blog block

I think I am having blog block. Link salads, publications, and letters from the query wars are all very well and good I suppose, but I need some new content. So, I’ll take suggestions for topics and or questions to answer (if you posted one before that didn’t get answered, feel free to bring it up again) in comments and hope that helps jog loose a few things….

30 responses to “blog block

  1. what to blog on
    How about a post on whether you form mental images of the people who submit partials, etc. and whether, when you take on a client, your mental image matches the writer in person.

    • Re: what to blog on
      A unique idea…. but I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever visualized like that. I wonder if writers do that to me if they haven’t met me yet (and haven’t seen my picture somewhere).

  2. Dear Agent Manners;
    Your alter ego doesn’t seem to realize the little things, like link salads, publications, query wars, and other tidbits that come across her desk, have provided wonderful tutelage, to me at least, in the life of an agent.
    While I’m sure new topics will cross her mind in a less stressful time, would you be so kind as to take a moment to grace us with you presence? Last time you wrote on initial query faux pas. Perhaps opening up a session on what kind of homework an aspiring writer needs to do for the second stage of initial contact with an agent would be good. Proper partials? Synopsis? Any of these sound promising? After all, when one has one’s toe in the door, one has to know what kind of shoes to wear to wedge it open further.
    Yours in grateful thanks,
    Hopeful in Texas

  3. Apropos of nothing
    Beth Orton – Stolen Car–one of my favorite songs.

  4. View from the other side
    I’m always interested in agents’ take on little things that help and hurt a manuscript. We writers are working pretty close to the campfire, trying to tell a story with rising action, good characters, and do so with lively, fresh language.
    With this narrow vision, I (for one, I’m sure there are others) don’t have much of a perspective of what the other side of the equation looks like, when there are dozens (hundreds) of queries and partials floating around, and what stands out.

  5. So… not your ball of twine, I’m sure, but…
    Nonfiction/textbook authorship/agency… how does it differ from fiction authorship, and how is it similar?

  6. I do have a question–sorry if it’s been answered before, but I’m a newish reader:
    I write in two very disparate genres. Does this generally work out for people who aren’t super-famous (or super-prolific)? Can a midlist writer successfully write, say, mystery and scifi, and not get totally dismissed from both arenas? I know I’m seeing a lot of “paranormal suspense” sorts of things going on, but my mystery is not even vaguely speculative in nature, it’s basically a cozy. I’ve been feeling really conflicted about this for awhile, figure I might as well ask. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the blog, it’s very helpful stuff.

    • And an add-on to that: do you HAVE to have two psuedonyms if you write in two genres? Is it mandatory these days?

      • Add another person interested in multi-genre careers.
        I’m finishing up an epic fantasy and my next book is slated to be a historical novel, albeit with a bit of a supernatural twist. I’m not sure it could be termed historical fantasy…
        But yes, please blog about this. And how you handle this with a client or potential client. Does this make it too hard to create a “brand”?

  7. Two ideas
    I’m kind-of interested on an agent’s take (and according to the feedback they get from editors) on the use of em dashes and ellipses. I use a lot of them in conversational emailing, and they have a tendency to show up a lot in my writing, since I write storytelling style. But I’m starting to wonder if agents and editors have an opinion on this.
    My second (and more important) question that I’d like to see discussed, is whether an agent is interested in the author’s marketing ideas for their book. I don’t necessarily mean booksignings and bookmarks and websites, though… I mean, are they interested in the author’s thoughts regarding the target market of the book, etc.
    I’m wondering because I believe my book fits a very specific and smaller target market, yet this target market (of which I am one) is definitely looking for more books that fit the criteria of what we like! They’re VERY hard for us to find… which makes me think that there’s plenty of room for a new author (like me) to break into it.
    Are agents interested in an author’s thoughts on this, and if so… when? Should it be mentioned in the query letter? If so, how can it be mentioned without the author sounding arrogantly confident of their writing skills? Or should it not be mentioned until after the contract has been signed?

  8. How can a writer make a strong, positive impression on an agent at a conference? Is it the professional demeanor, evidence of preparation (business cards, story beat)? What helps the author to sell them self, along with the book?

  9. What do you do when one of your authors writes a book you just don’t get / just don’t like?
    I read a lot, but I’ve only found a handful of writers where I’ve loved everything they’ve written. There are plenty of great writers where I’ll love one book or one series of books, and then I’ll pick up something new and it’s like “WTF? What is this?”
    Has that ever happened to you as an agent? And, if so, what do you do when the magic’s just not there? Do you try to sell it anyway?

  10. I’m anonymous because I can’t remember my LJ ID . . .
    I want to know how DMLA comes up with the monthly want list posted on the agency site!
    Alison Kent

    • Re: I’m anonymous because I can’t remember my LJ ID . . .
      I’m not sure that it’s a company secret or anything. We brainstorm a topic and then each agent submits ideas via group email.

    • Re: I’m anonymous because I can’t remember my LJ ID . . .
      I’m curious if there’s a “plots we definitely DO NOT WANT” list.

  11. You could follow in the footsteps of the lamented Miss Snark and critique our pitches.
    Admittedly, this would require a few gallons of gin and an entire weekend.

    • Hee! Well, I don’t have quite that amount of time available at the moment but I’ll keep it in mind. And lay in the single malt (which is my beverage of choice rather than gin).

    • Remembering that last Crapometer, if people got wind of it, it might be more like a bathtub and a month off. πŸ˜‰

      • Yeah. maybe some stricter boundaries would be in order here. πŸ™‚ Like, ‘I’m only gonna post 50 queries, selected entirely on the grounds of what makes me say ‘ooh’.’ Wouldn’t be quite the same, but then, I don’t think there are many masochists like Miss S. πŸ™‚

  12. Is it appropriate to mention previous stories published in a query if they are not related to the current genre (Say, because someone is sending you a query for something in fantasy and they have stories published in, oh, I don’t know, porn? To clarify it’s a real publishing company, Cleis to be precise, but it’s still porn.)
    Thanks, I’m never sure about this one and to date have decided to err on the side of not weirding someone out by mentioning the “erotic” writing.

  13. I always enjoy the query comments that agents put out. Pick out 5-10 queries, give a brief (and vague) description, and say why or why not this works.
    It is very enlightening to know what is out there, and to know if my ideas are original or just another drop in the bucket.

  14. How about a post on the pros/cons of new vs established agents and the pros/cons of being close to NYC.
    For example, I have an appointment at a conference the the near future with an agent just starting her own agency who lives in Toronto. She reps all I write, was an editor at a noted publishing house for years and sounds wonderful but I wonder if I’d be better off with someone more established and closed to the action.

  15. I noticed that none of the “this month” suggestions are really traditional/high/epic/otherworld fantasy; SF and contemporary fantasy are more common. Is that deliberate? Is it a general trend? What other trends are you seeing, and relatedly, what are you seeing too much of?

  16. i’m sorry if you’ve written about
    this before, but i’m curious as to your
    journey in becoming a literary agent?
    i know most agents must love to read,
    but do most also write?

  17. What was your favorite book when you were a kid, and why?
    For me it was Go, Dog, Go when I was very small (best ending ever!) and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain.

  18. Diane,
    I know that you didn’t ask me, but my dark urban fantasy is in 3rd person and it’s been getting some really good comments from my betas who are writers themselves.
    Also, it makes no difference if your characters are male or female. Look at what Stephen King did with Dolores Claiborne and Misery. Good luck.

  19. Jennifer,
    If you love a novel’s concept, but the novel itself could use some work, do you normally ask for revisions, or do you just reject?
    I know some people prematurely send their novels out. I will have rewritten my dark urban fantasy several times before I send it out. I’m thinking at least two more rounds of rewrites. How many rewrites do you recommend for new writers? Is there a limit? Can you rewrite too much? A few of my betas are agented writers, and that has made an awesome difference as far as editing is concerned. Thanks for answering out questions! :*)

  20. Late to the party, so feel free to ignore this, but my brain just kicked up a question:
    Assuming an author has written the best book he or she can, and, putting on his or her business hat, is willing to put most/all of a first advance into career-building stuff, what are some of the better/worse investments he or she could make?
    (I’m thinking things like web site, give-away copies once the book comes out, accountant, travel / conferences, business cards, logo, anything else that comes to mind?)
    So many channels of advice stop at the first book sale — and I’m always particularly interested in what comes next.

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