Saturday, October 21, 2006

THE DA QUERY CODE.

I'm (Lilly) reporting live from the Surrey International Writers Conference (siwc.ca) All is well here in Surrey- the authors seem really motivated and the energy of the conference has been great. I haven't located an espresso cart just yet, but hey, you can't have it all.

This afternoon I did a panel with a few other agents about "Queries That Stole Their Attention." The goal was to give authors constructive advice about how best to craft a winning query letter. While I won't give all the juice to those of you who failed to sit through our hour and half of ramblings (yes. 1.5 hours, no break!), I wanted to share some key points.

As the conversation amongst the agents went on, it quickly became clear that I was going to play Simon Cowell to Don's Paula and Steve's Randy. So be it. I'll start here with things you should not not not do. Please take this opportunity to learn from others' mistakes :)

DO NOT:

*query an agent on material they don't represent. the worst are those mass queries that praise me for being "a highly reputable science fiction agent." really? that's news to me. i can't even remember the last time i read a science fiction book, much less represented one. we have spent much time (we = web-savvy agents) posting our requirements and trying to make it painstakingly clear what genres we will or won't be qualified to represent you in. please take a moment to get acquainted with these. it's always worth it to double-check an agent's site before sending. you might even be able to impress them by dropping mention of your shared love of knitting.

*mention your shortcomings. please do not say that your book "really picks up after page 57". if that is the case, you are your best critic. put the query letter aside, buy a copy of "self editing for fiction writers" asap, and consider beginning the novel at page 57. you have bigger fish to fry than the query letter for the moment. don't rush yourself to submit!!!

also, if you're unpublished, don't highlight it. that's the implication. no need to write that you've "never set pen to paper before." hopefully your writing will not betray you!

*be modest. at the same time, if you're proposing a book on rocket science, you'd be remiss to 'fail' to mention that you're a head scientist at NASA (or, in the days of star power, that your brother-in-law is!) if you are pitching nonfiction then it's crucial to point out why you are THE person to write this book within the query letter, because, as any agent will tell you, as we read we're thinking "platform platform platform". sometimes we're thinking "platform platform when is lunch platform". but for the most part platform is in there somewhere.

*compare yourself to the big name titles that have numbed the eyes of every intern, reader, and agent across the land. i have taken an informal poll and the truth is that as soon as you mention "the Da Vinci Code" or "Harry Potter" we can't see the query letter anymore. why? because we're rolling our eyes to the ceiling.

we don't know what this physical reaction is all about, but the National Institute of Health is looking into it. until then, if possible, try to find other successful titles (they don't have to be blockbusters, just not ideally on the remainder list) to compare and contrast your work with to give us a better sense of where you think you fit on the bookshelves and in readers' lives.

*waste your precious real estate. example: don't excerpt a paragraph from the novel. waste of space! do remember to control the conversation -- tell us a bit about the book, but not so much that it has inadvertantly become a synopsis (yawn!). and tell us a hook that will keep us asking questions and wondering who this incredible author is and kicking ourselves for not having found YOU first!
*******

you know what a query letter is? it's a first date (and appears, if today's audience is any indication, to incite as much stress and anguish).

they key? intrigue us. but don't give all your information away just yet. do whatever you need to do to make us ask to see you again.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

CHERYL PALLANT'S CONTACT IMPROVISATION




Thousands upon thousands of dancers are participating in a dance form most of us know very little about. Contact Improvisation is a unique form of modern dance that has expanded to jams and gatherings around the world. Defined by the fact that there is at all times at least one point of physical contact between the dancers dancing together, it's an artistic phenomenon that deserved a book.

Enter CONTACT IMPROVISATION by Cheryl Pallant (McFarland & Co.), professor and dance writer Cheryl Pallant's comprehensive insider's guide to the dance.

Please visit www.CHERYLPALLANT.com to learn more about Contact Improv and Cheryl's work.

LOOK WHO'S BLOGGING NOW!




Our authors' books have inspired me (Lilly) to do some new things I never would have thought I'd do -- Isabel Cruz's forthcoming cookbook got me into the kitchen. Dawn Dais got me (gasp!) running a half marathon. And now Jon Yang has Full Circle blogging away!

Let's get one thing straight: no, that isn't Jon on the cover of the book! Ha, moving on.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO BLOGGING by Jonathan Yang (Rough Guides/Penguin UK) is the first book on blogging to actually recognize the attention span of its target reader. Read: we want short and sweet tips on how to get going live on the internet asap. A blogger himself, Jon takes you on a guided tour through the past, present and future of the latest internet phenomenon. Learn everything you need to know about the blogosphere and how to find your unique place in it.

If you're a writer and wondering where to start your marketing efforts, look no further. Blogging is cost-free (if you pick a service like blogger.com, which we use) and once you get the hang of it (it won't take you long) you have a forum to build your platform (if you're a nonfiction author) as an expert on a topic or to write short pieces if you're a fiction writer. (We'll address the many uses of blogs in a writer's life in future posts.)

Stop by jonyang.org for blogging news and tips and just 'cause it's nice to visit other people's blogs :)

BRIDEZILLA MEETS HER MATCH.





Ladies, you don't know a bad boy until you've met Craig Michaels. Craig waited until the last month before his nuptuals to get involved in the wedding planning (and then, as we learn, only reluctantly). Taking a page from the "do as I say, not as I did" school of thought, the experience served as the inspiration for his hilarious debut book, THIRTY TO WIFE (Marlowe & Co.)

If he couldn't be a good helper to his bride-to-be Deb, he *could* take great notes on the experience of those last 30 days before blastoff. His book offers humor, cameraderie and insight for clueless grooms -- and the women who love them anyway! Join Craig and Deb on their road to the altar, but along the way learn how men deal with dancing lessons, buying rings, and of course ditching their porn collection before the house merge. He covers it all, and even offers his witty version of the bland to-do lists found in all the other (yawn!) wedding books.

Film rights are being shopped for this one, so we'll keep you posted.

For the hapless grooms in your life, to send Craig pictures of your ex (no, I'm not kidding), or for the latest on Craig's writing and appearances, please check out www.GROOM411.com.

Press for Thirty to Wife

"Engaging...gold mine of material..." -- NBC11 San Francisco

"Understands the plight of the groom." -- Newsday

"Very funny...holds nothing back..." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Who is Craig Michaels? He is you." -- Diamond Cutters International

"Know-How for How to Tie the Knot." -- Bride's Guide

WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU'VE SEEN AUCTIONED ON eBAY?




Want to get a sense of our pop culture list? Look no further than THE GRILLED CHEESE MADONNA AND 99 OTHER OF THE WEIRDEST, WACKIEST, MOST FAMOUS eBay AUCTIONS EVER by Christopher Cihlar (Broadway).

Compiling notorious - and often humorous - auctions (think "Britney Spears' pregnancy test" and the man who modeled and sold his ex wife's wedding dress for three times its value) on eBay, author Christopher Cihlar takes readers on a wild ride through this unrelenting pop culture phenomenon.

Embracing the marketing spirit that all authors need to embrace (stay tuned to our blog for more tips on that!), pages of the first copy of the book were... auctioned off on eBay!

Please visit grilledcheesemadonna.com for more info about Cihlar's appearances and the unique promotions for this book -- not to mention your steady fix of eBay news.

POETRY ZOO/ZOOLÓGICO DE POEMAS by Margarita Montalvo






POETRY ZOO/ZOOLÓGICO DE POEMAS
Written and Illustrated by Margarita Montalvo
(Scholastic)

2005 Latino Book Award Winner: Best Bilingual Children’s Book

A bilingual English-Spanish collection of poems written and illustrated by Margarita Montalvo. Welcome to Poetry Zoo where young readers meet an elephant who wishes for wings, a lion who looses his mane, and a pelican who learns to love his double chin! Parents and teachers will enjoy the Spanish and English glossaries.

INSPIRE YOUR INNER CRAFTSTER




People always ask how we got started with representing craft authors. We started with the Queen Bee herself, Leah Kramer. Talk about inspiring you to do something you love with your life. A computer programmer by training, Leah decided to set up a little forum to get people chit chatting about crafts, her first love. Well, that "little forum" now boasts 76,320 members (as of this very second. Yes, I just checked). Leah has become a spokesperson for Generation Craft.

I'm backed up on submissions. But the truth is, as soon as I get a second to myself, I'm making the loin cloth. You think I'm kidding.


THE CRAFTSTER GUIDE TO NIFTY, THRIFTY, AND KITSCHY CRAFTS: Fifty Fabulous Projects from the Fifties and Sixties
(Ten Speed Press) takes a visit back to a time when poodle toilet paper cozies (remember the one in your grandma's house?) and macaroni glamour were all the rage.

What people are saying about Leah and her Craftster empire:

"It has a sensibility that's not exactly homespun... Call it open-source crafting..."
- Time Magazine

*"A funky, user-friendly online resource for DIY devotees..."
- Budget Living

"This isn't your grandma's craft club. It's Craftster.org. Cross Martha Stewart with an urban hipster and you've got the idea. "
- CBS News Radio

For more information, please visit www.CRAFTSTER.ORG. Or better yet, join! Come on, you know you want a loin cloth too :)

HOW CAN YOU MAKE BABIES SMARTER?




I, for one, am sick of buying boring shower gifts. Which is why I'm thrilled about our latest project, which opens a whole new world of important gifts for newborns -- books! Selfish of me? Perhaps, but admit it, the thought of buying another baby blanket makes you roll your eyes too :)

Research shows that we can help maximize children's brain development by reading to infants age 0-2. But what should you read? And how should you read? Reading experts Caroline Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramirez have just this summer released BABY READ-ALOUD BASICS: FUN AND INTERACTIVE WAYS TO HELP YOUR LITTLE ONE DISCOVER THE WORLD OF WORDS (Amacom). The book includes step-by-step instruction for busy parents on how to make the most of read-aloud time.

And their agents aren't the only ones raving about their work! Check it out:

"If I were in charge of American parents, my first law would be that all new parents had to read (or listen to) this book. It's not only soundly researched, but also filled with practical strategies that any parent can use."
—Jim Trelease, Author of the million-copy bestseller The Read-Aloud Handbook

"This is a groundbreaking book by Blakemore and Ramirez. If any book were to have all the answers for discovering language with your little one, this would be it."
—Library Journal, Starred Review

For more information on this book (which has just gone back for reprint!) and about reading to *your* baby, please see visit readtoyourbaby.com.


ps. I wasn't joking -- I've been packaging this one in a gift basket for new moms in my life with a few of the 'recommended reading' titles from Stage 1. I swear, even if it wasn't our book I'd be doing it!

INTRODUCING MONICA BROWN





We are delighted to share some exciting updates about our children's author Monica Brown!

Monica's debut on the children's side was with My Name is/Me llamo Celia, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. This colorful and vibrant story of the Queen of Salsa is both an Américas Award Winner as well as a Purá Belpre Honor Book.

Monica has continued her successful series of bilingual Latino picture book biographies. Her follow-up, My Name is/Me llamo Gabriela, about Nobel prize-winning Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, received both an SLJ starred review as well as a Criticas starred review.

The third book in the series, about Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is on its way frm Rising Moon/Luna Rising! MY NAME IS GABITO/ME LLAMO GABITO will be illustrated by Raul Colon.

Monica is as busy writing as ever! Some other titles to keep an eye out for:

BUTTERFLIES ON CARMEN STREET, forthcoming from Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press

CHAVELA’S MAGIC RAINFOREST CHICLE, forthcoming from Rising Moon/Luna Rising

and an as-yet untitled picture book biography of international soccer legend Pele (and namesake of Lilly's golden retriever!), forthcoming from HarperCollins/Rayo, part of a recent three book deal.


For more information about Monica's books, her public appearances and much more, please visit www.monicabrown.net!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

FULL CIRCLE LITERARY JOINS THE BLOGOSPHERE

Welcome to the Full Circle Literary blog!

How could we represent the ROUGH GUIDE TO BLOGGING and not have one ourselves?!

Glad you found us. Tune in here for the latest developments at our agency as well as endless tips for authors on making it in the book business. You'll find information and tricks about writing, pitching, marketing, legal issues writers face, publicity, networking, maintaining your professional relationships and more.

We hope you'll visit again and again.

Best wishes and Happy Writing!
 

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