Sample Pages Q&A | #ListenerQueries with Latoya C. Smith

Episode Description

Me and agent extraordinaire Latoya C. Smith answer your questions about sample pages, the submission or acquisition process, and give our best tips for writing and revising your setups! We also talk about trends and why comps are truly not your enemy. 

Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This week, we have our sixth guest episode on a segment called #ListenerQueries. I wanted my listeners and my community to have a chance to ask not only me but another industry professional their burning questions about the quarter’s topic.

#ListenerQueries episodes are all about exploring what notes or vibes agents are looking to represent and changing the narrative around comps from being a marketing must-do to a competitive tool you use to stand out, all while giving any advice we can to help you get that whipped into shape.

Me and my guest will talk about what’s selling in the market while answering your questions about craft and trends. Today, I’m joined by someone who I’ve known since 2015 and was my mentor in getting into developmental editing and publishing in general. She is a literary powerhouse with an impressive client list and also makes great editor and agent content on her YouTube channel.

She 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 and since then has had an impressive career in traditional publishing, working at Kensington, Grand Central, and Samhain. She’s been featured in Publishers WeeklyForbes, and USA Today, as well as on various author book conferences and book blogger websites. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year, the 2017 Golden Apple for Agent of the Year, and the 2017 and 2021 Literary Jewels Award for Editor of the Year. 

She now provides editorial services through her company LCS Literary Services and is a literary agent and co-founder of Arthouse Literary Agency. Welcome to the podcast, Latoya C. Smith.

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The Epic Opener to Netflix’s Vincenzo

Over the last eleven weeks, we’ve had a lot of blog posts and YouTube videos about what the setup is, the ingredients for a good one, tips for fixing it, and some things that you maybe want to save for later in your career before trying in your opening. It also needs to preface your book in a way that matches the energy of the rest of the manuscript.

This week, I really want to give you an example of what a good setup looks like—not really about having an opening line that’s super memorable, or having things in a set order, but a setup that achieves the goals of: 

  • Creating anticipation and understanding for the story to come
  • Showing your character’s momentum and depth (motion)
  • Focusing on what the known conflict is at the present time

The first thing when I thought of a good case study for setup and openings is Netflix’s Vincenzo. I watched this during the pandemic, and this show has stayed in my mind as one of my favorite K-dramas of all time.

Actually, it’s what got me into watching K-dramas in the first place, and everything I’ve watched after it struggles to match or meet my expectations (e.g. I like everything Song Joong-Ki has been in, and loved Man to Man,  but I didn’t LOVE them like I did Vincenzo). 

For the purposes of this case study, I highly recommend that you watch as you read the post. I’ve gone ahead and included the relevant timestamps so that you know when to start and stop watching and make sure that you don’t read ahead. The whole idea is for you to be able to watch and form your own expectations and conclusions, before reading mine.

I think this is a great opening because it is just so hooky and it does so much character work in a way that’s very implied and smooth (it’s so easy to brush it off as good without really diving into why it’s good). I have literally dared friends of mine to just watch the first 15 minutes and not continue watching (they all failed). 

So if mafia romance is your jam, you’re going to enjoy the heck out of this post.

Let’s do this.

Continue reading “The Epic Opener to Netflix’s Vincenzo”