Old Ask Nathan Thread

Questions for the resident (former) agent
User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1372
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 10th, 2010, 9:44 pm

LisaAhn wrote:Hi Nathan,
Thanks for providing such helpful information!
On Writer's Market, some agents ask for a synopsis and others ask for an outline. I understand what a synopsis is and how to write one, but I am not sure what they mean by an outline. Could you clarify the difference between a synopsis and outline and give some tips on how to structure the outline?
Thank you.
Hmm... well, I haven't seen too many outlines for novels, so I'm not quite sure what they're looking for either. Unless they mean a chapter by chapter summary? I dunno. Honestly I'd just send them a synopsis, I'm sure they're not really going to hold you to it and that's what they might mean by outline anyway.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1372
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 10th, 2010, 9:46 pm

Mira wrote:Hi Nathan,

So my conversation yesterday with Margo got me thinking. Do agents represent folks who are primarily interested in e-publishing? Well, more specifically, do you?

Thank you!
I don't know that I'd necessarily say I represent people who are primarily interested in e-publishing, but that's not to say I wouldn't help a client I believed in e-publish. So I guess my answer is "it depends."

lisa01
Posts: 7
Joined: September 9th, 2010, 6:12 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by lisa01 » September 10th, 2010, 10:57 pm

Hi Nathan,

I have a question about romance queries. I know agents and editors prefer one POV in them, but I've also seen sucessful romance queries on Query Shark and Agent Kristin's blog that have two -- the hero's and the heroine's. What is your take on this?

Thansks!

User avatar
marilyn peake
Posts: 304
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 4:29 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by marilyn peake » September 10th, 2010, 11:25 pm

Thank you so much, Nathan. I appreciate your insight and expertise, and am very glad that I finally asked my questions here.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1372
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 11th, 2010, 2:31 am

lisa01 wrote:Hi Nathan,

I have a question about romance queries. I know agents and editors prefer one POV in them, but I've also seen sucessful romance queries on Query Shark and Agent Kristin's blog that have two -- the hero's and the heroine's. What is your take on this?

Thansks!
I'm not quite confident I understand the question as most advice I've seen says to not write a query from any characters' POV. If you mean just giving a sense of each characters' goals/objectives you have more leeway.

But ultimately, if it works it works!

lisa01
Posts: 7
Joined: September 9th, 2010, 6:12 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by lisa01 » September 11th, 2010, 2:54 am

Nathan Bransford wrote:
lisa01 wrote:Hi Nathan,

I have a question about romance queries. I know agents and editors prefer one POV in them, but I've also seen sucessful romance queries on Query Shark and Agent Kristin's blog that have two -- the hero's and the heroine's. What is your take on this?

Thansks!
I'm not quite confident I understand the question as most advice I've seen says to not write a query from any characters' POV. If you mean just giving a sense of each characters' goals/objectives you have more leeway.

But ultimately, if it works it works!
Woops, what you said above is how I should have phrased it. Thanks for answering my question!

User avatar
AMSchilling
Posts: 90
Joined: July 20th, 2010, 1:05 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by AMSchilling » September 11th, 2010, 11:08 am

Nathan Bransford wrote:
AMSchilling wrote:Nathan:

I'm finding myself in a bit of a pickle with the query process, and was wondering if you had some advice. I've been querying my YA urban fantasy novel, and so far have only received 1 request for a full (answer pending) and 10 form rejections. Deciding that my query didn't have enough of a hook, or show the stakes enough to be enticing, I started rewriting it. It took a while but I finally came up with a query that shows the major conflict and drama of the story, and I like it. It definitely speaks to the stakes! But... everything that's mentioned in this new version happens in the last third of the book. The first two thirds of the story is condensed down to the first four sentences in the query.

Is this a problem? On the one hand I realize this might mean that my book spends too much time setting everything up for the main conflict/showdown/resolution. But putting that aside as a factor for now (I'll look at it and see if that's the case - I honestly will), would you as an agent be annoyed to have to read 200 pages to get to the specifics that I've teased you with in the query letter? It's not that there's nothing else going on--everything is setting the stage for what happens and develops the characters and the world, as well as building up tension--but things don't get to the "stuff hits the fan" level until you've already invested a number of hours reading. I feel like maybe I'm misrepresenting the story, focusing my query on only what happens after the bulk of the novel is read.

I certainly don't want to annoy any possible future agents if this is a no-no. How would you feel if it happened to you?
I think it's a potential problem, but it's tough to really say without actually reading the manuscript. As long as the manuscript works, I'd view the query as an ends-justifying-the-means situation.

Thanks, Nathan! I know it's not possible to tell just how much of a problem it would be without reading the book, so I appreciate you trying to answer. I think I need to stop worrying about trying to make the book sound like something it isn't just to get someone to read it. At least at this point. I really haven't queried a lot yet, and not every book is full-tilt action.

I've got a full out to someone right now, so maybe I'll just wait to get their feedback on it before I do anything drastic to the query. If they give me some critique, then it should come clear if there's an issue with the book itself. If not, then I'd be more comfortable taking an "end justifies the means" approach to get it read. It's just so tempting sometimes to try to rush the process. Patience for the slothful timeline in publishing is something I'm still working on. :-)
-Amy

"Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." - Stephen King

http://www.amschilling.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/AM-Schill ... 9869525150

LisaAhn
Posts: 2
Joined: September 10th, 2010, 2:06 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by LisaAhn » September 11th, 2010, 1:11 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:
LisaAhn wrote:Hi Nathan,
Thanks for providing such helpful information!
On Writer's Market, some agents ask for a synopsis and others ask for an outline. I understand what a synopsis is and how to write one, but I am not sure what they mean by an outline. Could you clarify the difference between a synopsis and outline and give some tips on how to structure the outline?
Thank you.
Hmm... well, I haven't seen too many outlines for novels, so I'm not quite sure what they're looking for either. Unless they mean a chapter by chapter summary? I dunno. Honestly I'd just send them a synopsis, I'm sure they're not really going to hold you to it and that's what they might mean by outline anyway.
Thank you Nathan.

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Mira » September 11th, 2010, 6:03 pm

Nathan - thank you. "It depends" is a fair answer. :)

User avatar
TigerGray
Posts: 74
Joined: August 24th, 2010, 5:19 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by TigerGray » September 12th, 2010, 4:06 am

Please god, tell me the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Right now the distinction seems totally arbitrary and I am getting quite annoyed by trying to tell if there's a real difference or if it is all in the pitch.
"Who knows themselves better than the blind?' - for every thought becomes a tool." --Luis Borges

http://tigergray.blogspot.com/

stephmcgee
Posts: 210
Joined: August 16th, 2010, 12:44 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by stephmcgee » September 12th, 2010, 11:17 am

TigerGray wrote:Please god, tell me the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Right now the distinction seems totally arbitrary and I am getting quite annoyed by trying to tell if there's a real difference or if it is all in the pitch.
If you're on Twitter, you should check out #UFChat each Saturday. They talked about this distinction a few weeks ago. One thing that was bandied about was that the cover of PNR has the girl's back to you, while urban has the heroine (if she's pictured at all) facing forward. They also talked about how heavy the emphasis on the romance is in the narrative. They had a guest author talking about it too. Very interesting stuff. There's a blog for it too. The chat moderator puts the transcript up within 36 hours after each chat. There are all sorts of resources there too.

http://ufchat.wordpress.com/

User avatar
Leonidas
Posts: 99
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:35 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Leonidas » September 12th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Why are the titles of projects supposed to be capitalized in queries? Is it just to make the title of a novel stand out more against the text of the query, or for some obscure reason I'm not aware of?

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1372
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 14th, 2010, 8:53 pm

AMSchilling wrote:
Thanks, Nathan! I know it's not possible to tell just how much of a problem it would be without reading the book, so I appreciate you trying to answer. I think I need to stop worrying about trying to make the book sound like something it isn't just to get someone to read it. At least at this point. I really haven't queried a lot yet, and not every book is full-tilt action.

I've got a full out to someone right now, so maybe I'll just wait to get their feedback on it before I do anything drastic to the query. If they give me some critique, then it should come clear if there's an issue with the book itself. If not, then I'd be more comfortable taking an "end justifies the means" approach to get it read. It's just so tempting sometimes to try to rush the process. Patience for the slothful timeline in publishing is something I'm still working on. :-)
Ha- yeah, I always say the waiting is the worst part.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1372
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 14th, 2010, 9:05 pm

TigerGray wrote:Please god, tell me the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Right now the distinction seems totally arbitrary and I am getting quite annoyed by trying to tell if there's a real difference or if it is all in the pitch.
Well, first I'd say don't sweat it - if an agent thinks yours is urban fantasy but you say it's paranormal romance, I don't think anyone's really going to hold it against you. My hairsplitting would be that paranormal romance can also be urban fantasy but doesn't have to be. Urban fantasy is set in the city and tends to involve city-ish concerns, whereas paranormal romance could very well be set in the country (or a small town like Forks).

There is some overlap, but I tend to think of urban fantasy as more of an umbrella genre and paranormal romance as a subset. Urban fantasy could involve any plot as long as it's urban and fantasy, whereas paranormal romance as a romantic plot.

But really, I wouldn't get too hung up on the distinctions at the query stage. Partly this is one of those "know it when you see it" situations.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1372
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 14th, 2010, 9:11 pm

Leonidas wrote:Why are the titles of projects supposed to be capitalized in queries? Is it just to make the title of a novel stand out more against the text of the query, or for some obscure reason I'm not aware of?
I'm honestly not quite sure how this got started, it's just sort of industry practice. The person who trained me when I first started as an assistant told me to always capitalize book titles and I've been doing it every since.

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest