Agenting

Agenting advice

SAITS AND MISFITS Cover Reveal

In case you missed YA Highway’s cover reveal yesterday, check out the groundbreaking SAINTS AND MISFITS!

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Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Pre-order SAINTS AND MISFITS on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound, and check it out on Goodreads.

You can follow S.K. Ali at @sajidahwrites, and check out her piece on her quest to find an agent.

Ten Cliches That Make Agents Roll Their Eyes

f3fc3c45fd59bc3cb7fe8ad224519132Great books break these rules all the time. I’ll say it again: great books break these rules ALL THE TIME.

But here are ten cliches agents see so often in queries and samples, they make us go “ugh, not again.”

 

  1. Characters running hands through their hair. This move almost certainly springs from the era of Jonathan Taylor Thomas hair.

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  2. Dead parents. It needs to be said, even though everyone does it, including me. But remember, grief is not a shortcut to character development.

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  3. Redheaded best friends. Poor redheads, always relegated to the position of bestie. Also, why are best friends so often the fun one, while the hero is a stick in the mud? Yes, shyness is relatable, but it’s okay for your main character to be a firecracker, too.

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  4. Alcoholic moms, especially ones that drink boxed wine. Like ‘Busy Dad’, ‘Drunk Mom’ has become a shorthand for suburban ennui and inattentive, embarrassing parenting. Unless your story is truly about substance abuse, try and find a fresh way to signal mom is less-than-perfect.

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  5. Car accidents! If you’re a parent in YA, you’re probably drunk or dead. If you’re a boyfriend, you’re probably two pages away from a horrible car accident. If Kaydan has to go, why not have him get hit by a falling tree, or skateboard into a meat grinder? Get creative!

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  6. Stories that open with characters moving to a new town. I’m not sure why this is such a common set-up, especially in YA and MG, but rather than kickstart the plot, this device can leave agents feeling like they’ve covering the same old territory. (Oops, slipped into “listicle” voice there. Sorry.)

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  7.  / being forced to spend the summer with grandparents / relatives / country bumpkins of any stripe. I think this one originated in romantic comedies, where the too-busy, too-snobby hero is brought down to earth by the love of a simple man. (There are actually quite a few great books that follow this trajectory, but again, agents see it too often.)

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  8. Amnesia. In chapter one. A great story can explore a hero’s rediscovery of her past, and this plot device isn’t an instant turn-off to agents, but if you’re setting out on your first draft, this may not be the best place to start.

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  9. “I bet you’re wondering how I got myself in this situation.” Direct-address to the reader pulls us out of the story and reminds us we’re being narrated to. I think this is something we’ve picked up from movies and t.v., but in novels we’re ALREADY being narrated to, and don’t need reminding. We want to be immersed in your story and identify with your hero, not hear her monologue.

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  10. Heterochromia. This is one of many writer shortcuts for ‘there’s something different / special about her.’ For some reason it’s usually attributed to girls rather than guys, and sometimes suggest the supernatural. Speaking of which, this picture is creepy.

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If you’ve already queried a sample with one or more of these elements, don’t panic. Agents look past this stuff to see what’s truly original about your work. BUT, while there’s nothing wrong with the above in an artistic sense, the best and most enticing writing feels fresh, so in the future, kill these darlings!

Are there any I missed? Add them in the comments!

Congrats to Ann Dee Ellis on her new deal with Dial Books!

From Publishers Weekly:

ann-dee-ellis_picNamrata Tripathi at Dial has bought world English rights to Ann Dee Ellis‘s second middle grade novel, The Wild Place. The story follows 12-year-old Cass, who after reconnecting with her maternal grandmother discovers she is a descendant of Etta Place, mistress of the Sundance Kid, and finds herself on a journey to unearth long-lost outlaw treasure. Publication is set for spring 2019; John M. Cusick of Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management brokered the deal.

Welcome New Client Virginia Boecker

VIrginia-Boecker-Headshot-1.jpgI’m so excited to announce that the brilliant and wonderful Virginia Boecker is joining the Folio Jr. family! I’ve been a rabid fan of her work for years now, starting with the smart, funny, and action-packed WITCH HUNTER and KING SLAYER (Little, Brown). I’m so excited to be working with Virginia, and I can’t wait to tell you all about her next project. Stay tuned— and welcome Virginia!

 

the-witchhunter-revised-2-198x300-1You can find Virginia online at http://www.virginiaboecker.com/, and twitter.com/virgboecker. Check out WITCH HUNTER and KING SLAYER on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

Congratulations Sajidah Kutty on her debut deal!

From Publishers Weekly:

9vEV8jr1Zareen Jaffery at S&S’s Salaam Reads has preempted world rights to Saints, Misfits, Monster and Mayhem, the debut YA novel by teacher and artist Sajidah Kutty. The novel follows 15-year-old Janna Yusuf, daughter of the only divorced mother at the mosque, as she examines her faith and relationships in the wake of an assault. The book will be Salaam’s first YA novel. Publication is slated for summer 2017; John M. Cusick of Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management negotiated the deal.

I’m so excited that Sajidah’s beautiful novel will be Salaam Reads’s first young adult publication. This is such an important book, and it found its perfect home.

You can follow Sajidah at @sajidahwrites, and check out Sajidah’s piece on her quest to find an agent.

Congrats Tommy and Sharon!

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Congratulations to Tommy Wallach (Thanks for the Trouble) and Sharon Biggs Waller (The Forbidden Orchid) on their YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominations!


Thanks for the Trouble Final CoverCheck out THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE on Goodreads, and order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound.

You can also check Tommy’s New York Times best -selling WE ALL LOOKED UP on Goodreads. Order now at Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Indiebound.

 

ForbiddenOrchid_CoverYou can order THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID (Viking Children’s Books) on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or check it out on Goodreads.

You can also find Sharon at her website, on Facebook, and on twitter.

Happy Pub Day to GENA/FINN!

Happy Book Birthday to Hannah Moskowitz’s and Kat Helgeson’s YA GENA/FINN (Chronicle Books).


41O+px6P4HL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences—Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend—the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction. When disaster strikes and Gena’s world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes with a price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age.

 

ChwZ_QtUgAAUpRnLet’s hear from Kat:

“Hannah and I met in an online community writing fanfiction. We were part of a group that came up with story prompts for the things we wanted to read and wrote stories to fit each other’s prompts. Hannah and I were answering each other’s requests more than anybody else, and as time went by we started talking about our real lives as well. Then Hannah came to Chicago for a publicity event and we had the chance to meet in person. We planned to just have dinner together and go our separate ways, but we enjoyed each other’s company so much that we ended up spending the whole weekend together. It wasn’t long after that that we mutually came up with the idea of a book telling the story of the deep connections that can come out of internet fandom and the way online friendships can transition into three-dimensional ones. A lot of people talk about online relationships as something distinct from “real” relationships, and what I came to understand by knowing Hannah was that the interactions that happen online can be as real and meaningful as any other.”

Here’s a bit from their editor, Taylor Norman at Chronicle Books:

“It was clear to us immediately that this was a story told about real young adults, by real young adults. So much of YA fiction is aimed at teens without any sense of what motivates them, how they talk, how they relate to each other. The relationship in GENA/FINN is visceral and honest, complicated and indefinable: in other words, real. It’s so rare to see a book that captures life as well as Hannah and Kat have here. I was sold immediately and finished an hour and a half later.”

What other people are saying:

“Vividly portrays the minute-to-minute nature of modern communication.”-Publishers Weekly

“Allows readers to close the cover pondering all the different ways humans can love.”-School Library Journal

“I liked Gena and I liked Finn, not just as characters but as people. Although their experiences were different from mine, I could see myself in both women–all of the uncertainty and indecisiveness and insecurity.”– Billie Bloebaum, A Children’s Place, Portland, OR

“If Hannah Moskowitz writes it-or in this case, co-writes it-I will read it.”–Leila Roy, Bookshelves of Doom, a Kirkus Reviews Blog

“It’s very satisfying to see this moment in fandom and Internet-originating relationships so capably represented.”-Kirkus Reviews

“This portrayal of the fan world is spot-on. focused firmly on the real, messy relationships that can form in the digital age.”–Booklist

Find GENA/FINN at Goodreads, Amazon, B&N.

You can find Kat on her website and twitter, and Hannah on her website and twitter.

Welcome New Client Sajidah Kutty

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Update: Check out this awesome piece by Sajidah on her quest to find an agent.

I’m so excited to welcome new client, Sajidah Kutty! Sajidah’s gorgeous and brilliant YA debut is called SAINTS, MISFITS, MONSTERS, AND MAYHEM, and I can’t wait for you all to read it. Welcome to the Folio family, Sajidah!

You can follow Sajidah at @sajidahwrites.