Archive by Author

Coauthoring A novel: Part Three

9 Sep

When I realized Sooz and Sarah were blogging about Coauthoring, I was pretty stoked. It’s something not many people do, and I was excited to get the behind-the-scenes peek into how they worked. Before I had ever co-authored a book, like Sooz and Sarah, it seemed intriguing…and hard to pull off.

So let’s rewind a couple of years, to when Cyn Balog and I were writing BFFs and CPs, but nothing more. If you don’t know Cyn, she writes paranormal romances for Random House– her first was Fairy Tale, followed by Sleepless, and this summer, Starstruck. While she’s been churning out books for them, I’ve been writing for penguin. Our careers have been amazingly similar– we signed agents within months of each other, sold more than a year later, and our debut novels released 11 days apart.

But, I digress. On this fateful day, I was driving to work and Sarah McLachlan’s FALLEN came on the radio, and one line hit me over the head like a ton of bricks:

I got caught up in all there was to offer.

Immediately, I thought: Isn’t that what YA books are all about? Getting caught up in love, lust, war, popularity, power, a hundred other things? Wouldn’t Getting Caught be such a cool title? But what would it be about?

And an instant later, I knew: A prank war. That would only end when one of them got caught. But it would have to be dueling narrative. Two distinct characters and voices. Hard to pull off by myself. And so I got to work and fired off an email to my CP and said… So, are you in?

She was. So we worked up character sketches. True story,  I used a picture of a young, not yet-completely-glamorized Taylor Swift for her to work from for my character, Peyton.

This is what I sent her —->

I thought it was important that she and I had the same mental picture of our characters.

The next day, I wrote a chapter and emailed it to Cyn. The next morning, she sent me one back. I turned on track changes. Critiqued her chapter.

It was a total high, the back and forth flurry.  The constant critique. I still think it was one of the most useful processes I’ve ever gone through. It pushed me to be a better writer.

Sarah and Sooz pretty much covered the “rules” but I’ll add one more, which Cyn and I did: Decide in advance what to do when you disagree. Cyn and I knew early on that if we disagreed on something, whoever wrote that character/chapter would have final say. It worked wonderfully.  Sometimes I edited sentences or phrases she loved, and she put them back.

A few chapters in, we realized that with a dueling POV and a specific story arc, we’d have to plan it out. We used an excel spreadsheet to map out the chapters and figure out how long the book would be. We noted when a prank would occur in what chapter. And then we wrote, knowing it was okay to stray.

It took only a few weeks to write the rough draft, and several more to revise. We took turns revising, we sent it to CPs. We discussed it with our agents. 

And now, this week, the book went up on Amazon as an eBook exclusive:

   It can be  downloaded for any kindle device (Kindle, Ipad, PC, etc), for just $3.99.

  Here’s the synopsis:

Sometimes in war… there are no winners.

Peyton Brentwood is pretty, popular, and Harvard-bound. Or so she hopes. Her only distraction from AP classes and entrance exams is the prank war with her ex-best friend, Jess Hill. Peyton is used to getting what she wants, and she’s not about to let a loser like Jess gain the upper hand.

For Jess, the prank war is an outlet, a way to get revenge on the best friend who left her behind. As if Peyton has the guts to do what it takes to win. Please. There is no way in hell Jess is going to lose this one, even if she has to hit Peyton where it hurts.

These two girls are about to discover it’s best to keep your friends close… and your enemies closer.


I hope you guys enjoy the novel!

~Mandy Hubbard

Author of: Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, Ripple, But I Love Him, and others

Agent with D4EO Literary



Why an agent can’t give you feedback at the query stage

29 Jul

I tweeted the following tweet this morning:

“A lot of replies to form rejections today, asking for feedback. No matter how tempting, resist.”

Here’s the thing, guys: If an agent had a strong opinion to share with you AND the time to share it, they wouldn’t have used a form reponse.

I sometimes get queries for things that are not even YA or MG (the only “genres” I represent) and the time it takes just to copy/paste a seperate form for those folks was throwing off my rhythm. I went back to a blanket form for all.  To actually type up specific notes–even just a sentence– for each query means I’d be spending a half hour of every day writing responses to writers I did not plan to work with. That means if I stay away from the query box for just a week, it would take me almost four hours to type up responses.

Any time I send out more than a dozen rejections at once, I can count on getting a few “thank you for your time” responses (not neccessary at all at the query stage, but harmless) and one or two asking for feedback.

I know it’s frustrating to get nothing but forms. The first project I ever queried got twelve of them and no requests at all. 

I know you can’t learn anything from them, and you don’t know what to do without actual feedback. But there are many, many resources for you– Absolute Write, Verla Kay, SCBWI, RWA– the list goes on and on. Other writers can help you build and hone your query.

The other thing is… I’ve passed on a half-dozen projects which had offers on the table from other agents. I pass on queries every day that are well written, accompanied by solid writing. .  Those writers probably will  sign agents, it just won’t be me. Did you read and love Twilight? Wicked Lovely? Anna and the French Kiss? Thirteen Reasons Why? The Forest of Hands and Teeth? Hatchet?

You might love some of those books. But I bet you don’t love all of them. I don’t love every well-written query + sample no more than I love every book I buy at the store.

And if I did love every project that was well-written, I’d have 100, 200, 300 or more clients by now. I have to pick and choose projects the resonate specifically with me, because I’m the one who may spend months pitching and submitting your project. I’m the one who has to write up a pitch and convey my enthusiasm.

I finished a full manuscript this week and I thought to myself– If this was a published book, I could see reccomending it to X friend. And I mean that. It was well written. Interesting. It kept me turning pages.

But the commitment and effort it takes to represent a project is on a whole ‘nother level than enjoying a book just for the sake of reading it.

That’s why, then, it’s so hard to give feedback. A book is not a widget, or a car, or a house. I can’ tpoint to a crooked wall and say, unequivically, it needs to be fixed. I can’t say that you should tighten those two bolts before you show it to the next person.

Because the things I say could be wrong. The next person you query could love it as it is. So If I haven’t even read your full manuscript (I DO provide feedback on fulls), then I’m not going to be able to provide you feedback– both becuase of time and becuase in most cases, what you’ve sent me is perfectly good. It’s just not for me.


D4EO Lit

Twitter: @Mandyhubbard


27 Jul

by Mandy Hubbard


Hey all!

Just wanted to shout from the rooftops that RIPPLE is now in stores, and I’ll be at a great joint-author signing on Sunday at 4PM at Lake Forest Park’s THIRD PLACE BOOKS (near Seattle!) with the likes of:

I know, I’m not really sure why they’re letting me sit with them either. But if you live in the SEATTLE AREA, come join us!  Sunday! 4pm! Third Place Books!


As you might have heard, some of the LTWF girls met up in Florida this past week for a writer’s retreat! While there they had lunch with a fan of the blog and went to B&N to take pictures with RIPPLE in-store!

From left to right: Susan Dennard, Biljana Likic, Savannah Foley, our fan Sydney, Sarah Maas, and Kat Zhang.

2011 books I NEED RIGHT NOW

22 Apr

In lieu of a QOTW today, I’m posting a few 2011 books I am *DYING* to read.

Here goes:



It’s not often I fall for a book based solely on the cover. But this one? It had me at hello.

 YOU AGAINST ME by Jenny Downham:

I LOOOOVED Before I die by Jenny Downham. I was *balling* by the end of it. This one is set up to be one of those romances in which is seems positively impossibly to find a happily ever after. Will they? Won’t they? I must know

   Audition by Stasia Kehoe.

It’s about a ballerina. Does it take anything else? no, it does not. oh, and it has romance. Yeah, that’s all it takes for me.

   Want to go Private? by Sarah Littman

  Basically? I want to get my hands on this NOW. It has *Exactly* the sort of issue-based concepts I go for.  Dark and scary but oh-so real. WANT.

So…. what are YOU dying to read??

~Mandy Hubbard is author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, and But I Love Him (written as Amanda Grace) She’s also a literary agent with D4EO literary. Visit her at

Getting published– even if you’re a “nobody.”

23 Mar

by Mandy Hubbard


There’s a big misconception in publishing that a writer has to “know somebody” or have substantial writing credits in order to get an agent, and thus, get published.

So here’s the truth– keep in mind I’m talking about fiction here– Non-Fiction has a lot to do with platform so things are different in that field.

MYTH: You need to spend months or years trying to amass writing credits.

TRUTH: Most agents gloss right over that stuff. Just because you wrote an article for a magazine doesn’t mean you can write a whole book. Sure, they can be nice. Go ahead and freelance if you like it or want to try and earn $$. But don’t think it’s the only path to publishing novels. It’s not.

MYTH: You need to get a referral or some kind of “in” in order to get noticed.

TRUTH: The stats can be scary– most agents request 5-10% of the queries they read and only offer rep to a scant few. But guess what? There are some pretty awesome stats out there proving that SLUSH WORKS.

I conducted a poll on twitter– I simply asked agented writers to respond and tell me if they snagged their agent via a cold-query (no connections) or if they had some kind of a referral, publishing credits, etc. And guess what? 58 people had NO credits or connections whatsoever. Only 6 people got their agent via a referral from a client or impressive credentials. Yes, you read that right– MORE than 90% of those writers snagged an agent with the tried-and-true query letter.

MYTH: Your work doesn’t fit the trends, so no one is going to want it.

TRUTH: To be honest? Books that are totally outside the trends often stand out the most, because when I’m reading slush it’s like FANTASY FANTASY FANTASY REALISTIC FANTASY FANTASY. (And by fantasy I am lumping in paranormal, UF, etc).

MYTH: You need to hire an editor before submitting your work.

TRUTH: I actually don’t know any one who paid a freelance editor before beginning submissions/being published. Find critique partners at the same place in their career and swap manuscripts. I learned as much from critiquing as I did from receiving critiques, and I made lifelong writer friends. (This is not to say freelance eds aren’t awesome in their own right. But don’t despair over the $$ needed if you don’t have it.)

MYTH: You need to spend a lot of $$ going to conferences because that’s where most agents find their clients.

TRUTH: Again, the slush works. If you can’t afford conferences, skip ’em! They can be fun for socializing and you can learn a lot, but it really and truly does not cost a dime to be published (with the exception being postage if an agent wants material snail-mailed.)

So, I hope this helps dispel the myths that you need to know someone, or pay a lot of money, in order to be noticed. I know dozens and dozens of debut authors– some who sold in major deals (over $500K) who had pretty unassuming day jobs and knew NO ONE in publishing before snagging an agent and a book deal.

The writing is the only thing that matters. Write a damn good book, and it’ll rise above.


Agent, D4EO Lit

Author, Prada & Prejudice (2009) You Wish (2010) But I Love him (May 2011) and RIPPLE (July 2011).


20 Jan

There’s a lot of confusion (even amongst published authors) on the money side of publishing—particularly when it comes to earning out an advance. It seems no one really knows until the royalty statement arrives how they are doing, and whether they have any hope of earning out.

But let me back up—what is an advance? It’s the payments made by your publisher for the purchase of your book. Yes, payments, as in plural, because you don’t see it all at once.  Your publisher pays an advance, roughly based on how well they think the book will do. When the book comes out, you begin earning royalties, which are first credited towards earning back that advance–or as it is more commonly known: earn out.  If a book has “earned out,” than it means enough copies have sold to pay the publisher back for the advance.

First, let’s make sure you understand the basics about GETTING your advance:

Let’s use some numbers here. A very average first time advance is about $10,000. This would be divided into either two payments or three, but it’s becoming increasingly more common to be divided in three, so let’s go with that. We’ll also assume it is a single book deal.

The publisher calls you (or your agent) and makes an offer. You pop champagne, you negotiate basic contract points, and you agree to the deal. It will take your publisher anywhere from a few weeks to several months to send you the contract.

Once you have signed the contract and mailed it back, they will process your first check. In this case, $3,333. Assuming you have an agent, it is routed through your agency, they take their 15% (about $500) and send you a check for $2,833. Don’t go blow it all, though, remember you have to pay taxes on that money. Also, you might need a professional website.

Anyway, your next payment would come when your book has been delivered and accepted. This means all major revisions are done and the book has been sent to copyedits. Then along comes your $2833.

The last payment comes, most commonly, on publication. And yes—that is 12-24 months after they make that offer. So you’re clearly not getting rich here.

Next, let’s look at royalties:

Royalty rates vary widely, especially when you consider that some publishers pay on retail price and some pay on net received. We’re going to go with some very average numbers here, all based on retail.

One point of confusion—even for published authors—is that your retail price may be $16.99 but Amazon is selling it for $12.99. It doesn’t matter, though—your royalty is calculated on the full retail price. It’s amazon who is taking the hit here.

If your book comes out in trade paperback, chances are your royalty rate is between 6 and 8%. For hardbacks, it can vary between 8% and 12%. Generally your contract will also have escalation clauses—like, If you sell 25,000 copies, your royalty goes from 10% to 12%. So you can imagine that it gets complicated.

So, to keep it simple, let’s say your book comes out in trade paperback original, with an 8% royalty rate. If the list price is $9.99, you’re getting about eighty cents a book. You need to sell 12,500 copies in order to earn out.

What happens if you don’t earn out? Is your career done for?

If your book fails to earn out its advance, it doesn’t mean your career is over- not necessarily. Your original publisher is the one with all the information and they may or may not want to publish your next book. If they do, you have a whole new chance to break out. Also, remember that just because YOU didn’t earn out, doesn’t mean your publisher hasn’t made a profit.

If they don’t buy your next book, it means you’ll be submitting it more widely.

Here’s what to remember—other publishers can look up your bookscan data (which is a paid service that provides sales data that covers about 70% of sales to consumers, but isn’t always accurate) but they DO NOT know what your advance was. They DO NOT know what your print run was, what your royalty statements say, etc.

Lately, we’ve seen A LOT of mega deals in the YA world. Some mid-six figure deals, even. And that’s a lot of pressure to earn out, and it’s easy to fail at such a mighty task. But that doesn’t mean you’re sunk. If you needed to sell 200,000 copies to earn out that gigantic advance, and you sold 75,000, you’re not even close. But to an outsider, if they do not know what your advance is, 75,000 is a pretty solid number.

A mention on world rights:

The last thing to keep in mind is subrights—audio, foreign, etc. Many of those mega deals are for world rights, which means your publisher submits and negotiates translation/foreign deals. You split that money with them—anything from 50/50 to 90/10. A real average is 70/30. (70 to the author, 30 to the pub). SOME of those mega deals have earned out before they are ever published, based on foreign deals alone.

Earning out based on foreign rights and not on sales doesn’t mean you’re a raging success, but it alleviates much of the risk for your publisher, and it, too, may play a part in whether they buy another book from you.

Ultimately, it’s good to understand the numbers, but authors have little to know control over whether a book does well. Focus on writing your next amazing book instead.





On Trends in the Slush Pile

14 Dec

by Mandy Hubbard


I haven’t shared the trends I’ve been finding in the slush pile in a while, and I thought it would be fun to share them with the LTWF crowd. Before I dive into the stuff you *really* want to know, I need to provide some context.

For starters, you should read my two blog posts– the first on whether you should chase trends, and the second on what editors told me they were looking for (hint: It’s pretty much everything, as long as the writing is awesome).

All that said, no matter how many times someone says not to worry about trends, people are forever fascinated by them. And I do think there is some power in knowing where you stand– whether it’s in the midst of a saturated trend or if it’s something wacky and left field.

So, I quickly flipped through the last fifty queries I’ve received, and here’s the breakdown:

A type of project I don’t represent: 8

Number of above who queried because they thought it was YA and it was adult: 2

Realistic YA or MG: 19

Breakdown  for *some* of above

-Adventure: 2

– Dark or Issue-based: 5

-Coming of age (MG): 3

-Romance: 4

-Modern retellings of a fairy tale or classic: 2

Historical (w/no fantasy elements) realistic YA/ MG: 3

Total number of speculative fiction/SF/Fantasy queries: 31

Break down of this:

-Urban Fantasy: 6

-Magical Realism: 4

-Dystopic or Post-Apocolyptic: 4

*Paranormal Creatures:

-Vamps: 2

Comparisons to twilight: 1

-Ghosts 1

-Devils, Demons, or Angels: 3

-Mermaids, Sirens, or other water creatures: 1

-Banshees: 1

– Steampunk: 1

-Dreams or Dreamworld or Visions as the leading paranormal element: 3

-Teens or Middle-graders discovering special abilities: 2

-High or Epic Fantasy: 4

-Fantasy-esque retellings of a fairy tale: 1

-Based upon Lore/Legends/Myths: 3

-Time Travel: 1 (MG) 2 (YA)

-Historical w/fantasy elements: 2

-Other realms/parallel worlds: 1

So, by the above, it’s a little tough to see any particular saturated point. If I had done 100 or more queries, I think stronger patterns would emerge. I *can* tell you things I feel like I see a ton of: Ghosts/After life, Angels/Demons, books based on Greek, Roman, or other myths (Often the main character discovers she is a goddess reincarnated), girls who dream up a boy and then he’s there– in real life (Gasp!) Post-apocolyptic based on realistic fears (water running out, viruses, global warming) and books that are “Like Twilight but with X.”

In the end, as I always say: Be aware of the trends so you understand where you fit, and can better decide who to query. If you’re torn between writing two novels, perhaps the market dictates which one you choose. But otherwise: Write the novel in your heart. Write it as well as you can. Kick-Ass writing almost always sells, trends be damned.

Good luck!



Mandy Hubbard is the author of Prada & Prejudice and You Wish (both now available) as well as the forthcoming RIPPLE and BUT I LOVE HIM (both coming in 2011). She’s also an agent at D4EO Literary, where she represents authors of middle-grade and young-adult novels. Visit her at

My first year as a published author….

9 Jun

by Mandy Hubbard


I am not sure how I got here, but somehow… I am just two days away from the 1 year anniversary of Prada & Prejudice’s release date.

*scratches head*

I dont think anyone really knows what to expect when you have a book coming out. And maybe that’s because… your publisher doesn’t tell you. You could sell 100 copies a week or 1,000 copies a week and you have no idea if that is good or bad or if they are happy or not. You’ll get a huge mix of reviews and the good ones will make you happy for three minutes and the bad ones will make you mopey for three days. You’ll go to Barnes and Noble and wonder why your book isn’t face out, and you’ll rearrange half of the H section to make enough room so that you can do it yourself. After you’re done signing stock, you’ll put them away yourself so you can sneak one onto an endcap.

You’ll see your book in the catalog and then you’ll see the other books with their 2 or 3 page spread and you’ll despair. You’ll beg anyone in a 100 mile radious of New York City to go to BEA (book expo of America) just so they can see if your publisher is giving out ARCs of your book. You’ll set up google alerts for your book title. And maybe extra ones with various mispellings. And even though you have the alerts, you’ll still end up spending half the day on google anyway.

The first year as an author is a roller coaster, filled with so many ups and downs its hard to keep track of it all.

The highs I experienced:

My first ever fan mail–first, the totally random emails that could bring on complete and utter glee, and later, my first ever snail-mailed fan mail.

Seeing my book in a store. A Real. Live. Store. 

Seeing Prada & Prejudice mentioned in TIME magazine.

Selling foreign rights to countries I’ve never seen, to be translated into languages I can’t speak.

Connecting with other authors who have become friends– for life

Selling more books and realizing I might be able to do this more than once.

The Lows:

Finding out Borders didn’t want to stock Prada & Prejudice. Wondering if that meant my career was totally finished. (They changed their mind a week after it came out.)

Watching other books get more publicity, more glitz, more foreign sales, more INSERT ANYTHING HERE. And driving myself crazy comparing. Over and over. Crazier and Crazier.

Going to a book festival 2+ hours away. And then sitting at a table while people avoided looking at me and no one bought my book.

Realizing how much is out of my control. Learning to focus on the writing, the only thing I can control.

It’s still hard to fathom that a year has gone by. I was so focused on that magical date– June 11, 2009– that once it was over, the days just floated past me. It was more stressful than expected–but so much more exciting and gratifying, too.

So I guess what I am saying, in the end, is the roller coaster never ends– it just gets a little loopier and a little faster, but it’s always worth it. 🙂


Author, Prada & Prejudice

Agent, D4EO Literary

Battle The Voices of Doom….

18 May

Yesterday, I discovered my Harlequin NASCAR romance, DRIVEN (part of AT ANY COST) started shipping from Amazon.  It made my stomach flop over.  It is, officially, my second release, and it hasn’t gotten any less nerve-wracking. In fact, maybe it is MORE nervewracking because I’ve only seen one review so far (the Harlequin category lines are run a little different than a YA lineup– there were almost no Advance review copies…) so to have it just… hit shelves without any idea of what people think of it is, well, really scary.

There are many, many paths to publication, and everyone’s is different. But one thing is consistent: we all freak out. A lot.

When you’re ten pages into your first ever book, you’ll freak that it sucks and you dont know what you’re doing and you’ll never find enough time to write it all.

When you write THE END for the first time, you’ll stress that the whole thing is a mess.

When you query agents and get your first form rejection, you’ll freak that you suck and you’ll never find an agent.

When your first book hits shelves and its published by an awesome publisher and you have an awesome editor, you’ll still worry everything is a fluke and readers will hate you.

It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at– the feelings of suckitude remain consistent.

There ARE things you can do to help ignore the Voices-of-Doom.  Here are my tips:

1) Surround yourself with inspiration. I used to post quotes on a board above my computer. My favorite was, “Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”  I also posted my #1 writing rule: “Give yourself permission to write crap. Crap can be fixed.” Whenever I wanted to toss what I was writing, I just had to look up.

2) View it as a process. Remember that every book on shelves had a team of people helping it become what it is.  It went through revisions and copy edits and typsetting and yes, it’s very pretty, but it didn’t look like that when the author wrote it down.

3) Remember that NO book in the world is unversally loved and adored. Think about the last 5 books you read. Did you love and adore all 5? Probably not. But its a published book, so someone did. If you just got a rejection, it means that wasn’t the right reader for you. It’s okay to be rejected. Plenty of people love rocky road ice cream. I hate it. Does it mean it doesn’t have a place in the world? No.

4) Save praise; toss rejection. If your work is on fictionpress, and you’re getting reviews, move all the positive review alert emails into one folder. Delete the others. When you’re feeling down, open up that folder and read some of the good reviews.

5) Network. Commiserate. Misery loves company,  right? If you make friends with other writers, they will know exactly what you’re going through. They’ll talk you down off the ledge and push you in the right direction. I don’t know what I’d do without my writing friends!

6) Let yourself wallow…. but only for a little bit. It’s okay to take a day or a week or a month off. Sometimes you just need to live and let the stress evaporate on its own. Don’t burn yourself out because you think you have to have it now. Let yourself breathe and come back to your writing with fresh eyes and more energy. But don’t quit.

Anyway, I hope that helps… Happy Writing!

Mandy Hubbard

Author of Prada & Prejudice and At Any Cost

Agent, D4EO Literary

A Tongue-in-cheek guide to being an agent.

11 Mar

I was going to post something serious today, but I’m not in a serious sort of mood. So instead…. I bring you….

The tongue-in-cheek guide to being both an author and an agent.  As seen on twitter.

1. Make a really nice form rejection. ‘Cause rejections suck.

2. Be nice to the crazies. The crazies are the ones who will get on a message board  (as well as MY blog) and totally bash me.

3. Learn my lesson and turn off anonymous comments to my blog.

4.  Sign some awesomesauce writers.

5. Remind my awesomesauce writers on a near-daily basis that I’m still here. Becuase I remember sometimes wondering if my agent remembered me. Even though she just emailed me yesterday.

6. While my client’s work is on submission, I should just email themn so they don’t wonder if I died in a fiery wreck in a canyon somewhere. Not that there are any canyons around here. But they might wonder.  ‘Cus even though I told them I’d share any news the second I got it, they’ll still think I’m holding back.  And they’ll sit, their fingers poised over the keyboard, wondering if I will be annoyed if they check-in. (I won’t.)

7.  I should never call my clients unexpectedly, especially if something is on submissions. Becuase it will make them hyperventilate and/or sweat profusely. If I MUST call unexpectedly,  and it’s not THE call, I will say so immediately.

8. If their work is rejected (gasp!) I will immediately say such phrases as, “But I still love you!” and “damn it we are not giving up that easily! We’ll show them!”

9. I will send a questionnaire to all of my new authors with the following question: If you receive a rejection,  how would you like it soothed? A) Chocolate.  B) Wine C) Wine? Screw that, give me the hard stuff D) Joke about busting some kneecaps. Unless the editor was mean. Then maybe we’ll really…. no, no, we’ll just imagine it.




Agent, D4EO Literary