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Holly
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Holly » March 19th, 2010, 2:17 pm

I have a question about the sixth page.

A lot of agents request five page samples, but my suspenseful opening scene ends on the sixth page (six full pages, not five and a paragraph). How big a sin is it to include the sixth page? I assume the main point of the five pages is to see what the writing looks like versus story development.

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Dixon Ticonderoga
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Dixon Ticonderoga » March 20th, 2010, 11:49 pm

I had an agent, from a century old agency in New York, respond to a query on Wednesday, asking for the full manuscript. While polishing the manuscript today (Saturday), I got a request from second agency in New York for a partial (75 pages). I had been editing my manuscript for a year before I began sending out queries. It's in good shape. But in working over it this weekend, I'm still finding small errors. I'll be more than halfway through by Sunday. I'm positive I could have it completely ready by Sunday next.
My question is this: are these agents going to view me in a bad light if I wait a week or two before sending these off? What is the proper etiquette here?
I already felt like I rushed things earlier during the query process, by "using up" great agents before I had my "ultimate" query letter down (my query went through seven revisions), and I'm sick about not having gotten to send my best query. I don't want to repeat the same type of thing with these agents by sending them off inferior partials or fulls, but I don't want to tick them off either.
Help!
Last edited by Dixon Ticonderoga on May 9th, 2010, 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JustineDell » March 21st, 2010, 11:41 am

Richard C Due wrote:I had an agent, from a century old agency in New York, respond to a query on Wednesday, asking for the full manuscript. While polishing the manuscript today (Saturday), I got a request from second agency in New York for a partial (75 pages). I had been editing my manuscript for a year before I began sending out queries. It's in good shape. But in working over it this weekend, I'm still finding small errors. I'll be more than halfway through by Sunday. I'm positive I could have it completely ready by Sunday next.
My question is this: are these agents going to view me in a bad light if I wait a week or two before sending these off? What is the proper etiquette here?
I already felt like I rushed things earlier during the query process, by "using up" great agents before I had my "ultimate" query letter down (my query went through seven revisions), with you, Mr. Bransford, being a prime example (you were my number one agent of choice before I started this query process, and I'm sick about not having gotten to send you my best query). I don't want to repeat the same type of thing with these agents by sending them off inferior partials or fulls, but I don't want to tick them off either.
Help!
Nathan answered this question for me on page 39 of this thread.

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

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 21st, 2010, 12:55 pm

Holly wrote:I have a question about the sixth page.

A lot of agents request five page samples, but my suspenseful opening scene ends on the sixth page (six full pages, not five and a paragraph). How big a sin is it to include the sixth page? I assume the main point of the five pages is to see what the writing looks like versus story development.
If it's pasted into the body of an e-mail I don't think anyone's going to be able to tell that it's six pages instead of five. I probably wouldn't even notice.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 21st, 2010, 12:56 pm

Richard C Due wrote:I had an agent, from a century old agency in New York, respond to a query on Wednesday, asking for the full manuscript. While polishing the manuscript today (Saturday), I got a request from second agency in New York for a partial (75 pages). I had been editing my manuscript for a year before I began sending out queries. It's in good shape. But in working over it this weekend, I'm still finding small errors. I'll be more than halfway through by Sunday. I'm positive I could have it completely ready by Sunday next.
My question is this: are these agents going to view me in a bad light if I wait a week or two before sending these off? What is the proper etiquette here?
I already felt like I rushed things earlier during the query process, by "using up" great agents before I had my "ultimate" query letter down (my query went through seven revisions), with you, Mr. Bransford, being a prime example (you were my number one agent of choice before I started this query process, and I'm sick about not having gotten to send you my best query). I don't want to repeat the same type of thing with these agents by sending them off inferior partials or fulls, but I don't want to tick them off either.
Help!
We picked up the discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1079

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Susan Quinn » March 21st, 2010, 11:54 pm

Nathan - I've searched the blog and forums (thanks for the treasure trove of info!), and I haven't seen this answered, so I'm trying here.

I recently signed a contract with an new e-publisher for my first book (contemporary teen romance). The e-publisher is not a self-publisher or a vanity press, just an publisher that focuses on e-books (although they also do print). However, I get the sense (from the blogosphere comments) that e-publishers are considered "less discerning" than traditional print publishers, and that perhaps this isn't considered a true "pub credit."

Now, I'm about to start an agent search for my middle grade novel, hoping to publish through a traditional print publisher, and I'm wondering if it would help or hurt to include this publishing credit in my query? Does it matter that I'm "contracted" but not "published"? I'm thinking something like: "I'm under contract to publish My Teen Novel Title with E-Publisher Company Extraordinaire in late 2010."

Is it better to list the e-pub credit, rather than have no pub credits at all? Thanks!!
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by christi » March 22nd, 2010, 10:09 am

There is an agent out there, an actual professional agent with many wellknown books and authors who has a rather offensive way of advising authors why she's the best agent out there. At least, if I were an agent I'd be offended. In fact, I'm not even an agent and I've been bothered by this for two days. She doesn't even rep my genre, but if she did and I read what she said about certain genres, I'd be horrified. I won't say who it is, but is any of this true at all?

"From the beginning, I sought out talented writers who had been rejected by every other agent they’d contacted because their mss desperately needed editing. In those early days, I did editing so extensive (every page from the first to the last) that other agents thought I was crazy. I never charged a penny for the work, either." (Insinuation that other agents don't help with editing, and if they do, they charge for it. I know that's not true.)

"That’s the first thing that makes me unique. The second is the way I market. Most agents contact 8 to 10 editors and if all reject the book, the agent drops the book and the author. There are a few agents who keep fighting the good fight to 20, 30 or even 40 editors. I have sold many books after receiving 60, 75, 90, 127 and in two extreme cases 167 and 213 rejections. In those two cases, I kept fighting for their books for three years." (Insinuation that even if we find an agent, if they can't sell our first book in less than a dozen tries, they drop us as clients. Except her. She's SPECIAL. Seriously, do agents do that? I've always heard they were in it for the long haul.)

"The third difference between myself and other agents is that I open my marketing to the writers. Most writers are left in the dark when an agent takes on their book. They may get a brief note or two about what house has been contacted but that’s about it. I copy my writers on every pitch letter I send to an editor so they see both what I wrote about their book and who the editor and publisher are. Then I forward to them every response I receive back from these editors. During the marketing process, they see exactly what’s happening every day." (Insinuation that if you get an agent other than her, you'll never have a clue what's going on with your book or where you stand.)

"My passion is great literary fiction for the adult market. Fiction by unknown authors is almost impossible to sell these days but if the novel is truly brilliant, it will sell if its agent is dedicated." (Insinuation that if you aren't an established writer, you should throw in the towel because no publisher wants your work unless she reps it.)

"I do not want any romance novels, science fiction, fantasy, inspirational, religious, paranormal, erotic. Actually, there are so many genres I don’t want that it’s better to say what I do want… As a rule, I no longer take mysteries, thrillers or historical novels because publishers won’t buy them from unknown authors." (And then this was where I went, "Oh, Janet would totally disagree with this." She is basically telling authors that publishers hate unknown authors and won't consider manuscripts written by them. I know it's tough out there, but this is such a blatant lie that it's laughable. If it didn't make me so angry, that is, and they aren't even my genre.)
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 22nd, 2010, 8:14 pm

Susan Quinn wrote:Nathan - I've searched the blog and forums (thanks for the treasure trove of info!), and I haven't seen this answered, so I'm trying here.

I recently signed a contract with an new e-publisher for my first book (contemporary teen romance). The e-publisher is not a self-publisher or a vanity press, just an publisher that focuses on e-books (although they also do print). However, I get the sense (from the blogosphere comments) that e-publishers are considered "less discerning" than traditional print publishers, and that perhaps this isn't considered a true "pub credit."

Now, I'm about to start an agent search for my middle grade novel, hoping to publish through a traditional print publisher, and I'm wondering if it would help or hurt to include this publishing credit in my query? Does it matter that I'm "contracted" but not "published"? I'm thinking something like: "I'm under contract to publish My Teen Novel Title with E-Publisher Company Extraordinaire in late 2010."

Is it better to list the e-pub credit, rather than have no pub credits at all? Thanks!!
Hmm... it's so tough to say because I think different agents have different opinions about e- and self-publishing. I'd probably mention it because it may be something an agent wants to know, but I don't know that all agents would necessarily consider it a publishing credit or feel that it would help.

Sorry for the muddled response, this is just a case where I don't know if I can summarize the current thinking. As always I think the most important thing is to keep the focus on the work you're querying about - if agents like it enough it won't really matter what else you've published or haven't published.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 22nd, 2010, 8:17 pm

christi wrote:There is an agent out there, an actual professional agent with many wellknown books and authors who has a rather offensive way of advising authors why she's the best agent out there. At least, if I were an agent I'd be offended. In fact, I'm not even an agent and I've been bothered by this for two days. She doesn't even rep my genre, but if she did and I read what she said about certain genres, I'd be horrified. I won't say who it is, but is any of this true at all?

"From the beginning, I sought out talented writers who had been rejected by every other agent they’d contacted because their mss desperately needed editing. In those early days, I did editing so extensive (every page from the first to the last) that other agents thought I was crazy. I never charged a penny for the work, either." (Insinuation that other agents don't help with editing, and if they do, they charge for it. I know that's not true.)

"That’s the first thing that makes me unique. The second is the way I market. Most agents contact 8 to 10 editors and if all reject the book, the agent drops the book and the author. There are a few agents who keep fighting the good fight to 20, 30 or even 40 editors. I have sold many books after receiving 60, 75, 90, 127 and in two extreme cases 167 and 213 rejections. In those two cases, I kept fighting for their books for three years." (Insinuation that even if we find an agent, if they can't sell our first book in less than a dozen tries, they drop us as clients. Except her. She's SPECIAL. Seriously, do agents do that? I've always heard they were in it for the long haul.)

"The third difference between myself and other agents is that I open my marketing to the writers. Most writers are left in the dark when an agent takes on their book. They may get a brief note or two about what house has been contacted but that’s about it. I copy my writers on every pitch letter I send to an editor so they see both what I wrote about their book and who the editor and publisher are. Then I forward to them every response I receive back from these editors. During the marketing process, they see exactly what’s happening every day." (Insinuation that if you get an agent other than her, you'll never have a clue what's going on with your book or where you stand.)

"My passion is great literary fiction for the adult market. Fiction by unknown authors is almost impossible to sell these days but if the novel is truly brilliant, it will sell if its agent is dedicated." (Insinuation that if you aren't an established writer, you should throw in the towel because no publisher wants your work unless she reps it.)

"I do not want any romance novels, science fiction, fantasy, inspirational, religious, paranormal, erotic. Actually, there are so many genres I don’t want that it’s better to say what I do want… As a rule, I no longer take mysteries, thrillers or historical novels because publishers won’t buy them from unknown authors." (And then this was where I went, "Oh, Janet would totally disagree with this." She is basically telling authors that publishers hate unknown authors and won't consider manuscripts written by them. I know it's tough out there, but this is such a blatant lie that it's laughable. If it didn't make me so angry, that is, and they aren't even my genre.)
It's not really my place to speculate on other agents in the business - this is why even though I have the Forums now I still absolutely recommend people to Absolute Write. There are some discussions that I can't really conduct here and they are really a better forum for it.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Susan Quinn » March 22nd, 2010, 8:33 pm

Thanks for the reply! Perhaps I'll do a round of queries with and without the e-pub credit and see what kind of response I get. Hopefully, as you say, the query itself will carry the day (or at least get a partial!).
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Hillsy » March 24th, 2010, 3:34 pm

Hi Nathan.

I have a question about the submission guidelines listed on agencies websites and their own personal preferences. OK, technically it's two questions. OK, ok, ok, it's technically one question posed two different ways but with different answers.

Given that you read all queries, and despite the little nit picks (tag-lines, bad fonts, accidentally calling you Mrs Bransford) you base your decision for representation solely on the 'meat' of the query (Plot, characters, voice), what of the following:

1) Does the following of submission guidelines actually give you useful information about the author?

OK, I understand that each agent has different preferences and often the submission guidelines are there to make the reading of queries more fluid, akin to makeup for the query - accentuating the plot, characters, conflict etc etc without being IN YOUR FACE! about the whole thing. I also know that agents will read through 'bad make-up'. But are these guidelines actually a helpful tool for Agents, giving an insight into the submitter which would otherwise be lost? Namely their ability to follow simple instructions?

Which, in other words, means

2) If every query was submitted perfect to the guidelines, and tailored to your personal preference (no tag-line for example) would your job actually be harder?

Do agents (or their intern slush monkeys) find submission guidelines, or lack of adherence to, a way of managing the slush. If everyone, good and bad books alike, stopped tripping over the first hurdle, would said agent or intern become buried by the extra queries they would normally have thrown away out of hand?

Rather long-winded weren't it?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 24th, 2010, 5:24 pm

Hillsy wrote:Hi Nathan.


1) Does the following of submission guidelines actually give you useful information about the author?[/u]
OK, I understand that each agent has different preferences and often the submission guidelines are there to make the reading of queries more fluid, akin to makeup for the query - accentuating the plot, characters, conflict etc etc without being IN YOUR FACE! about the whole thing. I also know that agents will read through 'bad make-up'. But are these guidelines actually a helpful tool for Agents, giving an insight into the submitter which would otherwise be lost? Namely their ability to follow simple instructions?
Yes, definitely. People who don't take the time to follow guidelines and research what they're doing are also people who tend not to take the time to perfect their craft and revise and all of the not-fun-but-time-consuming things that go into writing. Of course there are exceptions and that's why I still give even badly formatted queries a close look, but I think there's a somewhat strong link.
Hillsy wrote:Which, in other words, means

2) If every query was submitted perfect to the guidelines, and tailored to your personal preference (no tag-line for example) would your job actually be harder?
No, I don't think so - I would love it if everyone sent professionally written and formatted queries because they're much easier to read and make a decision on. With badly written/formatted queries it's sometimes tough to tell if the person isn't a strong writer or if they just don't know what they're doing. If all the queries I received were all written in a professional fashion I wouldn't have to try and parse out those two categories.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Hillsy » March 24th, 2010, 6:50 pm

Nathan, thanks for the info....=0)

Didn't know if it was a case of "Thank God half of these are sloppy otherwise I'd be sleeping under the desk....again."

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JustineDell » March 24th, 2010, 6:58 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
Susan Quinn wrote:Nathan - I've searched the blog and forums (thanks for the treasure trove of info!), and I haven't seen this answered, so I'm trying here.

I recently signed a contract with an new e-publisher for my first book (contemporary teen romance). The e-publisher is not a self-publisher or a vanity press, just an publisher that focuses on e-books (although they also do print). However, I get the sense (from the blogosphere comments) that e-publishers are considered "less discerning" than traditional print publishers, and that perhaps this isn't considered a true "pub credit."

Now, I'm about to start an agent search for my middle grade novel, hoping to publish through a traditional print publisher, and I'm wondering if it would help or hurt to include this publishing credit in my query? Does it matter that I'm "contracted" but not "published"? I'm thinking something like: "I'm under contract to publish My Teen Novel Title with E-Publisher Company Extraordinaire in late 2010."

Is it better to list the e-pub credit, rather than have no pub credits at all? Thanks!!
Hmm... it's so tough to say because I think different agents have different opinions about e- and self-publishing. I'd probably mention it because it may be something an agent wants to know, but I don't know that all agents would necessarily consider it a publishing credit or feel that it would help.

Sorry for the muddled response, this is just a case where I don't know if I can summarize the current thinking. As always I think the most important thing is to keep the focus on the work you're querying about - if agents like it enough it won't really matter what else you've published or haven't published.
This really isn't a question, more of a statment, because I too have read (even on the forums) that agents don't like to read about e-publishing credits. This bothers me for two reasons: 1. A lot of publishers have moved to the e-book market, and I believe this market will only grow. Plus, self-pub and e-pub by reputable publishers are two totally different things. 2. My genre (romance) has several publishers (ones that are even recommended by the RWA) that ONLY publish in e-book format. There are few exceptions to this when they print anthologies or e-books that have a strong following, but mostly, strictly, e-book only.

I think your response was a good one, Nathan, because you never really know what the agents would be thinking. They may think, "Hey, Publisher X is a popluar e-book publisher, so this chick my have the goods" or they could think "Seriously? Publisher Y? Are you kidding me?"

It's a confusing, blurry line.

~JD

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Susan Quinn » March 24th, 2010, 8:16 pm

Justine - You are right that self- and e-publishing are very different things, but there doesn't seem to be much awareness of this. Or at least none that I can detect on the traditional agent/publisher blogs. Maybe this will change as e-books become more prevalent. Or, as another (traditionally published) writer suggested: it may be that the only thing that counts is your sales track record.
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)
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