Old Ask Nathan Thread

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Fate of Manuscript if Agent Leaves...

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 3rd, 2010, 4:56 pm

wallybruce wrote: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
That's a good question - you might try and e-mail the agent back at their e-mail address to ask (someone might be checking their e-mail) or check with another agent at the agency. That's somewhat uncharted waters though, and yeah, you might be out of luck.

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Todd Packer
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Todd Packer » March 3rd, 2010, 7:33 pm

Nathan,

What are your thoughts on gimmick/parody books, like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and this new Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter book that's getting a lot press recently? Are you seeing more queries for mash up works like this and do you think this is a here today, gone tomorrow phase?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 3rd, 2010, 9:25 pm

Todd Packer wrote:Nathan,

What are your thoughts on gimmick/parody books, like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and this new Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter book that's getting a lot press recently? Are you seeing more queries for mash up works like this and do you think this is a here today, gone tomorrow phase?
I haven't seen too many actually. I do think it's a phase, but I also think we're in a cultural moment where mashups and reappropriations are in vogue and it's applying to books too. I think things like this will be especially common with enhanced e-books, where it will be even more possible to turn old public domain works into something new.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JBarracudaL » March 4th, 2010, 4:37 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
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.
Thanks a lot for the reply. I'm sorry to have overlooked your post on word count. I'm going back through now, polishing the little things. Trying to part ways with some unnecessary bits. It's a psychological horror/fantasy story where unusual, freakish things occur without very much provocation. Deciding where to draw the line is what I'm doing now. Deciding what the reader will be intrigued by or even frightened of, then what will seem like simply too much, as if I'm beating around the bush. My issue is that I want it to be this tight story, where narration is fixed on the protagonist's shoulders, her long journey should be the reader's long journey. Or some such masturbatory hogwash.
I know the end product will be unavoidably long, so I might go with my gut on most of it. Still, I'll do my best to take a step back and question the necessity of everything.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JustineDell » March 5th, 2010, 3:38 pm

I never thought I would be asking a question, but here I am :-)

And, like everyone else says - if I've missed this somewhere on your blog, I'm sorry. Here goes:

You get a request for an MS (from a publisher or agent). How quickly does said agent/publisher expect to get it? And how long is too long to wait to send it? Would it hurt to go over with fine-tooth comb on more time before sending it, which would make you send it several days after the actual request?

Is there a strict timeline guide for this type of thing?

Thanks Nathan!

~JD

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"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by christi » March 6th, 2010, 6:09 pm

From an agent's perspective, is there a POV that you dismiss as subpar? Some agents say they hate second person, others say that third person omnicient is amateur. Do you have an opinion of your own preference/rejection and that of the industry?
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 8th, 2010, 3:06 pm

JustineDell wrote:I never thought I would be asking a question, but here I am :-)

And, like everyone else says - if I've missed this somewhere on your blog, I'm sorry. Here goes:

You get a request for an MS (from a publisher or agent). How quickly does said agent/publisher expect to get it? And how long is too long to wait to send it? Would it hurt to go over with fine-tooth comb on more time before sending it, which would make you send it several days after the actual request?

Is there a strict timeline guide for this type of thing?

Thanks Nathan!

~JD
I don't know that there's a strict guideline, but I find it strange when it comes in long (as in weeks) after the request. It wouldn't be a deal-breaker by any means, but I would find it curious.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 8th, 2010, 3:10 pm

christi wrote:From an agent's perspective, is there a POV that you dismiss as subpar? Some agents say they hate second person, others say that third person omnicient is amateur. Do you have an opinion of your own preference/rejection and that of the industry?
Second person is extremely, extremely difficult to do well, and I don't think it ever really succeeds over the course of a novel unless it's diluted somehow or if, say, the narrator is speaking to someone very specifically and the second person elements are used sparingly. It's a personal reaction, but every time I'm reading something second person and it's like, "You're walking through a field. You're smelling the air." I either thinking, "No, I'm not actually!" or I start having to pretend I'm listening to a hypnotist.

Other than that, any perspective can be done well, and it's important for the author to choose the perspective that works best for their world, their characters, and their style. There are no hard and fast rules.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by EvelynEhrlich » March 8th, 2010, 4:46 pm

Justine,
The partial request that I got included instructions to upload to the agent's online submission form, with a password that was only good for 7 - 10 days. So, at least for that agent, 7 - 10 days must be an acceptable time period.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by MosesSiregar » March 10th, 2010, 12:41 pm

Hi Nathan, in general, if a new author has his first book uploaded to the Kindle store, and it's selling well there and getting great reviews on Amazon, would this make you more or less likely to want to represent him? How would most agents feel about this, in your estimation?

More specifically, I think I've got a good strategy for launching my book on Kindle first (I can reach a fairly big audience and tell them about it), and then querying agents. What do you think about this approach? Is this a viable, new strategy in today's publishing landscape--or, would agents and publishers want to avoid a Kindle book, even if the reviews on the book were great? I've heard some stories of agents approaching people who were doing well on Kindle, but I don't know how seriously to take these stories yet.

Thanks very much for your time.
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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 10th, 2010, 6:35 pm

MosesSiregar wrote:Hi Nathan, in general, if a new author has his first book uploaded to the Kindle store, and it's selling well there and getting great reviews on Amazon, would this make you more or less likely to want to represent him? How would most agents feel about this, in your estimation?

More specifically, I think I've got a good strategy for launching my book on Kindle first (I can reach a fairly big audience and tell them about it), and then querying agents. What do you think about this approach? Is this a viable, new strategy in today's publishing landscape--or, would agents and publishers want to avoid a Kindle book, even if the reviews on the book were great? I've heard some stories of agents approaching people who were doing well on Kindle, but I don't know how seriously to take these stories yet.

Thanks very much for your time.
I think if someone self-publishes by choice and the book begins to take off the agents who are open to considering self-published works would consider that a good thing, but I don't know that I'd go about it this way if your main goal is to attract an agent. The best way of finding an agent is writing a great book and then writing a great query, and that goes for whether it's unpublished or self-published. Some agents may feel that the Kindle availability could complicate things.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JustineDell » March 13th, 2010, 7:19 pm

Hello again, Nathan!

Do all the agents at Curtis Brown reply to email queries? I ask because I sent an email query to an agent (not you, I'm too intimidated for that) five weeks ago. I'm hoping no response means it got lost somewhere in cyber space. I don't recall reading any specifics about this on their website, aside from they respond to a snail mail query within 6-8 weeks, so I thought I would check in with you before officially checking them off my list. Thanks in advance for your response :-)

~JD

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"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by christi » March 13th, 2010, 8:41 pm

Justine - I queried another agent there weeks ago as well and have no response to date. Perhaps Nathan is just the cat's pajamas :-)
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

http://christigoddard.blogspot.com/

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JustineDell » March 13th, 2010, 9:30 pm

christi wrote:Justine - I queried another agent there weeks ago as well and have no response to date. Perhaps Nathan is just the cat's pajamas :-)
*Big Smile*

http://www.justine-dell.blogspot.com/

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 15th, 2010, 12:03 pm

JustineDell wrote:Hello again, Nathan!

Do all the agents at Curtis Brown reply to email queries? I ask because I sent an email query to an agent (not you, I'm too intimidated for that) five weeks ago. I'm hoping no response means it got lost somewhere in cyber space. I don't recall reading any specifics about this on their website, aside from they respond to a snail mail query within 6-8 weeks, so I thought I would check in with you before officially checking them off my list. Thanks in advance for your response :-)

~JD
No, some agents have no-response-means-no policies when it comes to e-queries.

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