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 » January 8th, 2010, 6:17 pm

Writermom10 wrote:
Nathan Bransford wrote:
Writermom10 wrote:Hi Nathan,

I don't see this addressed in FAQs, and maybe it's a silly question but I'll ask anyway. My MS is a YA Fantasy. When querying agents, should I stick with those who represent both YA and Fantasy, or if an agent reps. YA should I assume that encompasses all genres?

Thanks for answering this and for providing these forums!
Yes, stick to agents who represent YA rather than agents who list fantasy but not YA.

Nathan,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Actually, I was wondering more whether it's okay for me to query agents who represent YA but NOT fantasy. Can I assume that if they represent YA that they will represent any genre of YA?

Thanks and sorry for bothering you again--maybe I just worded the question weirdly the first time. :)
Yes, usually YA is used as a catchall to include all genres. They may not rep YA fantasy specifically, but unless they specifically say they don't rep it you're not going to do any harm querying them.

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shadow
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by shadow » January 9th, 2010, 12:42 pm

Hi Nathan,

I have another question about publishing and queries. What I was wondering was how do you react to strange names in query letters? Do they turn you off? My protagonist in my YA Fantasy has well, a somewhat strange name, but it fits his personality so well. Meaning faulty and sinned and yes he really is! But would you reject a query because of a name? And I am not only saying you personally because I might guess you would answer no, but what about other agents? If you didn't like the name but liked the story would an agent make me change his name if they choose to rep me? Some people tell me that it's way too weird but some say that they like it. I am torn. Because I like the name. BTW the name is Vitiosus, is it really that weird in your opinion?

Also my other question that I did ask on the forum is, what if I queried a novel like 6 months ago and it was rejected, but I loved the antagonist. So I changed him up a bit and I rewrote the story completely. All the characters are different except for him. Would I be able to re-query the story?

Thanks so much!
All things writing, visit my blog http://arielemerald.blogspot.com/

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Hillsy
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Hillsy » January 10th, 2010, 10:18 am

Hi Nathan.

I've got a query about the market, hot topics, zeitgeist....that sort of thing.

Obviously from successful query, to publish, to release takes much much longer than expected (about 12 Months and up is it?). So how much of that "This is hot, I can sell this" quality of a query letter is affected by what's hot now, given that by the time it hits the shelves, it may not be hot anymore? Or has the majority of "what's hot" that will be published already been sold and is waiting on the conveyor belt, (because Agents know what is selling/moving well ahead of public - "we know the LOTR films will be out in 2001, so in autumn 1999 we're going to be buying a lot of Epic Fantasy to be ready for the hysteria that will follow")?

In specific, considering the success of Avatar as a film and Cameron's proposed conversion into a novel (by himself) and not discluding its immense quality as a story, would it be considered a brilliant time to be query Sci-Fi with fantasy elements to kind of "ride the wave" of Avatar's success, or has that time passed (because everything's already been snapped up - we just don't know it.)?

I've got a polished MS about to go out for query, and another SF with fantasy half way done, and I'm going to query them regardless. I'm just curious as to any beneficial effects zeitgeist woudl bring. (Of course this would apply to all genre's. I'm sure after twilight everyone with a ready Para Romance was wondering if theri luck was in.)

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by lexcade » January 10th, 2010, 9:37 pm

Nathan,

if an agent doesn't have a specified synopsis length on the website or asks for a "short synopsis," then what does he typically mean? i know lengths are different per agent, and not everyone's "short" is the same. is there a golden rule?

thanks!
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

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Genre

Post by Ellis47 » January 11th, 2010, 8:44 pm

Dear Nathan,
My book does not fit into a genre. It is not a romance, though romance occurs. It is not historical, though looks like one. It is not a fantasy, though paranormal events occur. It is not YA.
When I query you first, what shall I say it is?
Thanks,
Ellis47

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Re: Ask Nathan

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

shadow wrote:Hi Nathan,

I have another question about publishing and queries. What I was wondering was how do you react to strange names in query letters? Do they turn you off? My protagonist in my YA Fantasy has well, a somewhat strange name, but it fits his personality so well. Meaning faulty and sinned and yes he really is! But would you reject a query because of a name? And I am not only saying you personally because I might guess you would answer no, but what about other agents? If you didn't like the name but liked the story would an agent make me change his name if they choose to rep me? Some people tell me that it's way too weird but some say that they like it. I am torn. Because I like the name. BTW the name is Vitiosus, is it really that weird in your opinion?

Also my other question that I did ask on the forum is, what if I queried a novel like 6 months ago and it was rejected, but I loved the antagonist. So I changed him up a bit and I rewrote the story completely. All the characters are different except for him. Would I be able to re-query the story?

Thanks so much!
Unless the character's name is Nathanbransfordisajerk I can't imagine passing up on a query I liked because of a character's name, even if it's a mouthful.

If the novel is completely different plot wise then yeah, that's just a new story. I wouldn't even mention the antagonist is the same.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » January 11th, 2010, 11:39 pm

Hillsy wrote:Hi Nathan.

I've got a query about the market, hot topics, zeitgeist....that sort of thing.

Obviously from successful query, to publish, to release takes much much longer than expected (about 12 Months and up is it?). So how much of that "This is hot, I can sell this" quality of a query letter is affected by what's hot now, given that by the time it hits the shelves, it may not be hot anymore? Or has the majority of "what's hot" that will be published already been sold and is waiting on the conveyor belt, (because Agents know what is selling/moving well ahead of public - "we know the LOTR films will be out in 2001, so in autumn 1999 we're going to be buying a lot of Epic Fantasy to be ready for the hysteria that will follow")?

In specific, considering the success of Avatar as a film and Cameron's proposed conversion into a novel (by himself) and not discluding its immense quality as a story, would it be considered a brilliant time to be query Sci-Fi with fantasy elements to kind of "ride the wave" of Avatar's success, or has that time passed (because everything's already been snapped up - we just don't know it.)?

I've got a polished MS about to go out for query, and another SF with fantasy half way done, and I'm going to query them regardless. I'm just curious as to any beneficial effects zeitgeist woudl bring. (Of course this would apply to all genre's. I'm sure after twilight everyone with a ready Para Romance was wondering if theri luck was in.)
There are people who chase trends (and who do so successfully), but I'm really not one of them. I'd much rather have a novel I loved in a not-hot genre than one I didn't love so much in a hot genre.

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Re: Genre

Post by Nathan Bransford » January 11th, 2010, 11:40 pm

Ellis47 wrote:Dear Nathan,
My book does not fit into a genre. It is not a romance, though romance occurs. It is not historical, though looks like one. It is not a fantasy, though paranormal events occur. It is not YA.
When I query you first, what shall I say it is?
Thanks,
Ellis47
Pick which section of the bookstore it would go in and go with that.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Kaitlyne » January 12th, 2010, 8:58 am

I know, I seem to have far too many questions, but I mentioned this over in the Publishing forum and someone suggested I put it over here as well. I'm going to make this simple and sweet.

I'm fluent in Japanese and interested in working as a translator. I've written some samples, but have no idea really how one goes about getting involved in translating, how to send samples, what sort are required, or length, etc. I'm wondering if there is anyone you could recommend who might be able to provide some information, or if I should just write to specific publishing companies individually and ask for their requirements.

Thanks always, Nathan. :)

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Querying for a Novel in Volumes

Post by Merlini » January 12th, 2010, 10:58 pm

Hello Nathan,

I was wondering, if you're writing a novel in several volumes, similar to Lord of the Rings, would you query publishers and agents after the first volume is complete, or after all the volumes are complete? Thanks!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by casnow » January 13th, 2010, 3:40 am

I'm procrastinating today, so I'm dreaming of the day that I have an agent - which makes me wonder: What is the agent-author relationship like for subsequent novels? Do you automatically represent/read work from your client? Do they still have to pitch the idea to you and sell you with a query /synopsis/outline before you'll read it?

Thanks!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by matt mc » January 13th, 2010, 9:37 am

At the risk of asking a question with an obvious answer, what exactly does an agency mean when they say they "do not accept unsolicited queries"? Unsolicited manuscripts, I understand, but how and why would an agency go about soliciting queries? And why even bother advertising themselves if they "do not accept unsolicited queries"?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Ellis47 » January 13th, 2010, 4:12 pm

Thanks for the link and the answer.
Ellis47

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Re: Ask Nathan - Author Bio

Post by munkdavis » January 14th, 2010, 6:22 pm

Nathan,

I am a Chemical Engineer at a high-tech R&D firm. My debut novel leverages much of my knowledge in cutting edge science. I would like to think that by claiming my experience in high-tech would add credence to many of the threads in my story, but I am afraid that by stating my professional experience in a query letter just makes me come off as a smarty-pants. Advice?

munk

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » January 14th, 2010, 7:42 pm

Kaitlyne wrote:I know, I seem to have far too many questions, but I mentioned this over in the Publishing forum and someone suggested I put it over here as well. I'm going to make this simple and sweet.

I'm fluent in Japanese and interested in working as a translator. I've written some samples, but have no idea really how one goes about getting involved in translating, how to send samples, what sort are required, or length, etc. I'm wondering if there is anyone you could recommend who might be able to provide some information, or if I should just write to specific publishing companies individually and ask for their requirements.

Thanks always, Nathan. :)
I actually don't really know either - this is something that is handled by publishers and is not something I'm really familiar with. Good luck!

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