Tip of the Week 6/18/08

Tip of the Week: Do not let deadlines sneak up on you.

This would be an example of practice what I preach not what I do. I have let several deadlines sneak up on me and all come crashing together. It means that my postings for the next few days are going to be sporadic at best. I also won't be able to go through my pitch submissions until the beginning of July. So, thank you all for sending those winning chapters in. Now it'll just be a few weeks until I can get back to you.


Time for Democracy in Action

I have 2 similiar covers that I'm considering for one of our fall books:

Cover 1Cover 2

Which do you prefer? Vote below.


Question of the Week 6/13/08

I admit that I'm cheating a little bit. I didn't have time to answer the actual questions I got because of the pitch contest. But I thought this particular question was germane to our current discussion. Originally it was asked over on the GLA blog. Chuck answered the question, and then I felt the need to add my own, long winded opinion. Here I've duplicated, with permission. (Chuck is very nice.)

One of (my group's writers) is co-authoring a book. She wants to know if she and her co-author would be advised to pitch this book to agents together at our upcoming conference, or if they should they pitch separately, maximizing their coverage. What should they do?

Chuck's Answer:
Depends. I recently pitched a book to an editor with my writing partner nowhere in sight. It didn't matter because I knew answers to questions. If these writers are a two-headed monster (perhaps one knows the material, the other the marketing), then they should stick together for sure. Presenting together tends to give off a professional approach. To me, at least...

If time is an issue, then you they want to split up. At our conference in LA last weekend, we had some long lines for a few agents and hundreds of writers running around. We keep the pitch time very short so the line keeps moving; but if you truly fear you will be missing face time with agents you really want to see, then split up down the stretch.

My brilliant additional two cents:
I agree with Chuck, but I thought I’d add my own perspective on the matter too.

As the editor who was pitched the book, I can tell you that Chuck is right in his case. He does know all the answers to all the questions, and if he doesn't, he finds out quickly enough. I've actually never had any contact at all with his co-writer. Everything she says comes through Chuck since he was the one that pitched the book. In this example, Chuck has become the point person for this team. Although I would love to meet the other author, it is not entirely necessary.

However, if neither author wishes to take the lead, then the two should always try to communicate simultaneously using teleconferencing or CCed emails, and you should pitch together at the conference. Everyone should have equal say in all decisions anyway, but in this case you would also want equal access to the editor or agent. If you start by pitching separately, the person who actually physically does the pitch becomes the de facto leader of the team simply by having a longer, even if by only a few days, relationship with the editor/agent.

Finally, before you decide whether or not to split up, you both need to consider your own pitch skills and styles. If you pitch best as a team with each of you bolstering and hitting ideas off one another, then pitch as a team. Also, if one of you is a vastly superior pitcher, consider pitching as a team or having only one person do the pitch. What you do not want to do is pitch separately if either one of you is a poor pitcher or if your styles of pitches are going to be radically different. You don't want to break each others confidence in one another over something as unimportant (in the overall scheme of things) as a three-minute pitch. Practice beforehand and make certain you are both confident and calm before you go pitch separately.

Any ideas of your own on this subject? Leave us a comment. I'd love to see this open into a discussion.


So many pitches. So little time.

I have officially responded to every person who entered the pitch contest.

If you didn't get an email from the pitch contest email address, let me know ASAP.

I tried to do these as quickly as possible so that I could get them all done tonight before bed. So, that means that I had to take a few shortcuts. I apologize now if I
  • misspelled something or added or missed a word in a sentence
  • addressed your email to the wrong person, wrote the title to the wrong book, or classified your book in the wrong genre
  • sent you something resembling a form email

If I asked to see some or all of your work and there was nothing wrong with your pitch, I did indeed send you a form email. My reasoning was that I wanted to get back to everyone as fast as possible. Since I'll be looking at your work in more detail when you send me whatever I've requested, I plan to give you a more personal response at that time.

However, if I did not ask to see your work or there was something wrong with your pitch, I did not send a form email. I individually composed every single one of those messages and hopefully those of you who received them will now understand why I did not ask to see your work. In almost every instance it was because it was a book that would not work with our list for some reason. I tried to give that reason in every case.

I would like to end by saying that all of the pitches I got were good. Clearly all of them had been thought out in advance and carefully crafted. Not a single one left me at a complete loss as to what the book was about. A few of the pitches left me asking a question or two, and I passed along my comments to those authors. Overall though, these were some of the better pitches that I've ever been presented. Bravo to all 28 of my entrants.

And everyone who didn't enter, give a metaphorical round of applause to our contestants. It takes guts to present your work to a complete stranger. These folks were a brave lot.

Patience Please

I'm so sorry, but I'm not all the way through the pitches yet. I'm going to finish them tonight and email all of you then. So, although no one has complained yet, I just wanted everyone to have a status update before the panic set in.

On the up side, I finished the ARC for Stacy Nyikos's new book, Dragon Wishes. It's downright splendid if I do say so myself. And Regan did a fabulous job on the cover. Perhaps I will post a sneak peek in the next few days.


Juliet, oh Juliet, wherefore art thou?

If you were wanting great love advice from one of the world's most famous lovers, who would you ask?

I would want to talk to Juliet. After all she was a teen in love with a guy her parents hated so much that she had to fake her own death to be with him. Granted that didn't exactly work out as planned, but she has suffered for her love and probably has some great advice.

At least, that's what lots of people believe. Every year the city of Verona receives tons of letters addressed to Juliet asking for advice. Since the end of World War II, there's been an entire club devoted to answering those letters. And it's while they're in Verona studying Shakespeare and answering letters for the Juliet Club that the six characters in Suzanne Harper's new book, The Juliet Club, come together.

Suzanne was in the store the other day signing copies of The Juliet Club and her other teen book The Secret Live of Sparrow Delaney, so I sat down with her for a chat.

It turns out that she got to do lots of research for this book while she was writing it. Now normally you don't "get" to do research; you have to do it. But in this case it sounded like a whole lot of crazy fun. Suzanne can now:

  • Do an Elizabethan dance

  • Stage-fight with swords

  • Speak some Italian - she liked this so much that she continued her lessons.

And if that wasn't enough, Suzanne got to visit Verona in Italy not once but twice. The second trip was for four days, and while she was there, she actually had the opportunity to visit the Juliet Club and read some of the letters that teenagers have sent in.

Got a question for Juliet? You too can write her. Send a letter properly stamped for international mail to:

via Galilei 3 - 37100 Verona

And check out Suzanne Harper and her books.

(Originally posted at the blog I do for BookKids.)


And They're Out of There

The pitch contest is officially done, finished, complete.

Thank you to everyone who sent me in a pitch. There's just a couple shy of 30 for me to read tonight and tomorrow. I hope to contact by Thursday the folks with manuscripts I would like to see. Hopefully on Friday we'll be able to go through the winning pitch to see what did and did not work.

And speaking of Fridays, I want to bring back Tip of the Week Wednesday and Question of the Week Friday. Now, obviously I can come up with Tips, but I always need help with questions. Specifically, I need someone to ask me one.

Anybody, any question. I'm not picky.

Pretty please.

There are no stupid questions. And like my professors used to say, if you're wondering about something, someone else out there is wondering too. So, use the comment section of this post to ask me some questions. Otherwise I will be unable to fully share my broad, sage, and utterly fabulous wisdom.


Last Day of Pitching

Just as a reminder, this is the last day of the pitch contest. If you're planning on entering, remember to email the pitch in to by the end of the day. I'm excited with the number of entries. If you don't remember how to enter, scroll down a couple of posts and look at the rules. You could still squeeze one in.



I am wiped.

There is no other word for it. Between all the walking and meetings and occasional drinks (I am not much of a drinker), I am exhausted.

Still, so much got done in one short week. For me it was mostly about meeting people. There are so many formal, informal, and social parties that are designed purely for networking, and I went to as many as possible.

So who did I meet?

So many folks I met were bloggers. Here's a few of them:
  • Chad Gervich -- Very cool guy that I met courtesy of Chuck and Brian at Writer's Digest. He has all sorts of tips and advice for those of you interested in screenwriting. In fact, if you're not tired of practicing pitches, he's doing his own screenwriting pitch practice over on his blog. Go on over and try it out. The terms are different, but the ideas basically the same.
  • Scott Ginsberg -- one of the top 100 business bloggers out there, Scott cohosted a class on blogging where I learned (but didn't necessarily utilize) a ton. I'm working on shorter sentences. Here's a picture of me with Bob Barker and the 24 hour name-tag wearing Scott.
  • Tracy from -- Whenever I speak about getting published at a conference, I always name Jacketflap as a good resource. It's a great place to network and to read editor and agent opinions. I'm syndicated there as well as all the major children's literature blogs. It's a brilliant idea and wonderful site. Here I am with some Jacketflappers including the founder Tracy.

So, I know this isn't the most extensive list ever, but hey, I'm shy and not everyone blogs. Besides, I'm not going to list every agent, editor, or scout I met. That would be insane.

Go take a glance at my new friends. I'm sure they'd welcome the company.