There’s a lot that goes into reading and evaluating a project that shows up in my inbox. One of the tools I utilize is called a “5 in 5 Rule.” This is a tool I use when approaching novel submissions in particular.
My 5 in 5 Rule: if I can’t instantly think of 5 specific names of editors I’d send a project to within reading 5 chapters of a manuscript, I pass.
There’s so much throwing-spaghetti-against-the-wall-and-seeing-what-sticks in publishing. And though I’m guilty of spastically throwing just as much spaghetti as the next agent, I’m striving to—more and more—send out tighter submission lists that are as personal and specific as possible. I want to find the right wall and the right spaghetti. Some editors are brick walls, some are paneled walls, some like whole grain spaghetti, some like gluten free. Okay, this analogy is falling apart. But you know what I mean—hopefully. (Also, going to Olive Garden to carboload real quick. BRB.)
I also use this 5 in R Rule because I only want to take on projects if I think I can be the best advocate possible for a writer. And sometimes, this means I pass on great writing. I did recently, in fact. And, likely, I will again soon. But if I don’t have the right set of contacts for a project, I could be setting up the writer—and myself—for failure or disappointment.
So while I know that a pass from an agent can feel like the worst rejection ever that stings, remember that these is nuance to these decisions. And when one agent comes up empty, there’s another one out there brimming with ideas.
My client Bailey Welch wrote a really insightful piece on how the Proverbs 31 woman is preached, versus how real women of the Bible were utilized for God’s purposes. It was published with RELEVANT Magazine last week.
Read it here.
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My husband Alex and I had the best time at Erin James’ Tasting Cider book launch party at The Woods in Seattle. We did a tasting of some of the most delicious, autumnal ciders from The Seattle Cider Co.
I forgot how amazing craft cider can be. Especially compared to the makes-my-teeth-feel-grimey sugariness of Angry Orchard.
Tasting Cider: The Cider Craft Guide is out now, represented by my colleague Clelia Gore.
The Green Burial Guidebook by Elizabeth Fournier
Release Date: March 15, 2018
Publisher: New World Library
Despite the widespread attention garnered by Jessica Mitford’s 1963 exposé of the funeral industry, The American Way of Death, the American way of death still includes average funeral expenses of between $8,000 and $12,000. What’s more, every year conventional burials in the U.S. bury 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, containing carcinogenic formaldehyde; hundreds of thousands of tons of wood, steel, copper, and bronze caskets; and millions of tons of concrete vaults. There is a better way and Fournier, affectionately dubbed the “Green Reaper,” walks readers through it, step-by-step. With green burial and home funeral basics to legal how and what’s; choices in practices (at home, at sea, etc.); and even detours into examples of celebrity green burials; this is comprehensive and compassionate guidance. The idea of a “good death” has been much discussed. Fournier points the way to good post-deaths, ones that consider the environmental well-being of the planet and the economic well-being of loved ones.
Preorder this fascinating book on Amazon now!
Martin Literary’s newest editorial intern joined us yesterday for her training day. I met Madi at the Seattle Writing Workshop and was instantly impressed by her smarts and go-getter attitude. I’m so happy to have her on board for this school year.
Madi will be helping me respond to submissions, evaluate manuscripts, edit actual client manuscripts, research, and so forth.
She’s pictured here, double-fisting my two kittens, Maple and Mulberry.
You can follow her on Twitter at @madeline_seaman
I look for books that delight readers, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that foster deep empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings, that provide rich character representation of marginalized people groups, that explore issues of faith and how to apply Christ’s teachings to our own life, that celebrate women and the female experience, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that make readers pee their pants laughing, that make people disappointed when they have to close the book and go to bed, and books that add a touch of magic to readers’ lives.
2018 Conferences, Workshops & Events:
- Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference. Will take meetings, host meal tables, and teach a workshop called The Art of the Query Letter. Mount Herman, CA. March 2018.
- Seattle Writing Workshop. Will take pitch sessions, sit on panel. Seattle, WA. April 2018.
- SCBWI Agent Day. St. Louis, MO. April 2018.
- Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference. Bellevue, WA. June 2018.
- SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference. La Mirada, CA. June 2018.
- PNWA Writers Conference. Seattle, WA. September 2018.
- SCBWI-Oregon Fall Retreat. Salem, OR. September 2018.
- Taking meetings in New York. October 2018.
2017 Conferences, Workshops & Events:
Adria accepts queries for picture books, middle grade, young adult, as well as Lifestyle books, quirky gift books, Christian Living titles, devotionals, and everything else under the Christian umbrella.
Please send your queries to Adria@MartinLiteraryManagement.com
I am looking for work featuring diverse characters, nontraditional family structures, and character-driven narratives.
I am looking for Lifestyle books that feature accessible recipes, craft tutorials, gardening basics, with quirky lists or other interactive elements.
For fiction queries, please include a query letter and the text of the first ten pages of your manuscript pasted in the body of your email. Also, please include a link to your Twitter account, if you have one.
For nonfiction queries, such as Lifestyle or Christian Living titles, please include a query letter and the proposal attached as a PDF or Word doc to the email.
I went on a mini-rant on Twitter about how much I dislike reading dream scenes.
I understand that dream scenes are supposed to give you insight into the character’s psyche, but they read as heavy-handed and make the writing feel lazy.
If a character has a fear of their father, for example, I don’t want to read about a dream the character has in which their father is represented by a giant stomping around their neighborhood, yelling in a booming voice and then transforming into a herd of spiders. Okay, in hindsight that actually sounds kind of awesome, but I still would much rather read about a childhood memory that shows why the character is afraid of their father.
Show me a moment from the protagonist’s childhood– that moment in the grocery store where the father kicked a display of cereal boxes and caused the entire mountain of boxes to come toppling down on top of the protagonist. Describe to me the sharp edges of the cereal boxes digging into your character’s arm. Tell me about the grocery store manager trying to calm the father down. Show me something like that.
Dream scenes are almost never enjoyable to read, anyway. They’re confusing and weird and it’s not much different from your spouse or your coworker telling you about the dream they had last night. Dreams are interesting when you experience them, but so boring to hear about.
Cut the dream scene out of your manuscript. Don’t take the easy way out. Your story will thank you, your characters will thank you, and your future readers will thank you.
My wish list…
Last updated: August 2, 2019
I look for books that delight readers, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that foster deep empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings, that provide rich character representation of marginalized people groups, that take the reader on an adventure, that uncover fascinating stories from history’s footnotes, that explore issues of faith, that celebrate women and the female experience, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that make people disappointed when they have to close the book and go to bed, and books that add a touch of magic to readers’ lives.
What I represent, in general:
- Picture books
- Middle Grade
- Young Adult
- Graphic Novels (MG/YA)
- Gift/coffee table books
- Adult Nonfiction
- Books for both the general market, and the Christian market
- In 2019 I’m particularly wanting to sign more picture book author/illustrator clients, graphic novelists, and diverse voices in general! I’m also eager for a fun YA Rom Com, and a mermaid novel.
- Delightfully diverse—books like Hair Love, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Honeysmoke, Alma, The Sandwich Swap, Under My Hijab.
- Humor. (I loved Maria the Matador, Dragons Love Tacos, The Bad Seed, Brunhilda’s Backwards Day, I Don’t Like Koala.)
- Magical books—(I loved The Night Gardener, The Antlered Ship, Ocean Meets Sky, The Bear and the Piano, The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, anything by Emily Winfield-Martin or David Weisner for reference.)
- Stories that celebrate the ordinary magic of everyday life: moments like capturing fireflies, making bread, watching a bird murmuration, the Northern Lights, planting a seed and having it grow into a living plant, and so on.
- A joyful picture book about karaoke—sort of like the karaoke equivalent of HIP-HOP LOLLIPOP.
- Pop science, or exploring something peculiar that happens in nature (unique/quirky animals, plants, etc.)
- Food + cooking + recipes (making a family recipe)
- A story from history’s footnotes
- Foster family, adoption, or any sort of blended, non-traditional family structure
- Story ft. Native American family (Own Voices)
- House-cleansing or blessing ceremonies/traditions
- Spooky. Ghosts! If it was somehow possible for an author/illustrator to do a spooky-yet-entirely-kid-friendly picture book about russalka, I would die of happiness. (See How to Make Friends with a Ghost for my spooky book crush.)
- Girl power
- Quirky story about cats
- Would love a raccoon story. ❤
- Creative/artistic process (in the vein of The Wonder, The Dot, Ish)
- Bilingual (esp. Spanish/English)
- I’m on the hunt for a funny Christian PB!
- Slice of life, Own Voices stories in the vein of Front Desk by Kelly Yang
- Magical realism
- Graphic novels (I loved Pashmina)
- Historical fiction
- Mystery (esp. in the vein of The Dollhouse Murders)
- Take me on an adventure!
- Anything magic-tinged
- Multicultural slice of life
- Epistolary novel between two pen pals
- Mermaids! The catch is that I’m not looking for the falls-in-love-with-a-human trope, or something that features wars and kingdoms and sea politics. So I guess I want a… quiet mermaid novel? 🧜🏿♀️🧜🏽♀️
- Rom Com, featuring a diverse couple. I’m looking for a high concept instant hook.
- Thriller/Suspense (I loved One Of Us is Lying by Karen McManus)
- Contemporary realistic (particularly if it’s an #OwnVoices piece, or if it’s voice-y/in the vein of Robyn Schneider/John Green)
- Graphic novels
- Magical Realism (I loved The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslie Walton)
- Mystery (I am loving the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson)
- Anything CREEPY. I love anything with a horror or Gothic element.
- I would LOVE a Romance set in the Seattle grunge scene
- I love books with a very atmospheric setting—boarding school, lighthouse, forest, things like that.
- Fun coffee table books
- A gift book centered around linguistics
- Science—”pop” science, citizen science
- Drone photography book
- Photography coffee table books (especially would love something funny + clever, in the vein of The Art of Clean Up)
- Books that tow the line between lifestyle + cookbook (books like Scandinavian Gatherings, Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, How to Hygge, The Year of Cozy, etc.)
- Guidebook for how to live a fair trade lifestyle
- Guidebook/workbook for self-care
- Quirky/novelty gift books/coffee table books
- Interactive journals
- Poetry with a visual element attached
- Adult fiction for the Christian market (not Amish fiction)
- Devotionals with a unique hook
NOT QUITE MY CUP OF TEA:
- Sports stories
- Space operas
- Super hero stories
- Amish Fiction
- Angel/Demon narratives
- Epic Fantasy
- Stories with a “dreamscape” element