Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I may have posted this quote before, but you don't mind.

I figured that with all of Jaden's informative lectures, you may be overwhelmed with the enormity of the publishing-project you are about to undertake, and you might need a little bit of encouragement.

From Barbara Kingsolver (You know her as the writer that wrote The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven, and Vegetable,Animal,Miracle, to name a few):

"This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'Not at this address'. Just keep looking for the right address."

This picture has nothing to do with the above, I just liked it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

JadenPoser Pt. 2

This is Part the Second of these little pseudo-seminars I'm writing up for Her Most Majestically Tall Majesty Savannah. I swore I'd have it up by Monday, even if it gets posted at 11:59.

In this part I'm going to talk about the Q word. Queries (poxes on you if you didn't guess this one).


Your Query is the NUMBER ONE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL you have to get your foot in the door with agents. It's worth more than the book, more than the bribes, more than... pretty much anything short of a contract.

Although I'm probably preaching to the choir (or, more likely, preaching to the preacher) you should understand a few things about query letters.


First off- most of the time agents won't even talk to you unless you've queried them first. Ninety percent of the time *after* you query, you'll get a rejection letter. Just accept it- it happens.

Your query is your calling card, and only HALF of its purpose is to pitch your book. The other 50 percent of the query letter's purpose is to pitch YOU, YOURSELF, PERSONALLY. As I say a lot- almost as important as having a good book is the ability to convince an agent that YOU are hot property.

One last thing you should know about the Q word. Agents get hundreds or even thousands of queries a day. They may see yours, not think the title is convincing enough, and pass it over. Don't let the rejection get you down. Query constantly until you find someone who wants what you've written.

For this part, I'm going to include the query letter that got me signed on with one of the top agencies. I've omitted some details because I'm not sure I can disclose info on the deal just yet.

Here 'tis:

Attn ###### ######: (note: use Attn instead of "Dear" or "Lord High Imperator")

I read on that you are interested in pursuing young adult projects. I believe you will be interested in my YA novel, entitled #.

(note: This is a stock beginning for a query letter. It's short and to the point- it says where you heard of him/her, the genre of your book, and the title)

When a book of spells arrives in the mailbox of teenaged millionaire Ebenezer Talmond, he is cast into a web of danger, magic and intrigue that spans beyond the sinister criminal world that he has always called home.

<---Organized Crime?

Only moments after receiving the book, Ebenezer is left penniless by a killer who walks through mirrors. Escaping from the adoption of his cannibal uncle and joining forces with a sure-shooting girl named Hitchhiker, Ebenezer sets out to delve the secrets of his book and find the man who killed his sister—a journey that will take him beyond everything he has ever known and into the mystery of the Handler’s world.

(note: These paragraphs are MOST IMPORTANT. They should not total to be longer than three or four sentences. NEVER go into more than two paragraphs. The first paragraph should be no longer than one sentence- a hook, really, and no more. Agents think you're cool if you can sum up your whole book into tight spaces. Notice how tight the writing is on the second paragraph... in my book, this covers HUNDREDS of pages, but I've reduced everything to as tight as it can possibly go.)

(ALSO note: Agents like it when these paragraphs begin with "When" or "If" or "After".)

# is the first book in an edgy YA fantasy series revolving around the boy Ebenezer. The book caps at approximately 140,000 words. Six books are planned, and I am about 30,000 words into writing the first sequel.

(note: This paragraph cuts through the "Wow, cool" flim-flam of the previous paragraph and shoots out facts, business-style. How long is the book? Is it a series? Have you done any work on the later books? If you can say yes to the last question, agents like it- it shows you're dedicated. PLUS, it shows that YOU wrote a series (not just a single book) and are NOT begging them for help. It shows confidence, I guess I'm trying to say, and agents respect that.)

The # series is a mix between the fast-paced action of the Maximum Ride books by James Patterson and the macabre humor of the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket.

(note: This is not necessary, but it's fun. Brag a bit, whether you're read those books or not.)

I have been published once before, in #. If you would like to receive any more information about # or the # series, please email me at #, or call me at #. Thank you for your time and consideration.

(note: Final paragraph wraps it up. Say if you've been published before (big plus!), and then gracefully step back and let the agent decide. Do not grovel at this point. Saying "Please, please, please drop me a line. Or at least a letter. Or even a carrier pigeon!" will not help.


So there's one example of a query letter that worked. Hopefully it'll help out anybody who reads this.

I'm off to bed. Savannah, do me a favor and find some of those funny pics that you always have.

<---Funny Pic

Put 'em on here. ;)

- JadenPoser

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Guest Blogger: JadenPoser pt.1

Savannah: Hey everyone, this is my friend Jaden Nation, a sickeningly talented teen writer who just got his first agent, and as such is now qualified to share with us meager underlings the secrets to his success. Be nice, no hate comments, and soak up his wisdom.

Every picture except this first one I provided, as he is boring and didn't bring his own pics. :P

My apologies to Savannah- I'm a bit late with this promised post. Man, it's been a whole month since I blogged last... hard to get back into the flow.

Recently, I finally achieved two things I've been fighting to achieve for years now. First- I got an agent. Second- I kicked my Limewire/BitTorrent habit. Granted, sobriety only lasted for five minutes, but during that time I gathered my shattered nerves and scraped together some notes that I think you'll find useful. Useful, that is, if you're interested in finding a literary agent, or if you've been looking for one and have a wall *covered* with rejection letters (I do!).

Edit: I planned on lumping this all together, but I've realized it's too much for one post. Even Postzilla would be small compared to how big this post could get. So I'm going to split it into parts. This first part will be general tips on agents.

1. First off, the basics in a nutshell:
Most of what you've been told about looking for agents is false. Honest. Don't get me wrong: you should read *everything* you can about the publishing industry, but take it all with a grain of salt. Remember the hacker's first rule of Social Engineering. If you don't remember it, here it is:

RULE ONE: People are not machines.

Caption: Robots people not are.

OK, I made that up. It's a revolutionary statement, nonetheless. It means this: no matter what you read "agents" do or "publishers" do, EVERY single agent/publisher is still a human being. And human beings are almost unpredictable. So don't take everything the books say (or I say) at face value.

2. So what is an agent?
Oh no
, you say to yourself, he thinks we're little kids. We KNOW what an agent is? No, you probably don't. An agent is not (per se) a person who manages your royalties, arranges for cocktail parties and sets up tours. At least- not yet. AT THIS POINT- an agent is the GATEKEEPER. Without him, you are NOT getting published.

OK, that's not exactly true. Paolini did it (sorry Savannah). Kaza Kingsley did it. Yes, yes, yes- but unless you can devote the IMMENSE amounts of time to marketing that these hard-working writers devoted, you will NOT be successful without an agent. Chances are you don't even really know *how* to market a book (I don't!). The point is that at this point, you NEED an agent. You should be willing to cut your ears off to get one.

Bottom Line: Agents are the ONLY way you can get in!

For the love of God, do NOT make it seem like you read Tip Number 2.
This part is hard, but it is absolutely essential. Do NOT treat agents like they are gods (though sometimes they act like Zeus or Pluto). Treat them with respect, but above all else treat yourself as if you have something they *desperately* want. This is a very delicate process. Bottom line: if you appear half-hearted or anything less than *totally* committed to your book, the agent will quickly forget about you.

Bottom Line: Treat yourself like *you* (not just your books) are Hot Property

You should know that the only way you're going to break in is with a book that is unconventional.
Do NOT query agents with a fantasy novel about a height-challenged boy hero who has to take a magic ring to burn it in Mount Boom. They've seen it and they're sick of it. In the modern market (and the market changes fast!) *all* books must have a killer twist that intrinsically sets it apart from every other manuscript out there. If your book is like the one I described... sorry, but you should write something else. I had to learn this the hard way (I spent five years on one series quite similar to that one, and I got rejected until I wrote a new series).

Bottom Line: Don't rewrite Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, or any science fiction romances. The last might get published, but I'll find your home and burn it down.

Caption: In essence, DON'T BE LIKE THIS GUY!

5. Do NOT try and find that *perfect* agent.
There are hundreds of agents. There are *millions* of authors, and they are all querying those hundred agents at the same time as you are. If you do get an agent, chances are really stacked that it will not be the "perfect" agent that you found. Why? Because agents are people, and people are not machines. Your not-so-perfect agent may have twenty years more experience than the perfect one, and personally knows top-level editors who are looking for YOUR BOOK. But won't list this.

Bottom line: query everyone who might have the most remote interest in your genre. They will not jump on a book that they know they can't represent. If they can rep it- they'll reply quickly.

6. Simultaneous Query.
Don't listen when they say "does not accept simultaneous queries." Nothing in the world will bring you down deeper than waiting four months for a reply only to get a rejection (and you *will* be rejected). What do you do then? Get your query and snail-mail another agent? Good luck...

The books will tell you to do just that. But their method is really outdated. Remember- you have to convince agents that you (yes, *you*) are hot property. Query EVERYONE at once. Do NOT CC or BCC them, though. If you email query, send out individual queries (hint: Copy & Paste) to each agent.

The beauty of this is that you can spend a day or so emailing queries, and then sit back as rejections or requests start flowing in over the next month. Plus, if you sign a deal and a rejection from a different agent comes in, you get to experience the acute joy of rejecting *them*.

Bottom Line: Get a list of agent email addresses. Query everybody in the same day (but not necessarily at the *same time*)

7. Agents tend to respond to email queries faster than snail-mail queries.
I gave up snail-mail querying years ago. It doesn't work anymore. The only problem with e-queries, however, is that they are a LOT easier to reject than snail-mail queries. So you'd better have an amazing book, or you're no better off than before.

Bottom Line: Forget about snail-mail, no matter what the book say. Check out

Your query is everything. If you plan on following my advice and querying the Cheap Way (aka Email Queries), you're going to replace cost with quality. If you want to save money on postage, your query letter had better be AMAZING.

Bottom Line: I'll give you an example of my query letter (that sold my book) in the next part. For now, I'm off to work.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Let the Gnomies Unite (What is with all these homeschooled kids?)

Being mostly Swedish, my heritage as celebrated in America is represented by a couple of things: Pickled herring (A yummy Christmas treat!), lutefisk (which should NEVER have been invented), and gnomes.

Yesterday I posted an entry that included this picture, which warranted a gnome-possession-lust from a very interesting person, who, as far as I can tell, is related to my fascinating friend, Jaden.

His name is Kaleb Nation, and we should all be very pleased to hear that, as a teenage author, he has an agent and is sprinting swiftly towards publishment with his book The Farfield Curse.

But this is not the only reason why we should laud over him.

No, my friends. Kaleb Nation has a strange fascination with gnomes (and may be one himself! :O ).

For you, Kaleb, my comrade, I recommend the following book (and to all you gnomies out there as well).

Gnomes are not just cute little short men who tend gardens. Nor are they evil, despite what R. L. Stine says.

Gnomes are protectors of the forest and good-hearted humans. The different types of gnomes, their habits (including eating and sex!), life cycles, legends and more are explored in detail in this fabulous reference book written by two men who claim to have spent extensive time talking with and observing them (Whether this is true or not I doubt, but they go on about it so convincingly that I've been on the lookout for gnome traces since).

If you're in a bookstore try to see if they have this in stock (I know the one I worked at did, and it was a very small bookstore at that). Try to find the page where you can see NAKED GNOMES! *GASP*

Now, this is all very nice, but what I want to know is why exactly Kaleb has a fascination with gnomes. Is this because he is irreversibly odd, having been home-schooled? What is with all these home-schooled teenage boys pumping out the fantasy books?

Is Kaleb related to Paolini? Or worse, are they the same person? Has Paolini gone mental and invented a completely new identity, seeking to conquer the book world over again under a pseudonym?

Are they forming a secret army of lawn gnomes? Are your daisies safe?!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Not An April Fool's Joke

April Fool's came and I had no plan of deviousness, as it caught me completely unaware.

Fortunately, now I get to do all my April Fool's jokes TOMORROW, and no one will suspect a thing!

Anyway, I've been promising to reveal some SHOCKING information, and now that all the hilarious hate mail has been dealt with, hold on tight and here we go:

I left my job at the bookstore.

It's true. I've been gone for about a month now.

'But Savannah!' you say, 'Why would you leave the bookstore you love and which entertains us with amusing stories?'

Because, dear readers, I was not making enough money. I can't give an exact figure, but it was not much above minimum wage, and way lower than minimum wage is even GOING TO BE come this July. So I got out.

I knew in my mind that I needed to get another job, then my parents came home from plant shopping and one of the stores they had been at needed a cashier. They picked me up an application, I filled it out and went over there and got the job.

I am proud to say that I now work in an Enchanted Forest. I'm serious.

It's a garden nursery that also sells fun stuff like lawn gnomes and little mushroom statues.

So I learned the book market, and now I'm learning how to nurture things.

Maybe after there's a manager change and some major pay increases, I would love to go back to the Bookstore. But for now I'm happy growing things, making friends with the lawn gnomes, and going an entire day with never hearing about Christopher Paolini, even though, as demonstrated in the picture below, he likes his self some good plant luvin.

Caption: "Our love is pure! Don't judge us!"