Old Ask Nathan Thread

Questions for the resident (former) agent
Locked
writer29
Posts: 2
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 3:47 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by writer29 » December 21st, 2009, 4:15 pm

Topic: When/how to change agents

Hi Nathan - I'm hoping you can shed light on the legal and ethical pieces of this...my debut novel comes out next month from a major publisher. It was sold by my current agent. I completed my second novel in August, sent it to my agent who, after several missed will-read-by deadlines and many unreturned messages, finally got back to me with edits. Which were really good. I made them, sent back to her. Since then, in the process of submitting to my publisher who has an option on book 2, there have been significant issues with communication and follow-through which I have discussed with her to no avail. It's clear to me we cannot continue to work together. But it's not clear when/how to make the break.

If my current publisher passes on book 2, is that the time to find a new agent for submission to other houses? Or am I bound to my current agent because she put work into edits?

And, if my current publisher does offer on book 2 and I accept, do I wait until I have another completed book to query new agents?

My agency agreement stipulates 30 day notice to terminate. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1381
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 21st, 2009, 6:58 pm

writer29 wrote:Topic: When/how to change agents

Hi Nathan - I'm hoping you can shed light on the legal and ethical pieces of this...my debut novel comes out next month from a major publisher. It was sold by my current agent. I completed my second novel in August, sent it to my agent who, after several missed will-read-by deadlines and many unreturned messages, finally got back to me with edits. Which were really good. I made them, sent back to her. Since then, in the process of submitting to my publisher who has an option on book 2, there have been significant issues with communication and follow-through which I have discussed with her to no avail. It's clear to me we cannot continue to work together. But it's not clear when/how to make the break.

If my current publisher passes on book 2, is that the time to find a new agent for submission to other houses? Or am I bound to my current agent because she put work into edits?

And, if my current publisher does offer on book 2 and I accept, do I wait until I have another completed book to query new agents?

My agency agreement stipulates 30 day notice to terminate. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!
This is such a tough, tough question to answer, and I'm always reluctant to answer questions about parting ways with an agent because honestly offering advice about dealing specifically with other agents just makes me nervous (though I'm sure your frustrations are valid).

I think you ultimately have to go with your gut. I wish I could give you a clear X, Y, and Z, but you seem like you have a calm, reasonable head on your shoulders and I know whatever decision you make will be the right one.

writer29
Posts: 2
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 3:47 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by writer29 » December 21st, 2009, 7:55 pm

I totally understand. Thanks anyway!

Dakota388
Posts: 55
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Dakota388 » December 21st, 2009, 10:02 pm

Let's face it. No matter how good our books are, a lot of us (myself included) will likely never be published. Or at least our current book may not be published. Two questions. First, how do you you feel about the feature at sites such as lulu which allow you to make a fairly professional copy of your book without making it available to anyone but the author? By doing this, It would not be for sale. Second related question. Since they put a UPC tag on it, does it affect a potential future agent in some silly legal way? I've seen a few people do this and it is a neat way to give the author a little validation (a gift if you will) for their hard work.
Thanks in advance.
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

Madeleine
Posts: 17
Joined: December 22nd, 2009, 8:46 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Madeleine » December 22nd, 2009, 10:20 pm

Alright, this has probably been covered on your blog, but even I don't have the energy to go back and read through the endless archives or a bunch of categories to find it. Sorry!

What (estimated) percentage of books you've represented haven't managed to find a publisher?

That seems like the scariest thing to me. You can just imagine how thrilled a writer would be to nail and agent, and their utter disappointment when everything fell flat. It makes me shiver just thinking about it!

Thanks for all that you do, Nathan. It blows me away!

-Madeleine
"A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life." - John Milton

Blog: Worbird

The Lemonites Status:

1st Draft - Done
Out With Betas

User avatar
Jaime
Posts: 159
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 7:00 pm
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Jaime » December 22nd, 2009, 10:58 pm

Hi Nathan,

I'm still editing away, and now have my word count down to 128k. I know this is too high for a debut novel, but I'm hoping it's not ridiculously high. My fear is that I will get a form rejection based on word count alone, as I've read on some agents' sites that they stop reading queries once they see a high word count (which, for some, is over 100k).

I know you're not terribly concerned if it sounds like something you would like to represent (as you've told me before: 'If it needs to be long, it needs to be long'), and you are at the top of my list, but are there others out there like you? How often would you say agents and publishers take a chance with long debut novels?

I'm almost tempted to put my MS under the bed and write something else entirely in an attempt to become a published author, and then go "Ta-daaa!" with the MS I'm obviously too close to.

Jaime.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1381
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 23rd, 2009, 12:44 am

Dakota388 wrote:Let's face it. No matter how good our books are, a lot of us (myself included) will likely never be published. Or at least our current book may not be published. Two questions. First, how do you you feel about the feature at sites such as lulu which allow you to make a fairly professional copy of your book without making it available to anyone but the author? By doing this, It would not be for sale. Second related question. Since they put a UPC tag on it, does it affect a potential future agent in some silly legal way? I've seen a few people do this and it is a neat way to give the author a little validation (a gift if you will) for their hard work.
Thanks in advance.
Especially if it doesn't have an ISBN I don't see a problem with this. If someone prints their first book just to have it and then their second one is incredible and saleable I can't imagine the first one would stand in the way. If there's an ISBN and the sales are being tracked.... maybe someone will think that it makes it more difficult, but I think there are going to be more and more people with this situation down the line, and if the book is good enough the agent and eventual publisher will figure it out.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1381
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 23rd, 2009, 12:47 am

Madeleine wrote:Alright, this has probably been covered on your blog, but even I don't have the energy to go back and read through the endless archives or a bunch of categories to find it. Sorry!

What (estimated) percentage of books you've represented haven't managed to find a publisher?

That seems like the scariest thing to me. You can just imagine how thrilled a writer would be to nail and agent, and their utter disappointment when everything fell flat. It makes me shiver just thinking about it!

Thanks for all that you do, Nathan. It blows me away!

-Madeleine
It would be misleading to put it into percentages because projects are always ongoing and are very rarely dropped forever. I always think I'm still going to find a publisher and am willing to go the distance. But it does happen, and has happened for a handful of my projects. It's tough, but at the same time, sometimes the next book is the one that works and in the end it works out for the best.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1381
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 23rd, 2009, 12:51 am

Jaime wrote:Hi Nathan,

I'm still editing away, and now have my word count down to 128k. I know this is too high for a debut novel, but I'm hoping it's not ridiculously high. My fear is that I will get a form rejection based on word count alone, as I've read on some agents' sites that they stop reading queries once they see a high word count (which, for some, is over 100k).

I know you're not terribly concerned if it sounds like something you would like to represent (as you've told me before: 'If it needs to be long, it needs to be long'), and you are at the top of my list, but are there others out there like you? How often would you say agents and publishers take a chance with long debut novels?

I'm almost tempted to put my MS under the bed and write something else entirely in an attempt to become a published author, and then go "Ta-daaa!" with the MS I'm obviously too close to.

Jaime.
If it needs to be long it needs to be long! I'd say there are more agents like me than agents who are word count sticklers. The most important thing is to write the book you want to write and then just do the best you can to find an agent. It's better to write the best book you can and possibly have some agents who pass because of the word count than to compromise your vision.

Notamonkey
Posts: 4
Joined: December 20th, 2009, 1:40 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Notamonkey » December 24th, 2009, 1:26 am

Hey Nathan,
You, erm, skipped my question (end of page 13). You didn't even give a form response! :)
An important aspect about my manuscript is the setting. It's something that's not explicitly stated but the reader is supposed to figure out and go "Oh, that's where we are! I see! I love!"

In a query, would it turn you off saying something along the lines of "the reader figures out..." Of course, I would mention what the setting was in the query, but in the work it's not explicitly stated.

Thanks bunches!

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Mira » December 28th, 2009, 12:50 am

Hi Nathan,

I have a question - I know you don't answer all questions, and you may not want to answer this one, which is cool.

But I'm curious about your vision for the forums. What made you start them and what are you hoping they will become?

Thanks - hope you had a great holiday! :)

Skyhawk
Posts: 27
Joined: December 14th, 2009, 7:33 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Skyhawk » December 28th, 2009, 6:28 am

Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing as Mira. This website is so well organized and offers a wealth of support in many different ways. I don't imagine that too many other, if any at all, agents have a site like this and it clearly took a lot of work. So other than the obvious, you attract writers and their work, was there some other reason? Perhaps you wouldn't want to share that, for a few reasons I can think of, but in either case, it clearly provides a huge service which we can all use. We need all the help we can get and much of it right here---so thanks! I'd like to believe that there are still some, who plain just want to help, simply because they can.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1381
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 30th, 2009, 2:20 pm

Notamonkey wrote:Hey Nathan,
You, erm, skipped my question (end of page 13). You didn't even give a form response! :)
An important aspect about my manuscript is the setting. It's something that's not explicitly stated but the reader is supposed to figure out and go "Oh, that's where we are! I see! I love!"

In a query, would it turn you off saying something along the lines of "the reader figures out..." Of course, I would mention what the setting was in the query, but in the work it's not explicitly stated.

Thanks bunches!
Whoops! Unintentional skippage!

That's a very small snippet to be rendering an opinion on. It's all about the context, and I don't have much to go on here. But I think it's fine to just summarize the setting in the query without getting into the ins and outs of how you actually present it to the reader in the novel.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1381
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 30th, 2009, 2:29 pm

Mira wrote:Hi Nathan,

I have a question - I know you don't answer all questions, and you may not want to answer this one, which is cool.

But I'm curious about your vision for the forums. What made you start them and what are you hoping they will become?

Thanks - hope you had a great holiday! :)
I started them because I feel like comments sections kind of reach a point of diminishing returns around 100 comments, and there were always lots of side discussions that would probably be more fruitful in forums. I also wanted to continue to improve the blog and hopefully keep expanding its reach to new audiences and readers, and the forums provide another avenue to do that. But beyond that, what direction they take is really up to the people who participate in them!

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Mira » December 30th, 2009, 3:49 pm

Nathan - thanks. It is nice to have a place to carry the side conversations, and meet new writers. Thanks for starting them. :)

Okay.

I've re-written this 4 times now, and I can't figure out how to say this in business speak, so I give up. I'll just do my regular me. I hope you take care of yourself and the forums aren't too much work for you. I hope I'm not being presumptious in saying that. I'm also really glad Bryan is helping you out. We value you. That said, thanks for the forums.

Okay.

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest