Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I will leap tall buildings to sign up-WITH UPDATES

I spent a good portion of yesterday morning trying to figure out how to find writers who work (or want to work) in juvenile non-fiction, specifically biography.

Then the light bulb went on and I realized I have a pretty good way to reach out to writers of all kinds and stripes: our blog.

Thus, a post on what I'm actively, rabidly looking for.

1. Writers of juvenile non-fiction specifically biography and narrative history. I have some ideas for books I think will be saleable.  If you have your own ideas, all the better. You need not have been published in book length form previously.  If you are published, tell me the circumstances (work for hire, self-pubbed, book packager deal etc.) None of those would disqualify you from serious consideration.

What to send: Your resume including the list of books you've worked on. A list of projects you want to work on (IF you have it; If you don't, do NOT worry)

A question from a reader:
Is this a work-for-hire-type situation, similar to when publishers hire ghostwriters, or are you looking for people who have already written these book and/or have proposals? I'm a little bit confused by what you're looking for (and thus intrigued) or how this works.
It is NOT a work for hire, nor must you have already written the book. I'm open to writers who are looking for suggestions for projects. If a writer has an idea or a proposal, that's fine too.  I'm looking for writer who would become agency clients and continue to write these kinds of books in to the future.

2. A comprehensive, Taylor Branch-like, narrative of the feminist movement, focusing on the Second Wave of the 60's-80's.
What to send: a proposal if you have it. An introductory letter with your writing resume if you don't.

3. The next Robert Caro
What to send: a proposal for the project you are working on

4. Re-envisioned history--history from the perspective of the other guy.
What to send: a proposal if you have it. An introductory letter with your writing resume if you don't.

A reader question:
#4 is non-fiction? Also juvenile?
Yes, to the question of whether it's non-fiction. Juvenile or adult are both welcome.

1-4  are the projects I will drop everything to read.

I'm also looking in the following areas, but with less urgency:

5. Crime novels.  If you've read Lou Berney, Nicholas Petrie, Patrick Lee and Dennis Lehane, and think you can do better, I'd love to read what you've got.
What to send: a query and the first 5 pages (in the email)

6. Narrative non-fiction. History and biography (for the adult market)
What to send: a query and the overview to your proposal

7. Anything else. I've signed and sold things I didn't know I wanted. I'll never go on Twitter to chastise you for sending me something I didn't ask for. The worst thing you'll get is a pass. In other words, there's no risk.

What I'm most likely to pass on: 
      *anything YA (fiction) or MG (fiction) because we have a lot of that already here at New Leaf.
      *horror: I already represent Laird Barron and he scares my sox off
     * self-help, memoir, prescriptive non-fiction: just not my strong suit

When I say send, I mean email me at JReid[at]NewLeafLiterary[dot]com

Any questions? (silly moi, of course you have questions.) Fire away!


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

8. What I stay up all night waiting for: Felix Buttonweazer's prescriptive non-fiction 200,000 word essay on Dino Porn.

Unknown said...

#4 is non-fiction? Also juvenile?

Unknown said...

Sorry, one more question, since "juvenile" tends to have several definitions in the writing world. Are you looking for elementary, MG, or both? Thanks.

Joseph S. said...

I was going to add to the fount of knowledge but instead I am the seeker of knowledge.

When I was a boy, I read a number of books in what I call “The Young . . .” series. They were the stories of famous historical Americans. It’s amazing how historical people’s famous exploits as adults were presaged in their younger years (either that or the books were more fiction than fact).

Unfortunately, I cannot find the books listed on this morning.

If memory serves, the titles would be something like
The Young George Washington
The Young Abraham Lincoln
The Young Lewis and Clark (or The Young Meriwether Lewis)
The Young Dolly Madison

Anyone remember these?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So my 15 year old nephew and I are working on an alternate history but that is a long way off, and different from re-envisioned I think. Still, we will query the queen naturally when project is complete. That will be some time though as my WIP has my full attention at the moment.

I was first girl to play Little League baseball in my neck of the woods. I also wanted to play football but was blocked by a coach who thought I would ruin his son should I show him up on the field, something I had done a thousand times in the play yard. I still despise that man for telling my parents to get me some Pom poms and a dress and stop encouraging me to be a freak. I mean, it was only a damn game and I was six. But not sure I could write the story, but I am sure there are thousands like it in the 60s-80s time period.

In the next six months I will query my WIP hoping against the odds it will be something our Queen didn't know she wanted. Otherwise, I will frame the rejection and keep it forever.

I do love these lists. I bet some in the Reef will meet and exceed the queen's fondest literary desires.

DLM said...

Anyone else love that the Queen refers to this place as OUR blog ... ?

Gossamer approves.

Joseph, I remember those and yeah - really more stories than HIstories, those. But some of them were good fun, and the point was to whet youthful interest, which I think they may have done.

Colin Smith said...

Here it is! Janet's MSWL!! ;)

Seriously, I have a question. One thing I don't see you ask for in your non-fiction requests is platform. Perhaps the "writing resume" in #2 could be considered that, but it wouldn't necessarily include an answer to the question, "Why should I read your book on this topic as opposed to someone else's?"

When I completed my M.Div., my mentor told me I should consider taking up writing. My papers did tend to be a little on the long side, but he thought they were exceptionally well-written, balanced, and well-researched. I considered going that direction with my writing, but one of the reasons I didn't was the fact that, aside from my mentor's praise and my M.Div., I had no platform. Why would you buy my book on the Henrician Reformation as opposed to J.J. Scarisbrick's, or Geoffrey Elton's--both of whom are distinguished historians of the period? That kind of platform takes years to build. (Then I read the Harry Potter books, which rekindled a love of writing fiction that had lain dormant for many years, which is why I'm peddling stories today.) So--what does platform mean for you, Janet? What are you looking for?

Also, you include "memoir" on your "likely to pass on" list. I thought this was something you did represent..?

Colin Smith said...

Diane: YES! :D Our blog!! :D :D

Does that mean I can draw on the walls? ;)

Lennon Faris said...

Ooh, I like this!

...not that I fall into any category but the 'likely pass' and 'anything else,' but still!

Colin - I'm going to switch roles with you and take a guess at your question about the platform thing (since that's what you normally do!). I think this is just a list of the types of stories and items the querier will need to send her, not what to put int those items. I believe platform description along with the proposal /sample chapters makes up the query for non-fiction. If the querier doesn't have platform, or doesn't know (s)he needs it, (s)he shouldn't be writing non-fiction (yet) and will likely get a rejection. If you're asking how much 'platform' is platform to Janet, I'm not sure. Correct me as needed, folk.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin Don't you already draw on the walls? That might be Felix Buttonweezer. He likes to pretend he's you, don't you know.

DLM said...

Colin, just as soon as you let me paint a purty picture on the new wall in your office, how about that?

(Lennon, OT but wasn't sure if you knew, I can't seem to to load your blog.) :(

Joyce Tremel said...

I keep nagging Historian Son to actually write the book he's been researching for several years so he can send it to you. He has been writing and publishing articles, so he's not a total slacker. Plus, he got married, bought a house, has a baby on the way. Maybe I should quit nagging...

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: It's possible Janet's assuming such information would be included in the email, but I find it curious that she doesn't explicitly mention platform, or the kind of platform she expects for non-fiction works. Published articles (like Joyce's son)? A popular blog on the topic? A teaching position in that field? Or does it just have to be on a subject that grabs Janet by the fins, and she thinks will sell?

Colin Smith said...

Elise: I suppose I vomment so much here, it's bound to spill off the page and onto the walls. Projectile vommenting, I believe it's called. Can be quite colorful...

Colin Smith said...

Diane: You'd have to get past the bookcases first! :)

RachelErin said...

I second Kathy's question. I've started keeping a list of non-fiction for the 8-12 crowd (they are sadly left out, as are high school age kids) IMHO. I've seen an increasing number of beautiful picture books, but fewer for older kids. Are you including 8-18 in juvenile?

Colin Smith said...

One more thing... piggy-backing off of Kathy and Rachel's questions--what constitutes YA biography, or narrative history? It surely isn't the language (a lot of kids that age are more than capable of handling "adult" non-fiction). Is it the subject matter, or the voice? Or both? What would make a biography on, say, James Joyce, a YA biography as opposed to an "adult" biography?

That's not necessarily a question for Janet (though, of course, her perspective would be very interesting, especially for those who write YA biography). What do you think, fellow blog-dwellers? :)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Geez... This is all kinds of fabulous. Not for me personally, but fabulous just the same.

Over the years I've been encouraged to rewrite my stories about the horses here at the sanctuary in a voice more suitable for children. All this talk about books for kids has me inspired.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I fourth off of Kathy, RachelErin, and Colin's question(s) about juvenile non-fiction.

I typed juvenile non-fiction in google and Target gave me picture books for the under 12-year-old crowd. I typed Juvenile non-fiction on Amazon and it looks like it encompasses MG story books in addition to the picture books.

Theresa said...

I'm already agented, and my work is all about 4 and 6. Right now I'm working on a proposal for a book that tells the story of a big event through sets of different eyes.

Joseph S. said...

As a lark I wondered what my current WIP would read like if I changed the two main protagonists from a 38 year old man and a 20 year old woman to a ten year old and an 8 year old. And holy cow, the story would spiral off into a completely different set of hurdles and complications.

All because of a change in ages.

Donnaeve said...

I admit I had to look up juvenile non-fiction just to make sure I understood what QOTKU was getting at exactly.

Don't delete my comment when I say this sounds like the sort of books Bill O'Reilly/Martin Dugard have been writing.

It would be so cool if one day we hear from a Reider out here that b/c of this wish list, they signed and launched their writing career - just because she posted this today!

Little Dog update - he's better - although I'm still waiting on bloodwork results from Texas A&M. They've got the best pancreatic blood testing methodology with something like a high 90th percentile accuracy. He may need Vit B12 shots (easy) and enzymes (not so easy - pills). I struggle twice a day to administer his antibiotic. I saw everyone's comments in the other post from a couple days ago, the advice, and well wishes - so thank you all. (and yes, BJ, I do give him a "treat," after the vile medicine - but sometimes he's just so offended he refuses it. Lots of gagging, coughing, head shaking, tucked tail, and pitiful demeanor.)

I hate it b/c he's different. Not my happy go lucky little guy. Acts like he wants to play...but the effort is half-hearted at best.

10 days of antibiotic. We are exactly almost at the 1/2 way point as of this morning's dose. 9 down, 11 more to go. Yeah. I'm thinking about it that much. Ugh.

Colin Smith said...

FYI, here's our Theresa, BTW. I've linked to her professional site since it lists her publications, and gives an idea of what I think of when we talk about the best kind of platform. Theresa has so much platform, she pretty much owns the entire station. :)

DLM said...

Oh my stars, Donna - dear Little Dog! I saw someone mention him not being tip-top yesterday but couldn't find a comment from you about it and failed to look beyond yesterday's thread. I am so sorry! Sweet boy, I know he is getting loving and TLC from you.

And now I want to go home and clutch Gossie to my heart and enwrap Penelope around her pink bubblegum tum with my arms. Beasties.

Along with others, I'm looking forward to the exegesis of "juvenile" audience(s?) in professional publishing.

Sherry Howard said...

This might be in my wheelhouse. I'm querying my COMPLETED YA, and have been studying non-fiction, too. Should I address the letter: Dear Janet, Dear Sharkliness, or Dear QOTKU?

Joseph S. said...

I'm forwarding this entry to a colleague of mine who has written books on legal history for academic presses, including a biography of Charles Evans Hughes. His next book to be released next month is a comprehensive study of World War I and the American Constitution.

Beside being thorough, he has a fantastic command of language.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Donna: Thanks for the update on Little Dog. I know how stressful this must be, for all involved.

And Colin: Thank you for posting Theresa's faculty page. Theresa... I'm captivated by your work and intend on looking up your titles.

DLM said...

Sherry, I believe it's "Dear Snookums" (or "Dear Schnookums" if you go Germanic).

And I also believe this is my third comment.

Ciao, all - be well until we meet again!

Amy Schaefer said...

Yes, yes, yes to more narrative non-fiction for kids. My youngest loves it. There are some great series out there (she loves the National Geographic books, and is starting to get into the Who Was biography series). But so much history falls into a dry retelling of facts. Reading an author who can write true events as Story is so exciting, and crucial for kids. There isn't a tougher audience out there.

By the way, Donnaeve, I finished DIXIE DUPREE yesterday. You owe me two nights' sleep due to stress. (But seriously, it was excellent.)

S.D.King said...

Joseph Stone - when I was a school librarian, the series "Childhood of Famous Americans" was very popular.
Many kids read through the whole series - by choice.

Janet Reid said...

Poor Donnaeve! Banished to Carkoon for mentioning That Man in the same blog post as anything called non-fiction.
It was nice knowing her.

Dena Pawling said...

I have a WF series, but about two years ago I decided that would be the only WF I write. I repurposed one of my other ms as the start of a MG series and I love it. I decided that once that's finished, I'll be writing and querying mostly MG.

I would love love love to write juvenile NF. Unfortunately, that statement is my entire platform. Maybe if my MG novel is picked up, I can revisit NF at that time. Gotta keep the dream =)

Theresa said...

Thanks for linkifying me, Colin. It's a great reminder that I need to get our webmaster to update some of that information. I never thought of myself as someone with a platform!

This morning I'm working on a presentation I'm giving tomorrow for middle schoolers who've been studying social justice and gender. I'm going to be talking about individual women who stood up to injustice. I've only got an hour, leaving plenty of time for students to ask questions and join in the discussion, so it's been very hard to choose!

Joseph, I think I remember "The Young" book series or something like it. And "The Young Indiana Jones" was one of my favorite t.v. shows.

Donna, I hope your dog is better soon.

Unknown said...

A fantastic resource is SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). I'll put out the word.

Side note: I was going to query NL for two of my MG stories. One dealing with anti-Semitism and the other with mental health issues, but your post indicates NL is pretty much full on the MG score except for non-fiction?

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

...and here is yet another way to torment authors: "No, I don't rep Sweeping Otherworld Fantasy Sagas, but you're welcome to query."

Subtly played, Your Sharkness, subtly played. I don't know if there's enough grease for my hamster wheel.

Joseph S. said...

S.D. King

That may be the series, though way too many of the subjects of the recent books had not yet become famous when I was reading them.

The publication dates are too recent to be the books I've thinking of, but I'm assuming many of those dates are re-issued dates. The titles certainly seem to be in line with what I remember.

Now you got me remembering The House in the Prairie series. (I want to be a kid again)

Colin Smith said...

Theresa: You're welcome. Really? You've never thought of yourself as having platform? You're a university professor, and you write within your area of specialization. In other words, you are a published authority in the field. Your thoughts and insights into the role of women in American history carry a lot more weight in the marketplace than mine do! :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

What did Donna do? Oh, I see now. For a minute, I thought she said.. well something like rump but ok, I get it.

Wow, if she can be sent to Carkoon, no one is safe from those fields of kale.

Well, I hear Carkoon is right dandy this time of year. And relatively quiet so Little Dog can recover from his tribulations. And I am sure Colin will keep you company. I heard a rumor he goes and reads Vegan Dino Poetry to the permanent exiles, not that there are many of those left. Most eventually throw themselves from the Beet Cliffs of Despair. I am sure Colin's poetry has nothing to do with that.

Colin Smith said...

Elise: Just to be clear. I would never voluntarily go to Carkoon. As much as I care about Donna and the other exiles, it's not a place you visit. Unless your name is B. L. Z. Bubb (which only works if you're American, BTW).

It's true I do send encouraging poetry to the permanent exiles. For example:

Liquid heaven washes down
coarse throats
Ice cold
Only a vapor
A fantasy
Have a nice day!

Donnaeve said...


(shhhh. be quiet - maybe she won't notice you here.)

First laugh I've had all week. Even if I am packing my bags.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Why Colin what encouraging poetry for those unfortunate souls. I am sure that makes stepping off that cliff much easier.

Of course you do land in a thick mess of kale. No one actually dies. But they do Despair. There is no escape from Carkoon

Steve Stubbs said...

I presume you know most “history” is actually fact-based fiction, meaning there really was a George Washington, but that is about as far as the fact aspect goes. . Long before Donald Trump started speaking from within a fact-free bubble, “historians” worked at perfecting that art. If their goal was to be so boring you’d have tears coming from yoiur eyes halfway through the book they qualified as academic historians.

There was a “historian” on Book TV a few weeks ago who has written a book about how the SEALs did not kill Osama bin Laden at all. He was killed by the Pakistani spy service. My personal theory is that Osama is not dead. He shares an apartment in the Village in lower Manhattan with JFK and Elvis. I will produce an authoritative history of those three as soon as I finish my WIP. Maybe they’ll make me a professor.

My favorite example is Herbert Hoover, successor to Calvin Coolidge as president of the US and principal architect of The Great Depression. Hoover concocted a laughable biographical legend about himself for political purposes, some of which is still taken seriously today, and a reporter in Chicago decided to research and write the truth.


Hoover sent his flunkeys out to buy every copy of the reporter’s book and try to remove it from the market.

Didn’t work.

Hoover was not bright enough to know the publisher would just publish more books. I mean, who would know that anyway? Nobody else wrote a me-too book trying to capitalize on the first book’s success, though.

The reporter was murdered.

Herbert Hoover was not someone you’d want to get cross-wise with.

Christopher Steele, British fiction writer, seems to think Donald Trump is of a cloth with Hoover.

Most history is just historical fiction that dares not speak its name. As a history buff, I prefer original sources for that reason.

If you rep historical fiction masquerading as historical fact, ask yourself whom it is going to piss off.

Colin Smith said...

Elise: Your comment puts me in mind of another poetic composition, inspired by Janet's pioneering work in the area of perpetual exile, for which I was her first subject. You might remember it:


Leafy green and verdant plant
Whose charms my taste buds tease
Though food of pleasure here is scant
Your bitter juice doth please

Now this exile land is home
And here my days will end
I'm glad to know your wavy comb
My succulent best friend.

Theresa said...

Colin, really. I associate platform with people who have thousands of followers for their blogs and Twitter accounts. I maybe have a step.

Donna, you will be missed. Pack plenty of kale.

Melanie Sue, thanks for your interest. And right back at you for your rescue work. My pets have all been from rescue organizations.

Colin Smith said...

Theresa: I still contend you have a great platform. However, now I think about it, there are many historians/biographers whose background is journalism and write history without any formal training in history, or without marketable expertise (as you have). I suppose journalism does, in theory, train a person to write and research. But I wonder, how did, say, Ron Chernow sell his first article on a historical subject? As a freelance journalist, what was his platform? Or, indeed, Robert Caro--an English graduate and journalist. How did they establish themselves? Can you have "platform" without classroom qualifications, or a big social media following?

Susan said...

I'm currently in hermit mode, but I've still been checking in to see what's happening in the reef. Popping in today to say hello...Hello!

Donna: I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. It's just awful when our furbabies are ill and all you want to do is make them better so they're back to their happy, life-loving self. Here's hoping for an easy mend and speedy recovery!

Melanie: I love keeping up with your sanctuary and horse stories. I'd love to be able to give your books to my friends' kids, one of whom seems to have a growing obsession with horses--after reading them myself, of course!

Keep up the writing, querying, and publishing, everyone! In times of great uncertainty, we need the power of stories more than ever.

Julie Weathers said...

Oh, this is interesting. I was going through a Texas Cavalry roster yesterday looking for a name for a mushroom character who popped up in Rain Crow and was struck by how many very young men joined. Many, many teens. I thought at the time there had to be some fascinating stories there. Of course, it would probably be more saleable if they were from Ohio or NY, but a teen soldier or John Lincoln Clem the 10-year-old Union drummer boy? Yep. Somoene needs to write his story. I'm looking forward to including Gallant Pellham, a brilliant young artillerist in Rain Crow.

I've always thought a book about young Charlie Russell would be interesting. His parents finally gave in and sent the Old West crazy boy to Montana to cure him of his obsession only it backfired and he never returned to Missouri.

I think this is a tremendous opportunity for a lot of you. rawr Can't wait to see what comes of this.

Claire Bobrow said...

Melissa Sweet's recent illustrated biography of E.B. White, Some Writer!, is off-the-charts fantastic. I'm not sure if that's an example of what Janet is looking for in re: #1, but it's worth checking out all the same. Or better yet, buying a copy. It's a stunning and moving book.

Julie Weathers said...

Donna Sorry to hear about your puppy. Hope he gets better soon.

Donnaeve said...

Once I land on Carkoon...

I've heard of the library there. It's filled with nothing else except copies of the unmentionable Irish man's work AND rejected manuscripts. At least there will be something to read other than Colin's poetry. Torture.

Theresa Thinking no kale is needed - the place is loaded with it and 2N's favorite - lima beans.

Can someone please check the temperature in Hell? See if B.L.Z. Bubb has the thermostat somehow set to zero?

Donnaeve said...

On a serious note - thank you all for the well wishes for Little Dog. It is truly appreciated.

Heard from the vet - Low B12, low folate, low grade pancreatitis, and something called intestinal disbiosis - which is essentially everything in the digestive tract is out of sorts. Plan of action - all that I mentioned before - b12 shots, folate pills - but VERY tiny so I can disguise them in his new favorite food. Yay! The food is something they prescribed at the vet that - to my suprise/shock - he loves. Blood work checked in six weeks and hopefully...all is well. The best news? I can stop the antibiotic struggle twice a day early - on Sat instead of next Tues - b/c he's responding so well. YAY!

Oh. Y'all can't hear me.

Lennon Faris said...

Colin - not sure if this will help with your details, but I saw this:

Diane - thanks for letting me know! It's working from my end so not sure what it was. Confession, I've been totally out of the blogging world lately (except this one, JR). But I really like to visit other people's even I don't update mine because I do enjoy peeking into other 'worlds.' Thanks for the reminder :)

Donna - so glad to hear Little Dog is responding so well. Sorry you got sent to Carkoon though :P

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: I guess my question has to do with how to get even that far without any credentials. Why would someone publish an article by me on a topic if I don't have a platform? You see the potential Catch-22? To establish platform, get an article published or go on TV. But in order to get an article published, or go on TV, don't you need to have platform?

BJ Muntain said...

I've been working on an adult history, but it's pretty specific to a certain non-historic trial in Canada. But it does relate to the politics, healthcare, legal system, law enforcement agencies, patriotism, and general anti-immigrant biases around early WWI. I'd been hoping to get it written by last July, as that would have been 100 years since the finale of the story, but life got in the way.

I've forwarded this post on to a writer friend of mine. She writes a lot of non-fiction picture books for a packager, but she's written so much more than that, including a YA historical fantasy. If she's at all interested in writing older juvenile non-fiction (older than picture books), I'll make sure she contacts Janet.

Colin: Platform is to determine the saleability of a project. The more competition there is in writing a certain subject, the more important platform is. It sounds like Janet is seeing some openings in the market where there may be less competition. As well, juvenile non-fiction doesn't require as much platform as adult non-fiction.

And how does YA non-fiction differ from adult non-fiction? Probably in its depth and, yes, language. Yes, young adults can often read adult non-fiction, but I would expect these need to be more accessible for young folk to keep reading. I've read some pretty dry but interesting non-fiction, and I don't think youth have the patience to sort through ten-dollar words and lengthy sentences to get to the idea of the piece. They also don't have the background that most adults do, so works written for them would need to be more basic, to give them that background.

Donna: Huzzah on the good reports! Little Dog will be feeling much better soon. The antibiotics themselves probably affect his mood as much as the illness right now, but that's what is needed for a happier future for the little guy. [I had a whole bit in here about how Pill Pockets TM are life-savers, but if you can fit the pills in his food, all the better!] You are doing a great job, and you'll both be much happier once this flare-up is dealt with and over. (((hugs))) Koko went through a few periods where he wasn't feeling well, and I was so sure we were near the end (he had kidney disease and gallbladder problems) but he always came back from them. Little Dog is younger. He's even more resilient than Koko was. He'll feel better soon. I'm sure he'll do well on Carkoon, too.

Sherry: Janet seems to prefer "Dear Snookums"...

Theresa: Social media is platform only for those who don't have what you have.

Janice Grinyer said...

"And somewhere, in the depths of a snowy Montana, a squeaky hamster wheel begins to turn."

Moving on-

I would definitely read #2, #3 and #4. I love history with a different spin, perspective, twist - but then I also watch "Drunk History" faithfully, so take that with a grain of salt. I also enjoy reading heavy non-fiction. In researching our homestead, I once spent six hours in the Powder River Courthouse reading meeting notes over a hundred years old. I was ENTERTAINED. Did you know that the early years of the county's seat, the city of Broadus (pop. 470+ now) was funded by a bank in New York City? And the city also had a widow's fund; although this was meant to aid women without husbands, sometimes they would use this to ship undesirables from town. You know, people they didn't like, but since they didn't break the law... They gave them cash to leave. Kind of like extortion. I don't think that's legal anymore in Montana. Anyhow, I digress. Often.

I think in the next couple of months, JR, your email inbox will be overflowing from a vast array of queries!

Cara M. said...

I was considering writing a YA/MG non-fiction introduction to linguistics, possibly framed by a few hypothetical aliens investigating the puzzle of human language. Any call for that?

Unknown said...

Just thought of a question from the business end. If you write a bio of a living person, I assume they would expect some share of the financial rewards. How does that normally work? Such an education I get here! Thanks!

Theresa said...

Colin: I'm sure agents and editors have their own take on how much and what kinds of credentials matter for a non-fiction project. For history, I always hope they consider not only the appeal of the story, but the ability of the writer to do the necessary research. (I'm pretty pokey with my books because I can't resist ferreting out all the sources.) So maybe that gives journalists and historians (and other academics)an advantage because of platform (thanks for the clarification, BJ).

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for everyone's thoughts on platform. It sounds as if, at least for Janet's "juvenile" fiction, the platform demands are not very strict. It sounds as if she wants writers who are willing to take on the project. If anything, this could be a good way to establish platform!

Is the project TALES FROM CARKOON HISTORY? Oh the stories..! Not sure if they would be suitable for youngsters, though. They're barely suitable for oldsters! :-O

Kathryn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathryn said...

Just sent in my query! Yikes what a wave of emotions.

After reading "our" blog this morning I kept thinking of the Be Ready post from a while back. Hope I was ready enough! :)

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I recommend reading Nick Petrie's bio on his web site. I'm going to order The Drifter now.

Stacy said...

Janet, you've always said to include the first five pages in the body of the email. Should we do this with our resumes as well, or are attachments okay in this case? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Interesting list and great insight. A couple of these surprised me (esp the juvenile focus). Ah, too bad #4 is non-fic.

Hope you find exactly what you're looking for, Janet.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Donna, finally good news. Sleep well tonight.

Joyce T, keep nagging.

Barbara Etlin said...

I'm going to tell a friend about this post. She may have something for you. :-)

Craig F said...

The world continues to turn. I started following this blog when high concept speculative thrillers would have been at the top of this list.

Is it the market that caused this change or is it a changing attitude?

Stacy: embed it all in the body of an email. Then send it to yourself to make sure the format still looks good. Email protocol doesn't recognize several things. Chief among them is the 'tab'. NO ATTACHMENTS

Donna: I can't get to your blog. Mozilla is blocking it. Also, when you are done with the antibiotics for Mister, give him some probiotics and refresh his bacterial flora.

Colin: What flavor of Kool-Aid were you drinking today?

Colin Smith said...

Craig: Kale, of course. :)

Megan V said...

Dena You and I are in the same boat on this one. No platform to speak of. While I write MG, and have my history degree (which emphasized history of women and gender, I'm afraid I wouldn't know where to start on these requests! So I did the only thing I could think of I shared this post with friends who would. :)

Donna --I'm sorry to read about your banishment, but I'm so glad to hear that Little Dog is faring better!

All Best wishes to those of you submitting queries. I certainly hope for the best, for both you and Janet!

Steve Stubbs said...

Excellent post and I made a copy for future reference.

On reflection it occurred to me there is something you might want to elaborate on.

Publishers want QUALIFIED people to write non-fiction. Celebrity counts as a qualification for authors who do not know what the hell they are writing about. So if you have any readers who don’t know what the hell they are writing about, tell them to point out that their name is Thelonious Murgatroyd or something everybody knows who that is, so ignorance is not a problem.

For non-celebs it may be more difficult. What is obvious to you may not be obvious to your blog readers. If you want a Caro book (yes, I know who that is), does that mean you want someone with a degree in history, or what qualifications do you think would suffice. These authors usually have access to private archives of letters, etc., that are not available to the general public. They are also not available to amateurs. If Joe Schmoe says s/he can write a Caro book, the editor is likely to want some information why s/he should believe that author is capable of it.

Also, if you want it now, it has to already be written. A book like that takes years just to research unless the author’s name is Toobin.

Qualifications may vary according to type of non-fiction. A comprehensive book on Second Wave Feminism probably would require quals similar to those for a Caro book. Of course Norman Miler was not qualified in any way to write PRISONER OF SEX but he did not let that stop him.

Second Wave Feminism started out as an explicitly lesbian movement and recruiting propaganda, and still is, although they are not as in your face about it today as they were in the 1960s. If this is for a juvenile audience the question arises whether homosexuality is too adult for that population. Also, since that aspect is more covert now and feminists might want to keep it that way, will the author have to play dumb or is it OK to come out (pardon me) and say it? That could be a trip wire.

Also, is there a standard guideline of some sort to proposal writing. I assume (Ass-U-Me) an editor would want a chapter-by-chapter outline.

Julie Weathers said...


I was going to recommend you do a story on Stagecoach Mary, but I see a story just came out on her. There's a woman in Helena I believe who needs her story told. She was married to a copper king who died. She took over his empire and ran it like a bad boy then built some other companies that were cutting edge for the time. Can't remember what her name was, but she's a fascinating woman.

Kate Higgins said...

Her High Sharkiness may have bitten off more than she can chew by tapping the combined expanse of the reef.

You guys crack me and take to places I can only imagine....from Kale to Carkoon and back.

My mantra (that makes my family cringe every time) is : I have an idea, guys! Actually I have a bunch of ideas and pitches for several. I am rubbing my hands together like Snidely Whiplash...on a platform!

Donna I hope you pup perks up!
Good night all.

Claire Bobrow said...

It's already tomorrow for many of you, but I felt the need to share a little anecdote related to today's comments.

This evening I went to hear Christian Robinson, beloved children's book illustrator and Caldecott Honor Award winner, speak at the kid's bookstore in my neighborhood. To amuse the kids, the bookstore owner likes to ask her guests what they ate for breakfast that day. Christian answered - I kid you not - kale!!

John Davis Frain said...

Sharyn, who said:

"I recommend reading Nick Petrie's bio on his web site."

I just did, and I'm curious what jumped out at you. I'm not knocking it. Heck, I'd trade places with Nick Petrie tomorrow. But I'm curious what about it drew you in?

Beth Carpenter said...

Kathryn, fingers crossed.

BJ Muntain said...

Steve, I think you can assume (with all the qualifications that go with that) that Janet knows what editors and publishers want, and she has asked for what *she* wants. She's asked for proposals and/or writing resumes, so she's obviously looking for someone with those. Maybe she'll be swamped with people whose background isn't as good as she's hoping for, but maybe that's what she wants, too. We don't know what background she's looking for exactly, and maybe she doesn't, either.

Are you asking if #2 is meant to be juvenile or adult? That's a good question, though Taylor Branch wrote for adults.

As for a guideline for proposal writing - I believe Janet mentioned something a year or so ago, for Janice and anyone interested. Unfortunately, I can't remember what it's called, but I'd be interested to know, too.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

John Davis Fran,

I like the way he worked as a builder over twenty years while getting a few quiet hours every week to write. And the way he eventually decided to write what he wanted to write for his own sanity. (of course he also has an MFA in fiction while I have one from the School of Hard Knocks).

I started out writing children's musical plays for theater groups, schools, events and theme parks. Then hundred of TV commercials. Then short and long fundraisers and documentaries. Just wrapped a long one of running a railroad. I've also written and edited an hour long piece on our local steam engine and one on a Shaker community in Alfred, Maine. All interesting to do and well paid.

After years and years of writing and editing video that other people pay me for and now turning the video studio into an airbnb, I am enjoying the possibility of writing just what I want. I like to knock people over the head and then have someone figure out why, set in a beautiful place I love dearly. If it's just for me that's fine.

I liked reading Nick said he wrote the book he wanted to read. Publishing seems such a long shot I think writing has to be its own reward. Works for me. Then I ordered his books.

Stacy said...

Glad to hear you've got a treatment plan for your pup, Donnaeve. And thanks very much, Craig F.

Anonymous said...

For platform - I think publishers can market the heck out of a book regardless of an author's (non)established platform. I'm thinking Mary Roach and Stiff, Grunt, etc. I don't think she is an expert in any of the areas she writes about UNTIL she's writing about them. And I have no idea what her original background was, I've actually never considered it while reading her books. I suspect it's more her style and voice while writing nonfiction that make her such a bestseller (or did until she became popular and got the "quirky researched nonfiction" brand built up).

So, I think that (like always) the writing matters more than the platform.

Kris Bock said...

Joseph Snoe – you may be talking about the "Childhood of Famous Americans" series. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster was still publishing titles as of about five years ago. I did books on Jesse Owens: Young Recordbreaker and Milton Hershey: Young Chocolatier. But that series has always been fictionalized, based on real-life events of real people, but with imagined scenes, dialogue, and thoughts. Most children's nonfiction today has much stricter standards, as in actually being nonfiction.