Friday, December 20, 2013

TBA is looking for an intern to read adult thrillers/suspense!

We are looking for an adult thriller/suspense intern. You do not need to have any kind of publishing experience. You should love to read and be familiar with contemporary fiction in this genre, particularly with thrillers and suspense books on the New York Times bestseller list. Familiarity with other commercial adult fiction is a plus. 

You do not need to live in New York—this is a remote internship. We ask for a ten-hours-a-week commitment. Please note that it is unpaid. 

This is a great opportunity to learn more about how agents consider submissions.


Interested? Send an email to beth@thebentagency.com and put "internship" in the subject line. Tell us why you want the internship and something about yourself, or include a resume if you have one (but it's not necessary). Include two lists: the last 10 thrillers/suspense books you've read and your top 10 favorite books of all time. 

If you've applied in the past, you're welcome to apply again. We usually get a great many applicants and the application period will close fairly quickly; watch this space for details.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deal announcement: UK deal for THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES

Hot on the heels of the U.S./Canada deal for Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's debut, it gives me tremendous pleasure to announce that THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES will be published in the U.K. by Faber. Alice Swan and Sarah Savitt have acquired Bonnie-Sue's book for Faber's children's and adult lists, which is testament, I believe, to its enormous power and appeal. 

International rights: UK Children's Third-generation Alaskan and former journalist for Alaska Public Radio Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES, interlocking stories set in 1970s Alaska, in which a girl misses her father, lost in a plane crash; her sister has a ruinous secret; and three young brothers have stowed away on a ferry that will put them all in danger, to Alice Swan and Sarah Savitt at Faber & Faber Children's, at auction, for publication in fall 2015, by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency.

Congratulations, Bonnie-Sue -- and Alice and Sarah, too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Deal announcement: Two-book deal for Taylor Kitchings

Taylor Kitchings is one of those rare writers who can tell whole stories in just a couple of lines of dialogue. Set in Mississippi in 1964, his book is loosely based on an incident from his own childhood. His sense of economy and rhythm is pitch-perfect, and he's hilarious to boot. He's also a genuine southerner, and his work is infused with such a deep and authentic sense of place that I fell in love with it immediately.


And so I'm just delighted that Taylor's debut middle-grade novel, THE OAKWOOD ALL-OUT YARD WAR, and its sequel, THE TIDINGS TREE, have sold at auction to Wendy Lamb for her eponymous imprint at Random House. What a way to kick off a career— congratulations, Taylor! 

Deal Announcement: PRIYA IN HEELS by Ayesha Patel

I’m so delighted to announce Ayesha Patel’s new book deal with Entangled for their Embrace line. Drawn from the author’s real life experiences, Priya in Heels is a NA multicultural contemporary romance that is scheduled to be released in September 2014.

I know you’re going to fall in love with Priya and Tyler’s story just like I did. Here’s the PM announcement:

Digital:  Ayesha Patel's PRIYA IN HEELS, a multicultural contemporary romance about a perfect daughter who falls in love with an imperfect man (according to her parents)and the impact that has on her parental relations, her friends, and her career as doctor, to Erin Molta at Embrace at Entangled, for publication in 2014, by Victoria Lowes at The Bent Agency.

You can check out the author's blog here and join me in congratulating the lovely & talented Ayesha Patel on twitter: @AyeshaPatel17

Monday, December 16, 2013

Deal Announcement: Subsidiary Rights Sales

Congrats to the following TBA clients on their subsidiary rights sales!  

Victoria Van Tiem's LOVE LIKE THE MOVIES sold to Pan Macmillan in the UK, at auction, in a two book deal.

AG Howard's SPLINTERED, UNHINGED and ENSNARED sold to Albatros Media in the Czech Republic.

Yangsze Choo's THE GHOST BRIDE sold in Indonesia to Mizan Publishing House.

Lynsay Sands' AN ENGLISH BRIDE IN SCOTLAND sold in Japan to Futami Shobo.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Deal announcement: THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Write the book that only you can write, the saying goes. I'm here to tell you that absolutely no one but the incomparable Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock could have written THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES, a riveting collection of stories about a group of young Alaskans navigating adolescence in a uniquely hostile environment. 

Bonnie-Sue, a third-generation Alaskan herself, has been a reporter for Alaska Public Radio (among other outlets) and raised her children on a commercial fishing boat. She's also a powerfully observant writer of fiction, and seeing Alaska through her eyes takes my breath away every time I read her manuscript. 

I'm elated to announce that her debut novel will be published in the U.S. and Canada by Wendy Lamb at Random House Children's Books—a brilliant editor who responded to Bonnie-Sue's book with the same wild enthusiasm that I did. I can't wait for the world to read this one! 

December 12, 2013
Children's:
Young Adult 
Third-generation Alaskan and journalist for Alaska Public Radio Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES, interlocking stories set in 1970s Alaska, in which a girl misses her father, lost in a plane crash; her sister has a secret; a boy and his brothers have stowed away on a ferry that will put them all in danger, to Wendy Lamb at Random House, for publication in fall 2015, by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency (NA).

Join me in congratulating Bonnie-Sue on Twitter — she's @bsrh1.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You won NaNo...now what?--a post by Gemma

I know I’m 10 days late with this post, but big congratulations to those people who won NaNo! 50,000 words written in one month is an amazing achievement. Be proud of yourself! 

(And to those people who haven’t heard of NaNo, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November – see the website for more info.)

So what do you do now that NaNo is finished? Do you rush out a bunch of query letters to every agent you can think of? 

The quick answer to that is no, please don’t 

But why not? You have a finished book, after all....

Well, no, you don’t actually. What you have is a first draft. Again, congrats on this! You have the bare bones of a story and hopefully a voicey main character to tell this story to your readers. 

What you need to do now is edit this NaNo novel to get it ready for submission to agents and/or publishers. Below are a few ideas of how best to tackle a NaNo edit. Everyone edits differently, but I hope these will give you a starting point.    

  • Set the manuscript aside for a month and do something else. Maybe work on another manuscript, or write some short stories, or just get ready for Christmas with too much shopping and eating! You’ve just spent the whole of November with your novel characters and been totally absorbed in their world. For a better and more subjective edit, you need fresh eyes. Step away from the manuscript!
  • When you return to the book, look at doing a structural edit first. Often when you write a first draft, you don’t tie up all the plot holes and you skip over scenes you need. Are there parts that just don’t make sense or questions about how the character got from point A to point B? Does the overarching plot work?
  • One trick to test this out is to see if you can boil your plot down to one line. Can you write a short and exciting query letter for it? If not then it might be worth looking at any complicated sub-plots and stripping them back.
  • Also, look at your main character’s arc. What do they want? What’s preventing them from achieving those goals? And what are the stakes if they don’t achieve them? Do they react consistently to situations and if not, is it because of a believable change in their personality? 
  • Revise your opening. You didn’t know your main character as well at the start of your book as you did by the end so your opening can often be the weakest part of your book. Read the last 30 pages and then immediately revise the opening. I promise this will make for a more confident opening.
  • Think about your secondary characters. Are they are fully formed 3-D characters with backstories and plot arcs of their own? In a first draft you don’t always flesh out the secondary characters, but during the edit you have time to develop them further.
  • Does each chapter move the plot along? Sometimes it can be helpful to type up a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, just a line about what actually happens in each chapter. This is a handy way to see if certain chapters can be cut entirely. Looking at this will also help with your pacing and seeing where the highs and lows of the manuscript fall.
  • World-building is something that is often missed in a first draft. It’s easy to focus on characters and dialogue when writing a first draft, but when you revise, think about your world. What does it look like? What are the rules? Little things like writing a calendar – especially if your character is at school – will help. For example, on Fridays your characters say they are always in gym, but one Friday, you have them in English. Even a contemporary novel needs world-building.

It’s hard to edit your own work with fresh eyes, even if you take a break from it. So maybe find a critique partner or maybe a critique group. Another group of fellow NaNo winners might be fun. They will be able to help you spot the plot inconsistencies and any problems with the world or characters. 

And once you’re happy with your structure, characters, world-building and pace, then you need to look at the manuscript with your line editing hat on – things like showing emotions, not telling them; mixing up your sentence structure, use of adverbs and dialogue tags, watching for repetitive writer’s ticks and similes etc. 

What I’m ultimately saying is: Please don’t query your NaNo novel until it’s ready. Why the rush? You’ve done an amazing thing by writing a first draft in a month. Don’t do your characters a disservice and send them into the world until they’re ready.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

How I Found My Agent -- A Guest Post by Ami-Allen Vath

As part of a continuing series on our blog, HOW I FOUND MY AGENT, here is a guest post by Ami Allen-Vath about her querying experience and how she came to be represented by our agency. I’m so thrilled to have her as a client and am looking forward to what I know will be a very successful relationship. You can find out more about Ami at her blog: www.amiallenvath.wordpress.com. -- Victoria

HOW I FOUND MY AGENT

In March of 2013, I began querying my YA Contemporary novel. It was my first completed manuscript. My first query trench visit. Which, for me, meant every rejection, especially in the beginning, was a cause to go absolute bananas for alarm. Should I re-write my beginning, maybe tweak the ending? Or just burn it? Come on, which one? It took me a while to really get what subjectivity meant.

I started reading “How I got my Agent Stories” like nobody’s business. Looking for inspiration and well, just to know “what to expect when you’re expecting to get an agent offer.” It was the same kind of deal when I was trying to get pregnant a few years back. Reading everything I could read, looking for secret handshakes and averages and overall, hope.

Six months after my query journey began, I received an offer. From a publisher. Wait, what? I thought you’re not supposed to submit to publishers and agents simultaneously? Well, at the time, I didn’t know there was any controversy about that. But, I think as long as you’re informed about all the reasons to and not to, (please do your research) then ultimately, it’s your choice. But you should only query and submit to those you’d seriously consider if they make an offer. Don’t send your query off to someone you know you’d never say yes to.

One of the agents who already had my full manuscript was Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency. TBA was at the tippy tippy-top of my list and had been since the beginning of querying. As soon as I read an interview with Victoria on Michelle Hauck’s blog, I put her on my list of agents to research. From there, I was impressed with her experience, aspirations, and the fact that she’d been learning and working alongside the professional, personable, and incredibly successful Jenny Bent. Her wish list also seemed to be very much in line with my novel. When Victoria requested my full manuscript, I was equally nauseous and excited to get it into her hands. Also, since she specializes in digital-first, she was the very first agent I thought of when I received my publication offer. I had a strong feeling that if she were “the one,” I’d be in good hands.

Aside from the full requests already out there, my “OFFER RECEIVED” email to recently queried agents got me two more requests. My inbox oozed of congratulatory, subjectively seeming, and gracious emails, but let’s not sugarcoat it. It was rejection week. One agent said no, but “we encourage you to accept the other offer.” One said no, but with regrets and felt confident it’d be okay since I had another agent offer along with the publisher. Try telling any querying writer not to overthink those emails. I had to explain it to my husband in layman’s terms. “No dude, they’re not being jerks. It’s like a girl dates you and thinks you’re hot but kind of boring. Or she loves hanging out with you but just can’t see herself bringing you home for a lifetime of shenanigans.” Sigh. “It all has to click.”

I tried to act cool, but I was really nervous it wouldn’t click for Victoria or the other agents with my manuscript. I didn’t have one dream agent per se, but I’ll admit this: I’d previously ranked the final agents with my manuscript as number ones on my QueryTracker chart. I was feeling that whole “just an honor to be nominated” kind of thing. Yeah but still: pick me PICK MEEEE! I was honored that my manuscript was in their hands, but also panic attacky as hell. One agent bowed out at the end of the week because even if given another week, it wasn’t enough time for her to get to my manuscript. Which proves that having an offer doesn’t mean that all agents will go nuts to read your book overnight. Agents are really busy so a time crunch is also another reason to say no. (Cue: Queen’s Under Pressure).

The more I thought about my initial offer, I really, really wanted an agent to help me out on this decision. Okay, let me be honest, I needed an agent’s guidance like nobody’s business. Because, once I read over the offer and started doing more research…SURPRISE! I didn’t know anything about rights and royalties and percentages and negotiating additional book options. Turns out I didn’t feel qualified and didn’t really want to take twenty-four crash courses in publishing contracts and hire a lawyer.

There was a lot of soul searching over the week. And a lot of ice cream eating. After an agonizing weekend, Monday morning came and an email from Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency popped up on my screen. She was requesting a call. Wait? Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency? Ack! THIS WAS IT! Is this THE CALL that all querying writers dream of? Yep. I didn’t even have to read the email over a million times or send it to a friend to help me psychoanalyze. After saying she’d love to schedule a call, it literally said “(hint: I’d like to offer representation.)” And there was a smiley face! Whaaaaaat? As many times as I dreamed about seeing this email, it was a total shock. It was clean and clear, and…so positive. There was no “But I just didn’t connect” or “I’m sure another agent will see it differently.”

EEEEEEK. I squealed the news to my toddler and texted my husband at work. Then, I scheduled the call like a pro–after my son got home from school and during my daughter’s nap.

I’d like to say the call was calm and cool while I asked the twenty some questions from the list I made months ago. Not even close. The first time I called, it went right to voicemail. On the second call, I heard every third word until I asked Victoria to call me back because of a bad connection. Listening to “loved—au—erp–representation” when you’ve been dying to hear an agent offer is brutal. When we finally talked for real, my throat was tight, and my voice was all shaky like it was tenth grade again and I was talking to my crush *Jason Murphy. (*pseudo name) It went by fast and I wasn’t in the moment although I wanted to be. I couldn’t think or speak or remember any of my questions even though they were on my lap. I have a theatre background and have led numerous business meetings and client presentations for my past sales job, so I don’t know where this came from. Oh wait, I do. When ever had I been thissuperclose to the start of making the first dream I’ve ever had come true? Never. I can’t even.

Victoria said she loved my book, thought it was funny, authentic and most importantly, she wanted to rep me and my career—not just the one book. And that alone is a dream come true. I accepted Victoria’s offer the next day. Since THE CALL, I’ve had more questions answered (with a less shaky voice), a very lovely welcoming email from the head of the agency, and a phone call that had me high fiving myself afterwards for having such a thoughtful, sharp, and on it agent. The faith and work Victoria has already shown and put into my book has been amazing and humbling. I’m excited for the journey ahead and am confident that this partnership will lead to great successes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Deal announcement: Major two-book deal for Lisa Renee Jones

Just in time for Thanksgiving, something to be grateful for—a new deal for a great author!

I'm very happy to announce a two-book, three-novella deal to Gallery for Lisa Renee Jones. The titles are No In Between and I Belong to You in Lisa's Inside Out series. The books will come out in 2014 and like the earlier books in the series, they will warm up your cold winter nights! When Publishers Weekly wrote about the deal, Gallery publisher  Jen Bergstrom was quoted as saying, "We are so excited about the series and all of its potential. Lisa's voice and concept are thoroughly unique and we look forward to seeing where each new book will take us." As someone who has had a sneak peek, I would have to agree!

Here is the Publishers Marketplace announcement:


November 15, 2013 - NO IN BETWEEN and I BELONG TO YOU by Lisa Renee Jones
Fiction: Women's/Romance
NYT and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones's NO IN BETWEEN and I BELONG TO YOU, the next two books in the INSIDE OUT SERIES, as well as 3 novellas, again to Micki Nuding at Gallery, in a major deal, by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency(World).
Film rights optioned to Starz, with Suzanne Todd (Alice In Wonderland, Austin Powers) producing, by Shari Smiley at Resolution.

Deal Announcement: Three Book Deal for Jennifer Haymore!

I'm so pleased to announce a three book deal with Grand Central Publishing for Jennifer Haymore.  It's the start of a new historical romance series called the Hellhound Knights, about a group of dark sexy mercenaries--definitely not your grandmother's Regency romance!  All three books will release in 2015.

Here's the announcement:

November 26, 2013 - HELLHOUND KNIGHTS by Jennifer Haymore
Fiction: Women's/Romance
Jennifer Haymore's HELLHOUND KNIGHTS series, a new Regency historical series about a group of mercenaries whose purpose is to protect the monarchy and the women who steal their hearts, to Michele Bidelspach at Grand Central Forever, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2015, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (World English).



Please join me in congratulating the truly lovely and talented Jennifer Haymore on twitter:  @jenniferhaymore   Or find her on Facebook or her terrific blog.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Deal Announcement: Subsidiary Rights Sales

Congrats to the following TBA clients on their subsidiary rights sales!  

Celia Rivenbark's BLESS YOUR HEART, TRAMP was optioned for film/television by Twentieth Century Fox.

Beth Pattillo's HEAVENS TO BETSY was optioned for film/television by Front Street Pictures.

Julia London's HOMECOMING RANCH series sold in Turkey to Epsilon Yayinevi and in Italy to Mondolibri.

Robin O'Bryant's KETCHUP IS A VEGETABLE sold in Turkey to Aspendos Yayinevi.

Victoria Van Tiem's LOVE LIKE THE MOVIES sold in Brazil in a pre-empt to BestBolso/Record.

AG Howard's UNHINGED will be published in audio by Blackstone Audio.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Do books make us better people? - a post by Nicole

I don’t know about you guys, but I have spent the last month and a half thinking about that study that came out about how reading literary fiction leads to greater empathy and social intelligence. Has everybody seen this from the NY Times? http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/i-know-how-youre-feeling-i-read-chekhov/

I had such a strong reaction to this news. At first I felt kind of smug about it. Shouldn’t we all be proud that our work has some real social value? If you read or write literary fiction, you may be actively contributing to making the world a better place! As a reader, you may respond to someone in your life with greater compassion and understanding—or through your work, you may be making others more compassionate to each other. Isn’t that amazing? Even if the advances for literary fiction tend to be rather low…and even if these kinds of books typically don’t sell hundreds of thousands of copies…Hey, wait! Why aren’t more people reading literary fiction? They really should be.

After thinking it over, I started to question the results of the study. It seems they didn’t include non-fiction books that were person-centered. Certainly there are many non-fiction books that might also lead to increased empathy (for example, THE STORY OF MY LIFE by Helen Keller). And while the study suggests that commercial fiction may not have the same effect (one of the head researchers of the study speculates that it may be because commercial fiction is more plot-driven, or perhaps the characters are less nuanced and complex—more “sympathetic,” which is admittedly can make for more pleasurable reading but may not force our brains to work as hard)…Does that mean that commercial fiction is less socially valuable?

Then I felt a little bit annoyed. Who cares if literary fiction makes us better people? Is that really why we read or write?  And does everything have to be sanctioned by science to be worthwhile? Does reading or writing have to have some practical value to make it an okay way to spend our (rapidly diminishing) free time? Can’t we just read for pleasure, for escape? For no good reason at all?

The whole thing really made me stop and think about why we read—why I read. Books have been a big part of my life ever since I was a little kid, riding to the library on my bicycle with the streamers on the handlebars and the empty basket that I would load up with books of all kinds. Reading was—and continues to be—a way to understand the world and the confusing, flawed, and beautiful people in it. Without books…well, I might not be lost, but I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today. And if nothing else, I’d be bored.

My favorite part about reading has been the opportunity to feel connected with rich, complex, nuanced characters. I still remember characters in books that have meant so much to me that they have made me want to emulate them (for example, Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD). Characters in books have helped me to contextualize the behavior of some people I might otherwise just think are awful (for example, the narrator of Dostoyevsky’s NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND). Sometimes characters are morally flawed, “bad” people, but we like them anyway. Just like in real life.

If I had just one piece of advice for writers of any kind of book—literary or commercial, fiction or nonfiction—it would be not to neglect the people in them. Put time into character development. Your sentences may be elegant, your plot perfectly structured…but without characters who feel real and who jump off the page, the story will probably fall flat.

Does it matter if literary fiction makes us more empathic? I don’t know. Maybe not. We don’t necessarily read to become better people, nor do we write to make the world a better place.  But if you take time on character development, you really can’t go wrong.

What do you think? How do you breathe life into your characters? Do you have any tips to share with other writers here?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Do we need literary agents anymore? - a post by Beth

During a conference a few weeks ago, an author asked me: “Do we need literary agents anymore?”

The simplest answer is “No.”

With traditional houses sprouting digital publishing arms that accept unsolicited submissions, independent digital-only publishers working with agented and unagented authors alike, and a wealth of self-publishing know-how available at your fingertips, some writers are eager to kick literary agents off the industry ladder.   Authors can submit their work directly, without agents, or self-publish on their own. And many have met success. So with all of these new and exciting options, it may be tempting to say that literary agents are things of the past.

As publishing changes, an agent’s role changes. It’s our job to keep up with this, because it is our job to lead authors along their road to publication. And new roads develop everyday. (Victoria Lowes wrote up a great blog post this summer detailing some pros and cons of each.) So why is it that we’re still here? Because we’re more than just a stepping-stone to being published.

The truth is that self-publishing was always an option, even before ebooks; writers could produce and print their books using independent presses. Still today, most small presses and independent publishers don’t require that you work with an agent. With the growing popularity and ease of digital self-publishing, anyone and everyone can do it—for free. Self-publishing has been around for long enough that writers have shared their experiences, their sure-fire tips and their crippling mistakes. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, you can be successful. So why are authors still working with agents?

Agents—good agents, anyway—don’t disappear once the contract is signed. We stick around for the editing, the promotion, the publication and the sales—the life of the book in every territory and in all formats. We assist the author in developing their next ideas. And as the landscape evolves, so do we. We adapt, so that we can help our authors adapt. It’s our job to master the steps to becoming a successfully published author (whatever that means to you) and to help you manage your own expectations as well as what the publisher expects from you. We read the needs of the marketplace and try to deliver. And while the specifics of our services may change, our goal never does. We find books that we love and figure out ways to share them with everyone else. 

I adore my clients so I’m very excited that I get to continue building my list here at The Bent Agency. Recently, I sold a book by one of my very first clients. I was thrilled, not just because I made a deal for something I had been working hard on for a while, but because it meant that I didn’t have to say goodbye to a story that I really believed in. No matter how many times I read the manuscript, I was surprised by the quality of the writing, the richness and the complexity. At the end of the day, I love bringing authors and publishers together. And I’ll find ways to continue doing that, whether that publisher is digital-first or if it is a “hybrid” author; even when it means that I have to coach my clients to be more aggressive with their social media, or that I have to teach myself about metadata. I’m here because I’m a nerd, and I love it.


And while things continue to change and we all have to get used to it, your relationship with your agent shouldn’t. We’re the advocates for your work, the matchmakers, and often, the push that keeps you writing, keeps you trying. To me, being an agent is about streamlining this changing publishing process—because you’ve just written and revised SO MANY WORDS and it’s the least I can do, right??