This past Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the Texas Two-Step Writer's Conference where Michael Hauge presented a workshop on how to use screenwriting techniques for your novel. I'll have a little more information on that on Friday, but today I wanted to talk about the agent and editor panel they had at the beginning of the day.
These were the members of the panel:
- Adam Wilson, Associate Editor, MIRA Books and Harlequin Teen
- Holly Blanck, Assistant Editor, St. Martin's Press
- Joy Azmitia, Literary Agent, Russell and Volkening
- Becca Stumpf, Literary Agent, Prospect Agency
First, I do have to say that for those of you who haven't attended a writer's conference, they are one of the best ways to get in front of an actual decision maker and pitch. I didn't pitch because my romance is category length and most don't represent those. But, the agents/editors seemed very nice and approachable. And contrary to popular belief, they are actual people. Shocking news, I know. :)
But anyway, during the panel I realized I truly do take blogging seriously. Even when they were talking about things that didn't apply to me, I was taking notes to share with you guys, lol.
So here's what I found out...
- Harlequin Teen is currently very heavy paranormal, so Adam is looking for contemporaries and historicals to balance their list out.
- YA Historical is getting hot.
- Holly is looking for gritty, edgy YA and also for a funny heroine who can support a series (adult or YA)
- Vamps/Werewolves/Faeries/Angels/etc are still okay, but you must do something different with it (not weremooses one joked). All of them agreed that they are getting bombarded with Twilight copycats still.
- If you are writing paranormal/urban fantasy, don't get so involved in world-building that you bog down the story. They say they've seen a lot of stories that read like a science textbook explaining all the rules and descriptions of the paranormal world.
- VOICE, VOICE, VOICE - they said that you have to have plot (obviously) but that voice is what elevates the great from the good.
- They are tired of seeing the guy character that every girl in the book is in love with.
- Readers want more of the same but NOT copycats. Michael Hauge reiterated this sentiment for movies. Readers want something familiar with a different twist. If your idea is completely out the box and off the wall, they said it can be harder to sell. But if you're too close to something else like Twilight, readers will call you out on it. So familiar, but unique. Easy peasy, right?
- They also said that your BIG TWIST on the original can't just be something like "oh, my werewolves can make themselves invisible." Think of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series--she has vampires (old idea), and the characters are at special school (done all over the place), there are good vamps and bad vamps (done done done) but the MC is not a vampire, she has a very unique voice, and she is the opposite of the damsel in distress.