Old Ask Nathan Thread

Questions for the resident (former) agent
Locked
MrsGIJoe
Posts: 6
Joined: April 23rd, 2010, 11:58 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by MrsGIJoe » April 23rd, 2010, 12:08 pm

Hi Nathan!

I first have to say I have adored your blog for the past year since I started writing my manuscript. Its been a priceless resource. Other agent blogs out there are "good" and helpful but even the way yours is set up just feels so inviting and open. Not so intimidating.

Okay so my question....

I'm almost done writing/editing the manuscript for my first book. Its a memoir about being a 19 year old war bride. I want to go the agent route, I've done LOTS of homework so I feel pretty "prepared." Or as prepared as I'm going to be. However, I also have another idea for a "non-fiction" book that would be more of a gift/coffee table book for military families everywhere to enjoy. After I do my query and proposal for my memoir I was going to get a proposal and sample going of this other idea. I know its a big no,no to pitch more than one idea at a time in a query.

So my question is would it be totally wrong of me to seek representation for my memoir while at the same time (or around then) pitching this other proposal directly to a publisher? I'm fine with waiting if that would just turn out to be a mess. But I wanted to check first.

And with something like this coffee table book I wouldn't actually be writing, I'd be "compiling" pictures and letters from others. With that, is there a "best time" to wait before pitching another project to you agent? I can see how a person would want to wait and see how the first goes, but would it make a difference if the second project is so different and a little less technical work?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my situation!

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1412
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 24th, 2010, 1:49 pm

Regan Leigh wrote:This is a question somewhat related to your recent blog post on the query process.

I've been noticing recently that some agents have changed the game up a bit. :) There have been a few different scenarios I'm aware of since December where a writer was approached by an agent before they even queried. I've heard of it happening through Twitter, blogs, and forums. Some agents have become interested after reading queries posted on blogs or excerpts from the WIP.

This trend may not be new, but it's a tactic I'd never seen before. I'm interested in your opinion. Is this a common practice for agents? To seek out writers first? Does it show a lack of faith in the query process on the agent's end or is it merely them being proactive?


(If this question has been asked before, my apologies.)
This has been a part of the process for a long time, though I think writers need to be very careful when agents approach them directly and make sure they are reputable. I do occasionally reach out to authors who work I see online or whose stories/articles I see in journals and magazines, but there are also disreputable agents who try and rope authors in, something Writer Beware recently posted about: http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/04/q ... etter.html

If you're approached by an agent, always always always do your research. Check the background checks on Absolute Write and Google them and see what people says. If they look legit: good work! But if they're not, don't get sucked in by flattery.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1412
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 24th, 2010, 1:55 pm

MrsGIJoe wrote:Hi Nathan!

I first have to say I have adored your blog for the past year since I started writing my manuscript. Its been a priceless resource. Other agent blogs out there are "good" and helpful but even the way yours is set up just feels so inviting and open. Not so intimidating.

Okay so my question....

I'm almost done writing/editing the manuscript for my first book. Its a memoir about being a 19 year old war bride. I want to go the agent route, I've done LOTS of homework so I feel pretty "prepared." Or as prepared as I'm going to be. However, I also have another idea for a "non-fiction" book that would be more of a gift/coffee table book for military families everywhere to enjoy. After I do my query and proposal for my memoir I was going to get a proposal and sample going of this other idea. I know its a big no,no to pitch more than one idea at a time in a query.

So my question is would it be totally wrong of me to seek representation for my memoir while at the same time (or around then) pitching this other proposal directly to a publisher? I'm fine with waiting if that would just turn out to be a mess. But I wanted to check first.

And with something like this coffee table book I wouldn't actually be writing, I'd be "compiling" pictures and letters from others. With that, is there a "best time" to wait before pitching another project to you agent? I can see how a person would want to wait and see how the first goes, but would it make a difference if the second project is so different and a little less technical work?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my situation!
I think it's up to you, and I think you're right to focus on finding an agent for a memoir and a specialty publisher (and you might consider self-publishing) for the coffee table book. Since it's a niche project intended for a specific audience I don't know if it's necessarily going to be something that would be right for an agent to handle for you. That said, since the memoir seems to be your front burner project I might consider just focusing on that and if you find an agent discussing the other idea with them to see if they think it would be the right next step for your career.

User avatar
FK7
Posts: 190
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 1:21 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by FK7 » April 24th, 2010, 5:38 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote: Well, two main responses:

1) I don't think it's totally ethical to shop around an offer of representation everywhere, including to people you haven't yet queried. You should definitely let the people who are actively considering your work that you have an offer, but as far as taking the offer and then going to new people? I wouldn't do it. It's not respectful of the agent who made you the offer.

2) When you're notifying the agents actively considering that you have an offer of representation, I don't think it's necessary to tell everyone who the offer of representation is from unless someone asks - and then yeah, we figure you'll tell other people when they do ask, but I wouldn't lead with that info.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer me so thoroughly.

User avatar
Regan Leigh
Posts: 207
Joined: January 15th, 2010, 4:24 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Regan Leigh » April 26th, 2010, 7:44 pm

Thanks for the response and the link! Fortunately, these writers were approached by some pretty top notch agents. Thanks again.
Image

backfence
Posts: 3
Joined: March 5th, 2010, 9:56 pm
Contact:

Ask Nathan -- Auctions

Post by backfence » April 30th, 2010, 8:28 pm

Nathan: I'm curious about these book auctions I keep hearing about. Quite often I see posts or blogs by agents saying they just sold SUCH AND SUCH: A MEMOIR at auction to a publisher. Can you explain, either here or in your blog, how these auctions work and which books you choose to sell at auction (if not all) and why. I'd really like to know more about this. Thanks.

Carol B

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1412
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan -- Auctions

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 30th, 2010, 10:14 pm

backfence wrote:Nathan: I'm curious about these book auctions I keep hearing about. Quite often I see posts or blogs by agents saying they just sold SUCH AND SUCH: A MEMOIR at auction to a publisher. Can you explain, either here or in your blog, how these auctions work and which books you choose to sell at auction (if not all) and why. I'd really like to know more about this. Thanks.

Carol B
Auctions happen when more than one publisher is interested in bidding on a title and the agent will schedule an auction. There are different formats but basically the bidding goes on until there's one publisher left and they're the winning bidder.

Leila
Posts: 140
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 1:16 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Leila » May 1st, 2010, 12:41 pm

Hi Nathan

After reading the sample pages from your Agent for a Day experiment (fantastically useful and helpful exercise, thanks for that) I have two questions about how to determine if your manuscript is polished enough before submitting your query.

I understand from reading your comments that the participants in your experiement may need to polish (and/or edit) their work before submitting for real (if that were their intent). But say they submitted their work as is, what would your response be? Would you suggest they go away and polish/edit a bit more then resubmit to you? Or would you pass because you see work that is more polished all the time and people only get one shot? I'm not taking a shot at the participants, their work was great, I'm just using it as an example. The assumption here is, of course, that you requested a partial from them (I know you said you probably wouldn't, but again just for illustrative purposes).

The reason I raise this issue is I'm a bit concerned about knowing just how polished is polished, if that makes sense. I can edit and polish as much as possible, I can have others read and critique, but there is, of course, the potential that I can't see the blind spots in spite of my best efforts. I would hate to lose a chance at being seriously considered by an agent because I couldn't see the minimum platform I needed to reach before submitting.

So, how do agents define polished? How polished is polished? Apart from the obvious grammar, spelling, logic checks etc.

Do you have any advice regarding things to look out for in the polishing process? Perhaps from a sophistication perspective (eg contemporary use of commas) or a consistency perspective?

I hope all this makes sense. Happy to try and clarify if not.

Thanks very much.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1412
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 1st, 2010, 3:44 pm

Leila wrote:Hi Nathan

After reading the sample pages from your Agent for a Day experiment (fantastically useful and helpful exercise, thanks for that) I have two questions about how to determine if your manuscript is polished enough before submitting your query.

I understand from reading your comments that the participants in your experiement may need to polish (and/or edit) their work before submitting for real (if that were their intent). But say they submitted their work as is, what would your response be? Would you suggest they go away and polish/edit a bit more then resubmit to you? Or would you pass because you see work that is more polished all the time and people only get one shot? I'm not taking a shot at the participants, their work was great, I'm just using it as an example. The assumption here is, of course, that you requested a partial from them (I know you said you probably wouldn't, but again just for illustrative purposes).

The reason I raise this issue is I'm a bit concerned about knowing just how polished is polished, if that makes sense. I can edit and polish as much as possible, I can have others read and critique, but there is, of course, the potential that I can't see the blind spots in spite of my best efforts. I would hate to lose a chance at being seriously considered by an agent because I couldn't see the minimum platform I needed to reach before submitting.

So, how do agents define polished? How polished is polished? Apart from the obvious grammar, spelling, logic checks etc.

Do you have any advice regarding things to look out for in the polishing process? Perhaps from a sophistication perspective (eg contemporary use of commas) or a consistency perspective?

I hope all this makes sense. Happy to try and clarify if not.

Thanks very much.
This is kind of one of those eternal mysteries inherent in the publishing process. I will occasionally encourage writers to resubmit, but for the most part when something just isn't ready I have to move on to the next thing. Admittedly it's pretty tough to know whether your project is ready or not but all you can do is polish polish polish, try to get the best feedback you can, and see what happens. If it doesn't work the first time put the novel in the drawer and write an even better book the next time. The only thing you can really do is keep trying.

Leila
Posts: 140
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 1:16 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Leila » May 2nd, 2010, 12:48 am

Thanks very much Nathan.

jazzlovesnoodles
Posts: 23
Joined: December 6th, 2009, 8:40 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by jazzlovesnoodles » May 3rd, 2010, 2:13 pm

Hi Nathan

If you are seeking representation for a novel which comes with illustrations which you think are needed in order for the story to read properly (THE SELECTED WORKS OF T.S. SPIVET, for instance), would you include those in any copies of the manuscript an agent might request at the query stage or leave them out until later in the publishing stage? Also, what if they enhance the book but are not necessarily required to portray the story?

Thanks

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1412
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 3rd, 2010, 7:50 pm

jazzlovesnoodles wrote:Hi Nathan

If you are seeking representation for a novel which comes with illustrations which you think are needed in order for the story to read properly (THE SELECTED WORKS OF T.S. SPIVET, for instance), would you include those in any copies of the manuscript an agent might request at the query stage or leave them out until later in the publishing stage? Also, what if they enhance the book but are not necessarily required to portray the story?

Thanks
If they're integral to oe enhance the story I'd include them. But if they're more for fun and/or not truly integral I don't know that I would.

jazzlovesnoodles
Posts: 23
Joined: December 6th, 2009, 8:40 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by jazzlovesnoodles » May 4th, 2010, 2:28 pm

ok, thanks.

lmr1999
Posts: 5
Joined: February 6th, 2010, 8:37 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by lmr1999 » May 5th, 2010, 5:58 pm

Nathan,

I was lucky enough to receive a partial request from an agent. In her response, she says she liked parts of it "a lot" but found the 80-year-old grandmother's chapter to not be as engaging as the rest. Then she asked for a chapter summary. When an agent asks for a chapter summary, what exactly is he or she looking for? Plot? Tone? Also, would it be appropriate to explain that the initial chapter for Grandma is sort of setting things up? The rest of her chapters are completely different in that they're flashbacks to her youth. I appreciate any insight you can give me.

Thanks,
Laura

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1412
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 5th, 2010, 10:53 pm

lmr1999 wrote:Nathan,

I was lucky enough to receive a partial request from an agent. In her response, she says she liked parts of it "a lot" but found the 80-year-old grandmother's chapter to not be as engaging as the rest. Then she asked for a chapter summary. When an agent asks for a chapter summary, what exactly is he or she looking for? Plot? Tone? Also, would it be appropriate to explain that the initial chapter for Grandma is sort of setting things up? The rest of her chapters are completely different in that they're flashbacks to her youth. I appreciate any insight you can give me.

Thanks,
Laura
A chapter summary is basically a chapter by chapter breakdown of what happens in each chapter. More plot than tone, but try and make it as readable as possible, though I wouldn't explain too much. It's usually intended to be a nuts and bolts summary. Though I'm unclear whether she wants a chapter summary for the whole book or just a summary of this particular chapter. You can always clarify with her if you're unsure.

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests