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 » July 4th, 2010, 2:13 pm

carolm wrote:Nathan -

First and foremost - thank you for my very first ever reject last week ;). Knew it was coming and it was like a rite of passage =D. I've also revised both my query letter and manuscript since then :p. Such is life...

Another question I haven't seen answered, but it's possible I've missed it... I don't think so but you never know...

CreateSpace gave all NaNoWriMo winners a free proof copy of their manuscript [code expires tomorrow - yeah, nothing like waiting till the last minute]. The last time I had looked at the site, they didn't assign an ISBN until you actually made it available/published/whatever, but now it's assigned immediately. I have read that agents/publishers are wary of something that has already had an ISBN at some point. All I want is the proof copy. It is very unlikely to be published there ever [read: only after I've spent years and several other books getting rejected at all turns ;)], but I don't want to ruin my shots at an agent/publisher just for a free copy.

If nothing else, I'll get my daughter [age 8 who finished her first Young Writer's Program] another copy of her book but am curious as to your thoughts?

Hope NY is going well for you! Thank you again for your site and all you do!
CarolM
If it's assigned an ISBN I wouldn't do it - its not the end of the world, but if you have an ISBN the sales are going to be tracked and better not to have that on your "record" when you're not going all-out self-publishing. If you want a proof copy there are way easier ways of going about it, whether through Apple or even the local print shop.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Sera.Phyn » July 5th, 2010, 12:17 pm

A friend of mine is about to be published by a brand new independent house (literally brand new. Her's is the first book they're releasing) and the house is officially opening for submissions on August 1st. I've been trying the mainstream route for a few years now and while I've gotten within inches of agent contracts 3 times I'm still hanging onto the bandwagon on my own. My question is, if I submit and get accepted by this small house, is it likely that I could get an agent who might handle other sales for me (foreign, etc.)? The thought of attempting to handle it without assistance is somewhat daunting. Okay, more than a little daunting.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by aarnold » July 5th, 2010, 9:55 pm

Hi, Nathan. I have three questions. If any of these questions were already asked or answered before...well, shame on me, I guess. Sorry if that's the case.

1) I'm working on a nonfiction project right now, but I intend for virtually all of my other work to be fiction. When I send the nonfiction project to agents, should I mention that I'm really going to be a fiction writer? I figure I should be honest about that, in case they expect me to write on that subject, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

2) I'm also about to begin writing stories for a planned mostly-reprint short story collection in the horror genre. I know some agents represent them, and I've read your blog post explaining that you personally represent collections, but is it better for a short story writer to send a collection to a publisher that accepts them directly, or to an agent? Basically, which is more likely to be more open to a single-genre collection?

3) This is really a matter of curiosity. But they say there's no such thing as a stupid question. Do you think more agents handle rejections via a form or no response whatsoever?

Thanks for your time, Nathan. I appreciate the amount of work you do to help writers.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 7th, 2010, 12:36 am

Sera.Phyn wrote:A friend of mine is about to be published by a brand new independent house (literally brand new. Her's is the first book they're releasing) and the house is officially opening for submissions on August 1st. I've been trying the mainstream route for a few years now and while I've gotten within inches of agent contracts 3 times I'm still hanging onto the bandwagon on my own. My question is, if I submit and get accepted by this small house, is it likely that I could get an agent who might handle other sales for me (foreign, etc.)? The thought of attempting to handle it without assistance is somewhat daunting. Okay, more than a little daunting.
There are a lot of variables here - the first and foremost is that regardless of what a publisher offers, an agent still has to feel like they're the best fit for your work long term. Realistically, a brand new independent house is not going to be offering the type of money that will attract an agent on its own. So I wouldn't say it's "likely" that the offer is going to net an agent, but it's certainly possible. If it comes through I would definitely try to secure an agent, because the contract a good agent will negotiate would be worth the commission itself, let alone the career planning and all other functions an agent will provide.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 7th, 2010, 12:42 am

aarnold wrote:Hi, Nathan. I have three questions. If any of these questions were already asked or answered before...well, shame on me, I guess. Sorry if that's the case.

1) I'm working on a nonfiction project right now, but I intend for virtually all of my other work to be fiction. When I send the nonfiction project to agents, should I mention that I'm really going to be a fiction writer? I figure I should be honest about that, in case they expect me to write on that subject, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Here's my general post on genre-hopping. I guess I wouldn't worry so much about what you're going to tell the agent, but are you sure you want to genre hop?

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/12 ... pping.html
aarnold wrote:2) I'm also about to begin writing stories for a planned mostly-reprint short story collection in the horror genre. I know some agents represent them, and I've read your blog post explaining that you personally represent collections, but is it better for a short story writer to send a collection to a publisher that accepts them directly, or to an agent? Basically, which is more likely to be more open to a single-genre collection?
In general I'd always try first with agents.
aarnold wrote:3) This is really a matter of curiosity. But they say there's no such thing as a stupid question. Do you think more agents handle rejections via a form or no response whatsoever?

Thanks for your time, Nathan. I appreciate the amount of work you do to help writers.
Others on this site (i.e. those in the query trenches) would probably be able to answer this better than me - I haven't queried widely before so I don't know what the most common practice is. My guess is no response, but I'm not certain.

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FK7
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by FK7 » July 8th, 2010, 6:37 pm

aarnold wrote:
3) This is really a matter of curiosity. But they say there's no such thing as a stupid question. Do you think more agents handle rejections via a form or no response whatsoever?
I'd say it's split 25% no response/75% form rejection according to my stats and other's I've seen.

QueryTracker can provide a lot of information on that front!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JuiceinLA » July 9th, 2010, 3:44 pm

Hi Nathan, First I'd like to thank you for these forums and your website, both have been very helpful during this fall through the looking glass, you call finding an agent.

Second I am wondering if it is appropriate for an agent to request that an author send a full manuscript in MS Word format. I have had two agents ask for the document that way, and it bothers me. because it is then alterable and could be used by a less scrupulous person, or even slightly modified and passed off as their own work. The arrogant assumption that my work is publishable aside, I don't like sending my entire manuscript in an editable format to someone I don't have a contract with- but want to know if its common practice in your world, and if so- why?

If its not common practice, how would you recommend I approach the issue? This is a seemingly reputable well respected successful agent whom I don't want to lose because I am uptight.

thanks again.

Juice

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 11th, 2010, 7:15 pm

JuiceinLA wrote:Hi Nathan, First I'd like to thank you for these forums and your website, both have been very helpful during this fall through the looking glass, you call finding an agent.

Second I am wondering if it is appropriate for an agent to request that an author send a full manuscript in MS Word format. I have had two agents ask for the document that way, and it bothers me. because it is then alterable and could be used by a less scrupulous person, or even slightly modified and passed off as their own work. The arrogant assumption that my work is publishable aside, I don't like sending my entire manuscript in an editable format to someone I don't have a contract with- but want to know if its common practice in your world, and if so- why?

If its not common practice, how would you recommend I approach the issue? This is a seemingly reputable well respected successful agent whom I don't want to lose because I am uptight.

thanks again.

Juice
We have a very good reason to request that it's sent in Word - we're going to be reading on e-readers, and things get very wonky when pdfs are involved. We could ask for .rtf, but not everyone knows what that is and so it's just easier to ask to be sent in Word.

The odds of having your work stolen in this fashion are so vanishingly small you're more likely to be hit by a meteorite while you're saving your Word document. Why would an agent go through the trouble of plagiarizing your work rather than just sign you up, especially when there's an obvious e-paper trail? Just send it in the fashion the agent asks.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Meredith » July 13th, 2010, 8:34 pm

I have two questions.

Question One: Word count in a query. Should it be the actual word count (rounded to the nearest thousand), or some sort of calculation, like 250 words per ms page?

Question Two: This one is in the FAQs, but the answer is two years old so I wonder if the answer is still the same. Should information about a blog or website be in the query letter, or just in the signature block?

Thanks.
MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by hulbertsfriend » July 14th, 2010, 12:54 am

Hi Nathan,
I doubt my situation is unique. The book I have written is kind of long..........230K. I've read your views on length of work as well as a few others. My situation offers the ability to separate my work into at least 3 books if needed. The way I have wrtten my character's path from one event to the next has made this possible. My question for you is it advantageous to present a work as possibly three books instead of one.

thanks again, Doug M
"All it takes to fly is to hurl yourself at the ground... and miss." Douglas Adams

JuiceinLA
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by JuiceinLA » July 14th, 2010, 2:55 pm

Thank you again, both for your response to my questions and the attention you give to this site and all of us would be published authors. Truly impressive!!!

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by CharleeVale » July 14th, 2010, 4:16 pm

I asked about this in the forums, but I thought I'd ask the source!

My book most easily fits into the genre 'New Adult'. Is this an acceptable genre to query under yet? or are Adult and young adult the only viable options at the moment?

CV

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 14th, 2010, 9:37 pm

Meredith wrote:I have two questions.

Question One: Word count in a query. Should it be the actual word count (rounded to the nearest thousand), or some sort of calculation, like 250 words per ms page?
Actual word count.
Meredith wrote:Question Two: This one is in the FAQs, but the answer is two years old so I wonder if the answer is still the same. Should information about a blog or website be in the query letter, or just in the signature block?

Thanks.
Signature block.

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 14th, 2010, 9:40 pm

hulbertsfriend wrote:Hi Nathan,
I doubt my situation is unique. The book I have written is kind of long..........230K. I've read your views on length of work as well as a few others. My situation offers the ability to separate my work into at least 3 books if needed. The way I have wrtten my character's path from one event to the next has made this possible. My question for you is it advantageous to present a work as possibly three books instead of one.

thanks again, Doug M
To quote the great Yoda: Do or do not. There is no suggesting that it might be possible to split into three books.

Basically, whether you decide to try with a huge debut tome (which I wouldn't recommend - you're diminishing your odds) or whether you decide to try and break it up into three books (also risky because you might be saving your best plot elements for later when you should be going for broke with your debut) is up to you to decide, but you should decide and act on it before you try and query agents.

I guess the real question I would ask is: does it really need to be 230k words? Really really?

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Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 14th, 2010, 9:41 pm

CharleeVale wrote:I asked about this in the forums, but I thought I'd ask the source!

My book most easily fits into the genre 'New Adult'. Is this an acceptable genre to query under yet? or are Adult and young adult the only viable options at the moment?

CV
Right now there's really on one publisher who is calling it New Adult, so I'd probably stick to another classification or put it in quotes to show that you know it's a tentative label, if that makes sense.

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