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Avon Announces 2008 Year of New Author, Seeks Unagented Queries

Maybe this has always been true, but as I was reading Romance Writers Report, the RWA monthly publication, I noticed that Avon is seeking new authors and accepts unagented queries. According to its new submission guidelines, any romance or women’s fiction author can submit a query by e-mail to [email protected]

The word “QUERY” should be put in the subject line and the query should be brief, no more than a two-page description of the book. No chapters or synopsis at this time. A response is promised in one or two weeks! Zoinks that is a quick turn around.

I have been debating for a month or so about starting a new Saturday feature for DearAuthor. At Fangs, Fur, & Fey, a large (almost too large in my opinion as it is hard to keep track of everyone now) fantasy author community, the members posted their queries, pointing out what worked and what didn’t work. It was very interesting reading. I thought it might be fun for authors with new books coming out to share their queries, to show what caught an agent/editor’s eye, and for aspiring authors to anonymously submit their queries to be commented upon by the readership.

[poll=3]

Let me know your thoughts.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

  1. Robin
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 11:50:30

    *sigh* Wouldn’t it be great if Avon went back to being the publisher of great rule-breaking Romance discoveries — Kinsale, anyone? It’d be kinda like a Christmas miracle.

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  2. Libby
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 12:00:54

    The Fangs, Fur, Fey query-thon was great. I don’t have a query to post, but I’d really like to read others.

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  3. Jill Myles
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 12:18:17

    I think it’s great that Avon is looking for new voices and willing to give new authors a try. That should be extremely encouraging. :)

    As for queries, I can’t participate but I love the idea!

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  4. Roslyn
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 12:54:07

    Just finished my second mss, so I’m excited to hear about Avon. Once I’ve finished polishing it, I might send it in. As for the query deal, I probably would do it, but I’m so neurotic it takes very little to send me off the deep end, so it’s probably not a good idea for me.

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  5. clara bow
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 15:52:29

    I just love this site! I am preparing a query for Avon right now. I’m going to email it right after New Year’s (along with ten thousand others, I suppose). Can’t wait to see the result.

    As for successful queries, I would love to read more such as those dissected at FF&F. Thanks for considering this feature!

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  6. Angela James
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 17:34:28

    Totally off-topic about Fangs, Fur, Fey but I had to delete the blog from my RSS feed because it drove me totally insane that no one ever signed their posts, so there was no way to know which of the, as you said very large, pool of authors was writing the particular blog post I was reading. Even going straight to the site didn’t help because all you get is LiveJournal IDs, which still often doesn’t give you any clue to the author. I couldn’t take it so finally I just deleted it from my feed. It seems like such a little thing, to sign their posts so their promo was actually, you know, promoting themselves, but I’ll bet it was less than 1 in 10 that actually did it.

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  7. Libby
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 18:11:30

    Totally off-topic about Fangs, Fur, Fey but I had to delete the blog from my RSS feed because it drove me totally insane that no one ever signed their posts, so there was no way to know which of the, as you said very large, pool of authors was writing the particular blog post I was reading. Even going straight to the site didn't help because all you get is LiveJournal IDs, which still often doesn't give you any clue to the author. I couldn't take it so finally I just deleted it from my feed. It seems like such a little thing, to sign their posts so their promo was actually, you know, promoting themselves, but I'll bet it was less than 1 in 10 that actually did it.

    *nodding* I can’t tell you how much this annoys me! I do subscribe to their feed, but it irks me to no end when I have to go to the site to see who posted something. The whole reason I subscribe to a feed is so I don’t have to do that!

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  8. Libby
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 18:11:54

    Oops. I did the quote backward

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  9. sherry thomas
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 18:53:53

    I think this is not a new policy. I remember thinking to myself I could go that route if I failed to land an agent for PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS, i.e. submit to Avon directly.

    I don’t know that it is necessary to pull one’s hair out over the query letter. I posted two of my query letters as the inaugural entry at my blog. Frankly I think the one that landed me a publishing deal isn’t as good as the one that didn’t. The query just has to be decent. It’s the full manuscript that people have to love to put money on the table.

    And if people are afraid of mean girls, they can always have a mean guy bash their query letter in at Evil Editor’s place. :-)

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  10. Patrice Michelle
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 18:54:38

    Angie and Libby,

    The authors have been asked to remember to sign their posts and everyone has been asked to “tag” their posts with their names. (not sure if “tags” come through on RSS feeds). We’ll make sure to remind everyone again with the new year. Thanks for the reminder! :)

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  11. Lisa
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 19:05:50

    I really can’t stand LiveJournal, and I’m almost to the point where I won’t even look at blogs who use it anymore. As a web designer, LJ often makes it impossible to actually find anything.

    As far as tagging posts, doesn’t each user have an account? The template should be able to display who the post author is. FFF sounds like a great bunch of writers with a catchy hook for a blog, but I don’t see any categories? I’d love to find the query discussions mentioned here, but how would I do that?

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  12. Lisa
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 19:07:01

    I meant, as a web designer, it drives me nuts not to be able to actually find anything, which is something that seems to be inherent in LJ itself.

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  13. Patrice Michelle
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 19:13:05

    Lisa, FFF did start using categories/tags recently. It’s under the tag “queries”.

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  14. Emma Petersen
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 19:47:10

    Thank you so much for the Avon info. I sent a query before I could talk myself out of it. I voted. I need all the query help I can get!

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  15. Angela James
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 19:52:05

    Patrice,

    I know that the authors have been asked to do this, in fact, when I was subscribed, I saw whoever is in charge of the blog ask them to do it several times. But I think if you look back in the archives, you’ll see that despite the requests, it didn’t happen. I hope you can effect that change in the future.

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  16. Jessica Inclan
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 20:04:27

    I teach for UCLA Extension–a romance writing class–and this kind of help from dearauthor and fangs, fur, etc is great for new writers. I say, “Yes, please!”

    I also like the idea that Avon is making the channel clear and available to writers who can’t necessarily navigate the agent terrain.

    Jessica

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  17. Melissa Marr
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 21:16:12

    Angela wrote: “I saw whoever is in charge of the blog ask them to do it several times. But I think if you look back in the archives, you'll see that despite the requests, it didn't happen. I hope you can effect that change in the future.”

    I’m the one who nags them about this :) The “tagging” was to help (you can click an author’s name & see the entries they’ve posted), & we added a sidebar link with author sites & with LJ names= Author Name.

    I’ve tried again.

    I think part of it is that FFF wasn’t actually started for promotion. When I proposed it to two of my friends, it was just to be a space where we could chat about writing stuff. It’s evolved into more than that, but I wonder sometimes if part of the lack of cooperation is because some authors aren’t doing it for promo at all, but just as what it first was intended to be–a space to chatter about writing.

    That said, I like it when they tag & sign because we have grown so much larger than the original plan of a dozen authors sharing a space to talk. So thanks for the reminder.

    Melissa

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  18. Lisa
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 22:01:42

    Hi Patrice! Long time, no talk. Thanks for the heads up. I don’t see any categories, though. Under “Navigate” I only see the following:
    * Recent Entries
    * Archive
    * Friends
    * User Info

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  19. Angela James
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 09:08:38

    Hey Melissa,

    Maybe if I explained my frustration better; I guess, to me, knowing who writes a post gives a frame of reference, and a context, to what is being written. It’s like here at Dear Author, there are around five or so contributors. I would bet that most people who read the reviews, read to see which reviewer is doing the review, because they’ve come to identify with their likes/dislikes and whether they mesh with their own.

    At your LJ, you have what? 30 or so contributors? Most of the posts are unsigned so it’s like reading posts from “anonymous” most of the time. The reader of the blog (or in this case me) doesn’t know if the person giving advice about queries, agents, editors, etc is an author who has ten books published, one book published, has offered sound advice in the past or never talked on the topic at all before. In other words, there’s no frame of reference for who they are or what they’re saying.

    And like I said, I’ve found that sometimes even if I go direct to the FFF LJ, to see who’s written it, their nickname doesn’t give any hints and even worse, sometimes clicking on their nickname and going to the author’s LJ still doesn’t give any outright idea of who they are. So even if the author doesn’t think that what they’re doing is promo, or doesn’t want it to seem like promo, it would still be a courtesy to the blog readers to provide them with a context within which to frame the author’s post. Maybe thinking of it like that will help?

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  20. Lisa
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 09:39:40

    Part of these issues, I think, are due to the problems inherent in the LJ framework. I really don’t think it’s meant to be used as a blog with a large audience, but rather as a personal diary to share with a few friends and so its objective is going to shine through in its user interface. Even so, sometimes it seems that LJ intentionally makes it difficult to navigate around, that’s how esoteric the navigation is at times. The free templates out there often aren’t much better.

    It’s helpful to readers to be able to sort the posts by author, category and date.

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  21. Devon
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 10:55:11

    Ooh I love this idea. Not because I’m a mean girl and want to bash people’s hard work, but because I’m nosy and love to see what kind of ideas people are coming up with.

    Everyone should go for the Avon thing, b/c hey, why the heck not?

    Is the regular staff going to go through everything? Maybe they need some slush pile readers :)

    Happy New Year to all!

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  22. Patrice Michelle
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 12:10:31

    Hey Lisa. I hope this helps… queries on FFF

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  23. Lisa
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 15:51:53

    Patrice — thanks so much for tracking those down. Much appreciated.

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  24. romblogreader
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 16:19:04

    Backing up Lisa here, LJ is definitely more of a community and geared toward being navigated by members than it is toward outsiders. Most LJ users navigate via their “friends list”, which works like an running RSS aggregator and tends to already be styled in the format they chose for their own journals. Not that the various styles the journal owners choose aren’t often … quite user unfriendly, but much of the LJ benefit comes from the private/semi-private space attributes. FWIW. YMMV.

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  25. Jane
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 16:24:55

    I agree with romblogreader and Lisa (and it seems it is echoed by some of the members of the FFF community). LJ is more of a community and you get to know the posters by their handles. In the large community of FFF where there are more than 60+ posters, it is super confusing to keep track of everyone unless, I guess, that you participate in there heavily.

    I suppose it depends on what FFF is supposed to be for. If it is just an intimate community meant for the members and those who frequent there regularly, the signing of the posts is probably meaningless. If the FFF is to serve as a promotional vehicle in that is exposes readers to new to them authors, then signing of the posts is really important.

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  26. Angela James
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 17:07:59

    Well, I’ll admit it never occurred to me that the blog was intended to be inclusive only for those who read directly from LJ, so in that case it makes sense.

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  27. Robin
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 23:38:14

    I suppose it depends on what FFF is supposed to be for. If it is just an intimate community meant for the members and those who frequent there regularly, the signing of the posts is probably meaningless. If the FFF is to serve as a promotional vehicle in that is exposes readers to new to them authors, then signing of the posts is really important.

    As a casual reader of FFF, I can tell you that between the tree-like structure of comments and the unsigned posts it seems to me more like a self-contained community. To me it has nothing to do with self-promotion; it’s about voice, about knowing who’s speaking, and about having sense of context, continuity, and personality. If FFF is a conversation, what downside is there to having people identify themselves when they speak?

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  28. Lisa
    Dec 31, 2007 @ 10:07:38

    Romblogreader said:
    Most LJ users navigate via their “friends list”, which works like an running RSS aggregator and tends to already be styled in the format they chose for their own journals.

    In this case, LJ has much more in common with something like Facebook than a Blogger or WordPress blog. I have a couple LJ sites in my Google Reader, but the full post text is never displayed. Now I understand why.

    Cory Doctorow recently made some great points about communities like Facebook in Information Week, the article is titled How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers will Kill Facebook.

    ReplyReply

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