Author of young adult thrillers with a twist of something strange, including The Ballad of Dinah Caldwell, How We Fall, "Godzilla Girls" (Keep Faith anthology). Talent Manager and editor with Dovetail Fiction/Working Partners. Baker. Millennial queer kid. Enthusiast. Fangirl.
I’m searching for published or unpublished authors of West African heritage to audition for the chance to write a middle grade speculative adventure novel developed by book packager Working Partners. Please share this post to help us spread the word and find the right author!
The novel is inspired by the West African myths surrounding the spider god Anansi. The start of an inventive MG fantasy series with a sense of humor, it’s a celebration of the stories we weave and the countless threads that connect us. For fans of Tristan Strong and Koku Akabi and the Heart of Midnight. More information is available after indicating interest (see below).
Writers who have the strongest chance of selection will be of West African/Ghanaian heritage and American or experienced with American culture enough to write a detailed modern-day U.S. setting. They should be skilled with MG humor and active, lively prose and enjoy a collaborative story development and editing process.
Writers may be agented or unagented, published or unpublished. Please note we are looking for writers with a vibrant, stand-out voice and strong mastery of craft. If you have not yet completed a novel and don’t widely read current MG fiction, this is unlikely to be the right project for you.
Please send (or have your agent send) the following to KateB@workingpartnersltd.co.uk :
The opening 10 pages of any fiction project that showcases the skills/experience above. Multiple samples are fine.
An author bio (a few paragraphs long) that presents you, your creative experience, and what you most love to write, along with what makes you a good fit for this novel.
Authors who could be a good fit will receive instructions to audition. I will carefully consider every submission for this call. Because I know how frustrating querying and submission can be, please do note that I cannot respond to every submission. (Though I try!)
MC: 16-year-old Flora Callanan, who wants nothing to do with horses and is grieving the disappearing Highlands she grew up in.
The author should be skilled with fantasy, action scenes, romance, and be able to write vividly and knowledgeably about horses and the Highlands. Since the project centers around Scottish kelpie myths, loss of the Highlander culture, and colonialism, we are looking for a Scottish author. Scottish authors of color are especially encouraged to apply.
Authors may be agented or unagented. Please note we are looking for writers with a vibrant, stand-out voice and strong mastery of craft. If you have not yet completed a YA novel and don’t widely read current YA fiction, this is unlikely to be the right project for you. I am happy to consider anyone’s submission, but I know how frustrating querying and submission can be, and I would hate to take up your time unnecessarily– especially because I cannot respond to every submission. (Though I do try!)
Please send (or have your agent send) the following to KateB@workingpartnersltd.co.uk :
-the opening 10 pages of any fiction project that showcases the skills above. Multiple samples are fine.
-an author bio (a few paragraphs long) that presents you, your creative experience, and what you most love to write, along with what makes you a good fit for this novel.
After working at Dovetail, Working Partners’ YA imprint, as editor for three years now, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been promoted to the talent manager for WP. This is a literary scout position where I work to pair authors with our contracts for our IP books. I do this through networking with agents, authors, writers’ organizations, and any other funnel that can lead me to authors with vibrant voices who love the challenge and perks of working as a collaborative storytelling team to make a book the best it can be.
Subscribe to this blog to stay up to date with my submission calls! I’ll be posting what I’m looking for and what kinds of books we’re baking in our creative kitchen. Please note that a primary focus of my new role is searching for authors from historically marginalized communities to tell powerful, imaginative stories for everyone.
Here’s a bit about Working Partners:
As a global leader in the creation of children’s fiction and an award-winning creator of children’s TV and apps, story is at the heart of everything we do.
Warriors, Beast Quest and Rainbow Magic are but three of the 200 book series and 2,000 titles we have created and licensed to publishers. Lifetime global sales exceed 200 million copies.
Clangers, Scream Street and Poppy Cat are just part of an award-winning roster of hit animated and live action TV shows developed and produced in house, and enjoyed the world over.
Warriors, Beast Quest, and Clangers represent part of a digital slate that has been downloaded over 16 million times as apps and is viewed on YouTube over 40 million times a month.
Everything we create has global appeal: our books are licensed in over 40 languages, our apps and our award-winning TV shows are licensed in over 140 countries.
These are all just part of our deep and constantly expanding well of intellectual property. We cover every genre, from big fantasy and horror to friendship stories and rom-coms. With some 70 new titles being created and published each year, there are always new stories with which to engage. Please visit our 2022-2023 catalogue and the full list of our books to learn more.
How We Work
We create stories both from our own ideas and to meet a specific request from publishers. We have global reach and have created series for leading publishers in China, France, Germany, Japan, and of course the UK and the USA.
We routinely spend a year developing our projects, creating meticulously crafted plots to which we attach the strongest possible writers. The result is stories beloved by readers around the world. We like to say that our development team tells the story, but the authors are the ones who get to show the story. Authors are welcome to bring their own heritage, culture, and identity to the story, as well.
Once we have a project ready for the writer, our talent manager works to match the story with the best possible voices to bring it to life. We host small rounds of auditions for each project. Once we hire an author, we ask them to write the sample pages for the proposal. We will then submit the proposal to publishers in the US and UK, via our agents at Greenhouse Literary Agency. If the book is contracted by a publishing house, the author will then write the rest of the story. After the initial English language deal is made, foreign rights will be sold by Rights People—our dedicated and innovative children’s rights-selling team.
I’ve worked at several publishing houses and literary agencies over my career, and I’m so lucky to be able to say that Working Partners has that publishing gem: a truly skilled, trustworthy, and genuinely good-hearted team. It’s a dream job for me. They truly do value work-life balance, ethical pay, and the experience of our authors. It’s why I’m willing to work in this position with them.
We do offer (modest) advances for the authors who write our books, set against the future income from the project, along with royalties from all primary territory and secondary territory deals. Working Partners and Dovetail primarily work on picture books through YA, graphic novels, and crossover concepts, with occasional adult and nonfiction projects.
Agents and authors, please do get in touch if you’re interested in working with us. And editors, if you’d like to chat about what books we have going on submission soon, please do reach out as well. We do custom projects for publishing houses as well as books created from our own team’s creativity.
To get in touch, agents please reach out to talk over email or set up a call. Authors (and agents, if you have an interested client), please send the following materials to KateB@workingpartnersltd.co.uk :
1) An author bio, including what genres, age ranges, particular tropes, and story elements they particularly love and areas in which they have expertise (baking, engineering, Australia, animal training, etc). 2) The first 10 pages of a project most closely matches the stories they’d most like to write with us. 3) If they write multiple distinct voices and age ranges, please feel free to include multiple sets of 10 pages. Please attach these materials to an email as a Word document. If I believe the author could be a fit, I’ll be in touch with more information and be able to answer questions.
More soon about what I’m looking for right now! Watch this space.
As an editor, I truly wish more authors knew it was okay to focus on their strengths. So much craft advice encourages filling in the gaps in our writing skills. Learn how to avoid soggy middles! Craft a brilliant first line! Create dynamic characters, not static ones! And if you know my subtips, you know I am a huge supporter of learning great craft. But a really vibrant skill in one area can outshine an gap elsewhere.
Gaps in our writing skills can be book killers. But these days especially, the market is looking for strengths. What do you do that’s wild and knew and beautiful? Build a book around it. Plot a book around it. Maybe you’re a genius at describing guinea pigs. Lean into that! Plot around it!
If you’re so real and funny and nuanced with dialogue, take it to the max. Concept the book around the gutting things people say to each other. Plot me a magic system built on the power of words. Make the words visual, life-changing. Make us see words in a new way.
And completely aside from what the market wants, readers often care so much more about what a book does so well they can’t quit talking about it. They’ll often forgive so many weaknesses in a story if completely immerses them through a beautiful strength.
Unfortunately, the publishing industry often teaches writers that we aren’t as good as we think we are. We’re wrong about our gaps and our strengths. Maybe this breeds humility, but maybe it also breeds insecurity. We often end up not knowing ourselves as writers, partially because of that. If you not sure of your strengths, ask other writers. Ask a few readers and librarians. Get to know your own writing. Dig into what fills you with joy about it. Think of what your favorite writers are great at, and see if it’s a strength you share.
Usually, though, if we’ve been writing for a while, we DO come to know what we’re good at. We’re just nervous to claim it.
So please, friend, claim your strengths. Lean on them. Trust them. Write your strengths with bravery and confidence. That can make all the difference.
I’ve missed this blog. I’m just now getting back to regular writing that has nothing to do with my job, and it feels wonderful to just be talking to you. As we start out the new year, I’ve got some great reasons to be updating here!
My new book is out! The Ballad of Dinah Caldwell has hit shelves, and honestly last year was hard enough I didn’t make a very big deal out of it. So I at least want to tell you about it. It’s a YA thriller with a bit of revenge, moonshine, and queerness. Kirkus Reviews even said “The evocative worldbuilding and action-packed opening will suck readers in… A thriller that takes on enduring questions of loyalty, vengeance, justice, and equity.” But this book really was eight years in the making, and everything I want to tell you about it simply falls flat. So I think I should just tell you about me, and why I wrote it, and who it’s for.
There’s a biblical story of a woman named Dinah (Die-nuh). A man wrongs her, and all the men of her community set out to avenge her. In the entire story, Dinah is swept aside. Who was she? Did she feel wronged, or did the men simply think she was? Did she want revenge, too? We don’t know. We never will. Even in her own story, she didn’t get to speak.
I wrote this book so Dinah could say her piece.
Dinah is for anyone who has ever been so angry and lost they didn’t know what was on the other side. Dinah is for anyone who ever just really, really needed to punch a man in the face. Dinah is for anyone who ever had someone shave away at their survival margins until they couldn’t even breathe. Dinah is for anyone who knows the most evil man in the world is the “good old boy” down the street.
Dinah is for the girls & enbies who’ve been constantly underestimated. Dinah is for the queer kids who just lived with their life because self was so scary, love was too much.
Dinah is for anyone who ever said, “No.” Dinah is for anyone who loved so hard they couldn’t let go. Dinah is for anyone who knows firsthand that hope is a violent thing.
If you want to hear Dinah’s story, you can read or listen to it below. Every time you do, it helps me be able to keep writing. And that’s something that’s wildly important to me. So thank you, really and truly. Storytellers have nothing without someone to tell the story to.
I hope this book helps you take a deep breath. I hope it helps you speak.
Long time no chat, readers! I have moved most of my personal content to my newsletter and to my Twitter feed so this can be an editor and publishing blog, but I wanted to let you all know something awesome in my author life: I’ve signed with an agent! It was a weird and hard but wonderful road to this point, and I’m so excited about this. The full story on leaving my previous agent, signing with my new one, and the impact of this virus on that process is in my newsletter! You can see more by signing up here.
Hello, YA Scavenger Hunters! I am Kate Brauning, the author of YA romance How We Fall–it’s the story of two cousins who fall into a dangerous relationship in the wake of a friend’s disappearance. You can find out more about it here and right now it’s ON SALE for $1.99 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Grab it before the price goes back up!
Today I’m hosting author Betsy Cornwell and an exclusive playlist for her own book, The Forest Queen, for the YA Scavenger Hunt. This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team!But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SEVEN contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GREEN TEAM–but there is also a RED, BLUE, GREEN, GOLD, ORANGE, PINK, & PURPLE team for a chance to win a whole different set of books! If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the green team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday October 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Betsy Cornwell is the New York Times bestselling author of THE FOREST QUEEN, TIDES, MECHANICA, and VENTURESS. She started writing feminist fairy tales when she was ten and has never really stopped. Betsy received her MFA in creative writing from Notre Dame in 2012, and after grad school she ran away to Ireland to live with the fairies. She still lives there now.
“An exciting and empowering fairy tale retelling starring a fierce heroine you will love cheering on.” – Bustle
From a New York Times bestselling author, a fresh, female-centered take on “Robin Hood” in which a young noblewoman, like the legendary hero, becomes an outlaw fighting for social justice.
When 18-year-old Silvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Silvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen. Perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings or anyone who loves a strong female lead, this gorgeously-written take on the Robin Hood tale goes beyond the original’s focus on economic justice to explore love, gender, the healing power of nature, and what it means to be a family.”
The Forest Queen in music
I always write to music. At a low volume, it keeps me focused, and it inspires the mood I’m trying to set in a given scene. I crafted long playlists for each of my first two books before I wrote them, but I eventually decided I was just procrastinating – now I choose a few key musicians and let YouTube or Spotify suggest new songs from there. I’ve found some of my favorite artists that way: it’s how I first heard Tia Blake, for instance, who became one of the key inspirations for The Forest Queen.
I live in the west of Ireland, which provided a huge part of my inspiration too – I share lots of pictures of my adventures in the Irish wilderness on Instagram. The lush, green, rain-and-sun-dappled landscape and the eclectic music here are both intrinsic parts of this book’s spirit.
Here are nine songs that helped me write The Forest Queen – one of them even made it into the epigraph. I love all of them and I hope you will, too.
“Now Westlin Winds” Band of Burns
“Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” Florence + The Machine
“Hard Way Home” Brandi Carlile
“This Is A Rebel Song” Sinead O’Connor
“Green & Gold” Lianne La Havas
“Hangman” Tia Blake
“Cherry Wine (Live)” Hozier
“The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)” The Decemberists
“Never Going Back Again” Fleetwood Mac
Thank you for reading! And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Betsy Cornwell, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 27. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the green team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
Enter the giveaway below for a copy of The November Girl by Lydia Kang! Open internationally to any country where Book Depository ships.
Next up in my “day in the life of an editor” posts– here’s what I do all day!
8:00-8:30: I read the Skimm for the day and this Rolling Stone interview with Janelle Monáe as she talks about Prince, her new album, her family, and coming out. I made coffee and set up my desk for the day on my kitchen bar, which I sometimes use as a standing desk.
8:30-9:00: I organize my to-do list for the day. I like to start with big projects first when my concentration power is at its best and before decision fatigue hits, but today it’s a lot of little things that need done. I use Wunderlist to keep track of it all.
9:00-10:00: I edited two queries that I occasionally do as freelance projects. (If you ever want me to take a look at yours, you can send me an email at katebrauning[at]gmail[dot]com. I charge $25 per edit)
10:00-11:00: Handled all my “ASAP” email, read Publisher’s Lunch and PW Daily, sent feedback on an exciting graphic design project a designer is creating for me! #secretwriting project
11:00-12:00: Drafting a deal announcement for Publisher’s Marketplace (Yes! That means a new acquisition! Can’t wait til this one’s public.)
12:00-1:00 Read the first 40 pages of a client’s new book while eating lunch. And I took all my plants out to the deck because it’s finally sunny and warm enough!
1:00-3:00: Staff meeting for Entangled.
3:00-4:00: Requesting pitches in #DVPit. I requested too many and my slush will not thank me for it but I do not care! Such great pitches in this event.
4:00-5:00: I had a haircut appointment. Very exciting, professional editor business. (It’s actually really nice to be able to split my workday up some like this, since I work at home.)
5:00-6:30: Dinner and a walk by the river at the park with Jesse. The sun is still up and we saw some very nice ducks so it was still worth it.
6:30-7:30: Very Exciting Subrights Emails. A lot of authors make a significant percentage of their money from subsidiary rights. Plus it usually leads to a wider audience and it’s more money made from the same work for the author, so it’s great all around. Plus more #DVPit requests.
7:30 until… I quit for bed or start reading for a critique partner: Finally getting to my main project of the day– pulling together acquisitions paperwork for TWO new series I’m going to be pitching to the acquisitions board. So that means finding comparison titles, writing elevator pitches, identifying hooks and tropes, drafting some amazing marketing ideas, pulling up sales numbers, and a whole bunch of other tasks. You can read more about what it involves in this post here! I am so excited about both of these books I can hardly breathe, so STAY TUNED.
If you enjoy this type of content and want me to do more of it, you can “take me out to coffee” by leaving a $3 tip in my KoFi (works through Paypal)! It helps me keep my online content going and helps me pay my bills. Huge thank-yous and a ton of gratitude!
Next, #subtips Twitter threads, starting with my most recent and going back to 2016. Each of these individual tweets is the start of a thread that further discusses the idea, so click the date of the embedded tweet to go to the thread on Twitter, and the rest of the content will open up for you. (I recommend right-clicking to choose “open in a new tab” so you don’t navigate away from the blog post when you click.)
Okay, Monday #subtips time! This time the topic is about agents and editors responding to your queries and the frequent lack of feedback in passes. #subtips
Time for Monday #subtips! This time, I want to chat about what makes a compelling premise. Writers sometimes pay so much attention to a compelling plot that a compelling premise gets left by the wayside. #subtips
Writers: I highly recommend watching Chef’s Table on Netflix. It’s beautifully shot and highlights wildly creative and genius chefs across a surprising spectrum. And it’s teaching me so much about writing. Not the show- the chefs. #subtips
It can be really helpful for authors to understand basics like half vs thirds advance payment structures, list vs net royalty rates, option clauses, & primary vs subsidiary rights. Interns, you can also study up! #subtips
A note on the thread below: the “not like other girls” issue I’m discussing here is different from the question of gender identity. Nonbinary people and people assigned female at birth but questioning their gender may well not feel like other girls– and that’s absolutely okay and something wonderful to show in fiction. If that’s what’s happening in your MS, it should be clear what the character is doing is questioning or exploring gender. Unfortunately, that’s often not what’s happening when a character puts down girls and lacks friendships with girls– and instead what happens is the (often accidental) sexism I discuss below:
I still see a surprising amount of "not like other girls" comments in MSs. This is easy to miss in revisions– but it's gotta go #subtips
Note: I should not have used the word “crutch” below as that implies crutches are used by lazy people who don’t want to do the work, and crutches are actually wonderful tools to help people gain mobility and independence. Crutches are good things, not bad things, so I apologize for the use here! A better statement would be “It’s overused & often an easy way out.”
Challenge: when describing your YA MC's or love interest's eyes, don't allow yourself to mention color. It's overused & often a crutch.
If you learn from all this collected work of mine, and you can afford it, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave me a tip in my online KoFi tip jar! It’s simple to use, and it’s like taking me out for a coffee to thank me. Except I can use it to pay my bills, which is great, because apparently Hy-Vee no longer accepts tweets in exchange for groceries. I really appreciate it, and it helps me keep this content free, so everyone can benefit regardless of their financial situation.
Editors and agents so often say their least favorite part of the job is delivering bad news to clients and potential clients. Authors put their hearts out there in their work, and we then have to make business decisions about it. It’s zero fun and hard for everyone. Being both an author and an editor, I know how painful it is to receive those replies that say “not for me,” “I’m sorry, but I just didn’t connect,” “I liked it, but I had to love it in order to take it on, and x was an issue for me.”
So to shed some light on why editors and agents might be saying no, I’m going to post 10 clear reasons I had to pass on a query or manuscript. One note: these may have been from this week or months ago, or even 2016. And with the hundreds of manuscripts I’m reading, it almost certainly was not yours. 🙂 So here we go!
1: Adult contemporary romance, well over 100,000 words. Not high-concept, the pace was slow in the beginning, and the wordcount tells me it’s slow throughout. Plus, the writing wasn’t emotionally engaging. Pass.
2: Adult paranormal. No central romance in this one. Entangled’s YA doesn’t need the main plot to be a romance, but for adult, it must have romance as the story spine. Pass. (This happens a lot, unfortunately. There are so many great stories out there without enough romance for our brand. It’s not a flaw, just a branding issue.)
3: New adult science fiction. Fantastic concept that immediately hooked me. Beginning started in the wrong place but I was hooked enough to fix that in edits. However, boring, slow execution of the concept, taking way too long to get what was fascinating about the concept on the table for readers. The fix would be a total rewrite, so I had to pass, with a lot of regret.
4: YA dystopian. Nothing particularly new, and one stereotypical marginalized character experiencing a lot of aggression without any meaningful nuance or deconstruction of it. Pass.
7: Adult contemporary romance. The writing isn’t ready. Pass.
8: YA SFF. I loved the voice, but the plot was weak and too many scenes didn’t move the story forward in a meaningful way. Pass.
9: NA romance. Solid plot for as far as I read but the writing and concept were too generic to stand out. Pass.
10: Adult romance. No emotional engagement for me, and the writing wasn’t ready, either. Pass.
These issues are all once that crop up multiple times a month for me in the slush pile, so one way to use this list is as checklist for your own writing. All of these things have been true of my own writing in the past–literally all of them. The good news is ALL of these things are resolvable. Books I 100% recommend to address them? Writing the Breakout Novel workbook and The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass. The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird. Master Class in Fiction Writing by Adam Sexton. There are also more targeted pieces on filter words, prose editing, and showing vs telling on my writer resources page.
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you’d like to see more posts like this in the comments.