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Pitch fiction & nonfiction to Latoya Smith at Agent Fest Online!

Latoya is one of eight literary agents participating in the MWW Agent Fest Online, November 18-21.

Latoya C. Smith started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing while pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then attained a full-time position at Kensington Publishing in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya joined Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group. For the span of her eight years there, Latoya acquired a variety of titles from hardcover fiction and nonfiction, to digital romance and erotica. She was featured in Publishers Weekly, Forbes and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. In early 2014, she appeared on CSpan2 where she contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing. From August 2014 to February 2016, Latoya was Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing where she acquired short and long-form romance and erotic fiction. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year, 2017 Golden Apple for Agent of the Year, and the 2017 Literary Jewels Award for Editor of the Year. Latoya provides editorial services and literary representation through her company, LCS Literary Services.

 

Check out Latoya’s Wish List!

  • Fiction: women’s fiction, humor, thriller/suspense, romance (contemporary, paranormal, small-town, suspense, erotic, LGBTQ), young adult
  • Nonfiction: memoir, relationship, advice/how-to, self-help, business, sports, politics/social justice, pop culture, health/wellness

MWW agent assistant Allen Warren interviewed Latoya about her life as an agent and about coming to MWW Agent Fest. Allen is an English Studies major at Ball State University. He is also managing editor for the Digital Literature Review and assistant fiction editor & event/writing series coordinator for Ball State’s literary magazine The Broken Plate.

MWW: What got you interested in becoming a literary agent? 

LS: I worked as an acquisitions editor for over 10 years and was laid off from my job. Based on my contacts, a really good friend thought I’d make a great agent. So, I joined her agency in 2016. I later began agenting for my own company in 2018.

MWW: Who have been some of your more recent clients, and how did you promote them? 

LS: Kimberly L. Jones, Kondwani Fidel, Kristin Vayden and LaQuette to name a few. In regards to promotion, I speak about my clients whenever I can at whatever stage of the process they are in. For example, if a client is in early development, I’ll bring up their concepts as I speak to editors to try and garner early interest. Once sold, I am actively promoting them and their projects on my social media and at conferences and events, by spreading the word and offering my help and support however I can.

MWW: What are the number-one things you recommend attendees pitching ideas to do and NOT to do? 

LS: Be passionate, confident and practice so that you won’t feel as nervous because you know your stuff. However, try not to waste your time making light conversation. You’ll lose valuable time like that. Instead, begin with your greeting and move right into your pitch so that you can leave room for questions at the end.

MWW: What makes a manuscript stand out to you? What will make it sink? 

LS: Strong first pages, with a clear sense of who these characters are and why I should care about them. If the project is riddled with typos, confusing, or just uninteresting, I will stop reading.

MWW: Finally, what have you been reading during quarantine? 

LS: Romance and women’s fiction along with some thrillers.

Also on Latoya’s schedule for Agent Fest Online:

  • First Page Read – Love It or Leave It, “Okay, Stop” – with Latoya Smith, Alice Speilburg, Shannon Kelly. This is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with our attending agents/editors commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission. Get expert feedback on your incredibly important first lines and know if your writing has what it needs to keep readers’ attention.
  • Working With An Agent: Writers will learn the tools needed to successfully partner with the right agent. This includes:  Preparing Your Written and Verbal Pitch.  Finding the Right Agent.  What Your Agent Should Bring to the Table.  How You Should Use Your Agent.  Building Your Platform. When to Part Ways With Your Agent.
  • You’ve Got A Book Deal, Now What?: Writers will learn what happens after they’ve been offered a deal (per traditional publisher standards). This includes: Contract Negotiation Points.  Welcome Materials from Your Publisher. The Editorial Process.  Importance of Cover Art and Cover Copy. Publicity and Marketing Strategies. Sales and Distribution. Useful Tips.
  • Agents/Author Conversation: How an agent works with an author — Agents Cherry Weiner and Latoya Smith and author Larry D. Sweazy

MWW 2020 Agent Fest, March 13-14

The 2nd Annual MWW Agent Fest: March 13-14, 2020

Friday 12:30 pm through Saturday 5:00 pm. {EARLY BIRD COST: $259 / $299 after 12/31/19}

Prepare. Pitch. Publish. #preppitchpub

Our first MWW Agent Fest was a big success! What attendees said:

To have one-on-one time with an agent is invaluable. The agents were all great and attentive. The conference was packed with useful information and opportunities.

A caring, professional organization for debut authors as well as accomplished authors.

A great and welcoming event with enthusiastic people and agents ready to give you real feedback.

I love how relaxed it was. The agents were friendly and engaged and it did wonders to calm my nerves. I really felt that they wanted to see me succeed.

So helpful! Really tangible and practical advice.

So, now MWW 2020 Agent Fest is another wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of two days, pitch a literary agent, get your query letter evaluated, get your questions answered, and more.

With 15 sessions, plus an All-Agent Panel Q&A, participants will learn how to write a dynamite query letter and tackle a one-page synopsis. The instructing literary agents will also explain the author experience and how to navigate the agent/author relationship, and the etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics.

BONUS: You can register for a Query Letter Critique! For an additional fee of $50, you will meet for a 10-minute one-on-one consultation with an agent/editor to discuss your query letter AND the first page of your manuscript. NOTE: ONLY 40 critique spots left! Register soon!

You’ll meet one-on-one with two agents and possibly three, depending on the number of registrants. Each pitch lasts three minutes, composed of a 90-second pitch and a 90-second response from the agent with feedback.

  • Ian Bonaparte, Janklow & Nesbit Associates
  • Kerry D’Agostino, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
  • Jennifer Grimaldi, Charlberg & Sussman
  • Amanda Luedeke, MacGregor & Luedeke
  • Eric Myers, Myers Literary Management
  • Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • Abby Saul, The Lark Group
  • Dani Segelbaum, New Leaf Literary & Media
  • EDITOR: Erin Calligan Mooney, Senior Editor, Lake Union Publishing, Amazon Publishing
 
Kerry D’Agostino, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
  • “Six Steps from Query to Publication”
  • “Subsidiary Rights”
Jennifer Grimaldi, Charlberg & Sussman
  • “Common Pitching Mistakes”
  • “360 view of the path to publication”
Amanda Luedeke, MacGregor & Luedeke
  • “When to Self-Publish”
  • “When You Can’t Find Time to Write”
Eric Myers, Myers Literary Management
  • “How Much Is Too Much in YA And Middle Grade?”
  • “Working With Your Agent”
Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • “Rookie Submission Mistakes (and how to avoid them)”
  • “Capturing the YA and MG Voice”
Abby Saul, The Lark Group
  • “Please Read My Manuscript: Quick Tips for Query Questions”
  • “Finding, Working with, and Keeping an Agent”
Dani Segelbaum, New Leaf Literary & Media
  • “How to Write A Non-Fiction Proposal”
  • “The Do’s and Don’ts of Querying Agents”
Erin Calligan Mooney, Senior Editor, Lake Union Publishing
  • “Trust Falls: The Editor/Author Relationship”

Friday Evening Program:

“First Paragraph Read – Love It or Leave It, “Okay, Stop” – with all agents. “A Paragraph One Critique-Fest.” This is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously – no bylines given) with our 9 attending faculty commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission. Get expert feedback on your incredibly important first page, and know if your writing has what it needs to keep readers’ attention. (All attendees are welcome to bring pages to the event for this session, and we will choose pages at random for the workshop for as long as time lasts.)

You Will Get:

  • Immediate feedback on the merits of your book directly from agents working in that genre or category
  • Actionable advice on perfecting your pitch, and/or ways to improve your storyline or nonfiction premise
  • The opportunity to land representation and start on your path to a publishing deal.

Keys to Agent Fest Success:

  • Do your research. There will be eight agents attending and some will be a better fit for your writing than others. Be sure to study the list of agents and target those who handle your genre or interest.
  • Practice makes perfect. This is your chance to sell your book, so write it out, practice it and perfect your pitch. Use a stopwatch so you can keep time-and their attention!
  • Get expert advice. To help you prepare, we have a room with willing volunteers where you can practice. You can hone your pitch and get more comfortable with presenting live. You’ll also gain the confidence you need to make a great impression.

By Saturday evening, you will have added more tools to help you move forward on your writing journey.

Come join us!

REGISTER HERE!

Pitch to literary agent Noah Ballard at the MWW Agent Fest!

Meet Noah Ballard, literary agent with Curtis Brown, Ltd. 

Noah Ballard is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. He studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency. Noah focuses on literary fiction, short story collections and narrative non-fiction, including memoir, journalism and pop culture. Noah has appeared at graduate writing programs and writers’ conferences across the country speaking about query letters, building nonfiction platforms and submission etiquette. A New Jersey native, Noah currently lives in Brooklyn.

MWW Board Member Larry Sweazy interviewed Noah about his life as an agent and what he’s looking for on his Manuscript Wish List.

MWW: All writers were voracious readers before they became writers. It seems this would be true of agents, too. Can you tell us about a book, or books, that affected you, and influenced your choice to become an agent?

NB: I don’t know that I agree with the premise of the question, that writers are all voracious readers. I think all successful writers are voracious readers, especially of contemporary authors. It’s pretty amazing, however, the amount of writers who pitch me work who haven’t read a book that’s been published in the past ten years.

As a college student, I was drawn to so-called transgressive fiction. From Charles Bukowski to John Fante up to Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney. That’s a pretty easy space to be excited by as a middle-class, White student, when bad behavior (by White men) seems controversial. And I suppose it is, compared to the boring (White, male) authors I read in high school. But as I reached the end of college, I also discovered James Baldwin and Evan S. Connell and Bernard Malamud and Joan Didion, etc., etc. That’s where the real controversy of American late 20th century literature lives, and I am inspired by authors who seem themselves as following in those traditions.

MWW: What makes a query stand out?

NB: In terms of the actual letter: professionalism. Many authors make the mistake of writing the letter with a lot of voice, or waxing unnecessarily poetic or, worse, attempting to appeal to my sympathy. I’m looking for a writer who will collaborate and be a savvy business partner, not someone who doesn’t know how to write a professional e-mail. Why would I risk my reputation for such a person?

In terms of the writing sample, which I always ask be included in the query, there I’m looking for voice and confidence. Tell me a story in a way I haven’t heard it before and be brave in the telling.

MWW: What are the most important questions should a new writer ask an agent?

NB: “What is your vision for the publication of my book?” “What editorial work do I need to do before the book can be submitted to editors?” “Which editors do you have in mind?” “What is your working style?” “Does your agency represent translation and film/TV rights?” “Are you a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives?” “Do you only expect payment once you’ve sold my book?” (The latter must an unconditional YES!)

MWW: With the publishing industry in a constant state of change, are you encouraged about the future of publishing?

NB: Publishing has allegedly been dying for 100 years. (The novel is dead; long live the novel!) But the truth is people need stories, and the medium continues to grow and change and evolve. Authors have to be bigger advocates for themselves than ever before, but I don’t know that that’s a bad thing. There are things that frustrate me, for sure. Mostly the myopia of how books are marketed and publicized. But a generation of young people-both on the business side and on the creative side-are rallying to celebrate more diverse authors, more controversial ideas, more unexplored stories. That’s as exciting and as scary as our current political moment.

MWW: What kind of projects will you be looking for at MWW Agent Fest?

NB: Intelligent, diverse, ruthless, unapologetic literary fiction. Plucky, confrontational, progressive, emotionally-driven non-fiction, especially memoir and pop culture.

Come pitch to Noah!

Read more about the MWW Agent Fest: May 10-11, 2019.

Register Today!

Click here to register.

Friday 1:00 pm through Saturday 5:00 pm. {$249 / $289 after 4/1/19}

Prepare. Pitch. Publish. #preppitchpub

You want agents. We’ve got agents.

2019 MWW Programs

For 2019, Midwest Writers Workshop continues its mission to nurture aspiring and accomplished writers to improve their craft and achieve their publishing goals in a welcoming community.

If one of your goals for 2019 is to improve your writing, mark your calendar with these dates to start working on it: May 10 & 11, and July 25-27! Hit the ground running in 2019 with a clear plan all ready to go. MWW will help you with your goals.

You want agents. We’ve got agents.  So make plans to bring your pitch and query letters to our MWW Agent Fest, May 10-11, 2019. Registration available here!

You want to be a better writer. We’ve got authors to help. Come for three days to grow as writer and find your people, MWW19, July 25-27, 2019. We are bringing together top-notch authors and an industry professional to share their expertise with you. Thursday afternoon through Friday are sessions on craft, including fiction, mystery, YA, nonfiction & more! Then on Saturday, you can choose your all-day manuscript-makeover session according to your own interests, whether you want to hone your writing or learn more about career development. Saturday All-Day Sessions include your choice of five Manuscript Makeover Sessions or Author Platform and Career Development Bootcamp with Jane Friedman.

Registration for the MWW19 conference coming soon! Watch for upcoming E-pistles and social media posts for details!