# of queries read this week: 141
# of partials requested: 1
# of partials upgraded to full manuscripts: 1
genres: fantasy (1), mystery (1)
Casualties: I got a papercut underneath the nail of my right-hand index finger. Ow. Ow. Ow.
I got a query for a novel set in the world of Eberron (yes, heinous_bitca, really) with a long explanation about shared-worlds and role-playing. I’ve been playing D&D since high school and a number of other games from college onwards, so I always find it sort of interesting to read what the author thinks an agent unacquainted with the medium might need to know. It tends to come across awkwardly. But, what strikes me when I get these or Star Trek (published by Pocket Books) or Star Wars ideas, is that people don’t have a general understanding of licensed properties and how they work and the copyright issues involved therein.
Now, Wizards of the Coast does publish novels in the Eberron setting — there are guidelines here: http://ww2.wizards.com/books/Wizards/default.aspx?doc=main_wartornguidelines — of course, that was an open call back in 2004 and it looks like they now have a closed stable for the line as it says on the website that they aren’t accepting unsolicited submissions for the shared-world lines. This happens with a lot of licensed material — the publishers become comfortable with a small set of writers who already have the confidence of the Licensor (the owner of the shared world) and can make the often-tight deadlines involved with “work for hire” (which is the category nearly all licensed work falls into). Not very many agents dabble in WFH (the money tends to be small, and the publisher keeps the copyright and all the rights, so the future is about the brand not the author) — I’ve done a few, mostly because my clients are fans of various properties (e.g. suricattus did some work in the Buffyverse, jimbutcher wrote Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours, and Craig Shaw Gardner wrote a BSG book). So, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t consider a novel based on a licensed property – I have a lot of fun with them, and sometimes score some sweet swag. But it needs to be self-evident that the writer is aware of the realities of this kind of work and what’s involved in securing permissions even just to submit in the first place and I hope they’ll also have ideas for original fiction because most WFH deals are labors of love, not money, in my experience.
Of course, the oddest thing was that the protagonist was a Bugbear. I didn’t even know they were a PC class.
The weather is clearing up and that may be sunshine I’m seeing hints of, so I’m taking the afternoon “off” to sit away from the computer near a window, and read manuscripts with a big bowl of popcorn….