Old Ask Nathan Thread

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shadow
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by shadow » March 31st, 2010, 10:12 pm

Just out of curiosity when someone send you a query letter and you don't LOVE it do you still look at the pages?? I certainly hope that doesn't apply to me lol but just a question. Also do you prefer the queries fluffy or short and sweet and by fluffy I mean stuff like:

My fervent hope is that you will represent my work ...
emotionally-charged, action-packed, amazing novel sure to amaze you...

Or do you just like it when the query describes the story and personalizes a bit and that's all. For me I think the story speaks for itself it its good its good if not then bye but I just want to her what you have to say on that.
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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 31st, 2010, 10:15 pm

shadow wrote:Just out of curiosity when someone send you a query letter and you don't LOVE it do you still look at the pages?? I certainly hope that doesn't apply to me lol but just a question. Also do you prefer the queries fluffy or short and sweet and by fluffy I mean stuff like:

My fervent hope is that you will represent my work ...
emotionally-charged, action-packed, amazing novel sure to amaze you...

Or do you just like it when the query describes the story and personalizes a bit and that's all. For me I think the story speaks for itself it its good its good if not then bye but I just want to her what you have to say on that.
Yeah, even when I don't think the query is great I still look at the pages. I really recommend that people try and emulate the example query letters on my blog though.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by linguista » April 1st, 2010, 2:25 am

not an ask, but you should check this out. I think you'd love it. Plus they mention you :)

http://www.yahighway.com/2010/03/ebook- ... n-pre.html

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 1st, 2010, 3:37 pm

linguista wrote:not an ask, but you should check this out. I think you'd love it. Plus they mention you :)

http://www.yahighway.com/2010/03/ebook- ... n-pre.html
Ha - love it

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by kenpochick » April 5th, 2010, 10:48 am

Ok, I have a question for you too. I wrote a children's book naming the 8 year old heroine "Isabella Vampirella" and submitted my first draft of the query letter to Evil Editor. He pointed out that Vampirella may be trademarked since it has a long history as a comic book character name. When I searched online I only saw that the image is copyright. Do I need to worry about this? Should I change the name?

The article he cited pointed out how "Harry Potter" became trademarked after it became a series because it referenced an entire set of work. If I look at it that way though, Harry is not trademarked and neither is Potter, just the combined full name. So is it ok if I use Vampirella as a last name?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 5th, 2010, 9:14 pm

kenpochick wrote:Ok, I have a question for you too. I wrote a children's book naming the 8 year old heroine "Isabella Vampirella" and submitted my first draft of the query letter to Evil Editor. He pointed out that Vampirella may be trademarked since it has a long history as a comic book character name. When I searched online I only saw that the image is copyright. Do I need to worry about this? Should I change the name?

The article he cited pointed out how "Harry Potter" became trademarked after it became a series because it referenced an entire set of work. If I look at it that way though, Harry is not trademarked and neither is Potter, just the combined full name. So is it ok if I use Vampirella as a last name?
Honestly I have no idea - I think the first step would be to determine conclusively if Vampirella is trademarked and then consult with an intellectual property attorney. I don't know the ins and outs, but it may not need to be formally trademarked for there to be a possible issue.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by taylormillgirl » April 6th, 2010, 8:47 pm

Hi, Nathan.

I'm having genre troubles, and I could use your guidance.

When I sat down to write my novel, I was writing for myself. In retrospect, I suppose not having a specific audience in mind was my first mistake. I assumed I was writing science fiction--the story of an eighteen-year-old high school senior whose life is thrown into chaos when she agrees to host the nation's first extraterrestrial exchange student--but my very knowledgeable crit partner is certain the book belongs within the YA genre. Why does that matter, you ask? Because apparently I've broken some major YA rules.

Even though first person is all the rage in YA right now, I've written my book in third person from multiple points of view, some of them told by adults. From what I've read on agent blogs, adult points of view are a big YA no-no. My crit partner has also pointed out that there are too many adult characters in my book, and she's suggested I axe many of them and replace them with teens. However, this would change the spirit of my book. A lot.

I'd like to begin my fourth draft, but I'm not sure if I should keep the book as is and query it as science fiction (and run the risk that it doesn't truly belong in that genre), or make the major changes my partner suggested and obey the rules of YA.

How do I know where my book really belongs and whose rules to follow?

Thank you in advance for your time.
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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 7th, 2010, 11:02 pm

taylormillgirl wrote:Hi, Nathan.

I'm having genre troubles, and I could use your guidance.

When I sat down to write my novel, I was writing for myself. In retrospect, I suppose not having a specific audience in mind was my first mistake. I assumed I was writing science fiction--the story of an eighteen-year-old high school senior whose life is thrown into chaos when she agrees to host the nation's first extraterrestrial exchange student--but my very knowledgeable crit partner is certain the book belongs within the YA genre. Why does that matter, you ask? Because apparently I've broken some major YA rules.

Even though first person is all the rage in YA right now, I've written my book in third person from multiple points of view, some of them told by adults. From what I've read on agent blogs, adult points of view are a big YA no-no. My crit partner has also pointed out that there are too many adult characters in my book, and she's suggested I axe many of them and replace them with teens. However, this would change the spirit of my book. A lot.

I'd like to begin my fourth draft, but I'm not sure if I should keep the book as is and query it as science fiction (and run the risk that it doesn't truly belong in that genre), or make the major changes my partner suggested and obey the rules of YA.

How do I know where my book really belongs and whose rules to follow?

Thank you in advance for your time.
Yeah, children's books don't tend to have sections told from an adult perspective. But I personally think the real test is the sensibility of the novel. Do the concerns, perspectives, attitudes resonate more with adults or children? There are novels with young protagonists who are squarely adult. The reverse isn't always true. So it really depends on how it reads.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by rainbowsheeps » April 8th, 2010, 12:12 am

Nathan,

First off, thanks so much for this.

I have a story told in the first person perspective of a young adult who is skeptical about God. His religious opinion is made clear later on in the book, but throughout the story, usage of "God" is done in lower case because of his beliefs. It isn't meant to be hostile to religious people, though, and in fact the character explicitly makes that clear in the context of the story later on. But my question is, if you (or another agent) saw "God" in lower case in sample pages in a query, do you think you or another agent might assume that's bad grammar and count that against me?

I'm a little hesitant to change it, because I feel it might compromise my strict adherence to first person perspective. However, I wouldn't want to lose my chance over something like this, either.

Thanks again!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by critinka » April 8th, 2010, 1:08 am

I guess this is kind of random, but it's related to the whole agent search if you count keeping informed about agents blogging and what not...

What would make you block somebody from following you on twitter, Nathan?

This probably seems very trivial. I'll be honest, I'm asking because three tweeting literary agents have apparently blocked me from following them and I can't figure out why (it's actually driving me nuts, I'm so beyond baffled). So I'm just wondering what might be a blocking offense so that I can avoid that in the future (though I'm pretty I never contacted any of these three agents in any way or format before this, not even to query, and I've only tweeted 11 times ever).

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by BlancheKing » April 8th, 2010, 2:59 pm

Hi nathan!

Another quick question: If I have a manuscript out there with an agent, can I/ should I still query other agents while waiting?

Thank you.

B.
One manuscript, One dream, One stack of stamps that needs to be bought...
Writing Process: http://blancheking.blogspot.com/

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 8th, 2010, 6:31 pm

rainbowsheeps wrote:Nathan,

First off, thanks so much for this.

I have a story told in the first person perspective of a young adult who is skeptical about God. His religious opinion is made clear later on in the book, but throughout the story, usage of "God" is done in lower case because of his beliefs. It isn't meant to be hostile to religious people, though, and in fact the character explicitly makes that clear in the context of the story later on. But my question is, if you (or another agent) saw "God" in lower case in sample pages in a query, do you think you or another agent might assume that's bad grammar and count that against me?

I'm a little hesitant to change it, because I feel it might compromise my strict adherence to first person perspective. However, I wouldn't want to lose my chance over something like this, either.

Thanks again!
This is totally up to you, though I'm not sure punctuation is the best way to demonstrate a character's belief system.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 8th, 2010, 6:46 pm

critinka wrote:I guess this is kind of random, but it's related to the whole agent search if you count keeping informed about agents blogging and what not...

What would make you block somebody from following you on twitter, Nathan?

This probably seems very trivial. I'll be honest, I'm asking because three tweeting literary agents have apparently blocked me from following them and I can't figure out why (it's actually driving me nuts, I'm so beyond baffled). So I'm just wondering what might be a blocking offense so that I can avoid that in the future (though I'm pretty I never contacted any of these three agents in any way or format before this, not even to query, and I've only tweeted 11 times ever).
I only block people who are spamming me or are openly hostile. Not sure how you would have landed yourself on some block lists unless people mistook you for spam or you share the name with someone they are scared of!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by musicgirl » April 8th, 2010, 6:56 pm

Hi Nathan!

I got a reply to a snail mail query today with a request to send in my first fifty pages if no other agent is reviewing them. Does that mean that if I have other submissions out, I can't send my partial to this agent? She doesn't have an email address listed, so I don't really know what to do...

Thanks!!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 8th, 2010, 7:52 pm

BlancheKing wrote:Hi nathan!

Another quick question: If I have a manuscript out there with an agent, can I/ should I still query other agents while waiting?

Thank you.

B.
Yes, though I'd probably wait if you submitted it to the other agent on an exclusive basis. Otherwise if someone requests to see it you'd have to put them on hold.

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