Old Ask Nathan Thread

Questions for the resident (former) agent
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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 8th, 2010, 7:53 pm

musicgirl wrote: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!!
I think she means that she'd like to see it if your actual partial isn't currently being reviewed. You can still have other queries out.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by critinka » April 8th, 2010, 8:13 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
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!
Oh okay, thanks for answering! It's been driving me nuts, because it's just so strange. I read a lot of industry blogs, but I don't often comment. I definitely don't spam people and I like to think I'm a pretty pleasant person. I mean, I don't eat small kids for breakfast or, ya know, cheer for Duke or anything.

So I've been wasting time (when I should be studying for my Con law final, yikes!) trying to puzzle this out, imagining a fruitless search this summer for an agent when apparently I've already landed on a No-No list before I've even begun querying, already known as a pariah to The Gatekeepers. And after all these wild and dramatic imaginings, it's probably just a glitch or sharing an unfortunate name. I think there's humor to be found in there somewhere....

Thanks again for answering, though!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by lexcade » April 11th, 2010, 12:40 am

haha, critinka. i don't cheer for duke, either. GO VOLS!

sorry... nathan, i have a question about manuscript format. i was taught that in your manuscript, when you are denoting something you want italicized when it's printed that you underline it. is that still standard, or are agents and editors now accepting italics in manuscripts? or does it just depend on the person?
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by christi » April 12th, 2010, 8:10 pm

Me again. So, I'm almost done with another book I started since I had no agent interest in the first one. If I impressed an agent and they offered representation on my second book, would I be able to present my first book again even if said agent passed on it in the slush pile as 'not for them'? Do agents urge their clients to start new and toss out the old? Generally speaking. I guess my real question is: if a client has success with a book and an agent does not like another work they've done, will/do they choose to not represent it?
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Scribble
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Scribble » April 13th, 2010, 9:07 am

Hi Nathan,

I’m writing an MG contemporary fantasy in first-person present tense. Would a story told in that fashion be less likely to catch your attention rather than the usual third-person, past style?

Does POV and tense matter much to an agent/publisher when considering a submission?

I know Chuck Palahniuk uses it fantastically, as does Brett Easton Ellis in American Psycho, and Suzanne Collins in the Hunger Games, but for Middle Grade?
I don't want to turn readers off if I can help it.

I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 13th, 2010, 11:35 pm

lexcade wrote:haha, critinka. i don't cheer for duke, either. GO VOLS!

sorry... nathan, i have a question about manuscript format. i was taught that in your manuscript, when you are denoting something you want italicized when it's printed that you underline it. is that still standard, or are agents and editors now accepting italics in manuscripts? or does it just depend on the person?
I think that may be typewriter advice. Italics would be fine.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 13th, 2010, 11:37 pm

christi wrote:Me again. So, I'm almost done with another book I started since I had no agent interest in the first one. If I impressed an agent and they offered representation on my second book, would I be able to present my first book again even if said agent passed on it in the slush pile as 'not for them'? Do agents urge their clients to start new and toss out the old? Generally speaking. I guess my real question is: if a client has success with a book and an agent does not like another work they've done, will/do they choose to not represent it?
That's a conversation to have with the agent that offers you representation. My personal guess is that once you've gone through the publication process with your second book you may not really even want to pull the first novel out of the drawer, and will want to just keep writing new books. That's been my experience as an author and as an agent. But either way it's something you can talk to your agent about.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 13th, 2010, 11:38 pm

Scribble wrote:Hi Nathan,

I’m writing an MG contemporary fantasy in first-person present tense. Would a story told in that fashion be less likely to catch your attention rather than the usual third-person, past style?

Does POV and tense matter much to an agent/publisher when considering a submission?

I know Chuck Palahniuk uses it fantastically, as does Brett Easton Ellis in American Psycho, and Suzanne Collins in the Hunger Games, but for Middle Grade?
I don't want to turn readers off if I can help it.

I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this.
If it works it works!

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Susan Quinn » April 13th, 2010, 11:39 pm

I was curious to see the answer to this, because I recently submitted a short story where they stated a preference for "manuscript format" and gave an example that used underlining not italics. I figured I would comply because I only had to switch a short story, but I'm glad to hear that isn't the standard expected. Changing an entire MS would be a lot of time I could be writing. In italics. :)
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Quill
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Quill » April 13th, 2010, 11:56 pm

Hi Nathan,

So long as we're on the subject of the finer points of manuscript format, is it true that the blank line between sections within a chapter should receive a "#" mark, centered?

Thanks!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 13th, 2010, 11:58 pm

Quill wrote:Hi Nathan,

So long as we're on the subject of the finer points of manuscript format, is it true that the blank line between sections within a chapter should receive a "#" mark, centered?

Thanks!
I think you could go either way on that. I don't know that many agents are sticklers on manuscript formatting and if you are eventually published it's all going to be changed by the copyediting/typesetting anyway.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by BransfordGroupie » April 14th, 2010, 7:49 am

I tried to find the answer to this question, but have had no success. Please excuse me if this one has already been covered.

I have a section in my novel which I know will have copyright issues. A friend informed me that it is up to me to apply for the necessary permission to use that material. Should I be seeking copyright permission (at a price) before I query agents, or is this something that is better left until after an agent has offered representation?
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by BransfordGroupie » April 14th, 2010, 4:20 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
lexcade wrote:haha, critinka. i don't cheer for duke, either. GO VOLS!

sorry... nathan, i have a question about manuscript format. i was taught that in your manuscript, when you are denoting something you want italicized when it's printed that you underline it. is that still standard, or are agents and editors now accepting italics in manuscripts? or does it just depend on the person?
I think that may be typewriter advice. Italics would be fine.

Oh great! I must have read the same guidelines as Lexcade. Does that mean I have to go back, and change all my underlined work to italics? I have whole scenes (such as dreams and flashbacks) underlined.
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by tameson » April 14th, 2010, 4:56 pm

Sending out sci fi short stories, manuscript formatting seems to be pretty strongly enforced (Centered # for line breaks, italics should be underlined, only courier 12 point font, etc). That is probably more an issue for short stories than novels, but with a short, I just assume manuscript formating. I would assume sci-fi novel writers who are have done a lot of short stories will just do it without thought (really, if you are used to it, underlining is just as easy as italics). I am told that sci-fi writers are one of the few that hold to the old school system (ironic, eh) so that might be a more genre specific question.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 14th, 2010, 11:22 pm

BransfordGroupie wrote:I tried to find the answer to this question, but have had no success. Please excuse me if this one has already been covered.

I have a section in my novel which I know will have copyright issues. A friend informed me that it is up to me to apply for the necessary permission to use that material. Should I be seeking copyright permission (at a price) before I query agents, or is this something that is better left until after an agent has offered representation?
I'd wait until after it's been accepted for publication.

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