Friday, April 5, 2013

"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 30 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 8, and then I'll post them next Wednesday, April 10. The entrants and anyone else who wishes to review them may comment until the following Monday, April 15, when I'll announce the winners.

Those winners will be chosen by The Agent, and this month, The Agent is Melissa Sarver* of Folio Literary Management!

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 1:00 P.M. EDT (OR 10:00 A.M. PDT). Once the entry window opens, I'll accept the first 30 entries. I won't accept any entries sent before the entry window opens or after the first 30 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 30 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 8, at 1:00 p.m. EDT! At that time, you may send your entries to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. Looking forward to it!

The Genres

MG Contemporary
YA Contemporary (including issue books)
YA Thrillers
YA Magical Realism
YA Historical Fiction
Adult Literary Fiction
Upmarket Women's Fiction (especially family sagas, character-driven stories, and novels with dark events or themes)

Ms. Sarver also mentioned that she's looking only for MG contemporary at the moment, so please hold off on submitting any other types of MG. (But do come back for "The Writer's Voice" next month!) And she's especially interested in seeing high-concept YA fiction.

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. Sarver 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.


Eric Steinberg said...

My query's already in Ms. Sarver's slush pile. So, just wanted to say, these contests are great opportunities for feedback and a generous contribution to the writer community. Thanks doing them!

Rosalyn said...

This looks awesome, Krista. Ms. Sarver's on my list, but I haven't queried her yet, so this is perfect!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Good luck with that query, Eric! And you're welcome!

Perfect timing, Rosalyn!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Not entering because my genre doesn't fit what she's looking for but spread the word about your contest.

The Cake Novelist said...

Melissa is my agent and she's great! Good luck to all who participate :)

Anonymous said...

Have a MG Fantasy, so will not make any submissions. BUT will watch with great interest for learning purposes. You are great to do this, Krista! Thanks!

Guzin1 said...

Little confused on 'magical realism vs fantasy'. Is she accepting YA fantasy?

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks, Natalie! I appreciate it!

The Cake Novelist, thanks for your endorsement! I always like hearing from clients:)

No problem, laurahurlburt! And do come and check out the entries (and maybe even leave a critique or two!). I'm sure our entrants will appreciate it.

Great question, Guzin1. I'd say no; magical realism and fantasy aren't the same thing. In general, fantasy is more commercial/plot-driven and magical realism more literary/character-driven.

For a few more thoughts on the topic, check out this interview I did with Molly Jaffa, one of Ms. Sarver's colleagues at Folio:

She answers the same question about halfway down.

Anonymous said...

Is there not a risk someone will steal your idea?

jdspero said...

I'm assuming queries should include a standard, short bio? And salutation/closing? Should we include our name? (Sincerely, ...)

Maria said...

Thank you for doing such great contests! Is there a specific email to which we should send our entry?

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Yes, jdspero, you can send a full query. I only use initials in the closing, but definitely lead with "Dear Ms. Sarver." And if you'd like to include a short bio, you're welcome to do that, too (though some people prefer to leave that off, since this is an open forum).

You're welcome, Maria! Please send your entry to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com at the appointed time!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Anon, there's always the possibility that someone will steal your idea, since this is an open forum, but if there's one thing I've learned in the five years I've been trying to break into this industry, it's that ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the execution that really matters. No one is going to execute an idea exactly like you do, and besides, I've found most writers are so busy with their own ideas that they don't have time to steal somebody else's:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Krista!

I'd love to participate in this, but I'm not sure whether my MS falls under any of Ms. Sarver's chosen categories. It's a YA ghost story that takes place in present day, and I've been querying it as a Southern Gothic. Suppose I could file it under YA contemp.? No worries if not. I just wasn't sure.

Good luck to all who enter!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

That's tricky, Anon. You could call it a YA contemp or perhaps even YA magical realism, if the ghostly elements are more literary. I'll let you decide whether or not you want to enter and, if you do, what you want to call it:)

Katrina S. Forest said...

I'm in a similar boat as Anonymous. Whenever I post in AW's Share Your Work, I get told my novel is YA Contemporary. So I'll go with that and enter.

Suppose I could call it high-concept as well, but sadly, that's not a genre. :)

dianelashdecker said...

Yahooo! I have a number!! All of a sudden excitement is being slightly squashed by fear!!!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Best of luck, Diane!

Anonymous said...

is this contest now closed?

Krista Van Dolzer said...

The contest is now closed to entries, Anon! I'm sorry! We filled our last slot last night. Those entries will go up tomorrow morning for readers and The Agent to comment on.

Next month, three other bloggers and I are hosting a multi-agent, multi-blog contest called "The Writer's Voice," so do come back for that!