Friday, June 18, 2010

Interview with Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency

Oh boy, are you in for a treat today. I talked my awesome agent, Christine Witthohn, into talking a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions. Although I actually signed with Christine’s partner in November 2006, I met Christine at Dallas RWA in 2007 and we became fast friends as well as business partners after her partner left the agency that summer.

A little back story on this wonderful woman. Christine always wanted to be a doctor, but after watching her dad die of pancreatic cancer, she decided life was too short and she wanted to do something she really loved – reading books. Better still, she wanted to sell books that had found a place in her heart. After doing her homework for almost four and a half years, including taking extensive contract negotiations courses, she hung out her shingle. Today, she has a great list of authors and is proud of the working relationship she has with each of them.

BTW, some lucky commenter today will get an “on-the-spot” chance to pitch to Christine. Now on to the questions:

Me: Welcome, Christine. I know your time is short, so I’ll get right to the point. Who is your favorite client?

I would have to say the talented and incredible author, Liz Lipperman.

Okay, I can see nobody is buying that and my nose is growing, so I’ll move on to the actual real questions.

Christine: My Texan Fireball has an extra funny bone, but I’m going to answer her question anyway. I don’t have a favorite client – I love’em all. I am very close to the people on my list because they are my teammates/business partners. Truth be told, I’m only as good as my list. I try to treat everyone the same, no matter if they have a hundred books or if they’re a debut author. No two people are the same, but I do treat everyone the way I would like to be treated.

Me: Right out of the gate, everyone wants to know about your sales.

Christine: They are steady, thank goodness – but only because I have fantastic writers on my list. The genres are all over the place because I have such a diverse group. I sold 5 debut authors in a 5 month period, which is huge!

Me: I know you follow AAR guidelines, but are you a member?


Me: We all know from Book Cent’s website –
what you do and do not represent. What I want to know is what genre really excites you?

Christine: That is a tricky question. As you can see from my sales, my tastes vary. No matter the genre, when I read a story it all comes down to one question… can I fight for it? (In this market, that’s exactly what it takes.)

I have also been known to fall in love with someone’s voice 

If I had to pick one genre that I tend to lean toward, I would have to say either mystery/suspense or thrillers.

Me: How involved are you in the author’s long-term career? Are you hands on?

Christine: I’m not interested in quick sales (if there is such a thing). I’m interested in long term relationships.

When I sign a client, we become a team. Both members of the team have to bring something to the table in order for the relationship to be successful (and I’m very protective of my teammates.) But, because we are a team… sometimes my role is one of a cheerleader, confidant, editor, mama pit bull, friend, whip master, publicist, or slave labor (at book signings.)

Me: I know you must request partials from the millions of queries you get. Everyone always wants to know what stands out for you. Not me. I want to know what turns you off?

Christine: People who don’t do their homework and waste everyone’s time!

When you get anywhere from 1,000-2,500 e-queries a day, you have to have a way to sort them. Here’s what we do at Book Cents…

When I (or my interns) go through queries, the first thing we pull out is: Dear Mr. Witthohn (last time I checked, I was female); Dear Agent; Dear [insert another agent’s name here]; or a mass query (queries which are sent to the masses and have 20+ agents names listed – none of which even rep the same thing!)

Next, we pull out everything I don’t rep (examples: screenplays, sci fi, erotica, westerns, poetry, novellas, and children’s picture books.)

Next, we pull out everything where the word count is off (examples: 600k thriller, 240k romance, 15k young adult, 1500 word middle grade, etc.)

Next, we pull out “junk drawer genres” (examples: an inspy adventure with erotica; a sci fi romance (with two aliens hooking up) mystery; middle grade where little girl lives on the street and must flee from a violent serial killer (blood and guts shown!)

It all sounds bizarre, I know, but I get things like this every day. There is even one gentleman who sends me the same query every single day. It’s not even something I rep, but I guess he hopes I’ll change my mind!

It takes an incredible amount of time to go through queries and if I don’t keep up with them on a daily basis (after business hours), the pile builds up and becomes an intimidating, agent-eating Query Monster! This is why agents close their submissions periodically :)

Me: What about your contract? Do you rep everything the author has or do you deal one book only?

Christine: I only rep what my teammate and I agree upon (which is most of what they write – unless it’s outside my comfort zone or areas of expertise.)

Me: When you get a new project from one of your authors, how do you choose which publishers to submit to? Do you do a blanket submission?

Christine: When an agent reads a story, they automatically think about the editors looking for that type of story and where they can submit the story.

A good agent never blanket submits. It’s unprofessional. My job is to keep up with an editor’s wants and needs. When I have a honking story I’m excited about, I specifically target the editors I submit to.

I do this by doing my own homework (i.e. – keeping up with what each editor buys; what they tell me they are hunting for; what’s already on their lists, etc..)

Me: Book Cents is a sponsor for the International Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy every year. Tell us about that and why you are so passionate about that one.

Christine: Yes, Book Cents is one of the main sponsors of the IWFF. I was so impressed after the first year I attended, I became a sponsor! This is my fourth year. The conference is in Matera, Italy (which is a UNESCO World Heritage site) and held in a beautifully restored 16th century convent – complete with arched and vaulted ceilings, private gardens, and a terrace which gives you breathtaking, panoramic views of the Sassi.

This is the only international writer’s conference in the world, and the only conference that puts you squarely in the international marketplace. It’s kind of like being at the UN, with an interpreter’s booth in the back – ready to translate workshops, panels, and various presentations into German, French, English, Spanish, and Italian.

Where else can you sit out on a terrace with breathtaking views, a glass of vino, and chat up a foreign editor about YOUR book? Splurge on a sinful hot chocolate (with a splash of liquor of course) or an espresso while overlooking the Sassi or piazza while discussing what you’re currently working on with a group of agents and editors? Enjoy a mouth watering pizza or sample all the local flavors before you’re off to the IWFF Gala (the Italian equivalent of the Academy Awards – for books!)?

You will never get this kind of one-on-one time with industry pros anywhere else!

For more information on Matera:
For more information on the International Women’s Fiction Festival, Sept 23-26, 2010:

If you are a published author and want to increase your sales and get name recognition in the foreign market… this is the conference for you!

Me: Aside from the WFF above, is there a conference you’ve attended that stands out as one an author should think about?

Christine: I go to so many conferences, it just all depends on what you write. If your readers would like to comment and tell me what they write, I’d be happy to make some suggestions.

DISCLAIMER: I do not get a kick back of any kind or from anyone for providing my own opinion on what conferences are really good and/or well organized.

You’ve sold five debut authors in five months. Any ideas about how a debut author can create a buzz for their books?

Christine: The internet! Know it. Use it. Own it.

Me: One final question – what one thing drives you crazy in your job?

Again… when folks don’t do their homework.

Here is an insider tip to those of you who want an edge: Do your homework!
Know the market (read books in the genre you write) and know your competition.

Okay, that’s a wrap. Thanks for your honest answers.

Thanks for having me, Liz!

Christine has agreed to answer questions, so fire away, guys. And don’t forget. Some lucky commenter will win an online pitch to Christine today.


Lindsay said...

Hi Christine,
It's nice to see and hear from you again. Sorry we won't get to meet at National this year but the budgets to tight. It's going to be tight just to make the New Jersey Conference then a few weeks later the Crime Bake in Mass.

Mary Martinez said...

Hi Christine and Liz,
Great interview! I loved all the information. I had to read it quickly thought because Ron is waiting, literally, at the door for me so we can leave for Lake Tahoe for a wedding this weekend.

I am going to read this again, when I don't have to rush.

Thanks for all the information! Can't wait to see both of you in Orlando.

Terri said...

Valuable info. Thanks, Mr. Withome. (Kidding!)

Writers are always so concerned about submitting and nudging our babies into the wide world we sometimes forget agents and editors are human. Always interesting to hear the take from the other side of the desk!

Thanks, Christine.

(And thanks for picking me as a finalist in the Hook, Line & Sinker contest. Was thrilled to receive the Mysteries and Margaritas tote bab AND chapter request!)

Terri said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katt said...

Hi Christine,

A question on the internet and domain names.

I've resently established my blog, using a name that represents a part of my writing. I'm about to make the plunge and get website construction underway,
Would you recommend a domain name being my own name or my subject material? (ie Romance Horses and Mystery)
Or of course, should I wait until I'm at least agented?

thanks again for the contest win! I'm so looking forward to the critique!

Thanks for this great interview Liz.

Kathy Bremner

Rochelle said...

Great interview Christine! I have one more question: aside from finding and nurturing talent, what's the most fun part about being a literary agent?

Donna Cummings said...

This was great, Christine, and I've forwarded the link to others who want to know why I'm always raving about you. :) (And it's not just cuz you laugh at my jokes! LOL)

I would love to make it to Matera, but I think I'm gonna have to settle for Massachusetts (since I'm already here!)

Patti Shenberger said...

Christine, thanks for taking questions today! My question is this...Why is it so hard for an author with a e-publishing track record to get an agent? Everyone says the agent works for you, but when push comes to shove it sure seems like the other way around.

Thanks again, Patti Shenberger

Becke Davis said...

Hmmm. A conference aimed at female fiction writers, and it's in Italy - what's not to love? I'll have to look into this one!

Thanks for a fascinating interview.

I'm not sure what boggles my mind the most: the gentleman who sends the same query every single day (isn't that the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?) or all those submissions that ignored your requirements.

It bothers me because it gives struggling writers a bad image when others treat it so casually.

Liz - thanks for introducing me to your blog. I'm familiar with Mary's books but I'll have to check out your other blog partners' books. I hope you'll stop by B&N's Mystery Book Club; our Month of Cozy(ish) Crime lasts all month:

Robin Kaye said...

Hi Christine~ *waves madly* Hi Liz! Great interview, but then I love Christine, so I'm not surprised. I can't wait to see you at Nationals and catch up!

Anonymous said...

Love interviews with industry. Such a fascinating look into what agents deal with. And, I agree that's it's sad people waste so much time sending queries on genres agents don't represent. Visit the website, people. Jeez.

I've got a question on representing category (since that's what I write.) It seems agents are reluctant to "take on" a client who writes category. Could you give me further insight on how you make a decision to rep (other than loving the story, of course.) And career plans, do you like an author to already have one, or do you prefer to hammer that out together based on the author's sales, stengths, etc.

Thanks, ladies, for a fascinating post!

Liz Talley

Melanie said...

Hi Christine,

Enjoyed your interview, especially the stories about the crazy queries. I can't imagine wading through all that email.

What do you look for in a suspense/thriller? What makes you say, "I want to represent this one"?

Carole said...

Hi Christine,
I enjoyed the interview also. I especially liked the information on why queries are rejected.

I will continue to do homework, but the question I have now is how do you handle conflicting advice. One website tells you one thing, another says the opposite. I think it is confusing as a newbie to know what is solid advice and what advice is subjective. Could you name the top three items under the heading Homework that you would advise?

Liz Lipperman said...

Just a quick note to remind everyone to be patient. Christine will drop by to answer your questions, but I had her up very late reading my latest manuscript.

Terri, I had your back!!

Becke, good to see you here.

Robin - do you still have that clock tote bag? It was the coolest thing with a working humongous clock on it.

Author said...

Hi, Liz -- smwack! Thank you, Christine for providing insight in an agent's life. Great interview.

Anita Clenney said...

Great interview, Liz and Christine. I adore you both. Christine, your advice, knowledge, and drive are phenomenal. You're not just a great agent, you're a great person.

Lee Lofland said...

I just wanted to stop in and say hi to one of the most hard-working agents in the business.

By the way, Christine, I wish you had time to drop in at the Writers' Police Academy this fall. I really think you'd enjoy it. And, planning for it has taken all my time this year, so I won't be making it to Crime Bake...again.

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Thank you both for this wonderful interview. We are telling all our writer friends about it.

Mme. Whitthohn, I cannot praise you enough for the insightful direction you are providing Mme. Moreno on our manuscript. We are both so grateful that you are representing us.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Lindsay -
Hi Lindsay! Sorry I won't be seeing you at RWA. I conned another male into attending to increase your numbers and was going to introduce you. He's from Hollywood and a very lovely guy. No telling what the ladies might do to him if he is unchaperoned :)

I'll catch up with you at the Crime Bake!

Donna Glaser said...

Hi Christine and Liz,
I heard about this post on a SinC/Guppies list serv, and dashed right over. Wonderful interview! I'd like to piggyback on Katt/Kathy's comment re: the timing of a blog or website. As an unpubbed writer, it's really hard to know how to divvy up the budget I have for marketing. I try to attend conferences yearly, and since I'm querying, postage and copying costs add up. I know I will need a website and I want to do it right. (BTW, I loved Mary's post on her website design. I never really thought about adding my "voice" to a website, which is kind of what branding is, isn't it?)

So I guess my questions are: 1. Do I need a website prior to being repped? 2. As an agent, Christine, what do you look for in a writer's website, especially if you are considering offering representation to her?

Many thanks,
Donna Glaser

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Miss Mary Martinez -
I'm with your hubby on this one... get off that computer and go start your wedding weekend getaway. I love Tahoe.

Enjoy and safe travels!
Big kiss ~

Lindsay said...

Hi Christine,
Actually this is for 2 other blonde ladies-be nice to the guy. Don't scare him off. If Christine knows him he's got to be nice, because she only knows nice guys. Like moi, the nicest guy any of you ladies, husbands not included, will ever meet.
See you at the Crime Bake.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Terri -
Hi Terri! Congrats on being a finalist :)

There is nothing wrong with an author promoting their work and putting themselves out there.

Yes, agents and editors are people too (with families and responsibilities just like you).

I once saw a writer's loop post where someone said if an agent is nice... BEWARE. It means they probably aren't any good. I wanted to add my 2 cents and say, WTF?, but didn't.


Nancy Naigle said...

Thanks Liz and Christine -- love the interaction between you two.

The best thing about these "meet the agent" blogs is that it gives us a chance to see some of the personality and relationships -- which says a lot!

Kudos, Christine! Your peeps love you! That says a lot... and as for that loser that said nice agents must not be good --- I agree with your response. You can kick some negotiation butt and still be nice ;)

Thanks for sharing some tips and giving us the chance to get to know you a little at the same time.

See you at ThrillerFest :)
Nancy Naigle
Love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Katt -

Hi Katt! Congrats on your contest win :)

If I were considering your manuscript, I'm only going to be focusing on your story and the writing. Not your website. If I love your story and we interview each other and decide to work together... that's when the topic of a website and the use of the internet to promote yourself will come up.

Having said that, it is VITAL that an author be able to promote themselves.

This is one of those: "which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" questions. You are building a brand with your website. Do you want people to know you for NAME or what you WRITE? Sometimes when you try branding your name first, you get lost in a sea of all the other writers out there. However, if you write for a certain genre or niche market and are trying to build a readership, you may run into the same problem (but to a lesser degree).

I think the best advice I can give you is... find a way to make yourself stand out among the rest and don't be afraid to be creative oro get dirty - no matter which way you choose.

Sometimes the bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff.

Hope this helps :)

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Miss Rochelle -

The most fun part of my job?
It's a toss up between...

1. Scrapping about language/details of a contract. I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers and have quite a bit of experience :) Scrapping can range anywhere from handling things in a very pleasant manner, to getting down and dirty -but no matter which way it goes, it's always professional :)

2. Calling a debut author with their very first offer OR telling an author I managed to get them everything on their wish list!

*WISH LIST - when I get an offer for one of my authors, I call them and ask them to make me a wish list. The list contains all the items important to that person (more money, higher print run, marketing package, insurance, etc). This list of items is in addition to the normal things I ask for my authors.

No two people have ever had the same WISH LIST. I never know what they are going to ask for! Heck, I don't even care if my peeps ask for the editor's shirt (yes, literary). Everything is fair game when you are in negotiations!


Edie Ramer said...

Selling 5 debut books in 5 months is awesome! I don't have questions, but terrific interview!

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Miss Donna -

Hi Donna!
Thanks you for spreading the word.
The M&Ms have had some really great interviews!

The International Women's Fiction Festival is a real treat. Also, don't be fooled by the name - men attend too. In fact, in past years Nick Sparks and Nick Hornby have been keynote speakers.

I look forward to meeting you in person! It's always a treat for me when I get to meet or hang with my peeps. We are all so close when we work together, it's just nice to put a name to a face :)

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Patti -

When I look at submissions, I look at the writing and the story. Frankly, I really don't care if the writer is published or not (in any venue). I'm on the hunt for talent/a great story.

FYI - I am not aware of e-pubbed authors having a harder time than any other writer.

As for an agent working for the author or vice versa... I don't work for any of my clients. I work WITH my clients as a team. Both parties bringing something to the table. It really takes teamwork to be successful in this business. This is one of the main reasons why I have sold 5 debut authors in 5 months.

If you guys haven't figured this out yet... I march to my own tune. It works for me ;)

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Becke -

Welcome Becke!

When you get that many submissions, there is bound to be JUNK. Lots of folks blanket query anyone with a pulse.

As for making others look bad - that isn't the case. I promise. It just takes longer to find the jewels :)

Don't forget to visit the B&N Mystery Book Club at:

In the month of June, they target Cozy Mysteries!

Thank you for stopping by and giving us a shout, Becke!


Katt said...

Thank you Christine, great food for thought.
I shall wait now, so the creative hamster who runs on the wheel alongside my muse, can chew on it for a while.
Must keep writing!


Christine_wv said...

CW answers Robin -

Hi Robin!!!
[waving and blowing you a big fat smooch]

How ya doin, babe???
Tell us about your next book?

FYI- Robin and I started around the same time (struggling author/struggling newby agent) and remained friends. I'm not her agent, but I am definitely one of her cheerleaders!

You can find Robin here:

Thanks for stopping by, Robin!

Helen Ginger said...

I'm boggled by someone sending you the same query day after day.

Enjoyed the interview. My question is on a category you didn't list as one you repped ... What is your definition of "women's fiction"?

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,
Thanks for the great interview and answering our questions.
I recently parted ways with my agent because I was so disappointed in her handling of the submissions of my romantic thriller. I was never confident that she had the experience necessary to “fight” for it as you said. I’ve done a revision to deal with the only issue that seemed to bother a few editors, but I’m afraid the ms is dead because it’s already been shopped around. Is there anything I can do?
I was glad to learn that you “lean toward…mystery/suspense or thrillers” because I have a question about that specific genre. I’ve heard rumors that houses aren’t taking on debut romantic suspense authors because the RS market is saturated. How would you respond to that?
Thanks for your insight.

ArkansasCyndi said...

Great interview and great questions!

I have a love for first person cozy mysteries. I know you have your finger on the pulse of the mystery world. Is the market for cozies still there or is it on life support?


(Hi Liz! And ROBIN!!! Can't wait to see you in Orlando. We need to talk, girl)

Sandy said...

Hi Christine,

Interesting interview. Sorry to hear so many people do not do their research before they submit.

I write mystery romance.


Christine_wv said...

CW answers Anonymous/Liz T.

Hi Liz!
In regards to your questions on category stories: an author doesn't need an agent to submit this type of story.

Harelquin is really the only game in town if you write category stories. They even post detailed submission guidelines on their website ( for each category/imprint in order to help you maximize your chances.

I can only speak for myself here, but I will only sign a writer on a single title story. Having said that, I do have authors who write both single title and category. I rep both if they are already a client because as a team, we decided on a game plan/plan of attack in order to grow them as an author.

In regards to how I decide on what stories I pick up/sign... for me, it's always the writing. However, even when I really like a story it all comes down to one question: "Can I fight for it?" Because that's what it takes in this market to sell a book and the writer deserves nothing less.

In regards to a career plan, when I sign a new author we go over all the stories they have and then decide on a short & long term game plan together (remember, we are a team).


Christine_wv said...

CW answers Melanie -

Hi Melanie! Great question.

What do I look for in a suspense/thriller?

I look for a story that grabs me by the throat and pulls me in from the first sentence and doesn't let me go until the last.

I LIVE to find stories like that!

TIP: Go through your manuscript and make sure the first sentence of every chapter is a real throat grabber and the last sentence of every chapter (your cliff hangers) MAKES the reader want to keep turning those pages - even when it's 3 a.m.!


Rose Pressey said...

Great interview, Christine. I have a hard time deciding on what to call the genre I write. I call it romantic mystery. How do you know where to submit this type of novel? Is it mystery? Or is it romance?

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Carole -

Hi Carole!

Another good question.
In regards to conflicting advice, since you're not being specific... I am going to just cast a broad net here.

By doing your homework, this is what I mean (again, I can't speak for anyone else):

Doing your homework on what publisher/imprint you are targeting: go to the bookstore and peruse the isles to find books similiar to the one you have written. Look at the spine of the book to find out the publisher/imprint. Then look inside and see if there is an acknowledgement page. If so, check to see if the author thanks an editor or agent (add these names to your target agent/editor list - so you can do your homework on them later).

Doing your homework on your target agent(s) - find out what they rep, their sales, who their clients are, etc.

You can find this info on their website; on the internet; via interviews; conference materials; Writer's Digest BOOK: Guide to Literary Agents; Writer's Digest: Guide to Literary Agents BLOG, etc.)

TIP: If you really want to know what it's like to work with a particular agent... ask their clients! Writers will be more than happy to share any DIRT they have (trust me on this one!).

REMINDER: If you are planning on submitting your story to an industry pro, make sure your manuscript is in the proper format (1" margins, contact info on the first page, header has title/name and pagination, 12 pt font, black text).

It might sound outrageous that I have to mention this, but you'd be surprized by what people send to agents/editors. Please refrain from using colored or any other size but 12 pt fonts; no animations or pictures or music to accompany your manuscript.

Be professional. You only have one shot to make a first impression.

Lastly - as hard as it may be... try to keep your QUERY LETTERS down to one page. Again, no funky fonts, colors, pictures, or music.


Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Author:


Thank you, and thanks for stopping by!


Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Miss Anita -

Thank you, Anita.
I'm only as good as my list.
I have a helluva team :)

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Lee -

I miss seeing you around!
Bummer you're not going to make Crime Bake this year. I was looking forward to picking your brain :)

For those of you who don't know Lee, you can visit him at his blog called, The Graveyard Shift: OR his website at:

Lee - contact me offline so I can hear more about the Writer's Police Academy! You have my attention.

You should also do an interview on this blog and tell everyone about it!


Thanks for stopping by!

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Mr. Wolfgang A. Mozart (probably the best composer who ever lived) -

Yo Wolfgang! Thanks for stopping in and giving us a shout.

But please, you don't have to call me Madame... feel free to call me Grand Dame C.

You friend and partner in "crime",

P.S. Please tell Mme. Mary I send my love.


GBPool said...

Have you seen a rise in interest in interconnected short stories that read like a novel using one main character and recurring, colorful secondary characters? I have such a book. Thanks for your time.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

OMG Christine rocks!!!!

Best agent ever :-)))

Robin Kaye said...

Ah Christine~

I'm doing great and I'm so looking forward to hanging with you at Nationals.

Next book:
Yours For the Taking comes out in January and is the 4th book in my Domestic Gods series. Here's a blurb:

He might be too good to be true...
Ben Walsh shouldn't be single. Handsome and wealthy, Ben is equally at home in Idaho where he grew up and in Manhattan where he's now an art dealer. Suave and successful with impeccable taste, he normally has women beating down his door. But the one woman he wants can't be convinced that he's for real...

And she doesn't have the luxury of believing in fairy tales...
Gina Reyez has fought for every bit of her success, and it's about time for things to start going her way. So when Ben makes a proposal that will allow her to take care of her family the way she wants to, she agrees. Besides, a guy this perfect would never be interested in her...right?

By the time Gina figures out that she's read Ben all wrong, their lives have become intertwined, and seriously complicated...

Oh, and Christine - the next drink is on me...not literally of course, but I'm buying, sweetie!

Hugs and smooches back to you!

Norma said...

Christine, I especially like your words on "grab by the throat" beginnings and "cliff hanger" endings.

Is there an area between cozy mysteries and thrillers? I think of it as traditional, without crafts (okay, includes cooking), and without really horrible, killing scenes.

Becke Davis said...

Oh, don't talk about National. I had so much fun last year, but I have a family wedding the same week this year. I'll have to wait to see everyone until NYC in 2011!

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Donna G -

Hi Donna!

The most important thing to concentrate on is your STORY. Write the best story you can and do your homework on who you are targeting (this will narrow down who you submit to, thus saving you money.

If money is tight, don't worry about a website! I have picked up AND sold several authors who didn't have a website yet.

TIP: You may not have money for a website, but promoting yourself on the internet is FREE. Join LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.. Get a blog or go in with a group. Don't be afraid to out yourself out there and circulate your name :)

When someone types in your name on Google... what comes up?

Good luck!

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Nancy N -

Hi Nancy!
Thank you.

I am in constant contact with my teammates. We have a Book Cents Loop where I post sales, news, insider info, tips, have contests, start discussions, etc. It's also a place where my writers can talk to each other, get a fresh pair of critical eyes, promote contests, post info on book releases, etc..

So not only am I tight with my peeps... they are tight with each other! It's probably one of the best ideas I've had.

Some agents don't want their clients sharing info. Not me, I promote it. As I said before, I march to my own tune :)

Please don't be shy and introduce yourself at ThrillerFest!

See you soon!


Christine_wv said...

CW to Edie -

Hi Edie! Thank you.
And thanks for stopping by.


Christine_wv said...

CW answers Helen G -

Hi Helen!

IMO Women's Lit/Lady Lit/Women's Fiction are stories that appeal to women and touch them in some way. It can have romance, drama, or are stories that warm your heart or tug at your emotions (make you happy or sad). They are stories make us FEEL.

FYI - I ABSOLUTELY rep Women's Fiction/Women's Lit/Lady Lit!!!


Christine_wv said...

CW response to Anonymous -

Sorry to hear you parted ways with your agent under less than desirable circumstances. Breaking up is hard to do.

If your story has been shopped, the best thing you can do is put it on the back burner and start a new story.

This doesn't mean you will never be able to sell that story, it just means you will have to get your foot in the door with another story.

As for RS - it's a hard sell unless you have something really fantastic and unique.

As for Thrillers - I know SEVERAL editors on the HUNT for a great female thriller writer!

Don't give up. Start that next story! Sometimes the best revenge is obtaining SUCCESS. Give yourself a day to mope and whine, then get your ass in the chair and WRITE!

Tough love... you gotta love it.

P.S. In one of my interview answers I mentioned I was a whip master... this would be one of those times.

Good Luck!

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Arkansas Cyndi -

Hi Cyndi!

I sold 3 cozies back to back and am getting ready to sell another. Does that answer your question?

Yes, cozies are alive and well.


Christine_wv said...

CW to Sandy -

Hi Sandy!
Interesting comment, but let me probe further... is it a romance with a mystery... or a mystery with romance. Believe it or not, it makes a difference!

Good Luck!

Christine_wv said...

CW to Rose -

Hi Rose.
Good question.
Does the story revolve around the romance or mystery?

That's your answer.
Once you figure out the genre you write, find your target pub and look at their guidelines.

Good Luck!

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Hi Christine!

What a treat to come home and see this post! Great info.

After your run down about the WFF I'm dying to go. I can't think of a better way to go to Italy and be able to write it off on my taxes. Definitely need to start saving up.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers GBPool -

Hi GBPool!
To be frank, no I haven't heard of anyone looking for or buying interconnected short stories.

I did sell a Single Title story which contained 3 short stories, but the author was multi-multi-pubbed and already had a platform.

Good Luck!

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Robin again -

The story sounds HONKING :)
Can't wait to see you in Orlando.

Christine_wv said...

CW asnwers Norma -

There are thrillers and there are mysteries.

A mystery can be hard boiled (killing takes place on screen - shows blood and guts); soft boiled - (sans blood and guts); and cozies - (no sex, no swearing, no blood and guts, etc.).

Google this and find out the detailed definition for each, so you can see which is the best fit for you.

Good luck!

Christine_wv said...

CW to Miss Kari and Miss Tiff -

Thank you for stopping by!
Big smooch to you both :)

Lindsay said...

When you just said 'for a great female thriller writer' I'm guessing you're refering to a female author. What about us men? We're just as good. Aren't we? Just not that many of us.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,
Wow, everyone has asked such great questions, and all your answers have been so informative! Thanks so much.
With the popularity of historicals and paranormals, how would you rank the difficulty of selling contemporary single title right now? Which publisher do you think has the most demand for it?

Debbie Kaufman said...

Sorry to join the party so late, ladies. Christine and/or M&M girls, I see Thrillerfest and Crime Bake mentioned. If you could only pick one for an unpubbed's first foray into an non-RWA conference, is one geared more for us than the other?
I've heard good things about both, but I am trying to plan for next year's conference dollars. :)

Kris Yankee said...

Hi there! Just wanted to check in and see all of the questions our lovely super agent is fielding. So much info - that's great!

CW rocks big time!

Christine_wv said...

CW to Lindsay-

Yup, you read it right.
They are on the hunt for a great FEMALE thriller writer. You won't get any sympathy from me, my dear. Men have this genre cornered, but watched out... We're catching up!


Lindsay said...

Since when did I ever get sympathy from you. Hehehe.
Good thing about my name then, as long as I submit via email the agent won't know.

Christine_wv said...

CW to Anonymous-

Hi Anonymous!
Here is an insider tidbit: come up with something unique with a great hook. No matter the genre!
We're all on the hunt for something different.

In regards to a Contemporary Romance... again, it's not something anyone is hunting for at the moment (unless it's really unique or the writing HONKS).
Hope this helps!

Lindsay said...

Earlier you were talking about researching agent we might want to submit to. When I go to an RWA conference the attending agents and editors are listed way in advance thus giving attendees a decent length of time to research them and pick the best for their book.
This year will be my first Crime Bake and from I understand I will get the agent list a little before the conference. Do you know if I'll have enough time to properly decide which to request to pitch to

Diane Vallere said...

Hi Christine,

Great interview! Thanks for giving us a behind the scenes view of your day/job/agenting style!

Cassy Pickard said...

I've been traveling today, hence late in logging on. Christine, welcome BIG time to M&M. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is so great to have Christine join us. She has so much to offer it's too much to list.

Christine_wv said...

CW to Lindsay again -


If you don't have time to do your homework on your agent target list for the Crime Bake... just contact me privately and I'll give you the run down on who will be attending. The agents who attend usally attend every year or every other year.

How's that for service?

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Miss Debbie K -

Debbie - Neither target Non Fiction, but contact me privately and we'll go over a list of conferences that may be beneficial to you.


P.S. Better late than never ;)

Christine_wv said...

CW to Miss Kris Y -

Kris - you are my editor diva and and an ole BC goddess. Thanks for stopping by :O)

Big smooch!

Christine_wv said...

CW to Diane -

Happy to answer your questions.
Thanks for stopping by!


Christine_wv said...

CW to Cassy -

Thanks for having me :)

Be safe in your travels!


Lindsay said...

That's Christine service. Thanks.
Say HI to your better half for me.

Christine_wv said...

CW to the M&Ms and everyone who asked a question...

To the M&Ms - thank you for having me and letting me spend the day with you!

To all the folks who asked questions - thank you. There were some good questions!

**On Sunday I will post my contact for those of you who asked me a question and would like to send me a query.

I am currently closed to submissions, but this is a special offer to those of you who asked questions and are M&M followers. I promise I will get back to you within a week.


Christine_wv said...

CW to ALL -

I will continue to answer questions until Sunday.

FYI - I will check in periodically to respond, so keep'em coming ;)

Have a great weekend!

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Christine,

Love the M&M blog and am happy to see you here. Great interview!

I'm also happy to hear you say cozies are going strong, because I love the subgenre.

Glad I'm not too late to ask a question. Two, if that's allowed.

They're about voice.

I know strong is good, but how much do you think an author's voice can vary, depending on the genre she's writing?

Do you think a consistent voice will have a more positive impact on cross-genre readership?



Christine_wv said...

CW answers Barbara -

Interesting question.
I'm not sure how one can change their "voice" significantly per se.

Case in point... I have several writers on my list who write in different genres, however, no matter what they write... there is a distinctive writing style or "flavor" that is unique to that writer.

Having said that, I do think an author can change their "style" for a specific genre. For example: a chick-litty Romance v/s a YA - the protag in the chick litty romance is usually going to be snark and funny, opposed to a teenager who talks in kid-speak and deals with teenage angst/drama. In this case, the writer would change their writing "style" to fit the genre.

Is this what you mean?

Barbara White Daille said...

Christine wrote:

<< Is this what you mean?

It works perfectly! ;-)

Thanks for the speedy response.


Christine_wv said...

CW response to Barbara -

You're welcome :)

petemorin said...

WOW, this blog is rockin!

Hi CW - or is it GDCW?

This one's off the rail a bit, but how do you choose your interns? How many resumes do you get, how many do you "hire?"

I'm following the US Dept of Labor's initiative to "crack down" on unpaid internships, and I wonder what you think of that.

Robert said...

I've been following the posts with much interest and have a question about length.

Back in March, I queried you about a mystery...(well, more of a "mainstream with murders," if there is such a critter).

I never received any kind of reply to my query, so I assume one of your interns tossed the query out because my book is 98,000 words.

My question then is-- In today's publishing world, how long can a first mystery novel be and still have a chance at interesting an agent?

Thank you, and again thanks for all of your posts and comments.

Christine_wv said...

GDC answers Monsieur Pete -

Hi Pete!

Are you hinting around/asking for a job?
I love pimpin out attornies as slave labor.
It's like taming a wild animal.

I really don't get that many resumes.
I think the WV thing scares everyone off :)
This is funny, because I work with my interns remotely/via the internet and conference calls.
All are in college/grad school.
I have 3 and they ROCK!!!

The AAR also places interns :)

You asked what I look for?
I look for folks with the same work ethics I have (which is hard to find!).
FYI - It takes quite a bit of time to train an intern.

P.S. I look forward to working with you and using you as slave labor :)
P.S.S. Hubby says, welcome to the "club".

Very sincerely yours,

Jonispice said...

Christine!!! (waving like a lunatic)...

OMG!!! I am sooooo sorry I am late to this chat. Wow, take your eyes off the screen for a minute and you miss all sorts of good stuff. And this was AWESOME.

Thanks to you and my CP Liz for all the good chat and info. As always, you ROCK. Can't wait to see you in Orlando. Would LOVE to do the Italy conference sometime in the future - adore Italy and add writing to the mix - heaven.

Thanks again...

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Robert -

Hi Robert!

Let me first say... "I" take the blame and fall on the sword for not getting back to you.

I have always prided myself on getting through my queries and submissions quickly. It was my only edge. However, last year after I did a few interviews for Writer's Digest(one for the online blog and one in the magazine), the amount of submissions I received was overwhelming.

*CORRECTION on the Q&A - I get up to 2,500 queries a WEEK! (not a day)

I don't look at queries on client time, so the only time I have to go through them is on the weekends. It was getting to the point where that was ALL I was doing and I still couldn't keep up. Going through my queries was becoming a full time job in itself. So, in January 2010 I posted on my website that if you didn't hear from me within four weeks on a query, your story wasn't a good fit for me. About six weeks ago, I replaced that announcement with: "I'm temporarily closed to submissions". I HATED doing that, but I'm only one person and between my sales and my travel schedule my query pile grew to an unmanagable monster!
Bottom line... my clients are my priority, not queries (you'll appreciate this more when you become someone's client :).

Now, onto your question - 80-100k for a mainstream mystery is the range you need to be in (so you're good there). As soon as I post my contact info on Sunday, shoot me an e-mail and we'll chat and I'll help you as much as I can.

Suggestion: Try to find stories comparable to yours so you can figure out your target pub and your competition.


And YES, of course you can still snag an agent with a great mystery!


Christine_wv said...

CW waves back to Joni!

Hi Joni!

Can't wait to see you in Orlando!
Thank you for stopping by.


Christine_wv said...

CW to ALL -

I on the move today and tried to respond to a post on my BlackBerry, but the type turned out kooky.

Have NO fear... I will respond to everyone as soon as I can!

Happy Saturday!

Boone Brux said...

Christine, thank you for all the wonderful information. As new writers entering the writing community we are sometimes traumatized by stories of tyrantical editors and agents. I love seeing caring agents and editors give positive interviews and helpful advice.

As far as the conference in Italy, let's just say that my husband is going to be very unhappy when I drain our bank account to pay for it. That little event just shot to the top of my "To Do" list. I can tell you right now it's going to cost me A LOT of favors (wink wink), but boy it would be worth every second. Thanks again for the advice.

Boone Brux

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Boone -

Hi Boone!
If you go to Italy, PLEASE contact me. I am the US contact for the conference and will give you all the skinny :) What to expect, what to pack, weather, places to go, things to do, etc..
It's and blast and well worth the money! If it's in the budget... it's a MUST.

FYI - I have picked up several writers from that conference. Both domestic and foreign.


Lindsay said...

I was thinking today, yeah, I know me and thinking can be a dangerous mix, but, if we refer to you as Grand Dame then shouldn't we, when we address you call you, My Lady.

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Lindsay -

Just plain ole Grand Dame is fine.


Lindsay said...

Okay, plain ole Grand Dame

Lynn said...

Hi Christine,
I'm attending RWA nationals next month but signed up too late to get a pitch with any agent.

What suggestions do you have in my quest to 1) meet an agent, and 2) make a favorable impression?

Do you use business cards that writers give you?

I know stalking and tracking them down isn't an option. (kidding...)

jeff7salter said...

I hope this is not too late for you to see it (I just found out about the blog).
My 4th & 5th fiction manuscripts are what I can best describe as 'romantic comedy' but (to me) they really FEEL like the 'screwball comedies' made by Hollywood in the 30s & 40s. [Yes, before my time].
My question is: "Would it hurt me or help me to include that designation -- screwball comedy --in my queries?"

Sir John said...

I also just heard about you blogging and think the information is great. Is it good to let an agent know you have more (actually several more) than one manuscript completed? And if so, should the author try to guess which one the agent will like best or the one the author thinks is best?

I have two novels by the way with settings in Italy, I think I will check into going to the conference there the next time they have it.


Johnny Ray

Julie Geistfeld said...

Hello Christine,
As always a great and informative interview, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!
My question is twofold: First, I have heard you comment that you don't want to see werewolves or shapeshifters when considering the paranormal genre. What is it in this genre which currently appeals to you?
Second, would you recomend to a new, unpublished author to tell upfront if they have written or outlined follow up books for a series, or just wait until they are further into the process to mention this?? Thank you again!!

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Lynn -

Hi Lynn!

If you weren't able to get a pitch appt., here's what you do... check out the workshops to see which ones your target agent or editor will be teaching.

After the workshop, go up to the agent/editor and introduce yourself. Ask them if you can snag a few moments of their time to tell them about your story.

Most are incredibly nice and will try their best to accommodate you if their schedule allows :)

Tip: During RWA - I am teaching a Query workshop on Saturday morning from 8:30-10:30 with Paige Wheeler, Jessica Faust, Miriam Kriss, and Scott Eagan. This will be a perfect opportunity for you to not only tell each of us about your story, but get a little insight to our personalities.

FYI - Don't be shy, make sure you introduce yourself to me!

See you there!

P.S. No stalking allowed.


Christine_wv said...

CW second response to Lynn -
(Sorry I jumped the gun and didn't answer all your questions!)

Yes, I take business cards. I write notes about the author and what they write on the back :)

Don't waste alot of money of fancy cards. They just need to be plain and have your contact ifo and maybe a note about what you write.

How do you make a good impression?
Just be yourself and be professional. Your writing will speak for itself :)

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Jeff -

A "Screwball Comedy" falls under the genre/heading of COMEDY. I'd go with that.

FYI - If it revolves around a romance, it would fall under the sub-genre of ROMANTIC COMEDY.

The agent will get that it's a bit slap-stick/screwball/physical when they read it.

Good luck!


Stephanie said...

Your Book Cents Loop for clients sounds fabulous.

Regarding branding, I worry about the chicken/egg conundrum and doing something half-baked as a new author. A little voice tells me an agent or publisher would be a great person to chat with to develop a sound strategy. Do you brainstorm with new clients?

Thanks and I hope to meet you in Orlando.

Lindsay said...

I'm planning a vacation/research trip to England next year. I noticed on your website that you went to the London Book Fair.
When I'm going is still undecided. Would arranging my trip to include a side trip to the book fair be worth it as far as meeting agents and editors or is the fair primarily for booksellers.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Sir John -
(love the name btw)

If you have a target agent(s) and they don't take simultaneous submissions (personally, I don't)... pick your best story and submit it. If the agent likes the writing, they'll ask you if you have any other stories OR if you can send them "blurbs" on any other stories you may have (at least that's what I do).

As far as mentioning the story isn't your first... yes, I would. You don't have to say the story you are submitting is your 118th manuscript (you might raise a few brows), but I'd let them know it's not your first and you are a serious writer.

FYI - real quick I'll tell you about the best query letter I have ever read (I rec'd it a few months back).

This is a breakdown of her query:
Paragraph 1: gives the vitals (genre, word count, hook); Paragraph 2: gives the bones (the foundation of the plot); Paragraph 3: shows extended life (part of a series); Paragraph 4: gives author backgroud/platform/awards/publications; Paragraph 5: gives organization affiliations; Paragraph 6: thanks me.

The ENTIRE query was less than a page in length.

Within 60 days, I signed and sold that author's series. It took longer to sign her, than to sell her. I had to fight off other agents with a damn ball bat!

I wish you the best of luck!

Barb Riley said...

Hi Christine! It was great reading your interview. I have done a little research, but I'm not quite at the agent point yet. I've heard that agents are usually very kind while many authors are usually very nervous and freaked out to pitch, so this was a great interview to show how nice you are! ;)

Thank you!

jeff7salter said...

Thanks, Christine,
I really appreciate your perspective.
BTW, one of my main characters -- in these two comedies -- has your first name.
She's a hoot.

Shannyn said...

Hi Christine - Great interview and answers. I know you're currently closed to queries, but I was wondering about your opinion of the contemporary romance genre. I've heard everything from the market sucks to it's soft to it's icky. Does this make you less inclined to take on a contemporary romance author?


Barb Riley said...

Hi again Christine! I left a comment, now to leave a question for you!

I am high risk of breast cancer thanks to my lovely genetic makeup, and at 27 I did a very radical form of prevention. I'm very active in the community for high risk young'uns like myself, and I want to write about my experiences.

I've heard that since I'm not a famous celebrity, selling my story as non-fiction is almost impossible.

My thought is to use my experiences to create a series of romance novels with young women who deal with these issues and worry about their self-image and dating.

What's your opinion on the subject? Thank you!

Gerri Bowen said...

Hi Christine, I enjoyed your interview, and looked at your website. You say you accept paranormal, but not historical. I have a historical paranormal, so would that be something you'd look at or not? Always these in-between questions, LOL.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Julie -

Hi Julie!
(waving like mad)

To answer your first question frankly... I'm not a big fan of werewolves, shapeshifters, faeries, zombies or serial killers (esp if they kill kids or animals).

However, I never say, NEVER. Because when I do, it always comes back to bite me in the butt. If the writing/story grabs me, who knows.

I said I didn't rep historicals and I signed a historical author. I said I didn't rep inspy and I signed an inspy author.
I said I didn't rep middle grade, and damned if I didn't sell two last year in the last year (both of which snagged Hollywood interest).

The hard part? Getting an agent to look at something they're not crazy about :)

What appeals to me in the paranormal genre? Great writing, and a story with a HONKING hook.

Yes, you should mention a story is part of a planned series (I mentioned this in an earlier post). Having said that, I would strongly advise you to NOT write book 2 thru 100 in a series until you sell Book #1 first. (FYI - this certainly doesn't mean you can't plot out Book 2 thru 100.

Good luck!

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Stephanie -

Hi Stephanie!

Yes, I ABSOLUTELY brainstorm branding and PR ideas with my peeps!

Please make sure you introduce yourself to me in Orlando!!!


Christine_wv said...

CW answers Lindsay -

Good question, Lindsay.

Regarding all the big Book Fairs (such as NY, London, Bologna, Frankfurt, Asia, Abu Dhabi, etc.): These are NOT the places to meet agents and editors, as these industry pros are busy with client book signings, PR ho-downs (and Book Buzz events), rights meetings, workshops, etc. Agents are also busy making new deals and new contacts. So my answer would be a resounding NO. However, if you want to go to snag some free books and/or meet big authors and celebs in person, it might be worth your while.


Christine_wv said...

CW answers Shannyn -

Hi Shannyn!

A contemporary romance would have to have one heck of a unique voice/great hook to sell right now.

I just picked one up and am shopping it around. I LOVE the writer's feisty MC and hope I find an editor who agrees with me!

Stay tuned to Pub Marketplace to see how successful I am!

Good luck with yours!
P.S. I never pick up a client who can compete directly with someone I already have on my list. I am nothing if not loyal to my peeps.)


Lindsay said...

Thank you for the 'NO', resounding or not.
My next question- When writing a query letter should I mention I was nominated for a CAPA in 2009 for Best Historical? The problem is I won't be querying about a historical but a contemprary.
BTW-all I have to do is go to a conference here in the States and walk away with more free books than I can read in a week. And famous authors, let's see-Mary, Liz, Cassy (soon), Kari Lee. Not to mention all those you agent.

lisanneharris said...

Dear Christine,

You have no idea how thrilled I am to see you aren't completely adverse to historical romance. I've visited your website many times hoping to see my sub-genre added to your list of what you represent. Even though it's not on your list, would you consider a manuscript that blends historical romance with mystery/suspense?

Thank you so much for agreeing to answer questions!



P.S. Thank you, Liz, for this awesome interview with Ms. Witthohn!

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Barb -

Hi Barb!
First, let me just say... I am a big supporter of: Save the TaTas/Breast Cancer.

I just tried to shop a ROMANCE that dealt with those very issues and had NO luck.

To be honest, I think you would have better luck with that type of story if you targeted Women's Fiction/Lady Lit and bring the emotions that accompany those issues to the reader. Remember, Women's Fiction/Lady Lit can have romance too. Do some homework on this genre and go for it!

As for a NF project, I will admit... it would be a hard sell for someone without a platform (however, I don't think you have to be a celeb to be a success). How do you get a platform? My suggestion would be to start a blog and/or online support group for young women who deal with these same issues and build your audience/readership. This will help give you leverage.

The very best of luck to you!!!

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Gerri -

Hi Gerri!

This is one of those darn catch 22 situations (remember my never say, NEVER post?).

I don't love the historical genre (gosh I hope I don't get struck by lightening for saying that!) and I don't read enough of them to know what is good and what isn't. But I DO know good writing and have sold them.

My best answer: It would depend on the writing and your hook. Because you asked a question, you now have a free shot to find out.

Good luck!

Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Lindsay's last question -

YES. You should include any awards or nominations you get in regards to your writing (no matter if it's in a different subgenre).

Having said that, this doesn't mean you should include an award you recieved for a romance or love letter you snagged in the third grade :)

Luv Ya, Lindsay ~

Christine_wv said...

CW to ALL -

My dear friend from ITALY and the International Women's Fiction Festival (Liz Jennings, who also blogged on this very same site on Wednesday, June 16th) just sent me a video I HAVE to share. It hilarious and oh so true!

Surviving the Digital Age (starring Hollywood, Publishing, and Network TV).


Christine_wv said...

CW answers Lis'Anne -

Hi Lis'Anne!

Hmmm... sounds interesting, but you really need to know if it fits it one or the other in order to know who/where to target.

I am a HUGE risk taker! If I fall flat on my face, I pick myself up and dust myself off. BUT when I hit with a big risk... the payoff is **HUGE**!

P.S. For asking a question, you now get to find out.

Stay tuned for the post tonight on how to submit to me if you asked a question and want me to take a look at something ;)

Good luck!

Diane Garner said...

Hi Christine,
One of your answers mentioned that RS was a hard sell, but you have editors hunting for a female thriller writer. I'm curious where my story would fit. The hero is stronger than the heroine and has more page time. The suspense is edgy and dark (but a not serial killer tale) and the identity of the villain isn't revealed until the end. There is romance between the H/H with an HEA ending. How would YOU classify it based on these facts? (I know this may be asking a lot. Sorry.) Or could you give us definitions that distinguish a thriller from an RS?

Thank you for all the valuable info you've provided. I feel like we've sat down together and had a wonderful chat.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Diane -

Hi Diane!
If you are ever at a conference I am attending, introduce yourself and we'll do just that! (have a cup of coffee together).

Here is the quick answer:

A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE revolves around the romance and sexual tension b/t the H and h.

A THRILLER has meatier subplots and doesn't usually doesn't revolve around a romance. Having said that, a thriller CAN have romance and sex, but it's not a big part of the story.

Hope that helps!

Lindsay said...

The difference between Romantic Suspense and Thriller helps me understand where my book should be placed.

Tracy Mastaler said...

Hi Christine!

Thanks for keeping the comment line open until I got home from vacation---lucky me! It was fun to return and see you here on the M&M blog. Loved your interview and answers. Very informative---and entertaining---your spicy personality shines through!

It was nice chatting with you via telephone recently and I'm looking forward to meeting you in person at ThrillerFest. Maybe we can have that drink you mentioned!


Tracy Mastaler :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Hi Christine:
I do have another question for you-if you are still answering. My first manuscript was a romantic suspense which I recently revised from a single title to a category based on an agent's advice who felt it was too hard of a sell as a ST, but would "make a compelling HQ Intrigue." I'm guessing she was right since, as a category, it finaled in this year's Daphne's, LOL!

So here's my question: While I am waiting to see if it sells as a category, should I continue to try to market it in its single title version? Or is this a newbie mistake that I should avoid?

linda kupecek said...

Forgot to add that my Wish List includes attending the International Women's Fiction Festival. We can dream, right?
A jug of wine, a good book, and YOW.
Linda Kupecek

Christine_wv said...

CW to Tracy -

Hi Tracy!
(waving like mad)

I look forward to meeting you @ thrillerFest!

Christine_wv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine_wv said...

CW to Debbie -

Hi Debbie!
I am so sorry! I thought you were the Debbie K. already on my list (she writes Non Fiction).
Contact me offline line like I suggested and I'll be happy to discuss different conferences.

As for shopping the same story (different versions) as both a ST and a category story... I would advise against this.
Pick one and go for it. If you don't have any luck, try the other.

Good luck!

P.S. Sorry about my typos in past posts, I've been trying to answer on my Blackberry and can only see a limited amount of words at a time.

Christine_wv said...

CW to Linda -

Hi Linda!

The IWFF will not disappoint!

Debbie Kaufman said...

LOL, Christine. I am usually mistaken for Donna Kaufman and get called Donna a lot. It's okay, I know who I am (most days). Thanks for the advice.

(And yes, the avatar pic did just change.)

linda kupecek said...

Looks like my first question fell between the cracks. I asked Christine if she had a single hilarious moment in her life as an agent, the sort of story that delights at dinner parties and makes life so much more hilarious. I don't expect the full story, just a soupcon of fun here.

linda kupecek said...

Looks like my first question fell between the cracks. I asked Christine if she had a single hilarious moment in her life as an agent, the sort of story that delights at dinner parties and makes life so much more hilarious. I don't expect the full story, just a soupcon of fun here.

Marilyn said...

I am thankful for Christine's persistence with my story CHILD OF THE MOUNTAINS. She held my hand for a year and a half until I finally sold. I think many agents would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. She said that someone told her how exciting her life must be because of all her travels and meeting editors and authors. I think her life must be exciting because she helps people's dreams come true.
Marilyn Shank

Mary Marvella said...

Hey, Christine and Liz, you make a good team. I thought I commented earlier, but I guess my comment disappeared in Cyberspace.

You are always so generous with your time. Maybe Liz, you, and I can get together for a drink in Orlando.

Liz and Kayla think you rock, and so do I.

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Linda -

Hi Linda!

A funny story, huh?
I guess this is a great way to end a really fun blog run. So here it goes!

Well... A year or so ago I had a guy (at the "frisky age of 54") send me a query that was Sooo offensive (and funny), I told him to send me a full for my own self-torture.

His story was about his life as a "red blodded, horny as hell, American" man-whore. Only... he didn't have much luck with the average American female (aka "Americanas Contrarius") with all her "skitzoid, Femi Nazi, Cinderella attitudes."

If you know anything about me, this is the type guy, "I" like to play with and then eat for a snack.

The guy searches the globe for his "victims" and "dated women from over 12 countries, and married two of them." Nice, huh?

Of course, even though I thought this guy was a total POS (piece of shit) slash PIG, I just couldn't help myself and indulged in reading his poorly written, self auto-biographical bullshit for laughs.

His query was MAILED to me and came complete with a photocopied piture - a large pic of him in the center, with him smiling and standing over an elk he just killed... surrounded by all these little photos of him with different women (in various stages of dress) from different parts of the world.

The title of his book?
"THIS MAN'S WORLD - The Caveman's Guide To Love and Romance in Foreign Countires (exploring this man's unusual, barbaric, admittedly sexist, relationship with women from adolescence to the grave.)"

He ended his query with this:
"This time I headed south and as I write this, I swear on my mother's Prozac prescription, I'm hacking my way through the jungles of Colombia on this never ending trek. My prey on this hunting trip? The hot blooded, spicy, Bosomous Latinas. Wish me luck amigos. I have to do it right this time, cause I'm running out of coninents!" [remember - all qoutes are his words, grammer errors and all!!!]
In BOLD type he continues: "I hope you enjoy reading it half as much as I enjoyed writing it. I am out of the country so please send any response to the e-mail address or phone number below. If I don't respond within a week, then I'm probably dead."

"Sincerly {name}"

Now I ask all you ladies out there... could you have let this one pass you by???

Yeah, me neither.

When I did respond to ask for a full, I started my e-mail off with: "Dear GRINGO,".
When he sent me the "full" (full of bullshit, full of typos, full of grammatic errors, etc.)... he also sent a pic of himself with his "latest" - a Latina gal who looked all of 16 years old.

All together now... Eeewwwwww!
And the final kicker?
The guy was like 5 foot tall and UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Goodnite folks.
You've been a great audience, be sure to try the veal.

P.S. That was a TRUE story!
P.S.S. That query took 1st place on my WALL OF SHAME.

Christine_wv said...

CW to Marilyn -

Hi M!

Of course I didn't give up!
We are a team :)

I shopped Marilyn's story for a year and a half before I finally sold that baby at auction. Within 24 hours of posting the sale on Pub Marketplace... Shonda Rhimes (creator and producer of Greys Anatomy and Private Practice) had an assistant contact me about the film rights.

Congratulations Marilyn.
You really earned it.
Big smooch for hanging in there!


Christine_wv said...

CW responds to Mary M -

Hi Mary!
(I'm jumping up and waving!)

I would love to meet up with you in Orlando!

See you soon.

Christine_wv said...

CW to the M&Ms and ALL -

This concludes my interview and chat. I thank you all for having me and indulging me :)

For those of you who asked a question and want to query me, please follow the directions below.
(This is important since I am currently closed to submissions and I don't want to miss anything!)

In the Subject Line, please put: M&M Blog

In the body of the e-mail please be sure to copy and paste the question you asked (this is so I can verify the info - sorry to have to do this, but sometimes people like to pull tom-foolery to get in the door).

I am true to my word and will get back to you asap (within 1 week) with a response.

Good luck to you ALL.
God Bless.
And keep writing!

Very Sincerely,

Christine_wv said...

CW to those who submit to me from this post...

Ooops, I guess it would help if I told you where to send your queries, huh?

KathyW said...

1,000 to 1250 queries a day?! Amazing. It's a wonder you ever answer any.
What conferences are you going to be at this year? Any on the West Coast?

Christine_wv said...

CW answers Kathy -

Hi Kathy!
That was a typo. It's 1,000-2,500 a week.

P.S. My insane travel schedule is posted on my website.

Lindsay said...

Thank you for all the time and effort you took and spent in answering our queries over the past few days.
I've learned a lot and will apply what you've said not only to my writing but in my search for an agent.
And for a good weekly laugh don't forget to read my blog at Nights of Passion every Friday.

Becke Davis said...

Looking back at this, my comments did not include specific questions. Is it still okay to send a query? Thanks.

colbymarshall said...

Awesome interview with the best agent in the world! :-)

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Becke Davis: Although you didn't ask a question, you did make a comment. So I asked Christine, and she said go ahead and submit to her and say Kari told you to. Good luck.

Lindsay said...

When I pitch my suspense to an agent at some point the agent will ask if I've read so and so author. That I should. I don't know if the author si a client of the agent or not.

Why does the agent suggest I read another author? Is it so I can get a feel for the genre or because they want me to write in that authors style (voice)? I can understand getting a feel for the genre but not the voice. DOn't agents/editors want new voices?