For Readers & Writers
from Susan Dennard
M&D Issue #147

January 17, 2019

What's in this heart-to-heart?

Recent Goings On:

This is the first newsletter of the year! Happy 2020!!! May your year bring all the joy, balance, and prosperity you've worked so hard for. 🎉

For those of you who missed my social media posts in December, I'm pregnant. 21 weeks, in fact, and Little Cricket is due in May 2020. (She looks like Skeletor, doesn’t she?)

Because I know how very, very painful it can be for someone in the hell that is fertility treatments—or in the dark grief of loss—to see happy pregnancy posts, I promise not to post often about my own. And when I do, please know that I see you. You are not alone.

In other news, I am DEEEEEP in drafting. It is my favorite place to be. The words are really flowing, I'm immersed in my world and characters, and I'm far enough to into the story to finally have momentum on my side. (Beginnings always take the longest for me, at least with sequels.)

What I'm Playing:

What I'm Reading:

For the DenNerds:


Free Truthwitch ebook download + 

Truthwitch ebook sale all month! has chosen Truthwitch as their free ebook of the month! You have until the end of today to download, so don't miss the chance!

OR, if you do miss out, then don't worry: the ebook will on sale for the rest of January. Only $2.99 for the whole month!

What better time to get into the Witchlands, am I right?

Or what better time to support yours truly and this newsletter...? 😇

For the Daydreamers:

Interview with Agent Barbara Poelle


For those of you who don't know Barbara Poelle, she's a veteran literary agent and vice president of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. She was a legend in the business even when I first began querying a decade ago!

She recently released a book based on her popular Writer’s Digest advice column, Funny You Should Ask, which features responses to more than 100 questions by aspiring and emerging writers, as well as writing exercises and submission checklists.

I was lucky enough get to interview Barbara today just for YOU, the Misfits & Daydreamers. I hope you'll learn something helpful from the interview perhaps check out her book.

First question! There are a lot of resource books for writers out there. What are some new components that Funny You Should Ask brings to the conversation?
There really are some great books out there, and I reference several within the pages of my own work, like Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD and Stephen King’s ON WRITING. However, I realized that while most of the books that I refer to clients and authors spend the majority of time on the craft of writing- which is of course the most important part- there seemed to be a lack of reference material about what to “expect when you’re expecting” a publishing contract.

One component that FYSA brings to the table, along with some discussion of craft, is a purposeful demystifying of the process of publication itself. Agents are not aloof gatekeepers, crossing our arms and shaking our heads, we are eager ushers, hoping to help you find your seat at the table. Editors and publishers are not the opposing team but business partners and colleagues, eager to see you succeed. And there is a lot of opportunity to have fun along the way.

So, so true. I get so frustrated when people assume agents or editors are out to ruin their books or stand in their way!
Next question: What is a common mistake debut authors make? What about seasoned authors?
Well this will be a quick one because it is actually the same thing: it is so hard, SO hard, to keep your eyes on your own paper. Your novel is unique, thus your publishing journey will be unique. Something that another debut author “gets” literally has nothing to do with what YOU should be “getting”—and that goes with seasoned authors as well.

Working toward the strengths of the novel, the author, and the intended audience looks different from genre to genre AND from book to book. It is important to stay informed and ask your agent about opportunities, but not to the tune of floor writhing because of an impression of what someone else’s opportunities are.

Ah, sage advice. Hard to follow, but I know I get better and better at it the longer I am in this industry.
Next up: What has been your biggest triumph as an agent? What about your biggest disappointment?
My biggest triumph is a reoccurring one—and that is the moment I get to call a client and let them know there is an offer on their book. There is something that happens in that moment, when a writer hears that they are moving forward into being a published author, when someone realizes that they have stepped into their dream, it’s just momentous every time.

My biggest disappointment, unfortunately, is also a recurring one: when I am not able to place a book on its publishing path. Everything I sign I assume I am going to sell and sell well, and that is mostly true. It is shattering to me when it isn’t—but I also believe that if I was selling 100% of what I signed it would mean I am not taking enough risks for clients, or for myself.
This is a good reminder. It's all too easy for authors to forget that the disappointment can be just as sharp for their agents and editors when a book doesn't find a home or perform as expected. We aren't alone in that!
Next question: What is your dream novel to represent?

Everyone is going to roll their eyes but they all are. I love all of the follies and foibles and victories of each individual journey. I love partnering with someone to help facilitate their art and broaden their audience and quite frankly, to change lives. Whether a regency romance that an exhausted nurse gets to read while soaking in the tub, or a young adult novel in which a 14-year-old in Duluth FINALLY sees themselves reflected, and doesn’t feel so alone, or a thriller that keeps a single dad up late reading for a little escapism, books change lives. And I am so honored to hold a lantern to shine the way for the writers that craft them.
I think that's the best attitude an agent can have! It's about the people and stories, not just selling another marketable book.
Last question!! What is one thing you think aspiring authors (and perhaps published authors too!) don't understand about what an agent does?
An agent—one worth her handbags anyway—is someone who treats your journey as the individual one that it is, but who uniformly feels the victories and defeats right alongside of you— sometimes even more so.  I am a sounding board, a critique partner, an advocate, a task master, a weapon, a shield, a confidant, a cheerleader and then I also sell books and negotiate contracts. Hahah. But truly, these relationships are more than a handshake and a paper trail, and the good ones can (and do!) last decades.

Amen to that!! I always tell people my agent is worth every cent of her 15% cut. She does so much more for me than simply sell my books
Thank you so, so much for stopping by, Barbara.

It's always good for ME to chat with an agent and get a reminder of what this business is really like on the non-author side—and I'm sure the Daydreamers got something out of it too.

Head here, my friends, to get a copy of Funny You Should Ask!

Upcoming Events:


I have nothing scheduled at the moment, but stay tuned!

Have a fantastic weekend, friends!

I will be writing and trying not to lose hair over Frostpunk. (Why is that game so good and SO hard?!)


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Copyright © 2019
Susan Dennard
All rights reserved.

110 West 40th St.
Suite 2201
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I'm a misfit, a daydreamer,
a fangirl, an animal-lover,
a feminist killjoy,
and a gluten-free
cookie-eater. 🐙
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