August, 2010

How to send Requested Materials

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Okay, just another quick post today. 
For the most part, requested partials and fulls will be sent via email, so this post is probably irrelevant–minus the cover letter.  However, there will come a time when you will need to send via “snail” mail.
So, you’ve perfected your query and you’ve gotten a request for a partial, or even better, a full.  Now what?
You take one more glance through your manuscript, looking for typos.  You don’t need to rush this, just take your time.  Chances are you’re going to miss things anyway.  But, if you even catch one that slipped by your beta readers and you, you’ll be golden. 
Don’t take too long though, no more than a day for partials or 3 days for a full.  While agents/editors don’t expect to get the manuscript the next day, they don’t want to be kept waiting either.  They’ll begin to wonder why it took so long!  Note:  There are exceptions, but that’s a post for another day.
Okay, so they’ve requested the partial/full and you’ve done your run-through, now you need to draft your cover letter, which is basically the same thing as your query, but it reminds them they’ve requested your manuscript and what it’s about.
Here’s usually what I used:
Dear Agent:
Thank you for requesting the partial/full of my manuscript, TITLE. I am pleased to enclose it, along with a synopsis (only include the synopsis if requested).
(Include the synopsis from your query here.)
I truly appreciate your taking the time to read it.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,
Then you print it and the requested amount of pages up, grab two more blank pages to put on top and on bottom of the pile to protect your pages, and secure them with a rubber band.  I always used two.  One to go lengthwise and another going widthwise, so it forms an X in the middle of the paper.
Then, I include a SASE and take it to the post office.  I usually secured the SASE with a paper clip to the cover letter, which so it didn’t get lost.
Now here’s the tricky part.  How do we send it? 
Well, remember, it doesn’t matter how fast it gets there.  There’s no need to send it overnight.  Save some money and use a priority flat rate envelope/box.  They’re red, FYI. 
There’s no real difference between boxes and envelopes.  The paper envelopes are plenty big enough for your whole manuscript, but they might end up being dinged up.  If you use a box, they might slide around during transport and get dinged up that way.  So don’t think too hard about this one.  Just pick one and stick your stuff inside it.
Then grab delivery confirmation, it’s the bright green one.  It will let you know the package arrived, but they won’t have to sign for anything.  That way they don’t have to come to the post office to get it, and you know it got there safely.
If you’ve done this right, it shouldn’t cost more than $10 (at the time of this writing) to send this along.
For email, it’s pretty much the same.  Include the cover letter in the body, attach the requested materials and send following the agent’s guidelines.
And there you have it.  Now all you have to do is wait for your manuscript to do its work. 
Good luck!

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Interview with agent Natalie Fischer

>I know I’ve already posted this, but I wanted to give it it’s own page.  I’m pretty sure she deserves it!  I’ve also updated information and added links for you to reach her more easily, should you be interested.

Natalie M. Fischer is a Literary Agent and office assistant at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. She started as an intern at the Agency in 2007, after which time she left to write author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune. Finding that journalism was just not for her, she returned to work full-time at the Dijkstra Agency in April 2009, and started building her own client list in September of that same year.

Read a typical day in Natalie’s work-life here!

Natalie is actively seeking new clients, and is especially interested in talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. Her specialty is commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-YA/Teen), romance (contemporary and historical), historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy in YA or romance only, fairy-tale/legend spin-offs, and “beautiful dark” novels. She will also consider select memoir (has to be really unique) and that amazing project she never even knew she was looking for! She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, good grammar, and fantastical, engaging and sexy plots.

The Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency is one of the most respected literary agencies in the United States. With over 150 authors based around the world, SDLA represents an impressive client roster, which is both selective and eclectic. Founded in the early 1980’s, the Agency has helped guide the illustrious careers of many best-selling authors across a broad spectrum of genres, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Lisa See, Melinda Long, Janell Cannon, Diane Mott Davidson, Peter Irons, David Landes, Mike Davis, Chalmers Johnson and Susan Faludi, among others.

Read more about the agency on their website, and follow Natalie on Twitter @Natalie_Fischer!

Want additional info on Natalie?

Agent Spotlight
Teens Writing for Teens Interview
Let the Words Flow Interview

And for kicks, a cheat-sheet of tricky grammar (so you don’t blow your submission!).

Bio and picture courtesy of Natalie’s website. 

JS:  How did you become an agent?
NF:  By writing and interning. By writing, I learned what the heck an agent was, and by interning at the agency for two years and doing first reads and edits for romance agent Kevan Lyon (now of Marsal Lyon Literary), I learned exactly what an agent does. After starting a position here at the Dijkstra Agency in 2009 and getting the green light in September to start building my own list, I was an agent!
JS:  Tell us about a recent project you’ve sold.  (You can skip this one if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it.)
NF:  Most recent project was a lovely, lovely picture book, called RED IS A CHILI PEPPER (title pending). It’s quite an inspiring story, actually, how this one came about. The manuscript was sent in to the editor last SEPTEMBER, and, only last MARCH did she have time to really read and decide she loved it! It can take quite a while for things to happen in this business (especially in children’s literature), so don’t give up!
JS:  Are there any books coming out now that have you excited?
NF:  Oy, I just want to catch up with my already-purchased reading before I even think about this question. I have a two-foot pile next to my desk of MUST reads, and a bookshelf of unread books to read…eventually.
JS:  What are you looking for right now when tackling the slush pile?
NF:  RIGHT NOW at this moment, I’m looking for well-written, steamy romances (I’d love to find a time-travel romance, or a GOOD Regency or Victorian, or something like Jude Deveraux’s TEMPTATION) and REALLY unique fantasy/sci-fi YA. As in, not just a spin off, but in a whole class of its own. Also, well-written, well-plotted historical fiction.
JS:  What are you sick of seeing in queries that come across your desk?
NF:  Vampire novels, adult chick lit, “this is exclusive” even though we’re a no response if not interested agency, rhetorical questions, typos, a FANTASTIC premise that isn’t well-executed, pictures, abuse memoirs, and really, anything that makes me go “ick.”
JS:  Name three things that make you stop reading every time they crop up in a submission.
NF:
1.     Word count 100,000 or over
2.     Present tense (this is SO hard to do in my opinion)
3.     Whiney, bratty, snotty, or rude characters (snarky is ok)
JS:  How do you know when you’ve got “the one” sitting in front of you?
NF:  If I’ve read it and I want to write back to the author at one o’clock in the morning OMG but have to restrain myself to remain professional.
JS:  Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
NF:  The next event I have scheduled is a panel at the Ventura Book Festival in July, and after that I’ll be at the Society of Southwestern Authors’ Conference in AZ. Staying pretty local for a while.
JS:  Do you have any advice on how writers can maximize their success in this changing industry?
NF:  Keep reading. The best way to soak in what you want to write is to read it, see what’s out there and what’s working. Stay tuned to discussions on Twitter, blogs, etc. And keep on persevering.
JS:  What is something about you writers would be surprised to hear?
NF:  I’m pretty “superstitious,” you might say. Any time I pass a patch of clovers I look for a four-leafed one (my five-leaf clover is taped to my computer). I believe in gut “feelings” and intuition, like to consult the online magic-eight ball on occasion (though, so far, it hasn’t really been all that reliable), and am a through-and-through Cancer. I also keep thinking of these fantastic ideas for novels that I’m never going to write. L
I’d also like to add that I’m pretty approachable. I know most agents and editors scare the bejeebes out of writers, but really, we’re just over-caffeinated book nerds like you. I hate getting calls about submissions, but emailed questions I’m always happy to answer. 
And I’m obsessed with SUPERNATURAL. And cats.
JS:  Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
NF:  One of my favorite quotes comes from Lady Gaga, speaking to her younger self: “Don’t give up bitch; you’ve got a long way to go.”
JS:  How hands-on are you in terms of editing? How much input do you expect to have with your clients’ work?
NF:  I’m pretty well known as a hands-on agent. I expect any client I sign to be open to suggestion, and I always discuss this upfront. I don’t expect to re-write a book, and I also expect to have to back off if the writer absolutely feels that what I’m suggesting is not best for their work. I really enjoy a collaborative working relationship.
JS:  Best way for writers to submit to you?
NF:  Hard copy, unless requested, then by email. Submission guidelines are available at www.dijkstraagency.com   (NOTE:  Natalie is now accepting email submissions.  You can send them to nfsubmissions@dijkstraagency.com ONLY.  Please send query, synopsis, and the first 15 pages in the BODY of the email.)
Bonus Question: What is your favorite way to relax on a warm summer’s eve?
NF:  Drink wine and play Pictionary with a small group of good friends.

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Thankful Thursday

>Hey all.  I lied yesterday when I said I was going to do a post on how to send fulls/partials.  It will have to wait until Monday, because I’m blogging over at Oasis for YA.  So check them out instead!  Also, if you haven’t heard I’ll be mentoring a few authors at the Adventures in Children’s Publishing blogsite.  This week we’re working on short pitches.  Why don’t you head over there and leave a few comments for these awesome authors?  I’m sure they’d be appreciative.

In other news, I’ll be part of a blog tour starting Sept 2.  In preparation for my friend, Jordan Deen‘s release of her sequel, which I’ve had the pleasure of reading and think you will LOVE, she’s having a blog tour scavenger hunt.  Complete with AWESOME prizes.  Go check out her website for details. 

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To Nudge or Not to Nudge. That is the question.

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Okay my fine friends, just a quick post today.  I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about response times and when to nudge.  I guess they figure I should know since I made it through the gauntlet of agents.  LOL.  Yeah.  Uh.  Hate to tell you this, but…all agents are different.  😉
However, I can give you a few pointers.  The worst time to query in regards to response times is the summer. Now I’m not suggesting to not send just before or during the summer months, I’m just letting you know to not expect a response until well after school starts.  And then they’ll still move in order of “first come, first serve.”
If you sent a query in May, the time to START looking for a response is late September to early October. For a partial or full, start looking around mid- to late October.
For the rest of the year, here’s a pretty good timetable (obviously these only reply to agents/agencies that don’t have a no response=no policy):
Query only:  4-8 weeks.  It’s okay to nudge after this time has passed.  Then once more after another month has passed.  If they still don’t respond they are probably not interested.
Partial:  3 months minimum. Follow the same pattern as above, but I’d say you should be able to status query a total of 3 times.  It is a partial after all.  Unless, of course, that partial was a part of that initial query stage.
Full:  6 months minimum with the same status query pattern.  Once a month after the initial nudge for a total of 3 nudges.
Obviously, this was just my pattern and something else may work better for you, but you don’t want to go overboard and look like you’re a prima donna or high maintenance, so status query with discretion. 
Also, I would think it okay to nudge once on a no response=no agent/agency.  Sometimes things happen and things get lost in the transit.  So I always suggest getting a confirmation from the post office for snail mail.
Join me tomorrow where I’ll talk about how to send that requested full/partial. 

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We have a WINNER!!!

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And the winner of the long awaited and highly anticipated third novel in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, MOCKINGJAY is (DRUM ROLL PLEASE):

Ezmirelda! 

Thank you all for participating.  I hope you continue to follow me as I’ve got some more really great things planned in the coming weeks.  However, I’ll be rerunning posts for the next few days as I plan on diving into my own copy of MOCKINGJAY starting…NOW!  LOL.  I’ll have my review posted (I promise NO SPOILERS) ASAP.

And for, Ezmirelda, I’m already on my way to the post office (Well, you’ve got to email me your address first  :D).  Please email it to j.souders (at) jasouders (dot) com.  Obviously replace at with @ and dot with  . but I’m sure you knew that already.  Hopefully, it’ll arrive post haste and you’ll be on your way to reading Katniss’ last adventure soon.

And for those that didn’t win, we have another awesome contest here.  To win an autographed copy of THE BROKEN LAKE!!!  Go. Now.  Sign up to win.  😀

Also, keep spreading the word about my blog site.  Once I get to 500 followers I’ll be giving away some more books and when I get to 1,000 I’ll be giving away an amazon gift certificate!!

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