Rank #1: Episode 22: #TenQueries with agent John Cusick
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!
Rank #2: Episode Six: How To Spend Ten Minutes With An Agent
Rank #3: Episode 34: #TenQueries with Jessica
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.)
Rank #4: Episode 36: #TenQueries with Agent Kelly Van Sant
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
Rank #5: Episode 23: Comp Titles with Rachel Ektrom Courage
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!
Rank #6: Episode 39: Editors, Query Mistakes, and The Best Cookies Ever
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
Rank #7: Episode Thirteen: Our First First Pages Episode
We're joined this week by the lovely and talented literary agent Linda Camacho of the Prospect Agency. You can view her class, How To Write A Manuscript That Gets and Keeps Everyone's attention, in The Manuscript Academy's A La Carte classes section: http://manuscriptacademy.com/a-la-carte-classes/
For your reference (if you'd like to read along at home), here's the first page we'll be discussing this week:
I pick up the gun making sure not to ruin my new manicure and pull the carnival rifle to my chest, peering down the barrel at the long rows of colors until I see the first yellow star. Just like at target practice. Thank you, Dad! Brace the legs. Grip the ground. Take a deep centering breath. Give my hips a little swirl to the beat of the music pumping its way through the Sagadahoc Strawberry Festival. And boom! Bull’s eye.
“Two more to go!” I turn to Renee, my oldest friend in Maine and the most down to earth chick I know, and say, “I’m going to bring home a two-foot strawberry.” I gesture to the obscene looking overripe stuffed fruit hanging from a large hook in the ceiling.
Renee raises unplucked brows underneath fringy bangs. “Just what you need… at the blueberry farm.” She leans in close and whispers, “Seriously, all of these games are rigged. Don’t waste your money. If you waited tables with me at The Muffin, you wouldn’t be wasting it all on this…. ridiculousness.”
“Play with me! Live a little! ” I raise the gun in the air. “Come on, you know you want to.”
“I’ve gotta go to the bathroom.”
“You picking the Port-O-Potty over my mission?”
Renee points past the tilt-a-whirl, toward the line that extends almost all the way around the Fun House. “You are a total freak. Stay right here. The cell service is horrible. If I lose you, I might not be able to find you again. And trust me, it’s a long walk back home.” I give her a cheeky wink. “You are a freak, California girl,” Renee says before shoving both hands into her sweatshirt and heading into the crowd.
Rank #8: Episode Three: A Conversation With Amanda Shih
Rank #9: Episode Four: A Conversation With Agent Linda Camacho
Rank #10: Episode 41: #TenQueries with Agent Roseanne Wells
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.
Rank #11: Episode 43: Great First Lines with Agent John Cusick
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
Rank #12: Episode 31: First Pages with Author Cameron Rosenblum
This page by author Lauren Shade.
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.
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.
“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.
Rank #13: Episode Fourteen: First Page Podcast With Agent Caitie Flum
Want to volunteer as tribute? Submit your page for consideration by sending it to Academy@ManuscriptWishList.com as a Word document. Please put "First Pages Podcast in the subject line."
If you'd like to follow along at home, please scroll down to see this week's page.
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.
Rank #14: Episode 32: Agents, Lawyers, and Contracts: Melissa Edwards of MLE Consulting
You'll also learn about why you don't HAVE to have an agent to get a good deal--and how Melissa's new venture, MLE Consulting, can make sure no one has to sign a bad contract again. See https://www.melissaedwardsesq.com/.
Melissa also has a great habit of sharing writing prompts with her friends. We asked for today's, and we really want to know! How does other people's advice play a role in your life? Talk about this with your new writing friends at ManuscriptAcademy.com/Facebook.
Rank #15: Episode 40: Jennifer Thermes: Finding Your Creative Voice
JENNIFER THERMES is a children’s book author, illustrator, and map illustrator. She graduated from Parsons School of Design with a degree in Communication Design. Her books have received a Kirkus starred review, been included in several Bank Street College lists, and been recognized in 3×3 Magazine’s Children’s Illustration Annual.
A Horn Book Magazine review described Jennifer’s black & white art as “warm pencil drawings reminiscent of Lois Lenski.” She has created maps for books including Thornghost, The Emperor’s Ostrich, and The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street.
Jennifer lives with her family and an assortment of cats, dogs, and uninvited mice in an 18th century farmhouse in Connecticut. Please visit art-words-life.blogspot.com, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest news!