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 » December 10th, 2009, 6:38 pm

jayinhouston wrote:Hey Nathan, I'm working on a comedic memoir/collection of essays. So in other words, they're common stories told through the eyes of an uncommonly handsome man. I'm almost finished and hope to query you soon. I'm currently working on a story that covers all the lowlights of my unheralded football career. I had a few coaches who make for high comedy, but I'm not sure how much care needs to be put into maintaining their anonymity. Is it enough to change their names?

If it helps, I have no intention of using a pen name.
I'm not a publishing attorney, so you should take my response with a grain of salt, but no one should be able to recognize themselves in your book, regardless of whether names are changed.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by jayinhouston » December 10th, 2009, 7:02 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
jayinhouston wrote:Hey Nathan, I'm working on a comedic memoir/collection of essays. So in other words, they're common stories told through the eyes of an uncommonly handsome man. I'm almost finished and hope to query you soon. I'm currently working on a story that covers all the lowlights of my unheralded football career. I had a few coaches who make for high comedy, but I'm not sure how much care needs to be put into maintaining their anonymity. Is it enough to change their names?

If it helps, I have no intention of using a pen name.
I'm not a publishing attorney, so you should take my response with a grain of salt, but no one should be able to recognize themselves in your book, regardless of whether names are changed.

I'm not sure how it's possible to not know if you've been included in a memoir if you know the author. I haven't read Obama's memoir, but if he mentions a lesson he learned from his 3rd grade teacher, you can Google that information and find it. Is it more important that they're not able to recognize themselves or that they're not be able to prove it's them in the story? Or are there permissions involved?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 10th, 2009, 7:05 pm

jayinhouston wrote:
Nathan Bransford wrote:
jayinhouston wrote:Hey Nathan, I'm working on a comedic memoir/collection of essays. So in other words, they're common stories told through the eyes of an uncommonly handsome man. I'm almost finished and hope to query you soon. I'm currently working on a story that covers all the lowlights of my unheralded football career. I had a few coaches who make for high comedy, but I'm not sure how much care needs to be put into maintaining their anonymity. Is it enough to change their names?

If it helps, I have no intention of using a pen name.
I'm not a publishing attorney, so you should take my response with a grain of salt, but no one should be able to recognize themselves in your book, regardless of whether names are changed.

I'm not sure how it's possible to not know if you've been included in a memoir if you know the author. I haven't read Obama's memoir, but if he mentions a lesson he learned from his 3rd grade teacher, you can Google that information and find it. Is it more important that they're not able to recognize themselves or that they're not be able to prove it's them in the story? Or are there permissions involved?
It's more important if you're going to potentially defame someone. And yes, sometimes releases are involved. But this whole thing kind of gets at the rub of memoirs, which is that characters in memoirs are often pastiches and it blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Mary E. Ulrich » December 10th, 2009, 7:16 pm

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for this Forum and the opportunity to ask questions.

I'm totally confused on how to write the word "ebooks, Ebooks, eBooks, e-books"? (Assuming it is the same for "ePublishing, Epublishing....")

There are different spellings everywhere I look, sometimes in the same article/book.

Someone told me the only time to capitalize the "e" is if it starts a sentence, but I have seen sentences and titles which read "eBook."

I'm hoping you can "break the universe" and set the record straight. Is "breaking the universe" like a big Drano purge? (question 2) :)

Merci.
Last edited by Mary E. Ulrich on December 11th, 2009, 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by jayinhouston » December 10th, 2009, 7:23 pm

I'm not sure how it's possible to not know if you've been included in a memoir if you know the author. I haven't read Obama's memoir, but if he mentions a lesson he learned from his 3rd grade teacher, you can Google that information and find it. Is it more important that they're not able to recognize themselves or that they're not able to prove it's them in the story? Or are there permissions involved?[/quote]

It's more important if you're going to potentially defame someone. And yes, sometimes releases are involved. But this whole thing kind of gets at the rub of memoirs, which is that characters in memoirs are often pastiches and it blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction.[/quote]


Great stuff, Nathan! Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm not going to lie to you. I had to google pastiche. It looks like the safest bet is to either exaggerate or muffle certain traits of a real person, therefore forging a character from an otherwise useless bag of bones. And the beautiful thing about characters is that they, unlike real people, can't sue the living shizzle out of you. Noimsayin?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by KFran » December 10th, 2009, 8:19 pm

Is there a way to delete a thread? I received wonderful help on my query, but don't want it posted anymore. Can you delete it for me? I did not seem to have a delete option. Have I said delete enough?

Thanks!
KFran

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 10th, 2009, 8:42 pm

KFran wrote:Is there a way to delete a thread? I received wonderful help on my query, but don't want it posted anymore. Can you delete it for me? I did not seem to have a delete option. Have I said delete enough?

Thanks!
KFran
Welll.. I do believe there's a way but I hope you'll consider leaving your query up so others can learn from the feedback.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by shadow » December 11th, 2009, 9:52 am

So if I say post my query up here and you and others critique is it still ok to query you with it? I am finishing a completely new YA project and am planning to query you in the new year but I would love to hear opinions first because it's a one time opportunity. Do you ever pick up a query from the forum because you are interested in that project?

Also my book is for teens probably starting age 14 or 15 but my protagonist male is 19. It's a fantasy so I figured that would be the perfect age for him to be physically ready for the plotline. What do you think? I hope he is not too old. Thanks Nathan!
All things writing, visit my blog http://arielemerald.blogspot.com/

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Emma » December 11th, 2009, 2:03 pm

Hello Nathan,

I have a question regarding the preferences of agents including yourself. In your opinion is it more appetizing if someone is querying a series with two installations already completed or if they simply query only the very first novel. The series is going to be three books in total unless (hopefully future agent) wants me to do more or until a publisher decides that I should. Would you suggest I let agents know I already have two of the books done and not just the one and am serious about future writing for the rest of my life or do you think simple is better in this case?

Thank you for reading and for taking the time to help all of us out!!!

-heart-
Emma Michaels

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Fragment Sentences

Post by jhoward » December 11th, 2009, 2:31 pm

What is your opinion on fragment sentences in a query? We all know they are grammatically incomplete but if used sparingly and wisely they can help make your point and make it "pop". At least that is what my mind tells me. I am hoping you can share a quick thought on this.

By the way, you may be tired of hearing this, but your blog and this forum are GREAT! It has been a veritable treasure trove for me. Thank you.

Jodie

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 11th, 2009, 3:01 pm

shadow wrote:So if I say post my query up here and you and others critique is it still ok to query you with it? I am finishing a completely new YA project and am planning to query you in the new year but I would love to hear opinions first because it's a one time opportunity. Do you ever pick up a query from the forum because you are interested in that project?

Also my book is for teens probably starting age 14 or 15 but my protagonist male is 19. It's a fantasy so I figured that would be the perfect age for him to be physically ready for the plotline. What do you think? I hope he is not too old. Thanks Nathan!
Yeah, definitely.

Not sure that a protagonist would have to be 19 since 19 year olds aren't usually that different than, say, 17 year olds physically, but if it works for you go for it.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 11th, 2009, 3:04 pm

Emma wrote:Hello Nathan,

I have a question regarding the preferences of agents including yourself. In your opinion is it more appetizing if someone is querying a series with two installations already completed or if they simply query only the very first novel. The series is going to be three books in total unless (hopefully future agent) wants me to do more or until a publisher decides that I should. Would you suggest I let agents know I already have two of the books done and not just the one and am serious about future writing for the rest of my life or do you think simple is better in this case?

Thank you for reading and for taking the time to help all of us out!!!

-heart-
Emma Michaels
If someone has three books written in a series and none of them have been published it definitely gives me pause. If someone writes the first book in a series and doesn't find publication I'd usually advise against then going and writing the sequel (unless it can completely completely stand alone and doesn't need the first book to work). Placing the first book is hard enough - placing the sequel to an unpublished first novel would be virtually impossible. Unless, again, it can stand alone. But even then I'd just pitch it as the first book in a potential series.

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Re: Fragment Sentences

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 11th, 2009, 3:06 pm

jhoward wrote:What is your opinion on fragment sentences in a query? We all know they are grammatically incomplete but if used sparingly and wisely they can help make your point and make it "pop". At least that is what my mind tells me. I am hoping you can share a quick thought on this.

By the way, you may be tired of hearing this, but your blog and this forum are GREAT! It has been a veritable treasure trove for me. Thank you.

Jodie
If it works it works, but dropped articles drive me crazy: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/05 ... icles.html

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Emma » December 11th, 2009, 3:08 pm

Thank you very much and happy unofficial agent's day!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Dankrubis » December 11th, 2009, 3:57 pm

Hello Nathan,

In the first few episodes of Californication, Hank Moody's agent gets Hank a job writing a blog for a company. Is this normal? Do agents get approached by companies looking for writing talent? Or is it strictly book publishing? Just wondering if any other opportunities open up when getting an agent besides possible publication.

Thanks! And apologies if you've already covered this. I read your entire FAQ eight months ago, don't remember you addressing this topic.

Dan

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