Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My Successful Query

Here's the query for my fourth manuscript that got me my first agent. It was for an MG fantasy with talking hamsters. I think the specific details and voice helped attract agents. I only wrote five versions of this one, while my other queries got dozens of versions. I received two offers from cold queries. 



Tom, the classroom hamster, wants to escape from the h-e-double-hockey-sticks otherwise known as school. His military training at the pet shop didn't include playing house or being sentenced to a boot camp of never-ending Show ‘n Tell, math facts rap, and story time. But he’s learned a lot behind the bars of his cage. For example, if you want to keep breathing, never trust a pygmy who has earned the nickname Squeezer. Somehow he has to get away before the pygmies dress him as Strawberry Shortcake again—or worse.

When a “subspatoot” teacher fills in, Tom sees his chance to put Operation Escape the Pygmies into action. He makes a run for the border, hamster style. Bad news. The principal says a rodent on the loose is a distraction to learning and better off erased. The way out is turned into a battlefield of snapping mousetraps, sticky snares, and poisoned pellets.

Tom seems doomed until the friendless Squeezer lends an over-excited hand. She quickly goes from supervillain to super sidekick. Now, the greatest obstacle to his freedom may be Tom’s soft spot for this lonely pygmy.



This story didn't sell, but my next did. My Birth of Saints series was published with Harper Voyager. Somewhere in the middle of my trilogy my first agent stopped responding and eventually quit the business. I ended up getting picked up by her boss, but sometimes things just don't work out. I'm on my own now, writing a fresh story and querying an epic fantasy. I share this just to let you know that the journey goes on and everyone's writing story will be different. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Getting the Call with Doug Engstrom

There's nothing more inspiring to me than a Call Story from one of my contests. Doug was part of Sun versus Snow 2017. I remember his entry was very unique. A corporate gunslinger trying to pay off her student debt. He just recently announced his book deal. Congrats, Doug! But here is his story in his own words.




Many years ago I rode a non-competitive bicycling event where the objective was to complete a 600 kilometer course in 40 hours or less. That ride and related distance events, called brevets, turned out to be surprisingly good preparation to write a novel, secure representation for it, and sell it to a publisher.

The first carryover lesson is the obvious one: persistence. The successful brevet rider keeps the pedals turning, no matter what. You keep going through the stuff you were ready for, like cold mist, and the stuff you weren't, like going over the handlebars into a poorly-marked construction site in the dark.

As a writer, same deal. Keep turning out the words, keep turning out the queries, no matter what. Keep going through the inevitable barrage of rejection. In my case, it was 59 carefully-personalized queries rejected before connecting with my agent via the Sun vs Snow contest, followed by a dozen publisher rejections before securing a contract.

The related lesson is that there is no real end. Finish the 200K brevet course? Two weeks later, the 300K beckons. Then the 400K and the 600K. Complete that series, and you're eligible for one of the 1,200K events. After that? Next season.

In writing, the struggle to write the book isn't the end; more like "the end of the beginning." It's followed by rounds of editing, work on the query letter and queries, also edited many times over, and then the search for an agent or editor.

It's tempting to view securing representation as an end, because it's such a daunting task. But of course, it isn't.

In my case, I knew I had some serious work to do when I signed with my agent. Despite nearly four years of effort that included terrific support from my wife and excellent feedback from workshop partners and beta readers, I knew the book could be better. I also knew I needed focused professional input to get there.

When I signed, I anticipated my agent would provide that input, and she came through in the best possible way.

I did not anticipate it would take two major rewrites and ten months.

I also failed to anticipate that the extensively sweated over, massively-revised manuscript would be accepted by Harper Voyager contingent on another substantial rewrite, but that's what happened.

So, I'm working on that, heading for a due date in 2019 and publication the following year.

Which brings me to the final carryover lesson: you're in this alone, except of course you're not.

During a brevet, the rules stress that a rider must be "self sufficient" between checkpoints.

Like most claims to self sufficiency, this is somewhere between a gross exaggeration and an outright lie. On the road, riders share everything from Gatorade to air pumps, and at the check points, friends and family members furnish what's needed: encouragement, shoulder massages, even turkey sandwiches. 

As a writer, it's true that only you can put your hands on the keyboard and face the empty page. However, I don't think you'll keep it up very long without a contingent of cheerleaders, critique partners, beta readers, and fellow writers to share the journey.

In my case, I know I couldn't have produced my initial drafts without the help of my wife, Catherine, who read everything and offered amazing feedback. The relationships formed in the  Paradise ICON Writer's Group and the Dire Turtles Online Crit Group have been vital. I definitely could not have created a credible query without the help of my Sun vs Snow mentor, Michael Mammay, and I wouldn't have met him without the generosity of Michelle and Amy in putting the contest together in the first place.

On top of everything else, there's the contribution of my agent, Danielle Burby of the Nelson Literary Agency, who pushed me to the next level and sold the resulting manuscript.

As I write this, I'm taking the first steps in starting a new working partnership with David Pomerico and Harper Voyager.

This is a pretty big crowd for a solitary occupation, and both an inspiration and a reminder to do my bit when I'm part of somebody else's crowd.

So, stick with it, stick it out, and stick together--lessons for both long distance cycling and longform writing. I hope to see you around.

_____________________________________________

Doug Engstrom has been a farmer's son, a US Air Force officer, a technical writer, a computer support specialist and a business analyst, as well as being a writer of speculative fiction. His novel, Corporate Gunslinger, will be published by Harper Voyager in 2020. He lives near Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Catherine Engstrom.  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Query Questions with Ann Rose



Two Query Questions in one week! I'm feeling lucky!

I hope to bring you many fresh interviews with agents from fresh agencies. Feel free to throw agent suggestions at me on twitter. 

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 series 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 other writing sites. They are the type of questions that you need answers from the real expert--agents!

Today we hear from an agent at an agency I've never interviewed before. We boldly go where I've never gone before. :-)  Ann Rose of the Prospect Agency answers to your questions about querying and shares information about her wishlist.


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

So, the answer is yes and no. Yes, I always look at sample pages no matter how strong the query is. Query letters are hard and not everyone is a master at them. In the end its about the book, so good query or not I’m going to check out the writing. However, if the query states it is something I don’t represent I won’t look at the pages.


How open are you to writers who have never been published?

I am completely open to new writers. I love finding fresh voices and new perspectives. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?


The dreaded rhetorical question in a query. Are they as taboo as the rumors say?

For me the answer is, yes. I hate them. Any question can be turned into a statement that doesn’t make the reader want to stop and think about the answer.


How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query? Are movie/tv reference okay as comp titles?

Comp titles won’t make or break a query. A good comp will intrigue me into reading, but a bad one (like a book I don’t particularly love) won’t stop me from looking at pages either. I think it’s fine to reference movies/TV/video games. Anything that helps set the tone for the story you are tying to tell.


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

I don’t need chit-chat that is just telling me what is on my own website. If the personalization is; “I’m sending you my YA book because you rep YA.” I say, skip it. I love personalization that feels personal, without being creepy stalker stuff.


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

I receive about a hundred letters a week give or take, and of those I ask for approximately one out of every ten.


How do you feel about writers nudging on full/partial requests? At what point is it appropriate? 

I don’t mind writers checking in but give me at least three months before you nudge.

If the writer gets an offer or has a question I’m always open to those.


When a writer nudges with an offer, what length of time is helpful to give you enough time to consider? A week? Two weeks?

Two weeks is perfect, in my opinion.


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?

If an author includes their Twitter handle in a query 9x out of 10 I will look them up. If I’ve been on the fence about the project and see things that I like or find interesting on their feed I might be more likely to ask for the project.

I am no social media expert by any means, so I think that you have to do what feels right for you. If the idea of tweeting makes you sick, don’t do it. If you love to take pictures maybe Instagram would be better. I think having a social media presence can help, but if the idea of keeping one up makes you want to rip your eyelashes off – hard pass. I’d never require my clients to do anything they weren’t comfortable with, that includes being active on social media.


If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested? Does it make a difference if the changes are from an R&R with another agent?

I’m not sure if I’m understanding this question correctly. Did I already ask for the materials? If yes, then yes, send an updated file.

If this is a project I didn’t request, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it and drastic changes have been made I’m open to seeing it in my query box again. Just don’t send the same project a few months later with the exact same submission. Our system lets us see all the submission history of querying writers.  


What themes are you sick of seeing?

Do not send me your character waking up in the first pages. I think after seeing this over and over and over I just can’t handle it anymore. If the first words are “And she opened her eyes” I’ve already checked out and stopped reading.


Do you look at trends or editor wishlists when deciding to sign a manuscript?

No. It’s in my opinion that good books will sell no matter the trend. So, if you have a super kick ass vampire novel, send it my way.


Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent? Does a manuscript have to be sub-ready or will you sign stories that need work?

I am super editorial, and I’m not afraid of a manuscript that needs some work. But that doesn’t mean send me a first draft.

My clients all have my cell phone number and know it’s fine to text or call whenever. If they are stuck on a plot point and need to chat, pick up the phone. If they need some general encouragement because they are working on edits, shoot a text. I think the worst thing I could do for my clients is to make them feel like they can’t talk to me. They all know if they email me they will get an answer within 24 hours but most likely sooner. We are a team and I am here to support them.


What is your biggest query pet peeve? Is there anything that automatically sinks a query for you?

Let me see…

Sending me a book that is already published. This seems like a no brainier, but I get at least once a week - “I don’t want to market this book that I put up on Amazon two years ago and haven’t sold any copies of, I just want to write so I’m looking for an agent.” – Don’t do this.

Sending me a book that is way outside the standard word count for that genre.

Sending me a query that talks for paragraphs and paragraphs about marketing and how it’s the next best seller, but never once tells me about the book.

Not following submission guidelines. So, make sure you include a query, synopsis and 30 pages.

I think those are my biggest pet peeves.  


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

Diverse voices!
A YA version of Clue with the snark/humor of the movie and complete with three different endings. (I need this book like yesterday.)
MG that isn’t afraid to explore tough topics


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

This is tough…

Favorite books:

The Awesome by Eva Darrows
Love Simon by Becky Albertalli
The Wishing Heart by JC Welker
500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Anything by Jennifer Armentrout, Elizabeth Briggs, Courtney Summers or E. Lockhart.

Movies:
Notting Hill
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Miss Potter
Elf
The Blindside
Meet the Robinsons
Clue
Pitch Perfect
Jumanji
The Princess Bride


_____________________________________________________________

I'm a California native who now resides in Texas after a stint in Florida. Each place has its pros and cons, but I can say that I left my heart in San Diego and dream of going back one day (although that will probably never happen). My degree is in Communication from San Diego State University, and my resume holds a gamut of jobs from Life Guard to Business Systems Analyst/Portfolio Manager, but books have always been my passion. I'm excited to finally merge my love of literature with my past professional experiences as a literary agent with Prospect. It is my honor to help authors build successful, sustainable careers.
I fell in love with young adult books when my niece asked me to read with her and I remain devoted to YA of all genres. I am looking for characters who aren't afraid to stand up for their convictions and beliefs — whether they fight with their fists or their words. I'm also open to all genres of middle grade, and especially love stories that push the MG boundary by exploring topics that affect middle graders but aren't always broached in stories written for them. In the adult arena, I adore swoony romances, light sci-fi or fantasy, commercial fiction, and heartwarming — or heart wrenching — contemporaries. I'm always looking for unique voices, diverse perspectives, vivid settings, and stories that explore tough topics. Dark and edgy is totally okay too. Above all I'm looking for compelling characters who make me think in new ways, and laugh and cry, hopefully in the same story!
My clients know I'm ready to roll up my sleeves to help create the best books possible, from brainstorming at the idea stage all the way through submissions and beyond. I love attending conferences, and sharing my knowledge of the publishing industry. I am a member of the SCBWI, YARWA and RWA.  Twitter

Monday, July 16, 2018

Pitchwars Mentor 2018

I'm a Pitchwars mentor for the fifth year! I'll be looking at submissions in the adult age category and that's all I can tell you. You can find my Pitchwars bio here. It does list my favorite books as a hint. But surprise, I have a giveaway!

A couple of like-minded mentors have joined me in giving away their books to celebrate our inclusion as mentors. All you have to do is leave a comment on what Pitchwars means to you below and use the rafflecopter to enter. Make sure you use the rafflecopter as the rafflecopter will choose the random winner.

One winner will take home all the books. US resident only. Enter between now and July 19, 2018.

There is one free option to enter, but follow us on twitter for additional bonus options. Thanks and we can't wait to see your submission in August!

Now onto the books we are giving away:



Grudging by Michelle Hauck


A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo of Michelle Hauck's the Book of Saints trilogy that combines the grace of Ellen Kushner's Swordpoint with the esprit de corps of Django Wexler's Shadow Campaign series.
A world of chivalry and witchcraft…
and the invaders who would destroy everything
The north has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.
On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.
The Women of the Song.
But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.




Planetside by Michael Mammy


A seasoned military officer uncovers a deadly conspiracy on a distant, war-torn planet…
War heroes aren't usually called out of semi-retirement and sent to the far reaches of the galaxy for a routine investigation. So when Colonel Carl Butler answers the call from an old and powerful friend, he knows it's something big—and he's not being told the whole story. A high councilor's son has gone MIA out of Cappa Base, the space station orbiting a battle-ravaged planet. The young lieutenant had been wounded and evacuated—but there's no record of him having ever arrived at hospital command.
The colonel quickly finds Cappa Base to be a labyrinth of dead ends and sabotage: the hospital commander stonewalls him, the Special Ops leader won't come off the planet, witnesses go missing, radar data disappears, and that’s before he encounters the alien enemy. Butler has no choice but to drop down onto a hostile planet—because someone is using the war zone as a cover. The answers are there—Butler just has to make it back alive…

Los Nefilim by Teresa Frohock

Collected together for the first time, T. Frohock’s three novellas--In Midnight’s SilenceWithout Light or Guide, and The Second Death--brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between.
Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.
Lyrical and magical, Los Nefilim explores whether moving towards the light is necessarily the right move, and what it means to live amongst the shadows.







The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore


A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own in K. A. Doore's The Perfect Assassin, a breakout high fantasy for fans of Robin Hobb, Sarah J. Maas, and Brent Weeks
The assassins of Ghadid serve a higher power, dispensing justice in the shadows. Or so Amastan has been taught.
Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, fellow assassins are being killed off. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders. Even worse, the jaan of the murdered start roaming the dusty streets of Ghadid, restless spirits seeking any body to possess.
Time is running short, and Amastan must find this perfect assassin or become their next target.
Amazon (Giveaway is an ARC)






The Exiled King by Sarah Remy

Avani and Mal’s journey comes to its gripping conclusion in this final installment of the Bone Magic series by Sarah Remy
The desert has outgrown its boundaries…
The warriors of the sands have united for the first time. They are newly privy to the secret sidhe roads beneath mountains, the ones that used to keep the flatlands safe. And they are marching toward Wilhaiim with weapons of steel.
Wilhaiim is out of options…
King Renault’s choice is untenable: watch the flatlands fall, or work with Malachi Doyle in a secret gambit to revive Wilhaiim’s ancient mechanized guardians, the Automata. The Automata have a terrible, bloodied history, but Mal believes they are his kingdom’s only hope of survival.
Mal wavers on the edge of insanity…
Avani lives with Mal in her head, an unwilling witness to his increasing madness. Her nights are filled with dreams of darkness and despair, her days troubled by guilt and uncertainty. Her beloved Goddess draws distant as Mal’s influence takes its toll. And as the bloodshed, brutality, and loss multiples, she and Mal will learn that determination is sometimes more potent than sorcery…and that the greatest sacrifices are often inescapable.



The Rogue Retrieval by Dan Koboldt

Sleight of hand... in another land.

Stage magician Quinn Bradley has one dream: to headline his own show on the Vegas Strip. And with talent scouts in the audience wowed by his latest performance, he knows he's about to make the big-time. What he doesn't expect is an offer to go on a quest to a place where magic is all too real.
That's how he finds himself in Alissia, a world connected to ours by a secret portal owned by a powerful corporation. He's after an employee who has gone rogue, and that's the least of his problems. Alissia has true magicians...and the penalty for impersonating one is death. In a world where even a twelve-year-old could beat Quinn in a swordfight, it's only a matter of time until the tricks up his sleeves run out.
Scientist and blogger Dan Koboldt weaves wonder, humor, and heart into his debut novel, The Rogue Retrieval. Fans of Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett will find this a thrilling read.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Query Questions with Naomi Davis of Bookends





After a short break to give me time away from my blog, Query Questions is back!

I hope to bring you many fresh interviews with agents from fresh agencies. Feel free to throw agent suggestions at me on twitter. 


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 series 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 other writing sites. They are the type of questions that you need answers from the real expert--agents!

Today we hear from an agent who has recently moved to Bookends, Naomi Davis with her answers to your questions about querying and information about her wishlist.


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

Lots of writers think that conference season is not a good time to query. I find this to not matter, personally. Everything goes into the pile and we work through our submissions when we have time. This can be on a plane, in a hotel, in front of the TV at home, or during work hours – it all depends on the agent and the schedule she sets for herself. While there may be times of year when an agent is quicker to respond, it would be a pretty rare and unwise thing for an agent to be like “This is book sounds excellent but it came in during July so NOPE!” If we’re particularly busy, it may take longer for us to get to it. My best advice is to follow agents on social media and watch for MSWL posts that indicate the agent is hungry for a new project.



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

There are many queries I see that clearly do not fit my wishlist. These I will reject based on the query itself. But when a project is within the genres I’m seeking, I base my decision on the writing sample probably 95% of the time.



How open are you to writers who have never been published?

Completely open. While I love to see queries from established authors and writers who are pursuing their careers independently through writing groups, social media presence, and shorter publications, I’m always hopeful that a debut author will be an undiscovered wonder I get to work with from the start!



The dreaded rhetorical question in a query. Are they as taboo as the rumors say?

You’ll find some agents vehemently opposed to these. I recognize that constructing a query is an art in itself, and I try to look for the story within the query, not just the way this is executed. Personally: I don’t immediately reject a project for any petty reason like this, but as a general rule, the fewer reasons you give agents to reject your book, the more manuscript requests you might receive.



How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query? Are movie/tv reference okay as comp titles?

They are important because they help us envision positioning on bookshelves and the target audience, which helps us strategize our own submission lists. While I do like to see them, I’d rather see an accurate comp title than see an author trying to force a label on their project when it doesn’t really fit. Yes, I like to see movie/tv comps – in fact I encourage creative comping, too, such as inserting familiar characters into other settings for a comp. “If Harry Potter was forced to navigate the world of Ender’s Game…” sort of comps tell me a LOT more than “Fans of Divergent will love this story” comps. A comp should tell the agent as concisely as possible what familiar notes to expect from your novel.



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

I love when authors give me a personal note like “I loved your thread about worldbuilding on Twitter” – it tells me they probably have a clear grasp on what I do and do not want to see in a query. But it’s not required. Some of the strongest submissions I’ve read came from quick, to-the-point queries. I will caution that the more word space you spend talking about what you love about the story, the more reason you give us to skim. A personalized intro is fine but then do get to the point so we can form our own opinions.



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

I receive no fewer than 200 queries a month – usually closer to 300 or more. Of these, I typically request 20-40 manuscripts. It’s hard to break it down by week because when I post a #MSWL Tweet or two, I tend to get bombarded with queries. So to tie back in to your earlier question about when is a good time to query: I don’t post those Tweets unless I want my inbox SLAMMED. 😊



How do you feel about writers nudging on full/partial requests? At what point is it appropriate?

It’s appropriate once we have exceeded the recommended time frame on our submissions pages on our websites. Not before then unless you have an offer from another agent or publisher. It DOES annoy me when authors nudge after a week or two – this industry is full of waiting, so get used to it at this early stage!
   


When a writer nudges with an offer, what length of time is helpful to give you enough time to consider? A week? Two weeks?

Two weeks is definitely preferred. You want to be able to consider all possible offers, right? Don’t rush this – the first agent who offered isn’t necessarily the right agent for you. And if they ARE the best fit agent, they will be willing to wait in the best interest of your career. Your agent should be the one you can trust to respect your decisions about these big issues and support your total career direction. But when choosing that agent, make sure you feel good about communicating with them editorially and strategically, too. We often give guidance about which project to tackle next or which project to NOT submit at a certain stage, and trust is essential in those situations.
  


If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested? Does it make a difference if the changes are from an R&R with another agent?

Only nudge us with a revision if the material was requested and already sent. We know authors often continue to improve a story through the query stage. Otherwise, upon receiving a request, just indicate in your response that the material has been revised since the initial query, and send along an updated query if the changes were significant enough to warrant that.
  


Do you look at trends or editor wishlists when deciding to sign a manuscript?

Yes, absolutely. So many agents and editors are actively watching readers on social media and seeing what works and what doesn’t work, and talking about these things with them and with each other. While I won’t sign a book for trend-only reasons (the writing has to be there too), knowing what editors want to read is a critical part of deciding whether a book has real sales potential or not. It’s always my goal to get the books editors want to read into their hands, so we can share an amazing story with readers!



Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent? Does a manuscript have to be sub-ready or will you sign stories that need work?

I am absolutely willing to work hands-on and editorially with a client – in fact it’s rare that I don’t have at least a few comments about the book’s execution - but there is a limit to this. If I have to teach an author basic writing skills, this isn’t the strongest use of my time. A manuscript has to have only a few writing hiccups that I can correct in a way I know the author will carry forward into their next projects, or an adjustment of plot arc/character direction that I can visualize and relay confidently. If it really needs a total overhaul, I’d have to LOVE the voice to take that on.



What is your biggest query pet peeve? Is there anything that automatically sinks a query for you?

Ohhh I don’t know if I want to answer this. There are indeed a few things. Believe it or not, I STILL get queries that compliment my physical appearance in the opening sentences. Do not do this. I can look like a Tolkien Uruk-Hai and still sell your book. Don’t start our working relationship off this way; make it clear you value me for my skills in this industry.

Aside from that, while I won’t reject a query for simple typos or grammatical errors, if you ramble on in your query and cannot get to the point, I do question whether you know how to use words wisely.

OH or if you say to me, “I know you said on Twitter that you’re not looking for X, but I really think you should give X a chance…” This shows blatant disregard for my opinion and again does not start our working relationship off on the right foot.



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

Adult fantasy
Adult sci fi
YA sci fi/fantasy
But I can’t stress enough that I am active on Twitter and sharing what I do and do not want to see in these genres in great detail. These genres are BOUNDLESS. Give me totally new interpretations of these genres, and do not let what you’ve read in the past cramp your creativity. Take risks, break molds, try new things. Bring me something I’ve never seen before, done in a way I wasn’t expecting, and I’ll take that chance with you.


________________________________________________________

Authors have always been Naomi Davis's superheroes. Growing up in Minnesota, she spent her elementary years pretending she was every character in every book she read. Now a mother, gardener, and beekeeper, Naomi loves meeting readers everywhere she goes and finding out what makes them love the books that sweep them away. A life-long writer and author-fanatic, she has a mild to moderate obsession with slippers, and sings in two philharmonic choirs.

Naomi's first steps into the world of publishing came in grade nine, when she was invited to job-shadow the Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper. She then tip-toed into the world of journalism, having an article published by a magazine in her senior year of high school. Since then, her joy in the literary industry has taken many forms: blogging, critiquing, and writing fiction. Naomi has a passion for helping authors develop stakes, voice immersion, and tension to a story's highest possible potential, and often tweets about strategies for accomplishing those goals on her Twitter @NaomisLitPix

After five years with Inklings Literary Agency, Naomi is elated to join the Bookends team and grow her client list. She seeks dynamic, character-driven middle grade, adult, and young adult titles in fantasy, sci-fi, and romance. LGBTQ+ elements and diversity in all fiction are a particular plus, and Naomi will consider picture books featuring those elements. Naomi is particularly passionate about finding new fantasy and sci-fi settings with unique magical structures that surprise the reader and change the rules readers associate with those worlds.