Old Ask Nathan Thread

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casnow
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by casnow » March 1st, 2010, 12:38 pm

Nathan,

I noticed that on your submission requirements you ask for a query letter and the first five pages (on your blog), whilst the Curtis Brown website says we should include a synopsis as well. Is this one of those agent tricks that we read about? (But seriously though, you want a synopsis or not?)

Thanks!

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: How old are you?

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 1st, 2010, 6:57 pm

dios4vida wrote:Nathan, a specific question for you:

Did you have a desire to write fiction before you became a literary agent, or did working with authors give you that passion?

Thanks for these boards, it's great to find such a community of others with the Am-I-Crazies! :)
No, other than some short stories in college I didn't really write fiction before I became a literary agent and didn't really think I would. It's definitely not why I got into the business. I thought maybe I'd write some screenplays or something, but not fiction.

Then around the age of 26 I got the writing bug. My now-wife was a big influence, and while the first novel I wrote didn't pan out I had the idea for JACOB WONDERBAR and went with it.

I definitely did not have a master plan.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 1st, 2010, 6:59 pm

casnow wrote:Nathan,

I noticed that on your submission requirements you ask for a query letter and the first five pages (on your blog), whilst the Curtis Brown website says we should include a synopsis as well. Is this one of those agent tricks that we read about? (But seriously though, you want a synopsis or not?)

Thanks!
I know it's confusing! Basically the different agents at Curtis Brown have different preferences when it comes to submissions, so the master-submission-guidelines err on the side of including all the things the agents might want. I personally don't need a synopsis, so if you query me directly no need to include it.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by beacon22 » March 1st, 2010, 7:59 pm

Nathan...

What are your thoughts on Publishers Marketplace? Is it a useful tool for writers? I subscribed to it when I was looking for an agent to see who was selling what, and I'm trying to decide if I should sign up again as my book is on submission. Do you think it's helpful to authors or will it make me go more crazy while I sit and wait on submissions?

Thanks!
Come on over to my blog and lurk a little!

http://www.freckle-head.blogspot.com

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nick » March 1st, 2010, 8:50 pm

Maybe you've covered this already hereabouts or in your blog, and if so I apologize, but I've been wondering. When it comes to pages with a query, agents are very explicit on the no attachment thing, understandably. But assuming you were to get a request for a partial or a full, particularly in the case of the latter, that is a bucketload of pages. Are attachments okay in either of those scenarios or is it just going to have to be a redonk sized e-mail? I imagine it's the former option, but my imagination has been horribly, horribly wrong about a lot of steps over the past year, and I'd like to have things as sorted as possible when I get to the point where I need to sink my chances.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by BeccaL » March 2nd, 2010, 7:21 am

Nathan,

I know I read about this in one of your blogs (I think) I just wanted to clarify something.
You mentioned (I think) that to become a literacy agent it takes years of apprenticeship. How would one actually go about doing that though?

I've also got another question... this one regarding word count. I've researched this a bit, and I'm a bit foggy on the details, some places say to get word count, you should multiply your page number by 250, while others say just to use what ever program your using says... which is more accurate? Or more preferred?

Also, welcome back!

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JBarracudaL
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JBarracudaL » March 2nd, 2010, 7:19 pm

-Hola, here's a rehashing of the question I sent via email. I couldn't find anything on your blog specifically addressing my conundrum.

I went about my often merry way and wrote a novel, so I've been doing my research as to how I can turn my little bundle of joy into a real, living, breathing novel.
I finished the book, taking zero account of things such as double spacing and word count.
Well, it turns out, the novel I initially assumed to be short is a whopping 170,000(+) words. Naturally my shock was tremendous. So, out of my own queer curiosity, I attempted to reformat the document with double spaces. The page count went from 437, to 870. Somehow, I'm under the impression that this manuscript will not fly with many sane agents. There's just no way I can keep the document formatted in such a way, so I've decided to keep things single spaced with 12 point Times New Roman.
My question is, should I go out and pursue writing a shorter novel instead of trying to get this beast published right away? Would that be the wiser decision? I just wuv my little book so much: tucking it away seems inhumane to me and my preponderant ego.

Nothing like working for over half a year on a novel only to discover it might be too long, of all things.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by BeccaL » March 2nd, 2010, 7:47 pm

JBarracudaL wrote:-Hola, here's a rehashing of the question I sent via email. I couldn't find anything on your blog specifically addressing my conundrum.

I went about my often merry way and wrote a novel, so I've been doing my research as to how I can turn my little bundle of joy into a real, living, breathing novel.
I finished the book, taking zero account of things such as double spacing and word count.
Well, it turns out, the novel I initially assumed to be short is a whopping 170,000(+) words. Naturally my shock was tremendous. So, out of my own queer curiosity, I attempted to reformat the document with double spaces. The page count went from 437, to 870. Somehow, I'm under the impression that this manuscript will not fly with many sane agents. There's just no way I can keep the document formatted in such a way, so I've decided to keep things single spaced with 12 point Times New Roman.
My question is, should I go out and pursue writing a shorter novel instead of trying to get this beast published right away? Would that be the wiser decision? I just wuv my little book so much: tucking it away seems inhumane to me and my preponderant ego.

Nothing like working for over half a year on a novel only to discover it might be too long, of all things.
Congrats on getting it finished, I know my advice isn't going to be anywhere as helpfull as Nathan's will be but I suggest going through and taking out some things that aren't completely essential to the story line, just keep revising, and hopefully the word count will go down and not up. You should keep it as double spaced though, almost every agency/publisher I've found wants it that way. :) I'd suggest just revising and bringing it down as much as you can while not taking out your style or distorting the plot.

Good Luck!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by lac582 » March 2nd, 2010, 10:25 pm

JBarracudaL wrote:-Hola, here's a rehashing of the question I sent via email. I couldn't find anything on your blog specifically addressing my conundrum.

I went about my often merry way and wrote a novel, so I've been doing my research as to how I can turn my little bundle of joy into a real, living, breathing novel.
I finished the book, taking zero account of things such as double spacing and word count.
Well, it turns out, the novel I initially assumed to be short is a whopping 170,000(+) words. Naturally my shock was tremendous. So, out of my own queer curiosity, I attempted to reformat the document with double spaces. The page count went from 437, to 870. Somehow, I'm under the impression that this manuscript will not fly with many sane agents. There's just no way I can keep the document formatted in such a way, so I've decided to keep things single spaced with 12 point Times New Roman.
My question is, should I go out and pursue writing a shorter novel instead of trying to get this beast published right away? Would that be the wiser decision? I just wuv my little book so much: tucking it away seems inhumane to me and my preponderant ego.

Nothing like working for over half a year on a novel only to discover it might be too long, of all things.
Can i just say I'm impressed at anyone's ability to write that much in such a space of time, because I know my current WIP will be coming in short!

I wouldn't worry too much about the formatting - format it how the agents ask for it because it makes your manuscript easier on the eyes. Your query will already mention the word count, so the agent will know what to expect, and word count is much more important than page count.

However, as others have suggested, you may want to consider revising and see if natural cuts reveal themselves, or if the story can be split into a series. Unless your genre is epic fantasy, many agents may opt not to request based on word count alone which would be a shame.

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JBarracudaL
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JBarracudaL » March 3rd, 2010, 2:48 am

Thank you for the feedback, I do very much appreciate it.

I really and I mean really despise the thought of sending off a manuscript nearing 900 pages. Perhaps my feelings are silly and unreasonable but for serious, I'm going to need five billion stamps to send it. The postal service will likely involve the authorities for fear it may be a bomb.
Though, if a potential agent says double spaced and they express interest based on my query, I will be left without a choice. Good god, I can't believe it turned out to be so long. I was genuinely worried that I would be unable to maintain the story for novel length. Then as it went, I thought of so many irresistible, splendid little ideas to make the whole thing so much more juicy. It is by the way, a fantasy story. Based largely on the psychology of one girl, so sadly just about everything that happens harbors a certain amount of symbolism or a double meaning. That and many seemingly uneventful sections are referenced and elaborated on later, it's like an enormous, whimsical spider's web! I also wonder if some phantom contributions to the word count might be a result of the protagonist's frequent stutters during dialogue.

I intend to polish it yet again, this time I will buckle down and try to part ways with some less important bits and pieces. If I write another novel like this, I will indeed be mindful of the meandering word count.

Oh, and thank you Iac. I didn't find it terribly impressive myself, I strive to write three to five pages a day. Right when my body decides to rise from slumber, that magical period of time when my imagination is sharp and pointy. I try not to write more than five, generally after so many pages my writing mojo deteriorates into something evocative of a second grade student's book report. Three to five pages a day does add up big time.
It's also an unwritten law for me that I must write every day, even if it's a single page. I don't care if my cat gets stuck behind the oven for the eight hundredth time and finally dies of her own overwhelming mental inadequacy—even faced with such unspeakable tragedy, my freakish obsessive compulsive routines shan't be dislodged! I wont have it.

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Re: Fate of Manuscript if Agent Leaves...

Post by wallybruce » March 3rd, 2010, 11:55 am

Hey Nathan,

I couldn't track down anything in your archives regarding my particular situation. If I missed it, I apologize in advance. Here's my question:

I have a full ms out to an agent for consideration, but I just found out that said agent has left the agency. Who and should I contact regarding the fate of my manuscript? The agency? the agent (although I don't know if they can even receive emails at their former agency address)?

Or

Should I just chalk this one down in the "L" column?

Thanks,

W

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 3rd, 2010, 4:48 pm

beacon22 wrote:Nathan...

What are your thoughts on Publishers Marketplace? Is it a useful tool for writers? I subscribed to it when I was looking for an agent to see who was selling what, and I'm trying to decide if I should sign up again as my book is on submission. Do you think it's helpful to authors or will it make me go more crazy while I sit and wait on submissions?

Thanks!
Publishers Marketplace is an extremely valuable tool for industry news, to get a sense of who represents and edits what, and many other functions. It's incredible. Bear in mind that the deal reports don't represent every sale, but it's definitely a great resource.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 3rd, 2010, 4:49 pm

Nick wrote:Maybe you've covered this already hereabouts or in your blog, and if so I apologize, but I've been wondering. When it comes to pages with a query, agents are very explicit on the no attachment thing, understandably. But assuming you were to get a request for a partial or a full, particularly in the case of the latter, that is a bucketload of pages. Are attachments okay in either of those scenarios or is it just going to have to be a redonk sized e-mail? I imagine it's the former option, but my imagination has been horribly, horribly wrong about a lot of steps over the past year, and I'd like to have things as sorted as possible when I get to the point where I need to sink my chances.
Yes, when an agent specifically asks for a manuscript they're expecting that it's going to come in the form of an attachment.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 3rd, 2010, 4:50 pm

BeccaL wrote:Nathan,

I know I read about this in one of your blogs (I think) I just wanted to clarify something.
You mentioned (I think) that to become a literacy agent it takes years of apprenticeship. How would one actually go about doing that though?

I've also got another question... this one regarding word count. I've researched this a bit, and I'm a bit foggy on the details, some places say to get word count, you should multiply your page number by 250, while others say just to use what ever program your using says... which is more accurate? Or more preferred?

Also, welcome back!
Here's a post on becoming a literary agent: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2006/10 ... agent.html

And just use the Word Count function on Microsoft Word. That page number x 250 thing is outdated.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 3rd, 2010, 4:54 pm

JBarracudaL wrote:-Hola, here's a rehashing of the question I sent via email. I couldn't find anything on your blog specifically addressing my conundrum.

I went about my often merry way and wrote a novel, so I've been doing my research as to how I can turn my little bundle of joy into a real, living, breathing novel.
I finished the book, taking zero account of things such as double spacing and word count.
Well, it turns out, the novel I initially assumed to be short is a whopping 170,000(+) words. Naturally my shock was tremendous. So, out of my own queer curiosity, I attempted to reformat the document with double spaces. The page count went from 437, to 870. Somehow, I'm under the impression that this manuscript will not fly with many sane agents. There's just no way I can keep the document formatted in such a way, so I've decided to keep things single spaced with 12 point Times New Roman.
My question is, should I go out and pursue writing a shorter novel instead of trying to get this beast published right away? Would that be the wiser decision? I just wuv my little book so much: tucking it away seems inhumane to me and my preponderant ego.

Nothing like working for over half a year on a novel only to discover it might be too long, of all things.
Here's my post on Word Count: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/02 ... count.html

To expand on that, in my experience, at least 95% of the manuscripts I see that are over 120,000 words don't really need to be over 120,000 words, and the writer needs to rein in the manuscript. Often there are events that aren't necessary, the plot is overly languorous, there's too much description, etc.

Occasionally there's a well-paced novel that's just a big subject, but those are the exception. I'd first take a very hard look at your manuscript and pare it back as much as you can. But at some point the novel just is what it is and you have to go with your gut.

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