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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » February 1st, 2010, 8:38 pm

Remus Shepherd wrote:Hi, Nathan. I've posted to your old site, but this is the first time I've wandered into your forums.

I'm in a situation where I have queried one agent at an agency, heard nothing and assumed rejection (*), and I now want to query another agent at the same agency.

In your FAQs you state that one should wait three months before querying another agent at the same agency. Would that be three months after querying (it has been over four months) or three months after receiving a rejection (which I never did)?

(* -- The agency in question promises a reply in 6-8 weeks. It has now been 18 weeks with no response. But I just discovered the agent's twitter feed, and they have posted a note saying that 'If you have not heard from me by this date, I'm passing'. I'm assuming that applies to my query.)

Thanks for entertaining our questions here. This one...well, it has relevance you may not understand just now, but perhaps you will someday.
I think you're safe querying another agent there if you've waited three months after you queried and didn't hear back.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by christi » February 1st, 2010, 8:51 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
christi wrote:When searching for an agent and describing my work in a query, I am unsure what to call it. It is a compilation of journal entries or rants from 40+ people with varying degrees of insanity. As dour as that sounds, it's actually pretty funny, and when I show them to people, they laugh out loud, so I don't know if it should be considered comedic, or a diary sort of book, or some other genre I'm unaware of. What should I call it in a query? And, of course, are such works an interest to you? (In your blog, you mention you shy away from crazy)
Unless there's an overarching narrative it sounds like a short story collection.
Thanks so much. That answers both my questions ;-) Hope you had a good trip!
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

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J Koyanagi
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by J Koyanagi » February 1st, 2010, 11:44 pm

I've tried searching to see if this has already been covered but didn't find anything. If I missed it, I apologize.

There are a couple of telepathic characters in my novel, and I've used italics to indicate telepathic speech. With regard to querying agents, I'm concerned about losing formatting when pasting sample pages in the body of an email. If I just remove the italics, then it looks like I've forgotten quotation marks.

I've seen a few people recommend something like {This} or [This] for telepathy, but without an explanation, I'm concerned that would be more confusing than anything.

Maybe I'm overthinking the whole telepathy/italics issue, but I'd hate for something like this to spoil my first impression with an agent. Thanks for reading, Nathan!

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » February 2nd, 2010, 12:14 am

J Koyanagi wrote:I've tried searching to see if this has already been covered but didn't find anything. If I missed it, I apologize.

There are a couple of telepathic characters in my novel, and I've used italics to indicate telepathic speech. With regard to querying agents, I'm concerned about losing formatting when pasting sample pages in the body of an email. If I just remove the italics, then it looks like I've forgotten quotation marks.

I've seen a few people recommend something like {This} or [This] for telepathy, but without an explanation, I'm concerned that would be more confusing than anything.

Maybe I'm overthinking the whole telepathy/italics issue, but I'd hate for something like this to spoil my first impression with an agent. Thanks for reading, Nathan!
Yeah, that's a good question. I can see how this would be challenging if an agent can only read plain text. I think though that you can mainly trust that most agents will get the formatting, and the first 5 pages are just a sample anyway - I don't think an agent would read so deeply that they would be overly confused if some formatting doesn't come through. I'd just use italics as I can't think of a quick solution that wouldn't potentially be confusing. Brackets is a good alternate idea though.

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J Koyanagi
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by J Koyanagi » February 2nd, 2010, 12:18 am

That's very reassuring, Nathan. :) I'll just stick with the italics. Thank you kindly!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by HOBO_A_GOGO » February 2nd, 2010, 1:44 am

Okay Nathan, I did something stupid. I Email queried you. On your agent's page for Curtis Brown it says, send a brief description of your project. I took that to mean a query. Well, when I checked your about me, it says first 5 pages as well. Did I just make a big boo boo, or a little one? Also, how long is standard to hear back from you? Do you respond to EVERY query that comes in (Regardless if it has flaws?)

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Dakota388 » February 2nd, 2010, 2:53 pm

Nathan,

What is your opinion of sites that offer editing for a monetary cost? I understand that once a manuscript is taken by an agent, the editing (if needed) will follow, but some of these sites offer other services. I wondered if those services could help unpublished authors such as myself or if these sites are mostly scams. They offer query letter writing help, synopsis help, evaluations of manuscripts for plot holes, flow, pacing ect. It isn't that I want to dump a bunch of money into a crappy manuscript as much as wanting to make sure to keep an agent's interest if I were fortunate enough to get a partial of full request.

Side note: I recently had an agent state his interest was piqued for my story but that the sample pages didn't draw him in enough to request more work. After coming in from the ledge, I struggled with how to make my opening better. I think I did but that was a blown opportunity that I don't want to make again.
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by christi » February 2nd, 2010, 3:25 pm

Dakota388 wrote: After coming in from the ledge, I struggled with how to make my opening better.
Just saying, I LOL'd at that.
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

http://christigoddard.blogspot.com/

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maybegenius
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by maybegenius » February 3rd, 2010, 6:34 pm

Prologues included with sample pages: how do agents tend to feel about them? If we're only sending 5-10 sample pages along with a query, should we skip the prologue and get right to the meat of the story?
aka S.E. Sinkhorn, or Steph

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » February 3rd, 2010, 8:10 pm

HOBO_A_GOGO wrote:Okay Nathan, I did something stupid. I Email queried you. On your agent's page for Curtis Brown it says, send a brief description of your project. I took that to mean a query. Well, when I checked your about me, it says first 5 pages as well. Did I just make a big boo boo, or a little one? Also, how long is standard to hear back from you? Do you respond to EVERY query that comes in (Regardless if it has flaws?)
It's okay that you didn't include the first five pages. I do respond to everything and usually respond within a business day, but things have been extremely busy this week and I'm a couple days behind on my query responses.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » February 3rd, 2010, 8:11 pm

Dakota388 wrote:Nathan,

What is your opinion of sites that offer editing for a monetary cost? I understand that once a manuscript is taken by an agent, the editing (if needed) will follow, but some of these sites offer other services. I wondered if those services could help unpublished authors such as myself or if these sites are mostly scams. They offer query letter writing help, synopsis help, evaluations of manuscripts for plot holes, flow, pacing ect. It isn't that I want to dump a bunch of money into a crappy manuscript as much as wanting to make sure to keep an agent's interest if I were fortunate enough to get a partial of full request.

Side note: I recently had an agent state his interest was piqued for my story but that the sample pages didn't draw him in enough to request more work. After coming in from the ledge, I struggled with how to make my opening better. I think I did but that was a blown opportunity that I don't want to make again.
Here's my post on that: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/10 ... -your.html

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » February 3rd, 2010, 8:11 pm

maybegenius wrote:Prologues included with sample pages: how do agents tend to feel about them? If we're only sending 5-10 sample pages along with a query, should we skip the prologue and get right to the meat of the story?
Here's my post about that: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/03/prologues.html

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maybegenius
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by maybegenius » February 3rd, 2010, 8:18 pm

Oh awesome! Thank you :)
aka S.E. Sinkhorn, or Steph

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Dakota388 » February 3rd, 2010, 8:25 pm

Thank you, Nathan. I so didn't want to be one of the ones to ask you a question that you've already answered. Sorry. Thanks for the link (I must have missed it or forgotten that I'd read it). Your advice is exactly what I was looking for. Now if I could only get your advice on what an ebook should cost... (Just kidding).
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » February 4th, 2010, 12:57 am

kayemevans wrote:I didn't see this posted in your faq's, but it's more of a general question about publishing (not so much about the process, although it does relate to the process from my perspective). I'm curious to know from an agent's POV (the question as it relates to publishing is just below my terrible intro of sentence structure):

In structuring strong sentences (and thus strong prose), I've read advice on certain things like not starting a sentence with a dependent clause, and not starting a sentence with "There are" or "There were." As i read great contemporary novels, I notice these amazing writers doing these very things, sometimes even writing in (what I've thought was) the no-no passive voice. Not all the way thru, of course, but periodically throughout the novels. Example: Rose Madder by King and Prince of Tides by Conroy.

Here's my publishing-related question:

Are publishers (or maybe their editors) more apt to overlook these things b/c the author is already successful and has sold many books for them? Or are the sentence structure police of writing guides and resources being too rigid?? For aspiring authors, is this something to worry about more than established authors? I guess what I'm ultimately asking is this: Is there is higher standard expected (by editors and publishers) of new authors when it comes to more of the technical aspects of writing?

Thanks,
K
This is what copyeditors are for. Agents and editors don't tend to bore down into the details of proper grammar, and even then, unless it's blatantly wrong they'll usually defer to the author. If it works it works.

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