Month: April 2011

Talk to my agent…

Before you start reading: I sent these interview questions to my agent, Mandy Hubbard, not realizing that I had to specify that she should only answer the questions and not insert comments/wise cracks throughout.  I’ve left in said wise cracks because I’m really, truly afraid of her and what she might do if I remove them.  They’re in magenta.

So here we go.

Interview with Mandy Hubbard

This week I’m celebrating my first agent anniversary!  Agentversary? Sorry, that’s too dorky, even for me. WHAT? I totally use “Agentversary”. Does that mean I am dorkier than you?  To mark the occasion I thought it’d be fun to interview the woman herself.

The thing is, Mandy’s been interviewed a gazillion times (google it, you’ll see) because she’s an author, an agent, and all around hot stuff in the publishing industry.  So I didn’t want to waste her time with the same questions she’s already been asked.  I already waste enough of her time with my neurotic middle-of-the-night emails.  And maybe I just wanted to abuse the whole “interview” construct to force her to tell me things that may or may not be any of my business.  Actually, I’m writing this before sending her the questions, so hopefully none of her answers are: You’re right, it’s none of your freaking business, Jessica.  You’re right, Jessica, it’s none of your… oh wait I haven’t read the questions yet.

But if they are, I’ll include them in the post anyway.  Sorry Mandy, cost of doing business with me. You just wait until Virtuosity releases! You’ll have to give me an interview for MY Blog and you’ll rue the day!

So as not to disappoint anyone out there who wants to know useful things about Mandy, here’s a link to her bio, and her submissions guidelines, her books (buy them people!!! Her newest, But I Love Him is dark and brutal and beautiful!), and her blog.  By the way, her blog is a wealth of info on the publishing industry.  Someday, if my blog ever grows up and I start having insights slightly relevant to writing and publishing, I hope it is something like hers.  Except you should update yours, which I mostly fail to do. sigh.

So, without further ado, I give you Mandy.


Mandy, when you watch Jerry McGuire, do you think: a) that is exactly what being an agent feels like b) that is nothing what being an agent feels like—Tom Cruise is full of crap  c) I look an astonishing amount like Renee Zellwegger!?

I have a whole week of editor meetings in May, and I’m going to walk into every one of them screaming SHOW ME THE MONEY!! I’ll let you know how that works out. Also, most of the time when you call prospective clients and you’re all, “hello,” they’re like PLEASE BE MY AGENT, so I guess I have them at hello too. It’s just a lot less romantic. And I should shut up now. 

Is there anything about being an agent that has surprised you?

The Ego-bruising. It’s funny, you’d think as an author who was rejected 95 times (only slight exageration) I would be prepared for rejection as an agent. But somehow I can distance myself from my work, but not my complete and total love of my client’s projects. It’s really hard when editors think you are “wrong” about a project and don’t just snap it up. But then I re-read a client project, fall in love all over agan, and refuse to concede defeat. 

Has being an agent changed the way you work with your own agent?

Yeah, I think I am definitely lower maintenance now. Mostly it’s just that I’m so busy with publishing things I don’t bother her with every tiny thing. But also you start to realize just how much your agent is doing behind the scenes, and you start valuing her time a little more. I’ll be celebrating my five year agentversary with her this year!  [Agentversary, Jessica. Embrace it.] 

What do you wish your clients would stop doing?  (Now’s your big chance.  Be brutally honest.  I can take it—I just took a 2-star goodreads rating for Virtuosity from a dude who’s avatar is the clown face from Stephen King’s It.)

What? They are all totally, completely awesome. Actually, the only tough thing in some agent-client relationships so far is when a client gets combative/argumentative about revision notes. It’s totally okay to disagree with them, especially if you want to talk about why, and what I’m hoping to accomplish with my notes, and how you might have a better idea. Discussions are good, tantrums are not. I have been yelled at, literally. 

Do you ever get sick of reading submissions?

Not yet! It can be tiring to read a lot of good-but-not-great stuff, where I know I have to reject it but I know i won’t be able to articulate a good reason. I much prefer constructive, specific reasons for passing–and I know writers do too. I’m just not always able to do that.

But when that one swoops in and grabs a hold, it’s SO worth it!

The only “sick of it” side of things is feeling like i’m always behind or taking too long. I hate making writers wait weeks to hear from me. 

Does Twitter ever stress you out, or is that just me?  And follow up question, what do you see on Twitter that makes you shake your head and roll your eyes and maybe even shake your fist?

I love twitter. It’s pretty much the reason my blog gathers dust half the time– I like the instant interaction with twitter.

The tweeple (that’s a word, right?) that drive me crazy are the ones who either A) Think Twitter is a place to complain on a daily basis or B) a place to hock your wares without abandon. Twitter should be a fun, interactive, engaging conversation stream, not ad space. 

Looking back over your career as an author, is there anything you’d do differently?  How about as an agent

Oooh, tough. Honestly, my career is going in the right direction, so I wouldn’t change anything– even the years spent revising and gathering rejection, beucuase that prepared me for where I am.

Agenting, Hmm. There are been a couple of projects I passed on that sold, and sold well, and it’s natural to wish I could go back and sign those. But then you relaize that you weren’t the right agent for that project, and try to not think that way.

So I guess, no, I wouldn’t change anything!

Sometimes authors say they don’t read their reviews.  I’m going out on a limb and calling every single one of them a liar.  Do you read your reviews?  Did I just call you a liar?

What? Of course I don’t google my name/book titles daily. Of course I don’t have a goodreads account. *whistles*.

I most definitely read reviews. It reminds me that I have a real book out there that I actually wrote and maybe people like it. I do think some authors CAN’T read their reviews without wanting to curl into a ball or quit or whatever, and those people shouldn’t visit goodreads. I can laugh off the “So crappy I threw it in the trash can and set it on fire” sort of reviews. 

When you are having a bad day, do you ever just go to the Wikipedia page for Enumclaw, Washington and cheer for yourself because you are the NUMBER ONE notable resident?

HAHAHA. Oh wait, sorry. Ahem. Yes, I am honored at the accomplishment. I’m actually not sure who put it up there. When I have a street named after me, like Kasey Kahne, and they have a Mandy Hubbard day, like Kasey Kahne day, then I shall cheer.  

Is it just as exciting to see your second and third book come out, or do you love the first the most?  (Like I feel about my kids?  JUST KIDDING, SECOND CHILD OF MINE.)

They are all very exciting and nerve wracking! PRADA was my debut and you freak out,  YOU WISH was my follow up and you freak out that your career may go backwards or it won’t live up to people’s expecation if they liked PRADA and then BUT I LOVE HIM is my first dark/gritty/realistic and I feel like I climbed a tree and shimmied out to the furtherst spot on a branch and someone might cut off the limb, and RIPPLE is my first paranormal and…..

Yeah. So don’t think you are going to get over the nerves after VIRTUOSITY, Jessica. Let’s not kid ourselves.  

Is it weird that when Bridget Jones comes on TNT I think, oh there’s Mandy on TV again?

HAHAH. Once we meet in person you will be like, Oh. Huh. Yeah you look nothing like her.  

As an author, do you find people assume you’re actually writing about yourself?  Do you bother explaining that you don’t time travel, have all your wishes come true, and get abused by your boyfriend?  Or do you just get over it? (subtext: should I just get over it?)

EH, some people do try to figure out like, who in real life is a secondary character in my book (None). Mostly its just people who really don’t get writing or publishing at all. They’re the same people who will ask you how you did that hair-flipping thing on the cover of VIRTUOSITY. 

Do you remember when you called me to offer representation and I was at Disney World, huddled in the corner of a gift shop amongst crazed mousketeers, barely able to hear you?  At any time during that conversation were you like, hmmm, maybe I should rethink this…?

I DO remember!! In all fairness, I was at a breakfast diner. [Have I ever told you that?] My kiddo was sick and needed to sleep in and I knew she’d wake up if I was too loud on the phone, so I went out to breakfast. 

If, by some miracle, we were both in the same city at the same time (say Orlando, July 22nd) would you consider going to the New Kids on the Block/Back Street Boys concert with me?  I should probably mention that I can’t actually be there on this date, but let’s pretend I can.

It’s July 22nd?? RIPPLE releases on July 21!! In my head, that’s how I celebrate the release. Try not to wince when I bust out some dance moves, would you?  Oh oh ohhhhh, oh oh ohhhhh. (That was supposed to be NKOTB, did I pull it off?)

If all your books get made into movies and you become a buzillionaire, will you still be my agent?

Yes! Because I like being the first to read your books, and then going NEEENER NEENER to your husband


Thank you, Mandy!  And my husband thanks you too.  He’s pretending to be hurt by the neener neener, but he’s really just relieved that it’s you and not him. 

A 4-pack

I’ve got so many little nuggets of happiness to blog about!  Sometimes I hate the word nuggets, and other times I think it’s kind of funny, but I guess today is a funny nugget day.  Here they are.  And think morsels if that word makes you feel less icky.

Nugget #1:

VIRTUOSITY eGalley is up!

If you are a teacher, librarian, book blogger, reviewer/journalist, bookseller, or other industry type, you may download VIRTUOSITY.  For free!  Now! And then you can spend the next six months gloating about the fact that you’ve read a book that’s not even on the shelves yet.

Here’s how it works.  You click on this link to the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab site:

Once there, you have to apply to the site.  It’ll ask you about your affiliation, and then you are approved/denied by someone in marketing.  I’m not positive, but I think if you say you are a teacher and then claim to be affiliated with a traffic school, or a knitting store, you may get denied.  And I’m not bashing either of those things because I’ve been to traffic school (twice actually, and no I’m not including driver’s ed) AND I used to teach knitting classes.  I’m just saying I think it has to be somewhat related to the YA market.  More on the knitting later and maybe more on traffic school too.  If you’re lucky.

Anyway, the eGalley can be read on any ereader (except for the Kindle, because of copyright issues), on a computer screen, an iPad, a smartphone (including iPhone), etc.  The file can’t be printed or copied or forwarded, and it expires (becomes unopenable) on the day that the book comes out.

Cool, huh?  The idea is to get people buzzing about the book.  So, if you are one of those people, download immediately and let the gloating begin.  Be as obnoxious about it as you deem necessary.

Nugget #2:

Behold the Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Rights Guide.

This bad boy went to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair two weeks ago.   It’s used to help sell foreign rights, and includes all the children’s books (that’s middle grade and young adult too) published by Simon & Schuster.

Why does my hand have to be in there?  Because when I was eight, nine, ten, possibly all the way to fifteen, my two best friends and I would walk around the house touching objects like we were Barker’s Beauties.  You know what I’m talking about–caressing TVs, fondling couch cushions.  I guess we thought we were training to some day get our dream jobs of wearing mini skirts and halter tops on The Price Is Right?  That dream has not come true for any of us, but I continue to slip into Barker’s Beauty mode occasionally, and my two best friends got into the acknowledgments of VIRTUOSITY for turning me into such a weirdo.

Now behold page 52

Well, hello there, VIRTUOSITY.  How’s it going?

Now behold the back cover

KABLAM!  Best surprise ever, eh?  This makes me want to kiss the people who made this cover so stinking pretty, but I’m not in New York, so I’m just kissing random people here in Florida.  Watch out, random people.

The only thing that could make me happier was if this actual copy had been in Bologna.  Maybe I’ll take it to the Olive Garden or something and christen it with a little marinara sauce.


Nugget #3

I FINISHED BOOK 2!  Except not exactly.  I finished my rewrite and decided it was time to send it to my editor before I started revising again.  She said it’d be a couple of weeks till she is able to send me some notes on it, but I’ve been refreshing my email every four seconds since then.  You know, just in case.  I’m feeling very happy about it right now.  I’m kind of excited for the revisions to begin too, because I love the characters and miss them already.  It’s been about a week.  Is this a sign of mental imbalance—missing my own fictional characters?  Probably.  Whatever.

But taking a breather is nice too.  In theory.  (I started knitting a hot pink washcloth for my hot pink obsessed 3-year-old, but I’m having a hard time getting really excited about it.)

Actually, I’m not much for breaks.  Especially because I’ve had an amazing idea screaming at me for the last month, so loud that it was really what made me finish and send off book 2 so that I’d be allowed to work on it.  I say allowed because I have project control issues, as in multiple boxes of half-finished knitting projects, so I can’t let myself go there with my writing.  It’s a scary place full of guilt and regret and dropped stitches.

So now I’m working on an explosively cool new book idea and it’s making me feel like I just drank a bottle of Dr. Pepper.  Or maybe I did just drink a bottle of Dr. Pepper, and that’s why I feel this way?  I can’t really remember.


Nugget #4 (the final nugget):

My husband bought this for me at a yard sale for $15.  The man is a garbage picking genius.

I’ve sent him out every Saturday for the last month with instructions to buy me whatever stationary bike he finds, but not to pay more than $20, because that was the most I was willing to invest in this idea.  I can’t take full credit for the concept—fellow Elevensie Kiki Hamilton has one that she featured on her “Day in the Writing Life” post on the Elevensies page sometime last year.  I knew the minute I saw it that I had to make me a cycle-desk.  SCBWI also had an article several issues back about a treadmill desk.  I’m more of a runner than a biker, but running and typing doesn’t sound like a good idea to me (and the SCBWI issue talked about walking and typing, but why would I want to walk when I could run?)

So I figured I’d be building some sort of desk over this thing, but my laptop (and any book) fits PERFECTLY onto it.  The reason I wasn’t willing to spend much money on it was because I wasn’t so sure I would be able to concentrate enough to write well.  As it turns out THE CYCLING IS GOOD FOR THE WRITING!  Who knew?  It wakes up my brain and forces me not to get up and forage for food.  Win, win.

This is so much better than the last working-while-excercising idea that I had.  I was pregnant with my first, so I looked like a teletubby.  Here’s a visual in case you’re wondering:

I was working at a knitting store at the time.  My duties included teaching classes, sorting yarn, sassing customers who messed with me when I was hungry, and knitting samples.  For the samples, they were actually paying me by the hour at home, so I thought, hmmm, I wonder if I can knit AND do the elliptical trainer at the same time?  The answer was yes.  But the knitting looked like it’d been worked by a drunken chimp.  After about twenty minutes and some really poorly shaped cables, I got off the machine.  That was probably for the best–pointy sticks on an elliptical machine with an already off-kilter sense of balance?  That’s not good for business.

Alright folks, I’m out of nuggets.  Until next time, friends don’t let friends drink Dr. Pepper and knit and get on elliptical trainers while pregnant.  Peace out.

Bonus picture, aforementioned hot pink washcloth: