The Manuscript Academy brings you conversations with agents, editors, and writers who can help you on your publishing journey.
Subrights, Sci Fi, Graphic Novels, And How Publishing Makes Money with Agent Em Lysaght
This episode was recorded live in front of our Facebook group. Join for free events, support, community and more: https://manuscriptacademy.com/facebook
We talk with Em about her time in subrights, focusing on co-editions (and what that means), how predictions about ebooks were far from accurate, and what we should do about New Adult (and the very idea genre in a world with digital shelves).
We also discuss new developments in science fiction (and the type she’s looking for now), D&D, video games, and torturing plants. And whether you should have an artist along for the ride with your graphic novel submission—plus other tips for success.
We talk about how agents neither can nor want to represent everyone—and how this mentality can help you keep going with your submissions. Plus, insights from the editorial process, why fit has to be so good—and what happens when an agent and editor disagree on your edits.
You can find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mmmlysaght.
Communication, Negotiation, and Getting What You Need For Peak Creativity with Amyra León
We loved recording this episode. Amyra touches on the very most vital parts of creativity—and still manages, even after all her success as an artist, musician, activist, and more--to have the perfect advice for beginning writers on what matters most.
She talks about how to value your work—even when you don’t have a lot of spare time; how to communicate with your team (whether friends, agents, editors, or otherwise) to get what you need to support your art—and why, with creative projects, you should always start before you’re ready.
Amyra León is an author, musician, playwright, and activist. Her work transcends genre and medium, and focuses on Black liberation, politics, and communal healing. She believes that the art of listening and honest conversation are the primary tools for lasting change. Her aim is to empower communities to believe in the significance of their individual stories. The conversation has just begun.
León takes readers on a poetic journey through her childhood in Harlem, as she navigates the intricacies of foster care, mourning, self-love, and resilience, inviting us all to dream with abandon–and to recognize the privilege it is to dream at all.
Amyra’s latest work is called CONCRETE KIDS. This beautiful book written in free verse is an exploration of love and loss, melody and bloodshed. Learn more here: www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/61218…ukashevsky/
You can find her music--which goes very well with her book!--here: www.amyraleon.com/
November Announcements! Panels, Q&A's, Member Lounge, Submission Strategy Events + More
Hey Everyone! We know there’s a lot going on in the world this week, and we hope you’re doing well. We’re doing our best to create a kind, cozy community for you, so have support going into these winter months.
Here’s what’s happening this month:
Tuesday, November 10, we have a live queries and pages panel with agent Kiana Nguyen at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. If you haven’t met her, she’s delightful, and has wonderful insights into your pages. You can learn more at https://manuscriptacademy.com/kiana-nguyen-panel.
We’re also creating a number of events in our new member lounge, which is pretty much what happens if you take your favorite creative coffeeshop, add a bunch of talented writers from all over the world, and work together with special guests to get the most out of your writing time. https://manuscriptacademy.com/member-lounge
This means small events in a cozy, no-pressure setting. Here are the member lounge events for this month:
November 17 is a new experiment for us—a sort of Dr. Phil-esque event where you can send us your “What do I do now?” publishing questions and, together, we find your best submission strategy.
November 19, we have a live podcast recording and Q&A with agent Larissa Melo Pienkowski. We just did one of these last month, and it felt like a living room party Q&A. It’s a great way to have a real, interactive conversation and get your questions answered.
And November 12, 18 and 30, you can join us for our Write Together events, where you can work alongside other writers for support and positive peer pressure, and then meet for small-group networking.
And last but certainly not least, coming up on the podcast we have interviews with Serendipity Literary agent Kelly Thomas, HarperCollins editor Rebecca Raskin, and Activist, musician, playwright, and Penguin author Amyra León.
As always, you can see our full calendar of events at https://manuscriptacademy.com/calendar, and learn more about our member lounge at https://manuscriptacademy.com/member-lounge.
Again, take good care of yourselves.
Determination, Kicking Down Doors, and Joining The Publishing Industry At 40 with Agent Kelly Thomas
We are so happy to join Kelly Thomas, agent at Serendipity Literary, to talk about what happens on the agent side of the desk—how agents get hired, how much determination is involved, and what it’s like to enter the industry at 40.
Plus, as a writer herself, Kelly has extra insight into what goes through agents' minds when writing rejections--and how that affects her process now.
We also talk about:
9:07 How job application advice also applies to queries
10:06 How Kelly writes her rejections
12:48 What it’s like to be a writer inside publishing, and the empathy gap between agents and writers
16:08 What Kelly’s looking for in her inbox
27:06 The different times in the process that you might hear back on your projects
Kelly Thomas brings 15 years of sales and business expertise to the literary world as a champion for writers. Kelly is a certified copy editor who has a Bachelor's degree in English (Literature) from Pace University. Prior to joining Serendipity, she provided manuscript analysis for the D4EO literary agency. Kelly is a published poet with publications in 'Tales for the Disenchanted' (2008) and 'Penumbra Art & Literature' (2015). She serves as a freelance editor and ghost writer in her free time.
Kelly is a ferocious reader, lover of books, and has a passion for writing. Indeed a writer at heart, no matter the form (essays, articles, blogs, poems, short stories, marketing literature, resumes, or manuscripts), she will quickly put pen to page. Kelly is eager to build her client roster and is actively seeking the next bestselling author!
Kelly is most interested in nonfiction (narrative nonfiction, memoirs, true crime), and adult fiction (psychological thrillers, mysteries, suspense, comedies). She enjoys fast-paced, plot-driven fiction with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping moments. She is drawn to stories about leadership, overcoming adversity, and beating the odds. Stories that are told from a unique psychological vantage point are always of interest. The truth is often stranger than fiction, so Kelly is actively looking for the next great true crime manuscript with a murderous and methodical plot.
#TenQueries With Agent Megan Barnard
We are so happy to join Megan Barnard on a journey through her inbox. Listen as she describes ten real queries, her thoughts on each one, and what they mean for you in your querying process. Plus, hear about her tips, how she got into agenting, and her best practices for getting an agent's attention.
Megan joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an Associate Literary Agent in 2020, after interning for nearly three years at several top literary agencies, including P.S. Literary Agency and Folio Literary Management.
She has worked as an editor and copywriter and has a BA in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) from Hollins University.
She represents a wide variety of adult fiction with a focus on historical, upmarket, bookclub, literary, women’s fiction, thriller, and historical fantasy. She also represents narrative nonfiction including memoir, nature writing, and food writing. She loves anything lyrical and character-driven.
100th Episode! Agents Kayla Lightner, Fiona Kenshole, Saba Sulaiman & Producer Marilyn Atlas
We are so excited to share our 100th podcast episode! This was our very first Zoom event, our first live podcast recording with guests in the room with us--and we were thrilled to welcome more than 100 of you.
We are so happy to welcome:
Kayla Lightner, Ayesha Pande Literary
Saba Sulaiman, Talcott-Notch Literary
Fiona Kenshole, Transatlantic Agency
Marilyn Atlas, Book-To-Film Producer
We discussed what each agent would like to find in her inbox, how to know when you've queried enough people (and when to pivot), rejections on Christmas Eve (and what they mean), how best to focus on your main character in women's fiction, how to write age-appropriate fiction (and properly age your protagonist) for children, how to balance humor and fantasy elements, how to know if it's your query or your pages that are getting you rejected...and much, much more.
On a personal note, we are amazed that we made it through 100 episodes! Thank you for joining us, and for bringing us along with you on your walks, commutes, and even mountain biking trips. We wouldn’t be here without you, and we appreciate you.
Hope this finds you well in this incredibly unusual year.
5:43: Panelist introductions and what they’d love to find in their inboxes
20:59: Kayla Lightner’s pick: Memoir, with panel focus on imagery, beautiful language, and a Christmas Eve rejection (and what it means)
35:44: Saba Sulaiman’s pick: Picture book, with panel emphasis on comp titles, how to use image notes, when to reveal that an author is writing about their own experience.
57:03: Marilyn Atlas’s pick: Women’s fiction, with panel emphasis on how to pitch a work by focusing on the main character (versus her boyfriend), share (or not share) that there’s a spiritual element, and when you know you’ve had a large enough querying sample size.
1:11:46: Fiona Kenshole’s pick: YA fantasy, with panel emphasis on choosing an age group (MG versus YA), balancing humor and fantasy elements, and what to do about prologues (and a trick about how to avoid the question and make it work).
1:37:03: If you’re getting form rejections, how do you know if it’s the query letter or first page that’s a problem?
1:39:15: What’s the best query letter format?
1:40:10: What protagonist ages are appropriate for Middle Grade vs. YA?
Customer ReviewsSee All
So Helpful, I Wrote a Review
...instead of working on my manuscript. Your time is well invested giving these interviews a listen to learn about writing and the publication process. The range of topics offers something for everyone, no matter what step they are on to seeing their manuscript become a book.
Better agents please
Im assuming agents that are making sales are too busy to do podcasts, and the Em Saght is no different. Her angsty, aggressive and pompous approach to agenting and over impressiveness of her own credentials could be the reason she has no sales on Publishers Weekly, and makes for an uncomfortable interviewee. A half white half Chinese American who thinks shes woke and in the same lane of oppressed black Americans is beyond absurd, and the holier than thou attitude she carries about literary agenting should be left in the 80’s.
Such a wonderful writing community!
I listen to a LOT of writing podcasts, but the Manuscript Academy is one of my absolute favorites. Every time I see a new episode, I want to listen to it right away! Getting to hear from agents, authors, editors, and others from the publishing world is always educational and inspiring. And the Manuscript Academy community is so helpful and supportive. Thank you Julie and Jessica for all you do for writers of all backgrounds and experiences!