When Your Book Gets a New Title!

LALLU TITLE PIC

Hey everyone! The book formerly know as Prom Bitch has a shiny, brand new title!

LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US

Things change a lot in publishing (note: new pub date of MARCH 2016!) but I am very excited about everything and am so grateful to be in this position.

An extra special thanks to everyone who supported me during new title gate 2015: My fabulous editor Kristin Kulsavage, my agent Victoria Lowes, Sarah, Rachel, Natalie, Natasha, Fall Fifteeners, Fearless Fifteeners, and of course my family. : )

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When One Of Your Most Wildest Dreams Is Coming True

Oh, hi guys! I have a super fun incredibly exciting post for you today.

Yo doooo? (on writing advice from non writers)

Yes, I do. And it’s awesome. I will try to make it quick. No, no I won’t.

When I was 12, my BFF Donna and I would trade books back and forth like they were the most delicious drug of your life. We were two book-loving kindred spirits and it was lovely.

Anne of Gr Gables BFF

Anne of Green Gables, The BabySitter’s Club, Sweet Valley everything, Catcher In The Rye, Wuthering Heights. Basically, we were two badass kids living in an awful religious commune cult at the time and any decent book we could get our hands on was like…high inducing. I am not ashamed, WE WERE FREAKING CRAZY ABOUT THE BOOKS. (And also NKOTB bc duh!)

nkotb cartoon dancing

So. I read Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes. I loved it. I was inspired. I went from creating mini magazine parodies and drawing cartoons to giving my first actual novel a go. I wanted to write a book with all the feels too. Maybe I wasn’t your average twelve year old: My book was about a girl who watches her depressed friend shoot herself. Donna was my first reader. She was probably freaked out.

KW shocked:scared

Lucky for her, it got tricky to write first person, present tense point-of-view and I gave up. I went back to making little magazines and improv-ing sketches on tape.

That was a long time ago. Since then, I’ve written hundreds of poems and songs, an unfinished screenplay, a short story. (You know, all the things that’ll never see the light of day). In 2008, I started a memoir-based novel. But I was also working a job that got kind of…

office don't want to do anything I'm dying

Then long story short I quit that job & decided to get all up in my book writing. I pulled out my one writing book, notebook, files, checked out and bought more writing books, cruised the internet, and learned a lot. I also ditched the memoir-based novel because my writing partner in crime (one of my high school BFFs) Laura said, “Let’s start something new and fun and just write!” So I opened up a new file, and was inspired by high-school, first love, good times, bad times, and of course some 90210 drama.

old 90210

Wait. Not old school 90210, new 90210 with Matt Lanter.

90210 in hallway

I titled the new document PROM BITCH and just started writing. I kept writing and sharing chapters with Laura and also sent them to my non-writerly but gracious, awesome & supportive BFF Jen. These two were so awesome during this time because that first draft was a hundred drafts ago, you guys and was shit so, so rough but Jen & Laura were always like YAY! GO! THIS IS LIKE A REAL STORY! I LOVE IT!

90210 thumbs up

And I queried and got an agent! Victoria Lowes believed in my book too. And then the revisions. I revised once more, then with Victoria, I revised two more times. And then I entered what most writers call “SUB HELL.” This is the time where it’s like querying, but instead of getting an agent to love your book enough to want to sell it, your agent pitches it to editors. Yes, it was hell, I suppose. But for me, it was also really, really exciting. Victoria really guided me with those revisions and I think we got a great book out there so the rejections were actually pretty easy to take. Also, it’s easy for me to say this now. I won’t even lie. Sometimes the process did feel like reliving my twenties. You know:

self-loathing

keep getting knocked down

No leg shaving

hairy legs gif

and the Wait! What? Whyyyyyy?

you liked me then you just left gif

& treats to ease the pain:

crying donut gif

Ok Fine. Super Long Story. Wrapping it up. It wasn’t too long before Victoria emailed me with: CALL ME AS SOON AS YOU GET A CHANCE! : ) Right away I knew it was an offer. (because what kind of evil agent would email you something like that if it wasn’t right?!) So I started sweating. I was in Barnes & Noble. I bought my daughter a giant cookie and a toy, put her in her carseat and called Victoria from the parking lot.

stomach hurts, pits are sweating KW

I was right. Victoria said we had an offer! I was very:

huh what KW face (phone text)

So Victoria explained it. Someone wanted my book! An editor wanted it and then my book made it through the acquisitions process–YAY! So, after some OMG hurry up you guys! fun paperworky contract agent/publisher stuff and me having the worst time holding onto this secret…

I'm ready to paaaarty gif

I’m super thrilled and excited to announce that I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!

elaine ecstatic

Kristin Kulsavage of SkyHorse Publishing/Sky Pony Press has bought PROM BITCH for release in Fall of 2015! Here’s the deal announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace:

PM PB PIC

In case you can’t read it, it says: “Debut author Ami Allen-Vath’s PROM BITCH, about a high school senior navigating prom season amidst panic attacks, a new boyfriend, & a suicide letter from the class outcast, to Kristin Kulsavage at Sky Pony Press, in a nice deal, for publication Fall 2015, by Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency.”

You guys! YOU GUYS. My book will be something we can buy and hold and kiss and oh crap…READ, I guess! In Fall of 2015!?!? *kind of faints*

What Is Happening?! gif

So huge thanks to everyone who has been with me so far. I am not going to name all the names yet bc how boring would the book’s acknowledgements be if you’d already read them here. But HUGE thank you to the guy who was like “Whoa you’re writing a book? We better go get you a real laptop.” and “You’re gonna ignore me on our anniversary vacation in Puerto Rico to finish writing a book called Prom Bitch? Sure!”

dancing for cop

Yes, that’d be Justin, my amazing husband! (Who totally used to be a cop and totally thinks all my moves rock). Thanks Justin and thank YOU, supportive Family & Friends and Future Readers of my book!

xoxoAMI

An Interview With Victoria Lowes, Literary Agent

VL PHOTO

Hey guys! Today I’m pretty excited to share an interview with my literary agent Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency. Since signing with her in October, I’ve had peers ask and have seen questions posed in online writing forums regarding the digital market and digital-first agents. Also, since she’s a newer agent, I wanted to get into her experience a little bit more for anyone that’s doing agent research. Without further ado, here is my Victoria Lowes, Lit Agent Extraordinaire Q&A:

Ami: What led you to pursue a career in publishing and also, can you give us some more insight into your experience and training? Also, can you give us the scoop on becoming an agent–give us your version of getting THE CALL from Jenny Bent?

Victoria: I think like everyone in this industry, a love of books is what drove me to pursue a career in publishing. I started my journey to becoming an agent while I was in my last semester at Queens College. I was toying with the idea of becoming a literary agent so an internship at an agency was my first stop. I cold called every single literary agency in New York City and asked if they were hiring. I ended up at Serendipity Literary working for the incomparable Regina Brooks. After an immensely educational internship, I knew for sure that the literary agent track was the right one for me. I then began interning at the Carol Mann Agency. After about 6 months my boss at CMA told me that Jenny Bent was looking for someone to help review queries and that she’d recommend me for the position. I remember during my phone interview (which I took at my other job at a general contractors office- I used to juggle up to 5 jobs back then- I don’t miss it) I made a few terrible jokes that I now cringe thinking about but thankfully, Jenny found them funny or at the very least, didn’t hold them against me. So I began working remotely for Jenny while still interning at CMA. After a few months, my role at TBA grew and eventually Jenny hired me as her full-time assistant. After about six months of that, Jenny told me I could start building my own list.

Ami: Can you tell us a little bit more about being a digital first agent? What does digital first mean? And what does it mean for writers who are looking to submit their work to you?

Victoria: Digital-first means exactly what it sounds like- a book deal where your novel is sold digitally at first, and then if sales go well, into print. The industry is obviously changing & rapidly at that, so it’s been very exciting to be at the forefront of the turn towards digital.

For writers who are looking to possibly work with me, I always stress that while my focus is digital-first, I in no way intend to limit your options. I always like to talk to new & prospective clients, see what their goals are and then map out what we’re going to do. Some of my clients are really enthusiastic about digital-first and see themselves making a career that way, while some would prefer a print deal, so we pursue that while keeping digital-first as another potential route.

Ami: Are there certain types of books that might be better suited for the digital-first market? What types of books are editors looking for when it comes to digital?

Victoria: Well right now, romance titles of all kinds are the most popular. However, the digital-first market is rapidly expanding so mysteries, thrillers, YA & suspense are also very sought after in the digital-first world.

Ami: What about you? How do you read books? (Print? Kindle? iPad? Phone? Nook? All of the above?) Do you even have time to read for fun these days?

Victoria: Right now, I’m obsessed with my Kindle Fire though I have to credit my first eReader, a Nook, for showing me all the wonderful things eReaders have to offer. I also, of course, still buy tons of physical books. While it’s difficult, I try to read at least two books recreationally a month.

Ami: Now obviously, I know this answer now, but what are the benefits of a writer signing with an agent as opposed to submitting their own work to publishers that accept unagented submissions? Based on your experience and knowledge with contracts and insider info, is there any advice you can give for unagented writers who receive a publisher’s offer?

Victoria: Well, agents are familiar with publishing contracts so we’re well equipped to spot predatory clauses. We also know which kinds of royalty rates are fair and all of the smaller points to ask for to ensure that you have the best contract possible. If you’re submitting to publishers sans an agent, I’d just say to really do your research on the publisher you’re signing with before accepting a deal.

Ami: Your 2014 wish list can be found on TBA’s blog, Bent On Books, but are there any specific characters or plots you’d love to see in your inbox? 

Victoria: I’d really love a contemporary thriller with a fresh take on witches. I’m also very much on the hunt for a sports romance series that features male POV.

Ami: Can you give any advice to writers who are currently looking for an agent? What are the biggest and most common mistakes you see in queries?

Victoria: Again, my advice would be to do your research. The most common mistake I find in my slush pile are queries from authors with projects that I don’t represent. There are so many wonderful resources on the Internet that specify exactly what an agent is looking for & I recommend all authors to utilize those as much as possible. Also, to all you authors in the query trenches, don’t give up. This business is so subjective so a rejection from five (or twenty) agents doesn’t mean that the perfect agent isn’t out there waiting for your query.

Ami: What can a writer expect their path will be upon signing with you? For instance, are you editorial? How many rounds of revisions, if any, can one expect their manuscript to go through before it’s ready to submit to editors? What’s your communication style?

 Victoria: I can be very editorial if the manuscript calls for it, though it all depends on the client. I’ve had clients where I didn’t do any revisions at all and I’ve had clients where I’ve done 3 rounds of revisions for sending the MS out. So I suppose you can expect a certain degree of flexibility with me. I try to be as communicative as possible with my clients whether that means updating them on the status of their submissions ASAP or just having them know that they can come to me with any questions about their work.

Ami: What’s a day in your agent life like?

Victoria: Well, I’m also Jenny Bent’s assistant so between my assistant duties and managing my own list, my days are hardly ever uniform. They’re usually a hectic mix of emails, administrative duties for the office, managing my clients’ submissions, lunches with editors and then more emails. I do all my reading and editing during the evenings & weekends.

 Ami: Finally, the most important question of all: You’re stuck on an island with an endless supply of ice cream and a TV that will play one television series on loop until you are rescued: What kind of ice cream and what are you gonna watch?

Victoria: Cookie Dough & Everybody Loves Raymond.

Thanks Victoria, for taking the time for this interview. As always, you’re wonderful! To follow Victoria on twitter, you can find her here.

How Ayesha Patel Got an Agent, Book Deal, & How She’ll BRING IT in the Upcoming NA Novel, PRIYA IN HEELS

Image

An agent and a book deal in 2013! What the heel? (See my Priya reference there?)

Author Ayesha Patel, repped by Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency has recently signed with Entangled to publish her NA Romance, PRIYA IN HEELS! Here to give us the behind the scenes on getting the agent AND the deal in the same year and the scoop on Priya, is Ayesha herself.

Ami: I’m aware that your alter ego has other work out there, so can you give us your background, publishing creds, and tell us how your upcoming book, Priya In Heels came to be?

Ayesha: Love the pun, first of all! I’ve been known for a while as Kaylie Austen who writes YA and adult in both sci-fi and fantasy. I’m Indian, and obviously Kaylie Austen isn’t an Indian Name. I chose that pen name because I subconsciously plucked Kaylie from Firefly and Austen because I like Jane Austen and I grew up in Austin, TX. I’ve moved over to Ayesha Patel, taking my maiden name, to speak to more Indian and Asian readers and also to give readers the chance to pick up a book, see Patel, and know they have a good chance of getting into some multicultural themes in my books. I’m basically getting back to my roots and everything in these new books have strong Indian heritage mixed in with other cultures, as well as tidbits of my life.

As Kaylie Austen, I’ve published a YA sci-fi, Ravens, where children are transported to a parallel world whey they gain super powers and are hunted by humans. That was definitely inspired by my love of XMen. Hellhound is a paranormal mystery where descendants of Greek gods live among us but one of their strongest is murdered and his daughter is given the task of hunting down the accused, who happens to be her illicit lover. Song of the Sirens is a YA dark fantasy where a human girl stumbles upon the horrific remnants of what used to be bloodthirsty sirens, now pissed off more than ever, decrepit zombie mermaids. Come to think of it, they were all published in 2013! So this has been a productive year!

I wrote Priya in Heels (Priya) because I wanted to write something completely different and touch base with my Indian roots. The fusion of Indian/American cultures, familial obligations, prohibited love, taboos, pain, loss, the very epitome of my life is in this book. I had this idea for a few months, although I wanted to write it for a year. I read my first contemporary women’s fiction last year and it moved my muse to get this story told. I wrote Priya in a couple of months and absolutely loved it. Honestly, I cried so hard when I wrote certain scenes because they were so close to my heart, and I hope that translates across to readers. I hope readers will laugh and cry with me.

I work in the medical field, so Priya is a medical resident. I also have a cousin named Priya, but my Priya has nothing to do with her! I chose the name because it’s pretty and common, and fans of The Big Bang Theory will recognize it as an Indian name. Priya, like me, loves plaid and tennis shoes vs. heels. She’s into The Big Bang Theory and Battlestar Gallactica.

Tyler, my leading man, is the hot Irish guy with the soul-shattering green eyes down the hall. He’s a lot like my husband, except he works at NASA, which is one of my dream jobs.

Ami: Can you give us some insight on your agent journey for PRIYA? (What book was this for you? How many other books had you queried? How many queries did you send out—to agents, to pubs? Tell us about the call!)

Ayesha: My journey to an agent was a very long one, through more books than I care to remember and enough rejections to literally fill a notebook. I still have that notebook. Some of those books went on to publication, but for the most part, the querying business forced me to take a long, hard look at my writing. I’m embarrassed about the earlier pieces!

While many of my fellow query trench friends signed with agents and publishers, went on book tours and hit bestsellers lists, I tweaked everything from style to genre. I never gave up. No matter how depressed I became, I never stopped. For one thing, I’m a writer and stories will always come to me. For another thing, you never know if the book you would’ve written next will be the one.

I queried Victoria because she was with one of my top ten agencies, she was new, and she repped every genre I wrote. I already digged Entangled and had a good relationship with their editors, so I knew I didn’t mind if Victoria went digital first. She asked for my full based off a query and sample pages. When I saw the email to set up a call, I thought it was just another “Unfortunately, this isn’t right for me…” When I read the email, I though maybe she wanted a revision.

You see, I’ve been rejected far too much to get too excited about anything. I hoped for the best, but expected something less. My author friends were practically throwing confetti, which started to get me excited.

I spoke with Victoria the following morning. I always thought I’d jump around and squeal, but I felt that I was pretty cool. Victoria said she loved Priya, and that’s what every author needs: an agent who loves their work. We talked and we clicked.

I posted more in depth about The Call on my blog, but it was all a very laid-back, professional call after a very long and emotional journey. It wasn’t until that evening when I finally listened to the playlist for Priya, which I told myself I wouldn’t play unless the book went somewhere, that it hit me. I Have An Agent. It felt surreal. I didn’t get used to it, or accept it as my new reality, until I signed with Entangled.

Ami: And finally, tell us about the day you found out that Entangled wanted to publish Priya In Heels and how hard has it been not to shout it from every roof top, text everyone and their aunt, post it on every social media site while you waited for the ink to dry?

Ayesha: I knew the editor loved Priya from a LONG time ago. Priya is so much a part of me that I thought a rather unsettling part of me would die if Priya didn’t get anywhere. I’ve wanted to be with Entangled for years, like that boy you’ve crushed on for so long. When they said they wanted the full, it was like that boy finally noticed me. When they said they wanted me, it was like that boy said, “Hey, girl, you kinda fly.”

I was thrilled! I’ve dreamt of being on their blockbuster team for a long while, and this is a dream come true.

The day I found out was actually the day after I signed with Victoria. I sent my editor an email to let her know I’d signed. She responded the following day with a big congrats and oh, great things happen in pairs. I’d just pulled out of the garage, on my way to class, when I had the habit of checking my emails on my phone. Are you kidding how hard it was not to text and drive at the same time!

I missed Victoria’s call to let me know, and I missed half of the emails on my phone as I hurriedly sent back emails during class. You better believe I was on cloud nine, checking my phone all during class, texting during class (bad me!). I’m not going to lie, I have a big mouth. Co-workers and family heard about it, but they weren’t going to spring announcements anywhere. I managed to keep the official, public announcements non-existent until I had the green light.

When I actually signed, of course, was a different day. I happened to be with NYT bestselling author of the Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer, at one of the many cafes we were trying out last month. I’d just ordered coffee and lunch and started up my laptop when the contract came through. It was pretty darn amazing to be with someone who I admire as much as Marissa, as a person and an impressive writer, for that moment.

Ami: I am just getting into the whole NA scene and I love it. I think I speak for a lot of readers when I say we are craving MORE of everything in NA. What can we expect? In other words, I know you can’t say too much about the book but can we get the tiny insider’s scoop on how PRIYA IN HEELS is gonna bring it?

Ayesha: First of all, Priya is multicultural. My NA characters are still young but successful with good heads on their shoulders, which makes the downhill spiral in the story devastating. They aren’t fresh out of high school, but right out of college, settled, focused, logical.

Priya will take readers through my hometown of Austin, TX. All the way across seas to the place of my birth in Gujarat, India. There’s an assumption that all NA romances out there focus on sex, but Priya focuses on relationships; relationships between mother and daughter, family members, friends, arranged fiancés, and prohibited lovers, and what happens when a simple decision in the American culture demolishes a woman who straddles multiple cultures. Readers will laugh, cry (a lot), swoon, and get a look at the world through the eyes of a young woman who is both contemporary American and traditional Indian.

Ami: Thanks for the interview Ayesha, you’ve been awesome! Congrats on your success thus far and we’ll all be waiting to hear the release date for Priya In Heels. I’m also highly anticipating an amazing cover from Entangled!

If you want to stalk this up and coming NA Author Extraordinaire, you can find her—not in real life, but electronically:

Ayesha’s Blog: www.ayeshapatelwrites.com

Twitter: @ayeshapatel17

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ayeshapatel17

Kaylie Austen Blog: www.kaylieausten.blogspot.com

What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Get An Agent

(Spoiler: Don’t Expect The Same Results As Anyone Else.)

Hey Guys! If you know me in real life or in the writing community, you probably heard my big news. I HAVE AN AGENT! At the beginning of this month, I signed with Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency.

In case you didn’t know, a literary agent is only the beginning, because now it’s time to get the book ready for submission to editors/publishing houses, HOWEVER it’s kind of a big milestone in the writing community. Heres what it means to me: It means that someone else loves and believes in my book and thinks she can sell it. And she can deal with the connections, contracts, negotiating, rights, etc–all the stuff I don’t have the expertise and time for–which leaves me with time to focus on writing.

I’m incredibly grateful for all the writerly support I’ve received along the way. Because, once I finished my novel, I really didn’t have a clue to the next steps, or all the fancy rules, secret handshakes and different paths to be taken. I started reading a lot and realized there were so many agencies and agents to be researched and also a lot of other opportunities to enter your book’s pitch or first pages into contests for exposure. SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE OUT THERE. And so many writers that offer support and giving back in the same journey. If you write and you’re not on twitter, you’re missing out. There’s a great community of writers and publishing industry professionals there that are full of support, links, advice, and opportunity. Who knew twitter wasn’t just for finding out Mad Men spoilers or what Kanye ate for lunch?

So, back to me and my agent story! Michelle Hauck’s blog, “Michelle For Laughs” has a great agent interview section, “Query Questions,” which is where I first saw the interview with literary agent Victoria Lowes. The lovely Michelle asked me to write up a post on my very own Getting an Agent experience. So please, go check it out: Getting The Call: Ami Allen-Vath. 

The title of this post is What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Get An Agent. I like a good plot twist, so, since everyone’s journey is different, here’s what NOT to expect:

Don’t expect the same results as someone or everyone else. One person’s manuscript may get an offer before they even query it. Another writer may shelve five books before an agent offers representation on book six.

Don’t expect an agent to give you feedback just because they requested your manuscript. Agents are busy. Or they may not have read enough to offer anything valuable. Feedback is something to aspire for, it’s not owed to you. But yes, we can all agree that a form rejection on a full suuuuucks hurts the ego a bit.

Don’t expect that the feedback you do get is going to be some magic cure-all that’ll make you change that one thing to get you even more requests and an agent on the next round of queries. I kept waiting for feedback that would fuel me into a magical revision of my ms or query. Yes, I got feedback that helped but never was there this one big rejection with ALL THE NOTES and ALL THE ANSWERS. If an agent has feedback that’ll be magical and “offer inspiring,” it’s probably going to be an R&R or an ACTUAL offer.

Don’t expect that every query you send out will get a response. I had 26 queries that didn’t get a response.

Don’t expect that this book is THE book. But don’t expect that it’s not. As soon as I started believing in my next manuscript and preparing a mental list of contests and agents for book two, I got offers for book one.

ONE DO:

DO EXPECT great things from YOU. Make goals, rake in the knowledge, push hard, and move forward and up with every NO.

ONE MORE DON”T:

Don’t give up.