Friday, August 22, 2008

Random Thoughts of an Agency

In my blog posts I rarely talk about the daily happenings of the agency, for a couple of reasons: one is that nothing is ever the same from day to day, and two is that I just don’t think it makes for exciting reading. I would rather focus on teaching you things you want to know. However, lately I’ve received a few questions that don’t necessarily warrant full blog posts, but do deserve answers, and I wanted to also share a few things that have made us laugh.

  • Chuckle: The submission that is clearly forwarded each time an agent rejects it. I saw it with two forwards, Jacky saw it a day or two later with fourteen.

  • Question: Submissions should always be single-sided and loose (not bound or stapled, although binder clips and rubber bands are fine) with page numbers. It never hurts to include the author name and/or title on each page. And of course make sure it’s double-spaced.

  • Question: We do accept submissions from outside the U.S.

  • Chuckle: The author who responds to an email rejection with a list of those agents she’s still planning to submit to.

  • Question: Would a completed 225-page cozy at 56,000 words be too small for cozy publishers? Typically, yes. My advice is that you try to bring it up a lot, another 20,000 words, unless you have a hook that’s out of this world. Something nobody has thought of yet, but just hearing it we know it will sell twenties of thousands of copies. In that case you could probably send it in a little short. In the end, though, you’ll probably want it longer. 55,000 words makes a very slight book, one that readers might be hesitant to spend $7 on.

  • Chuckle: In response to the pitch critiques on the blog I was emailed (and Jacky and Kim were cc’ed) to be told how “narcissistic, gratuitous and self-promotional” the blog was (which, after some thought, I realized that this is really what a blog is) and accused of copyright infringement for taking plot synopses from query letters and critiquing them for my own amusement. Clearly he hadn’t read the blog carefully. However, in case anyone else is confused, the material we critique on the blog, partials, whatever—is only posted because the authors have given permission for us to do so.

  • Question: Fonts: use something that’s comfortable to read. A sans serif like Arial or Courier or a standard font like Times or Times New Roman is fine. Typically 12-point is fine. If you’re not sure, test it. Print out 50 pages and read them. If your eyes start to cross, so will mine.

  • Question: What’s the difference between autobiographies and memoirs. Nothing really. I think memoir has become a trendy term for autobiography. That being said, I typically think of autobiographies as being written by famous people, while memoirs are from the common man. That’s just me, though.

  • Question: If my work is most similar to authors like Jodi Picoult, Jacquelyn Mitchard, or newcomers Judy Merrill Larson or Kristy Kiernan, how would I classify it? I would say Women’s Fiction.



Jessica Nelson said...

Blogs definitely bring out the crazies.

Anonymous said...

Another possible difference between autobiography and memoir: autobiographies tend to be comprehensive, written toward the end of a notable career, starting from childhood and covering all the significant events of the writer's life. A memoir is often focused on one set of related events, starting with the beginning of the conflict and ending with its resolution.

Mark Terry said...

narcissistic, gratuitous and self-promotional

That just made my day. :) (And I'm pretty sure defines an awful lot of novels, too, not just blogs).

Sandra Cormier said...

My biggest disagreement with my son is his stubborn habbit of using Lucida Grande instead of TNR for his school essays.

I know, I know... first it's fonts, then he moves on to the hard stuff, like staples.

Sandra Cormier said...

Um, habit. Not hobbit. Not rabbit...

Being Beth said...

As far as I'm concerned, finding your blog was like finding the entire fleet of Spanish treasure ships -- pure gold. In particular, the series of pitch/premise critiques taught me more than years of rejection slips ever could.

Thanks for taking the time each day to post helpful and encouraging information as well as finding the humor in our inexperienced stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that your blog (especially all the examples) is educational, fun, and much appreciated.


Sarah J. MacManus said...

Not sure "self-promotional" is a bad thing, is this not a business? I completely disagree about gratuitous, I've found it rather useful. Narcissistic? Well, since you're describing your own take on publishing, I think "narcisstic" is a bit of a strong term.

Quite frankly, as an editor, double-spacing makes my eyes bleed, but I have understood lo these many years that it's the industry standard. So is courier, which also makes my eyes bleed.

Mark Terry said...

Dear Fawn,
May I recommend a good optometrist or opthalmologist? It sounds like you have a problem that needs immediate attention.

Robena Grant said...

Interesting post. I learn so much here. Thanks.

Aimlesswriter said...

"narcissistic, gratuitous and self-promotional"
Wow, what a snippy remark. I thought the pitch critiques were a great learning experience.
Thank you for them!

Joe Moore said...

"narcissistic, gratuitous and self-promotional"

As writers, aren't we all in the Vanity Publishing business?

Anonymous said...

Well, the question about word count could come up because established authors sometimes have their names on slim books but of course it's because their names sell.