Old Ask Nathan Thread

Questions for the resident (former) agent
Locked
User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1382
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 16th, 2009, 5:33 pm

Kaitlyne wrote:Thanks for the response Nathan. And now for one that belongs on your FAQs...When do you sleep!? ;)
I value my sleep very much! If I don't get enough I get seriously cranky.

r louis scott
Posts: 118
Joined: December 14th, 2009, 7:36 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by r louis scott » December 17th, 2009, 12:04 am

BlancheKing wrote:Hi Nathan,

Thank you for this forum; it has really been a life saver.

Just a quick question:

Roughly, how many people besides the author should edit the manuscript, and of those, how many of them should the author take advice from?

The reason I ask is because after having several people edit my manuscript, I've had more different and contradicting feedback than consistent ones. Some of them want me to add more scenery description, while others suggest I cut the ones I already have. Then some people are confused by certain details, while others say there's nothing wrong with said details and to explain would be redundant. Now I'm confused about what to change, and am starting to wonder if the contradictions are a result of having too many people edit.

Thank you.

C.C.W
I would take heart from the fact that not everyone is harping on the same chapter or scene. If they were, that would be something to seriously look at editing or re-writing. A Real Live Published Writer once told me that he is constantly amazed by how some people latch on to a single idea or phrase from something he has written which, in the larger context, is relatively meaningless. Writing is a lot like golf, everyone has advice for you. My advice would be to take what sounds good to you.

User avatar
d minus
Posts: 15
Joined: December 14th, 2009, 9:26 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by d minus » December 17th, 2009, 11:17 am

r louis scott wrote:Writing is a lot like golf, everyone has advice for you. My advice would be to take what sounds good to you.
that's an excellent analogy. I spent ALL summer struggling with fairway woods due to advice that someone gave me in the spring. She meant well... but it was a frustrating experience.

In the same respect, with writing, you have to filter out the advice that will hinder you more than help you. I find that the most helpful advice is the most daunting. It's the stuff I have to do, but don't want to do. In the end, it makes all the difference.

Kaitlyne
Posts: 103
Joined: December 6th, 2009, 7:41 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Kaitlyne » December 17th, 2009, 9:39 pm

Okay, here's one I haven't seen asked yet. Then I swear, no more questions!

You've talked a lot about how you like to have query letters personalized. I'm intending to include that I am a fan of your blog in my query letter, but it just occurred to me...would it be a good idea to mention our user name in there? Would you want to know if it was one of us querying you, or would you prefer to remain in the dark?

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1382
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 17th, 2009, 9:47 pm

Kaitlyne wrote:Okay, here's one I haven't seen asked yet. Then I swear, no more questions!

You've talked a lot about how you like to have query letters personalized. I'm intending to include that I am a fan of your blog in my query letter, but it just occurred to me...would it be a good idea to mention our user name in there? Would you want to know if it was one of us querying you, or would you prefer to remain in the dark?
Sure! Definitely worth mentioning.

arcady
Posts: 1
Joined: December 17th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by arcady » December 17th, 2009, 11:38 pm

Hi Nathan,
I'm wondering how a project's viability changes with cultural events and trends...to wit, we informally discussed my non-fiction project on the Art Deco garden, centered around Gatsby's fictional landscape, as having too small a potential market. I'm having good success with a different project but hearing that a new blockbuster version of Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann is in the works has made me wonder if I should revisit Gatsby's garden. Perhaps this is a general situation other authors experience as well...I've searched the FAQs but didn't find a reference that seemed to fit.
Thanks for your help!
Paige (Tulsa)

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1382
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 18th, 2009, 4:50 pm

arcady wrote:Hi Nathan,
I'm wondering how a project's viability changes with cultural events and trends...to wit, we informally discussed my non-fiction project on the Art Deco garden, centered around Gatsby's fictional landscape, as having too small a potential market. I'm having good success with a different project but hearing that a new blockbuster version of Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann is in the works has made me wonder if I should revisit Gatsby's garden. Perhaps this is a general situation other authors experience as well...I've searched the FAQs but didn't find a reference that seemed to fit.
Thanks for your help!
Paige (Tulsa)
This one is kind of difficult to answer. Yes, there are definitely cultural trends that can suddenly make a new project more viable, but I don't know that I'd say that one movie is necessarily going to be what tips the balance, unless it approaches the level of a phenomenon, sort of like what happened with folk music after "O Brother Where Art Though" came out.

So, for instance, if the Baz Luhrmann movie suddenly inspires a huge interest in retro gardens you're going to be majorly in luck, but the mere fact that the movie is coming out isn't necessarily going to break a niche book out by itself.

Neil Vogler
Posts: 12
Joined: December 16th, 2009, 5:45 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Neil Vogler » December 19th, 2009, 3:39 pm

Hi Nathan,

This is a weird one. Hypothetical: there's a writer friend who is a rare genius, but is rather stubborn and unusual in his manner. One of his particular quirks is that he wants to find an agent - or at least wants to find a publisher for his book(s) - but does not want to deal with an agent directly, as a bad experience has seriously soured him. Writer friend suggests that someone else of a far less cantankerous and even-minded disposition - like me, for example - acts as an intermediary between him and an agent. "I" get no percentage or anything, but basically I'm the go-between, relaying messages and such on behalf of both parties.

My question is really this: would you read a query submitted on an author's behalf, with his full permission and authorisation, knowing that any and all future dealings with said writer have to go through an intermediary? Or is it basically too complicated and unwieldy an arrangement?

Thanks for this - will help settle an argument I'm having.

N

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1382
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 20th, 2009, 1:43 am

Neil Vogler wrote:Hi Nathan,

This is a weird one. Hypothetical: there's a writer friend who is a rare genius, but is rather stubborn and unusual in his manner. One of his particular quirks is that he wants to find an agent - or at least wants to find a publisher for his book(s) - but does not want to deal with an agent directly, as a bad experience has seriously soured him. Writer friend suggests that someone else of a far less cantankerous and even-minded disposition - like me, for example - acts as an intermediary between him and an agent. "I" get no percentage or anything, but basically I'm the go-between, relaying messages and such on behalf of both parties.

My question is really this: would you read a query submitted on an author's behalf, with his full permission and authorisation, knowing that any and all future dealings with said writer have to go through an intermediary? Or is it basically too complicated and unwieldy an arrangement?

Thanks for this - will help settle an argument I'm having.

N
I mean, if someone proposed acting as intermediary for Michael Chabon I might be a little weirded out but would probably figure out some way of going along with it. Barring that, I think I'd have a hard time seeing myself agreeing to this kind of situation without really knowing who I was dealing with on the other side. Not only would I fear that I was being roped into a J.T. Leroy type situation, but I'd have to wonder if an author who couldn't handle even talking to their agent is really equipped for the demands of being a published author in today's publishing world. Besides, one of the main points of having an agent is so that there's an intermediary between cantankerous/emotional authors and their editors - I don't see how adding another layer in would be super productive.

If the manuscript was so unbelievably mindblowing that I would die if I didn't represent it I'd probably have to give it some thought, but barring that I can't imagine going along with it.

Notamonkey
Posts: 4
Joined: December 20th, 2009, 1:40 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Notamonkey » December 20th, 2009, 1:57 am

An important aspect about my manuscript is the setting. It's something that's not explicitly stated but the reader is supposed to figure out and go "Oh, that's where we are! I see! I love!"

In a query, would it turn you off saying something along the lines of "the reader figures out..." Of course, I would mention what the setting was in the query, but in the work it's not explicitly stated.

Thanks bunches!

Neil Vogler
Posts: 12
Joined: December 16th, 2009, 5:45 am
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Neil Vogler » December 20th, 2009, 6:56 am

Thanks a lot for your response, Nathan. That's pretty much what I imagined you'd say. These forums are a great idea.
N

Vimes
Posts: 1
Joined: December 20th, 2009, 6:09 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Vimes » December 20th, 2009, 6:23 pm

Hi Nathan,
I wondered if you'd be able to give me a bit of advice on a problem that's just cropped up. I paid for a critique from a well-known editorial consultancy, and their report was very positive (though they suggest cutting the word count down). They scout for agencies and have offered to try to find me one (I think they have contacts with quite a few of them). However, if I get published, they take 10% of the advance.

That 10% seems quite a lot, when I take the agent's 15% and the taxman's 25-40% into consideration. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this? I'm thinking either the book's good enough or it's not and it doesn't matter who submits it, so why would I give someone 10% to do something I could do myself? Or am I being naive about the power of contacts in the industry? I take a bit of confidence from their offer, as I know they don't offer to do it for everyone, but I must admit I am a bit worried about turning them down and then not finding an agent myself. Old versions of this MS have been rejected by 3 agents (although one did work with me extensively, but she then left the agency. It was rejected by her replacement because of the word count, which was then 120,000... Don't ask me what I was thinking- it's now 80,000!)... I know 3 agents might not sound like a lot, but I'm in the UK and worried I might run out of agents to try- there aren't as many here as in the US!

Thanks so much for any advice you can offer- can't tell you how much I'd appreciate an honest opinion from someone who really knows their stuff!

P.S. Would it be cheeky/look bad to write on my query letter that I'd had a positive critique from the editorial place, and that they were interested in finding me an agent but I'd turned them down?

saraho
Posts: 11
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 6:22 pm
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by saraho » December 21st, 2009, 2:46 pm

Hey Nathan,

I just read on pubrants (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2009/12/q- ... ed_17.html) that you were still reading queries through the holidays. But I remember reading on your FAQ that you generally think it's a bad idea to send queries during the weeks surrounding major holidays (ie Christmas). Should we still wait around for January to start querying you? Or could we even send it this week?

Sorry if you're sick of getting this question. It's just the one flyby mention of you still reading that got my confuzzled :D
*~Sarah O.~*

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1382
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 21st, 2009, 3:34 pm

Vimes wrote:Hi Nathan,
I wondered if you'd be able to give me a bit of advice on a problem that's just cropped up. I paid for a critique from a well-known editorial consultancy, and their report was very positive (though they suggest cutting the word count down). They scout for agencies and have offered to try to find me one (I think they have contacts with quite a few of them). However, if I get published, they take 10% of the advance.

That 10% seems quite a lot, when I take the agent's 15% and the taxman's 25-40% into consideration. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this? I'm thinking either the book's good enough or it's not and it doesn't matter who submits it, so why would I give someone 10% to do something I could do myself? Or am I being naive about the power of contacts in the industry? I take a bit of confidence from their offer, as I know they don't offer to do it for everyone, but I must admit I am a bit worried about turning them down and then not finding an agent myself. Old versions of this MS have been rejected by 3 agents (although one did work with me extensively, but she then left the agency. It was rejected by her replacement because of the word count, which was then 120,000... Don't ask me what I was thinking- it's now 80,000!)... I know 3 agents might not sound like a lot, but I'm in the UK and worried I might run out of agents to try- there aren't as many here as in the US!

Thanks so much for any advice you can offer- can't tell you how much I'd appreciate an honest opinion from someone who really knows their stuff!

P.S. Would it be cheeky/look bad to write on my query letter that I'd had a positive critique from the editorial place, and that they were interested in finding me an agent but I'd turned them down?
Honestly this sounds like a strange deal. But more importantly, I would never cede control over the submission process. You want to submit in your own voice. Many/most agents don't accept third party queries anyway. I would go about it yourself. An agent is already going to take 15%, finding that agent sure doesn't seem worth an extra 10%.

And I don't know that I'd mention you received a positive review - you paid them, so they don't have a great deal of incentive to say otherwise.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1382
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Ask Nathan

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 21st, 2009, 3:35 pm

saraho wrote:Hey Nathan,

I just read on pubrants (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2009/12/q- ... ed_17.html) that you were still reading queries through the holidays. But I remember reading on your FAQ that you generally think it's a bad idea to send queries during the weeks surrounding major holidays (ie Christmas). Should we still wait around for January to start querying you? Or could we even send it this week?

Sorry if you're sick of getting this question. It's just the one flyby mention of you still reading that got my confuzzled :D
Yes, I would much prefer that people wait until the second week of January to query me. I may still be catching up with submissions over the holidays, but I'm trying to keep it as much of an actual vacation as possible.

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest