Tag Archives: submission guidelines

What I’m Currently Looking For

il_340x270.457543657_n4i3Non-fiction: I’m not currently taking on new non-fiction projects.

Memoir: I’m not currently taking on new memoir/narrative non-fiction projects.

Short fiction/Essays/Screenplays: I don’t represent these.

Picture books: I like them quirky, offbeat, and funny. If it’s going to be sweet, make sure it’s not saccharine. If it’s going to teach a lesson, it shouldn’t be didactic and preachy. If you use rhyme, have the rhyme serve the story, not the other way around. If you don’t know the difference, it’s probably not a good idea to send it to me. If you’re not an illustrator, don’t include pictures or illustrator notes (unless they’re integral to understanding your story).

Middle grade: As with everything I’m looking for, I’d like to get a story I’ve never heard before or an old story told in a new way.  I like boy main characters and strong girl characters. Yes to historical. Yes to realistic contemporary. I’d like to get a great MG scifi. Fantasy’s ok but  I’m not partial to portal fantasy or “found an amulet that takes us to a new world.” I’m so tired of nerds overcoming bullies (in fiction, not real life). Please don’t compare yourself or your work to Roald Dahl. You’re not and it’s not. It’s a rare story featuring animals that I’m drawn to, but if yours is extraordinary I’ll take a look. I like nerdy MG mysteries (think Blue Balliett and Ransom Riggs).

Young adult: Basically the same as MG. I’m not a “gritty and urban” lover. I’m the wrong person for sex and drugs and violence and abuse, so if it’s dark, have it be dark for other reasons. The dystopian ship has sailed (as has paranormal romance) so unless you’re bringing something totally new to that conversation, don’t send it to me. I’m pretty bored with “and then she/he finds out she’s/he’s got to save her/his “kind.” I do like retellings of myths, fairytales and legends. Think Malinda Lo’s ASH or PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS (which is MG but you get my point, right?), but put a new spin on it and find something not yet done. How about a feminist tilt? Think MISTS OF AVALON for teens.

Adult: Yes, same as YA and MG! What I don’t represent: thrillers of any sort; most mysteries; anything overtly/covertly pushing any religious point of view. Fantasy? Yes, but again, no portals or amulets. Sci-fi? Yes, but low on the sci part. I’m not as smart as you think I am. I like family sagas. I like historical fiction where famous historical figures show up (think Barbara Kingsolver’s THE LACUNA or SEX WARS by Marge Piercy). I like magical realism (think Alice Hoffman’s PRACTICAL MAGIC or Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES). I like most of the books on this Goodreads list, which includes many different kinds of fiction (don’t get fooled by the title).

How to submit to me? Short, snappy, professional query letter with the first 20 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email. Don’t send me an email asking me if it’s ok to query. Don’t ask me in the comments section of this post whether <insert what you’re writing> would be something of interest to me. Put “Query” and the title of your manuscript in the subject line. Send it to QueryLindaEpstein (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re not sure whether you have something I’d like, do your research. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, have been interviewed, and have blogged enough here that you should be able to get a sense of who I am and what I’d like. If you’re still not sure? Just send it. What do you have to lose?

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Submission Guidelines and Querying Literary Agents

imgresYou are not a snowflake. You are not special or unique or even much of an individual. Well, perhaps you are, but not when it comes to following submission guidelines. Here’s the thing: submission guidelines aren’t really guidelines in the sense of a recommendation, suggestion, or a bit of advice. They’re rules. You may say to yourself, “I’m a rebel, a pirate, a rule-breaker. I need to shine! To be ME! If I’m going to work with an agent, they need to know the true me!” That’s fine, snowflake. But if you don’t follow an agent’s submission guidelines (rules), you’re probably not going to get them to even look at your work. Then you’ll get to be YOU, the rebel, pirate, rule-breaker and also NOT get your work published. So when you’ve done your research and have a list of appropriate agents for your work, and you’ve read their submission guidelines, remind yourself: “these are hard and fast rules for submitting to this person. And I, a perfect, unique snowflake, will follow these rules.”
 
Some common things agents put in their guidelines are:
 
NO attachments. Most agents don’t want to open attachments or have to follow a link to a website in order to read your writing sample. We are busy. Really, really, really busy. We are fielding a gazillion queries on top of all our other work. Make it easy for us to see your work. If an agent asks for your writing sample in the body of the email, PUT THE WRITING SAMPLE IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL. Of course, there are always agents who want something different, so make sure that’s what they are requesting in their guidelines.
 
First 10 pages, or 20 pages, or first 3 chapters, or whatever. When you’re submitting to multiple agents, make sure you pay attention to who wants what. Sending the first 3 chapters when an agent only wants 10 pages will get you an annoyed person reading your work. Or your query deleted. You don’t want that.
 
Synopsis. Some agents want them. Some don’t. I don’t really want one. I want a short description (1 paragraph) of your work, with no spoilers.
 
A query letter. I’d venture to guess that most agents want a real query letter when you are submitting your work to them. That doesn’t mean, “Attached please find my manuscript.” That means a query letter. If you’re unclear about what that actually means… snowflake, you’d better get your act together. Read the rest of my blog posts (from the past few years) and go to a writing conference or twelve.
 
Ok. any questions?
 
 
 

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Top 10 Things You Can Do To Get A Literary Agent

10.  Don’t be douchy on social media; agents do look at your blog, website, Twitter, Facebook, etc… Nobody wants to work with douchy people. (Well, I don’t.)

9..  Have patience. The business of publishing is all about hurry up and wait.

8.  Include all your contact information in your query.

7.  Have zero typos and/or grammatical errors in your query (so have someone proof read it for you).

6.  Get the agent’s name right in the query. (This is a pet peeve. I’ve heard SO many agents complain about this.)

5.  Follow the agent’s submission guidelines precisely (e.g. regarding attachments, synopses, bio, etc…).

4.  Write an interest-producing query letter, without being weird.

3.  Do your research to figure out which agents represent work like yours and then submit to them, not just to “big names” who might not even represent the kind of work that you do.

2.  If you get a revise/resubmit, really put in the work and revise it! And thank the agent for taking the time to give you feedback before you’re even a client, as well as being given the opportunity to resubmit.

#1. thing you can do to get a literary agent:  Write an amazing manuscript!

Which of these things do you NOT do? Why?

 

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