Saturday, October 31, 2015

GRUDGING Hits the Lists at Goodreads

Sometimes you feel like you're a small book in a huge world. A writer is supposed to ooze confidence and charisma when talking about their creation. I'm just here to say that it can be hard. Not that I don't believe in my story. It wouldn't have gotten picked up by a publisher like Harper Voyager or such a great editor if it wasn't something special! But that I don't love talking about myself.

It ain't easy doing this promotion thing.

I think that's why the post tend to come out on Saturday when fewer people are around. ;-) But today something fun!

So I'm asking friends and fans to consider helping me out once again. GRUDGING was sweetly added to a some lists on Goodreads. That's an exciting prospect in itself! 

If you're a Goodreads fan, perhaps you'd stop by a list or two and give GRUDGING a vote. I think they are impressive lists. It's crazy to be on them. 

Can't Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2015
New Series (2015)
YA Epic Fantasy 2015
Non-Caucasian Protagonists in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance
Most Anticipated Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Novels of 2015
Best Picks: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror 2015

Thanks to anyone that takes the time to do this.  Less than two weeks until release day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nightmare on Query Street Agent Round 2015

Time for the shivers, shrieks and screams to begin!

Following this post, are the twenty Minions. 

Agents, you can head over to Mike's blogs as well to make more requests. (But don't worry, Minions will take no prisoners!) 

No commenting, cheerleading, etc. Only agents will be able to comment. IMPORTANT NOTE: Opera and Safari Browsers may NOT allow you to comment. Using another browser is HIGHLY recommended.

But cheer over on twitter. We're going to be under the hashtag #NoQS, shouting out agent appearances. So vent, be nervous, cheer each other on, and hold hands over Twitter. One of the best parts of contests is seeing how the writer's community gathers and supports each other.

For the next two days, agents will have fun ways to request in the contest.

They can SCREAM for a full request.
They can SHRIEK for a 50 page request.
They can SHIVER for a 10 page request.

And agents can make as many requests as they want! So go wild! We have some awesome talent for you to read.

I want to say a quick thanks to the mentors who all did such a wonderful job helping with revisions.
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE! Hope you all get a ton of frighteningly amazing requests!

And remember: Minions Rule!

NoQS Minion 1: KAYLEE AND THE BIG BAD AL, MG Contemporary

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Word Count: 22,000

NoQS Minion 2: HAUNTING, MG Contemporary

Genre: MG Contemporary
Word Count: 35,000


Genre: MG Contemporary Humor
Word Count: 30,000

NoQS Minion 4: FINDING ME, MG Contemporary

Genre: MG Contemporary
Word count: 38,000


Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Word Count: 62,000

NoQS Minion 6: MECHANIC, YA Fantasy

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 83,000

NoQS Minion 7: MEGA GIRL, YA Cont. Fantasy

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 68,000

NoQS Minion 8: MISSION X, YA Science Fiction

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Word Count: 73,000

NoQS Minions 9: NORTHERN GHOSTS, YA Thriller

Genre: YA thriller
Word Count: 64,000

NoQS Minion 10: THE GARDEN, YA LGBT Suspense

Genre: Young Adult LGBT Suspense
Word Count: 63,000


Genre: YA Thriller
Word Count: 86,000

NoQS Minion 12: A COMPLEX SOLUTION, YA Suspense

Title: A Complex Solution
Genre: YA Suspense
Word Count: 79,000

NoQS Minion 13: HUNGER'S PROPHET, YA Fantasy

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word count: 95,000

NoQS Minion 14: JESSICA ROSIO, PI, Adult Mystery

Genre: Adult Mystery
Word Count: 70,000

NoQS Minion 15: THE WRITE TYPE OF WRONG, Adult Cont. Romance

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 76,000

NoQS 16: HOLLER, Southern Women's Fiction

Genre: Southern Women's Fiction
Word Count: 96,000

NoQS Minion 17: THE DEATH OF US, Adult Speculative Fiction

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Word Count: 107,000

NoQS Minion 18: BAD THINGS COME IN THREES, Adult Romantic Suspense

Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 102,000

NoQS Minion 19: FOUR TRAGEDIES, Adult Romantic Suspense

Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 80,000


Genre: Adult Literary
Word Count: 85,000

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Blogger Conversation with Meredith

I'm excited to start a new series of posts with a group that is under appreciated--book bloggers!

Book bloggers are obviously so important to authors. They give consistent reviews. They open their blogs to us. They are readers and fans! I think we should honor them more.

So this series of interviews was born! Hopefully it will help authors find bloggers and give everyone else a better appreciation of them.

Besides being a book blogger Meredith is also a senior publicist with Spencer Hill Press. We get double the experience from her interview!

What types of books do you review? I prefer young adult, though I do read some adult and I’m JUST getting into middle grade. I LOVE retellings of all kinds (Fairy Tale / Greek Mythology / Classic Novels / etc). I also love reading Psychological Thrillers, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Contemporary and Historical.

Do you have any guidelines for authors to follow in contacting you? A link will work. I have an extensive review policy that I try to keep as up-to-date as possible. That can be found here ->

 Do you post anything besides reviews—such as cover art or giveaways? I love participating in blog tours, cover reveals, author interviews and more! Giveaways are always fun and definitely draw a larger audience to a post. Really, I’m open to anything that’s fun, creative and helpful to the authors and books!

How do you find books to review or do they come to you? I like to browse Amazon and Goodreads for new releases. I also follow my favorite authors to see when they have new books coming out. A lot of what I read is recommended by friends and fellow book bloggers. I’m also on several publisher lists and I receive their seasonal catalogs and emails from publicists with review and blog tour requests – these are great ways to discover new books I might not have heard of otherwise

What got you into blogging about books? I love to read and I love spreading the word about epic books. I sort of stumbled into the book blogging world when I started using Twitter in college to chat with my favorite authors. I slowly made friends with book bloggers and was fascinated by what they did, so I decided to start blogging. It’s been a great way to make friends and even got me my first job in publishing! It’s a wonderful, inclusive community and I wish I’d discovered it sooner!

What elements go into a good review and how long does it take to write one? Every blogger has a different method when it comes to reviews. Personally, I’m VERY character driven, so I tend to discuss the things I liked/disliked about the characters in great detail. I also discuss the author’s writing, the pacing of the book and the plot. I’m not a very critical reviewer because I firmly believe that not every book is for every person. And just because I didn’t like it, that doesn’t mean someone else won’t. I never want my reviews to discourage someone from reading a book, so at the end of my review, I almost always recommend the book, whether I liked it or not.

As for how long it takes, it really depends on the book. Typically, it takes me an hour to write the first draft, then 30-45 minutes to edit and finalize the review. But some books take days to review because they were so epic, it’s hard to put the epicness into words!

How often do you post reviews? It depends. I’m a mood reader, so I can post as few as 2 reviews and as many as 10 reviews in any given month.

Can you think of any special methods or personality types that an author has used to really help you draw close to a character? I love fierce, kick-ass/bad-ass female characters. We don’t have enough of those characters. Think Buffy (the TV show), Celaena (Throne of Glass series) and Alina (Shadow and Bone trilogy). I also tend to fall for the bad boys – I can’t help it! :)

What types of things make for an extra special book? The kind you don’t forget? Definitely the characters. If I can’t connect with the characters or I don’t like them, it’s almost guaranteed I’ll have to DNF. But if the writing is gorgeous or the plot intrigues me and I’m dying to see how the book ends, then sometimes that’s enough to keep me reading. These types of books generally end up being 3-star reads for me.

Any marketing tips you’ve noticed work really well for authors? Authors who interact with readers on social media tend to do very well, in my opinion. If all an author does is tweet about their book and ask people to read it, they won’t get much of a response. But if they interact with readers and build that relationship, then it means the world to me (and other readers).

Favorite books you’ve reviewed. Favorite books I’ve reviewed throughout my entire blogging career? Oh wow, that’s a giant list! I just binge-read/reviewed all of Leigh Bardugo’s books and I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite trilogy ever! I’m also a huge Sarah J. Maas, Richelle Mead and Claudia Gray fan, so their books are always fun to review. I wouldn’t have discovered Heather Lyons without blogging, so definitely her books, as well. I could keep going, so I’ll just stop there for now! Haha :)

Books you are looking forward to in the next year. Remembrance (Mediator #7) by Meg Cabot, Throne of Glass #5 by Sarah J. Maas and Heartless by Marissa Meyer are definitely my top 3!  

Do you prefer kindle or actual books when reading? Definitely actual books! It’s much easier to read and I love holding a book in my hand!

If you could only purchase one book, what would it be? Ouch! This is a mean question! Haha :) I guess... Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, because I never get tired of reading it! (Without exaggeration, I’ve read it 27+ times!)

What’s your favorite spot to read? On the couch in my living room


My name is Meredith. I’m a Senior Publicist at Spencer Hill Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary. I’m also a YA book blogger and a contributing writer for YA Interrobang. I love to read YA, but sometimes I venture out into other genres. I love to write – I’ve been writing since I was in middle school. I prefer creative writing, but I also did journalism for many, many years throughout high school and college.

Thoughts and opinions are my own.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Countdown Widget for GRUDGING/ EDELWEISS ARC

I saw this idea from the brilliant Brenda Drake. She had a very cool countdown widget on her blog. So I tucked that link away in hopes of one day using it. And ta da! I got to use it!

It's just so cool! After years of work, it's one of those special days when you can just enjoy it, without all those dark doubts. Those days are sort of few and far between. It wonderful to just hold on to the moment.

If you'd like a copy of my countdown widget for your blog, you can get one at this link. Or perhaps you'd like a widget for your own book. I highly recommend it as a little treat for yourself.

Also the ARC of GRUDGING is now up on Edelweiss. Edelweiss, for those unfamiliar, keeps catalogs of books by publisher as well as digital copies of books for review. Signing up to be a member is free! 

Any book bloggers interested in reviewing GRUDGING who is not a member, can let me know and my publicists can provide copies. Thanks everyone! 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Blogger Conversation with Megan McDade

I'm excited to start a new series of posts with a group that is under appreciated--book bloggers!

Book bloggers are obviously so important to authors. They give consistent reviews. They open their blogs to us. They are readers and fans! I think we should honor them more.

So this series of interviews was born! Hopefully it will help authors find bloggers and give everyone else a better appreciation of them.

What types of books do you review?
I love all types of books but have a particular passion for YA in many genres but particularly PNR. I have also recently got into reading and reviewing New Adult books and adult reads.

Do you have any guidelines for authors to follow in contacting you?
I do you can check it out at this link

Do you post anything besides reviews—such as cover art or giveaways?
I post a lot of things other than reviews which are all book related. I take part in blog tours with interviews with authors or guest posts. I take part in book blitzes, I take part in popular book memes weekly as well as host giveaways. This year I have also been posting discussions on book related topics as well as taking part in fun book tags. I enjoy posting all these "extra things" it keeps the blog from feeling stale and there also fun to take part in :)

How do you find books to review or do they come to you?
I find a lot of books am interested in though other book bloggers, publishers and using Good reads. I also get review requests from authors and publishers. And then again I pick up books in stores a few times a month that interest me.

What got you into blogging about books?
I have loved books since I can remember. In 2008 I started to find out about book blogging through loving Twilight by Stephanie Meyer as I was seeking out all the information I could get about the books and came across some blogs. From there I thought why not spread my love of books online and it went from there.

What elements go into a good review and how long does it take to write one?
I am still trying to prefect "a good review" 5 years on. Everyone is different and everyone likes different types of reviews. It can take different amounts of time depending in the person. It's a learning curve that doesn't stop. I tend to have short reviews with 3-5 paragraphs or less. This year I have been trying to make them fun with adding GIFS or writing them in different ways. It takes me about 30 -45 minutes to get everything done for a review including scheduling it on the blog.

How often do you post reviews?
I try for at least one or two a week but sometimes it doesn't happen as I get easily distracted but if requested for a review for a certain time I can make it happen.

What types of things make for an extra special book? The kind you don’t forget?
Engaging characters, a unique voice and storyline as well. Also tackling a tough topic gets my attention.

Any marketing tips you’ve noticed work really well for authors?
It's a very obvious one. Interacting with people who read your books through social media. I have made friends with so many authors though social media. Social media is the way to go. I encourage all authors to use as many platforms as you can. It is such a great advantage and weapon to have in your arsenal.

Favorite books you’ve reviewed.
So many, this year I have loved reviewing Undertow by Michael W Buckley it's my favourite book of the year. I also loved my reviews of The 5th Wave and the Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey they where such fun to write. You can check out my reviews
Books you are looking forward to in the next year.
There is so many. However I am excited for another book from Cassandra Clare as well as reading a lot of YA debuts.

Do you prefer kindle or actual books when reading?
I prefer actual books. I tried to get into e books but it just never happened. I will still read them but I tend to not read them as much as actual physical books.

What’s your favorite spot to read?
My room it's where I get peace and quiet :)

Give us your best advice for a beginning book blogger. 
Interact with other book bloggers and authors, don't be afraid. Post what you want to read not what you think others want you to read. If you want to review older books do it :) it's not all about popularity.


I'm Megan, a 26 year old red head from Northern Ireland! In the day am a child care worker and at night I love curling up all night  with a good book!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New Release WOLF BY WOLF

I am so excited that WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Ryan, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed finished copy of the book with a special WOLF BY WOLF pin! US only. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Special intro from the author:

"Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them--made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.

Her story begins on a train."

And so begins the story of Yael, a girl who can change her appearance to mimic any other female. A girl who must win a 20,000 kilometer cross-continental motorcycle race from Germania to Tokyo so that she can have an audience with Adolf Hitler. A girl who has every intention of killing him.

Whenever I describe the premise of WOLF BY WOLF to people, the reactions I get are quite similar. It's the "are-you-insane-or-are-you-onto-something" face: dropped jaw, squiggly eyebrows. I must admit, I felt many of those same feelings when I first started penning Yael's story. Alternate history + sci-fi + epic motorcycle journey felt like a strange recipe for a novel. But I pushed through my fears and kept writing, and I couldn't be happier with the result. I, for one, don't think I'm insane, but I'll let you, dear reader, come up with your own conclusion.

Happy reading!

Ryan Graudin

About The Book:
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Pages: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Code Name Verity meets Inglourious Basterds in this fast-paced novel from the author of The Walled City.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

About Ryan:
Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a signed finished copy of the book with a special WOLF BY WOLF pin. US Only.
Ends on October 26th at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Touching Fate
Release Date: 10/13/15
Entangled Teen: Crave

Summary from Goodreads:

Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn't. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person's fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese's is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death...only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn't know that the hot Dutch guy she's just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.

But worst of all…she doesn't know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.


Fire HD 7, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB US/Canada or $100 Amazon Card if the winner is international

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Author Links:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Rena has been my friend for a number of years and was a slush reader for Nightmare on Query Street this year. She was a pick in an earlier contest. I have to say this is the best looking cover I've seen all year. Check it out!

On to the main event!





Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, she just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon’s fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures hiding within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he’s been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson must choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit. 

Like most mad scientists, Rena Rocford’s early works were largely met with scorn and mockery, but she bided her time. After all, what did her fellow kindergarteners know about literature? From that day forward, Rena kept her writing on the mythical back burner as she pursued more logical goals. Today, crayons. Tomorrow, the world. She moved on to essays and egg drops, followed by experiments in shady laboratories. She tried her hand at everything, learning from anyone who would teach her. She even moonlighted as a horseback riding instructor.

 Admittedly, living as a muggle brought Rena some levels of success such as completing her master’s degree, but always the stories returned, calling her to the keyboard in the dark of night. Now, having built armies from words, Rena has set her sights on world domination, one book at a time.

From her secret base in the wine country, Rena has enlisted the help of her cats, her loyal dogs, and her family―who can be relied upon to hide the launch codes at a moment’s notice. You can find Rena at her blog, follow her on Twitter, GoodReads, or find her on Facebook. Her debut novel, Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon comes out November 23rd, 2015.

Monday, October 19, 2015

2015 Team Minions!

Taking on the slush pile is a daunting task. With a limited number of slots to fill, SO many good entries went unchosen. I know the last word anyone wants to hear is 'subjective', but that's truly the best word to describe how we have to approach slush with so many contenders.

Without further ado, it's time to reveal the Minions of Nightmare on Query Street 2015!

In no particular order:

Kaylee and the Big Bad Al
When Your Best Friend Wants to Be Your Girlfriend (And Other Horror Stories)
There's Always Something on Squaw Lake
Mega Girl
A Complex Solution
Finding Me
Bad Things Come in Threes
The Curse of Jenny Greenteeth
Hunger's Prophet
The Death of Us
Mission X
Robot Billionaire Boyfriend
The Write Type of Wrong
The Garden
Four Tragedies
Northern Ghosts
Jessica Rosio PI

Be sure to check Michael's Blog for his picks.

Keep an eye on your inbox. Mentors will be contacting you through the email you used to enter the contest. If that's not your actual email because a friend mailed yours in, you'd better let us know. Each entry will get one mentor assigned to them. 

Please return your revised entry using the same format to the contest email by 8pm on October 26th. We need that time to swat down unruly formatting and create the posts before the agent round. Please do not be late. We will go live without you.

Come back on October 29th to see the agents Shriek, Scream and Shiver! 

Query Questions with Courtney Miller-Callihan

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.


Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a new series of posts called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.

Courtney Miller-Callihan is an agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates and she's sharing answers about her query slush. Thanks, Courtney! She's looking for women's fiction, romance and historical. 

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?

There isn’t really, though things are a bit more likely to get lost in the shuffle during times when a lot of people are out of the office (especially August and December).

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?

Definitely not. Everyone makes mistakes! But I will say that more than one mistake (especially a misused word) looks sloppy, and may send the message that you’re not as attuned to language as you might be. One mistake is no big deal; more than one and I start to get a little skeptical.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?

I will always look at the sample pages if the query sounds like a project I can sell. Some categories are more difficult than others at any given time; think YA vampires, or magical boarding school. But if I think it has possibility, I always want to look at the writing. 

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?

I check all of them, though at times I have an intern who is reading alongside me.

Do you keep a maybe pile of queries and go back to them for a second look?

Yes! The stronger the query, the more of my time and attention it requires.

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?

Yes. (Try to get rid of the prologue altogether, though, as it’s probably not doing the manuscript any favors!) When you send sample pages, always start the sample with the first page of the manuscript.

How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query?

They’re incredibly useful if the writer has a good sense of the market. It’s better not to cite a megabestseller as a comp title, even if said megabestseller is actually in your genre.

Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested?

Almost never—perhaps ten times a year, which is far less than one tenth of one percent of all my queries. Do check on a specific agency’s policy on this. At SJGA we prefer you query one agent at a time, but you are welcome to query other SJGA agents if the first agent declines the work.

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?

Chit-chat is best if it stays focused on the work; for example, it’s clear from my bio that I used to live in Baltimore, so if your novel is set there, it might be of interest to me. I also talk a lot online about knitting, running, and caffeine, so people often mention those in queries if they’re relevant to the story they’re pitching. However, while it’s always fun to hear from fellow Banana Slugs or fans of Doctor Who, it’s really better not to mention that in a query unless it’s actually pertinent to the work.

Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?

“Red flag” isn’t the phrase I’d use, but I do strongly prefer that that information is included. The genre is important, because it gives the query specificity (aren’t all novels about relationships, on some level?), and the word count is important, because it’s a very good indicator of whether the writer has told a story of a marketable “size.” If you leave either of those details out, I may not have enough information to make a decision, in which case my answer is likely to be no.

Writers hear a lot about limiting the number of named characters in a query. Do you feel keeping named characters to a certain number makes for a clearer query?

It’s a good idea, though I’m not going to give you a specific number. The query letter is not the place to detail secondary characters or plotlines, basically.

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?

Choose a title that will get your reader’s attention and will give some indication of what the story is about. It’s true that a title often changes between submission and publication, but it is nevertheless an important marketing tool at every stage of the process.

It’s exceedingly rare for a publisher to change a character’s name, unless too many characters have names that are too similar, or unless there’s an external reason why it’s not a good idea to leave the names alone. (We won’t see a lot of YA heroines named Bella for a while.) But the publisher will never change a character’s name without the author’s permission—it’s far more likely that they’ll tell you that the name needs to change, and leave the changing up to you.

How many queries do you receive in a week? How many requests might you make out of those?

It varies a fair amount, but I probably average between 50 and 100 queries per week. My request rate varies too, but probably somewhere between two and ten percent. If I think the work has potential, and if I get to the end of the sample pages and want to read more, I’ll ask for more.

Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?

I can’t make anyone do anything, ha. Social media has become an increasingly important tool for authors, and it’s worth trying to get comfortable with Twitter and Facebook, at minimum, before you have a published work to promote. I don’t care if an unpublished author has a social media presence when I sign them, but I encourage everyone on my list to find a way to make social media work for them. Not everyone is comfortable on every platform, and it’s worth experimenting.

As far as tipping the scales, it’s unlikely that an unpublished novelist would have a significant-enough presence online for this to be a real factor (unless they were well-known in another context, like YouTube or Instagram). Never say never, I guess. For published authors (including self-published), I definitely do consider social media presence when I’m considering an offer of representation.

Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?

It doesn’t really bother me, but do be sure that you’re not talking about the query/submission process online, especially if you give me a link to your blog. Every agent I know has a story about a writer they were really excited about, and when the agent looked at the writer’s blog, there was a (weeks-old) post about the writer being rejected by their “dream agent.” Agents are realists, and we all hear the word “no” all the time, but nobody wants to feel like they’re a second (or third or fourth) choice. Be aware of the digital trail you’re creating for yourself, if you choose to talk about the writing/submission process online.

If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested?

I’d say the latter; there are a lot of queries that won’t be right for me no matter how thoroughly the material has been revised. However, if you’ve met the agent at a conference or are friendly with them on Twitter etc., it doesn’t hurt to check in. The worst they (I) can say is no.

 What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?

It’s OK with me if you leave it out entirely, or say “I live in [city or geographical area.] This is my first novel.”

What does ‘just not right mean for me’ mean to you?

What it says on the tin. Publishing is a very subjective business, and everyone who reads more than a book or two a year is aware of a book (possibly a lot of books) that they don’t understand the appeal of. I come from a family of readers, and there’s tremendous disagreement within my family about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (I was not a fan.) But just because I don’t care for something doesn’t mean someone else will feel the same way. I’m lucky enough to get to work on books that I love, on the kinds of things that I really like to read and want to see more of in the marketplace. But I get the same number of hours in my day as everyone else, and I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to work on things I don’t love.

It’s not for me to say what should and should not be published, so when I say “not right for me,” all I mean is that something is not right for me. It may well be right for someone else. But I don’t love it enough to take it on.

What themes are you sick of seeing?

This is a landmine of a question, but I will say I don’t tend to be drawn to revenge stories about divorce, or novels with a Holocaust theme. But if you’ve written a really amazing novel that falls into one (or both?) of those categories, please send it to me anyway.

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?

Very much so, which is not to say that writers shouldn’t send the most polished work they are capable of producing.

What’s the strangest/funniest thing you’ve seen in a query?

I plead the fifth. J

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?

I’m a fairly active contributor to MSWL, so it’s worth checking my “wish list” there.

I’m always looking for books in all genres I represent with a diverse cast of characters (racial, ethnic, religious, LGBTQ+)

I’d love to find more:
Lighthearted YA
     Contemporary women’s fiction
     YA or adult fiction with a mystery/suspense element

What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? 

I’m obviously immensely proud of all the books I’ve worked on. I also adore Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me, Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin, Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.

I’m reading Americanah now and it’s extraordinary.

Movie-wise, my taste is really varied. I love The Godfather (especially Part II), Back to the Future, Amélie, Inception, and the Cornetto Trilogy. My favorite movie of the past year (or so) is Kingsman: The Secret Service. And I’ve watched both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and all eight of the Harry Potter movies more than can really be deemed healthy.


Courtney is currently seeking women’s fiction, romance, and historical novels, as well as nonfiction projects on unusual topics, humor, pop culture, and lifestyle books. For nonfiction, a strong platform and excellent credentials are a must.
She represents a limited number of children’s book authors, and is especially drawn to middle-grade and YA fiction with voices that jump off the page. She is not currently seeking new picture book manuscripts.
While she prefers that authors query about one project at a time, Courtney is passionate about growing writers’ careers, and is always looking for clients who feel that they have a lot of great stories to share with the world.
Courtney began her career in publishing at Random House, where she spent a number of years in subsidiary rights sales and in contracts before joining Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in 2005. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she works closely with authors to help them reach their full creative and commercial potential.
Courtney holds a B.A. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a M.A. in English from The Johns Hopkins University.  She lives with her family in Southern California and travels frequently for meetings and conferences.