Tuesday, October 13, 2015

ATTENTION: Change in Submission Guidelines

In order to keep up with the volume of queries I'm receiving and spare my computer the hundreds of attachments I'm downloading every day, I've decided to stop accepting attachments in my queries. Most of my colleagues, if not all of them, have their queries include the synopsis and sample pages pasted in the body of the email to avoid downloading viruses to their computers. As an avid Mac user, I've never really worried about viruses so I was fine with attachments. But I've noticed that having attachments limits my time and ability to access queries when I want to get through them quickly.

I've started using my iPhone and iPad more and more for agency work and realized that it's just easier to scroll down and read the full work while I'm waiting for the kid to get out of band practice, or in line at Starbucks waiting for my Venti Soy Iced Vanilla Chai than it is to wait for the attachments to download to my phone (if I have room, curse you beloved iTunes Music). Yes, I check my queries while standing in line, sometimes while waiting for the previews to begin at the movie theater!

I want to be able to respond to queries faster so I've decided to do away with attachments and have changed my submission guidelines to reflect the change.

Paste it all in now!
Please continue to keep your synopsis to 2 pages and only include the first 5 pages of your manuscript pasted immediately following the synopsis in the body of the email.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Welcome Michaela Grey to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

I’m super stoked to welcome Michaela Grey to #TeamCorvisiero. Her male/male erotic romance, BUTTONS certainly pushed all of mine in the best way with her deliciously kinky men exploring their relationship in the BDSM lifestyle while confronting their demons.

Welcome Michaela Grey!

Michaela Grey told stories to put herself to sleep since she was old enough to hold a conversation in her head. When she learned to write, she began putting those stories down on paper. She and her family reside in the Texas hill country with their cats, and she is perpetually on the hunt for peaceful writing time, which her four children make difficult to find.

Michaela started her career with Dreamspinner Press. Her first book is called Coffee Cake, published in May of 2015, and its sequel is Beignets, coming in October of 2015.

Queer romance is her happy place, and she delights in pushing her limits, testing her abilities and forcing herself to write scenarios she’s not familiar with. Angst is her lifeblood, and she wants you to know that your tears are delicious. (But don’t worry, she’ll always give you a happy ending.)

When she’s not writing, she’s knitting while watching TV or avoiding responsibilities on Tumblr, where she shamelessly ogles pretty people and tries to keep her cat off the keyboard.

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!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hungry, hungry authors

Image Courtesy: WikiCommons
I'm in historic Charleston, South Carolina attending the PubSense Summit and, as always, I spent a good part of my afternoon yesterday, sitting quietly taking it all in. People-watching. You can learn so much about where people are, where they're going, what they hope to accomplish just from sitting quietly and absorbing your surrounds. The hotel has a Starbucks in the lobby so after picking up my grande soy Oprah Chai Tea latte and an egg and cheese sandwich, I went upstairs to the mezzanine and sat down to enjoy my vittles. It was my only moment of anonymity and I cherished it as much as I cherished my Starbucks semi-healthy meal. I watched people move from one panel to another, talking about their projects, what they were working on next and talking to the panelists who had just finished their session. It was a great way to get to know the people in attendance and sort of prepare myself for the panel I would be on shortly.

Image Courtesy: WikiCommons
Authors come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life but what they all share is a love and passion for their writing. I noticed that the ones who were most successful in carrying conversations, were the ones who directed the passion they have on their work to the industry as a whole. The ones whose eyes light up at the mention of something new or changing in the industry. The hungry ones. They didn't just look for other authors to talk to, they approached panelists from the industry and sought out information about the landscape and waters they were currently navigating. They approached the panelists with questions about the industry rather than about how they were going to succeed in said industry. These are the hungry authors. The ones who don't wait for someone to come feed them but who go out and forage for their best eats. They are the voracious readers of books about everything from the genre they're writing in to industry newsletters.

Sitting there for just a few minutes, eating my semi-edible egg and cheese sandwich, I saw them all and was excited to see them in the audience during my panel. They were hopefully fed by some of the information we provided but I wasn't worried about them, I knew they'd eat their fill while in attendance.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A typical day or why agents drink

I know that I have to get better about my time management (evidenced by the fact that I’m writing this blog post instead of continuing to check off items in my daily to-do list) but I think it's important to note that a day in the life of a literary agent is long and sometimes difficult to manage. I've made posts about "my day in the life" before but it doesn't hurt to reiterate, right?

On a typical day, my work hours are 14-16 hours long and consist of so much “brain work” that I often need a nap around 4 PM. (Much like a toddler or a Golden Girl.) So, what do these 14-6 hours consist of, you ask?

3-4 hours are usually spent replying to, composing and forwarding emails
  • emails from clients (sounding a lot like “are we there yet”)
  • emails to clients (royalty summaries, editorial letters, marketing/promo ideas, what are you working on next)
  • emails about clients (buzz-building)
  • emails to editors (proposals, negotiations, general “how-do-you-do” stuff)
  • emails from editors (replies to proposals, negotiations, editorial letters, invitation to local bars to drown our sorrows)
  • emails about editors (who’s looking for what, moving to another line, out on maternity/paternity leave, where the editors are meeting for a drink to our drown our sorrows)
  • emails to staff (pub crawl?)
  • emails from staff (raising glasses)
  • emails about puppies, cats (we generally tweet about our staff cause they’re awesome and we like to talk about ourselves)
Word/Excel/PowerPoint Documents:
 3-4 hours are usually spent drafting, editing and formatting office documents
  • documents from clients (proposals must be read, and re-read, and made to bleed)
  • documents to clients (said proposals covered in notes and the blood of a thousand dashed hopes)
  • documents about clients (press releases don’t write themselves and royalty statements don’t correct themselves either)
  • documents from editors (cover proposals for books on spec are a particular joy)
  • documents to editors (proposals don’t write themselves)
  • documents about editors (updating lists daily sometimes)
  • documents to staff (begging for document writers)
  • documents from staff (reminding us that interns should be allowed bathroom breaks)
  • documents about staff (gotta let the whole world know we’re awesome and we like to talk about ourselves)
 2-3 hours can be spent on one contract and negotiations per day
  • read contract
  • make contract bleed
  • write email outlining negotiation points (see email section above)
  • compare contract offers
  • prepare offers for a client
  • research market to make sure contract terms are not outdated
  • review previous contracts when trying to determine out-of-print dates
  • go over the contract(s) with the client
  • curse, bang head on desk, play videos of cute cats or dogs on youtube when a negotiation gets difficult
Social Media/Website Interaction
 2-3 hours can be spent updating agency website and social media sites per day
  • come across a cover reveal your client forgot to tell you about while reading newsfeed looking for insightful information to post on FB page
  • upload said cover to agency FB page, website and agent blog
  • reply to tweets, FB comments and tumblr notes
  • schedule posts for social media to appear while you’re sleeping for two hours
  • like, comment and friend client social media sites
  • add reviews and books to “my-clients” bookshelf on goodreads
  • pin links to client books on agent’s pinterest page
  • post a funny moment on tumblr to keep your sanity after reading inane comments on social media
  • watch a baby giggling youtube video to remind yourself that you’re still human
2-3 hours per day can be spent talking with people
  • IM chats with clients
  • phone calls with clients, editors, staff
  • skype/google hangout/gotomeeting conferences with staff, editors, clients, sub rights editors, translators, marketing teams
Reading (and drinking):
3-4 hours are spent staring at a screen or book
  • reading manuscripts, proposals, synopses
  • reading proposals by junior agents, interns, etc.
  • reading digital ARC (hopefully before release day to catch any typos)
  • reading queries (while drinking heavily)

And at some point, we spend time with our family so they can remember what we look like, shower, eat and step outside to get some Vitamin D if we’re not popping multi-vitamins with No-Doze and gallons of coffee. So when your agent takes a few days longer to reply than you expected approach emailing them with caution and offer up a pot of coffee in reverence.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Twins Come Out to Dad

I watched this video the day they uploaded it and was surprised to see that, at the time, it only had a few hits (at my viewing of it, it had less than 1k hits). It was picked up by Upworthy and a few other LGBTQIA websites and it has over 14 million hits today. I love this video for many reasons but the moment that I think resonates with so many is when both twins break down and hide their tears and voice from their father. They're so vulnerable at that moment that you can see them as the children they were and not the young men they are. It's a moment that's very real for all of us when we have to confront the fear of rejection by a parent.

The father's reaction is beautiful and honest without being overly emotional. It's a great video and I know I've already shared it on social media but I had to post about it on my blog too.

Have you ever had a moment that resonated so much with you that you just had to share it with everyone? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Obsessions

If you know me at all, you know I get obsessed with things quickly and completely immerse myself in these obsessions in a way that may seem unhealthy to my psyche to non-fandom, non-geeky individuals: aka, the straights but is perfectly normal to the rest of us.

In realizing this about myself, I've found that part of our self-identity and, in turn, our self-awareness lies greatly in the things we enjoy. The things we obsess over. I have a very addictive personality so I know to steer clear of things that will suck me in and keep me from accomplishing my goals but once in a while, I throw my addictive personality a bone. These are a few of my current obsessions:

  1. Cooking Shows
    • Chopped I currently have over 80 episodes recorded and just love watching what people can make with the crazy basket ingredients. I don't know what it is about this show but I've got everyone in my family now watching the recorded episodes late at night when we're not playing tabletop games or doing Harry Potter movie marathons.
    • Cutthroat Kitchen Alton Brown being deliciously evil with sabotages worthy of any Slytherin like a Hashtag frying pan or a bunk bed prep station! Beautiful! Anthony and I love the trash talking too.
    • Worst Cooks in America Love Anne Burrelle and while she yells at everyone a lot, she's also the type of encouraging chef that you want teaching you how to be a better chef and a better person in your own life. Plus, I love seeing that there are people out there who are so bad at cooking that my cooking failures pale in comparison.
  2. TV Shows
    • Agent Carter If the writing stays as strong as the series premiere throughout the rest of the season, I'm going to be one happy camper. I love the chemistry between Peggy and Jarvis and the millions of ways the gender stereotypes are addressed and just obliterated by Peggy's bad-ass ways. Beautiful writing and great plot so far. I hope it's better than Agents of Shield whose series I've grown tired of. I didn't like Skye from the beginning and writing the whole series around her, just annoys me.
    • Downton Abbey Talk about great writing! I never thought I'd be such a huge fan of period pieces like this one and now that we're on our 5th season, I've grown to love this series more.
    • Galavant Campy musical in the style of Mel Brooks and Monty Python on network television at a time where we need more music and sarcastic humor on TV? Yes, please.
    • The View I spend my lunch hour watching a recorded episode of The View mainly because I like Whoopi Goldberg and the show's at a time I can squeeze in my day and it's actually kind of mindless watching. I like Nicole Wallace on the panel but her laugh annoys me and I hate it when they all start talking over each other. Nicole likes to just cut into conversations a lot and that irks me most of all but I do like her insight. I think they need to get better at learning to co-host a talk show.
    • Forever This show has sucked me from the first episode and while I'm not keen on the villain storyline yet, I love that Burn Gorman is his nemesis, I hope the villain trope is stronger than they've let on so far. My favorite moments are actually when they show the relationship he has with Abe, his adopted so played by Judd Hirsch. The intricately woven storylines have been beautiful to experience and I really hope they continue for several seasons.
  3. Books
    • Parasite by Mira Grant My niece and I have decided to do the PopSugar Reading Challenge this year and I chose PARASITE as my "Book over 500 pages long" challenge. I'm a huge Mira Grant/Seanan Maguire fan so she's an auto-buy for me and at 510 pages, the book serves the challenge nicely. Her books are also the treats I give myself when I've accomplished a goal. I've had this book in my Kindle for a year and it wasn't until I saw that the second in the series was released recently that I decided, I needed to read this book. See, I know that she has an ability to suck me into her worlds and make me wish her worlds never ended so I could keep revising them with a new installment but, as it is with all good things, they must come to an end. Now, I know the book is pricey both in Kindle and print versions but I assure you, every one of her books is worth the money you spend. If you're a fan of her Feed series, I think you're going to like this one. I'm only 1/4 of the way into it (I'm only able to read about an hour a day so it's going slowly) but I'm sucked into this near-future world where a SymboGen parasite is creating what will likely be the coming apocalypse.
    • Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan I've been talking about this upcoming release by one of my clients for months now with anyone who will listen because I think it's one of the most important books of 2015. Not just because it's about Autism but because it's about a adults dealing with disabilities that have been stigmatized for centuries and portrayed by media as people to pity or just not give a second thought to. As the parent of an autistic adult who will soon need to deal with falling in love, same-sex attraction, living on his own and dealing with adult decisions, one of my biggest fears is thinking he'll be alone late in life because he won't have found his SO. In CTO, Cullinan addresses so many of the issues ASD adults and those diagnosed with severe clinical depression deal with on a daily basis while still managing to give these two men a happily ever after in their romance. She's unapologetic about the portrayal of love among two men who find each other sexually attractive in a world that doesn't always allow them to be self-sufficient adults who can make decisions about their love lives on their own. Yeah, this book's a real obsession of mine as I continue to work to get people to be accepting and understanding of all walks of life, including my gay autistic son.
  4. Music
    • Meghan Trainor's TITLE album Love, love, love this album and the complete album isn't even out until tomorrow but I've already played the five songs released about 50 times each. Dear Future Husband and Title are two of my favorites.
    • American Author's Oh, What A Life album This is my editing/working/walking/reading soundtrack. It's OneRepublic meets Fun. meets Bastille. Love, love, love this album!
And those are my obsessions this week. No seriously, that's just one week's worth of obsessions and it doesn't include my daily obsession with Tumblr, Pinterest and Coffee, of course.