Representation: Michelle Johnson

I signed with agent Michelle Johnson in 2012, and considered her a friend as well as a literary agent helping me with my project. She gave me a lot of confidence in my work and was willing to discuss issues in depth. She was diligent about sending my Bad Fairy book out and got it in front of very big editors, but the stars did not align and the book didn’t sell.

We had some plans to take the feedback we’d been offered about fairy tale retellings and approach publishers with the second book in my trilogy instead since it has the meat of the fairy tale that everyone knows rather than reading more like a prequel. But that’s where things went a little funny with Michelle. She said she was excited when I delivered the manuscript to her and said it was going to be her top priority, and that’s the last thing she ever said to me.

She seems to have vanished under mysterious circumstances. Follow-ups were unanswered and eventually began bouncing. Her accounts went dark and websites disappeared. Other people represented by her also said they could not reach her. Some authors said they weren’t receiving their royalties because they’d been released to her and never got passed on to the authors.

She’d had some health issues toward the end of when we were talking, so I guess I suspect that she became ill and was no longer able to advocate for herself. I don’t think she would have chosen to just vanish under mysterious circumstances so it’s likely something bad happened to her but I guess I will never really know. She never said anything to me specifically (and no one associated with her ever reached out to tell existing clients what they should do), but there were a few posts around suggesting she’d become seriously ill and couldn’t carry on, and all her agency’s agents moved on.

So I thought I should say something here since I don’t want people to think she is still representing my work. In any case I haven’t been pursuing fiction publication lately and I’m sure I’ll just pursue new representation with a new book when I’m ready to try this again.

Video: Flipping the Script

Here’s a video about something uncomfortable: when authors from majority backgrounds create an excuse to write about their group as an oppressed minority.

It’s almost never a good idea to write a story with a premise like “what if men were oppressed?” or “what if black people enslaved white people?” Not only because people who write these stories tend to have an agenda and feel they’re being made irrelevant by greater equality in the world, but also because they tend not to truly understand those marginalization narratives well enough to write them convincingly. This video outlines some examples of story ideas that have done this and some thoughts on why it’s rarely advisable to do this.

Video: Plotter vs. Pantser

This video contains perspectives on the “Plotter vs. Pantser” issue: should you plot things out before you write, or should you write by the seat of your pants and see what shakes out?

I give some advice, but mostly I just explore the pros and cons of each writing approach.

Video: Research

My latest video offers perspectives on why it’s so important to collect your own observations directly when you’re researching for a book. Your take on the world is what makes your story something only you can write, so that research should be personal too!

Please watch “Research.”