update on ailing lit agent – plus Agent Manners returns

Much reading and many cups of tea (first some raspberry black tea, then some lemon, then some golden monkey) later….

The universe seems to have bowed to everyone’s will that I feel better (thanks, all!) and taking most of the day to read and drink liquids seems to have done the trick. Or I’m the one who is tricked. But in any case, I did finish reading a manuscript that I really liked (and will be hopefully emailing the author with some revision ideas to see if we agree) and also a client proposal that I adored and will be working on getting out to market. (That’s the interesting thing about getting reading done — it generates more work!) Plus a few other things that have been languishing and needed attention. Very productive for a sick-day, I’d say.

To celebrate my miraculous recovery (or stave off a relapse), I’ll make tomorrow a Q&A (also since Tyhitia, she of many comments, hinted on Friday that she wanted one). So, tomorrow Agent Manners is in. Send your questions via comments on this entry. We’ll talk about queries and submissions etiquette, conferences (since I just went to one – but there’s this great post on BookEnds I just read, too), the business of publishing, and “other stuff you want to know about literary agents/agenting.” I may not answer each and every question individually but I’ll try to cover all the topics in subsequent posts.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Agent Manners before — please go read this entry: http://arcaedia.livejournal.com/119328.html, which details the appropriate (and mannerly) way to submit questions.

22 responses to “update on ailing lit agent – plus Agent Manners returns

  1. Dear Agent Manners,
    See, there’s this agent… Witty, smart, great blog…
    Anyway, suppose an author has come to the sudden epiphany that perhaps her sample pages are not as quick-moving as she would like, and has taken her trusty chainsaw to the offending text. The story is still the same, and thus the summary as well.
    Is there any polite way to re-query an agent with these New, Improved sample pages? (Or ask if she wants to see them again?) Or should one simply mourn one’s callow youth and hubris, and move on to other agents, assuming that other, relatively un-changed factors will still mean that particular romance partnership was not meant to be?
    Signed,
    Facepalming in the Frozen (but Thawing) North
    (P.S. It is rather eerie; I was just this morning toying with the wording of this query, and discarded it with a “nahhh, she’s not doing those right now” thought. Thank you for this post! And I hope that I haven’t misread the antecedent for “this post.” I’m feverish. I might’ve.)

  2. Dear Agent Manners,
    I did indeed have a question for you, but in perusing the answers to questions asked of you in your linked post, I found you had answered it already.
    You have my heartfelt thanks, and also my wishes for a continued speedy recovery!
    Sincerely,
    Grateful in Texas

  3. SASE
    I am working on getting my first book published. I’ve recieved about 15 rejections that have been very brief, offering no useful information on how to fix my manuscript. I was considering forgoing the SASE, thinking that if the agent liked my work s/he would email me and ask for it. Is this going to cause me trouble?

  4. Dear Agent Manners
    I’ve been wondering whether or not to include in my query which author’s novels mine most resembles. Some agents seem to want that kind of information, while others find it useless. You could make a good case for both. So do I use precious space to say that my book is similar to Author 1 and Author 2, or is that not worth mentioning?
    Forever Grateful,
    Wonder Woman

  5. I’ll make tomorrow a Q&A
    For a moment I thought illness had affected your syntax – I was reading this as not-quite-native English (along the lines of ‘I’ll write tomorrow a list’). But it’s my reading that’s at fault. Hope the tea helped!
    Anyway, my question is slightly weird:
    My novel is very likely to have the word ‘Nazi’ in the title. Is this likely to get my e-mail zapped by agents’ e-mail filters? If so, should I write N*zi or otherwise mask it? I hasten to add that while I would consider title changes after I am agented, I think the title as it currently stands is extremely catchy and I’d like to use it for queries.

  6. Dear Agent Manners:
    I’ve heard about writers receiving multiple offers of representation. After asking these authors how this happened, most say that, after receiving one offer, they then informed the other agents considering their manuscript, hoping to get more offers of represenation from them. Do agents expect this to happen when they make an offer? Is it considered rude or tacky? Is there a certain way writers should go about informing the other agents of the first offer?
    Any advice is much appreciated.
    Curious in Kentucky

  7. Dear Agent Manners,
    Hi. I’d like to say that I felt all fan girl-like when I saw my name on this post. You rawk—and everyone knows it! :*)
    Now on to the Q&A:
    1.)Would you represent someone who wanted to first write a dark urban fantasy series, then move onto more horror-based books? Even though the two are closely related, I expect that agents would feel differently about it.
    2.)I know every agent differs, but I’ll pose the question to you. Are there any subjects that are too taboo for you to represent, even if they are handled well, as far as offering social commentary?
    Thank you soooo much for doing the Q&A!
    ~Tyhitia
    http://obfuscationofreality.blogspot.com/

  8. Word Count
    Dear Agent Manners,
    I write young adult fantasy and have been reading on a lot of blogs about word count for this genre. My ms is 95,000 words and I have received some rejections that specifically cite the word count as the reason for rejection. I know authors who have longer books than mine who’ve found agents. What is the real deal on word count?
    COUNTing on You in More Ways Than One

  9. Q&A
    Dear Agent Manners~
    I’m a young author, not yet represented, and not quite finished with my first books “final” draft. Another agent-who-blogs recommended not writing a second book in a series until the first has found a home in the real world outside my door. I’m fine with that idea and I understand why it makes practical sense.
    My question is how much genre jumping the average agent will let me do after that first book has been accepted and is being shopped to editors. If I query the agent with a sci-fi piece and, avoiding sequeals like the plague, go write a fantasy piece will my agent scream, cry, or throw me out the door? Would it be better to line up seperate agents for each genre? Is there an industry standard for genre-hopping authors or do agents play this case-by-case.
    I know what it looks like from where I’m sitting. I’d like to know what an agent thinks of an author who writes multiple genres.
    Thank you for your time and attention,
    Restless Writer

  10. Dear Agent Manners,
    I’ve got a bit of a problem. I’m a very young writer (18), but I’ve been publishing work in magazines for pay for a few years. I know that an agent would have no clue of my age in a decent query, but a friend suggested that I should intentionally mention it because it would make me “marketable.” I suspect this is madness, because if I were an agent and someone told me they were barely even a legal adult, I probably wouldn’t assume much of their writing.
    Then again, the boy who wrote “Eragon” got a great deal of his publicity thanks to his age. Thoughts? Should I mention it and be a novelty-item of sorts, or does it really have no place in a query letter?

  11. Conference Question
    Dear Agent Manners,
    Although my WIP is only at the character development/plotting stage, I was thinking of attending the Writer’s Digest Books Writer’s Conference at BEA, as well as one day of BEA.
    Given the current status of my WIP do you think it would be worthwhile to attend, or is it too soon?
    Thank you,
    Miss Ellie

  12. Dear Agent Manners,
    How does one query for a completed series? I’ve seen the advice to query the first book only but what if the series was, as in the case of the Lord of the Rings, one book that got broken up into several because of its size? Would it be better to try and sell a single book or a more traditional trilogy/series first?
    Gratefully,
    Curious about Series

  13. Agent Manners
    Dear Agent Manners,
    I understand I did not right a “fiction novel” but I did write a 83,000-word commercial women’s fiction novel. Did I commit a deadly agent faux pas? I’m not sure how to write this without the word “novel” in the sentence. Do you have suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated!
    Thanks for your time!
    AK

  14. Dear Agent Manners,
    in finishing my paranormal romance I found to my horror that it was rather shorter than intended, especially when using the wordcount given by a somewhat demonic wordprocessing package of my aquaintance.
    A dear friend informed me of “NY print estimate” which is 250 x the number of pages in 12 point Courier, adjusting page count for shorter pages. This certainly puts the count nearer to the required length. But is it acceptable in today’s publishing society?
    How much of a difference would the length of a novel have on your reading? Is there a minimum? I had thought 80k, but my poor novel currently languishes in the mid 70s.
    Yours etc.
    Short and confused in Ireland.
    (I was going for a ‘Dear Cassandra on this!:D)

  15. Miss Manners
    Dear Miss Manners,
    I’ve become increasingly convinced that the road to publishing requires networking and discussion with people in the industry. I would like to go to a writer’s conference. I find such events daunting to say the least, but my social anxieties are beside the point.
    My problem is finding conferences that would be beneficial to me. Trying to scour the internet for conferences in my area, around this time of year, concerned with my genre, and/or frequented by agents and publishers I respect seems an impossible task. I have plenty of people recommending that I go to a literary conference, but not how to find the right one. I have a day job and limited income, so taking a trip to New York would be difficult.
    Do you know of any resources that provide listings of conferences for easy perusal? Should I bunker down and plan a trip to New York? Should I bring a friend so I don’t feel like a small fish in an enormous publishing pond?
    Sincerely,
    Addled in Atlanta
    P.S. I write fantasy if that makes a difference.

  16. Dear Agent Manners,
    I signed with an agent and we are developing a good relationship. I’m pleased with what she’s done, and our level of communication, and tell her so. But every so often I get a comment from her that lets me know she’s hopeful that our partnership will last a long time.
    It’s great to hear this, but it has been mentioned often enough that I wonder if it is common for agent/writer relationships to go up in smoke. Aside from the usual reasons why any relationship can turn sour, can you tell us the specific hazards of the agent/writer connection? Would you be willing to share some industry stories by way of example?
    I’m finding out, for one thing, that it’s not just a business connection. But it doesn’t easily fit into the relationship categories I’m used to. I, too, would like it to last– but are there some snags ahead that are common, that I can expect, and mentally prepare for? If you were going to use the marriage analogy, for example, what might be the parallels to the honeymoon phase, the “who left the cap off the toothpaste” stage, the seven-year-itch, the child-rearing years, and so on?
    Just Wondering

  17. Dear Agent Manners:
    I’ve gotten good response on my women’s fiction, including two current requests for a full, one an invitation to resubmit with significant rewrites. I’m nearing the end of the process, and most of the changes I’ve made specifically address the issues that two other agents who read partials noted in their very kind rejection letters. Both agents expressed regret that they were turning the project down; both agents praised the writing and the story idea; both are people I suspect would be a very good match for me, and I for them. And now we come to the question–because yes! there is one!
    How awful would it be to drop these two agents an email–and please understand there have been some very cordial email exchanges in addition to the query-request-partial-rejection–to say that I have made some significant changes in the latest draft, I am sending out two fulls, and I would still love to have the chance to work with them, and may I send them the full?
    I am (perhaps overly) confident that I will find an agent, and once I do, plan to have a career with him/her. Both of these agents encouraged me to submit to them with subsequent projects.
    Or would this just annoy and alienate them?
    Sincerely,
    The Third Time’s the Charm?

  18. Publication After 50
    Dear Agent Manners:
    A thousand warm wishes for your speedy return to 100% health and wellness. Enough gratuitous grovelling … on to my question. Is there life after 50 for a first time author? If so, do you have any recommendations for how I can get noticed by an agent, many of whom were dancing in their Pampers Pull-Ups to the Teletubbies theme song when I graduated from law school?
    Sincerely,
    48 and Cresting

  19. Dear Agent Manners,
    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better. I’m both a physician and a firm believer in the healing powers of assorted teas. 🙂
    I’ve recently completed extensive revisions of my first novel, and am just beginning the search for an agent. Naturally, that means I am currently struggling with how to best present my proposal. I believe my novel could be marketed in a number of different ways. Any tips or suggestions on how to decide the most effective elements to focus on in a complex story?
    For example, my novel is a ghost story. But that fact is not revealed to the reader until nearly the end of the novel, so I worry that pitching that particular element may disappoint if, say, a partial is requested. On the other hand, I don’t wish to disappoint an agent/editor who prefers to avoid the paranormal when that element is eventually revealed.
    I suppose it may be a matter of trial and error. Along that vein, you have mentioned being open to re-queries. If an author wanted to re-query you with a revised pitch/project, would you want the author to state up front that this was a project you had considered previously?
    Thank you for taking the time to answer these sorts of questions. I truly enjoy your blog.
    Sincerely,
    Flummoxed Physician

  20. A Question
    Dear Agent Manners,
    Having sent my novel out to about eight carefully chosen agents, and having had them all decline to represent me (though a couple asked for partials), I am at a loss as to what to do next. Each response was gracious and encouraging, but none of them asked me to query again were I to revise it. What should I do? Shelve it and begin working on a new novel? Search for more agents to send it to? Find a way to rewrite my current one so substantially as to warrant a new round of querying? And if I were to submit a new novel down the road to the agents who requested partials, is it worth politely reminding them of our previous exchange?
    Yours truly,
    Disheartened in New York

  21. Dear Agent Manners,
    While I was at a conference last November (the World Fantasy Conference) I promised to send my material–query letter, synopsis, and so forth–to a few agents. In some cases, the agent requested my submission after we’d talked for a bit. It wasn’t just a generic “you know the procedure, send it to my office.”
    My day job is sending me to Iraq this month, and while I don’t want to clog up already packed email inboxes, are agents really expecting hear back from me if, for some reason, my submission package is substantially delayed? It feels rude not to say anything and kite off for six months. When an agent says, “put ‘requested materials'” on the query package, will they remember and expect to see those requested materials in short order?
    Yours in perplexity,
    Voyaging from Virginia

  22. To Anonymous somewhere far above, “fiction novel” is redundant. It’s “fiction” you want to lose in that sentence, not “novel.” (All novels are fictional. Otherwise they’re memoirs.)
    Dear Agent Manners,
    If a writer publishes both novels and memoirs, and wants to publish all of her writing under one name, must she use her own name rather than a pseudonym? Or is it considered acceptable to write “memoir” with a nom de plume?
    Sincerely,
    Last Name Limbo

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