227 episodes

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

The Manuscript Academy #MSWL

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 281 Ratings

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

    How To Build Romantic Tension In Any Genre with Author Lynn Painter

    How To Build Romantic Tension In Any Genre with Author Lynn Painter

    We’ve never seen a romantic comedy like this one! Happily Never After breaks ALL* the rom com rules, while still maintaining tension, interest, narrative arcs, and everything you need in a satisfying read.

    Learn the rules our favorite way—by watching Lynn breaks them, succeed, and tell you how she did it.

    Whatever your genre, a romantic element adds emotional range, a break from anything difficult in your narrative, and something we can understand—even if the rest of your story could never happen on Earth.

    Learn more about Lynn and Happily Never After at https://lynnpainter.com.

    Transcript here: https://manuscriptacademy.com/podcast-lynn-painter

    Modern Rom-Com Trends (00:00:33)
    Discussion about the modern and timely aspects of Lynn Painter's rom-com book and the trend in rom-coms.

    Lynn Painter's Writing Journey (00:01:14)
    Lynn shares her 15-year writing journey, including switching to young adult (YA) and contemporary romance, and finally finding success during the pandemic.

    Understanding Option Clause (00:02:39)
    Lynn explains the option clause in book contracts and how it impacted her writing process.

    The Long Game of Writing (00:04:17)
    Discussion about the 15-year journey and the importance of continuous writing and learning in the process.

    Challenges of Querying (00:08:18)
    Lynn shares her experience with querying, the importance of a unique story, and the challenges of finding an agent.

    Writing within Romance Genre (00:10:51)
    Exploration of how to make contemporary romance stand out within the genre's constraints and the significance of adding urgency and uniqueness to the story.

    The Genesis of "Happily Never After" (00:12:03)
    Lynn discusses the origin of her book's idea and how it evolved into "Happily Never After."

    Dual Point of View in Romance (00:16:44)
    Lynn explains her preference for dual point of view in writing romance and how it helps to show what makes the other person attractive.

    Maintaining Tension (00:24:45)
    Lynn shares her struggle with pacing and the use of tension in romance novels.

    Revealing Subtext (00:25:39)
    The discussion on maintaining tension and revealing just enough information in the romance genre.

    Micro Moments (00:35:51)
    The joy of incorporating small details to enhance the story and character dynamics.

    Rom Com Genre Advice (00:38:12)
    Lynn advises aspiring rom com writers to focus on incorporating humor and visualizing their stories as rom com movies.

    The importance of writing what you love (00:39:26)
    Advice on finding joy in writing, aligning with personal traits, and avoiding mismatched genres.

    The role of critique partners and writing support (00:46:29)
    Discussion of the author's experience with a supportive writing group and the impact of having trusted critique partners.

    Empowerment in expressing personal desires in romance (00:54:02)
    Exploration of a character's empowerment in expressing personal desires in a romantic context.

    Advice for writers (00:57:27)
    The importance of setting aside regular time to write and its impact on the author's writing journey.

    *Ok, there are probably some we forgot about that she doesn’t break, but it’s definitely an outside of the box read in the very best way.

    • 58 min
    Red And Green Flags When Querying Agents with Agent Emmy Nordstrom Higdon

    Red And Green Flags When Querying Agents with Agent Emmy Nordstrom Higdon

    We are thrilled to welcome Emmy Nordstrom Higdon, agent at Westwood Creative Associates, to talk with us about the red and green flags when querying agents--how you can show (mostly) green flags, recognize agent red flags, and give yourself the best odds of a positive, productive working relationship.

    Learn more about Emmy and book a consultation here: https://manuscriptacademy.com/faculty-members/emmy-nordstrom-higdon

    Transcript at:

    **Emmy's #MSWL (00:00:35)**
    Emmy discusses their soft opening to queries, their genre preferences, and the type of writing they're looking for this year.

    **Top Reasons For Rejection (00:07:07)**
    The challenges faced by authors in querying, including the lack of research and the competitive nature of the process.

    **Query Letter Length and Precision (00:13:31)**
    Emmy and the hosts discuss the ideal length and precision of query letters to capture an agent's interest.

    **Query Letter and Comps (00:19:50)**
    Importance of query letter personalization and clever comp selections.

    **Agency Agreement and Communication Style (00:28:54)**
    Discussion on agency agreements and the importance of effective communication style between authors and agents.

    **Online Presence Expectations (00:34:03)**
    The significance of an author's online presence and the issue of leveraging agents during the query process.

    **Editorial Style As A Red Or Green Flag (00:38:38)**
    Agents and authors discussing editorial changes and flexibility, green flag indicators.

    **Honest Communication (00:40:21)**
    Importance of honest communication in the author-agent relationship and the manifestation process for finding the right fit.

    **Author-Agent Questions (00:42:32)**
    The significance of authors asking targeted, specific questions, and the red flag of excessive or generic queries.

    **Agent's Questions and Interest (00:43:26)**
    The importance of agents asking relevant questions and showing interest in an author's goals, with red flag indicators.

    **Author Vulnerability (00:46:42)**
    The value of authors expressing fears and concerns, and the agent's response as a green or red flag indicator.

    **Unrealistic Promises (00:49:13)**
    Discussion on agents making unrealistic promises and the red flag it presents for authors.

    **Decision Timeframe (00:49:59)**
    The reasonable timeframe for authors to make a decision when receiving an offer from an agent.

    **Nudge Process (00:55:20)**
    The nudge process, its impact on agents, and the balance between author's anxiety and clear communication.

    **The timestamp's title (time it starts)**
    short description, with max 20 words, of what is covered in this topic.

    **Agent's Response Time and Prioritization (00:57:11)**
    Discussion about agents' response time and prioritization of manuscripts based on genre and offers.

    **Communication and Politeness with Agents (00:58:15)**
    Advice on maintaining friendly and polite communication with agents and understanding their workload and time constraints.

    **Editorial Expectations and Red Flags (00:59:52)**
    Exploring editorial expectations, red flags related to agent's editorial approach, and the importance of aligning expectations.

    **Expectations and Realistic Publishing Goals (01:02:07)**
    Discussion on setting realistic publishing goals, understanding audience expectations, and potential red flags.

    **Agent-Author Relationship and Expectations (01:06:02)**
    Managing expectations, dealing with rejection, and ensuring the agent's support during challenging situations.

    **Agent-Author Communication and Feedback (01:08:15)**
    Advice on maintaining open communication, avoiding scarcity mentality, and addressing concerns with agents in a constructive manner.

    **Understanding Agents' Logic and Communication (01:12:13)**
    Importance of understanding agents' reasoning and maintaining open communication for a successful author-agent relationship.

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Writing Dialogue That Brings Complicated Characters To Life with Author Karen Outen

    Writing Dialogue That Brings Complicated Characters To Life with Author Karen Outen

    Even our podcast editor describes author Karen Outen as "a breath of fresh air." After twenty years of work, her book, Dixon Descending, features two brothers with a seemingly impossible goal: To be the first Black American men to summit Everest.

    We discuss how Karen learned to write realistic dialogue that jumps off the page, her publishing journey of more than 20 years, and how to pitch complicated ideas--and know when they're ready to send to agents.

    Karen Outen’s fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, The North American Review, Essence, and elsewhere. She is a 2018 recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award and has been a fellow at both the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan and the Pew Fellowships in the Arts. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan. She lives in Maryland.

    Transcript here: http://manuscriptacademy.com/podcast-karen-outen

    The journey to Everest (00:00:43)
    Karen discusses the audacious journey of Dixon and Nate to summit Mount Everest, the challenges they face, and the consequences of their actions.

    The fascination with Mount Everest (00:02:15)
    Karen and the unnamed guest discuss the allure of writing about Mount Everest and the unique experience of researching and writing about mountain climbing.

    The concept of "second-tier fun" (00:04:29)
    The guests delve into the concept of "second-tier fun," discussing the challenges and rewards of writing and mountain climbing, and the enjoyment found in retrospect.

    The mountain as a living force (00:05:39)
    Karen and the hosts explore the idea of Mount Everest as an embodied force, discussing the climbers' relationship with the mountain and its impact on their experiences.

    Karen's publishing journey (00:07:10)
    Karen shares her long journey to publishing her novel, including the challenges, rejections, and the support she received from the writing community.

    The importance of writer friends (00:10:04)
    The discussion revolves around the significance of having a supportive community of writer friends and the impact of their encouragement and guidance.

    Finding inspiration for the book (00:11:17)
    Karen reads the opening page of "Dixon Descending" and discusses the process of refining the first page and the structure of the novel.

    The journey of character development (00:13:24)
    Karen shares her process of discovering the central theme of the book and the challenges of structuring the narrative to balance the present and the past.

    Exploring consequences and character stakes (00:16:17)
    The conversation focuses on the development of character stakes, the consequences faced by Dixon, and the complexities of his relationships and responsibilities.

    The dynamics of dialogue (00:22:36)
    The discussion centers on the distinct and vivid dialogue in the book, and Karen shares insights and tips on writing compelling dialogue.

    Revision Process (00:31:28)
    Insights into the author's revision process, including techniques and the role of feedback from readers.

    Bravery in Publishing (00:34:30)
    The author's perseverance and challenges faced in the publishing journey.

    Pitching Complicated Work (00:46:18)
    Tips for summarizing complex stories and knowing when a manuscript is ready for submission.

    Efficiency and Core of the Story (00:47:24)
    Understanding the efficiency of storytelling and presenting the core of the narrative.

    • 50 min
    Personal, Political, Published: Finding Agents For Important, Sensitive Topics with Annie Cardi

    Personal, Political, Published: Finding Agents For Important, Sensitive Topics with Annie Cardi

    CONTENT WARNING: Mentions of abortion, grooming, assault.

    Annie Cardi's new book, Red, is a very modern take on The Scarlet Letter. Today, Annie joins Jessica and Julie to discuss the importance of tough topics in YA novels, how to create "quiet" books that pack a punch, and writing advice for new authors.

    Transcript here: https://manuscriptacademy.com/podcast-annie-cardi

    We discuss:
    Teaching teens relationship red flags
    Fiction as a safe space for difficult conversations
    The power of supportive community
    Being a good literary citizen
    Finding the right agent for you-even if it means making tough choices

    Annie Cardi is the author of young adult novels. Her first book, The Chance You Won’t Return, received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year for 2015. She has an MFA from Emerson College, and she currently lives with her family and dog in the Boston area. Learn more about Annie here: https://www.anniecardi.com/about


    Annie Cardi's writing process and journey to finding an agent (00:01:07)

    Differences between first and second book publication (00:03:59)

    Reading of the first page and foreshadowing (00:07:30)

    Character development and relationships (00:13:26)

    Navigating sensitive topics in the publishing industry (00:16:01)

    Creating tension and emotional range in the story (00:18:13)

    Creating a quiet book with commercial appeal (00:22:55)

    Content warnings and their importance (00:27:26)

    Using storytelling to educate about manipulation and red flags (00:32:05)

    Navigating agent relationships (00:48:46)

    Community support (00:52:16)

    Being a good literary citizen (00:57:57)

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Building Character, Enhancing POV, and Principles of (E)motion with Author Sara Read

    Building Character, Enhancing POV, and Principles of (E)motion with Author Sara Read

    A smart, poignant novel perfect for fans of Lessons in Chemistry
    “An incredible STEMinist read.”—The Honey Pop

    Transcript, timestamps and video clips here: https://manuscriptacademy.com/podcast-sara-read

    Join Julie and Jessica as they talk to the fabulous Sara Read, the author of the recent book Principles of (E)motion.

    Trust us when we say it'll make you swoon--and get excited for math like you've never thought possible.

    We discuss Sara's fascinating leapfrog writing approach, finding an agent, and making characters see each other in rich, dynamic ways.

    Before she started writing fiction, Sara got a degree in Women’s Studies from U.C. Santa Cruz. She tried the nine-to-five life for about a nanosecond before moving to rural Virginia to become a flute-maker’s apprentice and traditional fiddle player. Some years and two babies later, she returned to school for a Masters in Nursing. A cancer survivor herself, she now has the privilege of caring for cancer patients as a nurse.

    JOHANNA PORTER IS NOT SORRY, released in March 2023, was her debut novel. Her latest novel, PRINCIPLES OF (E)MOTION comes out January 2024. Sara's short stories have been featured in The Missouri Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, and Zone 3 Press, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is represented by Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.

    Sara is co-host of #MomsWritersClub, a Twitter/X community and YouTube channel. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, two teens, a terrier, and three snarky cats.

    • 40 min
    Rejection Interpretation, Pivots & Annual Submission Strategy Workshop (January 23-25)

    Rejection Interpretation, Pivots & Annual Submission Strategy Workshop (January 23-25)

    Join our workshop here! https://manuscriptacademy.com/product/three-day-submission-strategy-workshop

    Are you a writer thinking about querying? Or have you already queried, and you're worried that a rejection you received means you should pivot, edit for months, or--worst of all--give up?

    This is for you. Listen in on how we'll interpret rejections, help you do your research, workshop with you, support you, and invite an agent panel to go over your work.

    Whether you're ready to query now or sometime in the next year, this is a great way to train your brain to overcome negativity bias, see your process objectively--and make the best decisions for you, this book, and your whole writing career.

    • 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
281 Ratings

281 Ratings

Sheila Myers ,

Just right

I listen to this podcast while working out and it’s just the right amount of information and inspiration.

KerrieFaye ,


Really enjoy this podcast! As a querying author, I highly recommend giving it a listen!

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Mixed Bag

I’m at the beginning of the learning curve. Ten episodes will do it for me. My experience of these podcasts is that they’re informative, rarely insightful. But after three shows, I’m out of patience with relentless enthusiasm, hyperbole and breathless praise for nearly everything, including typos.

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