Tuesday, April 29, 2008


We rejected a manuscript today. It was a well-written piece of women's fiction.

Question: We put SO much time into this. Read the query; loved it. Read the partial. Ditto. Read the entire manuscript. Why did we turn it down?

Long Answer: We hated the characters. There was nothing to hang onto. They were simply awful women.

Think back to your school days. Remember the gorgeous girl who seemed to want to be your friend? You were pleased and flattered. She was smart, beautiful, funny and had lots of other friends. Then you really got to know her. You saw the cruel trick she played on the fat girl in algebra. You heard her lie to the teacher. You saw her cheat on every test. You even saw the nasty note she wrote about you! You began to dislike her very much and soon you moved on to a new circle of friends.

That's how this book made me feel. It's women's fiction. Ya' gotta' give me something to love, people!

BUT on a positive note--We took on a new author today. The book is funny, sweet, and fabulous. It concerns golf, the 60s and a dog with great power. I'll tell you more about this project in weeks and months to come, but let me just say, reading this manuscript was a pure delight. I've been chuckling all day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Jon and I designed our literary agency to run parallel with our ongoing book publicity firm, KT Public Relations. When we began this blog our intention was to show how the two businesses ebb and flow. However, up to now, we really haven't shared what the publicity side entails. So here goes--life in the other side of the office.

I handle most of the publicity. Jon takes off his agent's hat and helps in a crunch--crunch defined as a big mailing or any nasty projects that involve meeting the UPS man out front and hauling heavy boxes in. He also acts as editor to make sure that everything I write gets a second look before it goes out.

This week I'm concentrating on several projects:

1. My ongoing and longtime client, Jane Kirkland, award-winning children's nature book author. In days to come I'll tell you more about Jane, a successful self-published author who makes it look easy. (It's not.) Jane's latest projects include her first book for educators, No Student Left Indoors: Creating a Field Guide to Your Schoolyard and her first FREE book for kids, Take A Cloud Walk which you can download at her website. I line up lots of school programs for Jane and we're now trying to find sponsors for her. If you know of any product or business that would benefit from being affiliated with a green, kid-and-nature-oriented author, let me know!

2. A new book entitled Fully Fertile: A Holistic 12-Week Plan for Optimal Fertility by Chicago-based authors Tamara Quinn, Elisabeth Heller & Jeanie Lee Bussell. We're mailing review copies and pushing for national television and radio. This book will be a godsend for many women. Find out more about the book and authors here.

3. A forthcoming book, Pennsylvania's Forbes Trail: Gateways and Getaways along the Legendary Route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh published just in time to celebrate the Trail's 250th anniversary and the 250th anniversary of Pittsburgh. Great fun, great book.

4. Books from Visible Ink Press including American Murder: Criminals, Crime, and the Media. Oooooo!

That's just a start. Stay tuned for more tales of Frantic in Fogelsville: How Two Mature Book Publicists Pursued their Love of Books into a New Era.

Labels: Publicity

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I've been trying to make a dent in the emailed queries this morning while Jon sequesters himself in the back room reading snail mail queries and chapters.

The emailed queries are non-stop and I really do my best to give them all a fair read. The hard truth is that only a few of the queries are unique and well-written enough to merit a request for a partial. Most are simply not for us for oh-so-many-reasons. But a few are almost there and they break my heart. Early on I tried to personalize some of the responses to the "almost theres," but found these gestures generated more responses and questions than I could handle. So now, a no is simply a no.

Some queries are easy to reject. They stop me in my tracks and force me to send our "boiler plate" response. I've talked about this before, but here are:

The Top Five Ways to Make Sure your Emailed Query
is Rejected and Deleted by Us

5. Tell us your book has been published by Author House.
4. In the opening paragraph give us your life story, none of which relates to your writing career.
3. Tell us that you are a fan of all of our clients and their works. (We really don't have that many yet.)
2. Send your query as an attachment.
1. Send your query to us and every other agent in the world and include all our names in the "TO" line.*

*Jon disagrees with this. He says he WILL read the query with lots of agent's names in the TO line. He says the value is in the query itself and he's not as picky as I am about gang submissions. His number 1 is my number 2. He deletes attachments immediately and does not read them. Nor do I.

So, even in our little world, there are many ways to do things. Go figure.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Jon and I were out the door before 7 AM this morning to take our traditional "walk to the polls." It's primary day in PA and ever since we've been self-employed, we've made it a tradition to walk the two miles through the woods and down to the bustling berg of Fogelsville to cast our votes.

It was a perfect morning--after all, it IS Earth Day as well as primary day. The little dirt road behind our neighborhood snakes along a trickling stream and through dense woods. The birds were doing their best to drown out the drone of traffic you begin to hear as you near the Interstate that borders Fogelsville. At the end of the dirt road is a small farm pond surrounded by wetlands. We often see a Great Blue Heron and kingfisher feeding there and ducks and geese stop by frequently for a brief hiatus. We did see the kingfisher as well as red winged blackbirds, woodpeckers, robins and assorted sparrows, finches, juncos, crows and vultures. We saw a few cars and a pedestrian or two as we finished our walk to the Fogelsville Fire Company, our district's polling place.

In "the old days" we used to vote in the Fire Company garage, right there with the fire trucks. That was most cool and very exciting. Today, we vote upstairs in the big room where they serve banquets and have chicken and waffle (yes, that's right) dinners. (Note: It shocked us no end when we moved here from the West many years ago. "Chicken and waffles?" we cried. "Ugh." But our 1-year-old son taught us to shut up and eat. He loved the stuff.)

We signed in, got our "voting cards" and cast our ballots using the new electronic machines. It doesn't take long at all to vote in Fogelsville. We were back home in about an hour after we left, refreshed by the exercise and the process of voting.

Now, back to the queries, chapters and manuscripts.

Friday, April 11, 2008


It's official. "Our" author Patrice Sarath has just launched her gorgeous new website!

Patrice's novel, to be published by Ace Books in July, is Gordath Wood, a contemporary fantasy adventure about a girl, a horse, and a mysterious place in the woods where time gets wrinkled.

If you're intrigued, go to Patrice's site (www.patricesarath.com) and read the first three chapters. You'll also find Patrice's blog and other information about the life of a sci-fi/fantasy writer.

The site is gorgeous.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I really enjoy reading Sid Leavitt's "Readers and Writers Blog."

Leavitt has created a virtual coffee house for writers to post their work, read others' work and catch up on publishing news. His current post on writing leads is priceless.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Just discovered an intriguing blog here.

"Literary Rejections on Display" is a smart and sassy look at the uphill climb writers face. Take a look!

Friday, April 4, 2008


I've blogged on the romance/agenting business before--it still works. Agenting involves unrequited (and requited) love, passion, rejection, abandonment and loss--and bliss. Bliss comes in many forms. When we started our literary agency, we thought we were pretty smart. After all, between us, we have over 30 years in various aspects of the publishing business. We are avid readers. We know the difference between good books and bad. How hard could it be to read queries, chapters, and manuscripts; find the "flowers"; pitch them to editors; sell them?

We were blissfully ignorant of just how hard it really is. We were in love with the work--success would follow!

We blissfully read the incoming material, falling in love too fast. Saying, "Yes! Send us the partial.....Sure, send us the manuscript!" Sometimes we even said, "Let's do it! Let's work together." We fell in love, in some cases too easily.

The reality of this romance is that it's a tough business, a business about SELLING. We may love a book, but if we can't find the right editor, we're all dead in the water.

But, we're learning. We know that the editors have to be totally convinced that our book can make a good showing or they won't take it on. Each house has its own formula for determining that, and it's up to us to learn those formulas and to learn what each editor wants. The result is that, like a disappointed lover, we aren't nearly as much fun as we used to be. Like you, we get rejected frequently by editors and it's awful. To prevent that, our goal is to become much more picky about what we take on and much more educated about who takes what at the publishing houses.

We are saying "yes," to authors very infrequently. And we're taking on new clients very slowly. Our mantra is, "It's better to reject a query than to reject a partial. It's better to reject a partial than to reject a manuscript. And, if we're rejecting manuscripts, we need to rethink our strategy."

So, what's the upshot of this romance? You need to work harder to write books that editors will want. We need to stop wasting your time and to bring on only those books we KNOW we can sell. After that? BLISS.