My Life, Updated

Here’s what I’m working on right now:

Priority #1: Rewriting SCOUT so I can send to my agent. Hopefully asap.

Priority #2: Working on an audition for a new Working Partners series. Due April 6th.

Priority #3: Setting up an awesome group blog with a few super special writing friends. Seriously, it has a cool new spin. The other participants are sparkly and wonderful. Launch this in 1-2 weeks I’d guess.

Priority #4: Writing a pitch for the popular site The Frisky. Due whenever, but will probably get that sent out tomorrow.

Priority #1,000,000: Playing around with an idea I want to write very badly and which is currently serving as SCOUT motivation.

Priorities with no particular ranking: blogging, correspondence, checking in on friends’ blogs, seminar paper, law school outlining, homework….oh yeah, and spring break fun!!

Courtesy of

Guide in Links: Book Packaging and Work-for-Hire

Since I get a lot of questions about this, I thought I’d create a running list of places writers could look for work-for-hire and information on book packaging. I’ve done a lot of trolling for this one, so let me know if it’s helpful. I’m happy to answer any questions on packaging (assuming I know the answer) and would love to hear about any flings failed or not that you all have had with work-for-hire jobs.


Where to find information on book packaging:

American Book Producers Association

What is Book Packaging? – from the Absolute Write Forum

Terry Whalin Article on Book Packagers

Book Packaging and Work-for-Hire Writing – A short overview and a little history on book packaging by Maya Reynolds

Class on writing for educational publishers

Book Packaging: Under-explored terrain for freelancers – Article by Jenna Glatzer

My Failed Fling with a Book Packager by John Barlow

More on Book Packagers – from Miss Snark

Writing Tips: Packagers – from Highlights

Where to find work:

Chelsea House – award-winning and curriculum-based nonfiction material for the school and library markets, includes books for young adults, middle grade and young readers grades 2-5

Stone Arch Books – middle grade

Delta Publishing – children’s books

Alloy Entertainment – work-for-hire teen fiction and now The Collaborative for original work

Working Partners – popular fiction series for young readers through young adult

Working Partners Two – new for adult fiction (fantasy, thriller, historical and paranormal romance)

Beacon Street Girls

Mirrorstone Books – publisher for young readers of series based on Dungeons and Dragons lore

Parachute Publishing – packager of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen books, Goosebumps, Seventeen and more

Quirk Packaging and Publishing – Worst Case Scenario books, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, etc.

Students Across the Seven Seas from Penguin Group – an established series, not exactly sure how to submit to them, but you submit your own concept that would fit into the series, I believe

Bow Publications – nonfiction projects grade 3-12

Tangerine Designs – specializes in preschool titles

Plan B Book Packagers – children’s fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels (not sure how to submit here or how actively this company is operating)

Smart Kids Publishing – send ideas/manuscripts

Note: I’ll continue to  update so please share information in the comments and I’ll incorporate.

Make-a-Fan Monday: Working Partners


Today I’m making you a fan of…Working Partners, Ltd.

What is Working Partners? Recently, the company seems to have blossomed into an umbrella for several different companies. But, I first learned of Working Partners as a children’s fiction book packager. You might be wondering what the heck a book packager is. Well, essentially, a publisher may choose to acquire a book or series that has been almost fully produced by a book packager. Meaning the book has been written and edited under the guidance of the book packaging company. In the case of a company like Working Partners, creative in house editors will brainstorm ideas for new books and series. Then, they will come up with extremely detailed plots and hire writers to do the actual line-by-line, chapter-by-chapter writing. In my research, most book packagers have been aimed at nonfiction books, so one of the reasons I was so drawn to Working Partners is its focus on children’s lit. (Another great packager of children’s series is Alloy.)

Reasons why you should love them: For one, if you are a writer, it’s a new market to explore. Work-for-hire can be a great income supplement because of the typically shorter turnarounds. It’s also a fantastic way to learn. If hired, you would be working closely with an editor, receiving feedback and direction. Moreover, what better way to flex your writing muscles? Like performing exercises as a musician or an athlete, it can be good to develop different sides of your craft. Maybe it will be beneficial for you to practice a new tone or voice in your writing without having to think about the plot. Maybe you’ll learn how to brainstorm different ways to convey the same story. Also, last time I received their writers’ information packet, they were offering substantial royalties. A lot of packagers pay only flat fees, so yay for Working Partners being pro-author. (Oh yeah, and their authors receive advances, too, so no worries).

So how does it work, you might ask? Interested writers may fill out the Writers Information form on the Working Partners website. I’ll be honest, I think more and more of the writers chosen are agented now as opposed to unagented. But, I don’t think that should deter you, depending on experience, etc. Editors will select writers for auditions based on their forms. If selected, you will receive an email asking if you would be interested in auditioning for a certain project. The editor will then send a synopsis of the book and you will be asked to write the beginning of the book, probably upwards of 6,000 words, to turn in by a specified date. Usually about 5 writers receive an invitation to audition for any given project and only one is chosen. Unchosen authors are still given about a page letter detailing reasons the editors either liked the sample or disliked. So, either way, it can be a great way to get real editor feedback. The editors are prompt and professional and just because you aren’t selected for a given project, doesn’t mean an editor won’t want to approach you again for a different project for which you might be a better fit.


So now that you’re a fan, where can you stalk?

To read a great Working Partners series, check out the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. (I’ve read one of these books and they really are a lot of fun.)

The Working Partners website

The new adult division, Rights People, and Greenhouse Literary

Interview with Alexandra Kirby, editor in 2006 for Working Partners

Message from Chris Snowdon (Managing Director) on Undiscovered Voices



Friday Forecast: Before You Go All Debbie Downer…

My responses to the Tuesday’s Publishing Election Day Questions…

What is your favorite agent blog? Probably Kristin Nelson’s. I read hers every day. But, I do like the Bookends Blog an awful lot. I just forget to check.

What is your favorite editor blog? Evil Editor, but I’m going to check out Editorial Anonymous now because I’ve never seen it before.

Which agent offered you the kindest rejection letter? Hmmm…Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident.

Who do you think the most popular agent is? Blog-wise…I think the commenters are right…It’s got to be Nathan Bransford. The second he posts he has one million–not exaggerating–comments. I dream of such a day. I’m not sure who the most popular agent would be to query. Maybe Donald Maas?


Back to the Friday Forecast:

Some of you might be down on the publishing industry…what with Creative losing $6.5 million and profits at Harper plunging from $36 to $3 million—yeah, you probably don’t want to think on that one too long–but, I’m hear to point out that a lot of good is still goin’ on in the world of debut authors today.


I want to take a second to congratulate Kasey Mackenzie on her THREE BOOK DEAL WITH PENGUIN/BERKELEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


“Kasey Mackenzie’s RED HOT FURY, to Jessica Wade at Berkley, in a good deal, at auction, in a three-book deal, by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown (NA).”

So Awesome! Kasey was incredibly helpful to me while deciding which agent offer to accept. She took the time to write incredibly detailed responses and has still been kind enough to respond to each of my submission process questions. I couldn’t be happier for her and I think I’m seeing a 2010 debut author interview series coming on

Im more good news:

Morrigan on AW (aka Nicole Peeler) has just sold her urban fantasy series to Orbit in pre-empt for a three-book deal. TEMPEST RISING, the first book in the series will debut in Fall/Winter 2009!


Moral of the story: While, yes, like the rest of the economy, publishing has taken a hit. But great things are still happening to great people. The fact of the matter is that houses still have to buy books in order to make money. So, before we get all doom and gloom. Let’s try to appreciate the good news happening. (Do I sound like Hugh Grant in Love Actually or what?)


Finally, I wanted to respond to a few questions I’ve gotten from commenters lately:

1. Where will the Qanta Ahmed author chat be? The author chat will be over at the LibraryThing Website on November 10. Post questions for her over there. Membership to the site is free.

2. Where do you find out the categories for deal? I suggest everyone invest in a free subscription of Publisher Lunch. Yes, I know the opportunity cost there is high, but go ahead, take the plunge. Publishers Lunch is a newsletter that arrives in your inbox daily to tell you what’s going on in the world of books.

3. How do you audition for Working Partners? Go here: and fill out a form.



Coming up…


Tomorrow I’m going to discuss Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. If you haven’t read it, you could pick it up tonight and finish it by tomorrow and comment. Seriously.

Also, I’m giving you fair warning because Cindy Pon (aka Xiaotien) will be interviewed on Monday…and everyone loves her, so definitely check her interview out.


Status: I have an article due to Sprouts tomorrow on submitting graphic novels. So, yeah…I probably oughta write that.

Should Your Solo Become A Duet?

Don’t even try to tell me “American  Boy” would be as good without Kanye.

Or that House of Night would be better with only one of the Casts.

I mean, seriously, could one possibly contend that Diet Coke is better without the cherry?

No, I don’t think so.

So, while writing is typically a solitary endeavor, sometimes it can be refreshing to enter into a little healthy collaboration with a fellow writer.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be co-authoring a Nano project this year. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging a bit about what it’s like to write with someone else.

How to work out plot points?

How do you mesh voice?

Who writes when?

We’ll be writing a plot which requires two distinctive points of view. Basically, I’ll be one character and she’ll be the other. I learned this tip from Mandy Hubbard, who co-authored Getting Caught, with her writing pal, Cyn Balog.

Have any of y’all collaborated on a project? Thoughts and tips from the peanut gallery are always much appreciated.


**Leave comments for a chance to win a copy of In the Land of Invisible Women–more on that tomorrow**

Status: Got an audition for a Working Partners series today! Getting ready for submission week, too. Good vibes my way please!!!!

Topical Tuesday: Ideas and Execution in Book Packaging

Since I’m currently auditioning for a few book packagers, I thought I’d address an interesting issue involved.

If you don’t know already, book packagers are companies that come up with an idea for a book or series and sell it to a publisher. The editors at the packager (or some call them producers) usually come up with a detailed outline and then hire an author to turn the idea and the outline into a complete manuscript. For reference, some examples of packaged books are Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Warriors, Sweet Valley High, and Nancy Drew.

Generally, the author that is doing this “work-for-hire” earns a flat fee–in other words: no royalties. The packager maintains the copyright for the work, not the writer. This is much different than how publishing normally works.

I will point out that a company called Working Partners pays writers an advance against royalties (though, of course, the copyright is still in Working Partners’ name).

I’m not questioning how book packaging works. I’m really not. I hope to get some work-for-hire myself and am fine with the arrangement, but it’s not exactly intuitive, is it?

After all, how many times do you hear: it’s not the idea it’s the execution. Old ideas are made fresh all the time by different writers. Technically, you can’t even copyright ideas in writing fiction. Someone could steal your idea right off the query boards at Absolute Write and you couldn’t do a thing about it. One thing is for sure, though: Whatever the thief came up with would probably be executed quite a bit differently than what you had in mind.

That’s why I think it’s interesting that the idea is so important in packaging even when it is the writer who is putting the flesh and bones on the project. I think this must have a lot to do with the fact that packagers expect you to write in the voice of the entire series. You don’t get to use so much your own voice as an established voice. Plus, the outline is very detailed, though there is room to get creative.

Just something to think about if you are considering doing some work-for-hire.

But how about in writing fiction in general. Which is more important? The idea? Or the execution?


Status: Just got back from an unsuccessful shopping trip with my roommate. I was looking for something to wear for the 4th of July. Oh well. I finished Twilight today, so I will probably talk about that on Saturday. I plan to send in my sample for the Beacon Street Girls tonight and write several more pages of script. Pages of script take much longer than I thought because you have to be able to see very clearly each part of a scene in your head and there are many panels per page.


Later, I’ll start in on the Gallagher Girls again!