Old Ask Nathan Thread

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Jaded
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Jaded » August 12th, 2010, 11:43 pm

When you receive a "Payment upon publication" notice from a magazine, is it worth mentioning? I might also add that I was a bit strapped for cash at the time and may have pitched a more... erotic... story to a less than savory publication. I don't usually write things of this nature, but I was told there was money in it.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 13th, 2010, 7:35 pm

Jaded wrote:When you receive a "Payment upon publication" notice from a magazine, is it worth mentioning? I might also add that I was a bit strapped for cash at the time and may have pitched a more... erotic... story to a less than savory publication. I don't usually write things of this nature, but I was told there was money in it.
Mention it to whom? Not sure I understand the question.

Jaded
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Jaded » August 13th, 2010, 8:49 pm

I apologize, I meant to ask if it was worth mentioning in a query. Or are those things better to include in pitches to magazine editors?
Last edited by Jaded on August 15th, 2010, 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MelissaAnne
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by MelissaAnne » August 14th, 2010, 6:38 pm

Hi Nathan -

I've been following your blog for awhile and I don't think I've seen this question asked as it is pretty darn specific.

I have had interest in my historical novel - I've received at least 6 or 7 requests for partials and fulls. It is set in Hollywood during World War II. Nearly every time, I get a personal rejection that says they really like my writing, how I've developed my characters, etc., but that World War II is a hard sell. I've even had rejections to my query letter that state this is a hard time period to sell.

Any insight on this? It's not a thriller or a spy novel or a military novel, but is instead more of a US on the Home Front novel. Is THAT why it's hard to sell? I confess, I'm getting frustrated!

Thanks for any info you might have on this...

Melissa

John Dillon
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by John Dillon » August 15th, 2010, 8:36 am

Nathan,

I have never seen an agent list "autobiographical fiction" as a genre he or she represents, so I'm reluctant to use that phrase in a query letter. I'm more inclined to use something generic like "mainstream fiction" or "literary fiction with commercial appeal" and then state in the bio paragraph that the novel is based on personal experiences. What are your thoughts on using "autobiographical novel" as the genre in a query letter? Likewise, if you were querying A Farwell to Arms or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in today's marketplace, how would you characterize the work?


Thanks.

zeelemke
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Dialogue worries

Post by zeelemke » August 15th, 2010, 10:28 pm

Nathan,

I'm currently revising a novel that's very dialogue-heavy. Everything but the fight scenes seems to be in quotes. What are the trouble signs I should look for that say I'm using dialogue for things it shouldn't have to do?

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 15th, 2010, 11:50 pm

Jaded wrote:I apologize, I meant to ask if it was worth mentioning in a query. Or are those things better to include in pitches to magazine editors?
Here's a post on how and whether to mention your publication credits in a query: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03 ... shing.html

Ultimately I think you have to go with your gut - if it's not something you're proud of and did just for money I don't know that it's worth including.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 15th, 2010, 11:54 pm

MelissaAnne wrote:Hi Nathan -

I've been following your blog for awhile and I don't think I've seen this question asked as it is pretty darn specific.

I have had interest in my historical novel - I've received at least 6 or 7 requests for partials and fulls. It is set in Hollywood during World War II. Nearly every time, I get a personal rejection that says they really like my writing, how I've developed my characters, etc., but that World War II is a hard sell. I've even had rejections to my query letter that state this is a hard time period to sell.

Any insight on this? It's not a thriller or a spy novel or a military novel, but is instead more of a US on the Home Front novel. Is THAT why it's hard to sell? I confess, I'm getting frustrated!

Thanks for any info you might have on this...

Melissa
Yeah, it is a hard time period to sell in simply because there have been so many takes on World War II that it's hard to make one stand out. But then again, THE BOOK THIEF, for instance, is set in World War II and it's massively successful. I'd think of it as playing tennis with the nets a little higher. It may be a bit harder to sell than it would be if it were a different setting, but that doesn't mean it's impossible either. And the fact that WWII is known to be a difficult time period also gives agents something easy to say in a rejection letter, so I wouldn't read too much into it.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 15th, 2010, 11:58 pm

John Dillon wrote:Nathan,

I have never seen an agent list "autobiographical fiction" as a genre he or she represents, so I'm reluctant to use that phrase in a query letter. I'm more inclined to use something generic like "mainstream fiction" or "literary fiction with commercial appeal" and then state in the bio paragraph that the novel is based on personal experiences. What are your thoughts on using "autobiographical novel" as the genre in a query letter? Likewise, if you were querying A Farwell to Arms or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in today's marketplace, how would you characterize the work?


Thanks.
I always advise against overthinking genre labels. Go with the bookstore section, in this case literary fiction, and I'd leave it at that.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Dialogue worries

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 16th, 2010, 12:00 am

zeelemke wrote:Nathan,

I'm currently revising a novel that's very dialogue-heavy. Everything but the fight scenes seems to be in quotes. What are the trouble signs I should look for that say I'm using dialogue for things it shouldn't have to do?
Yeah, I'd say a trouble sign is if only the fight scenes aren't in quotes. It means you're not anchoring the action by describing the setting, and it means characters don't have any unspoken feelings or emotions. If characters are saying everything they're feeling it's a problem.

Multimedia
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Multimedia » August 16th, 2010, 8:29 am

Hello Nathan!

Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm writing a novel in the mode of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. So two quick questions:

1. What is the industry standard term for this genre (i.e. one that incorporates images / typographical tricks into the text)? Is there even one? I've heard it alternatively called multimedia writing and visual writing and everything in between.

2. What should I do for agents who request pages in a query? I ask because my first few pages contains images which will not carry over into email. Should I explain the situation to the agent, saying that if interested, I can send the pages via attachment? Or should I just include the text sans images (perhaps putting in parenthesis where the image would be and explaining it?) Or...?

Thank you so much! I'm so confused with what to do.

MelissaAnne
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by MelissaAnne » August 16th, 2010, 10:19 am

Thanks for the insight, Nathan. I'll just keep trying!

sperber
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by sperber » August 16th, 2010, 5:13 pm

I know non-writing credentials don't typically belong in a query. Are there some nuggets of info that are worth mentioning, such as living in the country where the novel is set, or expertise in a subject that's pivotal to the plot?

Or does this fall into the category of meh, can't hurt, but doesn't really help?

Thanks!

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 16th, 2010, 10:37 pm

Multimedia wrote:Hello Nathan!

Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm writing a novel in the mode of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. So two quick questions:

1. What is the industry standard term for this genre (i.e. one that incorporates images / typographical tricks into the text)? Is there even one? I've heard it alternatively called multimedia writing and visual writing and everything in between.
I'm sure there is a name for it but if there is it's escaping me at the moment. I'd just say literary fiction that incorporates some images, they'll know what you mean, and that way even the people who haven't heard the specific term for it will know what you're talking about.
Multimedia wrote:2. What should I do for agents who request pages in a query? I ask because my first few pages contains images which will not carry over into email. Should I explain the situation to the agent, saying that if interested, I can send the pages via attachment? Or should I just include the text sans images (perhaps putting in parenthesis where the image would be and explaining it?) Or...?

Thank you so much! I'm so confused with what to do.
In the excerpt, yes, I'd just mention/describe the images and then send the full thing if/when they ask for it. Another option would be to post the first five pages on your website with the images and include a link. But even then I'd still include the pages sans images in the query.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 16th, 2010, 10:40 pm

sperber wrote:I know non-writing credentials don't typically belong in a query. Are there some nuggets of info that are worth mentioning, such as living in the country where the novel is set, or expertise in a subject that's pivotal to the plot?

Or does this fall into the category of meh, can't hurt, but doesn't really help?

Thanks!
Yeah, if it's pertinent/interesting definitely mention it. I like to get a sense of the person who is querying with some biographical information, so don't hesitate to include that. I'd just keep it concise. It's not necessarily a difference-maker though, more of a nice-to-have.

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