Archive for the ‘Chuck Sambuchino’ Tag

If You Missed the WB Live Chat on Query and Agent-Related Support . . .

Last night, the Write-Brained Network hosted its first live chat since moving back to Ning.

The topic was broad—query and agent-related support—but we kept a good convo going.

The gist . . .

One of the reasons we chose this particular topic for the chat was because of a question a Write-Brainiac had: How do you know know when to heed an agent’s advice in terms of making changes to your manuscript? This particular writer was talking about when one gets a personalized rejection—not when one gets an editorial letter or something, etc.

Some of the suggestions from the group:

  • Always. An agent knows what sells and what will make your book more salable. That is why you are querying an agent in the first place.
  • When the feedback resonates with you.

As we talked, I extended this idea of resonating to not just agent feedback, but for all feedback you receive—be it from betas, crit partners, your writing group, your mom, agents, or editors.

As I have been preparing to query myself (and, therefore, getting lots of feedback on my manuscript from multiple sources), I have thought much on this subject.

It seems like, at least for me, whenever I write something, I have certain insecurities with it—things that tug at my guts a little, and I’ll think, “If this scoots past X, Y, and Z betas, then it must be okay.” Many times, those are the things X, Y, and Z betas mention as items to change, cut, condense, or expand.  So, when I get their feedback, it resonates—and I know it’s not just my writerly insecurities being all OCD. (Sometimes that is the case, however!)

On the topic of resonating . . .

Sometimes you’ll get feedback that you never would have considered or recognized yourself.  (This is why you need to get feedback, people!)  It’s a subjective business, and sometimes someone will come up with a killer idea or ask a question that spawns a twist you hadn’t anticipated—but that is a good problem to have.  If it resonates, if you can see how incorporating the suggestion would make the book better, then, I say, do it!

More from the chat . . .

Another Write-Brainiac asked about nonfiction books and whether or not the writer should secure the rights to photographs prior to querying agents, or if that is the agent’s job.

This was a bit of a stumper.  We discussed it as best we could—I gave some suggestions based on what I know of related situations, but none of us pretended to be experts in this area.  If you *are*, please leave advice in the comments!

My immediate response to this was that, the closer a writer comes to having everything in place before he queries, the more professional and “together” the writer will appear to the agent.  Less work for the agent = happier agent, etc.

However, I can also see where this might not be the case.

Related(ish) examples . . .

Children’s author Gail Langer Karwoski spoke at the Southeastern Writers Association conference last summer about something similar, regarding the writer/author relationship:

  • Most picture books begin with the story, unless you have a legal relationship with the illustrator (it’s you, your relative, your spouse).
  • If there’s no legal relationship and you’re trying to suggest an illustrator in your proposal, it’s like a siren screaming “AMATEUR” (=rejection).
  • Many times, pub houses will pair a newer author with a more established illustrator to increase the book’s chances of selling.
  • If you can do both (you don’t just “doodle”), you should; just make sure your proposal is professional.
  • Many agents want author/illustrators (because it’s less people to pay and more of a cut of the money for them).

Also, I know that, when my Writer’s Digest Books editor, Chuck Sambuchino, wrote his Gnomes book—which is a nonfiction, humor book—he wasn’t expected to have the photos with it.  The publisher, Ten Speed Press, chose photographers to take pictures, and Chuck and his agent were able to pick their favorite from there.  (I also understand that the author having a say in that kind of thing isn’t common.)

Along the lines of securing rights, if there are specific photos you want and *you* are taking them (and there’s a reason you are the only one who can take said photos), I believe you technically already own the rights to them, as soon as the picture is snapped.  Same thing with writing.  Yes, you can register something with the U.S. Copyright office, but you actually “own” something as soon as you write it.

However, the WBer with the question was actually asking about photos of a structure that no longer exists—so it’s not as though new photos can be taken of it.  From what I know and what I’ve read*, my instincts lead me back to my initial answer—that the writer should have the rights secured before querying the agent.

Anything to add?

*Helpful copyright articles from the Guide to Literary Agents blog:

**Not a Write-Brainiac yet?  Click here to get started.

***For more with Karwoski, click here and here.

Pointers from the Pros: Chuck Sambuchino Talks Pitching Agents in Person

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.*

I attended the 38th annual Society of Southwestern Authors’ Wrangling with Writing conference in Tuscon, Ariz., in September.  Although I couldn’t go to all the faboo sessions being offered, I took a ton of notes at those I was lucky enough to attend—and I’m sharing some of those tips with my lovely blog readers. (Thanks for being so fabulous, BTW!)

Here is what Guide to Literary Agents editor and Class-1 Gnome-Slayer Chuck Sambuchino had to say in “Pitching Agents in Person”:


WHAT IT IS & HOW IT WORKS

  • Essentially, you’re reading your query letter out loud—except you’re not actually reading it. Have it memorized.
  • You should be done in 60 sec. Generally, this gives them time to ask questions, etc.
  • You pitch can be anywhere from 3-10 sentences.
  • A pitch is NOT a synopsis.  He points to the backs of DVD boxes, Netflix descriptions, and book jacket flap covers as examples of short pitches yours should emulate.

DO

  • Introduce yourself and state any connections you might have to the agent right away.
  • It’s not like a query letter pitch, where they can read things again if it’s confusing, so be as clear as possible.
  • Give the logline first (a one-sentence description of your manuscript so they understand what it is right away) Then, you can go into the details.
  • State the genre, word count—especially if it’s appropriate to your genre—the title, and that it’s complete.
  • Start with your main character. He says sometimes there is a tendency for writers (especially in sci-fi/fantasy—really, anything with a lot of worldbuilding in it) to begin with setting, but he urges you to start with the main character (MC) and get to the inciting incident.  This propels your book forward—gives the conflict. What goes wrong? Every story is about something going wrong, he says.
  • Show the arc of the character in the pitch—we need to see the character changing.
  • Introduce the antagonist as well.  Show how the MC and antag clash.
  • If you are unsure of your genre, just take a stab at it. Sometimes agents will see your book in a different genre than you anyway.
  • Make sure the agent you’re pitching reps the kind of project you are pitching.
  • After the pitch, then get to the bio stuff—organizations you are part of, previous publications, awards, etc.  If you’ve ever been paid to write, say it—if you don’t have any previous publications, just don’t say anything about that.  They should be interested enough in your book without that stuff (the bio stuff), so don’t stress if you don’t have it.  The important thing is to mention whatever you have done quickly and humbly.
  • Memorize your pitch, but make it more conversational.  Agents are people.  It’s awkward if you just read something or rattle off something you’ve memorized.
  • Pitch them one project.

DON’T

  • Don’t give away the ending.  A pitch is designed to pique interest.  The agent *could* ask for the ending, after your pitch, but don’t offer it unless they’ve asked.
  • Don’t say it’s a series unless they ask.
  • Don’t be general (“highs and lows”—“twists and turns”—“circumstances out of their control”—“sequence of events”).  Give them something specific and concrete. (In his book, Save the Cat, the late screenwriter Blake Snyder talks about the “promise of the premise”when you say what the story is about, scenes pop into the audience’s head—you guess what will happen.  Chuck says, make your pitch delivers on these things.)
  • Don’t talk about your themes.  These should shine through. (Show vs. tell)
  • Don’t hand the agent anything.
  • Don’t spend time on names & quirks of secondary characters.  You don’t want to bog them down with details.
  • Don’t sing it!
  • Don’t mention movie adaptations—that it’s going to be a mega hit, NYT bestseller, etc.

NONFICTION PITCHES

  • These tend to be dry—they’re not designed to be entertaining.  So, talk about what makes the book unique or memorable.
  • You HAVE to have platform here. Who are you? What have you done? Why are you the person to write this book? Are you an expert in the field? A speaker? Do you have leadership roles with something connected to the subject matter? Previous publications?
  • When pitching memoir, try not to focus on the sad details too much.  Show how it can transcend to more than just people with that experience only.  Show it’s a story about X,  but it’s more than that. It can reach more of an audience.

QUESTIONS FROM THE CLASS

Q: Should you say it’s similar to a bestseller?

A: It’s tricky. If you do, avoid all the clichés—(Harry Potter, Twilight, The DaVinci Code, Eat Pray Love).  It’s probably better to say it’s X meets Y.  However, this can come off as kind of egotistical as well, depending on what you’re comparing it to.

Q: Should you pitch a short story collection?

A: Generally, no.  If you have those, you’re better off networking with them at conference—getting your face in their memory for when you query them with it later.  While we’re at it, don’t pitch articles or poetry collections in-person either.

Q: What tense should the query be in?

A: Third-person, present tense for the pitch sentences.

Visit Chuck at the GLA blog or follow him on Twitter.

*Click here for more “Pointers from the Pros.”

In the Blogosphere: 10/18-11/12

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have tons of links saved, dating all the way back to the summer (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

AGENT STUFF

Here, author and D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard gives some spillage on some holes in the market as well as subgenres all editors want (hint: middle grade!).

Writer’s Relief talks lit agents—and how to find the best one for you.

Other than announcing he’s leaving the agenting world (!), Nathan Bransford has more bad news: the rejection letter of the future will be silence.

Here, FinePrint Literary’s Suzie Townsend chats about the waiting game.

We all know it’s important to build platform, but do unpubbed writers need to blog? Andrea Brown agent Mary Kole of Kidlit.com weighs in.

WRITING TIPS FROM COOL PEOPLE

Over on her blog, YA author Michelle Hodkin gives an ironic example of what your first pages should look like.* (Hint: if this is what your first pages actually look like, get that delete button ready!) *She also gives links to fabulous resources for fixing up those first pages.

Thinking of planning a trilogy?  Please don’t get started until you read this post by YA author (and my pal—hee!) Jodi Meadows.

Over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog, Chuck Sambuchino shares five screenwriting tips [from Neil Landau and Matt Frederick's 101 Things I Learned in Film School] *all* writers can use.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Ever wonder what full-time writers do all day?  Over at Writing it Out, Across the Universe author Beth Revis live-blogged a day in her busy writer life.

While we’re living vicariously through others, middle-grade author Stephanie Blake shares how she got plucked from the slush pile over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing.

GETTING READY

As you know, I’m a huge enthusiast of writers’ conferences.  Well, so is the University of Cincinnati and Writer’s Digest’s Jane FriedmanHere, she talks about the benefits of attending these functions.

Having trouble formatting your synopsis? Here’s a checklist of the essentials, from WD.

Going along with that, Write Anything’s Annie Evett talks about the importance of building a writer portfolio—how to, what to include, etc.

Worried you’ll lose your blog content? Guest blogger Peta Jenneth Andersen explains how, over at Guide to Literary Agents blog.

Nanu-nanu!

Over at Self Editing Blog, author John Robert Marlow talks about jumping the gun.

NANO-TASTIC!

You may be participating in this writing marathon, but you can still be healthy about it. Write Anything’s Annie Evett tells us how.

Here, YA author of awesome Maureen Johnson answers a slew of NaNo questions.

Here are some NaNo DOs and DON’Ts, courtesy of TerribleMinds.

And over at Write Anything, Andrea Allison offers some Web site aids to help you stick with it.

MORE COOL STUFF

I heart Meg CabotHere’s an interview L.A. Times’s Carolyn Kellogg of Jacket Copy did with the author extraordinaire this summer.

Um, coolest thing ever?  Make your Twitter feed into a daily newspaper!

And the Winner Is . . .

All those who entered my Sambuchinoriffic contest (commenting with a gnome pun on my review of Chuck Sambuchino’s How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack for a chance to win a critique by him), the results are in!

There were so many good ones, I let Random.org decide for me (I assigned each entrant a number and let the random number generator do its thing).

And the winner of either a query or a 5-page manuscript critique is . . .

Drum roll, please . . .

SHANNON SCHUREN!!!!!!

Her entry:

Does Chuck recommend using a gnome de plume when writing about this subject? For safety purposes, of course.

Hee!

So, congrats, Shannon!  Contact Chuck at literaryagent [at] fwmedia [dot] com to get going on your critique. Thanks for your participation, and I wish you luck with the crit.  :)

And thanks to all who wrote such crazytown gnome comments.  Such fun to read!  (Check them all out here.)

Big Pimpin': JRW, the WB & Contests

Sorry I slacked with the blogosphere post this week—but I was at James River Writers and having far too much fun to stress over it. I plan to get back into it this week for sheezy, though, so stay tuned.
Speaking of JRW, it was fan-freaking-tastic.  I met a horde of good folks and learned things like:
  • there are creepy weirdos on Twitter
  • Jefferson Davis is not, in fact, the same person as Abraham Lincoln

Yes, those are kind of inside jokes, but you see?  I made writer friends with whom they are inside jokes! So, YAY!

I learned one or two other things as well, and I will be sure to blog those in the coming weeks. ;)  But seriously, I was thrilled to have been a part of such a nice conference, and I’m even more excited that it’s within driving distance from good old H’burg!

PIMPAGE
In other randomosity, my Write-Brained Network is *just shy* of 100 members, and I would *love* it if we could get there . . . by the end of this week?**
Not for the lyrics-squeamish:

 

 

If you’ve been toying with the idea of checking it out or with getting involved with an online writing community, I hope you’ll give us a whirl.  It’s a great group of writers, who are always willing to help out one another.  We’ve got subgroups by geographical area and genre, forums, bloggity and linkerly (wha??) resources, monthly live chats, writing programs, a critique corner, contests, we’re planning an IRL workshop for 2011 (!) . . .  and just general awesomeness.

If you’re a write-brained individual, check us out—I mean, where else are you going to fit in society?  We’re all pretty much screwed, so we might as well stick together! :)

I promise not to become obnoxious with the pimpage, but if you join us and can assist in spreading the word, I’d def be grateful.

CONTESTS

Just a reminder, you’ve got until 11:59 PM EST on Friday, Oct. 15 to get your gnome puns in the comments of my review of Chuck Sambuchino’s How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.  The best one (winner chosen by me) will receive either a query or up to 5-page critique from the Class 1 gnome slayer himself.

If your entry doesn’t post for some reason, e-mail it to me at ricki [at] rickischultz [dot] com.

Also, don’t forget about the scary short story contest I’m hosting: Scare me in 1000 words or less. Click here for details.  I’ll be accepting entries until Sunday, Oct. 24, 11:59 PM EST.
Last, but not least, fellow Write-Brainiac Bridgid Gallagher and her cohorts are doing some awesome things over at Inky Fresh Press to celebrate their one-year blogiversary—including some prompt contests and a huge giveaway.  Click here for details.
She is always super fab about plugging the WB whenever she can, so I wanted to share the love.  *Huggleberry Finns, B!*
OK, Schultz out.
*What is the WB, you ask?  Click here for more info.

Book Review: Chuck Sambuchino’s ‘Gnomes’ Equips Readers with the Essentials

Chuck Sambuchino* is the master of guides. Since 2008, he’s given us Guide to Literary Agents (Writer’s Digest Books); now, he’s unleashed a new kind of guide—one that, he says, will save your life. In his aptly-named and recently-released How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will) (Ten Speed Press), he lays it out in the very first line:  Keep reading if you want to live.

What, you don’t think you’re at risk? Sambuchino disagrees—and whom are you going to believe, yourself or a Class 1 gnome slayer?

Yeah—that’s what I thought.

In Sambuchino’s easy-to-read handbook, he provides tips you never realized you needed to know in order to defend yourself in the event of an ambush of the lawn ornament variety.

 

What's he got behind his back? (Probably an axe.)

 

He has used his extensive garden gnome defense training to develop a foolproof four-step system (Assess, Protect, Defend, Apply), which will have you well on your way to total safety in just 106 pages.

Sambuchino not only equips readers with the proper tools to gnome-proof their homes and yards, but he also shines the light on the fact that these garden gnomes have infiltrated our world, down to well-known (and seemingly innocent) idioms (“gnomenclature”). The worst part is they’ve done so virtually undetected.

That’s what makes the little buggers so dangerous, he says. But fear not—it’s Sambuchino to the rescue.

 

The photographer's body was found three yards away. The horror! The horror!

 

I had no idea how much of a threat these pint-sized pests could be, but my eyes have been blasted open. I can now sleep much easier at night, after having acquired this knowledge, thanks to Sambuchino.

In the words of G.I. Joe, “knowing is half the battle.” The other half? Strategically placing weapons throughout the house and kicking some gnome ass.

From fashioning weapons out of household items to memorizing escape routes, you won’t find a more complete survival guide out there than Gnomes.

*For the most clever gnome pun left in the comments (winner chosen by moi), Sambuchino has generously offered to give a free critique of up to 5 pages of a manuscript or a query letter—so get commenting!  CONTEST ENDS OCTOBER 15 AT 11:59 PM EST.

Buy it here!

For more information on this book—and some life-saving tips, visit the official Gnomes blog.

To follow Sambuchino’s “ultra-nemesis,” Gnomevicious, click here. (Might be a good way to get an inside look at how these forces of evil think . . . )

In the Blogosphere: 8/23-9/3

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to June (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

I decided to do something a little different today.  I give you: FROM IDEA TO AGENTED IN 15 POSTS

NAME GAME

Before you can get that agent, that book deal, you must first—you know—write the thing.  And before you can do that, you want to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to make every detail as perfect for your story, your project, as you possibly can—from concept to execution.

And your characters’ names are no exception.  These take just as much care and thought as anything else in this process because they give readers certain connotations right away.

Do you think Stephenie Meyer chose “Bella Swan” by accident?  What if she had been Bella Swanson instead?  Katie Swan?  Bella Bwonton?  (<—Bwonton, incidentally, was the name I used for characters all the time when I was in grade school.  I have no idea where I got it or why, but it could have had something to do with my love for wonton soup . . . ).

What about Gretchen Bwonton?  Would the series have been as successful?  (Yes, because someone along the way would have made her change the name.)

Writer’s Digest to the rescue! (Thanks, guys!Here, Devyani Borade talks about this very thing and gives some great advice on how to pick the perfect names for your characters.

SCENE IT

Once you’ve figured that out, you want to make sure your manuscript is filled with memorable scenes.  Why have memorable characters in blah scenes?

Have no fear—Martina Boone of Adventures in Children’s Publishing is here to help!

THE QUERY STAGE

When your MS is looking fantawesome, you’ll want to tackle the next annoying hurdle—the synopsis.

Here, the Michelle-Andelman-repped Kate Hart uses Disney movies to help you boil down your book and make it less daunting.

Now that you have that pesky stuff out of the way, whom will you query?  The Michelle-Wolfson-repped Tawna Feske suggests stalking people (and it’s OK, she says, because all writers are stalkers :) ) in order to find your dream agent.

Once you’ve found him or her, tailored your query, and you’re about to e-mail it . . . you’ll want to clean up that formatting so your message doesn’t get all wonky from cutting and pasting.  Here, WD’s Chuck Sambuchino hands you a broom.

Once your first—and second—and third—form rejection rolls in, you might start screaming,“Why? Why?? Why can’t I get some detailed feedback???” Curtis Brown Ltd.’s Nathan Bransford tells you.

And once your skin is a bit thicker, Writer, Rejected suggests you make it a game.  This will probably save your sanity.

THROWING IN THE TOWEL

At some point, you’ll have enough of the game, and doubt will undoubtedly (<—see what I did there?) creep in.

kt literary’s Kate Schafer Testerman offers some tips on what to do when you fail.

Likewise, D4EO Literary’s Mandy Hubbard helps you decide when to give up (or not to).

A FRESH PAIR OF EYES

Perhaps all you need is some betas to give you some feedback, which can help you give the editing one more go . . . because perhaps you rushed the whole querying thing.

But what is a critquer’s responsibility?  Award-winning writer Jason A. Myers is here to tell you . . .

. . . and up-and-coming YA author Maurissa Guibord gives a “F.R.E.S.H.” perspective on the subject as well in her guest blog on Adventures in Children’s Publishing.

Once you’ve figured that out, Paulo Campos of yingleyangle suggests 20 questions you should ask your betas.

BLOGGING

While you wait for agents to recognize your genius, you blog.  A little platform building can’t hurt, right?

But then you wonder how to increase your readership, so you start reading other writing blogs—whoa!  There are other writing blogs?—and you start to wonder if people think you’re a blogging snob.

So Jody Hedlund helps you decide.

And you realize she’s right when Pat Flynn of Daily Blog Tips gives you five reasons you should respond to all your blog comments.

HUZZAH!

And then someone likes you!  They really like you! An agent offers representation!  And then another! And then . . . what do you do??

Here’s Andrea Brown’s Mary Kole on getting offers from multiple agents.

It’s all just that easy, right? ;)

Have a nice weekend, everyone—and I hope you’ll check out The Write-Brained Network!

Book Review: 2011 Guide to Literary Agents

With over 500 literary agency listings and its easy-to-navigate setup, the 2011 edition of Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents is the best resource out there for finding and landing your dream agent.

I might be *slightly* biased, being that my article on how to make the most of a writers’ conference adorns its pages—but that’s not the *only* awesome thing about this edition.

In addition to updating last year’s listings, Sambuchino also includes a horde of new agencies that have arrived on the publishing scene.  Likewise, the volume includes articles on everything from crafting query letters to what agents want.  Hope Clark’s piece on researching agents is a must-read as well.

We all know getting an agent is tough—so why not make it easier on yourself by picking up this book?

**Click here to check out the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

**Click here to see my agent interviews and guest columns on the GLA blog.

This Just In . . . Reasons to Squee

Squee Item #1

For those of you who read my post the other day, here’s an update: Dina DID receive my box. Squee!

This means I’m one step closer to getting all my books from RWA . . .

. . . and this is good news for you because, as soon as I get the correct package, I’m going to host some contests here on the blog and over at the WB (click here to join, if you’re not already a member!) , so all y’all can win some books!

For instance, a signed copy of *this baby* could be yours!

This is also good news because it means I will be reunited with my signed copies of books by Jennifer Echols, Wendy Toliver, Meg Cabot, and Nora Roberts (among many others).  *Phew!*

Squee Items # 2 & 3

Last week, I also learned that the new editions of both Guide to Literary Agents and Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (both Writer’s Digest Books) came out and are sitting on shelves in bookstores—right now!

This is exciting not only because they are both fantastic resources but also because I am in both of them.  Squee!!

Here is what editor Chuck Sambuchino had to say about the 2011 edition of his baby:


The new 2011 edition of Guide to Literary Agents has more than 20 brand new literary agencies never before listed in the book. I realize there are other places you can turn to for information on agents, but the Guide to Literary Agents has always prided itself as being the biggest (we list almost every agent) and the most thorough (guidelines, sales, agent by agent breakdowns, etc.). That’s why it’s been around for 20 years and that’s why it’s sold more than 250,000 copies. It works—and if you keep reading, I’ll
prove it to you.

With that pitch and with my article on how to make the most of a writers’ conference, how could you not run out and buy it? :D

And . . . selling more than 500,000 copies in its 20+ years of existence, CWIM is nothing to slouch at either.  My piece in there is a collaboration—a roundup of tips from interviews Sambuchino and I have done with literary agents who represent kids’ and teen lit authors.

Go check out these wonderful resources!

Interview with Signature Literary’s Gary Heidt, Part II

As some of you may know, I am a contributor to Writer’s Digest Books.  One of the many fantabulous things I’ve done as a contributor is interview literary agents for Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents blog.*

Recently, I interviewed Signature Literary Agency, LLC’s Gary Heidt, and he had much to say about the industry, writing and his preferences in terms of fiction and nonfiction.

Since he had already been featured on GLA, I wanted to show him some literary love right here—so please enjoy part I of the interview.**

Before this Heidt became a literary agent with Imprint Agency in 2003, this Columbia University grad was a DJ and station manager at WKNR-FM, a musician, a poet, a columnist and a theatre administrator.  He has been with Signature Literary Agency, LLC, since 2009, and he represents both fiction and nonfiction.

Click here for Gary’s “wish list” to see the types of projects he currently seeks.

RS:  Being that you are a writer (poet, former columnist, playwright) as well as an agent, how do you think this dual perspective affects the types of projects you take on?

GH: I have done a lot of bad, lazy writing over the years, so I can spot it a mile away. One of the problems with bad writing is that you don’t know how bad it is until later on (if you’re lucky enough to grow.) Most bad literary writers (like me) really believe that their work is amazing. One reason that I have artistically been focusing on my poetry is because it’s so short, I can get more work in per word. It’s also extremely unlikely to ever generate any money.

As an agent, I look at things that could potentially have an audience, unlike my very strange poetry. There is a place where good art can find an audience and therefore become lucrative, but not all good art is capable of being appreciated by a sizable

You might catch Heidt's eye if you're down with this.

audience.

In every time, there are certain popular media that present communal dreams. Today it’s the Internet and video games. Books are still appreciated by a small minority, but the mass market paperback is a thing of the past, and this small, educated group is getting smaller.

These days, to get the shrinking attention of a shrinking subset of a distracted population, you have to either know what you’re doing and work extremely hard to do it, or you have to be on fire with the genius, inspired by the Muses.

As a writer I know how difficult it is to be either, so I think I really sympathize with what my writers go through. I don’t represent any “hacks.” My clients, generally speaking, take their work very seriously and invest a great deal of their hearts and souls into their work.

RS:  You area you seek is “techno-thriller.”  What constitutes this category, and how does a writer know he’s written one?

GH: I’d say if he isn’t sure, it probably isn’t a techno-thriller.  My favorite techno-thriller of all time is Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s The Ice Limit.

They’re like what we used to call “hard science fiction,” except the science isn’t fictional. In other words, technology is a major plot element, and there’s a geeky joy in explaining the technology and how it works.

RS:  You also represent graphic novels.  What draws you to these and what makes for a killer graphic novel query?

GH: After a decade of growth, graphic novels are in a contraction. I am more interested in writer/artists than collaborations. Also, I’d look to see past pubication credits.

RS:  Among a host of other subjects, your agency Web site says you accept “Fortean/High Strangeness/paranormal.” However, it also specifically states that you do not accept science fiction or fantasy.  With your interest in science- as well as paranormal-related nonfiction projects, what is it that turns you off to speculative fiction?

GH: It would be great to be well-read in every genre, but unfortunately, due to time constraints, I am forced to specialize. I’m just not up-to-date on science fiction or fantasy.

To be able to work with thrillers, for example, I have to read all the popular thriller writers working today, so that I know how a project stacks up against the competition.

I like a lot of science fiction and fantasy books, but they’re classics– I haven’t done much reading in those genres in the past two decades.

RS:  What are you sick of seeing in memoir proposals that come across your desk?

GH: The only thing that I see regularly in memoir proposals that I don’t like is axe-grinding.

RS:  Best piece of advice we haven’t talked about yet?

GH: Find an audience, and the publishers will come to you!

RS:  Thanks for your time, Gary!

*Click here to see some of my lit agent interviews on the GLA blog.  Chuck’s got my name & pic on the ones I’ve done.

**Click here for Part I of the interview.

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