Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Welcome Julia Rubin to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

I’m so excited to introduce you guys to my new client, Julia Lynn Rubin whose LGBTQ YA manuscript I fell in love with the minute I read the query. It’s a young adult gritty tale about best friends who come to terms with who they are in their California town and who they can be if they ever escape.

It’s a modern The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets The Outsiders with a raw and honest depiction of life as a high school sophomore in a town that is as vivid a character as the main characters, Jesse and Jack. I can talk about this book for hours and find nuances I’d missed on the back-to-back reads I did of the manuscript.

Welcome Julia Rubin!

Julia Lynn Rubin lives the writer’s life in Brooklyn, where she is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School. She earned her BA in Anthropology & Film Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been writing books, poems, and stories since first grade, and loves reading about everything from film analysis to psychology. Her short stories have appeared in the North American Review, The Lascaux Review, and Black Denim Lit, to name a few.

She is passionate about realism and diversity in teen literature, and hopes to one day own a French bulldog, a Boston terrier, or perhaps a mix of the two.

Welcome to ‪#‎TeamCorvisiero, Julia!

Monday, August 24, 2015

When to offer representation

While working with one of our agent apprentices, we discussed how and when it's appropriate to offer representation and how do we know if the author is going to be a good fit for both the agent and the agency. It's important to be mindful of our time and resources when we know the quality of the work is there from the author. So, I put together a quick list of questions I ask myself when I find that manuscript I love and want to offer representation.

Photo by Ben Terrett
When I read a manuscript for representation, I'm not just reading for fun. I'm looking at a lot of different factors and deciding on whether I'm the right fit for this project.

So I ask myself:
  1. Is the work engaging?
  2. Does the author have an established platform?
  3. Does the work need a lot of editorial work or just a quick polish?
  4. Do I have the time to devote to the editorial needs of this work?
  5. Do I have the time to devote to the needs of this author?
  6. Off the top of my head, how many editors can I pitch this to?
  7. Is this too similar to something I already represent?
  8. Is this a topic I'm passionate about?
  9. Does the book have series potential? Does it need it?

I'm also mindful of the industry and where it's going. If the book is a stand-alone, will the author be able to crank out other books that will keep the pipeline full and establish a readership?

So many questions but the most important have to do with time management. If I can't devote the time to the author that they need to be a success then I can't, in good judgment, offer representation.

Friday, June 5, 2015

In Publishing, patience is not just a virtue, it’s good business.

Image by Saritza Hernandez (c) 2015
In publishing, the hurry-up-and-wait method of getting to publication can be frustrating and defeatist to a new author or to a new agent advocating for her clients who have little to no patience. As an author, you’re racing to the finish line of this manuscript decathlon you’ve poured your heart and soul into then rush your beta readers and critique partners to provide you with the feedback needed to make this book even better. You rush to make a list of editors and agents to query then… you wait. You sit on your hands itching to check in with those publishing individuals whose emails you reached out to just the day before wishing and hoping they’ll respond with that coveted offer of publication or representation you’ve been dying to receive since you began your authorial career six months prior.

It doesn’t work that way.

It can’t work that way.

It shouldn’t work that way.

Image by Saritza Hernandez (c) 2015
My grandmother used to say that a job rushed is a half-assed job and she was not one to do anything by half measures. I found myself rescrubbing the kitchen sink as a child because I’d “half-assed” the work.

It takes months (sometimes years) to have quality work published and even longer to establish yourself in the industry (either as an author, agent, editor, marketer, publisher). If you rush to get that book out, you may be sending out half-assed work and the impression you make will be of someone who’s quick at cranking out half of her potential.

I’d rather work with those who put in their full potential and allow me to do the same in our publishing partnership.

When a publisher tells me they can produce the book in six months but would rather have twelve to eighteen months so they can produce the print, audio, digital versions and get it out to reviewers with enough time to build a buzz, I’m ecstatic.

When a publisher says they can do all of that in nine months because they have a proven system (and prove that system to me) I’m thrilled beyond measure.

When a publisher says they can crank a book out in three months from contract date because they’re “just a digital-only press,” I cringe and add them to my “Do Not Submit To” list. Oh yes, I have one of those lists.

I don’t half-ass things for my clients, so why would I allow others (or them) to do the same?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Does your work stand out?

Image by Saritza Hernandez
Have you watched Pitch Perfect 2? We ended up seeing it twice this past weekend and while I love the songs and found myself singing along (especially in that scene with Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine) the scenes that struck a chord with me the most were with Keegan-Michael Key who plays Becca's b
oss, an award-winning music producer.

The first time we see his character on screen he's calling a staff meeting and asks everyone to give ideas. To just shout out anything that comes to mind and no one says or thinks of anything productive to say. As he walks away, he tells them they have one minute to wow him.

"My time is like a toddler in a tiara, people: short and precious." – Keegan Michael Key

I thought about how many times I think the same thing when going through pitch appointments or going through the query inbox. Your query needs to grab my attention quickly and hook me.

In one of my workshops: "It's All in the Hook" I talk about how important it is to perfect your elevator pitch. When you're at a conference or workshop, you have a few minutes to grab an agent's attention. Before your butt hits the seat, you need to be pitching your book to me.

Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
But your book has to stand out too. What sets your work apart? Why should I pick your book over the hundreds of other books that come through our virtual doors daily?

If you've followed #tenqueries you'll see many of the queries passed on are those whose premise is similar or identical to the countless others received by the agent. What sets your post-apocalyptic young adult thriller apart from the many we'll receive thanks to Mad Max: Fury Road?

"You're an intern. They're all interns. You're talented. They're all talented. So what makes you special, you know?" – Keegan Michael Key
How does your work stand out?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My son doesn’t know he’s autistic

Wearing blue for #LIUB
Last night while my husband was changing the lightbulb outside to the blue one he’d purchased for Light It Up Blue today, David asked what we were doing.

“We’re lighting it up blue for you tomorrow,” his father told him while wielding the ladder back inside. “You like it?”

“Why for me?”

“Because you’re autistic.”

“I know I’m artistic but what does that have to do with the blue light?”

It hit me then that we’d never actually called David autistic to his face. We’d never sat him down and explained what it means to be on the spectrum and while his entire life has revolved around being autistic to us, he’d never seen it as anything but his own life.

I wasn’t a fan of labels when he was diagnosed. I just didn’t like thinking of people as anything but people and denounced it when he was little. We always spoke of autism with hushed tones in our house not because we’re ashamed of it (quite the contrary if you know us at all) but because I didn’t want people identifying him by a condition instead of his name. I wanted him to just be David, my oldest son, not David my autistic son.

As he got older though, I realized that labels, when self-appointed or used to self-identify could be positive and should be encouraged. When my youngest came out, he wasn’t my gay son but… he was. When my daughter started dating a girl, she wasn’t lesbian, she self-identified as bisexual. But I never thought of David self-identifying as autistic even though, I’d started using the label when talking about my kids to anyone (and everyone as I’m just too damn proud of them not to talk about them to anyone who’ll listen) except that he didn’t self-identify as autistic because he doesn’t know he has autism.

For nearly 19 years, he’s lived his life in a special needs classroom, with kids just like him. He’s referred to kids outside of his classroom as “normals” but not because he thinks of himself as abnormal but because that’s what his classmates call them and he tends to follow the crowd. I realized yesterday that while we have worked hard to bring awareness to everyone he comes in contact with about autism, we didn’t make HIM aware of it.

15 years of school, 3 years old to 18 years old
We didn’t raise him differently than his siblings though he had some modalities in place to help him learn some of the tasks that came naturally to the others. We didn’t emphasize his difference any more than allowing him to work through his tics in public by not drawing attention to him so he could return to the group on his own terms. He didn’t have many meltdowns because we looked for ways to avoid them and we diffused the situation when we saw one coming. He didn’t feel isolated because,  as a child, we always encouraged him to play with others and we encouraged other children to invite him to play without forcing him to participate. We let him go to his room when the parties at home were too loud or the social interaction was too much for him. We participated in his classroom activities like we did in those of his siblings’ and while we knew he was different, it wasn’t until he became an adult that we started treating him differently.

You see, as an adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder, we have to prepare him for a world that’s not as insular as his life has been while in school. He has to work. He has to learn to drive. He has to prepare himself for self-sufficiency and he has to know that others will call him autistic to identify his needs as much as to identify him. I just hadn’t thought he didn’t already know but why would he? He’s David. Just David. Autistic. Artistic. Awesome!