Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Survey . . .

It’s been a long time since I’ve checked in with my readers to hear more about what you want and how I’m doing, so today is as good a day as any.

What subject matters would you like to see me write more about?

What subject matters are you sick of reading about?

What types of posts have you found to be the most helpful? Informative? Interesting?

What types of posts have you found to be the most boring? Useless?

Do you have a favorite post?

Do you have a least favorite post?

Anything else you’d like to add?

Jessica

50 comments:

Colette Garmer said...

What subject matters would you like to see me write more about?

Topics that relate to beginning writers

What subject matters are you sick of reading about?

Other books that just came out.

What types of posts have you found to be the most helpful? Informative? Interesting?

Again, as an unpubbed writer, I like reading about the process of submission and how to NOT submit

What types of posts have you found to be the most boring? Useless?

Guest posters don't really trip my trigger.

Do you have a favorite post?
Any of the posts about nightmare client wannabees

Do you have a least favorite post?
Nope, they are all useful in some way.

What I'd like to know more about is what's selling this week in the publishing world. It gives me hope that I can make it too.

Kimber An said...

Current marketing news and predictions. I have all these stories in my head and can't decide what to polish up next.

Kimber An said...

And I love all the stories the same, so 'Write what you love the most' doesn't work.

haleigh said...

I must say, your post from October 3rd - The Way I Read - was probably the most informative blog post I've ever read. My favorite topics are anything that gives me insight to how you work, how editors work, and what I can best be doing to prepare. I also really love reading about what types of stories/genres are exciting for you right now. Thanks!

linda hall said...

The posts I've actually found the most enjoyable is how your "agent" day went. How many queries you rejected and why, what made the query stand out enough for you to ask for the partial, full...I've enjoyed those days. I basically like knowing the business side of things.

Like someone else said, what's hot in the market right now. What's not. How to formulate a good query. I really enjoyed when you rated queries.

Any helpful tips we can get on making a succesful agent pitch.

As far as what's boring, I agree with colette..guest bloggers, unless it's jacky or kim, someone within the agency. :)

BT said...

I'll go with most of the above - a cop out, but it beats just repeating things.

Having said that:

Insider industry news is extremely useful. Dealings with editors, writers, and other agents opens many eyes to the real world (or should).

Trends in publishing, thoughts on the horror genre, why is it called so many different things, why don't bookshops have horror sections anymore - whoops, my black side is showing.

To become a successful, multiple book deal author, do you need to come up with a character who will become the common thread throughout all the stories? It seems I'm reading an awful lot (or is that a lot of awful) series based stuff recently.

Love your work.

BT

WendyCinNYC said...

I agree with haleigh on all points. Anything that gives the writer insight into how agents or editors work is informative. And appreciated!

Carrie said...

Anything you would like to share regarding a new mystery series. I would really love to hear your perspective.

Amy Nathan said...

I love posts about queries that work, as well as ones that don't. It's like a private tour inside the mind of an agent (OK, your mind, lol).

I write what I write, so trend posts don't hit me the way craft posts do. I also like knowing why a story excites an agent, even though it's subjective.

Examples thrown in, are always great. No topic is boring, you're always on-point.

Oh, and a note to Kimber An, there are sites that update daily on what's being published -- I like blogs for the "inside scoop."

Writer Dad said...

Just wanted to say I've been reading you for around three months. I think you consistently do a wonderful job. Thanks.

Juliana Stone said...

Jessica, I think you're doing a fine job the way things are...you have a wide variety of posts that address all aspects of this crazy journey, as well as giving us a sneek peak into the daily goings on in your office! Keep up the great work!

December/Stacia said...

I quite like the guest blogs from your clients--I think it's really helpful to know what books you're signing and selling. It would be fun, though, if those posts focused more on the agent/client relationship as well as their work.

I agree, I love the insider stuff. I love the bad and good queries. I love agent/client relationship stuff. I love trend posts and what-you're-hearing and all that.

I don't comment often, but I read every day; I wait until 1pm my time (as that's when your posts go up) and check in right away!

Thanks so much for all the posts/

Anonymous said...

I love an inside view of what goes on in publishing--how you communicate with editors, how other agents do this, what editors do and how they do it......the more detailed the better.

Thanks.

Hummingbird Chatter said...

I'd like to see posts on upcoming workshops/conferences you feel would be good for new/unpublished writers to attend - overall or by genre or regionally. What to look for when deciding to spend your money on a workshop/conference.

Also your thoughts on agents who seem to be at workshops/conferences continually. Is that a good or bad sign for them?

In the end though, whatever you write about I'll be reading!

Anonymous said...

1) I'd like to read your real-life clients initial query letters to you, and what about them made you request the project?

2) A realistic answer about how many of the books you take on for representation actually do sell? Fifty percent sell? Seventy-five percent? Thirty percent?

3) How many publishers you send to before you give up on a manuscript selling? Is this number different for different authors, and why?

4) Do you have favorite editors you send to no matter what? Do you send to editors that you know in your gut the client may not get along with (editor is rigid, client is laid-back; editor is evasive; writer really needs consistency) in order to sell a manuscript?

5) How many editors out there REALLY want to help an author "build a career?" In my experience, I think that no matter what they say, they really are only buying the book, the author is on her own after that, unless the book is a best-seller -- but I'd love your opinion.

6) Have you had an author feel hog-tied with one editor but then really flourish under another editor, and how can we relate that to our own writing, and editor-seeking ventures?

7) Why do you let clients go (fire them), and what kind of thought process is involved in that?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot a few...

8) What do you like about certain editors (no names obviously) in comparision to others? What should authors look out for when working with editors? What kind of demands are on par with the industry -- not giving enough time for deadlines, editors not responding when an author emails them? And what are indicators that the author is simply not being served well by this editor and should look elsewhere for their next book deal?

9) any posts about agent/client communication, and what is acceptable and what isn't. There are SO many agents out there that are just plain wrong, and writers don't really know what they have the right to expect. You want so badly to love your agent, but that respect is often not returned. What should writers put up with and what should be a big red flag for the writer to jump ship?

Keri Ford said...

Anon. 10:12 has a lot of great questions.

In regards to guest bloggers, some I like, others I don’t. It’s not necessarily the blogger, but their topic, and you’ll love this, their voice. If they can’t keep me interested and talk about something I need to hear, then I don’t keep reading. Sound familiar anyone?

beth said...

I just really like that you consistently post, and you consistently post about writing and publishing and representing. It seems as if a lot of my former fav blogs are turning to filler (politics), less updates, or repeats. Yours is one of my favs because it has everything I need and want! Thank you!!!

Sheila said...

I love and appreciate that you have a new post for us every morning. It tells me that you're dedicated and disciplined, which is something I'd like in an agent. Unfortunately, you don't represent my genre.

I've enjoyed the guest bloggers, too.

Just for fun, I guess I would ask: If you could be the agent for any deceased author, who would you choose?

Anita said...

I like a combination of sterile, story and strategic hints.

Sterile: stats for # of queries received, # of rejections, # of requests for partials/fulls, # of new clients signed.

Story: Day-to-day workings of an agent. Also, success stories of writers, with concrete examples... from the actual query the author sent...through the process of requesting a partial/full...your feelings while reading the full...signing her on...selling her novel.

Strategic hints: Anything from what to think about when naming your characters to choosing an email address that won't frighten off a potential agent to how to format a manuscript.

THANK YOU for posting so regularly! You're doing a great job and I have no complaints.

Anonymous said...

Some ideas:

*Jes, slip on some author shoes and tell us how you would prioritize your agent choices
*Why agents may not post deals in Publishers Marketplace. What does this mean in terms of using PM as a source for researching agents?
*Does the agent you're querying have good editor contacts? How to find out.
*What to expect after signing with an agent. What you'll be expected to provide before the manuscript is submitted to publishers.

Anonymous said...

What's the best way to handle the next step after an agent has read query, read chapters and now has the full manuscript. After two months, is it time to move on?

Anonymous said...

Could you walk us through the steps that happens after you offer representation?

For example, if the work needed a few changes, how long does it take for you re-read the revised manuscript?

How closely do you work with a writer to revise his/her work?

Thanks!

AC said...

I also really like that you post every day. It definitely keeps me coming back.

What I'd most like to hear about (can't get enough of it) is advice on getting an agent; i.e. what turns agents on or off about a query, tips for submissions, insights into your thought processes when going through the slush pile, etc.

I also like hearing the funny side of agenting and any personal stories from the trenches. Current marketing trends, common mistakes to avoid, and actual writing advice is great, too.

Thanks for all you do.

Steven said...

Q: What subject matters would you like to see me write more about?

A: I really enjoy your blog AS IS. I find it really helpful, as a writer to get an insight on the publishing end.

Q: What subject matters are you sick of reading about?

A: None really, even your non-publisher posts are entertaining.

Q: What types of posts have you found to be the most helpful? Informative? Interesting?

A: That's a hard one. I learn the most from your what to do/avoid posts, but I actually enjoy your voice as a writer.

Q: What types of posts have you found to be the most boring? Useless?

A: None, and no, I'm not trying to get on your good side here.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: I'm interested in finding out where you stumble across talent. Do you read blogs? Listen-to/watch podcasts? Fanfic? Where should I self-produce? Advice on creating buzz?

Serenissima said...

I like all the query stats and market info. My favorite posts are the contests since I learn something from critiquing as well as submitting.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see real query letters that made you and other agents take a look at the author's work, not necessarily took on as a client, but they grabbed your attention, and then I would like to know if you thought they truly represented the book they were trying to sell. The reason I ask if they truly represent the book is because I have written and re-written my query letter trying to capture the essence of my book, and have found it very difficult (which is my major beef with query letters). I could write a great letter that would make anyone stand up and take notice, but does it truly match my book? I have to wonder how many authors make their letter sound good enough to get you to read it, but when you do does the letter sound like the book afterwards? Give me real query letters that worked (lots of them). I could care less about the ons that don't!

Jennifer McKenzie said...

What subject matters would you like to see me write more about?

Genre descriptions, market trends, why some queries don't work, what ideas are "old hat"

What subject matters are you sick of reading about?

Um, none really. Maybe query structure, but that's just me.

What types of posts have you found to be the most helpful? Informative? Interesting?
The ones on what you're looking for. The one on how you read was VERY helpful. Posts on agent/client relationship were both scary and reassuring.

What types of posts have you found to be the most boring? Useless?
The most boring is on query format, but probably because I immersed myself in them early on.

Do you have a favorite post?
The one on your process of reading--how you read a partial at home and a good one draws you in over the noise around you.

Do you have a least favorite post?

I do, but I'm not telling you. LOL.

Jeannie Ruesch said...

I agree with others - the post you wrote on "How You Read" was fascinating. It was so helpful.

And I like the variety of topics you cover, from the query critiques to news in the publishing world. And really, I'm fascinating by the "day in the life of an agent" posts, too-- it's fun to see things from your perspective.

Thanks for this blog!

Heidi said...

I agree that everything you write is informative and helpful. The topics that you write about that don't pertain to me yet, I file away for the day they will!

I do have a specific question I can't find the answer to, so I'll ask it here and hope you will answer soon.

At what point do you need to tell an agent that others have your work? If an agent asks for a partial, do you tell them if five others already have the full? If someone asks for a full, do you tell them others have it too? If agents are asking for fulls, do you let those who have partials know that? Or do you only bring it up when someone offers to represent you?

I realize the majority of partials and fulls are rejected, so it seems a bit presumptuous to tell an agent others have it, but I realize it's important not to be rude, too.

And if one agent offers representation, what questions do you ask before accepting, and how do you gracefully ask for more time to decide?

This is my favorite blog, too. You have helped me immensely on this journey! And I love knowing everyday that when I open it up, there will be a post.

The Screaming Guppy said...

I really like any post that gives inside information about editors and agents, as well as tips on what to do or not to do when submitting. I always enjoy reading about what kind of submissions you’ve received recently and what type of trends are happening in queries. Also, any kind of writing tips (such as things that catch your attention or turn you away from a manuscript) are very interesting and informative. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve read a post yet that hasn’t been useful or interesting in some way.

Thanks for the great blog!

Diana said...

What subject matters would you like to see me write more about?
The line between narrative fiction and historical fiction. (I'm walking that line in my current project.)

What subject matters are you sick of reading about?
Market gloom and doom.

What types of posts have you found to be the most helpful? Informative? Interesting?
Anything that gives me insight into how the industry works when it comes to agents and publishing houses is interesting and helpful. I particularly appreciate the types of posts I would categorize as "And then what?" - as in, "An agent has accepted your manuscript...and then what happens?"

What types of posts have you found to be the most boring? Useless?
Sometimes the "do and don't" pieces on things like query letters can be confusing.

Do you have a favorite post?
I get a kick out of the posts where you break out the stats on the queries and proposals you've received and the, um, less than professional people you come into contact with.

Do you have a least favorite post?
The author guest posts are nice, but not always so helpful.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Sometimes responses to a given day's post are actually questions, and I notice they often don't get responses. I don't imagine you have the time to sit there all day and post on this blog, but it would be great if there was more follow-up to them. Beyond that, I love this blog. I check it every day. I am a newbie to the industry, someone hoping to get published still, and I can't imagine trying to move forward without the information that you provide. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into this blog.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:04 hit all the same hot points for me, as well. Also, would be interested in more info on when you sign on a client is it just for the one book? And what happens if the next book isn't to your liking? Do you show the author the door or do you polish it anyway and send it out? And what about the next book you get from the author...do you have him/her discuss the idea with you first...or do they just go ahead and start the next book they have in mind and give it to you when the deed is done? Do you work both ways with the next book. i.e. want to know what the book is before it's written; look at the next book after the fact? And what happens when the second book isn't something you feel you can sell. Does the author put that away and try with another? What happens when book three isn't to your liking? Is that when you split the sheets? And how do you let a writer go? Talk to them, send them a note? Ignore them until they get the message?

jnantz said...

I love reading any of the "inside the life of an agent" stuff. I'm atually very entertained by your blog on a daily basis. Fact is, I can't think of what to post from week-to-week on mine, and you're here every day of the week. I love it.

I would also like to second those who enjoy reading examples of actual query letters that were accepted, and what worked about them. It really matters to me because you represent my genre. I've seen where Kristin Nelson has posted links to some of her clients queries and why they worked, but I don't write what she represents.

Yeah, that's selfish, but I'm trying to get an agent myself, and hopefully it'll help other unpubbed writers as well.

Anonymous said...

What subject matters would you like to see me write more about?

What you're interested in selling as agents currently; what kinds of things you'd like to see written, touching on what would pique your interest as versus to what would hinder it.

What subject matters are you sick of reading about?

Comparison to other authors/books. This business is subjective, and I think it's more productive to focus on niches and things that can help us as writers and aspiring published authors.

What types of posts have you found to be the most helpful? Informative? Interesting?

Encouraging blogs with insightful information, also the competitions are fun and a great opportunity. Overall this is the most informative agent blog I read, and I love it though I rarely comment.

Do you have a favorite post?
There are a few from last year that really hit home with me, particularly because at the time I was peddling my manuscript. Honestly I glean something from each blog. That's how helpful they are.

Do you have a least favorite post?
Not as such.

jo said...

Encouragement for new writers, and tips for finishing that novel.

Matthew Hissong said...

I'd like to hear about marketing sad books. I never intended to write one but the one I'm working on is a weeper, no two ways about it.

Also, I'd like to offer you some encouragement, because it seems you've been letting a lot of the negative comments get to you- don't worry about them; trolls exist everywhere on the internet. I think it may also have something to do with the workload. Being a literary agent has to be a little like being a social worker: the never-ending torrent of humanity can sometimes encroach on one's personal feelings. I don't envy you your day job; being a software engineer holds much fewer perils in that department.

Thanks for listening,
Matt

Anonymous said...

Everyone talks about finding the "perfect" agent or the "right" editor for a book but how can we new authors know the personalities/ likes and dislikes of agents and editors if we don't live in NYC? Unfortunately most agents don't blog, like you do! All we are privy to are flat listings in a few books. Even if a writer gets an offer of representation, how do we know if we should take it? Do you suggest a writer meet the agent or editor in person? Please advise us unpublished authors who are just now shopping a new ms. Like you, we writers don't want to waste valuable time and energy on a mismatched biz relationship. Thanks for the great insights!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I loved when you did the query letter and pitch critiques. Although I didn't take part in them because I found your blog several months after they had taken place, I read every single one and learned so much from them.

I am certain that this kind of feeback is time-intensive on your end, but as a writer trying to break into the publishing business, having someone breakdown what does and does not work for them is an invaluable resource.

Diane said...

I love your blog and all the various topics you cover.

As an unpublished/aspiring author I love to hear about the submission process and what not to do.

The hook/query/synopsis give me a stomachache but I am about to this point and I'd love to hear what you suggest. Also, does the hook go in the query? Seeing queries that grabbed your attention would be cool too.

Everyone has added some really awesome suggestions and I can't wait for you to blog about them!

Maria said...

I, like many others who've commented, really like the fact that you update regularly. It gives me something extra to look forward to in the mornings.

I'm a bit different from most of your readers in that I don't want to know so much how to send in a query or get published, but what to do to become an agent. What sort of things to agencies look for in employees? What sort of misconceptions does the new blood have when it starts work? How much time do you get to spend dealing with the material and authors, and how much of it is filing and paperwork? (and so on and so forth)

More posts for people looking to get into the industry would be great!

L-Plate Author said...

I like them all Jessica and really look forward to your honesty. In particular though I really connected with your post about having a bit of time to yourself at the weekend and not beating yourself up about it.

I say please keep doing more of the same!

Karen Duvall said...

Wow, Jessica, I don't know how you come up with the great topics to discuss on the blog every day! It's just amazing. And I don't think any of your regular readers would be opposed to you turning the reigns over to Jacky or Kim now and then. You deserve a break, though I can tell you love to write this blog, too.

I'd love to hear more about the agent/editor relationship. Like what happens when you submit a project to an editor? How many publishing houses do you submit to at a time? How often do you have to follow up to "nudge" them into reading a manuscript you've sent? What instigates an auction? Is it true that editors will sometimes hold off on making an offer to ensure they won't have to compete with other publishers to acquire a project they want to buy?

Anonymous said...

As a loyal fan of your blog, I want to chime in. There are a number of sources online that address the concerns of unpubbed writers (such as, how to frame a query letter, how to format a ms, how to target agents, etc.) There seems to be a relative dearth of info that agented writers would be most interested in (what happens at Frankfurt/BEA, how editors work with agents, how mss go from contract to publication, and so on.)

How great of you to ask.

BookEnds, LLC said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Keep it coming if you have it. I've definitely got some material to write about in future posts now and some of the things you suggested have spurred other ideas. What I have also seen is that everyone is looking for something different and so far it looks like I'm meeting those needs (fingers crossed).

I've bookmarked this so I can come back to it, but don't be afraid to email questions either at blog@bookends-inc.com. I use a lot of those for blog posts as well and am always open to suggestions.

--jhf

David Weisman said...

I would love to see more genre specific information - what advice do you have for a fantasy author looking for an agent? Since this isn't just about me, I suppose you'll consider posts on other genres as well.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jessica,
I discovered your blog only about a month or so ago and I've checked in every day since then. I don't think there's been a post that I haven't enjoyed for one reason or another. Here, I learn something every day - thank you.

My favorite so far has been mentioned by others here as well - How I Read.

As to something I'd like to know more about? That would be the classifications of romance. Sometimes, reading an agent's list of what they want and don't want gets confusing. This happened to me today - twice. First, I received a reply to a query I sent simply stating "I'm not the right agent for your work." I immediately went back to that agent's website and double checked why I thought my romance manuscript fit. This agent still had romance listed as a preference. I'm confused now. I researched another agent and this one confused me even more. Under 'seeking at this time' they listed Romance - Women's Fiction. BUT, under 'what they do not represent' they listed Category Romance. Huh? Since I feel my manuscript is a romance and has a similar tone to some of Nicholas Sparks' titles, that would mean Romance-Women's Fiction, right? Category is what Harlequin publishes, right? Okay, if that's the case, then why did the reply to my query today claim that they were not the right agent for my work, yet they represent romance? My head is spinning. If you could shed a little light on this confusion, this aspiring author would be most appreciative.

Anonymous said...

We really enjoy hearing about the state of the market, trends, things that an agent out there selling manuscripts would know.

Up to the minute reactions you're getting from editors when selling a certain genre or even more specific - are there too many female vampire/detectives, for example, this month?

Trends - keep us aware of when it's harder to get hardback deals for debuts, are you selling more in 3 book series, etc. This is of interest to both your unpublished and published readers.

Anonymous said...

What attracted me to your blog was your work on queries. Between you, Rachel Vater, Jennifer Jackson, Kristen Nelson and Nathan Bradsford I have have reduced an entire trilogy to six sentences, of which I am quite proud.

From what I see poking around the internet, this sort of prompting for beginner writers is probably the most valuable work currently done, but it needs to be recapped every year for the next (and succeeding) wave of newbies, all of whom must need to be told things that have already been said (just not to them). A bit of repetition would not be out of bounds.

I have especially enjoyed the 'contests' (queries, first lines, first paragraphs, etc.) that have come about. You did one on on first sentences that caused me to do some work that simply had not occurred to me, and would not have without your contest. One of the most important things about these contests is that even if you have only read one sentence I have written at least I feel that I am not alone shouting into the whirlwind.

Fangs Fur and Fey did a first paragraph contest that offered as prize a read by Rachel Vater (or was it Jennifer Jackson?) It didn't seem to matter to most writers whether their stuff was liked or not but rather that it was validated by the attention of 'serious' personalities. One of the things that consistantly seems to be valued by beginners is the confirmation they get simply by participating, and all enjoy seeing what qualities of writing draw approval and praise. While I have run across some sour writers, I have yet to read comments from any jealous ones.

I like anything personal or 'inside' about the industry, and occasional philosophical musings are often illuminating.

The most important thing though, is that you keep up the good work. A blog doesn't always have to be enlightening, revealing, or even 'extra' interesting. It just needs to be there.

In conclusion, thank you. The work you and your colleagues have done is ground breaking and stand you, us, and the industry in good stead.

wplasvegas

Anonymous said...

this is silly i guess - but i always wonder about the things authors put in signed books - what if some old hated co-worker shows up and wants a signed copy and expects more than just your signature - my tendency would to leave a snarky comment but then again i wouldn't want that recorded either - i know this isn't a real issue but i wonder about anyway