A Bright Future for 2017

I cannot believe how quickly 2017 is approaching! I feel like I was just basking in the summer sun, toes buried in the sand, watching the ocean waves roll in. Or maybe that was just last nights dream? Either way, 2017 will be here before we know it- literally. This morning, I was browsing through some recent publishing deals and let me tell you, 2017 is going to be an awesome year. We are leaving behind one successful publishing year and rolling seamlessly into another one. Below are a few of my favorite books to look out for in the new year by major publishers:


THE BAD MOOD AND THE STICK by Lemony Snicket, with art by Matthew Forsythe (Little, Brown Children’s) to be published in Fall 2017.

THANK YOU FOR COMING TO HATTIESBURG by comedian/actor Todd Barry- a memoir/travelogue (Gallery) to be published in March 2017.

SWEET  BABY JAMES: A POP-UP LULLABY by singer/songwriter James Taylor- a three dimensional picture book with scenes that bring the lyrics to this popular song to life (Blue Rider Press) to be published Fall 2017.

TEAMMATE by  David Ross, former Chicago cubs catcher (Hachette Books) to be published May 2017.

NO MIDDLE NAME: THE COMPLETE JACK REACHER SHORT STORIES by Lee Child- which will include all Jack Reacher short stories and a new novella (Ballantine Bantam Dell) to be published in May 2017.

WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA: AND OTHER QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD HAVE ANSWERS TO WHEN YOU WORK IN THE WHITE HOUSE by Alyssa Mastromonaco, former Obama White House deputy chief of staff for operations (Twelve) to be published in March 2017.

In order to keep on writing, we need to keep on reading.


We’re All A Little Crazy

Writing is one of the craziest things. Yes, I said it. It’s crazy! On the surface it seems like such a relaxing and simple task, but really it’s so much more than that. I think there’s a small part in all of us who wants to be a “writer.” We all have thousands of thoughts that run through out minds on a daily basis, we all have that one awesome book idea, and we all think that what we have to say is way more important than the person sitting next to us. The truth is, writing isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is meant to be a writer. To be a true writer you have to be a special kind of person. A writer needs to be patient, but driven. Self-disciplined, but connected to the outer world. A multi-tasker, but focused. Flexible, but determined. Creative, but conformed. Writing pulls you in so many different directions in the course of just one page, one paragraph, one sentence which makes it one of the most unpredictable careers or hobbies out there.

I started to think about just how crazy writing is this morning when I came across an article in The Huffington Post titled ‘5 Things You Need To Know About Writing Before Becoming A Writer.’ It really put the whole process in a clear perspective that made me stop to think about the mental stability of us all. Why do we do it? Writing seems harmless and fun but when you start to peel back the layers, it’s way more than you can ever imagine.


My brain is whizzing at about 1,000 miles per hour about these ‘5 Things To Know,’ so here we go:

Writing is difficult. To do it effectively, it’s probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do. And guess what? It never gets easier. Every time you sit down to write even just a few simple words, you may feel like you have been hit in the face with 1,000 bricks. I know this because today is one of those days. And last week was too. And the month before that. Every time I sit down to write a quick blog post, nothing profound, nothing revolutionary, it’s like pulling teeth. Yes, some days the words come out easier than others, but I would never say the process in general was ‘easy.’ You always second guess your opening sentence or your last word. You always struggle to find that one word that truly describes how you feel or want your readers to feel. You always wonder if you could say more or if you should of said less. I also know writing is difficult because I can think of hundreds of others things I rather be doing right now- like laundry, mopping the floors, or washing dishes. And I never want to do those things.

  1. Throw Out All The Rules. In school we were all taught the basics of grammar and the ‘right’ way to construct a sentence, essay, or research paper. As we grew into our own writing and found our ‘spot’, our genre, we were introduced to a whole new set of rules. What you can and can’t write about. How the story is supposed to end. What types of characters you should create. Which surprises you are allowed to throw into your writing, and which ones you should leave out. What a writer really needs to do is ignore everything they have ever learned, which is much easier said than done. To set your writing a part, it needs to dabble outside the mainstream. It needs to say, ‘HEY, LOOK AT ME!’ But every time you misplace a word, use informal language, adopt a risky tone, or create a controversial character your heart will skip a beat. You will have every urge to erase the whole damn thing because you just read an article about how a romance isn’t supposed to end that way. And it will take every ounce of courage to carry on.
  2. Writer’s Block Will Happen. And when it does it will be one of the scariest and most frustrating moments of your life. You will start to second guess everything you have ever written. You will start to wonder if you are even cut out for the job. You will have an urge to keep writing and the words that are coming out will be complete garbage. And you will know it too. This is when there is literally only one thing you can do- stop. You need to stop. You need to throw that self-discipline into high gear and force yourself to walk away. You might just need a few minutes, you might need a few hours, or you might need to come back to it tomorrow.  But don’t fall victim to losing some of your best work because of ‘the block.’
  3. Writing Doesn’t Work Around Your Schedule. You might plan out the most perfect day. A quick morning run, a nice hot shower, followed by a few productive hours of writing with a few delicious cups of coffee by your side, then a healthy lunch at the cafe down the street and quite stroll through the park, with a few more productive hours of writing under a beautiful willow tree. I hope you get those days, I really do. But it won’t always work out the way you want it to- I can promise you that. The words might be get stuck in some far away galaxy that morning and finally make it down to Earth half way through that veggie wrap. You might need to push all those healthy habits aside right then and there. When creativity strikes you need to pull out that laptop or notepad and let the words dictate when you will write them. Flexibility is key.
  4. It’s Extremely Satisfying. Through all the craziness you need to keep your eye on the prize- the finished product. To form the perfect sentence, to create a realistic world out of white paper, or to finally choose that last word is a feeling that cannot be described, only experienced. Everything you said you ever hated about your writing and every time you said you were going to quit will simply disappear as if it never existed. You may even feel like a completely different person, completely misled or fooled… until the next time you sit in front of  a blank page.
  5. It’s A Window To Connecting With People. Although the process of writing is personal and intimate, once finished your writing reaches complete strangers. There are going to many people who could care less about what you wrote, but there will be others who stopped in their tracks all because of the words that you strung together. You might inspire them, you might change their perspective, or you just might simply entertain them for a few hours. Talk about pressure, huh? The beautiful thing about this connection is that you can’t force it. It’s either going to be there or it won’t. So don’t overthink it. Your natural words will connect you to someone, somewhere better than anything else.

Yes, writing is crazy. Write on.

Innovative Technology Leading Us Into Our 2nd Year

Hershman Rights Management (HRM) officially launched in July 2015, so you know what that means? Yes, you’re doing your math correct- it’s been over a year! We couldn’t do it without all our amazing authors and publishing partners. We have so many people to thank for making our first year such a success. At HRM we pride ourselves on our customer service. It is always our primary goal to keep our clients happy. In order to continue to reach that goal, HRM needs to focus on growth and adapt to every fluid market.

That’s why we are rolling out a couple new things this month. First, and most importantly, we have created a new way in which authors can submit their already published work to us for consideration of representation. Check it out on our new ‘Submission’ Page. The best part? Your answer is instant! If we think you will be a good fit for HRM based on the information you provide on the form, you will know about it right away. If you aren’t… well, you will know that too. We are so excited about this new addition to our agency because the concept of instant results/answers in the literary agency industry is innovative and a first of its kind. Every author knows the harrowing pain of waiting for months just to hear that your work has been rejected. At HRM, we want to eliminate that wait time as much as possible and we have the newest technology that will allows us to do just that.

Second, we are looking to expand our social media reach and visibility. We just launched HRM’s Facebook Page, so we definitely think you should all head over and check it out. Give us a ‘like’ if you dare. Even if you aren’t a part of the HRM family it will be a great place to stay up to date with everything we are doing and everything our fabulous authors accomplish.

There were five reasons HRM decided to amp things up in this way:

  1. We need to be accessible. It’s easy to have a standard contact form on our website that just filters to an e-mail address with an ever growing pile of mail waiting to be answered. Anyone can do that. It’s great to get that mail and see that your business is getting recognition enough for people to reach out to you, but the ability to follow through on those contacts in a timely manner is what really matters. We need to be able to give our potential clients answers- quickly. We want to be an open channel of communication, not a dead end. We hope that with instant conditional offers for representation, we will be better able to serve our authors and give them a brand new tool to help them reach their career goals that they won’t be able to find anywhere else.
  2. We want to be visible. We want authors and publishing professionals to know our name. We want to automatically be seen as a trusted service because well, we are! We have helped many authors advance their career over the last year and we want other authors who are looking for help to know that.
  3. Our client’s (and potential client’s) time is important. The one thing I hate the most is wasting people’s time. It’s a priceless commodity that we can never get back. If we aren’t going to be able to help you, I want you to know that right away so you aren’t sitting around waiting for a hopeful answer. If we think we can help you, I want you to know that right away as well. I want to start working with you as soon as possible so we can start accomplishing your goals together. Your book sitting in a submission pile isn’t doing anyone any good.
  4. We always need to be growing. We can’t get comfortable. Sometimes, we need to push ourselves outside our normalcy and comfort zone to truly succeed. We will never know how successful we can be if we just do the same thing day in and day out. We need to push our limits in order to see just how big we can grow.
  5. We need to have the ability to adapt. Being in the publishing industry, it’s no news to us how important the digital world has become. Therefore, we need to use the digital industry to our advantage to both grow our business and reach our desired clientele. There isn’t a person (let alone author) who doesn’t spend part of their day on some form of digital outlet. The prime way to market a business or product has become digital. You need to go where your clients are going, you need to reach the markets in which they visit every day. By making our submission process and business name more digitally friendly, we hope to reach our masses in the most appropriate way possible.

Buckle in for another innovative year and please, write on!

Things We Wish We Knew When We Were ‘Writing Virgins’

With each word, sentence, and paragraph we write we often learn something new- whether we are writing a book, article, essay, or blog post. We learn something new about ourselves, our writing style, the world around us, and the best part- how to write better. But what if we could go back in time and keep all our current knowledge? If we would write our first words knowing everything we know right now? Although impossible, it sounds enticing, right? Maybe we would all be best selling authors and award winning journalists by now. As it turns out, we shouldn’t relish on things we can’t change. Instead we should be thankful for those lessons we have learned along the way that helped us grow into the writer we are today. Hey, at least we aren’t that clueless ‘writing virgin’ anymore.

We don’t only have our own lessons to learn from, but we also have our fellow writers experiences to lean on as well. Recently, Marie Claire sat with author Kate Mosse and talked with her about things she wish she knew before writing her first book. She really seemed to nail down some crucial points and if we can’t take writing advice from a successful author herself, then who can we really trust? Whether you are a veteran writer or a ‘writing virgin’ (go ahead thank me now before you become famous… well, maybe you should really thank Kate), everyone will find something they can relate to or learn from on her list:

  1. You must tackle the blank screen.

As Kate puts it, the blank screen is your enemy. You can’t say you are writing anything until you actually have words on the page. Research, outlines, doodles, and excuses are all part of the writing process but don’t let them keep you from doing the one thing you really need to do- write.


2. Editing is where success happens. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the actual writing process because we think that if we have a crappy first draft that we are doomed from ever succeeding. But, editing is really where all the magic happens so let yourself get to that point as quickly as possible. We need time to digest our own stories and often our best ideas come when aren’t really looking for them.

3. Everyone has bad days. 

Every writer has a day (or maybe countless days) when they feel like everything they are doing is wrong and that maybe they never should of started this project in the first place. These feelings aren’t just for you ‘virgins’ out there, everyone has them. Some days you feel awesome and others you may feel completely discouraged. Just know that this is completely normal.

4. Make a plan and stick to it.

You know that feeling when you think you have the best story idea ever and then you get half way through and start to question everything about it? Yes, I know you do. Well, guess what? Don’t do that. Stick it through and keep writing. This is where the editing magic really takes place.

5. Write every day. 

Make sure you are writing something every day. Even if you only have 5 spare minutes one day, write a few sentences. You need to stay in the writing groove to make sure you stay on track.

6. No writer is the same. 

In order to be successful you need to find out what works for you. Every writer has a different time of day in which they write their best or a different writing spot that really gets their creative juices flowing. Just because it worked for one writer, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Stay true to yourself and give yourself what you need.

7. Write on inspiration, not sequence.  

You  don’t need to write your story in order- that’s the beauty of ‘copy and paste.’ If you are itching to write a particular scene, go for it. Writing is supposed to be enjoyable and the more fun you have with it, the happier you will be with the end result. Don’t force yourself into writing something you aren’t into at the moment. There’s always tomorrow for that.

8. Don’t be afraid to fail. 

Every failure leads to another success, so don’t let that get in your way of trying. If your first, sixth, or tenth story completely fails- brush it off (after you treat yourself to a nice big pity ice cream sundae). Something you learned from that experience will help you succeed in the future, I promise (and Kate does too).

Write on.

How To Query

One my favorite things about launching my own literary agency has been the flow of query letters I have received from authors. I love hearing from authors about their creative and bold stories (literature nerd, much?) and I love listening to people describe work that they are passionate about. Their energy is inspiring and their optimism contagious. Unfortunately, I haven’t had as much time as I would like in the past several months to tend to the rapidly growing submission pile in my office (insert immense apologies to those still waiting here). One of my main goals going into this spring/summer is to tackle that entire pile head on- let’s not hold our breath here but rather pray some mighty prayers to whatever higher power exists out there.

I started to dig through the pile again after a rather lengthy hiatus from it and it really hit me just how important a query letter is. This might come off as a stupid realization because well, duh query letters are super important. But, it’s not until you put yourself in the shoes of those people reading these letters that the importance really strikes you. Think about it for a second, you are faced with a pile of 100 book submissions- what’s going to make you stop and ask for more rather than tossing it directly into the ‘reject pile’? What sets one letter apart from another? What key information are you looking for?

See the dilemma of the query letter now? Yes, yes you do.


Catching an agent’s or publisher’s eye can be at times pure luck. Maybe the agent/editor has a special affinity towards your genre or writing style. Maybe they had good luck with a similar book recently. Or maybe it just sounds so different enough that it’s worth a shot. Whatever the case may be, you are one step closer to getting published and you couldn’t be happier about the opportunity.

Unfortunately, we all can’t depend on luck. Authors and writers need to take their querying seriously if they want to have even the slightest chance of getting noticed. You might feel like you are spending the same amount of time drafting a one page letter as it took you to write your entire novel. It might not feel like it at the time, but that’s a good thing. If your query doesn’t catch, your novel or book isn’t going to either. This morning I came across some helpful tips on GalleyCat that all writers should keep in mind as they are drafting their next query letter:

  1. Nail the “hook.” What’s the main point of your story? What makes your story so interesting? What makes it so different from other novels already out there? Why should the reader care about what you have to say? What does every word you put down on paper lead up to? Once you figure that out, nail it home in the query letter. Agents and editors don’t have time to read every manuscript in full, so you need to tell us what makes your story so special so maybe, just maybe we will take the time to read it. Don’t try to hide things in an effort to build suspense.
  2. Offer comparative titles. Since the agent/editor has never read your book before and is just reading a short summary of it, it’s helpful to include some comparative titles in your letter that maybe that agent/editor has already read or has at least heard about. It gives us some sort of base line to compare to and conveys the overall feeling of your story perhaps better than you ever could in your own words. Pick the right titles that actually compare to your book- you aren’t tricking anyone if you just rattle off a few bestsellers.
  3. Share your own story. The biographical section of your query letter is just as important as the summary of your book. We want to get to know the person behind the writing because that’s what helps to sells a book as well. Make sure to highlight the most interesting facts about yourself and what makes you, well… you.
  4. Acknowledge what you are looking for. Let the agent/editor know what type of relationship you are looking for with them. Are you solely just looking for a channel in which your work will get noticed? Do you want to work with them in order to improve your writing? Are you an experienced writer or are you looking for someone who will really be able to explain every step of the process to you? Neither of these options are ‘bad,’ you just need to be upfront about what you are looking for so that we can better access if we will be able to fulfill your desires.
  5. Talk about future plans. If you have other projects in the works or have ideas for future projects, include that information as well. It’s helpful to know where you want to go as an author and if we can see ourselves taking that ride with you. It’s always refreshing to hear from a writer with a vision for themselves, so don’t be afraid to share.

Write (or query) on!

The Most Dangerous Writing App- literally.

I am always looking for new writing exercises to pass onto you fabulous writers. Writing can become very tedious, which in turn can force us to become stagnant. How many times can we sit down at the same computer, at the same coffee shop, and work on the same few pages? It will make anyone go a little crazy and will eventually bring on a nasty case of writer’s block. To make sure we keep our creative juices flowing, we need to switch up our routine a bit every once in a while. Maybe we take up a bench in the park for a few hours instead of writing under the dim light of our favorite coffee spot. Or maybe we try writing at night, versus during the wee hours of the morning. Or just maybe, we take a break from our current project and focus on some freestyle writing- even if just for an hour.

This morning I came across a new (well, for me) writing app called ‘The Most Dangerous Writing App’– and it takes its name quite literally. To put it simply, you set the amount of time you want to write for and if you stop typing before time is up… everything gets deleted. It’s a web based app that you can use with any type of browser, making it very accessible from wherever you are.


At first I was horrified. How about if you pen the start to the next Pulitzer Prize novel and then you stop for just a second to take a sip of coffee and it’s GONE?! After my initial freak out of far fetched dreams, I shifted back to reality. The purpose of this app isn’t to write an amazing piece of literature, it’s to exercise and train your writing brain. Many writers struggle with finding chunks of time in their day to sit down and write. This app trains you to sit down and follow through on your commitment. If you struggle to write for more than than a half hour, set the timer for 45 minutes. Write about absolutely anything. Your day, your weekend plans, or that crazy dream you had last night. Anything- just don’t stop. Soon enough, writing for a half hour will feel easy and you can slowly work your way up writing for hours without much thought to it.

Another great benefit of the app is that it doesn’t allow for perfectionism. You have absolutely no time to go back and read what you just wrote or fix your grammar errors. If you do… well, you know- your work will be deleted. It trains our brain to be alright with getting all our thoughts out on paper without thinking about how it’s  actually sounding or what golden writing rule we just broke. Writers need to get more comfortable with the idea of a crappy first draft because to be honest, most are. It’s really hard to fully edit or tweak unfinished work. You need to have the structure of your story, the bare details, and the arc of where you are hoping to take your book laid out before you can really get down to writing. That’s hard to do if you are continually obsessing over the same paragraph. Do yourself a favor and forget about it. Continue writing and come back to it after. You will have a much clearer idea of what your purpose is and making corrections won’t seem as daunting.

Trying out this app will definitely be scary the first couple times, but I truly think only good things will come from it. As long as you don’t use it to write that book or essay you are on a strict deadline for.

Write on.

Educational Waves in Writing

Writing is one of the oldest forms of expression. It allows us to communicate with people who might be hundreds of miles away or even a complete stranger. But, over the past ten to fifteen years writing has dramatically evolved.  Simply put, the act of writing in everyday life has drastically increased. Before the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging the available writing venues were very limited. If you didn’t need to write for your job, you might write an opinion piece or letter to your local newspaper or a birthday card to a friend or loved one. You might even write in your own journal or diary, but that was likely only seen by your own eyes.

With the onset of social media, people started making daily posting about what they were feeling and thinking about at that moment, what they were doing that weekend, what vacation they were going on next, or how they felt about current events and local happenings. Twitter thrives off thousands of people writing thousands of words each day. The accessibility of blogging websites enables anyone to write about whatever they want whenever they want to. Social media gives us an instant audience that we never before had. At the end of day, if you are actively using any form of social media, a large portion of your  free time is taken up by writing. Whether you are writing heart felt realizations or complaining that your coffee is too cold, you are writing and communicating in a way that our ancestors never have.


With the increase of the importance of writing in our daily lives, I have been interested in seeing how the education of writing will change. I recently came across an article in the Columbia Spectator about Barnard’s new first year writing program.  Changing a first year college course syllabi is a difficult thing to do because it has been so ingrained in the fabric of the school’s educational experience for years. You don’t want your students to miss out on essential lessons they will need to have a successful schooling experience, but each year the students are different, their experiences are different, and the world they are coming from is different than the last. As students adapt to the world in which they live, therefore our educational system must adapt as well. The course change made at Barnard is a big step, but a necessary one. Many people can’t go a few hours without at least writing a few sentences and Barnard is recognizing a need for a change in writing education in order to prepare their students for success out in the real world.

The first-year writing program will focus more on writing technique than the previous program. There will be fewer books and more of a focus on writing instruction. It always somewhat baffled me that in a first-year English course, there wasn’t much writing at all. You maybe had two to three essays throughout the semester with no real discussion revolving around the assignments. The professor would put a few marks on the paper and you would move on. Most of the time was spent reading and discussing what we had read. Why do we neglect such a large part of our everyday lives? Writing is hard to avoid, so why do we avoid it in the classroom? Is it our pure ignorance to the changing times or are we purposely trying to set our youth up to fail? A large part of an education is learning how to be a functioning part of society and having the appropriate skills to get us from one life stage to the next. Writing is one of those skill sets we all need to succeed in today’s world. If we aren’t learning how to write in the classroom, where do we turn to next? Kim Kardashian’s next tweet? I certainly hope not.

I am very happy to see advancement in the Academic world in response to what is happening in the real world.One cannot succeed without fully accepting the other. We can talk all day on this blog about how to write, when to write, and why we should write. But, if we aren’t practicing those skills in our day to day life then when we will ever truly succeed?

Write on.