One mistaken assumption that I've noticed some newbie writers making: Sending out their writing too soon, assuming that the editor who buys their short story (or novel, etc.) is going to be helping them polish the piece anyway.
DO NOT DO THIS.
Never, ever send an mss out just after you've finished it. Put it away for a few days (a few weeks at least, for a novel). That way you'll be able to reread more objectively, without the rosy glow of "omigosh this is brilliant just wait until publishers see this."
I'm a foodie, so often think in terms of food analogies. In this case, it would be sort of like a first-time restauranteur opening before they've perfected their dishes. Turn off the restaurant critics early on, and you make it tougher for yourself longterm.
If you're a new picture book writer, this is even MORE vital. Why? Because I've noticed that many non-pb writers assume that writing a picture book is easy because there are fewer words, that it's something they can do on the side for extra money while they work on their "real" books.
Vaguely related side note:
Others may differ, but I also advise NOT giving it to your critique group to read too soon. Why? Because there is a real value in getting feedback from someone who is reading the piece for the first time. Yes, there's a value in getting feedback for a rough version so you can polish it before sending it out to an editor. Be aware, however, that after the first critique, your crit partners will likely be giving feedback on your revisions rather than an overall first-time impression.
Respect your readers, before and after publication.
STATUS: Working though 245 emails in the inbox. You can't hide from me!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DON'T STOP by Foster The People
An yet, writers always have some confusion on what is the difference between a pitch and a query. Seems like a good topic to tackle (as I can already see a myriad list of sub-questions within this topic).
Let's start with the basics.
A query is a professional business letter that introduces your work to an agent or editor. These days, this letter is sent by email rather than snail mail. In the query letter, you will have something called a pitch paragraph. The query letter will also contain an introduction and the author's bio or credentials. It will be one-page long.
A pitch is the verbal delivery of the main pitch paragraph from your query letter. In other words, you need to have a quick way to sum up the opening plot catalyst of your novel in a sentence or two while talking to someone. That way your audience gets a clear and immediate gist of what your novel is about.
Here's a great example from a novel I just sold by David Ramirez called MINCEMEAT. It's a good example because in this instance, I actually did something unique. I pulled out the pitch from the main pitch paragraph. I don't always do that but I did so in this instance. Also, when I was in New York in May, I verbally PITCHED this work to editors using the one sentence pitch highlighted in pink.
Here's my submit letter to editors--which in essence is the agent's QUERY letter to editors (to draw a comparison to what writers are doing when they approach agents):
It's pretty rare that I send an email about a manuscript submission that I can sum up in a one sentence pitch. Trust me, I tend to be wordier than that!
But here it is:
All that is left of humanity is on a thousand-year journey to a new home aboard one ship, The Noah, and this ship is carrying a dangerous serial killer.
Intrigued? I hope so. At its heart, the concept for this SF novel MINCEMEAT by David Ramirez is quite simple but what unfolds is layer after layer of complexity.
Since most editors prefer I don't leave it at one sentence, here's a little bit more about the manuscript:
Priss Dempsey is a City Planning Administrator on the Noah, a vessel carrying the last survivors of Earth on a thousand-year journey to a new home. She is equal parts psychic, economist, hacker and bureaucrat, a vital part of the mission, but her life seems to lose purpose after she experiences Breeding Duty. Kept asleep through the impregnation and birthing that all women are obligated to undergo, she still feels a lost connection to the child she will never be permitted to know.
Policeman Leonard Barrens approaches her with a request for hacking support in the unofficial investigation of his mentor's violent death. Only Barrens knows that a crime has been committed because he came across the mutilated remains before Information Security could cover it up. To everyone else, the missing man was merely "Retired," nothing unusual.
Their investigation takes them through the lost dataspaces in the Nth Web and deep into the uninhabited regions of the ship, where they discover that the answer may not be as simple as a Mincemeat Killer after all. And what they do with that answer will determine the fate of all humanity.
STATUS: Another Gorgeous day! Repeat yesterday's status.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LADY IN RED by Chris de Burgh
Or maybe you didn't but are a glutton for punishment anyway. I'm doing my very popular Agent Reads The Slush Pile as an online Webinar coming up on May 2, 2012 6-8 pm MST.
If you can't make it to Denver for the LitFest version of this webinar put on by Lighthouse Writers (where the price is not to be believed but the travel to get there might be rough!), here's your chance to finally experience it for yourself.
Have you ever wondered how an agent reads the fiction submission slush pile? What an agent is thinking during the first opening pages? What makes an agent stop and what makes an agent read on?
If you have ever wished to be a fly on the wall during that process, this workshop is your chance to get the inside scoop without metamorphosing.
Literary Agent Kristin Nelson will read the first 2 pages of any submission, the “slush pile”, and give honest feedback as to why she would or would not read on for the sample pages in front of her.
A couple of things before you click on that button:
1) This webinar is not for the faint of heart. It's brutal. Now trust me, I will be as helpful and honest as possible. This is not to ridicule writers. But don't kid yourself, it will be tough. If you are feeling fragile or that feedback might crush your writer dream, now is not the time for this workshop. If you are tough as nails, just about to submit, want an immediate honest response, then this might be worth doing.
2) It needs to be the actual, opening first 2 pages of your manuscript. If you have a prologue, skip it and grab page 1 and 2 from your chapter one.
3) We can't promise to read every single entry but we are definitely going to try. If I only have a few left over, I'll respond on the sample pages and we can send to those writers privately. Right now, I know we can get through them all.
4) You can "audit" the class. Sign up to be there and listen in but you don't send on the 2 pages. This is for those who are curious about it but not ready to have sample pages read.
If you've ever wondered how an agent could make a decision so fast on whether to read on or not or to ask for pages, this webinar will definitely answer that question!
STATUS: Another phone conference in 20 minutes! Must blog quickly.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOWDOWN by Boz Scaggs
Blog readers, have I got special treat for you today. If you ever wondered what the editor rejections looked like for a book that has shown every sign of coming out of the gate wildly popular, well today is your lucky day.
Today is the official release day for Kristen Callihan's FIRELIGHT.
I've blogged before about the fact that I almost could not sell this book. And today, Kristen has given me special permission to share her rejections.
But let me preface this.
This debut novel has received two starred reviews (Publishers Weekly and Library Journal) and top pick at any number of romance sites, too many to list here.
When we sent the novel out to already established and successful authors to read with an eye for a possible blurb, we had our fingers crossed that maybe we'd get one or two responses.
Every author on our list read and blurbed it:
"Callihan has a great talent for sexual tension and jaw-dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end.”
—Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of Outlander
"A sizzling paranormal with dark history and explosive magic! Callihan is an impressive new talent." —Larissa Ione, New York Times bestselling author of Immortal Rider
"Evocative and deeply romantic, Firelight is a beautiful debut. I was fascinated from the first page." —Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author of the Guild Hunter Series
“Passionate and sizzling, beautifully written and dark. This unique paranormal twist on the beauty and the beast tale rocks!”
—Elizabeth Amber, author of Bastian The Lords of Satyr
"Kristen Callihan delivers a dark, lush offering to fans of gothic and paranormal romance. With a deliciously tortured hero, an inventive supernatural mystery, and slow-building heat that simmers on each page, Firelight is a sexy, resplendent debut. I can't wait to see what Kristen Callihan comes up with next!"
—Meljean Brook, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Duke
"This book has everything: sword fights, magic, despair, a heroine with secret strengths, a hero with hidden vulnerability, and best of all, a true love that's hot enough to burn the pages. I couldn't stop reading. This book is utterly phenomenal."
—Courtney Milan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Unraveled
Sinkers and Floaters.
This summer we made an entire fleet
of homemade boats.
We wanted to see which would be the most seaworthy.
If you're an artist or writer, you may be able to relate.
How do you view what you've made -
or tiny pieces of your soul?
Too often as a writer,
I send out tiny pieces of my soul I like to call
My manuscript souls wobble out into the blue -
some of them proud and brave,
others nervously checking their rigging,
desperate to sail smooth waters.
But when those manuscript soul pieces,
(dare I call them horocruxes?)
hit bad seas
STATUS: I'm feeling a tad riled up.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MY HEART BELONGS TO ME by Barbara Streisand
Holy cow! Can't believe I missed this article yesterday. I'm so glad an agent friend forwarded to me. Take a moment to read it and tweet it on but in short, it's an appeal to support literature with gay and lesbian characters and the fact that there are some appalling agents and editors out there who are making requests that the writers make a gay character straight.
Seriously? What year are we in?
I cannot tell you how delighted I was to see a link to a list of YA literature that features gay/lesbian characters and my author Sarah Rees Brennan's THE DEMON'S LEXICON series was on it.
This author of mine is brilliant. It's a wonderful series and her new trilogy that I just sold to Random House also has an absolute kick-a** gay/lesbian main character. The first book UNSPOKEN publishes in fall 2012.
Not to mention, I have a Monica Trasandes' debut adult literary novel coming out in spring 2012 from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. It's called BROKEN LIKE THIS and features three main protagonists: a bisexual character, a gay/lesbian character and a straight male character (had to throw that last one in there-LOL).
A multicultural author to boot. I'll tell you right now it was a tough sell but I loved the novel and I sold it.
So add these to your wish lists if you want to show support via your buying dollars. If I had cover art or anything yet for these two titles, I'd post it here but we are in the middle of the cover design and the buy links aren't available online yet.
And let's not forget the incredibly brilliant, witty, impeccably dressed and extremely powerful Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate series.
I must admit it never occurred to me to add to my agency's submission page that we are open to accepting material with LGBTQ characters because I kind of thought it went without saying but I'm rethinking it now.
Feel free to link to this blog post that it's a-okay with us and I have NEVER asked an author to change a character's ethnic background or orientation.
And because we are talking about multicultural too, check out my author Kimberly Reid's debut YA novel MY OWN WORST FRENEMY. It's an African-American urban Nancy Drew series. I mean, just how cool is that?
Note: LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning.
Status: I only own an umbrella for when I’m in New York. So ready for the perpetually sunny skies of Denver.
What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? MYSTERY by Anita Baker
Even though we agents and editors have seen this phenomenon repeat itself for years, it still strangely takes us by surprise.
Sometimes a theme or a type of story will hit the cultural zeitgeist and suddenly we will see a slew of submissions that have very similar story ideas.
And I’m not talking about obvious trends. For example, in Young Adult, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that paranormal romance has been “hot” for a while (thank you Twilight). Then the Hunger Games took off and dystopia became the new trend. As titles released in that, the latest is now SF or speculative fiction.
These are popular trends.
This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about storylines that suddenly start popping up that are potentially outside of these trends but for some reason, the stories all hit our submission inboxes around the same time.
For example, over the last 6 months, there have been a lot of queries and sample pages for fairy tale retellings (and this started happening before Little Red Riding Hood and Beastly hit the screen).
I was out to lunch with a children’s editor yesterday and for him, he had suddenly s
By: Darcy Pattison
Blog: Darcy Pattison's Revision Notes
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I’m having a submissions day. This is true: a manuscript that is only in a drawer or only a file on your computer will not sell. It’s only when you send out a manuscript to an editor that you get a contract, a sale, a publication.
Last year, I talked about reevaluating my career and the market place and how that led to a new picture book, Prairie Storms. It’s a story about a year on the prairie and how the wildlife survives the prairie storms.
Coming August, 2011
I’m excited to say that Sylvan Dell will be publishing a companion book, DESERT BATHS. This follows desert animals through a 24-hour period and shows how they take baths. The same illustrator, Kathleen Rietz will be working on this story. Look for it in 2012.
Meanwhile, a sale doesn’t mean that you STOP submitting. Here are some other tips on submissions.
- Why Rejection Should be Your Goal
- Are You Still Submitting Before Revising?
- Are You Still NOT Submitting?
- Are You Still Submitting Blind?
- Are You Still Singly Submitting?
- Are You Still Not Tracking Submissions?
- The Biggest Mistake in Submitting a Picture Book
- 8 Sources of Market Info
- Test Submissions
- How To Contact an Editor
- Q&A: How Do I Find an Editor’s Name for Submission
- 10 Ways to Deal with Rejection
Sunday, June 26, 2011. 8-10 am.
ALA Conference in NOLA.
I'd love to know more about your road to publication and how you found your agent.
I started writing in earnest almost thirteen years ago. This was before blogging and Facebook and critique groups on-line (at least that I knew of). I did a lot of stumbling around for years, learning through my mistakes, from the how-to guides I found at the library, and from the middle-grade novels I read and shared with my students.
During those years I'd faithfully send out queries to publishers who accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Most of the time my work would be an exclusive submission, and I would wait month after month for those rejections to come. I can still remember anticipating the mail, the surge of hope that accompanied every SASE in the mailbox, and the frustration that after months and sometimes years on submission, the answer was always no.
Because children's authors can still get published without an agent, I never consistently pursued one until 2009. I had just decided to stop teaching and try out writing full time, without a book deal, agent, or lead of any sort (yes, really). I queried a number of books to a number of agents, trying to match my books to each agent's preferences and got a good number of requests for fulls and partials. My strongest piece, this little verse novel thing, was one I only sent to a select few because honestly, who would want to represent a quiet literary historical for kids?
After a few months of this, I decided I had to shop my best work. Whether is was salable or not, it was what I believed in, and I hoped it would attract someone who could see beyond its non-flashy surface to the story beneath. With my focus just on MAY B., more agents responded, and long story short, I signed with the super-wonderful Michelle Humphrey, who had just the right combination of risk, enthusiasm, and hard work to sell MAY B. at auction.
I found Michelle through Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents blog. By the time I signed with her, I had received seventy-five agent rejections and over two hundred editor rejections over eleven years.
How is the reality of achieving your dream different than the dream itself?
The reality is one hundred times better. It's harder, too, but in a really, really good way. I've learned so much about writing this past year. Going through the revision process has been like going back to school, except this time around I've got the advantage of having my instructor's undivided attention, interest, and commitment. Even that rough patch, when my book was homeless for a few weeks, as
STATUS: Is if Friday yet? Dang. Not yet…
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAKE MY BREATH AWAY by Berlin
On what she’s looking for. And I’m loving this list. I’d be happy to see queries from writers for anything she mentions. Bring it on.
1. Contemporary YA where the heroine is not a victim.
2. Witches, MG or YA, dark or light
3. SF YA
4. Multicultural SF or fantasy
6. Strong novels with gay protagonists
8. Novels with the perfect blend of literary and commercial that will get starred reviews, win awards, and land on the Times list.
Oh that’s not asking for much! I’m getting right on that last one. *grin *
STATUS: Spent a little time this evening working through some leftover computer conversion kinks. We are almost there.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing At the Moment
Because I’m not on twitter, I only found out today that YA author LK Madigan had passed away from cancer.
I have to say that the news made Sara and I rather sad.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reading her YA novel FLASH BURNOUT while it was on submission. I remember this vividly because Sara wasn’t taking on clients at the time but she really advocated for this author.
And Lisa was lovely and so professional.
I didn’t take her on as a client and she went on to find a wonderful and enthusiastic agent. And this may sound odd, but over the last two years, whenever we heard news about her debut novel, I’d say, “remember that manuscript? And Sara would say, “I told you so” (not really as Sara isn’t the kind of person to say such a thing) but you get the picture.
It was one of those novels that we remembered vividly, even years later, and could now poke fun at ourselves on being wrong about.
Which leads me to a point I made at the San Miguel Writers Conference last week.
When you get a rejection, you just have to remember that ALL writers received them at least at once in their careers and where you are today as a writer is not necessarily where you’ll be a year from now. That you will always be learning, growing, and maturing as a writer.
Being a writer is about the journey. Embrace it.
Status: Doing Client reading.
What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? IS THIS LOVE by Bob Marley
1) What happens if you can’t sell a book to a publisher?
If we have exhausted all possibilities, I’ll put aside and concentrate on the author’s next work. If the next sells, that always allows us to revisit the prior novel. Sometimes the decision is made to let the past be the past and simply move forward.
2) How do you know if a writer’s idea is a good one?
Not a clue really. All I know is what I like and what really resonates with me. I’ve had the good fortune of having what I like generally match up with what editors like and are willing to buy. Just like every other agent in the world, I’m not 100% right all the time. Sometimes I love a book and can’t sell it.
3) If Hollywood has bought the film rights, does the author get a share in the profit?
The sad news is that in general, the author does not get a share in the profit. Although all film deals will have the standard “5% of 100% of net,” most Hollywood films will never show a profit because of how studios manipulate the accounting. It’s worse than the mafia. So agents often build in a lot of ways for the author to make money on the film deal that aren’t tied to “profit” so loosely defined. The option price, the purchase price, bestseller bonuses, box office bonuses etc. These are payments that are not contingent on the film making money.
However, some authors do get a share in the profit. That is not a percentage based on net but a percentage based on a cashbreak point on gross.
A very different thing. Also, it is possible to put merchandizing in a separate pool with a separate percentage. Good money to potentially be made there as well.
4) Can you publish your book yourself or do you have to have a publisher?
Of course you can publish a book yourself! That’s not the right question though. Anyone can self publish; the question is distribution and how to get folks to read what you self publish.
5) How do you decide if the cover art is good?
I have to say that cover art is not my strength as an agent. I have no background in art and not much of a creative vision. However, I do know what I like and what I don’t like. If I don’t like it and neither does the author, I fight like crazy to get it changed.
6) Do publishers show animation for cover concepts?
No. But wouldn’t that be cool?
7) What happens if more than one publisher wants the book?
Then you have an auction my friend! As an author, it’s always the best place to be. However, I do think that writers have a misconception that all auctions equal big money. That is not necessarily true. You can have modest auctions that are in low five figures.
By: Kristin Nelson,
Blog: Pub Rants
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STATUS: Blessed quiet day. I only spent an hour on the phone.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BIGGEST PART OF ME by Ambrosia
It’s rare these days but some editors, especially those acquiring in genre fiction (such as SF&F or romance), will accept submissions directly from authors. When that happens, as a writer, know that you can only send the project to an imprint once.
Why might you ask?
For several reasons actually. First being that editors who take submissions directly log those submissions. So if one editor has passed, it will be on record so that pretty much nixes it for any other editor at that imprint.
But you also can’t resend for a more practical reason of how acquisitions occur at publishing houses. Let’s say a senior editor reads and passes on it. Then the writer sends to a new-ish editor at the same place (thinking they are more hungry to acquire).
Well, even if that newer editor loves it, she’s going to have to get second reads and support to take it to ed. Board. Well, if that senior editor nixed it and then it pops up again, well, it’s going to get shot down again. And on top of that, the newer editor is not going to have very warm feelings toward you for putting her in an awkward position.
So, resist the temptation and if you are submitting directly, make sure you pick the best editor first time around as you really only have the one shot. And of course, good luck.
STATUS: Hey, winter decided to show up, briefly, in Denver today. It snowed. I already miss out near 60 degree weather already.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? GIVE PEACE A CHANCE by John Lennon
The Gals of Killer Fiction (all former Dorchester authors) are giving away free eBooks because finally, it’s their books to give away. (For the history, click on this link.) Two of my authors, Jana DeLeon and Leslie Thompson are participating. Nothing wrong with the word “free” in this case so you might want to check it out.
And that leads me to back to some more fun facts to share.
Lucienne Diver—was already publishing under a pseudonym when I convinced her to do the Vamped Series in her own name.
Carolyn Jewel—has never missed a deadline (which has me convinced that she has mastered the art of cloning)
Leslie Langtry—was skeptical of literary agents and gave me the most detailed questions I’ve ever received when offering representation. And if you know Leslie, who is probably the author most likely to buy you a beer and hug you, you’d realize just how strange that is!
Marie Lu—was an attendee I met at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. She submitted sample pages to her first novel which I passed on (sensing a theme here!). Then I took her on for a novel that I wasn’t able to sell. Now her debut YA, LEGEND, is one of Penguin’s big books for this fall. Talk about paying some dues.
Time for bed but more tidbits tomorrow!
STATUS: Why does the phone ring only after I’ve stepped out of the office?
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? YOU SANG TO ME by Marc Anthony
This week I went on submission with an SF novel. Ask any editor and they will tell you, SF is not hot. Fantasy is hot—particularly urban fantasy. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to blog readers if you track PW or NYT bestseller lists.
It’s not like I’m revealing some deep and hidden secret here.
And here’s where my passion for the project means everything. If I were smart, I wouldn’t take on an SF novel from a debut writer. Even if I do sell it, the money I’ll earn from it will barely pay the agency’s electric bill for three months.
Plain and simple. That’s the reality.
But I love SF. Grew up reading it. In my mind, some of the most important novels published in the last 20 years have been in this field so I did it anyway. Because I felt a passion for the story that I didn’t feel for the YA project I decided to pass on earlier this week (and will probably sell for more money than this SF novel will).
That’s the only way I can be in the game. I know writers hate hearing that agents or editors need to feel “the love” but folks, selling novels is not an easy biz. (Which, by the way, is why most agents don’t specialize in fiction but instead focus on nonfiction to build lucrative client lists).
We also want to take on authors for their whole careers. If we agents can connect with their writing at the passionate, visceral level, then chances are good we are a good fit for future work to come.
Last year I took on a YA author for a historical novel that I could not sell (and I still think editors were crazy not to buy it). But the writing… I still can read that unsold novel and fall in love with the author’s talent all over again. So we pushed on and got going on the next work. And it was that next project that sold. At auction.
Passion was the key—for me and for that author. And if I can’t sell this SF debut, then I already believe in the next work.
STATUS: It’s actually a gorgeous day in Colorado. 70 degrees and we are almost to the end of October! I want to pop out early and take a long walk with Chutney. I’ll work more tonight.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DO YA by Neil Nathan
When I was out in New York, I was super pleased to hear this little tidbit of news from two editors at two different publishing houses. It used to be that in the children’s realm, an agent could only submit to one children’s imprint at a time under the larger corporate umbrella.
In the adult realm, we never did this. We’d submit to all imprints and just make sure the editors in the same house knew who else had it.
Well, it was considered a no-no in the children’s realm (Sidenote: I often did what I wanted anyway and submit simultaneously if I thought the project was right for more than one imprint. I did get reprimanded a couple of times, but what are they going to do? Not allow me future submissions?)
Anyway, to get back on topic, I’m super thrilled to hear the news because of course I’m not interested in deliberately annoying people. I just thought this rule was rather dumb.
What if I submit to one imprint at let’s say XYZ Children’s and the project moves fast (as in lots of editors interested) but that particular XYZ editor passes on it. Well, now there is no time for me to ping another XYZ editor at a different imprint. I’m already setting up the auction or what have you. Now that publisher is completely shut out of the action even though the project “might” have been a fit for a different imprint and editor.
It bugged me. I never want a publisher to not have the opportunity to participate and now that there is a shift in mindset on this particular topic, it won’t happen.
I like challenges, and I usually attack them with vigor. #10bythen has been good to me this month...in fact, I just shipped off submission eleven. Granted, it was an old story which sat unloved in an editor's inbox for nearly two years before I pulled it...
In the past month, I've made submissions to The Zombie Feed, Clarkesworld, Fantasy, Gloom Cupboard (a poem!), Whidbey Writers Workshop Students' Choice Award, Pedestal Magazine, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Scape, Trembles (another resurrected story), and Ghostology. I have three pieces of flash ready for editing, including a rather chilling (at least I think so), story inspired by Jeff VanderMeer's brilliant short, "The General Who is Dead", and bog mummies. I have two more short stories, about 3K each, which need editing, too. One is destined for submission to Kevin J. Anderson (Blood Lite 3), but I won't hold my breath that lightning will strike twice. The other is weird and haunting, but not horrific. Literary markets, here comes "The Emperor of Empty Spaces".
And, for the record, all of the markets to which I've subbed this month pay, at least a token sum. I don't like to make official decisions, but it looks like I've but my fiction where my thoughts are.
Thanks to Mercedes and all the #10bythen crew. I needed a kick in the pants, and October has been an awesome run of writing (so far). With five stories waiting in line, time to hit the edits, eh?
STATUS: Snowing in the high country. You know what that means. Ski season is upon us!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PENCIL THIN MUSTACHE by Jimmy Buffet
Given the dominance of PCs in the world, most writers are probably using Microsoft Word as their main word processing program.
Lately we’ve received a slew of sample page submissions that have all the writer’s revisions clearly outlined in track changes.
Although interesting, we really don’t want to see your writing process.
Just a friendly reminder to make sure you submit a “clean” version. The way to do that is to go to Review, then accept (or reject as the case may be) all the changes in your manuscript. When all are cleared, a little window will pop up to say that there are no more changes or comments in the manuscript. Then it’s clean.
Then there is no way for someone to open up “final with mark up.”
By: Kristin Nelson,
Blog: Pub Rants
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STATUS: It was a nice day here so I popped out to give Chutney a quick walk. Now back at the office and will probably be here until at least 7 p.m.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE STAR OF THE EAST by Judy Garland
I’m not sure why, but my most popular blog entries (in terms of comments) tend to be when I blog about sample page or query trends.
So back by popular demand, here’s what we’ve been seeing too much of lately in the query inbox (and thank you Anita for compiling this handy dandy list):
1) Retellings of fairy tales in unusual settings (Sleeping Beauty on Mars, Snow White in the future, etc.)
2) Sci Fi stories featuring travel between planets using a Space Elevator.
3) Not really a new trend, but we've been getting a lot of WWII stories (even more than usual)
4) Still way too many vampires and werewolves *grin*
5) Tons of New Age spiritual stuff (a protagonist and her Spirit Guide, various takes on reincarnation, etc)
Not sure how this will help you folks in the trenches but there you have it.
Okay so, this is going to be a short blog series on literary agents.
Agents. You gotta love em'. They work hard for their clients, they're dedicated, and if you're lucky enough to find the right one, the relationship can be life-long and prosperous. Hopefully not in the Vulcan sense, but more in the cuddly and oh-so-friendly, "I love my agent, and my agent loves me," sense.
That said, this author has a few pet peeves regarding agents, which I have little doubt most authors seeking an agent share to the core. So, let's get started, shall we?
THOSE AGENTS WHO DON'T REPLY: I understand why agents can't respond to all queries. I truly get it. They're busy with their own clients as it is; and what self-respecting author would want their agent more vested in acquiring new clients, than working with the ones they already have. What I don't get is why so many don't take a moment of their time to add a tiny bit of much-needed information to their websites about how long we should wait before realizing agents we've queried (who fall into this no-reply pit) are not interested. I mean, come on. Really? If I were an agent, I would return the respect I ask for. The easiest way to do this is to simply add the following bit of disclosure to the submission guidelines: Unfortunately, do to the volume of submissions we receive, it is not possible to reply to all queries. Therefore, if you have not heard back from us within (so and so) weeks, please assume we are passing on the project.
Now how hard was that? I'm not an agent, and I did it in, what...five seconds?
Ah, but you see, this only works if agents actually take it one teensy step further, by setting up an automated response to acknowledge that queries have been received on their end. Truly, one is useless without the other. If the website claims no response after a certain period of time, then what good does it do us if we don't even know for sure that our emailed submission was ever received? You know, there is this occurrence called "LOST IN TRANSIT". You see, with all the spam filters we're forced to activate to keep out those unscrupulous spiders who prey on our inboxes like savage soul-sucking vampires, when dealing with email, things sometimes get tossed around like unwitting passengers on a chicken-bus riding along on a dirt path-like road in some third-world country that has yet to discover the benefits of gravel.
So, for any agents who might come upon this blog, please, consider the amount of time and hope that goes into researching you and your fellow agents in order to weed out the one that will hopefully find our novels good and loving homes. Consider it from this side of the fence, where we, authors with aspirations of seeing our work out there, stand with our faces pressed to the proverbial glass, desperate to get our foot in the door of a world in which our dreams are rooted. All we ask is that you pass along a little more information.....
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Part 2 of my pet peeves about literary agents takes us into the pit of vagueness.
THE SECRETS THEY KEEP: Okay, this particular aspect of agency websites is something that has plagued many authors, including myself. Those agencies that, on their sections about the agents themselves, is so vague sometimes. Be specific, please. Rare is it when an author comes upon an agency website or page about an agent and finds detailed information about what exactly said agents are actually looking to represent (and fine, we can assume that if genre is not mentioned, they don't want it, but would a little clarity do us all some good from time to time?). For instance, they may claim to be seeking, say, YA or middle-grade fiction, but not whether that includes genre fiction. And you can't even always go by what they currently represent because I've often read (from agents themselves), that they're open to anything, or that sometimes they receive a submission in a genre that, although they don't normally rep the likes of said submission, one happens to draw them in just the same. So how are we to decipher the mystery behind what agents want when, at best, what they leave is a microscopic trail of information?
How often have you come to an agent's bio and found that you learn all about their education (which is definitely important, don't get me wrong), and where they live and sometimes, what they do in their spare time? Now I ask you, isn't just as important to know what they're looking for? I mean, seriously, all the Do's and Don't's about agents tells us that we much do our homework, but it seems, agents expect us to read every book they represent in order to weed out the ones that the agent we're interested in represents in order to see if they're a good fit for our projects. We're also told to go to the bookstore, find all the books from that agency, and read through the acknowledgments to see which agent is mentioned; as I've recently discovered, however, some authors don't mention their agents; sometimes they only go as far as mentioning the agency itself; sometimes neither.
Clearly we need to do our part, but it just seems that some agents see this as a one-way street for those not on their client list. How hard is it to specify what they want and don't want? There's a particular agency, The McVeigh Agency(which, from what I understand, is fantastic), and they have detailed info about their wants with regards to submissions. Obviously, I queried them, and am now waiting for a reply. I've read up on Mark McVeigh, I've read some interviews with him, and I saw him in a vid on YOU-TUBE. I really like this agent, and I'm hoping he responds soon.
So why is it that so many agencies refuse us much-needed and always appreciated information that can ensure we don't submit to the wrong agent, wasting their time and ours?