Fangtastic Friday Welcomes Karin Harlow

In Enemy Lover, which debuted in May 2010 from Pocket Star Books, Karin Harlow makes her paranormal suspense debut with the thrilling story of undercover agents fighting for justice—and against vampires. I am pleased to welcome Karin to Embrace the Shadows today, and I know our visitors will find her story fascinating. As a special treat, Karin is giving away a signed copy of Enemy Lover to one lucky commenter (see parameters at end of post). Woo Hoo!


Former cop Angela Giacomelli (Jax Cassidy) is just about the most kickass heroine I’ve ever read. Are you anything like her?

I wish! I may be opinionated, and not let people take advantage of me, and when it comes to being a protective mama bear, I come out with teeth bared, but Jax has a set of cajones the size of Texas. I loved her the minute she opened her mouth. If I ever got into a jamb, Jax Cassidy is the first person I’d call.

The tension in your story is riveting. Did you outline every plot point, or did your characters surprise you along the way?

I’m a panster. I rarely outline. But, I knew before Jax and Marcus met on page the sparks were going to fly: and the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that Jax and Marcus were still there. (lol, sorry, but those lyrics from the Star Spangled Banner just popped into my head as I was typing.) From the beginning, Jax and Marcus owned the story.

I loved your post about finding your agent on Romance University’s site. Can you share a few tidbits with our readers?

Hold, let me go dig that blog out! Ok, here it is in its entirety! (I couldn’t bring myself to make it into tidbits )
All Agents Are Not Created Equal
Neither are all doctors, lawyers or Joe the Plummers. In every profession, there are the slugs, the duds, the hot shots and the go-to people. In every profession, there are lazies, liars, cheats and those who are just kind of dozing happily in the sunshine, not a care in the world. Then there are those who are honest, knowledgeable, hungry and Johnny-on-the-spot. Literary agents are no different.
Just because I love my agent, does not mean you will. And while the agent author relationship is one based on business and we must always remember that for the match to work, there has to be simpatico.
I cannot urge you enough not to enter into a publishing contract without the expertise of an agent. Publishers will ask for everything, they are, after all, in business. There are so many clauses, and the language can be ambiguous to one who isn’t versed in legalese. Just because it’s written in a contract does not mean it cannot be negotiated down or out. And you have the right to negotiate. This is YOUR career. Do not give it away. And please, don’t ask your real estate agent or your friend who is an attorney to look over your contract and give their seal of approval. At the very least, if you cannot find an agent you’re comfortable with, please do yourself a huge favor and call literary agent and contract attorney Elaine English. For something like 300-400 bucks, she will review the contract and she will advise
All agents are not created equal. Some will lay down and roll over, some will fight tooth an nail. Some will get you some things but not all things. Not that the best agent in the world can get you everything, there are deal breakers. Some agents are wimpy and will encourage their authors to speak on their own behalf to their editor about things not pertaining to the actual story. I have a problem with this. While I won’t tell you her exact verbiage, when I signed with my agent, she boiled it right down to, “You be the artist and worry about the book, let me be the beotch and I’ll deal with everything else.” And so it is.
There are small boutique agencies and there are the big high-profile agencies. There are the agencies that are just a one man or one woman show. There are pros and cons for each.
I personally like a big agency behind me. My agency has agents who a handle all sub rights. These include but are not limited to foreign, audio, Hollywood, etc. They have a legal department and a marketing department. The agent’s assistants are not agent wannabes, they are employed solely to assist the agents.
I think going with a junior agent at a prominent agency is not a bad thing. I think going with an established agent with a good track record who branches out on their own is a good thing. I think someone who has limited experience and decides to throw up a shingle is not a good thing. Buyer beware. Listen to your gut. It’s never wrong
Many agents bundle submit. This is where they package a bunch of work and send it off to an editor. And it usually sits. There are such things as agent slush piles. Frankly, I don’t care to be grouped with a bunch of other authors in a package and sit. I want my agent to have the clout to make a phone call that will be taken, chat me up, then follow up the conversation with the work for a quick read. But not all agencies are created equal. Not all agents have the ears of the editors.
This is why it is imperative to do your homework before you query. I had an author ask me the other day how I liked my agent because she had offered representation. Not the time to be asking questions. Ask your questions before you submit! Why blindly cast your net out there? What happens if you get an eel, are you going to take the eel up on their offer for representation because they offered? Or are you going to toss that sucker back into the water and keep fishing for what you came for?
There is one hard and fast rule that I should have mentioned first and foremost: Money flows from the publisher through the agent to the author (and, yes, split accounting is not uncommon, but some agents get offended if you ask for it. IMHO that’s their problem. The publisher would rather not, more bookkeeping for them, but they do it, providing it’s all set up at contract time. Not after.). Money does not flow from the author to the agent. Never pay your agent for editing, reading, book doctoring. If an agent refers you to the aforementioned (book doctor or pay to edit) hang up the phone, and get an unlisted number! With the exception of your agent’s industry standard of 15% domestic sales and 20% foreign, there should be no exchange of money from you to them. Some agencies charge authors for postage and misc office expenses. I have a problem with that too. To me that is their cost of doing business that should come out of the 15% you pay them, not your cost of doing their business on top of their agency fee. However, many would beg to differ. If this is the case with an agent you have queried and done your homework on and whom you really want to represent you, fine, set an annual amount, in writing, which should not exceed a couple of hundred bucks, and have the agent reimburse you when she sells your ms. Many would beg to differ there as well. I’m just putting it out. For the record, most literary agents do not charge a dime for doing their job until there is a sale at which time they take the appropriate %.
I personally would not agree to more than a 30-day termination with my agent. Anything longer is preventing you from hooking up with the agent, you’re replacing the old one with. And be professional. Send a registered letter at the very least. Don’t be surprised if your soon-to-be-ex agent blows up on you. They are human after all, and I have seen some so-called ‘professionals’ act very unprofessional. That said, if there is trouble brewing, or concerns looming, and if there is a fixable issue with your agent, communicate your concerns, give him or her the chance to explain/defend and make better. Don’t be rash. But, sometimes, just like in life, relationships can and do run their course and its time to move on. Be professional. Always.
So, I asked my agent the other day about two houses that I had heard were not accepting paranormal submissions. Her response paraphrased: “I haven’t heard that House A and B aren’t looking for paranormal, but I haven’t gone out with a new paranormal in a while. I know several agents who have recently sold para’s and I know House A bid on a few of them.” We both agreed that we thought perhaps people were being told this when the house/s aren’t interested in an actual project. My agent followed up with: “If they read a para and it blew their socks off, they are going to buy it or try and buy it, believe me…” I believe her. She went on to say, “Overall, I think publishers are being uber-selective about anything they buy in any genre…I think houses are open to buy anything, any genre as long as it stands out as fabulous.
“Publishers are looking for contemporary stories with romantic themes but also family themes –like a series where each book takes place in a particular community or town or something.” But my agent has good luck selling all genres lately. She has done contemporary deals, historical deals, romantic suspense deals, paranormal deals, erotic deals and women’s fiction deals in the past six months. My agent is happy.
What has she had difficulty selling? “’chick-lit-y’ books” – even if she loves them, she feels like she has trouble selling them.
I asked her what her biggest pet peeve was: (lol and this is a conversation we have had many many Many times!) “My biggest agent pet peeve is that authors choose to believe as fact, things they hear from other authors or from blogs, etc…and often walking away thinking they are somehow getting screwed because they aren’t getting “x, y or z” which they heard someone else is getting… You can’t know someone’s situation unless you are actually in it. There are two sides to every story. Take everything you hear on blogs, etc with a grain of salt. Writers also need to remember this business is not personal, it’s business. It’s about numbers. One author isn’t going to get more than another author just because the publisher or editor “likes” them more than another author.”
What should an author expect from her agent? “Authors need to find an agent they trust and work together with them to grow/build their careers. Just because an author has past experience in business (not in publishing) does not make them an expert in business. Agents are a great resource if they are good, authors need to use that… that doesn’t mean an agent is always right, but working together as members of the same team is going to work a whole lot better than alienating people…. And even if an author is upset, it’s nice to try and still treat people with respect… it’s really upsetting to work really hard on an authors behalf and get treated without the most basic forms of common courtesy… THAT’S BAD BUSINESS believe me!

You’re a cop’s wife. How has that influenced your take on life?

Yep, it’s opened my eyes to a lot of BS. I learned quick not to believe anything I read in the paper or saw on the evening news. The media twists the facts and holds back pertinent information for the sake of sensationalism. As a cop’s wife, I know things that the average person doesn’t know. For the most part, even when a cop makes a mistake, it was done for the right reason. And I respect that. That said, there are some men and women in blue who have no right putting on the uniform.

What’s next in your L.O.S.T. series?

I’m working on book two, Nikko Cruz’s story. He’s big, he’s bad, he has serious trust issues and he not only has to face the woman who ripped his heart out and tossed it to the vultures, but work with her to recover stolen U238. When he finds out she’s half daemon, all, Hell, literally, breaks loose. Talk about explosive chemistry. Those two have their work cu tout for them.

Where can readers contact you?

I’m everywhere. Facebook, twitter, There’s a contact link on my website. I love hearing from readers!

Oh, also, I’d love to give away a signed copy of ENEMY LOVER to a lucky commenter, just ask me a question about writing or the industry and I’ll be happy to answer!

Thank you for the invitation to hang out today!

21 Responses to “Fangtastic Friday Welcomes Karin Harlow”
  1. Welcome to EtS today, Karin, it’s so nice to have you here!

  2. Thanks for all the practical information Karin. How long did it take you to query and get the offer of representation from your agent?

    • Harlow says:

      Hi, Victoria!

      When I Landed my agent, I had a contract on the table (I also write as Karin Tabke and it was under that name that I landed my agent) so she took me right on, but the caveat was: I didn’t want an agent who took me on just for the sale, which she was of the same mind. So, it worked out.

      In today’s crazy times one really must have a fabulous fresh story that is well written to snag a good agent. At conference this past July I met a fairly high profile agent. I asked her: “So what are you looking for right now? I have several writer friends who are fabulous but are having a hell of a time getting an agent.” (lol, I’m always pimping my peeps!)
      Her response: “Are they geniuses?”
      “Um, no. But they’re really good.”
      “Then don’t waist my time. I’m only looking for geniuses.”

  3. Suzanne Rock says:

    Welcome to EtS Karin! Nice to have you here. I really liked your words on choosing an agent. Many people throw wide nets when searching, and don’t take into account how they will work together. Thanks for the information!

  4. Bonnie H says:

    Hey Karin!! *waves* Thanks for sharing – and I’m with you, Jax would be the person I’d want to have my back!! I LOOOOVE this book, read it 4 times – I’m TOTALLY in lust with Marcus *drool* Can’t wait for Nikko’s story!! YUM
    Don’t enter me in the contest, I already have my (dog-eared) copy ;0)

  5. Talia says:

    Wow. It’s always nice to learn from a fellow author who’s further into the “game”–especially one with a good head on her shoulders. Now I don’t feel like such a crank for insisting that I pay nothing for an agent.

  6. Harlow says:

    Hi, Suzanne! Glad you enjoyed the info. I can talk agents all day long!

  7. Virna says:

    I love this book, Karin! Jax has cajones but also vulnerability and strength that she shares with Marcus, allowing him to be multi-faceted, as well. Can’t wait to read all the other LOST books!

  8. Kari Thomas says:

    Hi Karin! OOH, love that cover! And the Interview/Article was very interesting! Your book(s) sound like MY kind of favorites, so raising my hand here on the Giveaway Contest! How long did it take you to find an agent? Did you go through several, or was it your first choice? Do you think having an agent is a given for authors?

    Thanks, and HUGS,
    Kari Thomas
    “Kari’s Korner Reviews”

    • Harlow says:

      Hi, Kari!

      I love the cover too. LOVE. IT! It took me years to find an agent. Why? because the work I was submitting wasn’t publishable. Not even close. I kept at it. Writing, writing and more writing until finally everything clicked. I have had only one agent and have no plans of looking for another. I’m in very capable hands. As far as having an agent? I would not, nor would I ever, advise anyone to enter into a contract without an agent. A good one. A bad agent can ruin your career before it launches.

  9. Knicole says:

    Hi Harlow!
    I read Enemy lover and I loved it. I picked it up because of the cover and now I can’t wait for the rest of the series. Do you know if they will be released?

    • Bonnie H says:

      Hi Knicole – Bonnie here, Karin’s assistant. She is unfortunately dealing with a family emergency so I hope you don’t mind if I answer your question – Book Two is Nikko Cruz’s story and it will be released some time next year – I can’t wait!

  10. sue brandes says:

    I have heard so many great things about your book. I love this cover. Really enjoyed your post.
    How many books will there be in this series? Do you have any other books in the works that you can talk about? Please include me in your giveaway. Thank you.

    • Bonnie H says:

      Hi Sue! Once again, Bonnie here – Karin’s assistant. She is still dealing with a very difficult situation, hopefully it’s alright with you if I answer your question.
      We’re not sure exactly how many books there will be – hopefully all the L.O.S.T. operatives will get their story told. For sure Nikko Cruz’s story will be released some time next year. To keep up with all her latest, check out her website – where you will find links to her Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter accounts which are updated regularly 😀

  11. Bonnie H says:

    The winner has been chosen! Thank you so much to everyone for your questions and comments 😀 Please visit Karin on the web at for upcoming news, contests, etc.
    SUE BRANDES you are the winner!! I will be emailing you shortly to get your information.
    Thanks again everyone here at Embracing the Shadows for letting Karin visit with y’all!!

  12. sue brandes says:

    Hope everything is alright. Big hugs to her.

  13. sue brandes says:

    Wohoo! Thank you! I cannot wait to read this book! Replied to your email.

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