Deals: Swimming Lessons by Samira Ahmed Acquired by Soho Teen

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Oh man.

Here we go.

Back in February, during one of the many publishing pitch events on Twitter (#PitMatch, a team up between the crew of #PitMad and #MSWL), I came across Samira Ahmed’s query, which, and I’ve said it multiple times and in emails to editors, I favorited so fast I nearly broke my mouse.

Here’s that original tweet:

Four days later, I called and offered to represent her. She dishes about all that here.

Four days. That’s how fast I read this manuscript. Faster, really. I read it in a single weekend. It was beautiful, hilarious, and heartbreaking. It felt important and utterly needed. A story of a girl torn between worlds, the one of her family and the one she wants. Of her family’s dreams and her own. Of two boys. Of two futures. And it all comes falling down when a terrorist attack hits a nearby city, and the alleged bomber shares a last name with her and her family.

It asks a gripping question. What happens to the one Muslim girl, and the one Muslim family, in a town suddenly rocked by fear and peers driven by misguided hatred? 

It’s my belief that this book will give Muslim teenagers a powerful place to see themselves in literature, during a time when hatemongers are continued to be given a platform in our media. I hope they see this book and know they are wanted. That their voices matter.

In fact, while discussing the book on Twitter this weekend, one teenager sent out an excited tweet about the book, and it made me tear up:

This book tackles important themes with grace and breathtaking prose, and I’m so thrilled to announce it’ll be on shelves soon.

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SWIMMING LESSONS by Samira Ahmed has been acquired by Daniel Ehrenhaft at Soho Teen, the YA imprint of Soho Press. Daniel worked on my favorite book of 2015, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, and is an incredibly talented editor who understands and believes in this book’s message. It’ll hit shelves everywhere in the Spring of 2018.

Epic thanks to Daniel at the team at Soho for taking this book on. Be sure to follow Samira on Twitter, and send her all the congrats.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some more crying to do.

And remember, querying authors. Social media is a fantastic resource. Samira and I found each other there, and just a few months later… here we are.

Updated: Authors & Editors That Can Touch Up Your Manuscript & Query Letter

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Recently, I had my friend Katherine Locke touch up some manuscripts by authors I’ve signed. She offers editorial services when she has the time, and I really wanted her thoughts on these particular books. I won’t say much about those books, but she was the perfect person to have working on them, rockstar that she is.

If you haven’t picked up Katherine’s books in her District Ballet Company series, please do. One of them, Turning Pointe, is even free!

But wait. Why have someone else looking over the manuscripts by the authors I’ve been signing?

Well, here’s the thing, writerly types. I can still miss things that need work. Generally when I’m picking up an author, I’ll have read through their manuscript pretty quickly (if I’m in love with a manuscript, I read it like I read any book… by devouring it), and when it comes time for edits, I’ll read it again, slowly, making notes. Then usually another time. And then again.

By the time we’re ready for sub, I’ve likely read the book four, maybe five times. At that point, I’m probably missing stuff. If I didn’t catch it by the fourth or fifth read through, I’m not going to. This is when another set of eyes is SO key. This goes for my work process as an agent and as a writer, as well as any author working on a query letter or a rough manuscript. They’ll catch things you might have missed, and pick up on issues that are closer to them.

TL; DR: More eyes, means a better letter or a better book.

After getting such fantastic results from Katherine, I thought it might be a good idea to roundup other authors and editors that offer up freelance editorial work. Because who better to help you work on that query / manuscript, then someone who has been there before? Authors and editors know what solid queries and manuscripts should look like, having read and written so many.

So… here we go!

Last Updated: July 18th, 2016

Katherine Locke (@Bibliogato): As I mentioned above, Katherine Locke is the author of the District Ballet Company series, a digital exclusive New Adult series with Carina / Harlequin. She knows her genre well, and works on Young Adult, Romance, and middle grade books. She offers up help on query letters, full reads, and line edits of manuscripts. [Website]

Laura Lee Anderson (@LLAWrites): Laura, like me, is an author with Bloomsbury’s digital imprint Bloomsbury Spark. Her novel, Song of Summer… well, you’re going to have a lot of feelings after reading it. Have tissues ready. She looks at query letters and full manuscripts. [Website]

Helene Dunbar (@Helene_Dunbar): Helene is one of my favorite YA authors, and you’ll be able to read a short story of her’s in my adoption anthology in 2017. She writes heartbreaking reads, and is available to work on your manuscripts! Details can be found on her site. [Website]

Lauren Spieller (@laurenspieller): Lauren’s one of my favorite book people on Twitter. She’s interned in publishing and worked on a number of manuscripts for authors that have books due out soon. You can check out her testimonials here, and of course follow her on Twitter. [Website]

Rhonda Helms (@RHelmsBooks): Rhonda is a super prolific author, with books published by Simon Pulse, Kensington, and Spencer Hill Press. You can learn more about all her books on her website. She freelance edits, and you can learn more about her rates and past clients on her editorial site. [Website]

Nicole Frail (@nfrail17): Nicole’s an editor over at Sky Horse Press (they picked up one of my author’s books recently), and she’s also written a few non-fiction titles of her own. You can check out her rates here. [Website]

Cait Spivey (@CaitSpivey): Cait’s also an editor, working with Reuts Publications, and specializes in YA and New Adult. Here’s a bit about her interests from her site. “I specialize in YA and NA speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, etc.). I LOVE projects with strong women, diverse characters (including LGBTQ, race, ethnicity, disability, etc), and surprising plots.” [Website]

Nicole Tone (@nicoleatone): An author / editor who works at Panda Moon Press and has a novel coming out with REUTS at the end of 2016, Nicole’s available for freelance editing. Contact her for more information regarding her services. [Website]

Kisa Whipkey (@KisaWhipkey): Kisa’s author editor over at REUTS available for freelance editorial work. She likes working on fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, mystery, some horror, and short stories / novellas. [Website]

Amanda Foody (@AmandaFoody): A YA author repped by Folio Literary, Amanda does query critiques, for free! She specializes in YA and MG queries, so only send her those. Details on her blog. [Website]

Meredith Rich (@MeredithJHRich): Meredith is the superstar editor over at Bloomsbury Spark, and acquired my YA novel! If she made that readable, you better believe she can work on your book. She’s available occasionally, particularly for query edits and genres outside what she acquires. Contact her for availability.  [Website]

Liz Furl (@LizLazzara): With words on The Huffington Post, Good Men Project, Bustle, and more, Liz has an impressive publication history. And she runs a lit journal! Contact her regarding availability for edits. [Website]

Tessa Gratton (@tessagratton): According to Twitter, author Tessa Gratton (check out her novel Blood Magic, which came out with Random House in ’11) is available for select projects. Contact her for availability. [Website]

E.C. Myers (@ecmyers): The author of Fair Coin, Quantum Coin, and The Silence of Six, Eugene is an awesome YA author that I’m a big fan of. And guess what? He offers up some freelance editing services! Manuscript critiques and the like. Drop him a note regarding availability. [Website]

Jon McGoran (@jonmcgoran): An author with Tor, Jon’s DRIFT series is a favorite of mine. Drift, Dead Out… all killer thrillers, that you should be reading. He’s taught a number of writing courses and novel editing classes, and is available for select projects. Drop him a line, especially if you’re working on thrillers or mysteries. [Website]

Hanna M. Fogel (@hannamfogel): Fun Fact, Hanna used to be my intern back when I was at Quirk Books. She was a superstar, and has since taken the leap into the publishing world. She’s looking to freelance edit books in fantasy for any age, as well as MG and YA titles. You can check out her rates on her blog. [Website]

Caitlin R. O’Connell (@Caitlin_Renata): A freelance editor, Cait works on query letters and full manuscripts, and she’s got some super reasonable rates! Check out her site for more details. [Website]

Kat Howard (@KatWithSword): Kat’s an author with Saga and a published short story writer with over 30 shorts out there in the world. And she has a Ph.D in literature, you guys. Check her site out for more info regarding what she edits and her rates. [Website]

J.A. Weber (@jawlitagent): Julia’s not just an editor, but a rockstar literary agent. Who better to scope out your manuscript and give you notes? She does everything from full manuscript edits to working on query letters. Details on her site. [Website]

Anna Banks (@byannabanks): So Anna is one of my favorite YA authors. I adored her Of Poseidon trilogy, and her standalone, Joyride, is… well, a joy. She’s offering up critiques, from manuscripts to query letters. Check out her rates on her site. [Website]

Ilana Masad (@ilanaslightly): Ilana’s one of my authors! I represent her and her amazing stories, and guess what? She critiques and edits. She’s won scores of awards for her short stories, and you definitely want to work with her. Drop her a line regarding her rates via her website. [Website]

Lara Willard (@larathelark): Working on comics? Graphic novels? Picture books? Lara’s the gal for you, specializing in work with a visual angle, though she does other stuff too. You can learn more about her via her site. [Website]

Kate Heartfield (@kateheartfield): Kate and I are actually represented by the same agency! She’s a Red Sofa Client, and writes speculative fiction, and is available to work on non-fiction and fiction manuscripts. [Website]

Jocelyn Bailey (@thebookhooker): A former editor at Thomas Nelson and a freelance editor for places like Pegasus, Jocelyn’s a rockstar. You can see what she offers up on her website. [Website]

Lyla Lawless (@lylalawless): Lyla’s worked with P.S. Literary, Entangled, and a whole bunch of great folks doing edits. You should definitely check her out and her rates. [Website]

Have someone you’d like to add to the list? Are YOU that someone? Email me! ericsmithrocks at gmail dot com!

Deals: These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips Acquired by HarperTeen!

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Wow you guys. Wow.

A few months ago, I was sitting in one of my favorite cafes in South Philadelphia with my good friend Allie Ilagan, and she got to watch me cry in public over an email. And then she got to watch me get all teary on the phone when I told an author some very good news.

By “very emotional” she’s referring to the public crying and me muttering “oh my god oh my god” into my hands.

Those of you who read YA (which is likely a lot of you so hiiiii you are my people) definitely know Rebecca Phillips. She’s got two wonderful books with Kensington. Any Other Girl, which came out back in January, and Faking Perfect, which came out just last year.

I loved both of them, and was thrilled when I was given the chance to work with her, via my rockstar colleague at P.S. Literary, Carly Watters. Thanks for bringing us together, Carly!

So! About that good news.

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Rebecca Phillips’ next book, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE, has been acquired by Catherine Wallace at HarperTeen, in a two-book deal for an additional untitled novel. Readers can look for it in bookstores everywhere in the Summer of 2017, and the second book in the Summer of 2018.

It’s a non-linear, YA story told in shifting time-frames, that’s an emotional read along the lines of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. The back-and-forth time shifting reads like Lauren Gibaldi’s The Night We Said Yes (one of my favorite YA contemporaries of last year), except… well, people die.

It’s a devastating read, really. One that made me sob in the best way possible. It’s about tragedy, trauma, family, and the power of love and friendship, and I can’t wait for you to get your hands on it.

A bit about the plot? Sure.

After accidentally causing the death of her best friend Aubrey, Dara must forgive herself before Ethan, Aubrey’s younger brother, ever will. As Dara and Ethan fall in love, their worlds fall into place—except when Dara’s parents and counselors think their relationship is a mistake. Just because they share special memories of Aubrey, doesn’t mean their love will help wash away their grief.

Yup.

I’m crying again. Because of the story, and because of my joy for Rebecca.

And of course, a huge thank you to Catherine and her team at HarperTeen. Be sure to follow Rebecca on Twitter and check out her website, and wish her all the congrats.