Women's National Book Association | NYC Chapter http://wnba-nyc.org Connecting, educating, advocating, and leading since 1917 Wed, 13 Jun 2018 16:09:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/wnba-nyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/wnbaNewYorkCity.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Women's National Book Association | NYC Chapter http://wnba-nyc.org 32 32 57957015 Ladies Who Brunch Discuss Manhattan Beach http://wnba-nyc.org/ladies-who-brunch-discuss-manhattan-beach/ http://wnba-nyc.org/ladies-who-brunch-discuss-manhattan-beach/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 15:00:56 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9603 At Ladies Who Brunch, the transformational time and personal reflection in Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach were key topics.

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What was it like to live during the Great Depression or during the formation of the Constitution? The Ladies Who Brunch discussed Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan. The book opens during the Great Depression, a time where the world would no longer be the same. Food, clothing, and shelter were scarce – not to mention jobs. Gangs, crime, and drug abuse were also at an all-time high; it was every man for himself. The two main themes in the novel are a transformational shift from the norm and self-reflection.

Manhattan BeachAs World War 2 breaks out, the main character, Anna Kerrigan, struggles with her father’s disappearance years earlier. With this mystery looming in the back of her head, Anna strives to be someone and to break norms. Through her own testing of boundaries, she has a revelation of some of the time during the years of her youth before her father disappeared, time that she had lost.

To become someone, Anna takes a job at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women were just beginning to be allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to the men. Clichés, like “men can do more than women,” roared through every female alive during this time. However, Anna overcame the norm to become the first female diver; her experience repairing ship equipment helped America win the war.

Quiet time was invented for the sole purpose of reflecting on one’s life and choices. Other characters in the novel, like Dexter, Eddie, and Nell, encounter either the afterlife or a sense of self proclamation. They all come to the realization that delving into the underbelly of nightlife or disappearing without closure to those around them is not right, when before they hadn’t realized the effect it had on others. Even Anna had to be abandoned by her family to make the space for her to become her own person.

In a work of fiction, one expects to read about characters who can both do the impossible and relate to the reader. This novel, while fiction, still has an historical element to show that not everything back then was the “white picket fence dream,” but rather, the norm for anyone who wanted to be someone was hard work and dedication.

The next novel and lively discussion of the Ladies Who Brunch will be At the Waters Edge, by Sara Gruen, happening on May 12, 2018.


Rachel Slaiman is a published freelance writer of several articles in both print and online as well an editor and copy editor of aspiring author’s manuscripts. She is currently the co-recording secretary for the WNBA and co-chair for the Brooklyn Book Festival. Rachel holds a B.A. in Communications and a M.S. from Pace University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing short stories.

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Get Involved with the WNBA! http://wnba-nyc.org/get-involved-with-the-wnba/ http://wnba-nyc.org/get-involved-with-the-wnba/#respond Tue, 05 Jun 2018 15:00:19 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9593 Wondering how to get more involved with the WNBA? Apply to the open board positions for Co-VP of Programs! If you can't commit to the role now, send in your Member News for The Bookwoman.

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CALL FOR NEW BOARD MEMBERS

The WNBA-NYC is looking for applicants for the role of co-VP of Programs for the 2018-2019 season!

festival day, involved

We have two positions open to jointly run Programs for the NYC chapter’s upcoming year. In this executive board position, the co-VPs will together to organize and run events for the chapter. The role offers you the opportunity to shape the chapter’s goals and events throughout the season, network with industry professionals and writers on panels, and develop relationships with other industry organizations.

Joining the board is a great way to get more involved with the chapter! It’s an opportunity to learn more about the industry, grow your connections and resume, and work with an incredible volunteer team to help support women in the book world.

If you’re interested in applying for the position or want to learn more, please email president@wnba-nyc.org with the subject line “VP Programs.”


CALL FOR MEMBER NEWS

You still have time to send in your member news, which will be shared nationally in The Bookwoman! Please email your news by June 28 to blog@wnba-nyc.org. News should be a maximum of 20 words and include your book art if applicable.


HAVE A GREAT TIME AT QUERY ROULETTE TONIGHT!

There’s a little time left to refine your query. For some last minute tips, check out what participating agents over the fast few years suggest.

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Writing your query: How to prep for Query Roulette http://wnba-nyc.org/writing-your-query-how-to-prep-for-query-roulette/ http://wnba-nyc.org/writing-your-query-how-to-prep-for-query-roulette/#respond Fri, 01 Jun 2018 14:30:01 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9573 Query Roulette is in a few days! Take the weekend to finish fine-tuning your query, with advice directly from some of the agents who have participated in Query Roulette!

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If you’ve signed up for a slot at Query Roulette, chances are you’ve been working hard on your query letter. But a little fine-tuning never hurts: read on for advice straight from agents who’ve participated in Query Roulette over the past few years.

Make it short!

“For letters, I often wish for brevity above all – a few introductory sentences (including comparable titles if you have them in mind), a paragraph about the book, and a paragraph about the writer….Full plot synopses are hard to read and easy to glaze over.” —Laura Usselman

“Don’t have your query letter be overlong.” —Tamar Rydzinski

“Short and powerful is better than long and empty….First paragraph: what is the book being pitched? Second: what are the author’s credentials making this an exciting project?” —Rita Rosenkranz

“I don’t want to see more than a one-page query letter.” —Sarah Younger

“Anything that isn’t a 3-5 sentence pitch of the story plus a short author bio would be gratuitous.” —Sarah Lapolla

Stay focused!

“Focus on the primary characters (usually your protagonist, antagonist, and love interest if appropriate) and plot. Since you only have about 250 words to distill your entire novel, focus on what I need to know about your story.” —Gabrielle Piraino

“…a short plot description—not a play-by-play….who the author is, but not whether the author is married, has children or cats, or enjoys the flute—unless the book is about a cat-owning flautist!” —Josh Getzler

Be clear!

“Main rule is: don’t get cute. Just tell me who you are and the premise of your book.” —Christina Morgan

“I sometimes get queries where I don’t know what the writer is pitching. I can’t tell what the project is about—or even if it is fiction or non-fiction. That, to me, reflects the author’s insecurity about what they’re writing.” —Rita Rosenkranz

“Writer beware, it doesn’t look great if you can’t accurately define the genre of your own work…” —Stacy Testa

Don’t insult anyone (even yourself)!

“There’s a surprising number of query letters that begin by demeaning the profession of agenting. As in, ‘It’s ridiculous that agents should have all the power and I resent that you’re the gatekeepers of the industry but since you are I guess I have to pitch you my book.’ I can only assume it’s a twisted attempt at ‘negging’ but the much more likely outcome is that the author comes across as rude and difficult to work with.” —Stacy Testa

“I’m not a fan of queries that disparage published books or publishing trends…as a means of complimenting what the querier has written. I get a lot of ‘I wrote a YA, but don’t worry. It’s not some silly vampire love story.’ This sort of snobbery…drives me bonkers!” —Tina Wexler

“I don’t want self-deprecation (‘I know you must get 4 million queries a day, and I know you must be sick of sparkly vampires, but…’).” —Josh Getzler

Show who you are!

“I am looking for a concise and intriguing pitch and a synopsis that both tells me what the book is about and showcases the writer’s voice and style.” —Samantha Fingerhut

“Beautiful writing—a writer either has that talent or you don’t. And when it’s in a query letter, I’ll overlook just about any other mistake to read more.” —Jaida Temperly

“I LOVE to see confidence in a query letter. First, it’s the confidence and joy in your own writing and knowing you’ve revised the book as much as you can….Secondly, it’s confidence in knowing you’re an avid reader of both recent releases and related titles so you know where your book fits in the marketplace and also what makes it stand out.” —Katie Grimm

Be unique!

“I am often wary of books that seem as though they were written to capitalize on a particular fascination of our current publishing moment….I love to see that a writer came to a book through their own organic fascination with a topic or obsession with a character.” —Laura Usselman

“Excitement spills into over-saturation very quickly – so it’s best to be aware of what’s trending, but not driven by it.” —Susan Hawk

“I’d suggest the writer, above all, remain faithful to his or her own vision for the project. The best agent for them will not only connect to that vision, but will also help the writer develop a vision for the project’s future.” —Aimee Ashcraft

Do the work!

“If I had to pick the top thing I hate seeing, it’s laziness. Your query letter is your first impression – make it a good one and proofread!” —Amelia Appel

“Essentially, do your research, follow the basic instructions, and please use my name.” —Gabrielle Piraino

Don’t force it!

“It’s good to [mention] it’s #ownvoices if it is! And as ever, it’s always about the story, so focus on that and include details about diversity or multiculturalism in an organic way!” —Victoria Marini

“I like to know if there are diverse voices or the novel is #ownvoices, but I don’t need to know which characters are specifically diverse unless it fits naturally into the query.” —Gabrielle Piraino

Understand that it’s unique!

“The [query letter] is not necessarily an intuitive document. Everyone has different issues, wants, and expectations.” —Emily Brown

HOW TO:

Write your plot description

“I don’t want rhetorical questions as hooks (‘How would you feel if your third cousin killed JFK?’ ‘What if the world were slowly being taken over by termites?’).” —Josh Getzler

“One’s pitch shouldn’t necessarily sound overly rehearsed, but it should not meander. It should be clear and precise—a thumbnail delivery as though they were repeating the back cover copy.” —Rita Rosenkranz

 
Give your bio

“A platform and a link to your social media is appropriate if you have an impressive and well-established platform; if you are just starting out, it can be more of a distraction for me.” —Laura Usselman

Choose comp titles

“Who do you write like? What audience are you trying to capture with your book?” —Latoya C. Smith

“[Don’t use] outdated comp titles! They should be published in the last 5 years. It shows the agent that you’re well-read and aware of the market in which you are writing.” —Tess Callero

“Not that it’s ‘the next ___’ but to say ‘I wrote a novel that has literary and speculative (but not quite sci-fi) elements like Station Eleven.’” —Katie Grimm

“I don’t want outlandish comps—I don’t need to know that your YA is a combo of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.” —Josh Getzler

“Don’t compare your book to a phenomenon (like Harry Potter, The Girl on the Train, or The Nightingale, etc.) as that is unhelpful to you and actually tells me that you don’t read enough in the genre in which you are writing.” —Tamar Rydzinski

HEADING TO QUERY ROULETTE:

“Don’t be afraid to bring written materials or anything you feel you need to make your best pitch.” —Latoya C. Smith

“Please bring a few pages with you….For me, it’s all about the writing – so if the concept sounds intriguing, I really love to read a couple of paragraphs to get your sense of voice.” —Jeff Kleinman

AT QUERY ROULETTE:

“Have fun! Yes, Query Roulette is a professional opportunity, but it’s also a chance to spend time with likeminded people, people who love the same things you do: strong characters, great writing, compelling stories, books.” —Tina Wexler

“Don’t be nervous! I know that’s hard, but I am here because I want to find great books and great authors. I can’t wait to hear about your book. But do practice your pitch many times beforehand.” —Tamar Rydzinski

“I would just advise attendees to, first of all, relax….Coming in with your materials ready to send if requested always seems to work better.” —Sarah Younger

“Query letters are tough to get right. Don’t get discouraged if I completely pick it apart!” —Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein

“Try to relax; we want to encourage you. And if I turn down your pitch, it doesn’t mean I don’t like it—it means that I don’t feel I’d be the right fit as agent, and that another agent might know better how to embrace your idea and run with it.” —Eric Myers

To register for Query Roulette, click here – there are only a few slots left!

To receive a members-only discount for Query Roulette, register for the WNBA here.

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Query Roulette: Meet the Agents, Part 4! http://wnba-nyc.org/query-roulette-meet-the-agents-part-4/ Tue, 29 May 2018 14:30:25 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9562 Finished your novel and thinking of sending it out? Get advice from Query Roulette agents Amelia Appel and Gabrielle Piraino!

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Query Roulette is one week away! Sign up now (before the last spots fill up!) to meet with literary agents next Tuesday and to receive personalized feedback on your query letter.

To help you decide if they’re the right agents for you and prepare for your appointment, agents Amelia Appel and Gabrielle Piraino answered some questions.

Amelia Appel (Triada US Literary Agency)

Amelia is looking for Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Sci Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Sports, How-To, Pop Culture, True Crime, YA and queries. You can follow her on Twitter @AmeliaLAppel.

You mention in your interests that you appreciate a “fantastic setting to jump into.” What was the last book you read to meet this description and what was its draw?

I’ve always viewed books as an escape and gravitate towards settings vastly different from where I’m currently situated.  Fantasy, in particular, holds a special place in my heart for that reason, but one of the last books I read with a delightful setting was The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks.  It’s non-fiction and set primarily in the Lake District in England.  There’s something indescribably special about sitting on a subway in NYC and mentally exploring the rolling, green fields of the UK.  We’re all interested in escapism – I want to be taken somewhere fun, and the wide open spaces of a real area I’ve never visited felt perfect at the time.

You also mention that your YA preferences lean towards coming of age tales with a dark tone. Can you describe one that has resonated with you?

I really enjoy Black Hole by Charles Burns.  It’s a bit of a horrifying, wild ride about navigating high school and sexuality in the midst of murder and a disease that literally turns its victims into monsters.  It’s a graphic novel, so there are added layers of literal darkness there that play into the tone and messages.  I love how it explores real issues of growing up and exacerbates them to emphasize and entertain. 

What published nonfiction book do you wish you’d had the opportunity to represent?

I already mentioned The Shepherd’s Life, but another dream project would be Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist.  I grew up a huge fan of the original Star Wars Trilogy and Leia was an early role model for me, but this book is so far beyond that – Carrie’s introspection, wit, humor, and unapologetic honesty about her life and herself feel real in such a relatable way that is still very unique.  It’s important to me that I connect with every project I represent for one reason or another, and this book spoke to me.


Gabrielle Piraino (DeFiore & Company)

Gabrielle is looking for Adult, YA, MG Fiction: (SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller/Mystery, Upmarket/Commercial Women’s), ad Comics/Graphic Novel queries. You can follow her on Twitter @nerdplusdog.

Can you tell us one of your favorite examples of world-building (that you represented or that you wish you’d been able to represent)? What characteristics are essential to good world-building?

I use this example a lot, but I love His Dark Materials ​(starting with “The Golden Compass” in the US) by Philip Pullman. It’s difficult to create an engaging world that is clearly different but also echoes our own world… and then layer several more on top of it in the later books of the series. The most important characteristic of any world, be it SF or F, is that the ‘rules’ work seamlessly. If you’re going to play in a different environment, the nuts and bolts of the place have to make logical sense; you can’t have a space opera without addressing gravity. In Area X of the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, the environment itself is practically a character; what I think works best is that the further we read, the more we learn and understand (or not) Area X, just as we do from Jeff’s human characters.

How can authors convey a sense of the world they created in a short query letter?

This is HARD; even as an agent I rewrite my pitch letters before I can create a well-balanced draft. Focus on the primary characters (usually your protagonist, antagonist, and love interest if appropriate) and plot. Since you only have about 250 words to distill your entire novel, focus on what I need to know about your story. The world-building will shine through your description of the plot and your first pages.

What diverse character really stood out to you? How do you think that query letters should mention if a character is diverse?

queryThere’s so many: Linh Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles was mixed race/cyborg; Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows is a PoC, noted as Suli in the novel; Simon and Baz from Carry On are LGBT. What all of these characters have is a very specific view. I like to know if there are diverse characters or the novel is #ownvoices, but I don’t need to know which characters are specifically diverse unless it fits naturally into the query.

To register for Query Roulette, click here.

To receive a members-only discount for Query Roulette, register for the WNBA here.

And if you missed the Q&A from agents Tess Callero, Christina Morgan, Laura Usselman, Latoya C. Smith, Stacy Testa, and Samantha Fingerhut, read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.


Rina ModyBy Rina Mody

Rina’s a marketing assistant at a publishing company in NY. She’s an avid traveler and loves to go to new places – both real and fictional.

 

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Query Roulette: Meet the Agents, Part 3! http://wnba-nyc.org/meet-the-agents-part-3/ Thu, 24 May 2018 14:30:20 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9551 How do you fit an entire novel on one page? Get advice before Query Roulette from agents Stacy Testa and Samantha Fingerhut.

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Writing a book is hard. Writing a query letter can sometimes be harder. How do you condense an entire book into a single, engaging page? Come to this year’s Query Roulette to find out! There, you’ll get to meet agents who can tell you what your letter does right and what it does wrong.

To help prepare, see what agents Stacy Testa and Samantha Fingerhut look for in the queries they receive.

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Stacy Testa (Writers House)

A lifelong bookworm, Stacy is currently seeking Literary Fiction, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Memoir, Humor, Narrative Nonfiction, and Investigative Journalism queries. You can follow her on Twitter @stacy_testa.

Since you’d like to see more nonfiction humor, can you tell us about a book that made you laugh out loud? Have any great query letters made you laugh?

Probably the last book that really and truly made me LOL was Scaachi Koul’s One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will MatterKoul has razor-sharp wit and a wonderful willingness to laugh at her own mistakes. But most importantly, her book has a big heart, which I think is an essential ingredient to a successful work of humor. This winning combination of heart and humor was what caught my eye (and what made me laugh at loud) in my client Maggie Rowe’s query letter for a book called Sin Bravely, which I eventually went on to sell to Counterpoint/Soft Skull.

With what seems like a growing popularity of magical realism, have you seen more of these query letters? If so, are there any characteristics that help you differentiate between good and bad queries?

I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen a noticeable uptick in queries for works of magical realism of late, though I wouldn’t mind if I did! I have recently noticed some queries in which the author brands their novel as magical realism when in fact, based on the subsequent description, it is very clearly fantasy. Writer beware, it doesn’t look great if you can’t accurately define the genre of your own work…

Is there something common that you’ve noticed in query letters that makes them weak?

There’s a surprising numbers of query letters that begin by demeaning the profession of agenting. As in, “It’s ridiculous that agents should have all the power and I resent that you’re the gatekeepers of the industry but since you are I guess I have to pitch you my book.” I can only assume it’s a twisted attempt at “negging” but the much more likely outcome is that the author comes across as rude and difficult to work with. Again, not a good look!


Samantha Fingerhut (Compass Talent)

A former teacher, Samantha is looking for queries in the following categories: Literary Fiction; Commercial Fiction; Literary Sci-Fi, Horror, and Thriller; Middle Grade and YA across all genres; Narrative Nonfiction; Graphic Novel; and Memoir.

What brought you back to publishing after you taught high school?

A love of reading! After teaching literature for four years, I realized that I didn’t just want to teach books, I wanted to work with books. Finding new voices (especially YA voices that my students would love), is very exciting to me.

You mention that you like narratives with a “clever twist on genre.” What example of this did you particularly enjoy?

We think of genre fiction as adhering to certain rules, but I love when authors play with what we as readers might expect and reverse, invert, or challenge our expectations in some way. Some favorites include Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani, and Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

What kind of horror novels do you wish you saw more?

I am a big fan of horror films, which is why I loved Final Girls by Riley Sager. The book is not only a thrilling read, but also offers a really original take on a familiar trope: the “final girl,” or the sole survivor in so many slasher films. 

In movies a final girl is rarely in control of her own story, but Quincy, the protagonist and narrator of Final Girls, very carefully constructs a life for herself after surviving a mass murder. Horror ensues when her facade begins to crumble. 

What’s most important to you in a query letter?

I am looking for a concise and intriguing pitch and a synopsis that both tells me what the book is about and showcases the writer’s voice and style.

Check back next week to learn from more agents!

To register for Query Roulette, click here.

To receive a members-only discount for Query Roulette, register for the WNBA here.

And if you missed the Q&A from agents Tess Callero, Christina Morgan, Laura Usselman, and Latoya C. Smith, read Part 1 and Part 2.


Rina ModyBy Rina Mody

Rina’s a marketing assistant at a publishing company in NY. She’s an avid traveler and loves to go to new places – both real and fictional.

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Query Roulette: Meet the Agents, Part 2! http://wnba-nyc.org/query-roulette-meet-the-agents-part-2/ Tue, 22 May 2018 14:00:56 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9543 Looking for a literary agent for your next novel? With Query Roulette coming up in two weeks, get to know the agents and what they're looking for!

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Looking for a Literary Agent for your new novel? Need some advice on fine-tuning your pesky query letter? Query Roulette is the place for you. With the big day only two weeks away, there’s no better way to prepare than by learning what the agents are looking for.

And you can start with some Q&A from agents Laura Usselman and Latoya C. Smith.

Laura Usselman (Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, Inc.)

Query Roulette

Laura not only has an MFA from Virginia Tech but she also studied film at the University of Georgia. She’s interested in Literary Fiction, Upmarket Fiction, Memoir, Travel, and Food Writings. Her clients include Robin Page (The Before).

Can you name some travel writing books that you enjoy?

I like books that look at landscape and place while also thinking hard about something else — books like Confederates in the Atticwhich is both travelogue and exploration of the South’s persistent 

fascination with and re-litigation of the Civil War, or Great Plains, which is about the great plains but also about America and about Ian Frazier’s discursive mind. I am less interested in travel books that don’t have something else on their mind.

When you receive upmarket fiction queries, what do you wish you saw more of in the letter or in the project? 

I am often wary of books that seem as though they were written to capitalize on a particular fascination of our current publishing moment — psychological thrillers with unreliable female narrators, for instance J I love to see that a writer came to a book through their own organic fascination with a topic or obsession with a character, and I think that kind of unique fascination is often evident in the writing samples I read. For letters, I often wish for brevity above all — a few introductory sentences (including comparable titles if you have them in mind), a paragraph about the book, and a paragraph about the writer. Then I can get straight to the good stuff, which is the pages. Full plot synopses are hard to read and easy to glaze over.

Is there any advice you can give on writing query letters for memoirs?

Again, I would keep things brief — a little bit about yourself and your story and some comparable titles. A platform and a link to your social media is appropriate if you have an impressive and well-establish platform; if you are just starting out, it can be more of a distraction for me. Memoir is an incredibly voice-dependent form, especially if you are not a celebrity with a massive platform — it’s all about how a reader will connect to and hear you on the page. So I want a brief sense of the sort of memoir you’re writing, and then I want to get to your prose.


Latoya C. Smith (Lori Perkins Agency)

Latoya has 13 years of publishing house experience and is an award-winning editor. She is looking for Commercial Fiction, Nonfiction, Romance, and Erotica queries. For more information, you can follow her on Twitter @GlamEditor_Girl.

Would you explain what drew you to one of the titles you recently signed? 

I loved the concept which I felt was marketable and worked with the current marketplace. Not to mention, the author has a platform (strong social media presence and connections to bestselling authors.)

What type of commercial fiction do you wish you saw more? 

Women’s fiction with a nice hook that makes it stand out from the rest. 

What’s your favorite aspect of being an agent? 

Helping writers take their careers to the next level.

When romance and/or erotica writers put together a query letter, what advice would you give them about what to and not to include? 

Be sure to include word count, romance subgenre, and comparable titles (who do you write like? What audience are you trying to capture with your book?).

Is there anything you would recommend for writers attending Query Roulette do to prepare? 

Don’t be afraid to bring written materials or anything you feel you need to make your best pitch.

More participating agents will give their takes on Thursday!

To register for Query Roulette, click here.
To join WNBA-NYC and to receive our member-only pricing for the event, click here.

Did you miss last week’s post? Agents Tess Callero and Christina Morgan shared their preferences and some great tips on writing queries!


Rina ModyBy Rina Mody

Rina’s a marketing assistant at a publishing company in NY. She’s an avid traveler and loves to go to new places – both real and fictional.

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Query Roulette: Meet the Agents! http://wnba-nyc.org/query-roulette-meet-the-agents/ Thu, 17 May 2018 14:00:58 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9533 Before Query Roulette on June 5th, learn more about some of the agents - and how to impress them in your query! Agents Tess Callero and Christina Morgan share.

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Query RouletteA query letter, as most people who have ever written one will attest, can be… a challenge. To ensure you’re putting your best foot forward, come to this year’s Query Roulette to get feedback specific to your letter and your manuscript. With the opportunity to talk to as many as ten agents at one event, there’s no doubt it can be a game changer.

To help you prepare and choose which agents are the best fit for you, here’s Q&A from some of this year’s participants:

Tess Callero (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)

Tess represents YA, Adult Fiction (Commercial and Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Mysteries/Thrillers, Romance), and Adult Nonfiction (Pop Culture, Business, Cookbooks, Humor, Biography, Self-Help, Food). For more information, you can follow her on Twitter @tesscallero.

You shared in your interests that you like YA with stories of friendship. What friendship narrative, from any medium, do you admire?

I totally fell for Lady Bird and Julie’s friendship in Lady Bird. I went to 18 years of Catholic school and I think Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein perfectly captured what it’s like growing up in that bubble; they’re self-aware enough to know there is more beyond the life their parents set for them, and they cling to one another to avoid falling into the mediocre destiny of their more popular peers. Their friendship felt so authentic – and the scene where they eat the communion wafers still cracks me up when I think about it.

What kind of pop culture nonfiction do you wish you saw more frequently?

Anything with a new perspective on media/how we consume media is really interesting to me. Showcasing something, even if it’s been discussed at length, through a lens we’ve never seen before in a very smart way – that’ll always catch my attention. For example, I just read Bachelor Nation and I came away from it with so much more than I thought I would – it wasn’t just a dishy tell all, but an examination of how a show that perpetuates gender stereotypes can be adored by thousands of feminists. It’s a topic that’s been discussed at length, but Amy Kaufman’s delivery of it was super engaging and really made readers think about the intersection of culture, media, and gender stereotypes.

What do you dislike seeing in commercial fiction queries?

Outdated comp titles! They should be published in the last 5 years. It shows the agent that you’re well-read and aware of the market in which you are writing.


Christina Morgan (Serendipity Literary Agency)

Christina is a journalist turned agent who is accepting submissions for Literary Fiction, Crime Fiction, and Narrative Nonfiction in the categories of Pop Culture, Sports, Current Events, and Memoir.

Is there a subgenre of crime fiction that you wish you saw more?

More badass women detectives and please good god no more premises involving violence against women.

What is a common pitfall that you see authors fall into when writing memoir?

You must assess if this is truly something of interest to the outside world and if you have the platform to sell a personal story.

What do you wish more literary fiction queries included?

I would like to know where the person studied and who with, comp titles that are current to show the person reads. I base my decision on literary fiction solely on my subjective reaction to the writing. Main rule is: don’t get cute. Just tell me who you are and the premise of your book.

Check back on Tuesday to hear from more participating agents!

To register for Query Roulette, click here.
To join WNBA-NYC and to receive our member-only pricing for the event, click here.

Rina ModyBy Rina Mody

Rina’s a marketing assistant at a publishing company in NY. She’s an avid traveler and loves to go to new places – both real and fictional.

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Annual Spring Brunch Recap http://wnba-nyc.org/annual-spring-brunch-recap/ http://wnba-nyc.org/annual-spring-brunch-recap/#comments Tue, 15 May 2018 14:00:30 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9522 At the annual spring brunch, WNBA members mingled over pastries and wine. New members and veterans mixed together and discussed a shared interest: books!

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brunchOn April 15th, 24 women of the WNBA trickled into Diana Altman’s apartment for the Annual Spring Brunch. As the number of people grew and the pastries, cheeses, and wine began to diminish, Diana’s living room was filled with friendly conversation. Though some of the women were strangers and others were longtime friends, the healthy spattering of new members had no trouble mixing in with the veterans. It was no surprise to hear co-vice president of programming Laurel Stokes call the brunch one of the NY chapter’s most popular events.

Introductions!

Once the attendees settled in and formal introductions were made, co-recording secretary Sheila Lewis was proven correct in her assessment that the best part of the brunch was the variety of talent that filled the room. Some women were writers, while others were editors, marketers, or lawyers—but all were book lovers. Speaking to such different women about this shared interest was a highlight of the afternoon, eclipsing even the wine.

Diana welcoming everyone

Diana was the last woman to introduce herself, and considering that she’s hosted the Spring Brunch for several years now, it’s fitting that she said, “The more involved you become in something, the more fun it is.” Having joined the WNBA a month ago and volunteering myself as blog writer for the first event I attended, I can vouch for the verity in her words.


By Rina Mody

Rina’s a marketing assistant at a publishing company in NY. She’s an avid traveler and loves to go to new places – both real and fictional.

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Members Write Now: Barbara Brett http://wnba-nyc.org/members-write-now-barbara-brett/ Wed, 09 May 2018 14:00:02 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9517 "I understand that you were a terrific detective until you retired." "Nowadays I'm concentrating on becoming a terrific bookman." - Barbara Brett's novel SECRET AGENDA published earlier this year!

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This month, read an excerpt from member Barbara Brett’s recently published novel Secret Agenda: Who’s Castrating the Wolves of Wall Street?

The most powerful men in America are planning a government takeover, but someone else has a secret agenda too: one by one, they are being castrated!


SECRET AGENDA: Who’s Castrating the Wolves of Wall Street?

A local florist had recently been stabbed and robbed, and when Tom Berenson heard the door of his bookshop open, he hurried up front. Like many of the shopkeepers in Brooklyn Heights, he was licensed to keep a gun, and his .38 was in a drawer beside a first edition of Little Women, which he had been commissioned to sell by a newly unemployed customer. After looking down at his fourth corpse, Tom had vowed never again to shoot to kill, but good intentions were often forgotten in the heat of a shootout.

BarbaraBrettThe visitor was a tall, well-dressed man in his mid-forties, and he didn’t look at all like the menacing figure in the police sketch. “Nice little store you have here,” he said.

With his mind on villains, it took a few seconds for Tom to recognize Dr. Albert Foster. Until today, he had seen the doctor only at his Park Avenue office.

“Is my father-in-law okay?” Tom asked.

“As of his most recent checkup, Max is doing fine.”

Tom smiled with relief. “I was afraid that you had bad news. But, of course, it’s unlikely that you’d come out here to tell me.”

Foster’s own smile suggested that for a decent guy like Tom, he would make a house call to the ends of the earth, or at least to Coney Island.

“We both appreciate the good care you’ve been giving him. His previous urologist hadn’t done much.”

Foster nodded. “I guess in every profession there are some who don’t measure up. By the way, I understand that you were a terrific detective until you retired.”

Tom waved aside the compliment. “Nowadays I’m concentrating on becoming a terrific bookman. Are you in search of a particular book?”

Foster put his hand on Tom’s shoulder. “I think that you can be more helpful to me than any of your books. Max is always bragging about his son-in-law, the police lieutenant who cracked so many tough cases.”

“Is this a criminal matter?”

“Probably the crime of the century.”

“Then you should go the police immediately.”

“That’s one thing I can’t do.”

“How about the FBI?”

Foster shook his head. “The cops and FBI are out. News would leak to the press and public.”

“I’m sure that if an eminent physician like you insisted on secrecy, they would go all out to accommodate you.” Tom grinned. “As a clincher, you could promise to maintain their potency into old age.”

What started as a nervous laugh suddenly seemed to become uncontrollable. Foster pressed Tom’s arm, and when he was able to speak again, he said, “I think you’ll agree that the worst thing that can happen to a man is the loss of his capacity for sex.”

“Sure. At least for most men.”

All men.”

“I was thinking of certain clergymen.”

“Balls!” Foster glanced at his Patek Philippe as if searching there for the words he needed. Suddenly he looked up and blurted: “There’s a maniac loose—and he’s been castrating my fraternity brothers. We want you to catch him before he strikes again.”


Until she left to pursue her own writing, Barbara Brett was both a magazine and book editor. She is the author of Secret Agenda, Sizzle, Between Two Eternities, and, with her husband, Hy Brett, the critically acclaimed mystery, Promises to Keep.

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Deconstructing Upmarket Fiction Panel Recap http://wnba-nyc.org/deconstructing-upmarket-fiction-panel-recap/ Mon, 07 May 2018 14:00:17 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9504 What, exactly, is upmarket fiction? And bonus advice on writing queries, from March's panel of agents discussing Deconstructing Upmarket Fiction.

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At the WNBA/NYU panel Deconstructing Upmarket Fiction, four agents defined upmarket and gave advice to fiction writers. But before you read some of what they said, a reminder: the WNBA’s annual Open Mic Night is tomorrow, May 8! Whether you’re reading or listening, bring a guest—anyone can listen! Also, it’s time to send your member news, which will be shared nationally in The Bookwoman! Please email your news by June 28 to blog@wnba-nyc.org. News should be a maximum of 20 words and include your book art if applicable.


upmarket

Caroline, Allison, Duvall, and Renee (L to R)
Photo credit Hannah Bennett

Deconstructing Upmarket Fiction featured four agents: Caroline Eisenmann, Allison Hunter, Duvall Osteen, and Renée Zuckerbrot. Moderator Harriet Shenkman started off the conversation with the basics: what, exactly, is upmarket fiction? What does the definition of it as having “literary appeal with commercial potential” mean? According to Duvall, “It’s probably the hardest genre to pin down…these are the books you see most often in bookstores. They have the pacing of the best kind of crime novel, but the plot isn’t gimmicky.”

Renée added, “One of the hallmarks of upmarket fiction is that anyone can pick it up and read it without feeling stupid.” Later, she said, “It’s sought after. It’s the sweet spot. The

The event’s attendees
Photo credit Hannah Bennett

writing is really good, but it’s not navel-gazing. There’s something at stake and you’re emotionally invested.”

So, upmarket fiction: fast-paced, well-written, compelling. Like what? When Harriet named a few authors, Allison responded to Amy Tan with, “I think of a book like The Joy Luck Club as the ultimate upmarket.” Describing one of the authors she represents who falls under upmarket, she said Anna Pitoniak, whose first novel The Futures is a “coming of age from the female and male perspective about a young couple living in New York.”

Caroline, who described upmarket as “sweet spot fiction…[it] gives people a nutritious glow like literary fiction but is fun to read,” brought up gender distinctions. Responding to the question of whether John Irving is upmarket, she said “if men write domestic issues, they’re called literary. If women do, it’s called women’s fiction…I think ideas of readers being women and readers of domestic fiction being women is vestigial of publishing being male-dominated. And both are starting to change.”

Duvall speaking
Photo credit Hannah Bennett

The lines between literary fiction, upmarket fiction, and women’s fiction became a key topic in the rest of the conversation. Renée called for an end to the term women’s fiction. While all the agents agreed that Philip Roth was literary, Allison and Caroline pointed out a problem in defining Meg Wolitzer. They argued that she’s literary, but, because she’s a woman, she’s often considered upmarket. “Positioning within the industry makes the difference,” Caroline stated.

Allison added, “It’s really exciting to see women beginning to break through. But it will always bother me that a Meg Wolitzer is being talked about differently than a Richard Russo. It bothers me because there’s a perception that literary is better quality…so that means we’re saying Meg Wolitzer is worse. If people say women aren’t literary and if they consider literary as better, that’s a problem.”

Allison speaking
Photo credit Hannah Bennett

So where does that leave writers? According to Duvall, upmarket fiction is “the hardest genre to write in because you really have to be superb at storytelling. The books that succeed in this area are deceptively simple.”

But there’s a way to get there: from Renée, “Read. Read across genres. Read everything. Literally read everything. And then think about it. Go back and see how it’s constructed.” (Duvall’s second: “That’s it. That’s the advice.”)

Once you’ve read literally everything, you can work on your own writing. Allison shared that she “tell[s] people to read their own work out loud. Especially dialogue. Does it sound like real dialogue?”

Caroline speaking
Photo credit Hannah Bennett

Meanwhile, Caroline suggested focusing on the core of the novel. “It’s really useful for an author to know what the hook of a novel is. In query letters, we can tell if you don’t know your hook. A hook is two to three sentences describing the book that will convince someone to read it. Describe it over and over to people who don’t know you to see whether they’re intrigued.”

Allison seconded that, particularly for use in query letters. “[The hook] is really important. If you can’t pitch your book, we can’t pitch it and editors can’t pitch it.”

But, according to Duvall, be careful not to over-pitch: “Your query letter should be short and sweet. Your hook should be three sentences or less and that’s it.”

It’s the perfect time to keep that advice in mind as you’re getting ready for Query Roulette in June!

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