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Dakota388
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Dakota388 » December 11th, 2009, 5:23 pm

Maybe a silly question. In a query, is it worth taking small risks? I'll use an example to show what I mean. Let's say an agent once replied to someone on her blog, "Oh Gawd, don't call me Ms. Your Highness of Empress would be fine," but it was a couple years ago. If someone sent a query beginning "Dear Empress..." would that be seen as clever? amateurish? Would the agent likely even remember making such a comment? I know this is pretty specific, but my real question is more general in whether something like that is worth the risk. On the plus side, the agent might say, "Oh, he reads my blog." On the negative, she might say, "What is he talking about?" or, "What an amateur!" What do you think?
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 11th, 2009, 10:14 pm

Dankrubis wrote:Hello Nathan,

In the first few episodes of Californication, Hank Moody's agent gets Hank a job writing a blog for a company. Is this normal? Do agents get approached by companies looking for writing talent? Or is it strictly book publishing? Just wondering if any other opportunities open up when getting an agent besides possible publication.

Thanks! And apologies if you've already covered this. I read your entire FAQ eight months ago, don't remember you addressing this topic.

Dan
Haven't seen the show, but yeah, this definitely happens. Either the author is approached by a company to do the writing/blogging and the agent helps negotiate the deal or we'll hear through the grapevine that such and such publication is looking for someone who would be the right fit and we make the connection.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 11th, 2009, 10:17 pm

Dakota388 wrote:Maybe a silly question. In a query, is it worth taking small risks? I'll use an example to show what I mean. Let's say an agent once replied to someone on her blog, "Oh Gawd, don't call me Ms. Your Highness of Empress would be fine," but it was a couple years ago. If someone sent a query beginning "Dear Empress..." would that be seen as clever? amateurish? Would the agent likely even remember making such a comment? I know this is pretty specific, but my real question is more general in whether something like that is worth the risk. On the plus side, the agent might say, "Oh, he reads my blog." On the negative, she might say, "What is he talking about?" or, "What an amateur!" What do you think?
I definitely think showing some personality is fine, but I'd keep it within reason.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by commando8 » December 12th, 2009, 1:59 pm

I'm sure this has been covered at some point, but I can't find the answer: Do you represent the fantasy genre? If not, is there a reason why? Market demand? Your own personal preference? I would appreciate an answer.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 12th, 2009, 2:30 pm

commando8 wrote:I'm sure this has been covered at some point, but I can't find the answer: Do you represent the fantasy genre? If not, is there a reason why? Market demand? Your own personal preference? I would appreciate an answer.
Yeah, I do.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by gilesth » December 12th, 2009, 7:45 pm

Nathan, when is it appropriate to mention a sequel in a query letter? Also, should an author write a sequel before they've been published?

I ask because one of my favorite authors (Jim Butcher) didn't get published until after he had three whole books in the Dresden Files series written. He also mentioned on his website that that was one of the major factors that played in his acceptance with his first agent AND his publisher.

I've also heard (and I can't remember where) that publishers want to know that an author is more than a one-hit-wonder.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 12th, 2009, 7:52 pm

gilesth wrote:Nathan, when is it appropriate to mention a sequel in a query letter? Also, should an author write a sequel before they've been published?

I ask because one of my favorite authors (Jim Butcher) didn't get published until after he had three whole books in the Dresden Files series written. He also mentioned on his website that that was one of the major factors that played in his acceptance with his first agent AND his publisher.

I've also heard (and I can't remember where) that publishers want to know that an author is more than a one-hit-wonder.
I'd say Jim Butcher's situation is much more of an exception rather the rule. But here's my advice for mentioning potential series in a query (from the FAQs): http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/07 ... query.html

I actually was also asked this same question just a few questions back on the last page: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4&start=80#p973. If everyone could do me a huge favor and please first check the FAQs and do a scan of the other questions in the thread before posting a new question in this thread that would really be great.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by sooper » December 12th, 2009, 8:10 pm

Hi Nathan,

My book is written through the perspective of three characters (in close third). Would it be considered misleading if my query letter only focuses on one of these characters? I explain the whole story in the letter but I do it thorugh this one character's perspective.

Thanks for the help!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 12th, 2009, 8:23 pm

sooper wrote:Hi Nathan,

My book is written through the perspective of three characters (in close third). Would it be considered misleading if my query letter only focuses on one of these characters? I explain the whole story in the letter but I do it thorugh this one character's perspective.

Thanks for the help!
I don't think that's misleading. I think the most important thing is just conveying the main story arc. It's fine to leave stuff out of the query, ultimately you're just trying to get the agent to want to read more.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Kaitlyne » December 13th, 2009, 6:48 am

Wow, Nathan, I can't believe it. This hasn't been up a week and already you have so many pages of questions. I'm almost embarrassed to be adding to it, to be honest, because I'm not certain you'll have an answer. Here goes anyway:

I'm getting ready to submit (hopefully this week), and my first three chapters are pretty dialogue heavy. The rest of the book really isn't, but I have very specific reasons for doing this and it's completely intentional. My concern, however, is that many agents ask for the first three chapters when requesting a partial and it's considered representative of the entire book. I'm one of those weird cases where they really aren't, and I'd just hate to think of an agent reading it and saying, "Well, if these chapters are dialogue heavy, then clearly the rest of the book is as well and I'm not going to ask to read it."

I think the dialogue is pretty good dialogue, a decent amount of humor is involved to help keep it fresh, and I've been told that the pacing is good, but I'm just not sure if there's something specific I should be mentioning when I query. Should I just assume that if an agent likes it he/she likes it and will request more without regard to something like this? Or should I actually consider mentioning it somewhere? I almost feel like I'm making an excuse for it if I do--setting it in a negative light in advance when I think it is necessary for the story.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nick » December 13th, 2009, 7:10 pm

Nathan,

I know there is something of a stigma against self-published works because, well, a lot of self-published works aren't very good (and for the record, no, I do not think I'm some super fantastical author; generally I scrap a project shortly after I finish it because I think it's so horrible and not worth editing), but one thing I've noticed (alas I do not remember where; may have even been here) in the past is writers who have been published before -- not big name authors, but published nonetheless -- self-publishing works to things like the Kindle. I've been thinking about maybe self-publishing some short stories (after very careful revision, peer edits, etc. etc. etc. of course) to e-format, because while eReaders aren't exactly commonplace now, they are gaining popularity, and it is a chance to pick up something of an audience now, which would be helpful if/when I have a full fledged book published. Would this still be very messy territory for an unpublished (or even previously published, non-big name) writer or...? I noticed an earlier post in which you state you think there will be an increase in e-self publishing (and I do agree on that point), but you don't really offer anything in the way of how this would affect a query at this time, when it's still not exactly common practice.

Also, mostly unrelated question: As I've mentioned elsewhere on the forums, I do plan to, at some point, submit short stories to the Strand. Assuming they were to pick up a story or two, would that be the sort of info that looks good in a query letter (I know, I know, being previously published isn't a shoo-in) or is it just more biographical fluff like "I attended XYZ Super Fantastical Writing University"?

Thanks for taking the time to break away from your thousands of queries only to pretty much help us become a part of those thousands.

sooper
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by sooper » December 13th, 2009, 7:56 pm

Thank you, Nathan!!

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 13th, 2009, 8:34 pm

Kaitlyne wrote:Wow, Nathan, I can't believe it. This hasn't been up a week and already you have so many pages of questions. I'm almost embarrassed to be adding to it, to be honest, because I'm not certain you'll have an answer. Here goes anyway:

I'm getting ready to submit (hopefully this week), and my first three chapters are pretty dialogue heavy. The rest of the book really isn't, but I have very specific reasons for doing this and it's completely intentional. My concern, however, is that many agents ask for the first three chapters when requesting a partial and it's considered representative of the entire book. I'm one of those weird cases where they really aren't, and I'd just hate to think of an agent reading it and saying, "Well, if these chapters are dialogue heavy, then clearly the rest of the book is as well and I'm not going to ask to read it."

I think the dialogue is pretty good dialogue, a decent amount of humor is involved to help keep it fresh, and I've been told that the pacing is good, but I'm just not sure if there's something specific I should be mentioning when I query. Should I just assume that if an agent likes it he/she likes it and will request more without regard to something like this? Or should I actually consider mentioning it somewhere? I almost feel like I'm making an excuse for it if I do--setting it in a negative light in advance when I think it is necessary for the story.
Don't tailor the beginning of the book just to please an agent - just write the best book you can and let the agent think what they will, and I don't think it's necessary to mention something like this in the query.

You seem a bit anxious about this aspect of the book though, so I wonder if your nervousness is speaking to an underlying problem. Was the decision to make the first three chapters very different stylistically necessary?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 13th, 2009, 8:37 pm

Nick wrote:Nathan,

I know there is something of a stigma against self-published works because, well, a lot of self-published works aren't very good (and for the record, no, I do not think I'm some super fantastical author; generally I scrap a project shortly after I finish it because I think it's so horrible and not worth editing), but one thing I've noticed (alas I do not remember where; may have even been here) in the past is writers who have been published before -- not big name authors, but published nonetheless -- self-publishing works to things like the Kindle. I've been thinking about maybe self-publishing some short stories (after very careful revision, peer edits, etc. etc. etc. of course) to e-format, because while eReaders aren't exactly commonplace now, they are gaining popularity, and it is a chance to pick up something of an audience now, which would be helpful if/when I have a full fledged book published. Would this still be very messy territory for an unpublished (or even previously published, non-big name) writer or...? I noticed an earlier post in which you state you think there will be an increase in e-self publishing (and I do agree on that point), but you don't really offer anything in the way of how this would affect a query at this time, when it's still not exactly common practice.

Also, mostly unrelated question: As I've mentioned elsewhere on the forums, I do plan to, at some point, submit short stories to the Strand. Assuming they were to pick up a story or two, would that be the sort of info that looks good in a query letter (I know, I know, being previously published isn't a shoo-in) or is it just more biographical fluff like "I attended XYZ Super Fantastical Writing University"?

Thanks for taking the time to break away from your thousands of queries only to pretty much help us become a part of those thousands.
I'm honestly not completely well-versed in the landscape for self-publishing short stories, though I don't necessarily see the harm in self-publishing them via the Kindle.

And yes, if you have short stories chosen for publication it's worth mentioning in the query.

Kaitlyne
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Kaitlyne » December 13th, 2009, 10:51 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
Kaitlyne wrote:Wow, Nathan, I can't believe it. This hasn't been up a week and already you have so many pages of questions. I'm almost embarrassed to be adding to it, to be honest, because I'm not certain you'll have an answer. Here goes anyway:

I'm getting ready to submit (hopefully this week), and my first three chapters are pretty dialogue heavy. The rest of the book really isn't, but I have very specific reasons for doing this and it's completely intentional. My concern, however, is that many agents ask for the first three chapters when requesting a partial and it's considered representative of the entire book. I'm one of those weird cases where they really aren't, and I'd just hate to think of an agent reading it and saying, "Well, if these chapters are dialogue heavy, then clearly the rest of the book is as well and I'm not going to ask to read it."

I think the dialogue is pretty good dialogue, a decent amount of humor is involved to help keep it fresh, and I've been told that the pacing is good, but I'm just not sure if there's something specific I should be mentioning when I query. Should I just assume that if an agent likes it he/she likes it and will request more without regard to something like this? Or should I actually consider mentioning it somewhere? I almost feel like I'm making an excuse for it if I do--setting it in a negative light in advance when I think it is necessary for the story.
Don't tailor the beginning of the book just to please an agent - just write the best book you can and let the agent think what they will, and I don't think it's necessary to mention something like this in the query.

You seem a bit anxious about this aspect of the book though, so I wonder if your nervousness is speaking to an underlying problem. Was the decision to make the first three chapters very different stylistically necessary?
I'm nervous about it in the sense that I believe to break the "rules" you have to be incredibly good at what you're doing, and I'm not a hundred percent certain I'm at the level required to do what I'm attempting, if that makes sense. I suppose it's more a matter of being uncertain of my abilities. I've also seen people talk about how books with lots of dialogue turn them off, etc., so I feel like I have to be extremely exceptional to make it work. I do believe it's necessary, however, and worked very hard to find a way to make it work. I knew I was being a bit unconventional when I started, but it wasn't until I started seeing so much focus on, "You can't do this," or "You can't do that," I started to wonder. I see advice saying that for a first novel (it's really my fifth, but my first submission) it's best not to take chances, and it makes me look back at it and say, "Am I completely insane?" I suppose it either works or it doesn't, and if it doesn't the rejections will let me know.

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