of genre or writing style?

SM: That’s a great question and thanks again for having me here at Book Country! I’ve followed the Book Country website and Twitter feed for a long time now. Thanks for all the hard work your team does to support authors!

Now, on to trends—you asked about genre and writing style. Let’s tackle genre first. I’ve worked in publishing for 8 years and have been a literary agent for 4 years and can honestly say (from an agent’s perspective) brilliant writing has been the “hot” thing all along. It’s easy to point to certain genres that have gone “boom” and been hot over the years—vampire romance, young adult dystopian, erotic romance, etc. but when I’m reading submissions for potential representation I put these biases aside and read solely for quality of writing. I want a book that grabs my attention and draws me in so much that when the cat meows, the kid screams and the doorbell rings, I miss it all because I’m so engrossed in the characters and their lives.

9780778313533_smp.inddAs an agent, I represent debut authors in science fiction, fantasy, romance, erotica, new adult, young adult and middle grade fiction. I do want submissions that match a certain formula based on genre (word count, happy-ever-after ending, etc), but I don’t reject submissions because of the genre itself. I’ve seen a lot of submissions recently set in the dream world or in Heaven or Hell and I’ve also seen a lot of submissions in which the hero or heroine is recovering from a coma or from amnesia. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t represent a book with these elements—it just means a book with these elements will have to display superior mastery of craft in order to stand out among the competition.

Here’s another example—I’ve heard whispered around the internets that historical romance is on a downswing. Well, I disagree. I agree that contemporary romance is trending up right now, but not at the expense of historical as people might say. I represent debut author Ashlyn Macnamara who has two Regency historicals out this year and they are selling like hotcakes. So, genre being what it is—we have to take these trends with a grain of salt.

Now, let’s talk about writing style for a moment. In terms of trends, writing style has a much more concrete answer than genre. For example, here are some quantifiable success stories from the past two years:

The eBook tie-in novella. Think about SUBMIT TO DESIRE by Tiffany Reisz—a novella-length story set in her ORIGINAL SINNERS world but sold at a lower price and as an ebook only. SUBMIT TO DESIRE sells well and readers seem to love the occasional quickie read, especially when they get to see some of their favorite heroes and heroines again. Also, the lower price point works well in convincing new readers to try an author she/he might not have read before. We recently inked an ebook novella tie-in deal for Michael Underwood’s GEEKOMANCY series too. The novella will be called ATTACK THE GEEK, will feature Ree Reyes in a new adventure and will be available as an ebook in early 2014. Will this trend continue? Yes, I think it will.

Continue reading

Share Button

The Author-Agent Relationship: When Fandom Plays a Part

Posted by October 11th, 2013

author_agent

“In terms of author-agent relationship, I think it’s really just me being a gigantic fangirl and him [Michael] being a brilliant, motivated and creative author.” -Sara Megibow

A few weeks ago we had a nice, long conversion with Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency about the publishing industry and agenting. In the first part of our interview, Sara had great advice to share with budding writers looking to query her. Here, we’re focusing on the magic behind the author-agent relationship. When an agent and a writer are a good fit, the results reflect that. But how does that partnership begin, exactly? Sara told us about how she started working with Book Country member Michael R. Underwood, who just inked a deal for a new book he previously workshopped on Book Country with David Pomerico at 47North. 

***

I remember when Michael’s query letter came in.

He said, “I have an offer on the table from Simon & Schuster for a novel that was posted on Book Country.” I usually pass on anything that says “I have an offer on the table” as I don’t want to be known as an agent who swoops in to collect an agent fee for an offer I didn’t work for. So, I requested GEEKOMANCY with the full intention of passing on it.

Here’s what happened instead:

Continue reading

Share Button

One Year Since Michael R. Underwood’s GEEKOMANCY

Posted by April 8th, 2013

Meet author & Book Country member Michael R. Underwood

Michael_Underwood_bc1

“Don’t always settle for the established trope.” –Mike Underwood

Michael R. Underwood is the author of Geekomancy, an urban fantasy novel in which geek knowledge is a superpower. A year ago Pocket/Gallery editor Adam Wilson came across a sample of the manuscript on Book Country, loved it, and offered Mike a book deal.

We got in touch with Mike to commemorate the acquisition, talk about his writing, and find out how becoming a published author changed his life.

Nevena: Thank you for joining us, Mike. Let’s start with Geekomancy. When did you start writing it? And how did you come up with the idea of Geekomancers, or “humans that derive their supernatural powers from pop culture”?

Mike
Geekomancy started as a distraction. I gave myself a break from writing another novel so I could noodle with this idea I had about geek magic. I set aside the novel I’d been working on and let myself explore this new idea over Thanksgiving weekend. The genesis of the magic of Geekomancycame from a confluence of many influences and inspirations, but largely from asking myself the question, “What would geek magic be?”—and then trying to figure out the answer.

Nevena: Geek magic is a unique concept. Do you see yourself reinventing genre conventions?

Mike: When I started Geekomancy, I set out to write the kind of urban fantasy that I’d want to read. I feel like there is a thread in urban fantasy that takes the same creature types (e.g., Vampires, Wereshifters, Demons, Witches, Fae, etc.) and just re-cycles them with minimal changes. I wanted to do something different. The world of Geekomancy has vampires, werewolves and demons, but I filtered each creature type through the whacky lens of the world. So I ended up with vampires nearly extinct because they’d been lashed to the popular consciousness dominated by Twilight, werewolves that are actually humans in rubber werewolf suits, and a demon called the Thrice-Retconned Duke of Pwn.

It may not count as breaking a convention, but Geekomancy was always intended to be a comedy as much as an urban fantasy. There are other great comedic urban fantasy series (e.g.,The Dresden Files, InCryptid, The Iron Druid Chronicles), but I don’t see it as the dominant thread in urban fantasy. Many have comedy in them, but far fewer are as much comedy as they are urban fantasy.

Nevena: Are there any clichés or genre conventions in fantasy you’d like to see disappear?

Mike: No, because I keep seeing writers take something familiar and make it fresh again. I would like to challenge fantasy writers (myself included!): don’t always settle for the established trope as is. It can be tricky to find that balance—in drawing enough on what’s come before to invite audiences in through the familiar, but then delivering something that’s distinct and new enough to be worth the reader’s time. I used familiar cultural properties inGeekomancy, but I tried to put them together in a different way.

Nevena: I can see that, especially with how you’ve woven your unique sense of humor throughout the book. What’s your secret to crafting a great voice?

Mike: Thanks! I access voice through the same way I step into a character when I’m playing RPGs or acting. I learn enough about the character that I can build a worldview filter that lets me see and analyze the world through that character’s perspective. When I’ve got a clear sense of a character’s voice, it’s much easier for me to tear through the word count. For me, a well-realized voice makes for a well-realized character, and then the character can drive the story.

geekomancy-cover_bc1

Nevena: Now walk us through the book’s path to publication. What was the most challenging part about writing and publishing it?

Mike: I started writing Geekomancy in November 2010, and continued through the summer of 2011. I took a break in the summer to do a revise-and-resubmit for an agent on a previous project, then went back toGeekomancy and wrote until I finished the rough draft in late 2011. I submitted the barely-revised rough draft to a novel contest in an online writers’ group I’m in (Codex Writers), and decided to throw a sample up on Book Country as well, as a way to share my revision process online and get some extra feedback.

In January 2012, I got an email from Adam Wilson at Pocket/Gallery, who had read the partial on Book Country and asked for the full manuscript. After a good bout of Kermit flailing, I wrote back and sent the manuscript, and about a week later, I had an offer.

The most challenging part was the first draft itself. I was having a huge amount of fun writing the novel, but along the way, I had doubts—what if I was writing too obscure, too insular? Was I writing a novel only I and fifty of my friends would enjoy? I made some edits to make the book more accessible, but I think it remains a book that will best connect with particular types of readers.

I think all books have “ideal readers” who are positioned to best connect with a work. Books can connect with many other people, but the ideal readers are probably the people who will most love the work. I inadvertently gave myself the advantage of knowing quite specifically who the ideal readers for Geekomancy were—they were the people who had grown up loving many of the same things I did, who could see themselves in Ree Reyes and her friends. What started as a fear has turned out to be the work’s great strength for the ideal readers.

Nevena: I bet the concept of an ideal reader helps a lot during the writing process. What was the process of working with your editor?

MikeGeekomancy is largely the same novel it was as of the first draft. Adam helped me take the things I was trying to do and do them better, more evocatively. He also helped me foreground the magic so that it could connect with readers better and invoke the fannish joy that is intrinsic (for me) to geekdom.

I love having an editor. I’ve been a collaborative storyteller for most of my life, playing tabletop and live-action role-playing games. It’s great to have a partner who is both a skilled reader who helps me focus and clarify my work as well as a champion for the book in the industry. Adam coordinated the publishing machine that took Geekomancy from a word document on my hard drive to a completed commercial novel ready to connect with readers.

Nevena: Sounds like Adam is awesome! 🙂 How has your life changed since Geekomancy?

Mike: Life since selling the novel has been a whirlwind. Mostly, the difference has been one of intensity. Before, I was working hard on writing, but knowing that there are readers waiting for more did a great job of helping me put that extra bit of effort in every day.

Another huge change is that I now have novels out in the world, and with that come readers, reviews, and life in the public eye. Every time I see a tweet or a review, it reminds me that the writing career that I’ve wanted for so long is happening, right now. The dream has come true, but it’s a work in progress. The first deal isn’t happily ever after, not by a long shot. But I’m in the game.

Nevena: I’m really happy for you, Mike.

Geekomancy is now an audio book. Listen to a sample here. Follow Michael R. Underwood on Twitter at @MikeRUnderwood and visit his blog. He’s represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two of our interview with Mike, in which he talks about his new book, Celebromancy, coming out on July 15th, and being part of Book Country.

* Cover art by Trish Cramblet, Design by Min Choi

 

 

Share Button