Tag Archives: YA books

YA Book Give-Away! Tell Me What You’re Thankful For

You’re still welcome to tell me what you’re thankful for, but the contest is now closed.

I’m very thankful I get to work with such talented authors. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do as an agent. I spent many years looking for the thing that would give me fulfillment, make some difference in the world, and earn me some money. Being an agent does that for me. I’m very proud of the manuscripts that I help become books.

In the comments below, tell me something about your reading or writing life that you’re thankful for. One commenter will receive a copy of Natasha Sinel’s debut YA novel THE FIX, which came out this fall. Here’s what it’s about:

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.Fix-cover-final

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone. On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother. But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

“The Fix” follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that come with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

You’re still welcome to tell me what you’re thankful for, but the contest is now closed.


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What I’m looking for in 2015

This is always such a difficult post to write, trying to encapsulate in a blog post “what I’m looking for” in a manuscript. Six months from now I might feel differently. I might even feel differently right after I hit the “publish” button on this blog post. I fear that what I’m looking for comes out of an amorphous, organically burping puddle of orange purple pink black lava, spewing fumes of sulphur (or is that lavender? patchouli?), continually giving birth to odd, original, quirky-yet-well-written children’s books. Yes, that explains it (or doesn’t). (I’ve posted this video before, but it’s worth starting 2015 with a laugh, as it’s often exactly how I am.) Ok, here goes with some “what I’m looking for” and what I’m not looking for…

1. Basically, I’m currently looking for unique, well-written children’s literature, from picture books through young adult, including both fiction and nonfiction.

2. For picture books, I like a strong voice, and when it’s funny, quirky and unusual. If you’re too didactic and teachy-preachy, it’s not for me. I don’t mind rhyme if it works for the story, but if you’re jamming your story into a rhyme scheme it’s not going to work, for the manuscript or for me. I’m looking for authors and author/illustrators. Also, I would never take on a new client who has only one picture book manuscript, so although you should only pitch one project at a time, make sure you have other things you can show me if I ask.

3. I like character-driven middle grade fiction with lots of action. I like middle grade mysteries, fantasy, scifi, realistic contemporary, historical, and when the lines between genres blur. Some recent middle grade books that I don’t represent but I wish I did: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage; Hook’s Revenge by Holly Schulz. I want you to make your middle grade characters relatable and knowable, or your awesome plot will feel hollow.

4. For YA sometimes it’s easier to tell you what I’m not looking for. I don’t like or read Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars kinds of books and I don’t like things that are scary or horror stories. I’m not into “gritty” or “urban.” I do not like “issue” books (i.e. rape, abuse, eating disorders, run-aways, drug abuse, bullying, etc) where that’s what the whole book is about. I don’t like romance or paranormal romance (although I do like when stories get romantic). Here are some things I do like though: I like realistic contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, historical, GLBTQ, literary, funny, serious, nonfiction, fiction, re-tellings, epistolary, novels in verse, and I’d take a collection of linked short stories (but otherwise I don’t represent short stories). In YA, make sure your teenaged characters are really teenagers, not what an adult thinks teenagers are like, not a whitewashed version of a teenager, not what you might wish a teenager were like, not a caricature of a teenager. If it doesn’t really read authentically teen, I’m not going to want it, I wouldn’t be able to sell it, and teenagers won’t read it.

5. Genres I don’t currently want, for any age (mostly because I can’t sell them): dystopian or post-apocalyptic, almost anything with vampires, demons, mermaids, genies, etc… unless (because there’s always an exception!) you’re bringing something totally new to it.

6. I’m on the lookout for stories with diverse characters written by diverse people. By diverse I mean ethnically, racially, socioeconomically, all across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum, with and without physical “handicaps,” and including any other kind of “other” one might think of or create. As always, I want to represent, read, and promote voices that don’t traditionally get heard.

7. I am specifically looking for manuscripts that are well written and readable. I want to get so lost in the experience of reading your story that I forget it’s a submission. What that means is that not only should your story be well written, but it should be super polished, almost perfect, without any typos, spelling or grammar errors, etc… It should be a page turner! I’m looking for manuscripts that don’t still need a ton of editorial work (even though I’m a very editorial agent).

To submit, send me a 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. That is my preferred email for queries, even though it’s not what is listed on my agency’s website (new website is under construction).

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.

Ok, that’s it from me for the moment. I’m going to push that “publish” button on this blog post now…


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YA Logline/Comp Contest Winner!

giveaway-winnersHappy Friday, everyone! As you know, we hosted a YA Comp Contest this week, which concluded Wednesday night. We had some great entries, and I would like to thank everyone who participated. However, there can only be one winner. After careful consideration, the winner of this comp contest is (drumroll, please)…S.P Bowers! Here’s her winning entry:

“When commoner Raisa is chosen to wed the crown prince, she thinks her worst problem will be learning to curtsey—until she awakens an ancient and vengeful river elemental that begins a war her country is too weak to win.

RIVER SPELL, like THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, shows one girl’s struggle not only against supernatural powers, but against peoples’ perceptions of who she is.”

I chose S.P’s entry for a few reasons. First, her logline is powerful and intriguing. She tells us the main draw for the story, but without giving too much away. It makes you want to know more about it, and that’s exactly how you want your reader to feel. Having armed us with that basic knowledge of her novel, she brings us to her comp. Though her comparison is to another fantasy novel, she focuses on the similarities between the protagonists—a good tactic. By comparing her story to another fantasy, she gives us an idea of what her story will be like without having to say much on that point, all the while driving home the true heart of the story: the protagonist’s need to prove herself.

So, congratulations to S.P. Bowers for winning this YA Comp Contest! She’ll be receiving an advance reader copy of Carl Hiassen’s YA book SKINK NO SURRENDER, which will hit bookstores September 23rd, and Cheryl Klein’s SECOND SIGHT: AN EDITOR’S TALKS ON WRITING, REVISING & PUBLISHING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS.

0Tara Slagle is Linda Epstein‘s intern and is working toward her M.S. in Publishing at Pace University. After completing her degree she would like to work in the publishing world as either an acquisitions editor or literary agent, focusing on YA and (the emerging) New Adult titles. This was her last blogpost as intern.



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