Hey everyone! You can still find my website at katelynuplinger.com but I switched to Bluehost, which means if you followed my blog you may not be seeing the updated version and new posts. If you are interested in continuing to follow my site, I suggest you head on over to the new site and update your following preferences.
The title may sound obvious but I think people sometimes forget that literary agents are just people doing their jobs. Some authors get frustrated and lash out, forgetting there is a real person behind the social media profile or email address. We also aren’t hanging out in ivory towers cackling over rejections. In fact many of us hate that part of our job. Many of us are also writers too, including yours truly. We all joined publishing because we love books, not because we wanted to crush dreams. And yes there are many aggravating things about the traditional publishing industry, but don’t put all the blame on us. We are just people trying to make a living doing what we are passionate about.
Literary agents may seem like mysterious shadowy figures who are hard to get the attention of. In reality that is due to the number of queries we receive, hundreds to thousands a year. We send form rejections because we simply don’t have the time to individually reply or there would be no time to get work done for our clients. We can be hard to book for events because we tend to work long hours and need a break so we don’t burn out. We are often seen as the scary, mean industry gatekeepers but most of us don’t want to be the gatekeepers. We just want to find great books and help authors. And yes we complain about the industry too. I hate how it so often feels stacked against authors. Continue reading “Literary Agents Are People Too”
The publishing market is shifting constantly. Trends come and go. Sometimes a genre gets flooded and then dies down for a bit before picking back up. I like to blog very honestly to give writers insight into the industry and current market. After some of my recent posts and some recent Twitter discussions a few querying authors got nervous about their own books. And well if you are an author nervous about where your book fits into the current market, I have some advice for you. Write what you love.
Focus on writing what you love and then query it once it’s ready, meaning it’s been thoroughly revised and had eyes other than your own on it. Make sure you give your query letter similar treatment. By the time you write a book, revise it, and are ready to query the market could be completely different between writing those first pages and querying. Add in months to a year or more of being on submission if you get an agent and then the time between a book deal and your book release and yeah, the market is probably going to look different from when you first started writing. Even agent wishlists change over time based on current cravings and client lists. Continue reading “Write What You Love”
I’ve been on a science fiction kick the last two years or so. Recently some great YA books have come out in the genre that explore some of my favorite topics like space colonization. Buckle in for some great book recommendations that are well worth giving a shot. And for those who want to query me, this list will give you some insight into my science fiction tastes. I would love to add a book in the vein of any of the below to my client list.
Pioneer by Bridget Tyler explores not only what happens when you lose your dream of being a pilot, but the dangers of colonizing a new planet. When Jo’s crew lands on their new home, Tau Ceti e, they discover they haven’t been told the full truth about the planet, a truth that could prove deadly.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh. This book is for those who like a literary touch to their books in regards to being a character-driven book. This book delves into how hard being a young astronaut is and how tragedies can happen at any time. Some of the Terra-Two crew struggle with the realities of space travel, while others refuse to give up the dream of being the first to land on the new planet no matter what. Continue reading “Book Recs: YA Sci-Fi”
If you already follow me on Twitter you may have seen my post about too many thrillers and crime stories starting off with a murder and yes, I see it in most of my thriller submissions. While many people like an opening murder and some TV shows rely on it, it doesn’t match my personal tastes and I want to discuss why. Now what exactly do I mean by the murder opening? I mean so many books follow this formula: Someone dies violently to grab reader attention. Protagonist gets introduced. Protagonist finds out about the murder and investigates.
First off, the murder beginning has become overdone to the point that it no longer stands out in my slush. Remember, agents are reading way more first chapters than your average Joe and we take notice of trends and common openers. We get hundreds to thousands of queries a year. For every book with this opener that gets published, I see many more go unpublished. Openers that I haven’t already seen a hundred times are what stand out to me in the slush. Sure authors have used that opening to great success, but once everyone starts doing the same thing it no longer stands out and some readers tire of it. I’m one of those readers. I’m sure there are others who can’t get enough of it. I think the main reason I tire of this opening is because I don’t often see it done well in the slush. Great writing can change my feelings toward this opening. Continue reading “Thrillers/Mysteries: The Murder Opener”
This post is for all you fantasy writers currently querying to give you some insight into why it can be so difficult to land a fantasy project with an agent. While romance has the biggest market share, it often seems like fantasy is the most popular genre to write and that is part of what makes it so tough on the traditional side. I’m going to cover stats, inbox trends, the market, and what I’m looking for. And remember, some types of fantasy stories might be tough right now, but interest always comes back! The market shifts and changes CONSTANTLY. So don’t get discouraged.
When it comes to my slush inbox, and probably most inboxes of other agents who represent fantasy, fantasy tends to dominate numbers wise. For example my next most popular genre right now is historical since I did several contests for it in May (this may actually be skewing my historical stats higher than usual) and I’m pretty vocal about my love for the genre. I took stats from recent queries to show you just how far my slush skews fantasy. In that time that it took me to get 192 historical queries these last few months across adult and YA, I got 168 adult fantasy queries and another 161 in young adult. So together that’s 329 queries versus 192. The next highest genre was science fiction at 126 queries. All other genres I accept in that same period of time got less than 100 queries. Continue reading “Fantasy: The Slush Pile”
I often see a lot of confusion from authors regarding referrals and I see them used wrong all the time in queries. The query software I use has a box for referrals and I think that makes authors feel pressured to provide one. I often find myself considering getting rid of it because the majority of people who use the referral box do so incorrectly, making it kind of useless to me. My original intent was to use it to bring actual referrals to my attention quicker and queries from events, but that hasn’t worked. So let’s cover referrals, what they are, how to use them, and what to avoid.
While some agents may hold different opinions, when it comes to referrals I want them to be from someone who actually knows me. Someone whose name I will recognize instead of going “who?” This generally means clients and other agents or editors I’ve worked with or any other publishing professionals I’ve met personally. Sometimes If I meet authors via an event I might ask them to include that even in the referral box to remind myself of where I requested or where I met them. I’m active in my local literary scene, so I like knowing where I met local authors. Referrals are also different from someone simply suggesting you query me. Getting a referral doesn’t guarantee an offer. The writing itself is what I will make my decision on with or without a referral. Plus referrals give me higher expectations going into the query and sample compared to the average query and that can be hard to meet. Continue reading “Referrals”
I wish historical fiction would take off in young adult. Well technically I wish it would get way more popular across the board. It’s one of those tough genres that houses hesitate to take risks on and as a person who loves historical I’m sick of seeing mostly WWII fiction these days. Historical fiction can be a great way to get teens interested in history, so when I found Big Water I was excited to pick up a YA historical based on a real historical event and it didn’t disappoint. I would love to find some YA historical based on real history for my own client list too.
Big Water is based off the true story of the steamship Asia that sank in Ontario’s Georgian Bay in 1882. The only two survivors of the wreck were two teenagers. Christina is struggling with the death of her twin brother and believes her family wishes she’d died instead of him. She decides to run away to find work elsewhere and winds up on the ship Asia. When an unexpected storm whips up, the overloaded boat is no match for the large waves and the ship sinks. Christina finds herself in a fight for survival against the storm in a lifeboat alongside fellow passenger Daniel. She fears he might be a criminal but she has no choice but to rely on him if they both want to make it off the water alive. Continue reading “Book Review: Big Water”
I get a lot of queries from self-published authors. I want to discuss what I personally look for in hybrid authors as an agent as well as some querying advice for hybrid authors. I have made offers to hybrid authors in the past and likely will again. I also expect the number of hybrid authors to grow since I think that is the direction the industry is headed in and for the better. Authors need more options outside of traditional houses because frankly as an agent I see too many great books go unpublished.
Let’s start with the biggest and most common mistake I see. I get a lot of queries from authors who decided to self-publish but did zero marketing and in many cases didn’t hire an editor or have a professional cover made. They made very few sales and disappointed, decided to try for an agent next. Most agents won’t be interested in these books and if my slush is any indication we get a lot of them. Putting your book on Amazon isn’t enough to sell copies. You need to be willing to market no matter which route you choose.
As an agent I can tell you it’s hard to sell already published books to editors unless they are selling very well, by which I mean thousands of copies and not hundreds. Any other book I’d rather see before it’s published. I’d rather try to sell an editor on a clean slate than a book already published to poor sales. Sure the lack of marketing may be the culprit, but how can editors know for sure? In the end they care about numbers, not excuses. If you want to self-publish commit yourself to putting out a quality product and that means you need to think beyond the writing. Studying marketing is just as important as studying writing. Continue reading “Querying: Hybrid Authors”
Enchantée by Gita Trelease is a young adult historical fantasy. Personally I love historical fantasy so this hit the sweet spot for me. I can see this book appealing to other historical fantasy lovers and especially those who like a book placed within historical France, specifically Revolutionary France. This is the sort of historical fantasy I’d love to have on my client list. I enjoyed the strong personal stakes and the way the magic felt like it belonged in historical France.
At its heart this book is about two sisters (Camille and Sophie) trying to survive and keep themselves from living on the streets. With their parents dead it falls to Camille as the older sister to look after Sophie in a France that is being ravaged by poverty. But with their older brother racking up gambling debts, he is intent on taking everything they have to protect himself from. Camille refuses to let him destroy them and uses magic to walk amongst the aristocrats at Versailles and gamble at cards to win money. The longer she spends at Versailles the more she struggles to reconcile the real her with the pretend baroness she has become. However she isn’t the only magician at court and if she isn’t careful she’ll get ensnared in another magician’s web before she sees it coming. Continue reading “Book Review: Enchantée”