Friday, April 20, 2012

"An Agent's Inbox" Contest Alert


It’s been a while since we did one of these, so here’s a quick refresher. “An Agent's Inbox” is exactly what it sounds like--next week, I'm turning the blog into an agent's inbox, a public one. We'll get to see 20 queries along with their first pages, and we'll get to hear what a bona fide agent thinks of each one.

The queries and first pages will be yours, of course. I'll accept your entries this Monday, April 23, and then I'll post them next Wednesday, April 25. The entrants and anyone else who wishes to review them may comment until the following Monday, April 30, when I'll announce the winners.

Those winners will be chosen by The Agent, and this month, The Agent is Katie Shea* of Donald Maass Literary Agency!

The Rules

1. To enter, your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the genres The Agent represents (which are listed at the bottom of this post).

2. ANYONE MAY ENTER THIS ROUND OF “AN AGENT’S INBOX.” Even if you entered one of last year’s rounds, you may still enter this one, either with the same or a different manuscript. Furthermore, anyone who enters April’s round of “An Agent’s Inbox” WILL STILL BE ELIGIBLE TO ENTER “THE WRITER’S VOICE” NEXT MONTH, so you don’t have to choose.

3. All entries must include A QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. You must paste these items IN THE BODY OF YOUR E-MAIL; otherwise, I'll disqualify it.

4. THE ENTRY WINDOW OPENS AT 10:00 A.M. EDT (OR 7:00 A.M. PDT). Once the entry window opens, I'll accept the first 20 entries. I won't accept any entries sent before the entry window opens or after the first 20 slots fill up.

5. If your entry makes it in, I'll send you a confirmation e-mail with a post number. If your entry doesn't make it in, I'll still send you an e-mail, but it won't have a post number.

6. If your entry makes it in, YOU MUST COMMENT ON AT LEAST 3 OTHER ENTRIES.

The Prizes The Agent will select both the winners and the prizes. The Agent might pick 20 winners, or she might only pick one. The Agent might offer full requests, or she might only ask to see another page. It all depends on how good the entries are.

Please keep in mind that THIS CONTEST ISN'T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. I've encouraged The Agent to treat the entries exactly as she would a normal batch of queries. Essentially, The Agent will be answering the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?" I think this process will be instructive for all of us, but if you enter, you need to be prepared to hear exactly what The Agent thinks of your query and first page.

So get those queries and first pages polished up, then meet us back here on Monday, April 23, at 10:00 a.m. EDT! At that time, you may send your entries to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. Looking forward to it!

The Genres

Women’s fiction

Adult commercial fiction (like Audrey Niffenegger's THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, Nicholas Sparks's THE NOTEBOOK, and Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP)

Adult literary fiction

Memoir (like Jeannette Walls's THE GLASS CASTLE and Elizabeth Gilbert's EAT, PRAY, LOVE)

Realistic YA fiction

A few more thoughts from Ms. Shea on what she's looking for: "Specifically I am looking for fiction--heartfelt, emotional, realistic, dramatic, family-related, character-driven stories. A strong voice must be present. I want to connect with the main character; I will go anywhere with them. I love interesting settings and time periods, BUT nothing past the 20th century.

"I'm looking for female (or male) characters with unique life situations they are going through, but take us through a journey of heartache and hardship to come to a beautiful conclusion, while involving in-depth personal relationships with others who join them in their journey. I love love, but this must be true love, real love, love that I can feel through the pages, with sincere passion and longevity."

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

*I know this probably goes without saying, but if you’re thinking about entering, you should probably treat this round a little differently than you would if you didn’t already know The Agent’s identity. Feel free to do a little research and include personalization in your queries. Also, if Ms. Shea has already rejected your query, YOU PROBABLY DON’T WANT TO ENTER UNLESS YOU’VE MADE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO YOUR QUERY AND/OR MANUSCRIPT. I’m not going to say you can’t enter (mostly because I have no way to police it), but you--and she--are going to get a lot more out of this contest if you enter something The Agent hasn’t seen before.


aberthot said...

So, just to be absolutely sure (because I really want to do this but am afraid I can't) - Realistic YA means absolutely no magic whatsoever, right? I know the answer is probably yes but am just hoping I'm wrong. :P (Mine is contemporary but does have a magical element)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Aberthot, you're probably right, but I asked Ms. Shea just in case. I'll let you know what she says.

aberthot said...

Thanks. :)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Aberthot, Ms. Shea said that she's probably not the best agent for a contemporary project with a magical element. Since I generally don't let writers enter the same manuscript in more than one round of "An Agent's Inbox," it will probably be best to hold off for now and wait for an agent who's more interested in magical realism.

That said, do come back in a couple of weeks for "The Writer's Voice." We're planning to accept all brands of YA for that one:)

aberthot said...

Thanks! And I was already planning on it - have my query and first 250 ready to go! Thanks again!

A.J. Locke said...

Are there particular genres in adult commercial fiction that Ms. Shea is interested/not interested in? There are so many sub-genres after all (fantasy, UF, paranormal, etc)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

A.J., while I agree that genres like fantasy and paranormal fall under the broader umbrella of commercial fiction, I think Ms. Shea would have specified that she was looking for genre fiction (fantasy, science fiction, romance, etc.) if she were looking for those kinds of manuscripts. So I believe in this case, the kind of commercial fiction she's after is the less genre-specific stuff, like THE HELP (which, admittedly, is historical), or books that can't easily be categorized by one genre.

You might check out or forums like QueryTracker and Absolute Write to see if you can get a better feel for what she's looking for. And I'm not going to say that you CAN'T enter, say, an adult fantasy, but bear in mind that Ms. Shea might not be the best agent for it (and that I generally don't let writers enter the same manuscript in more than one round of "An Agent's Inbox").

Krista Van Dolzer said...

A.J., I should add that you're welcome to come back for "The Writer's Voice" in a couple of weeks. It's going to be epic, and adult fantasy is definitely one of the genres we'll be looking for.

SC_Author said...

I have a manuscript that, quite literally, fulfills every 'criteria' she put up. (Interesting characters, family-related conflict, interesting setting, female main character, character-drive, etc). However, mine is a YA fantasy. Is it all right to submit? Thanks!

Jemi Fraser said...

Not my genres, but good luck to all those entering! :)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

SC_Author, I'd hold off this round. I'm going to amend my previous statement and say that I will disqualify all fantasy entries, just because Ms. Shea isn't interested in it at all and it won't do you or her any good to enter. I'm in the process of scheduling my next round of "An Agent's Inbox," however, and that agent definitely takes fantasy, so hopefully, you'll come back then (if you haven't already accepted an offer of representation, of course)!

Oh, that's too bad, Jemi. But I hope you and SC_Author come back for "The Writer's Voice" next month!

A.J. Locke said...

Thanks for the clarification Krista, I already have my eye on "The Writer's Voice," definitely the most unique contest I've heard about =)

JeffO said...

I've got my fingers crossed that I'll get in. Katie is high on my list of agents. I'll be sitting here Monday morning with my finger poised over the 'send' button.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

A.J., looking forward to seeing you in "The Writer's Voice"!

JeffO, good luck! Katie's a great agent at a great agency.

Valerie said...

Krista-- looking forward to Monday. I'll have my finger on the send button at exactly 10:00AM EST :)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Good luck, Valerie! Looking forward to getting your entry.

Suzi said...

I'm hoping the no fantasy knocks out a lot of contenders. Anxious about hitting send exactly on the dot. Don't want to be late. Gotta go to my e-mail now.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Suzi, yep, this was a great opportunity for all you YA contemporary writers. Thanks, Ms. Shea!