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Query.Sign.Submit. with Carly Watters

Carly Watters_ agent

Carly represents Literary and Commercial Fiction, World Literature, Women's Fiction, Literary Thrillers, LGBT, New Adult, high-concept Young Adult, high-concept Picture Books, and up-market nonfiction in Health, Wellness, Memoir, Humour, Pop Science and Pop Psychology.

She responds to all queries when they come in to let you know they were received and when it’s a pass.

To connect with and learn more about Carly . . .


literary agent and authorNow for Carly’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!


Is there anything you see way too much of in the queries you receive?

Apologetic tone. Never apologize for querying an agent! We want to look at queries. We want to find great new talent. Be strong in your tone so we know you take yourself seriously so we should too.

Do you always read a query all the way through? If not, what would make you stop reading?

These days I don't read them all the way through. I’m looking for key words like family secrets, domestic thriller, women’s fiction, book club book, contemporary YA—I like high stakes fiction. I like the query to start with the genre and word count (over 100k or under 60k and I pass). I like the query to be short and to the point with three-paragraph structure (hook and intro, sales-y synopsis, author bio).

I stop when I don't see the genre I’m looking for, the book is too short/long, or the query language is too muddled. I need a query to tell me what the book is about, not run me in circles reading between the lines. We don't have all day—get to the hook. Why should an agent care about your story and characters?

Do you ever offer a Revise & Resubmit? When would you do so?

I do this when I’ve fallen for something, but it’s not ready yet and I can see how to ‘fix’ it. Sometimes I’ll enjoy something but it’s not for me because I don't have a clear vision about how to edit it into what I want it to be. However, when I do love something, but see where it needs work, I will offer an R&R and ask the author to complete the edits if they agree with my vision. I usually tell them that if they receive an offer of rep in the meantime please let me know. I don’t do R&Rs lightly. I save those for projects I think I can work on. It takes time out of my day to type up R&R notes and I don’t get anything out of it per se. It takes time away from my clients. So I do them sparingly.


What is it like waiting to hear back from a writer you’ve offered representation?

I love this question because it’s always so anxious! Writers think they’ve got it bad, agents put their hearts on the line and often times we’re competing with other agent friends/colleagues for the same book. We only offer rep when we love something so imagine falling in love and being told either a) they feel the same way or b) they’re going in another direction. It can be exhilarating or devastating. Both have happened to all agents. We have to get used to letting some go. I’ve gone through periods where I haven’t found anything in the slush for 6-8 months and then I offer rep on something great and I lost it. But, on the flip side I’ve been the first pick of many clients and that’s so gratifying that they also feel we’d be a great fit.

How editorial are you?

Agents in general these days are very editorial. But I would put myself up there with being one of the most editorial. I’m still in the stage of my career where I am actively signing new clients from the slush pile which means they are rarely ever ‘perfect.’ I do everything from light edits to rounds of structural edits that take 6-8 months. If I believe in a book I will do everything in my power to make it saleable.

What is the revision process like when you’re working with a client?

It’s very collaborative. It’s their book, I’m a sounding board. However, I usually have very strong opinions about what will make it work for the market. Here’s my strategy: a client will send me their work, I will read through and do a big picture edit letter, then the author will go away and use my notes, and I’ll read it again. We do this until it’s down to the small things and then it’s ready. That can be weeks or months.


Do you forward editor feedback to writers?

Yes. I am their representative in the industry, not the person who decides what to protect them from. In my opinion writers deserve to hear it because it’s their book. Feedback can be helpful because it can show a trend in how people are responding to plot, characters, voice etc. I think writers cringe when they hear it, but they’re better for it.

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

Keep writing! Avoid social media stalking. But above all: keep writing. There is nothing more important than keeping busy and keeping that career going. Most editors, when they show interest, want to know what writers are working on next, so writing more is the next best thing to hearing submission news.

Once a writer has sold his/her first book, how is the next submission process different?

In many cases I try to do two-book deals for debut fiction authors so they have a home. In the rare case the author doesn’t find a home and the publisher does not offer on the option book, then we have to submit widely again. What an author needs is strong book sales, active readership/fans, social media presence, proof they are a great author to work with. But it all comes down to the quality of the book. Editors buy great books. So writers need to write great books—every time. Sometimes the history matters (book sales numbers) and sometimes it doesn’t (great sales).

Publishing is an industry that is filled with many unknowns. Every scenario is different. It’s an agent’s job to be the best advocate for their authors and be thinking one step ahead to have their client’s career goals in mind with every decision made.

Thank you, Carly!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Find out about agent-judged contests

Posted September 2014– Always check for current info and guidelines.

Teen Speak – I Can’t Even


Teen Speak Logo Now this is definitely a phrase I hear quite often, because I can’t even. I mean, it makes complete sense, right? Sometimes, there are just no words to describe what you’re trying to get across, hence why you simply blurt, “I can’t even.”

It’s definitely used when it comes to fandoms. According to the Buzzfeed post, teenagers use it when it comes to talking about swim practice after school and studying for a math test. In my experience, this would wind up with someone dropping a few f-bombs or some such swear word, not “I can’t even.”

In my experience, “I can’t even” is primarily used when extremely happy or sad about something, particularly characters in movies, TV shows, or books. For example, in recent Supernatural episodes, things haven’t been all that peachy for all the characters. At risk of spoilers, I won’t explain further, but let me just end with saying that I’ve said, “I can’t even” about a few of the poorer decisions Dean and Sam have made.

Does that make sense? More often than not, “I can’t even” is a sentence in and of itself.

NOTE: There will ALWAYS be exceptions. My experience is simply my experience. So if teenagers around you say/don’t say these things, then by all means, go ahead and use/don’t use them if they fit in your story.

About the Author :

Kate Kate Bucklein is a clumsy, nineteen-year-old writer of YA epic fantasy living in Northern Arizona, where they really do get snow and the occasional tumbleweed. She's a college sophomore working toward getting her degree in Global Affairs with an emphasis on Intelligence Analysis.

Connect with Kate:@KateBucklein

Teen Speak – Familial Terms


These terms are on the way out, I think, butTeen Speak Logo occasionally I still use them because…well, because they’re easier, I guess. 

The first word I want to discuss is “fam.” In short, it stands for “family.” I use this because the little voice in my head is lazy and so are my fingers. I don’t say it aloud, though, mind you.

In a sentence, it could look like: “I can’t hang out tonight. The fam is going out to dinner.”

Another familial term is “’rents.” In my opinion, this is also on the way out. It stands for “parents,” so if you hear someone say “The ’rents said I can’t go out tonight,” they’re saying that their parents won’t let them go out. (I think that’s fairly obvious, though.J)

Again, to reiterate my point, I never use these words aloud because my tongue has yet to get that lazy. But I’m sure many teenagers do.

NOTE: There will ALWAYS be exceptions. My experience is simply my experience. So if teenagers around you say/don’t say these things, then by all means, go ahead and use/don’t use them if they fit in your story.

About the Author :

Kate Kate Bucklein is a clumsy, nineteen-year-old writer of YA epic fantasy living in Northern Arizona, where they really do get snow and the occasional tumbleweed. She's a college sophomore working toward getting her degree in Global Affairs with an emphasis on Intelligence Analysis.

Connect with Kate:@KateBucklein

Five Questions with Marieke Nijkamp of DiversifYA


Marieke is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, and proud-to-be geek. She wants to grow up to be a time traveler, holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and is more or less proficient in about a dozen languages.

In the midnight hours of the day she writes young adult stories (ranging from contemporary to fantasy) as well as the occasional middle grade adventure, and all her stories have a sprinkling of wonder to them. Website ~ Twitter

1. What is DiversifYA?

DiversifYA is an inclusive community where people share experiences and stories, all sorts of diversity and all marginalized experiences, in the hope that all of us who write will realize the world is much bigger than our little patch of earth. That we are diversity, that diversity is reality, and that one day our stories will reflect that.

2. What do you see as the solution? Is the burden on editors, marketers, or authors?

I believe it's a burden on all of us. Authors, editors, readers, marketers, agents, booksellers... basically, anyone involved in books. It's on authors to consider why their stories, if not diverse, are straight, white, able-bodied, middle class. After all, none of us live in completely homogeneous communities, so why should our characters? There's the, frankly rather disgusting, belief that books about marginalized characters are only for people with the same marginalized experience, whereas books with white/straight/able-bodied characters are somehow "neutral" and for all. We need to keep challenging that.

It's on the industry to actively seek out diversity, be willing to take risks, and recognize the privilege of the system. It's on librarians and booksellers to recognize that the readers are there and they to deserve to find themselves reflected in stories. It's on readers and on all of us to buy the books. Buy the books. Order them for your library. Spread the word. Support the authors. Tell bookstores, librarians, publishers that you want more. There is no louder message than that of actual sales.

This is also one of the reasons why We Need Diverse Books, of which I am proud to be one of the VPs, recently incorporated to become a non-profit. We were fortunate enough -- right place, right time -- to be able to amplify this diversity discussion, and we are set on creating real change, by offering book selling kits of bookstores and librarians, by organizing the US's first Diversity Festival, and by many, many more activities we'll be rolling out over the coming months.

3. A lot of people equate diversity with race specifically. How would you define it?

I would define diversity as including (but not limited to) LGBTQ*, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, social, and religious minorities. We absolutely need more racial diversity in our books, but we also need more bisexual characters, characters in wheelchairs, genderqueer characters, indigenous characters, and so on. And I truly believe that in this discussion we are stronger if we stand together, and be as inclusive as possible.

4. You recently spoke on a diversity-themed panel at BEA. What was that like?

Oh my goodness, it was the most magical experience! BookCon itself was overwhelming enough, but to see people line up for our panel an hour before it started and filling the room to the extent where we had to turn people away because we simply couldn't fit them in... it was beyond anything I'd dared hope for. And at the same time, being able to share a stage with so many AMAZING writers and diversity activists was a fantastic experience. And the energy in the room... Oh, I wish I could've bottled it for the darker days :) It was truly spectacular!

5. What would you say to an author who wants to add diversity but is worried about inadvertently offending people with the disability/of the race/in the community s/he is writing about?

You are going to offend someone. Deal with it. Learn from it. And do better next time.

Truth is, I see this comment a lot, and while I understand where people are coming from, I think we need to acknowledge that being able to say things like that is a privilege. Because frankly, it's not just about offending. Sure, I've read portrayals of queer or disabled characters that made me want to hurl a book across the room, but those are not the worst scenarios. It's a lot trickier having to deal with the real life consequences of bad portrayals. Having to explain to people that yes, you actually do have feelings, despite the fact that 90% of popular media portrays autistics as emotionless and that's their own frame of reference.

So if I can be blunt? Do your job. Do your research, and research extensively. Not just by reading the theories, but by talking to actual people, by asking them to read portrayals if you're worried about them. By reading first-person accounts. And by acknowledging that one experience is still not going to be more than one experience. You can't expect us to speak on behalf on our entire group anymore than you can. Someone else may, and most likely will, feel differently. But you can try hard and do your best.

And even then, you will offend someone.

Deal with it.

Learn from it.

And do better next time.

About the Author :

Jen Malone is a middle grade and young adult author jenwho spent a year traveling the world solo (favorite spot: Nepal), met her husband on the highway, and went into labor on Stevie Nick's tour bus. She's repped by the fantabulous Holly Root at The Waxman Leavell Literary Agency and her debut AT YOUR SERVICE is available from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin MIx with more titles soon to be released. 

Connect with Jen . . .
Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Getting Started with Scrivener

Tools for Writers

My other tutorials are tips and tricks to get the most out of Scrivener’s features. But if you’ve never used Scrivener and need to learn how to set it up and get started writing, this is for you.

I’ve done my best to accommodate for both Windows and Mac users, but they can be very different at times.

Take it step by step. You can do it. :)

Step 1 – Starting a New Project

After you’ve download Scrivener (30 non-consecutive day free trial or paid version), open up the program.

Under “File” choose “New Project” and you’ll see the screen above. (Mac users, this screen might come up when you open the program.) Choose the type of project you’ll be working on, for example “Fiction” and then “Novel.” This will work for most fiction writers.

Name your project under “Save As” and use the “Browse” button (or “Where” on Mac) to set where it will save to.

Hit “Create.” You’ll see the instructions below, which explain how to get started if you’d like to read through them.


Step 2 – Setting Font & Spacing

There are a lot of things you can preset in Scrivener, but we’re going to keep it simple. (You are free to skip this section if you don’t mind the standard presets. Some of these will not stay put when you finish and compile your document, but it will make it easier while you write, IMO.)

Mac users – choose “Scrivener” and “Preferences.”

Windows users - Under “Tools” choose “Options.” You’ll get a screen like this.


Mac – Click “Formatting.”

Windows - Click “Editor” on the left and you’ll see this.

change font

We’re going to make sure the font and spacing are how you want them, so click the blue, italicized A at the top. (It won’t be blue for Mac users.)


Choose the font you want for your project. Windows users, click “OK.”

change font

Now click on the arrow to the right of where it says “1.0x” (or 1.2 for Mac) so we can change the spacing and indents. You’ll get a drop down menu.


Click “More” (“Other” for Mac) and you’ll get this window.


Change “First Line” to “0.50 inch(es).” This is called a hanging indent. YOU WILL NOT NEED TO USE THE TAB KEY when this is set. Simply type and hit enter when you want the next line indented. (For Mac, skip this step and see below.)

Change “Line Spacing” to “Double” and click “OK.” (Change “Line height multiple” to 2.0 for Mac)

Mac users, in the formatting window, move the top slide bar to between the 0 and the 1. Also check the box under “Scrivenings” for “Separate scrivenings” so you don’t get any extra line breaks.

Now your “Options” window should look like this.

double space

Windows users, click “ok.” Mac users, click “Use Formatting in Current Editor.”

Step 3 – Folders & Synopsis



Double click where is says “Manuscript” in the binder (to the left) and change it to your title. (If you have one!) Whenever you want to look at things in the whole project (word count, chapters in corkboard mode, etc.) you’ll want this selected.

Double click on the folder that says “Chapter”  and rename it if you’d like. It can either be “Chapter 1” or a heading for your chapter like “Fall.”

Now here’s how I do it, because I find it the easiest.

Create enough new chapters to get started or if you already have an outline, create the number you know you need. There are several ways to do this.

New folder

For Windows Users -

Option 1. Click the arrow to the right of the green plus sign and choose “New Folder.”

Option 2. Right click and choose “Duplicate.” It will make a folder below that says something like “Chapter 1 copy.” Simply double click and change the name.


For Windows & Mac users -

Option 3. Click the New Folder icon in the lower left corner of the screen.

Option 4. Hold down the following keys “Ctrl+Shift+N” (Windows) Cmd +Option+N (Mac).

corkboard chapters 

Option 5. You can also do this from corkboard mode. Make sure you’ve selected the main manuscript in the binder and then click the little corkboard icon at the top. (Highlighted in yellow in the image above.)

Make sure you’ve selected the last index card and do one of the methods described above. Each time you do, a new index card will pop up to represent a chapter. (You’ll also see them appear in the binder.)

*OR you can just add folders as you write.


If you already have an outline, you can add chapter summaries. (You can also do this as you go along or after the manuscript is written.)

Over to the right is an index card that says “Synopsis” above it. If you don’t see it, click the little blue “i” at the top right.

Make sure you have the correct chapter selected and that it says “Chapter” not “Scene” above the index card. You can also add summaries from corkboard mode.

Step 4 – Adding Text

Now you’re ready to start writing! No really, you are.

Just click on the icon in the binder for the first scene, click in the text editor in the center, and start writing.

(Or click on the chapter where you want to start a new scene.)

new text

When you’re ready for the next scene, you have several options.

1. Windows users - Click the green plus sign at the top or the little arrow to the right of the green plus and choose “New Text.” You’ll see the new scene appear in the binder.

(If you want it to go in the next chapter, just drag it to the folder icon or chapter title. Or click on the chapter you want before you choose “New Text.”)

2. Click the New Text icon in the lower left corner of the screen. (It’s a + sign for Mac users)

3. Press “Ctrl+N” (Windows) or “Cmd+N” (Mac).

4. Click the scene in the binder that you want to be before the new text and hit Return.

*If you already have something written in Word, watch for an upcoming post on how to import files as chapters.

A few tips . . .

It might be a good idea to open up a new project just to get the hang of Scrivener. You can play around with it when you want to try a new feature and not worry about messing anything up. :)

Keep in mind that Scrivener is set to save your project every two seconds after a pause and back it up every time you close the program. (These can be adjusted.)

Items can be moved and rearranged in Scrivener (which can be super helpful when moving around scenes and chapters), but be careful if you don’t want things moved, especially if you have a touch screen.

So there you go, you’re all set to work in Scrivener!

To learn more about Scrivener, head over to the Tools for Writers page.

Query.Sign.Submit. with Jen Malone

Jen Malone

Jen Malone is a middle grade and young adult author. Her debut AT YOUR SERVICE is now available from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin MIX!, with several others on the way! She is represented by Holly Root of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.

At Your Service




Connect with and learn more about Jen . . .


literary agent and author 
Now for Jen’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission.


What advice would you give to querying writers?

Well, as someone who sent my very first query to an agent based on the fact that he shared a name with an ex-boyfriend of mine (And yes. Yes, it did include the line “I once loved ‘Agent Name” as my hook), let’s just say I’ve had a steep learning curve when it’s come to querying. Fortunately, said agent has an excellent sense of humor and though his rejection was swift, he had a great attitude about it. I’m sure my query went straight into his folder of “Queriers to contact if I ever go missing.” I began researching much more after this. I now realize that agents are using your sample pages to evaluate you as a writer and your query to evaluate you as a client. Obviously your writing is what will sell your book, but your agent also needs to have faith that you will be able to conduct yourself professionally in the industry. Agent relationships with editors are paramount and no agent wants to risk that relationship or their reputation by sending some crazypants author into a business deal. It’s fine to include some personality, but follow the standard query guidelines and be respectful and courteous, even if the reply isn’t what you wanted to hear.

What resources and websites did you use when querying?

I used Literary Rambles and Google to track down recent interviews with agents, but if I were querying now I’d add the Twitter hashtag #MSWL for great info on what agents are looking for. QueryTracker was a good way to see where agents might be in their inbox- I knew if someone posted a response to a query sent later than mine, it probably meant a no for mine. I think sites like Agent Query Connect can be good for getting feedback on your query (which I really encourage) but I see a huge value in professional critiques as well- often online query contests offer (free) agent feedback, and so do Ninja agents at WriteOneCon. Authors and agents alike will often donate critiques to charity auctions (not free, but for a good cause and tax-deductable) and many classes through Writer’s Digest come with instructor evaluation of pages or queries. Lastly, conferences often offer these opportunities. In my case, having an agent weigh in on my query (which had been through countless peer evaluations) made my request rate jump from 5% to 40%.

What do you wish you’d known back when you were in the query trenches?

I wish I’d known how often “it’s not you, it’s me” is true. There are a million reasons an agent doesn’t connect with or doesn’t feel she could sell a manuscript and it might not have anything to do with the writing or the story or the person sending the query (though sometimes it does, so evaluate your query often if you’re not getting requests!) Sometimes I would read an agent interview and feel like a certain agent and I would be complete BFFs if only she agreed to rep me. Then I would be crushed when she passed on my query. But I didn’t yet realize I wasn’t querying for a bestie, I was querying for an agent. And, while my books are certainly a part of me, I am not my book and someone not liking my book is not the same as someone not liking me (incidentally, this is a great thing for writers to learn early on because reviewers are sometimes less considerate than agents in their assessments!) Now that I’ve seen the decision process a little more closely, I have a much better handle on the many, many factors that go into repping and selling a book and I think it’s helped me see how much of it is a combination of craft, timing, and sheer luck.


Once a writer has signed with an agent, what’s the next step?

Write more. That’s always the next step. But otherwise, it was to incorporate Holly’s light notes and then wait for it to go out on sub. To be honest, it wasn’t all that different than querying except now I was listening for my phone AS WELL AS checking my email obsessively.

How editorial is your agent? Is it what you expected?

I didn’t initially think Holly was all that editorial because she subbed my first few manuscripts with the most minor of edits, but with my most recent YA she had really thoughtful notes for me on a pretty big revision and I was really excited to get those. However, I also have great CPs and do a lot with them before it even goes to my agent. What I really can’t get from anyone else in my circle is Holly’s pulse on the marketplace. Somehow she always knows exactly what editors are buzzing about or wishing for. Before I start work on new projects (or if I can’t decide between projects) I’ll send her what amounts to a query description of what I have in mind and ask for her input. She’s steered me away from one that was eerily similar to something she’d seen kicking around and not selling the year before and encouraged me to think about changing the time period for one to make it more marketable. I’m not saying “write to the marketplace” BUT if there are things that can make a project I’m already excited about more palatable to editors, there’s a huge value in knowing that before beginning the first draft.

Do you send sample chapters to your agent or do you wait until the next manuscript is finished?

My last MG book sold on proposal, so “finished” was only a few chapters and a synopsis. But prior to that I would send her the “blurb” before starting to get her take on it from a market perspective and then not send her more until I had gone through a round of revisions with my critique partners. However, I know some of her clients will send her pages as they go. She once said to me that she’s happy to read as often as I want and at any stage that I want, so long as I knew going in that it’s harder for her to see things with fresh eyes after the third read. I’m the same way so I understood that and try to plan ahead to get those fresh eyes at the most beneficial times.


Do you see the feedback from editors?

I chose to. Holly would forward me the editor’s email, usually including a short sentence or two of her own above it lending reassurances or interpretation. These were usually along the lines of, “picture me with an angry storm cloud above my head” or, “This one felt really close.” That said, if I were to go on a traditional sub round now, I’d ask for those updates on a predetermined day of the week instead of right away as they came in. I was on a crazy roller coaster during submission and those emails could really affect my mood. Knowing I would just be dealing with them once a week would have been helpful. Obviously, I’d get a call if the news was really good!

What is the next step if an editor shows interest?

So my experience was a little different because, while I was on sub with the book I’d signed with Holly for, an editor who had already passed on it asked if I would be interested in submitting pages for an IP (Intellectual Property) project they were developing in-house. For that I had to write the first fifty pages and submit them alongside a full synopsis. I knew there were five or so other writers “auditioning” and it was a lot of work for something that might not pan out, but I loved the story concept and felt like it was an opportunity I shouldn’t pass up. Thank goodness I did, because that’s now AT YOUR SERVICE!

Is there anything you learned while being on submission that you didn’t know before?

I learned there are a lot of ways to get a book deal. I’d never considered IP projects, but I loved the whole experience start to finish. It was especially great to have full access to my editor WHILE I was drafting and (something I didn’t even know enough to consider) it’s taken a little bit of the pressure off me in terms of sales because the concept was developed in-house. Of course, I feel total ownership over the book at this point and will do everything I can to ensure its success, but it’s been a nice way to ease myself into the industry. My next four books under contract are my own concepts, so they’re all on me and that makes me nervous!

How did you celebrate when you got the news about your first book deal?

My husband took me to dinner at a restaurant in Cambridge, MA called First Printer because it was built on the site of the nation’s first printing press and then we wandered over to an indie bookstore and searched out the shelf where my book would be. I’m sentimental like that!

Once you have a book published, how does submission change for an author?

Having an established relationship with Simon & Schuster let me sell my next MG series (RSVP, co-written with Gail Nall) on proposal to my current editor versus having to have the completed manuscript. My first editor moved to HarperCollins at the start of the year, so when I was ready to sub my YA, it went to her on an exclusive and she bought it! It’s still about the story and the writing, but cultivating good relationships (which includes proving you can be professional, work through revisions, and meet deadlines) is certainly a huge part of this business, as in most other fields.

How does it work when you’re writing a series?

Are both books sold together or does it depend on the success of the first? For me, it’s been both! In the case of AT YOUR SERVICE everyone would love for there to be a sequel but it depends on what early sales are like (see why preorders are so important?) But for RSVP, the concept of tween girls with a party planning business really lent itself well to a series, as did the four-person POV, so they bought the first two books at once and hopefully that will continue on as well! Fingers crossed!

Thank you so much, Jen!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Find out about agent-judged contests

Who and Where Are You at Write On Con?

Is everyone ready for this amazing online writing conference? Have you read my Ten Tips for Write On Con?

Write On Con

If you’d like everyone to come find you in the forums and comment on your posts, please leave any of the following in a comment . . .


**Your Write On Con forum user name
Your real name
Your twitter handle
What genre you write
A one line pitch
Links to your website or blog
Links to your WOC posts

You’ll find me over there as Dee!  And I’m @writeforapples on twitter.

Ten Tips for Write on Con 2014

Write On Con

Write on Con is a FREE online writing conference and it’s INCREDIBLE. You won’t believe the resources, insider tips, and feedback available for writers. And here’s my annual post to help you get started.

To get the most out of the conference . . .

1.  Sign up for the newsletter and the forums. You should do this before the conference even begins. You can even start posting in the forums ahead of time.

2. There are threads to post your query, first 250 words and first 5 pages. This is a great chance to get feedback on your work.  If you choose to, you can edit based on comments and get additional feedback on the new versions. *If it’s not a complete ms, mark it as a WIP so agents/editors know. I does not have to be complete.

3.  If you put up both a query and the first 250 words, make sure they link to each other so people can find them easily. (Of course, include the first 5 pages if you do those too.) Because, let’s face it, when you read a great query, you want to read more!

Here’s how-

Once you have both posts up, copy the urls and paste them on Notepad or in Word. Go back and edit your posts and add something at the bottom like, “Read the first 250 words here” with a link to the post. **You can skip this step if you do number 4 below. ;)

4.  You can add links in your signature and you should. That means people can find all of your work, whether it’s your own post or when you comment on someone else’s. You can also add your title and pitch if you’d like. Here’s a sample signature line. All of them should be links.

MG Query ~ MG First 250 ~ PB Query

Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter 

Here’s how-

Go to Forum Actions, then Edit Profile. Under My Settings on the left, choose Edit Signature.  (You’ll need those urls you copied above.)

Type whatever you want linked in the box, highlight it, and click the “link” icon on top (a globe with a little chain link). Then insert the url when it prompts you and press okay.

Whenever you post or make a comment, make sure you have the box checked to insert signature.

5. Comment in the forums. It’s so much fun to read everyone’s work and you get to help out other writers at the same time. 

Again, make sure you link to to your query, first 250 words, first 5 pages, and website/blog/twitter handle so people can find you and return the favor.

6. Check the schedule. There are so many great things that go on on during this conference.  Seriously. In the past they’ve had live chats, where you can ask questions or simply lurk, pitch opportunities, and plenty of chances to learn.

It’s all still available later if you can’t be there for it, but some things are time sensitive.

7.  Don’t forget the giveaways. They always have fantastic prizes.

8.  Want to know when and where the ninja agents are lurking? (Shhh. Top secret info.) At the bottom of the forum and the sub-forums (MG, YA, etc.) it shows who is online. Look for “Ninja Agent ______.” You can also go to Quick Links and then Who’s Online?

OR Go to Community and Member List. Find the ninja agents and go to each profile page. It will tell you their current activity, including what they’re doing at that moment. If you choose find all posts, you can see where they’ve commented.

9.  Take a few notes. This is a great opportunity to get that personal first line when you send out your query letter. Look for those tidbits from agents during chats and forum posts and let them know you learned a lot from them at Write On Con! It’s also a great way to help you find agents that might be interested in your work.

10.  Have fun! 

Stop by the Who and Where are You at Write On Con? post so you can connect with other writers.

You’ll find me over there as Dee. Come say hello. :)

Teen Speak – Am I Right?


A Buzzfeed post I read recently claims people Teen Speak Logo say, “Am I right, ladies?” but I can say that rarely do we ever use “ladies” at the end of that. More likely we’ll just blurt, “Am I right?” to an echo of cheers or completely blank stares.

Often, I use “Am I right?” in kind of a joking way. I’ll say it a couple times while jabbing a friend with my elbow. Wink wink, nudge nudge, get it?

As for “Can I get an amen?”…is that used? Ever? Maybe I’m not a typical teenager, because I don’t use it, but not even my friends say it, nor do my sisters’ friends (and there’s a wide variety there, since one is a sophomore in high school and the other’s an eighth grader). So in your writing, I think you’d be safer just axing that altogether.

And there you have it.

NOTE: There will ALWAYS be exceptions. My experience is simply my experience. So if teenagers around you say/don’t say these things, then by all means, go ahead and use/don’t use them if they fit in your story.

About the Author :

Kate Kate Bucklein is a clumsy, nineteen-year-old writer of YA epic fantasy living in Northern Arizona, where they really do get snow and the occasional tumbleweed. She's a college sophomore working toward getting her degree in Global Affairs with an emphasis on Intelligence Analysis.

Connect with Kate:@KateBucklein

Six Myths About the Publishing Process

 photo writerstoptips_zps86b94c9a.png 
A big thank you to Renee Ahdieh for our first post in this new series!

1.) Getting an Agent is Like Payday

Don't get me wrong. The day you get an agent is a great, great, GREAT day. And you should definitely celebrate it. But I think a lot of people mistake it for the book nerd equivalent of a Snoop Dogg video.

Really, the day you get an agent is like the first day of the rest of your book life. Or like the first sentence of a brand new chapter in your book life, and sometimes, you're very lucky, and it's a very easy chapter to write. Most of the time, however, the chapter takes a while to write, and you're left waiting and waiting. Or you're left wondering what happens next.

2.) All You Need is Any Ole Agent

Like, I wish I had a button you could press right HERE that went off with flashing green lights that left your mind in a daze and your eyes all blurry. It's true that any agent can submit your work to any publisher. But it is NOT true that any agent can get your work READ by any editor. If you don't get a great agent, chances are, your stuff may not get read at a Big Fancy House, and it will certainly not get prioritized. The reason you work with big-name agents or agents at established literary agencies is because of the rapport these agents have with editors. Editors trust their taste, and these agents know what these editors are looking for in manuscripts.

3.) Your Agent Will Sub Whatever You Write

Not even close to true. I have a lot of good friends rep'ed by terrific agents. Many of my friends have written several books their agents won't sell. Period. If this is something that might make you flinch, be sure to have this conversation with your potential agent before it becomes an issue. Because it's a reality.

4.) Your Big Fancy Publisher Will Handle All Your Marketing

Nope. Your Big Fancy Publisher will COORDINATE some of your marketing. Probably. But you are still responsible for putting yourself out there and being accessible to your readers. Gone are the days when writers were misery curmudgeons hiding in their basements, subsisting solely on cheese and the tears of lesser men. You need to put the Slither in Slytherin. The Grin in Gryffindor. The . . . you get the picture.

5.) Things Will Start to Make Sense Once . . .

Nope. They won't. I have one of the best agents in the business. I'd say the best, but I'm biased, and I'm trying to be somewhat grounded, for the sake of this blog (please don't send me a testy email, B). I'm also working with a terrific publishing house. But I still feel like I don't know what's going on, no matter what I do. The truth is, this business will chew you up and spit you out. One day you'll be on an absolute high, and then the next, you'll be in a corner, hugging your knees, listening to John Legend on repeat. Anyone who says otherwise is selling you something. Besides a book.

6.) You Can't Trust Anybody

This is kind of a half-myth. And I struggled with sharing this one. Because it sucks to put this out there. Of course, there are people you can't trust. But don't believe that everyone out there is gunning for you or hoping you'll fail. It's absolutely true that there's jealousy in the book world . . . because there are always bigger book deals and better covers and flashier marketing plans right around the corner. But there are also amazing friends to be made and people who will catch you when you fall and offer a shoulder to cry on when it's greatly needed. Don't suspect that everyone is waiting for you to fail.

A lot of people just want to be your friend. And book friends are some of the best friends in the world.

About the Author :


Renee Ahdieh is a writer of Young Adult books. Her novel THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, a reimagining of The Arabian Nights, will be published by Penguin/Putnam in 2015.

Connect with Renee . . .
Website ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Teen Speak - Hashtag


Teen Speak Logo

Holy Lord, how I wish this weren’t a thing teenagers  actually say aloud. It’s like that horrible time when people actually said “LOL” out loud. That’s a texting acronym. It shouldn’t be said aloud, and yet people did.

Anyway, going back to hashtag, yes, people really do say this aloud. It’s become such a common thing due to social media that it’s probably natural for a lot of teenagers to say. For anyone up-to-date with social media, it’s fairly obvious what a hashtag is used for, so I don’t think I need to go into too much detail.

However, used in a sentence, it looks like this: “I nearly got into a car crash! Hashtag YOLO.”

Bonus word: YOLO. Another acronym that people really need to stop using, it stands for “You Only Live Once.” Apparently, teenagers assume it justifies doing pretty crazy things. My preference is the much more effective “YODO,” as in “You Only Die Once.” But that’s more of an inside joke. J

NOTE: There will ALWAYS be exceptions. My experience is simply my experience. So if teenagers around you say/don’t say these things, then by all means, go ahead and use/don’t use them if they fit in your story.

About the Author :

Kate Kate Bucklein is a clumsy, nineteen-year-old writer of YA epic fantasy living in Northern Arizona, where they really do get snow and the occasional tumbleweed. She's a college sophomore working toward getting her degree in Global Affairs with an emphasis on Intelligence Analysis.

Connect with Kate:@KateBucklein

Query.Sign.Submit. with Lauren MacLeod

Lauren McCleod

Lauren represents middle grade and young adult fiction. She responds to all queries, but in case of overload, after about eight weeks it can be considered a no. There will be an auto response on your submission.

To connect with and learn more about Lauren . . .

The Strothman Agency

literary agent and author  Now for Lauren’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!


What WOWs you in a query?

Voice! Check out the query I got from Hélène Boudreau for REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS (available here) It has such an amazing voice.

I am also impressed with writers who have really good comparable books and/or super interesting “Think X meets Y”s. It shows the writer is also a reader, which I find very important.

Do you always read a query all the way through? If not, what would make you stop reading?

Nope. A lot of queries we get I can stop after the first few words—we don’t really do adult fiction anymore, and I don’t do picture or chapter books, so the moment I see that I can easily decline. I read more of query letters for genres we represent, but I stop and either decline or just skim if it loses my interest/seems cliché/the writing is weak/the word count is insane etc. If I didn’t, it would take more time than I have and I wouldn’t be able to be open to queries all the time. But thoughtful, voice-y well-written queries in my genres? Yes, I read every word and the sample pages, too.

How do you tackle your inbox? Do you go in order or jump around?

I try and do it once a week or every two weeks, because if I ignore it for longer not only does the sense of guilt start to gnaw at me, but it becomes an overwhelming monster of a task. We have a separate email for submissions, so it doesn’t get mixed up in my regular agency correspondence.

I start at the bottom of the inbox (oldest first!) and work my way up. I personally read every query, but out of the 150 or so emails I get a week I probably only have the urge to continue on to reading the sample pages of about 10ish queries. I usually only request one or two. I set the request bar higher when I’m super busy (for some reason it always works out that my clients all tend to send me mss around the same time) and lower when things slow down.

What does it take for you to offer representation?

It has to make me feel something. Sometimes I read things that are good—that I know are good—but if it didn’t make me laugh, or cry, or completely sweep me up in the story or linger in my mind after I’ve read it, I don’t take it on. I have to be incredibly selective because I devote so much time to my clients and their manuscripts, so I only take on something if I feel something for it.

I know it sounds like we agents aren’t listening to ourselves when we talk about how publishing is a business and then, in the same breath, talk about how we are looking for love in our slushpile, but when we take something on we are doing complex calculations based both on marketability/mss earning potential/time spent AND a “will I want to jump off a bridge if I have to read this ten times?” Which is why we look for love. Reading and giving notes on the same thing a dozen times is made immeasurably easier by also enjoying it/connecting with it on a personal level. (The best part of being an agent, as opposed to an editor, is you only have to do the books you want to do.)


What is it like waiting to hear back from a writer you’ve offered representation?

Oh it is the worst! By the time I’ve offered representation, I’ve fallen totally in love with the manuscript and started thinking about what notes I will give and planning exactly how I’m going to pitch it and which editor is going to be lucky enough to see it. And then I have to wait a week hoping no other agents have the time to read my wonderful manuscript and compete with me.

Plus when agents turn down writers it is almost never personal—it is about the market and those complex calculations I mentioned before. But when a writer picks another agent? It is because they liked another agent more! It is devastating.

How editorial are you?

I would say I’m very editorial. I usually discuss my big picture notes with a potential client when I offer representation and then, once they have signed I will almost always read the manuscript again and give them a written editorial letter of Big stuff. After they revised I usually do a smaller line edit after that, before this goes to the publisher. Sometimes we will do another revision after we hear from a few editors. And a lot of my clients send me sold manuscripts (especially contracted second books) before the editor so I can give them a few light notes before they turn it in. I also get a lot of first halves/thirds of books from clients who want to make sure they are on the right track.

At what point would a client share new story ideas with you?

This totally depends on the client. Sometimes for their next book they will share a list of several ideas and we will talk about which makes the most sense as a next step before they even write a word. Sometimes I get asked to weigh in on first chunks. And sometimes a brand new finished manuscript I’ve only got a vague idea about will land in my inbox.

I love brainstorming with my clients because it is fun and they are all so freaking smart and creative, but they all know what they are doing and I’m happy to come into the process wherever they see fit.


Do you forward editor feedback to writers?

I do, unless the client begs me not to! I give them a list of everyone who has been pitched/submitted to as the manuscript goes out and I let them know in real time as we get feedback/declines. The only thing I might keep under my hat is if an editor mentions being interested but wants to share the manuscript with a few colleagues before he or she decides to take it to an editorial meeting. I try not to get hopes too high too soon.

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

Not think about being on submission! Hopefully my clients will take the opportunity to start a brand new project that they can get really excited about and pour all their energies into. The worst thing they can do is sit at home and worry about being on submission and try and “decode” any declines (or random tweets!) from editors, but if we are being honest I suspect probably 95% of all writers do at least a tiny bit of that. [I mean, I totally would! I’d also probably read every single bad goodreads review and take it personally. Which is why I am on my side of the desk—being a writer is so incredibly hard. I’m pretty sure I’d end up in the fetal position curled around a chocolate cake and a bottle of bourbon after my first week in my client’s shoes.]

But in a perfect world? A client would close the door on Book One (or Book Three, or Seventeen) while we are on submission and start a new one to give his or her all.

Is it okay for a client to check in if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

I am always happy to hear from my clients for any reason! I’d like to think I keep them pretty updated, and if there isn’t any news it is probably because there isn’t any news (publishing is SLOOOOOOW) but I am always happy to help subdue any fears. Plus I always like to hear what they are up to and about any books they have read or new ideas they might have had. I want (hope!) all my clients feel comfortable enough with me that they’d get in touch with me whenever they need to for whatever reason.

Thanks, Lauren!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Find out about agent-judged contests

Posted June 2014– Always check for current info and guidelines.

The Margin Project

School’s out and we cabookplateme up with a fun (and social) way to jump-start your kids’ summer reading- plus a special ARC giveaway (advanced reader copy) to get you started! It’s called The Margin Project and this is how it works:

First, print the bookplate to the left (a simple copy and paste into Word will work or “save as” and open it up in a photo editing program). Next, paste it to the inside cover of the book of your choice (scroll down to enter to win the books of our choice!) This designates the book as part of the project and means that any reader thereafter can doodle or write (clean!) notes in the margins as he or she reads. That part is a thrill in and of itself because we’re talking serious taboo behavior here.

But it gets better. Because now that first reader is photo 1going to pass it along to a friend who is ALSO going to add notes, in a different color pen (and probably giggle over the first reader’s notes) And on it goes. By the end, you might end up with something that looks like this ------>


To get you started, we’re giving away the following books (one each to four lucky winners!) Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author :

Jen Malone is a middle grade and young adult author jenwho spent a year traveling the world solo (favorite spot: Nepal), met her husband on the highway, and went into labor on Stevie Nick's tour bus. She's repped by the fantabulous Holly Root at The Waxman Leavell Literary Agency and her debut AT YOUR SERVICE publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin MIx in August 2014. 

Connect with Jen . . .
Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Teen Speak - Fandom


Welcome to the world of Tumblr. In this magical (and downright crazy) place, fandoms exist. The most prominent in my experience have been Whovians, Sherlockians, Cumberbitches, Potterheads, Twihards, and Beliebers. (Though I’ve more likely than not missed a few popular ones. For example, I’m unaware of an overall fandom name for the Supernatural fandom, sadly.)

But fandoms are a huge entity, creating fan fiction and alternate universes (AUs, for future reference) and ships. I recently had to write a paper for my mythology class about cults in the new, modern world, and while researching fandoms, I found this pretty useful site:

Used in a sentence: “The Supernatural fandom teamed up with the Whovians and Sherlockians to take down the Beliebers.” (And they really did, believe it or not. There was a whole debacle after Jared Padelcki of Supernatural tweeted something about Justin Bieber. Go here to read more about it.)

I will have more posts about fandom speak, don’t you worry. If you have any specific words you want me to clarify, though, let me know in the comments!

About the Author :

Kate Kate Bucklein is a clumsy, nineteen-year-old writer of YA epic fantasy living in Northern Arizona, where they really do get snow and the occasional tumbleweed. She's a college sophomore working toward getting her degree in Global Affairs with an emphasis on Intelligence Analysis.

Connect with Kate:@KateBucklein