On December 19th, 2017 by eric

Deals: MISSILE COMMAND by Alex Rubens Acquired by Overlook Press!

Posted In:
Alex Rubens | Missile Command | Overlook Press

I love video games.

This should come as no surprise to those who know me. And going into agenting, one of my dreams was that I would get to work with some video game journalists. There are so many phenomenal stories behind the games we adore, and I wanted to help get those stories told.

Well, when Alex Rubens pitched me his book, I was ecstatic. This was precisely the kind of book I wanted to work on, and by one of video game journalism's brightest talents. Alex has written for... well, everyone. IGN, Kotaku, Giant Bomb, G4, Polygon, PC Gamer, Xbox Magazine, Complex... the list goes on and on.

And now he's writing for Overlook Press. I can't believe I'm writing this post with that iconic elephant logo in it.

I'm thrilled to announce that Alex Rubens' debut, MISSILE COMMAND, will be published at the end of next year. Few people know that the creator of the classic, important game crafted it to protest nuclear war... and subsequently become obsessed with it, sending him in a downward spiral as his game rose to fame.

It's the story of a creator who sacrificed his own well being for a message he believed in and an industry he loved. It's an important story, and I'm so glad Alex gets to tell it.

Here's the blip from Publisher's Marketplace:

Alex Rubens's MISSILE COMMAND, a deep exploration of the unseen challenges of creating one of the most iconic arcade games in history, as well as a portrait of the wild silicon frontier of 1980s video game culture, to Adam O'Brien at Overlook, for publication in October 2018, by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary Agency (World).

Congrats Alex! I can't wait to see this story on bookshelves everywhere.

In the meantime, follow Alex on Twitter for updates.

On December 19th, 2017 by eric

A Bookish Year in Review: What I Learned About Agenting (And Life) in 2017

Posted In:
Agency | Eat Your Feelings | Elizabeth Keenan | HarperTeen | Lindsey Smith | Rebecca Phillips | Sky Horse Press | Sky Pony Press | The Temptation of Adam | These Things I've Done

It's been an interesting year.

I started 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. My darling wife and I had moved to Richmond from Philadelphia to hit reset, and see what a new place could offer us. We ended the year halfway across the country, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and now have a three month old, Langston.

Amazing, what can happen in the span of a year.

I was lucky enough to see two new books published in my author life, Branded with Bloomsbury (the sequel to Inked) back in May, and the adoption-themed anthology I curated, Welcome Home with Flux in September. I went on a mini book tour, and I'm just so thankful for everyone who contributed to the scrappy little book and helped support it. Truly.

And the agent life? It has been a rollercoaster.

P.S. Literary decided to promote me from associate agent to agent this year (thank you!). I was lucky enough to see a dozen of my projects get picked up, and three of my authors had books publish this year. Rebecca Phillips' These Things I've Done,  Dave Connis' The Temptation of Adam, and Lindsey Smith's Eat Your Feelings.

Next year brings more surprises. The week Langston was born, several of my authors received offers on their books, including one offer the DAY he was born, and I've yet to announce a number of them. There's been a running joke about him being a good luck baby, and I couldn't agree more.

But much like last year, this year came with some big lessons. Even if you're not an agent, I'm hoping you can learn from some of these.

Let's go.

The PoC Pub meetup at BEA 2017

Importance of Community: One thing that agents and editors and just about everyone in publishing will stress to writers, is the importance of being involved in the bookish community. Whether you're establishing a network with booksellers, librarians, fellow authors, or behind-the-scenes industry folks, that community is so key in helping boost yourself up.

And it isn't just because you're trying to sell your book. That boost can be emotional, as well as eventually be financial.

For me, the emotional boost was so key this year. Having moved from Philadelphia in 2016 to Richmond, and then leaving Richmond just as I was getting settled to Ann Arbor... well, that's not easy. I hide it well, but being far from friends, whether they were old or new, takes a toll. Starting over, especially as you get older, isn't easy.

This year, I was endlessly grateful for the work publishing friends did with PoC in Pub (hi Patrice!), events like #DVPit (hello Beth!), and Facebook communities, like the Kidlit Alliance (hi Heidi!). Through these, I ended up meeting so many people, some in-person, most online.

My Google Chat these days, as well as my DMs on Twitter and Facebook, tend to be pretty full. And it keeps my heart afloat on days I'm feeling a bit lonely.


It me.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends Sucks: Edna St. Vincent Millay is great, and so is that poem, but my goodness, pushing yourself until you crash is a bad idea. I talked a bit about that last year, but I didn't really learn my lesson. I'm still that agent who responds to emails within minutes. I don't take my time. I push like books are suddenly going to stop being published next week.

Whether you're working on other peoples books or your own, it's okay to take a breath. Relax. You can say no to a conference, you can pass on something you simply don't have time for.

This year, I took paternity leave when Langston was just about here, from September until, well, now. I closed for queries for all that time, and I open back up come January.

But still. Over the course of my paternity leave I was still working. I sold some books. I tweeted jokes about it. Lots of my industry friends saw through it though and dove into my private messages to tell me to relax.

Remember what I said about community?

It's a lesson I'm still trying to learn. And now that Langston is here, and feeling so present as he gets older day by day... the way he smiles at me, how he laughs, the way he stops crying when he hears my footsteps coming...

Sorry guys. I'm going to say no to lots of things, and yes to him. <3


Stick the landing

Persistence Pays Off, But It's Also Okay to Let Go & Refocus: I'm a believer in running projects into the ground. I tell all my authors this when we decide to work together. I don't like to let go of things. And I think it shows, especially when I have projects I've been pitching around for years that go on to sell.

Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan was acquired by Harlequin Teen after nearly two years on sub, and Mike Chen's Here & Now & Then got scooped up by Mira in a two book deal after the same.

But it's also okay to step back, and do some thinking about why something isn't landing. What's missing? Why isn't it clicking with editors? There's a difference between pushing until you stick a landing, and pushing until you crash and burn.

I feel like this a huge lesson I learned, particularly with Mike's amazing project. It's a book that straddles family-drama and sci-fi-thriller really carefully, and that balance was a really hard one to pitch and maintain. He edited a lot. He worked with legends like Kat Howard (hire her, writers!), and eventually, it paid off.

But if it wasn't for taking those breaths, hitting the pause (hey Mike that's a joke about your next book) button, we might not have gotten here.

Refocus so you soar. Don't crash.


How about it? Via We Heart It

"No" is a Complete Sentence: I've heard this a number of times from friends in tech world, oddly enough. And I've seen it on t-shirts and coffee mugs. And it's one of the tougher lessons I've been grappling with. I get a lot of brain-pick requests. Sometimes it's to scope out a query letter or maybe read an entire book, from people that maybe don't talk to me as much as they used to... but now need something.

It's okay to say no.

Let me repeat that. Mostly for myself. It's okay to say no.

Look. I genuinely don't mind when a friend asks me for advice. I don't. I've helped polish up plenty of query letters for pals, sometimes volunteering myself when I notice them talking about it on social media. I've even read sample pages for buddies. I like helping good friends. But it's those out-of-nowhere ones that kill me.

Remember, you don't owe anyone anything. Your time is valuable. YOU are valuable. People who don't respect your time or you, are simply not worth it. If you can easily replace a "hey how's it going" with a "hey can I use you?" in a conversation, there's a problem.

Send them a link to Writers Digest or Manuscript Wishlist, and leave it at that.


Bring it on 2018.

I'm ready for you. All your books, and all your moments.

On December 16th, 2017 by eric

Win a Bundle of My 2017 Authors Books!

Posted In:
Dave Connis | Eat Your Feelings | Food Mood Girl | HarperCollins | HarperTeen | Katherine Tegen Books | Lindsey Smith | Love Hate And Other Filters | P.S. Literary | Rebecca Phillips | Samira Ahmed | Sky Pony Press | Soho Teen | St. Martin's Press | Suggested Reading | The Girl You Throught I Was | The Temptation of Adam

Ah, the end of the year is here.

It was a pretty lovely year agent-wise. A bunch of (announced!) deals, including seven new YA novels, a memoir, a cookbook, and two adult sci-fi and fantasy books, which is making 2018 and 2019 shape up to be really busy. And I'm so proud of my author children.

This year, I had my first three books as an agent come out, and I want to give you a chance to win a bundle of them to read at home!

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips: Came out with HarperTeen in August, and is the story of a teen girl who accidentally kills (!!!) her best friend... and subsequently falls for her best friend's younger brother. It's a story about love and loss, and learning to forgive yourself. Rebecca's second book, The Girl You Thought I Was, comes out with HarperTeen next year.

The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis: The very first project I sold and published by Sky Pony back in November, it's the story of a teen boy who wrestles with porn addiction, and finds himself discovering new friends in his addiction recovery group, and a chance at redeeming himself on a music-filled roadtrip of self discovery. Dave's second novel, Suggested Reading, will be out in 2019 with Katherine Tegen Books.

Eat Your Feelings by Lindsey Smith: Agent's first cookbook! A gorgeous book that will come out on December 26th with Wednesday Books / St Martin's Press, Lindsey's latest book teaches you how to pair healthy food with heightened emotions. It's a mental health cookbook, and I really think it's going to help a lot of people. You can catch Lindsey on tour all next year.

Love Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed: This book doesn't come out for another four weeks, but here's your chance to win a pre-order (!!!). The story of a teen girl swept up in a wave of Islamophobia when a terrorist attack strikes a nearby city, and the alleged terrorist shares a last name with her family. It's a book full of first love and heartache, and the buzz around it is fierce. Her next book, Mad Bad & Dangerous to Know, will be out with Soho Teen in 2019.

You can enter the Rafflecopter below, and enter by following the authors (and me!), or signing up for my newsletter.

Thanks for a great 2017, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On December 7th, 2017 by eric

Deals: REBELS GIRLS by Elizabeth Keenan Acquired by Harlequin Teen!

Posted In:
Elizabeth Keenan | Harlequin Teen | Rebel Girls

During my first few months of agenting, I was lucky enough to get sent a manuscript from Elizabeth Keenan. It did what I love most when it comes to YA. It was a mashup of genres with a powerful message. On one end, it's a YA contemporary novel about female friendships and sisterhood. On the other, it's a historical punk rock protest novel about feminism, women's rights, and riot grrrls.

And in 2019, you'll be able to hold this fantastic book in your hands.

I'm thrilled to say that Elizabeth Keenan's YA debut, REBEL GIRLS, has been acquired by Lauren Smulski at Harlequin Teen, and will be in bookstores everywhere the Summer of 2019.

From the music, which will make teenagers everywhere load up Spotify to learn about Bikini Kill and other tunes of the era that are sprinkled throughout, to the powerful friendships that I just ADORE in these kind of stories, there's a lot to fall in love with here.

From the punk rock buttons to the patches on backpacks, Elizabeth's book made me think of when I was a teenager, sticking every New Found Glory and MXPX pin I could find on my jeans and backpacks. How the music that you almost literally wore on your sleeve could play such a huge part in your identity. That what you listened to, was a part of who you are.

And yes, yes, I know my pop-punk love isn't quite riot grrrl music, but you get my point. The characters felt like people I knew, and I loved them for it, and Elizabeth for crafting them so brilliantly.

Here's the full blip from Publisher's Weekly:

Lauren Smulski at Harlequin Teen has acquired Elizabeth Keenan's REBEL GIRLS, in which a pro-choice teen risks expulsion from her Catholic school when she rallies her friends to defend her pro-life sister, who has been accused of having an abortion. Through a campaign filled with riot-grrrl inspired protests, patches, and pins, she struggles to become the champion her sister needs, in the wake of intense anti-abortion protests in their city in 1992. Publication is scheduled for Summer 2019; Eric Smith of P.S. Literary brokered the deal for World Rights.

Be sure to wish Elizabeth all the congrats on Twitter (her handle is @badcoverversion), and say hi to her editor, Lauren (@LaurenES).

You did it, Elizabeth! We're here! Tell 2019 to hurry up.

On November 17th, 2017 by eric

Deals: HERE & NOW & THEN by Mike Chen Acquired by MIRA Books in Two Book Deal

Posted In:
Here And Now And Then | Mike Chen | MIRA | SFF


This book has had an adventure.

One that Mike dishes in this excellent blog post. Because that's his story to share.

As for my side of it all, let me dish.

Mike Chen queried me a few months after I had become an agent. I still had zero sales, and little experience. But he was convinced, and was persistent about it with plenty of followup emails, that we were a perfect fit. Because personality in this business? It does matter. And Mike and I are essentially the same person, from our taste in video games to our love of corgis.

When I finally dove in, after he sent a photo of his corgi with steampunk goggles on, I inhaled the book in a day. A thrilling sci-fi novel that was more of a family drama than it was a futuristic adventure, it was like reading a Nick Hornby novel... only with time travel. It was everything I was hoping to find in a genre novel.

And now here we are, two years later, so I'm so happy to announce Mike's got a home with MIRA, one of Harlequin's awesome imprints, acquired by Michelle Meade.

What's it about? Well, I'd pitched HERE & NOW & THEN as a sci-fi novel that read a bit like The Time Traveler's Wife as written by Nick Hornby (this was Mike's hook, by the way, and he totally got me with it), about a stuck time-travel secret agent who settles down in the 90's with a family, and finds himself in a race to save them when he's brought back to the future... having illegally altered the past.

It's a truly different slice of sci-fi, as it's an intimate, character-driven novel. It's less about the future and more about how far people will go for the ones that they love.

Here are the details from Publisher's Weekly:


That's right, a two book deal. HERE & NOW & THEN will be in stores everywhere Fall 2018, and his second, to-be-announced book will follow after.

Congrats Mike. I knew we'd get here eventually. Thank you for your patience and for letting me keep pushing.

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