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Society & Culture

The Manuscript Academy

Updated about 12 hours ago

Society & Culture
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The Manuscript Academy brings you conversations with agents, editors, and writers who can help you on your publishing journey.

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The Manuscript Academy brings you conversations with agents, editors, and writers who can help you on your publishing journey.

iTunes Ratings

131 Ratings
Average Ratings
118
9
3
1
0

Wish I would have started sooner

By Awsome2334335 - Oct 05 2018
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What a great resource. Thank you!!

So much info

By Maclone3 - Jul 23 2018
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My only complaint is that they don’t do more episodes. I’ve learned a lot from these ladies

iTunes Ratings

131 Ratings
Average Ratings
118
9
3
1
0

Wish I would have started sooner

By Awsome2334335 - Oct 05 2018
Read more
What a great resource. Thank you!!

So much info

By Maclone3 - Jul 23 2018
Read more
My only complaint is that they don’t do more episodes. I’ve learned a lot from these ladies
Cover image of The Manuscript Academy

The Manuscript Academy

Updated about 12 hours ago

Read more

The Manuscript Academy brings you conversations with agents, editors, and writers who can help you on your publishing journey.

Rank #1: Episode 22: #TenQueries with agent John Cusick

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We asked agent John Cusick at Folio Literary to narrate his inbox, #TenQueries style.

Just like #TenQueries on Twitter, he described what he was seeing--but you can hear in his voice when he gets surprising mistakes (and great queries!).

If you've ever wondered if agents are making up the stories of what's in their inbox (hint: if anything, they don't talk about the strangest things they receive), this is the episode series for you!

While we had him, we asked about his experiences with live pitches--and the awkward and wonderful moments he's had during these meetings. What works for him? What can you do to improve your interactions with agents? Listen in!
Oct 06 2017
22 mins
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Rank #2: Episode 34: #TenQueries with Jessica

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We join Jessica to talk #TenQueries in her inbox, and what we can learn from them--and from submissions in general.

In addition to common mistakes and inbox trends, you'll learn why you shouldn't overestimate your competition--and why all of Jessica's interns end up feeling better about their own writing after reading queries. (Hint: If you're doing ANY research, you're in the top 50%. This podcast counts as research! Feel good about yourself.)
May 16 2018
29 mins
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Rank #3: Episode Fifteen: A Conversation with Agent Caitie Flum

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In this episode, we talk with literary agent Caitie Flum of Liza Dawson Associates about online communities (and where to find your people), teleporting powers (which we would use to get lunch in Paris), and why agents do so many things for free (hint: we love the work, but it's still unpaid). We also talk about how agents can tell you haven't read enough in your genre--and why that matters. PLUS Caitie's best tips for a writer just starting out.

You can also find Caitie in episode fourteen, our first first pages podcast.

She's on Twitter @caitief.
Mar 24 2017
21 mins
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Rank #4: Episode 39: Editors, Query Mistakes, and The Best Cookies Ever

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We talk with agent Whitney Ross at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency about why she never says she *doesn't* want something in her inbox, the different levels of editors and why they matter--why you don't need a master's to work in publishing.

Then we veer into delicious territory, talking about the best chocolate chip cookies, how to hide the taste of cake mix, and Whitney's husband's winemaking abilities. We also talk about television reboots, including Jessica's favorite, Daria.

We discuss common query mistakes, what they mean for you--and Whitney's best tips for maximizing your success.

Whitney says: You HAVE to make the cookies. Here's the recipe: http://forme-foryou.com/2011/08/the-only-chocolate-chip-cookie-i-will-ever-need-to-know-how-to-make-for-the-rest-of-my-life.html
Jul 16 2018
40 mins
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Rank #5: Episode Twelve: Publishing and Publicity in Your Pajamas

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This week we talk with publicist and literary agent Dawn Michelle Hardy of Serendipity Literary Agency. We talk about publicity, and the surprising amount you can do from home, plus profit and loss statements, running marathons--and what really happens when you get rejected by a publisher. We also talk about research nonfiction writers should do BEFORE starting a proposal. And Dawn shares a fantastic story about a nervous writer pitching her in person--and what she did to calm her down. You don't want to miss this!
Feb 23 2017
39 mins
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Rank #6: 46: #TenQueries with Samantha Wekstein, Writers House

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Samantha Wekstein, agent at Writers House, was generous enough to join us for a #TenQueries episode. We chat with her about how she got into publishing (she worked with Jessica first!), some amazing things she's created along the way--and how this shapes what she looks for.

Then we asked her to go through her queries inbox, choose ten at random--and tell us what they are, why they work, what they can do better--and what this means for you at home.

You can book a meeting with Samantha at https://manuscriptacademy.com/10-minutes-with-an-expert and find her online at https://twitter.com/SWekstein
Dec 05 2018
35 mins
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Rank #7: Episode 23: Comp Titles with Rachel Ektrom Courage

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We asked Rachel Ekstrom Courage to talk about comp titles--comparative and competitive works that can, when used correctly in your pitch, give an agent a quick (and useful) idea of what your work is like, where it would fit in the marketplace, and who would read it.

When used badly, comps can read like "This is Harry Potter meets The DaVinci Code meets Eat, Pray, Love"--both vague and an indicator of a lack of research.

How do you use them to your advantage? Listen in!
Oct 12 2017
18 mins
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Rank #8: Episode 36: #TenQueries with Agent Kelly Van Sant

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Join Kelly Van Sant, literary agent at Red Sofa Literary, to analyze ten random queries in her inbox. Along the way, learn how she decides when to say yes, when to say no, and when to decide later--how common it is that people don't even get her name right--and why a query doesn't have to be perfect (but does have to be great) to get a yes.

You can book time to go over YOUR query at http://manuscriptacademy.com/kelly-van-sant/.

Kelly Van Sant has a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She cut her teeth in New York working at esteemed literary agencies such as Writers House and Harold Ober Associates. After relocating to Minnesota, Kelly joined Llewellyn Worldwide as their Contracts Manager across all three imprints and then moved to Quarto Publishing Group USA where she led the contract department.

She has worked as a freelance editor and is a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center. She also blogs about writing and the publishing industry at Pub(lishing) Crawl and co-hosts their weekly podcast. Kelly’s career came full circle when she realized that her true passion was advocating on behalf of authors. She is now an agent at Red Sofa Literary and actively building a client list. You can learn more about her and what she’s looking for on her website www.penandparsley.com
Jun 12 2018
27 mins
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Rank #9: Episode Twenty: A Conversation With Stephanie Fretwell-Hill of Red Fox Literary

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We talk with agent Stephanie Fretwell-Hill of Red Fox Literary about what happens when things go wrong during international work travel--and how the publishing community will often come together make sure everyone's okay. (You don't want to miss Stephanie's story--it's a very "Agents are people too" moment that had Jessica terrified on Stephanie's behalf. Don't worry--she ends up fine!)

We also talk about the difference between our IDEA of what a career is like, versus the reality. (Hint: We almost never think about how creative professions usually have less time for inspiration than we imagine.)

We also talk about building a book community outside of NYC (Stephanie's in Atlanta), how to balance work and life, and how best to get an agent emotionally onboard with your work.

Want to talk with Stephanie more? You can! She's part of The Manuscript Academy's Ten Minutes With An Expert program. You can e-meet her to discuss your work here: https://manuscriptacademy.com/ten/ and follow her on Twitter here: @SFretwellHill.

Podcast edited by the amazing @ParleyCook.
Jul 18 2017
32 mins
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Rank #10: Episode 41: #TenQueries with Agent Roseanne Wells

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Agent Roseanne Wells of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency goes through her query inbox, narrating for us both what's in there and what writers can learn from these works. We discuss everything from picture books to adult sci fi, tropes (for queries and in books) that work and are best avoided, and personalization that reads as such--and how we can tell if it's a simple cut and paste to all the agents on your list.

We also talk about what works for illustrators, and styles in query sentences that set you apart in a bad way. We have a short lesson on Caps For Emphasis, and the difference between strong female characters and Strong Female Characters.

We then share some of Roseanne's insights from her Worldbuilding 101 class (available in the Full Library), and talk about how even contemporary needs it--every book, after all, needs a world.

You can follow Roseanne at https://twitter.com/rivetingrosie.
Aug 15 2018
16 mins
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Rank #11: Episode 43: Great First Lines with Agent John Cusick

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We speak with agent John M. Cusick of Folio Literary Management about great first lines, what they can do for your work--and how they can make a good first impression that will stick with your reader, whether in a bookstore or in the slush pile.

John's class is available (with our full library of classes) at ManuscriptAcademy.com.

You can find him online at JohnMCusick.com, or at https://twitter.com/johnmcusick
Sep 12 2018
24 mins
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Rank #12: 51: Structure, Characters + Narrative Beats with agent Hannah Fergesen

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Hannah Fergesen of KT Literary joins us to talk about how she moved from film to publishing (and what makes the two industries different and the same), how R&Rs can turn to offers (and vice versa), and why just because we like a project doesn't mean we can take it on.

Naturally, we talk about Buffy (it was inevitable), Hannah's fascination with darker works, and why sometimes younger editors take on riskier projects.

We also talk about structure—how to make sure that your characters motivate action, why this can be so difficult, and how to make sure your character is active—so your story maintains tension, so readers (and agents!) keep turning pages.

Hannah's class, Structure, Characters + Narrative Beats, is now availble. Tickets are $25 for the recorded, edited class + Live Q&A April 24, 8:30pm EDT. Join here: https://manuscriptacademy.com/structure

You can find Hannah's podcast, Good Witches, Bad Bitches, here: https://www.patreon.com/gwbbpodcast

And find Hannah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/hannahfergesen
Apr 10 2019
36 mins
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Rank #13: Episode Sixteen: Reaction: The First Pages Podcast

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We talk with Lindsey Danis about her experience being workshopped on our podcast, the changes she's implemented, and whether she wanted to reach through the screen and shake us for not getting it.

We also answer Lindsey's questions and talk about how much self-deprecation can work on the page (versus in real life) and how to create (and why you should try to create) an emotional and aesthetic range.

Want to volunteer as tribute? Submit your page for consideration by sending it to Academy@ManuscriptWishList.com as a Word document (yes, we know! The opposite of querying: we WANT an attachment). Please put "First Pages Podcast" in the subject line.

For your reference, here is Lindsay's first page, which we went over in episode fourteen:

My Life Without You by Lindsey Danis
It’s the last day of the first week of school and the air has this incredible warmth, like summer’s just a tease. I unzip my navy-blue mechanic’s jacket, which I’ve been warned is not sanctioned as school uniform. I’m meeting my best friend Birdie at our sanctuary, the appropriately named Haven Diner. The Square feels like home and I breathe in its smell of incense, sweat, and garbage, happy to be here.

Harvard Square is about a mile from my parents’ house (correction: my father’s house) and it’s ground zero for any street punk/riot grrrl/alternative kid in the Boston area. Street artists, protesters, musicians, writers—everyone who cares about arts, culture, and activism hangs out here, learning from and inspiring one another.

The Square as we all call it shares nothing but a name with that Ivy League school. You would think it would be totally pretentious, just like the university barricaded behind 27 iron gates, but it’s the opposite. Harvard students cut across to go from dorm to class and back again, but the Square belongs to everyone. University janitors eat their packed sandwiches and rub shoulders with teen runaways, retail store clerks take smoke breaks, homeless folks play chess outside the coffee shop. Even the diehard Cambridge hippies pause and take in the scene on their way to poetry readings or theater performances.

Worlds blend and cultures mix, especially when you’re waiting outside Haven for a seat. Popular girls from my old school who would never smile at me in the hallways call out my name to ask how summer was. At my new school I may be the weirdo, but whatever I am is all right here in the Square. There’s no judgment.
Apr 19 2017
18 mins
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Rank #14: Episode Ten: An Interview With Harlequin Editor Carly Silver

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We speak with Harlequin editor Carly Silver about corgis, men in kilts--and whether giving birth to a baby or a book is harder. We also talk about fangirling (and when even editors have to keep their cool), the loooooooong edit process, and an average month in Carly's editing life. We also talk about how trends can help publishers find money for similar work. Added bonus: We think Google should fund what she has in mind as a 20% project. Check it out!

You can learn more about Carly at @CarlyASilver.
Jan 19 2017
33 mins
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Rank #15: Episode Nineteen: A Conversation with Jaime Coyne of St Martin's/Macmillan

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We talk with editor Jaime Coyne, of St. Martin's Press/Macmillan, about the joys and stresses of being and editor who also writes--or did also write--or now speculates about how many editors and agents secretly write. Meanwhile, plenty of tips on how Jessica imagines that going (catastrophically) with social fallout (and awkward run-ins at corner stores in yoga pants after having been editorially torn apart).

Back in the real world, we discuss how different edits can lead you to the same place (yes, really! Sometimes editor A's suggestion X and editor B's suggestion Y can get you to the same draft Z), why that's true--and why you shouldn't idealize editorial life.

Plus, of course, filming day--which Jaime attended, jackhammers and all.

This episode was edited by the amazing Parley Cook.
Jun 06 2017
23 mins
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Rank #16: 52: A Real Live Consultation with Agent Danielle Chiotti

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Ever wonder what happens when you meet with an agent? Two very generous people--Danielle Chiotti, agent, and Kayla King, writer--let us listen in on their consultation. In this episode, Danielle reacts to Kayla's page in the moment, asks for clarification, and comes up with solutions on the spot to make Kayla's page (even) stronger.

Want to see Danielle's LIVE first pages panel on May 14, 8:30pm EDT? Send your page and a question ahead for a chance of live feedback from Danielle, Jessica and Julie--or send it ahead and watch the digital replay on your phone, tablet or laptop. https://manuscriptacademy.com/danielle.
You can find Kayla at kaylakingbooks.com and on Twitter @KaylaMKing.

Here's Kayla's first page, shared here with the permission of the author:

Home existed on the map beneath the painted bee’s wings. Camryn memorized the design of her city as a distraction. The framed artwork used to calm her, but now she couldn’t contain her anxiety. She sat on the cool metal table with four pristine walls of the clinic around her. Waiting. All week she’d worried about what would happen next.
One needle.
One dose.
Once every year.
The past few days, Camryn counted those facts from one to three on her fingers. She hoped the practice would settle her nerves. The last time she searched trypanophobia, the results provided breathing exercises, and suggested focusing on a word or phrase to subdue her fear of the needle. She focused on three: the word, and occasionally, the number. Counting consumed her uncertainty most days.
But not today.
Everything gleamed like the tip of the needle within the white-walled room; too clean and perfect and permeated with the pungent smell of antiseptic.
“One. Two. Three. Two. One.” Those words were a whisper, but even in her head they sounded like Gram. The memory of the voice couldn’t soothe Camryn because it made her think of Gram before she’d gotten sick. It took a knock outside the door to silence the thought.
“Are we ready?” Dr. Rambert was supposed to administer the injection, but he smelled like spearmint. He corrupted her calm.
Camryn took three deep breaths, and offered a small smile, hoping to convince the doctor and her mom that she would be okay. “Please, Mom?” Camryn tried to keep her voice steady because the thought of the needle shook her. She focused on the painting of the honey bee, but remembered reading about how they died after stinging. The thought made her feel worse. She couldn’t remember why the painting was supposed to placate her nerves.
“This should feel like routine by now,” Dr. Rambert said.
“You need it.” Her mom always sounded so detached at the clinic, and right now, Camryn needed her to sound like a mom.
“But it’s real.” Camryn didn’t want to explain her trypanophobia again. Talking about the fear only made it worse.
Her mom moved to the side of the table. “This has always been nonsensical. I thought you’d outgrow it by now.”
Camryn’s reasoning was too real. The memory of Gram’s failed injection was real, too. She remembered the way a similar needle pierced Gram’s skin. The injection had atrophied the muscle to the point where she could no longer lift her arm to hold a book or a cup of tea.
“Please?” Camryn wasn’t sure anyone heard because she hadn’t taken in enough air to say the word. She couldn’t breathe. But she must have looked ready then because her mom sterilized her arm with a clear solution, making her eyes water. The smell stung inside her nose. She closed her eyes, and waited.
May 06 2019
19 mins
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Rank #17: Episode 31: First Pages with Author Cameron Rosenblum

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Longtime critique partners Julie Kingsley and Cameron Rosenblum dive into another first page for The Manuscript Academy Podcast. Join them for a quick reading and review of contemporary YA first page. Repped by the fabulous Brianne Johnson, a Senior Agent at Writer’s House, Cameron is a school librarian, who served as a judge for the CYBIL’s Award and was a guest blogger for the Nerdy Book Club.

This page by author Lauren Shade.
CHAPTER ONE
SADIE

I can't get caught.

My stomach turns as I unclench my fists and wipe my palms down the side of my shorts. I can’t. I am so close…so close to the truth I can taste it, and if I get caught, she’ll take it away from me. She did it once. She’ll do it again.

I keep my eyes locked on the kitchen archway. Toes curled in the plush living room carpet. Sweat gathers under my arms and behind my bent knees, in the area where my boobs meet the underwire of my bra. My heart beat drums in my ears, much louder than the air conditioning or the gentle wind pulling the smell of salt-water and rain through the open terrace doors. The wall separating us is streaked yellow with sunlight. I can almost see her through it, phone pressed against her ear, probably pacing and definitely with a drink in hand, but nowhere close to suspecting what’s going on right under her nose. With a shaky breath, I inch my hand into my mother’s coat pocket. Slowly. Slowly. Fingers touching metal and plastic.

This is wrong. Stealing her keys. Breaking into her office.
I should stop.
Maybe I should listen to Dante’s advice for once.

The first time he told me some things were better left alone was when I was twelve. It was during primary school. I would spend each summer at the Arzola Estate in Coral Gables.

The manicured lawns were my playground. The ocean front was a mini paradise I would swim in for hours on end. One day when the chauffeur dropped me off, he turned to me with dead-set eyes and said, “Nobody has this much money unless they’re involved in bad things; if you know what I mean.” But, I didn’t know what he meant…though I’d soon find out.
Dante and I used to love playing hide and seek at night.

That night was no different.

The mansion was a fortress. I would fade into the shadows of the hallway or climb the stairs to the third floor, maybe higher to the fourth where the library was and the art studio. This time I was it. I stood in the middle of the common room, shouting the countdown behind cloaked eyes and a smile that grew wider by the second. When I finally found him, Dante was hiding outside the boathouse, but he wasn’t hiding from me. There was a blizzard in his eyes, a frozen panic that raised chill bumps on my arms. He had turned into a statue—stone-faced and stone-silent. I was cautious as I approached him.
“Dante?”

Pop!

I jumped as the gun exploded.

A metallic jingle—the keys scraping against each other. The memories vanish, and I’m back in the den. My mother’s voice floats from the next room, low and quick. I strain to make out the conversation she’s having, gauge how close or far she is, but her words all mesh together.

Focus.

“Damn it, Javi! Who gave him access to the accounts? Do I need to come there myself?”

I go completely still, the keys swinging back and forth in my fingers. In the kitchen, cabinets open with a creak and shut with a bang. Her accent draws closer as though she’s walking toward the living room. I pinch my eyes closed and grit my teeth until my jaw starts to ache, and though inside I’m on fire, outside I’m ice. I’m Dante on the night we heard those noises.
Apr 04 2018
11 mins
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Rank #18: Episode Eighteen: Five Days To A Fab First Page

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You heard it here first! Join The Manuscript Academy--along with editors and agents from top houses and agencies--for five daily lessons, five videos, a supportive critique group, AND a LIVE first pages panel--all for $25.

Just head to ManuscriptAcademy.com/Five to learn more.
May 02 2017
3 mins
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Rank #19: Episode 28: An Interview with Kiana Nguyen

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We speak with literary agent Kiana Nguyen of Donald Maass Agency about being a writer AND agent, her days as a park ranger in California and New York, and what she'd do with a Ph.D. in Anthropology.

PLUS, we talk about her unusual journey into publishing--which involved Twitter networking, a contest, and getting killed in a work of fiction, The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn: http://www.shanekuhn.com/the-intern-s-handbook.html

We also discuss why a form letter is just a form letter--but that still doesn't make US feel better, and very important topics including trains that get across the country in under an hour (see https://www.wired.com/2013/07/elon-musk-hyperloop/).

You can book a meeting with Kiana here: http://manuscriptacademy.com/ten/
Jan 22 2018
44 mins
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Rank #20: Episode Eleven: PubLaw, Negotiation, and An Interview With Lawyer-Turned-Agent Melissa Edwards

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We talk with Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary about the transition from lawyer to agent, PubLaw basics, and how she really should start a Melissa Explains It All Podcast. We also talk about her favorite podcasts, what negotiation looks like within Publishing--and that someone should really make a product called Not So Tights for women who like to be warm AND comfortable.
Jan 26 2017
33 mins
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