This morning I am turning my blog post over to Jessie Lourey and Shannon Baker. Two ladies I absolutely adore!
Jessie starts us off:
Shannon Baker and I were brought together in life by a mutual love of distasteful humor, a shared dream to write mysteries for a living, and the fact that we both were acquired by Terri Bischoff of Midnight Ink. In honor of the last item, and because we happen to be right in the middle of our Lourey/Baker Double Booked blog tour, we’d like to do a guest post on our experience with agents and editors.
First off, thanks to “Hey, There’s a Dead Guy” for letting us visit today. We mean well, but we don’t always clean up after ourselves, and Shannon likes to steal things that sparkle. Apologies in advance. Second, a big, juicy hug to Shannon Baker, author of the Nora Abbott series as well as the upcoming (and rave reviewed) debut in her Kate Fox series. The first book, Stripped Bare (http://tinyurl.com/jny2rps), is earning heaps of advance praise for its rich setting, character development, and liberal doses of humor.
Coincidentally, Stripped Bare is releasing on September 6, the same date as Salem’s Cipher (http://tinyurl.com/zwzwbjr), the first in my Witch Hunt thriller series. And voila! You have the Double Booked blog tour in support of both our books. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime in this venture. Tell me, Shannon, your story of publication with the Nora Abbott series.
Shannon: Huh? What? *pulls hand away from the shiny thing on the table* First of all, you know my aversion to hugs, right? You did that on purpose. Now that the personal stuff is out of the way, you asked about the Nora books and publication. I am a long time member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and we have a conference every September. We like to think we’re a welcoming bunch, so on the first night of the con, a published writer who is a member of RMFW is assigned a banquet table to make sure everyone has someone to talk to and is introduced around. I’d published a thriller with a very small press so I got a table. Terri Bischoff, Midnight Ink acquisitions editor, ended up at my table and we got to know each other. I never pitched my book because, embarrassingly, I didn’t know what MI published and I thought I’d written another thriller. As we were leaving for the airport, I threw off, “I’ll send you my book.” And—hey, Mikey—she bought it. When she asked me if it was a standalone or a series, my thriller suddenly became the first in a mystery series and I had to figure out where to take Nora next. How did you get going on Murder by the Month, Jess?
Jess here. After I wrote May Day (http://tinyurl.com/j88qxn9), the first in my Murder by Month series, I was desperate to get it published. I sent out over 400 query letters back when they were actual letters, with stamps I had to lick. I cast spells to land an agent and I wasn’t even a witch. Back then, I would have blown Jesus for a publishing contract (of course I’m referring to Jesus Ramirez, acquisitions editor at Random House at the time). May Day was the second book I had written, the first worth publishing (barely), and I knew I needed to get it out there. I knew it.
Luckily, I landed any agent with my 423rd query. Would I have given up if I hadn’t? Probably not, I can say with confidence, because that 423rd query turned out to be a sweetheart cooky-bird who sold healing crystals and hawk training lessons on the side and never landed me a contract. After six months together, we cordially parted ways. A handful of queries later, I signed on with the agent who eventually landed my Murder-by-Month series with Midnight Ink, then a fledgling mystery start-up under the umbrella of Llewellyn Publications.
I was actually signed by Barbara Moore, Midnight Ink acquisitions editor at the time. Terri has since taken over, becoming one of my closest friends and a mover and a shaker in the publishing industry. Ten books later in the series, and I still love to work for her. (I’m not just saying that because she is my editor, and because she has the power to can the series. I’m saying that because I’m at her apartment right now typing this and I’m a little buzzed from the Guinness I pinched from her fridge).
Shannon, you didn’t have an agent when you sold the Nora Abbott series. Do you have one now, and if so, are you happy with her?
I’m so glad you asked because, yes, I love my agent! A lot. Marlene Stringer, who is best known in the SF/Fantasy realm. How could I not? She sold my new series to Forge. I didn’t have an agent when Terri bought my books but I had a literary attorney go through the contract. I am so grateful Terri took a chance on me, even without an agent. I know that without the experience and generosity of Midnight Ink, I’d never have grown as a writer, both in craft and business savvy. (Ha, savvy! That’s rich.) What’s your agent story, Jess?
Jess again. I’m on my fourth agent. The first one was the crystal healer. The second, I messed up our relationship. I was so green that I misinterpreted her, “sell all your Murder by Month mysteries to Midnight Ink,” as her giving me permission to do that without her. Apologies and an offer to share the contract I negotiated for the third book did not mend that relationship, and so we parted ways. I took care of the next couple contracts in the series myself, got tired of handling that end of the business, and signed on with a wonderful New York agent. She introduced me to the best grilled octopus I’ve ever eaten in my life (Periyali, near Gramercy Park), wholly supported my writing, but could never sell my books.
We parted ways amicably, and I soon signed on with Jill Marsal, my current agent. The woman is a dream. She edits (multiple rounds), knows everyone in the business, responds to emails within hours every day of the week, and is funny. Pretty sure we’d be friends if she lived closer. She’s amazing.
Shannon, how is your editor at Forge?
I was so lucky to meet Kristin Sevick at Left Coast Crime last winter. I expected an aloof, worldly, black-sheathed Manhattan, chic type. She edits Hank Phillippi Ryan, for dog’s sake. What I found was a person. A fun, smart, interesting, regular woman with a three year-old kid and a full-time job. She’s acquired an amazing roster of authors, Rachel Howzell Hall, Rebecca Cantrell, among others, and I can’t tell you how daunting and thrilling it is that she picked me, too!
Jess: Cheers to long writing careers!
Shannon: *clinking the glass and stuffing the shiny thing into my pocket* Here, here!
But wait! There’s more:
If you order Salem's Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to email@example.com to receive a Salem short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner's home!
But wait, there's more!
If you order Salem's Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner's home!
If you order Stripped Bare before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to email@example.com to receive a Kate Fox short story and be entered for a book gift basket mailed to your home.
We’re picking up our bags and traveling on so please join us as the Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour heads to Women's Fiction Writers (http://womensfictionwriters.com/2016/04/03/the-writing-life/) on Thursday, August 11.