How This Literary Agent Built An Established Agency, Shares Best Practices For Signing A Contract
forbes.com – Sunday May 15, 2022
One area of business where women dominate the statistics is a sector of the publishing industry. As a result, the number of female literary agents has steadily increased over time. According to Zippia, 58.5% of agents are women. The publishing landscape has changed with the advancement of technology, making self-publishing more accessible and streamlined. These changes impact the desire, the need and the chances of signing with a literary agent. Even though more authors are turning to print-on-demand options to publish their books, traditional publishing still has prestige. It’s been reported that the odds of working with a literary agent are 1 in 6,000, based on the number of inquiries one receives and the number of new authors the agent is looking to sign for the year.
For over two decades, Jennifer Unter, founder of the Unter Agency, has helped new authors land deals with publishing houses. As a respected agent within the industry, she speaks at conferences around the country. Most recently, she’s been asked to participate in The Atlanta Writers Conference in November. Her clients have won many awards, including Indie Next, Reading the West Award, Bank Street Best Book of the Year Award and Green Earth Book Award. Although she expands her roster of authors annually, she’s strategic in her selection.
“A lot of authors look at what’s happening with the biggest players, the best sellers or even the very popular series,” Unter shares. “They say, ‘Oh, well, Penguin Random House is doing this for that person. Why wouldn’t they do that for me?’ They don’t realize how many books are published, how many authors really get little to no publicity, and how much they have to do themselves. So the really successful authors are the ones who come in knowing that and have a platform and know-how to be on social media and play that game in a good way. The ones who think things are being handed to them are the ones who are going to not have a realistic expectation of what publishing is like.”
You’ll want to vomit, cry, die or sleep forever: what happens when you finish writing your book
theguardian.com – Friday May 13, 2022
One of my main fears before submitting a book is that I will die in the hours before the deadline, and all the work I will have done will be for nothing because the publisher will only have an outline and the completed book itself will remain on a password-protected hard drive and ultimately buried in landfill.
I have long associated handing in a book and dying because the two seemed connected on some subterranean, unconscious level. Finishing a major project is a form of death – something has ended. But finishing is not something you hear much about in all the short courses, podcasts, MFAs, online articles and books on the creative process.
It’s all about starting, developing characters, a writing routine, pitching to agents and marketing. But you never get told about the end, about the toll on body and brain cells of the work, and those strange weeks that follow the handing in of a manuscript where you gradually try and re-enter the world, often with the awkward gait of a newborn foal, but the aching back, neck, shoulders and arms of a pit labourer.
After I handed in my manuscript, the following 24 hours were fraught. I left my phone at Southern Cross Station and my laptop in a restaurant, and then once my phone had been retrieved, I lost it again. Two weeks on and I still feel like I’m in some sort of twilight zone, not quite reintegrated with the world.
So what happens when you finish a book?
A Brutal—and True—Piece of Writing Advice from Toni Morrison
lithub.com – Friday May 13, 2022
The very first time I saw Toni Morrison in person was at an event in Boston, at a church, along with hundreds of people. The Beloved tour. I attended as a reader, as a Morrison fan. I’d had plenty of reader-only experience with books, but I knew next to nothing formal about writing then. Reading as a writer is a higher calling, and a whole different world. I had no writing tools at the time, though I did have some facility; I loved words—but the tools you need to write stack up and can be complicated. I could identify and define imagination, but I did not know the concepts of setting or drama or scene. I knew that language was critical, but how few words I knew then! I was hungry, eager, reaching—but I was ignorant of exactly what writers needed to know and do.
Is there a secret to writing a bestselling book?
smh.com.au – Friday May 13, 2022
How do I write thee? Let me count the ways … no, there are too many to count. Every writer has made their own journey, and no two are quite alike. So how can you possibly teach anyone how to write, say, a novel?
Despite the difficulties, there have probably never been so many writing courses and guides on offer, and people eager to take them up. Two of the latest books by Australian writers are perfect illustrations of how different writing advice can be. Both are eminently absorbing, encouraging and inspiring for the novice. In other ways, they are poles apart.
Writer’s essay on why she plagiarized her book removed for … plagiarism
theguardian.com – Wednesday May 11, 2022
An author’s online essay on why she used plagiarized material in a novel pulled earlier this year has itself been removed after editors found she had again lifted material.
Jumi Bello’s essay, I Plagiarized Parts of My Debut Novel. Here’s Why appeared just briefly on Monday on the website Literary Hub. Bello’s debut novel, The Leaving had been scheduled to come out in July, but was cancelled in February by Riverhead Books.
“Earlier this morning Lit Hub published a very personal essay by Jumi Bello about her experience writing a debut novel, her struggles with severe mental illness, the self-imposed pressures a young writer can feel to publish, and her own acts of plagiarism,” the publication announced. “Because of inconsistencies in the story and, crucially, a further incident of plagiarism in the published piece, we decided to pull the essay.”
18 Literary Agents Reveal “How to Land a Book Deal”
digitaljournal.com – Sunday May 8, 2022
“Literary agents can change an author’s life,” says book publicist Scott Lorenz, president of Westwind Book Marketing. “A high-quality agent will review your manuscript, coach you along the way and pitch the book to the right publisher who would be interested in your work. In the end, they can help you land a lucrative book deal.”
Why does the agency model still exist? In the words of literary agent Jeff Herman, book publishers do not want to deal with unpublished writers. Agents will screen, vet, and qualify authors so publishers know if it came through the agent process it’s worthy of their review.
Just Reject Me
gawker.com – Saturday April 30, 2022
The first piece of fiction I ever wrote was in middle school, though I’d say I “started writing” with the first glimmer of public-facing intention in high school. There’s a couple slapdash short story collections of mine floating around Amazon somewhere and, as embarrassing as this is to admit, I did once do thing where I printed out copies of these books and then intentionally left them places, like the New York City subway, for strangers to find so they could be utterly transformed by my prose. I was a teenager, so I didn’t know any better and have long-since stopped.
The problem for me, when I was first starting out, was that I didn’t know any published writers and so didn’t know I had to submit my work anywhere. This is a problem for a lot of young writers — the publishing industry is opaque, confusing, and frequently demoralizing. Eventually I sort of figured it out. I sent my first piece of fiction via the ubiquitous literary submission manager Submittable in January of 2017; I have since been rejected 185 times. My latest was back in January of this year.
Don Winslow: The Complicated Ethics of Writing Violence in Fiction
time.com – Wednesday April 27, 2022
There are some hard ethical questions in the writing of crime fiction.
For me, the most difficult one is how to portray violence.
For one thing, should you depict it all?
And if so, how do you do it with some sense of morality?
I wrestle with this issue all the time. It’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand I don’t want to sanitize violence—I don’t like presenting murder as a parlor game, or worse, a video game in which there are no real consequences. On the other hand, I don’t want to cross that thin line into what might be called the pornography of violence, a means to merely titillate the worst angels of our nature.
The 25 best podcasts for writers
mashable.com – Monday April 25, 2022
Audio can be a bit of a contentious subject among written word lovers. But we're not here to re-litigate the age-old debate over whether listening to audiobooks counts as "reading" (it does, by the way).
Writing can be a lonely profession (or currently unpaid passion, until it can become your profession). But podcasts can bring listeners a sense of community no matter how isolated they are in their interests, both emotionally or geographically. As the illustrious history of famous literary circles goes to show, it often takes a village to produce the singular creative geniuses of an era.
So for established authors or amateur creative writers with big aspirations alike, there's a lot to be gained from the virtual book clubs and writer communities behind the podcasts listed below. Whether you're looking for guidance on the writing process, seeking to learn the fundamentals of great literature or about the publishing industry, or looking for muses to refill your well of inspiration, we've got you covered. From fiction to memoir, screenwriting to playwriting, and prose to poetry, there's an endless world of audio storytellers just waiting to fill your ears with the written word.
On Writing a Social Novel, Giving Clear Feedback, and Outlasting Doubt
lithub.com – Wednesday April 20, 2022
I met Melissa Chadburn in 2011, at the Tin House Writer’s Conference, where I taught her in workshop. You already know that I’m going to tell you that she was brilliant and kind and funny, even back then, so I’ll skip to the part where I get really stoned.
This happened on the final night, when the poet D.A. Powell (bless his soul) proffered me hits off a blunt the size of a drumstick. At some point, I passed along to Melissa the little secret I had been saving for just such an occasion: the Croatian publisher of my debut story collection (“My Life in Heavy Metal”) had—after much anguished consideration—come up with a title that would capture the essence of my work for her readers: Sexburger U.S.A.
Oh my god, did we laugh.
Over the next five years, Melissa did two things for which I am still grateful. First, she took to calling me as Sexburger. Second, she sent me various drafts of her novel for review, absorbing, in the process, some pretty blunt feedback.