Thursday, October 28, 2010

Your Target Market

I'm writing a novel about three 15-year-old high school students who are bullied and come up with creative schemes for solving the problem. The target market is middle grade and young adult. Along with some lighter moments, the story becomes quite dark and violent (before progressing into a happy/satisfying ending). There's swearing, bashing, blood, minor knife violence and a shooting. The violence isn't gratuitous, it's integral to the storyline and assists with raising the stakes throughout each stage of the plot.

Am I writing a novel for a target market that's too young to be exposed to the material? Would the older end of the target market, say 18-25-year-olds, still be interested in reading about 15-year-olds? Have I completely ruled out both ends of my target market, and will publishers reject the book because of this?


My immediate concern when reading this question was not so much whether the market is too young but that your target market is “middle grade and young adult.” You really need to pick and choose. Certainly, I’ve represented a lot of books that have crossed genre lines, and I love books that cross genre lines, that appeal to readers of two different genres, but I think when writing a book you have to essentially choose your market so that you’ve chosen where the book will be shelved.

I also feel that crossing genre lines between middle grade and young adult is trickier than, say, fantasy and young adult or fantasy and paranormal romance. While you might have kids willing to read both, they will tend to be middle grade readers. In other words, you will likely have middle grade readers who read up, but unlikely to have young adult readers who read down.

One of the things I love most about today’s young adult market is that the books cross over to an adult market. Harry Potter and Hunger Games would not have been the huge successes they’ve become by appealing only to a young adult market. They’ve been break-out successes because everyone is reading them, everyone from kids to adults.

Without having read your book it’s difficult for me to say what target market it’s best for or if the material is too heavy for a middle grade audience. My gut tells me that you might have more success with a book like this if you raise the age of the character by a year or two. I’m not sure why exactly, but I don’t always understand my gut, I’ve just learned to trust her and, honestly, to me the book sounds better suited to the young adult market.

Jessica

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Learn from What You Read

In my blog post on Reading Day, one commenter wrote, "A good exercise for these writers would be to read critically for craft. I know we're all supposed to do that anyway, and we notice examples of good or bad writing as we read, but I mean that they should read really closely for craft. Do a paragraph-by-paragraph or sentence-by-sentence analysis as they go along. Really dissect each little bit of the writing while paying attention to the overall plot, themes, etc., even if the book at that moment isn't at a high point of tension. I think they'll be surprised how much more time and brain power it takes and maybe gain a better appreciation of what you mean by reading (even if it's not exactly the same)."

I wanted to highlight what this reader said because it is a great exercise and something I frequently recommend to my clients and other writers. If you find yourself struggling with your writing, maybe you’re having trouble developing your characters or the plot, go back and read some of your favorite books in the genre you’re writing in. The reason I suggest you reread your favorites is that you’re less likely to get caught up in the story and better able to read critically when it’s a book you already know.

As you’re reading do exactly as this commenter suggested. Dissect the book and figure out why things are working and how they’re developed. Reading critically like this can help you hone your craft. Listen, I do it. Reading critically like this helps me help my authors write better books.

Jessica

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reading for Fun

In a recent post I wrote about my Reading Day, there were two comments that really struck me, comments that propelled me to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time.

The first was from my colleague Colleen Lindsay (and I hope she doesn’t mind me using her name). Colleen said, “One of the reasons I made the decision to leave agenting was that I was losing my love of reading. It can be a big problem when you aren't really reading for simple enjoyment anymore. For me, it was no longer worth the trade-off.”

I don’t think Colleen is alone in this feeling. I think there are a lot of people who leave agenting or editing because they find it’s taken away from their enjoyment of reading. I know I have a lot of friends who have left over the years and tell me later that one of the best things about leaving is that they now love to read again. It’s sad, and while I get it, I don’t really get it.

Think about it, it happens to many of us when it comes to doing jobs we love. For example, you love to write and there’s nothing you want more than to be a published author, but there is a real possibility that feeling might change when you are strapped to deadlines and doing nothing else but writing. When you “have to” read on a regular basis and you have to read critically, it’s easy to see why the last thing you’d want to do with free time is sit down and read a book. When you have to sit down in that chair every single day and write because others are counting on you there’s a real possibility the joy you feel now from writing might change.

All that being said, another commenter asked, Can you shut it off when reading for fun? And do you have any tips for how to shut off the inner editor when reading?

And this is probably why this job is meant for me. I can shut it off and read for fun at any given moment. There’s no doubt that after so many years in publishing I read differently. I suppose I do read more critically and I know I don’t give books as much time and energy as I used to. In other words, I won’t hesitate to get rid of a book and start something new without finishing the first, but my dream vacation still involves reading a stack of books that has nothing to do with work. Which is kind of funny when you think about it, because every book out there will always have something to do with work.

As for suggestions on how to shut it off: I don’t know that there are any and I think that’s why some decide publishing might not be for them. It’s because they just can’t shut it off.

The great thing for me about taking the time to “read for fun” is that once I do I come back to work with renewed energy and all sorts of new ideas about what I’m looking to represent.

Jessica

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Follow-Up to Reading Day

I was just about to make a comment or two on my Reading Day post when I realized that so many of the questions were so great I’d probably be better off simply writing a new post (or two).

A couple of you made the comparison of my reading day to your beta reading or revisions, and I think you hit the mark exactly. As authors you do know what it’s like to separate your reading side from your critical reading side and read with a different eye. You also know how important it is to step back and not lose yourself in the story as you’re doing so.

Someone mentioned that she once wanted to be an agent because she loved to negotiate. I love negotiating too. There’s an adrenaline rush I get whenever I get to negotiate a contract. It’s one of the best parts of the job.

Someone asked, Do you ever read a MS for "lose yourself in the book" quality and then go back an edit?

I do when I’ve offered representation on something. I first read the book to lose myself in it, and then, if the author accepts representation I’ll read it again to edit. Over the years I’ve been able to know if the book is working and if I can lose myself in it while I’m critically reading. It really comes down to how much I’m thinking and obsessing about the book when I’m not reading. If I’m dreaming about it, it’s a good book.

Jessica

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Dates to the Prom (follow-up)

Thanks to everyone who commented yesterday, especially the agents who popped in. Obviously this was an upsetting situation for everyone to read about.

A lot of commenters suggested that publishing is a small world and that the mistake this author made could really be career damaging. I'm not so sure of that. there seems to be a frequently held view that there's this publishing black list and we agents can't wait to drop you there. We're human too and while we can certainly become annoyed and angry in the most humanly way possible, we can also understand mistakes and misunderstandings.

Anyway, I did hear from the author who first asked the question and wanted to post an update. She was really surprised by my answer and the feedback by others on the blog. What she said was, "though I see clearly now how big a mistake I made, at the time, I expected a response more like 'We agents can't represent every genre, and sometimes a writer will take on two agents.' I assure you while I did know  I needed to tell them about one another, I was just afraid of missing an opportunity because they are so rare, and that was cowardly of me, but I was shocked at the overall response I received from you."

Since yesterday morning she was able to get in touch with one of the agents and explain the situation. The agent was incredibly gracious and while she has no experience in both genres is going to continue working with the author on the one book (genre) they've signed for. I did not hear how the other call went, but I do have a sense that all is probably well. If not, I'm a strong believer that if the book is meant to be published she'll find another agent for it.

The author confessed to me that she's sick to learn of her own deceit and hoping to remedy things as quickly as possible. She also hopes that I don't see this as a black mark on her. Trust me, I think we've all been in situations in life we're we've had that sickening pit in our stomach for something we've done whether intentionally or unintentionally and it's not a feeling I want to wish on anyone.

I think Colleen Lindsay said it perfectly yesterday in her comment when she said "oy." I would probably say "uff da" there isn't much else to say. It's an annoying situation and if it happened to me I would be annoyed, but since I only offer representation to projects I'm truly passionate about I also know I wouldn't want to give up a book or a client whose voice I loved for one indiscretion.

I think the author has learned a lesson. In fact I know she has. In her email she said, "I will certainly slow down and think, be less reactionary, and more careful with my career."

And I think that's a lesson we can all take with us.

--Jessica

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Dates to the Prom

Hello! I have managed myself into a little predicament and I was advised to seek counsel from you. LOL. This is my situation:

In January, I sent a partial Christian YA manuscript to an agent who reps strictly Christian material, and I mean it has to have a clear presentation of the gospel, strictly Christian, not just non-offensive Touched by an Angel style.

Meanwhile, I went on to complete and polish a humorous womens fiction - think Arsenic and Old Lace - manuscript and began to query that.

In June, I received a request for partial on the womens fiction and a week later I heard back from the Christian agent requesting my full.

In July, I signed a contract for the humorous womens fiction with a brand spanking new, but eager to help agent. I knew when I signed with her that she was winging it, but I had no other offers and assumed I had nothing to lose. At the very least I would have a year (length of the contract) to learn a little more about the process and editing etc.

Now, I've received an offer of rep on the Christian manuscript.

I signed with both, but haven't told either. Am I obligated to tell, should I not tell? Is there a reason to tell before I have a contract for publishing? The genres are so different...I'm terrified that the Christian agent won't want anything to do with a writer who writes other materials - may turn off Christian publishers or readers? Help! I feel like I have two dates to the prom and I'm feeling a little like a creep. How should I handle this situation?


Ouch. You have gotten yourself into a bit of a predicament. What’s interesting about this is that the day I received it I had just been asked what I look for in a client, and my first response was open communication and honesty.

This is a bad one. It has me making funny faces and grimacing.

Here’s the deal, you need to come clean with both agents, and until you do, honestly, the only one you’re hurting is yourself. What are you going to do if both agents submit your manuscripts to the same house and those submissions end up in a database that has editors wondering why two different agents are handling work from the same author? What are you going to do if you get two different contract offers from publishers, both with a clause that limits you to writing only for that house?

An agent cannot properly handle your career unless she knows all of the facts. That means she needs to know what your intentions are for your career and what else it is you want to be writing or, more important, publishing. How she negotiates your career and submits your material will depend on this. How she negotiates your contracts depends on this.

What I don’t understand, and I’m making some assumptions here, is why you wouldn’t have told both agents about the other books, and the other agents, from the beginning. It seems that you could have found an agent who represents both Christian and mainstream fiction. They do exist, you know. It seems like you could have talked to the first agent who offered, to see if she was interested in both books, or used that offer to find an agent who does handle both Christian and mainstream fiction.

You’ve started off on the wrong foot with both of your agents, and to me you should feel like a creep. Honesty is something that is vitally important in all relationships. It’s important in romance, friendship, and business, and if I’ve entered into a business contract with someone who isn’t being honest with me I’m not going to be a happy camper. If I was one of those agents I’d be more than a little miffed.

You need to make it right and you need to do it sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the worse it’s going to be.

Jessica

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is Nice in the Eye of the Beholder

I was reading a Tweet from a colleague in which she said she had recently sent a rejection to a friend of a relative and hoped it was nice. As I hope you know by now, when it comes to sending rejections, agents work really hard, maybe too hard, to be nice, but when it comes to rejections from referrals from family or friends we try extra hard. I mean, who wants to hear what a nasty shark you are over Thanksgiving turkey?

However, when I read this Tweet my immediate thought was that the only person who will know for sure whether that rejection was nice enough is the person who receives the letter, and whether or not she thought it was nice will depend entirely on her expectations.

For example, it might have been the nicest rejection in history, but if the writer was fully expecting heaps of praise and a contract, nice probably isn’t going to be enough.

If the author is already beat down from hundreds of rejections, even the nicest letter will possibly be one rejection too many.

And for a writer who has heard nothing but horror stories about rejections, a really polite form rejection might seem like the sweetest thing she’s ever heard.

So, no matter how nice we’re trying to be, I suspect it’s all going to come down to the experiences of the one reading the letter, just like everything we read is impacted by the “baggage” we bring in before reading.


Jessica

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reading Day

In response to a Tweet I made in which I said my day was going to be comprised of reading, among other things, someone Tweeted back with, “I'm a little jealous when you share you're reading all day, (the MSs, not the contracts), tho I know it's not always fun”

Don’t I wish that my reading was really just reading and that I really get to spend a day just snuggled on the couch reading. There’s a common misconception about an agent’s job that all we do all day is read. Most important, there’s a misconception that the reading an agent does is anything like the reading you do or we do when sitting on the beach or relaxing by the fire (I get so little time to just read that I’ve created this entire fantasy around it; also picture cookies, tea, peace and quiet).

When an agent is reading for clients it’s best described as critical reading. We’re not allowed to simply lose ourselves in the book, only to come up later without any idea of time or place. When we’re reading for clients, or when editors are reading for that matter, we need to read every word with a critical eye and we need to remain present at every moment.

When I say I’m reading for the day it means I’m reading either at my desk next to my laptop so I can take notes for the author, or with a notebook and pen in hand so I can take notes and later transcribe them to an email for my client. I often have to go back and reread passages, and I think about that book constantly when I’m done. In fact, while on vacation this summer I was reading a manuscript for a client and had to take a break to go for a walk (mental breaks are important when reading for clients so I can clear my head and think more about the book). While on the walk I pulled out my iPhone to take more notes to send to the author. When reading critically, I think about the book constantly until the email is finally sent, and even then, as many of my clients will attest, I’ll think about it and send follow-up emails.

So if you’re thinking you want to be an agent because you love to read or are jealous because we get to read so many books (which really you should be jealous of, because it is the greatest job in the world), put into perspective what it means when we say we read. I can read a book, snuggled on my couch, in a day. A manuscript will often take longer, simply because I need to slow down, think, and often reimagine the book in a way that won’t offend the author, but will make it stronger.


Jessica

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Working at a Snail's Pace

I was editing a proposal for a client recently and thinking how much has changed in the fifteen years since I first started working in publishing Really I was thinking about how slow things used to be, and while I know many of you will say things are slow now, you should have been around fifteen years ago.

Fifteen years ago an author would finish a book proposal or manuscript. She would proofread, revise, and edit. Then she would head down to the nearest office supply store, buy paper, and print out 50 to 400 pages. She’d then carefully bind it together with either a rubber band or binder clip, place it in an envelope, drive to the post office, and mail it off to her agent. The material would arrive on her agent’s desk roughly 2 to 5 days later.

Now the author finishes the book proposal or manuscript, proofreads, revises, and edits. She then hits “Save,” opens her email program, types in her agent’s name, hits the “Attach” icon, and then "Send." The material arrives on her agent’s desk roughly 2 to 5 minutes later.

Fifteen years ago the agent would unwrap the package, pull out the pages and a blue or red pen, and read while making notes and marks all over the pages, and possibly composing a letter in a notebook at the same time. Once finished, the agent would sit down at the computer or typewriter (and yes, this is what we had in the office when I first started in publishing) and compose her revision letter using the notes in the notebook. The agent would then bundle up the entire package in an envelope and send it off to the author for arrival 2 to 5 days later.

Now the agent opens her email, opens the attachment in Word, or some other word-processing program, turns on track changes, and begins reading and editing. She make her notes in the margins of the manuscript and tracks any changes she makes. While making the changes the agent (or me) writes notes on overarching problems in an email to the author. When she's finished editing, the manuscript or proposal is attached to the email and sent off to the author for arrival 2 to 5 minutes later.

Fifteen years ago, when a manuscript was ready to go out on submission, the agent would send a copy to the printer and have roughly six copies made. Once those copies were back from the printer, they would be collated into boxes with a query letter that had been written six different times and printed. The manuscript boxes would be placed in envelopes and hauled to the post office for mailing. The submission would arrive in the editor’s mailroom roughly 2 to 5 days later, to be delivered to the editor a day or so later.

Now the agent prepares six different submission emails and attaches the manuscript to each email. The emails are then sent off to the editor for arrival on the editor’s desk 2 to 5 minutes later.

I have to admit, I don’t miss those days.

Jessica

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Little Help from Your Friends

This is a rare post from me, something I normally don't do. But while huddled in the office on a Sunday afternoon this email came in from a friend and my first thought was, who better to help then my writing community.

So thank you in advance for anyone who can contribute.

Dear Friends and Family,

As most of you know, I teach at Valle Vista Elementary, a Title 1 school in the poorest area of Albuquerque’s south valley. We have a population of 640 students in preschool through fifth grade. The children at Valle Vista are some of the most amazing children you will ever meet. They are eager to learn and succeed.

Each year on the last Friday in October, our school hosts an event called Read-O-Ween for our students, their families and the community surrounding the school. Instead of collecting candy, our students move from room to room in the school. In each room a staff member reads a different story. At the end of the evening students are given a book to keep and take home. For some of these students, this is the first book that they have ever owned.

This year we had a major sponsor drop from our program at the last minute and as a result, do not have enough book donations to allow each child to receive a book at the end of the evening. Additionally, we’ve had no donations of books written in Spanish for this year’s Read-O-Ween festival. Because many of our students speak English as their second language and come from homes were Spanish is the only language spoken at home, it would be of huge benefit for these children to be able to receive a book that can be read by and with their families.

I am writing to ask that you forward this request to anyone who might be able to provide book donations appropriate for the preschool through fifth grade students at Valle Vista.

Books can be mailed to the school at this address:
Valle Vista Elementary
Attention: Bertha Torres, Bookroom Coordinator
1700 Mae Avenue Southwest
Albuquerque, NM 87105

Thank you so much! Kris

*****An update posted 10-20-10

I received new information from the reading specialist at Valle Vista who said that for this year we don’t have Paypal, Donors Choose, or an Amazon wish list, but the suggestions have inspired her to look into each possibility for next year.

She did say that in English they are most in need of Kindergarten through second grade books. In Spanish they need everything from pre-K through fifth grade.

I also got this, "Thank you so much for spreading the word. I am awed by the support provided by the writing community. They are truly contributing to the success of this event and I’ll update with Read-O-Ween details at the end of the month."

*******

And thank you.

--Jessica

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is AutoReject an Urban Legend

There is a controversy ongoing on one of the query tracking services I frequent that you might be able to resolve. Some of the writers there are convinced that some agents sometimes utilize an 'autoreject' for queries. The thought is the agents may go to an autoreject when they are on vacation or are so flooded with queries that they simply autoreject incoming queries for a time so as not to have to deal with them until, presumably, they catch up. Does this, to your knowledge, happen? Or is the query 'autoreject' theory simply another Urban Myth?

Interesting. I never considered this. So instead of closing to queries or even bothering to read queries, I could simply set up an automated reply that answers and then deletes the query. Interesting.

Honestly, I can’t say definitively that this is never done. I can say that it’s never done at BookEnds without you knowing about it, without the reply letting you know that the query isn’t being read, but as for other agents, I suppose it’s a real possibility that this could happen. I suppose there are agents out there who are afraid that by closing to queries they will miss out on something, but when they get overwhelmed they put on the autoreject. It’s possible.

All that being said, I also think there’s often a feeling that a quick rejection is an automatic response, when sometimes it just happens that, in my case anyway, the query comes in, I’m sitting there and immediately respond. So while I can’t say for sure that this is never done, I can say that it’s probably rare.

Jessica

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reading vs. Representing

As you know by now, I’ve been inundated with queries and recently spent a long morning going through and reading as many as I could get to. That being said, my goal lately is to keep the query inbox below 300 as much as possible. This is a lot harder than you would think.

In one of the responses I received the author thought it was ridiculous that I wasn’t “sufficiently enthusiastic” (apparently those words are causing a lot of angst lately) since six other agencies and three publishers were already reviewing the material. The author wanted to know how, if these others expressed interest, I could possibly reject the book if I hadn’t even read a page; what was it exactly that I would be enthusiastic about?

What I couldn’t figure out is why the author would care. Six agencies reviewing a full is huge. Huge! At that point, wouldn’t it be nice to narrow the list, to assume you already have six enthusiastic agents reviewing the material, so why would you care about this one? Unless you’re lying, of course, but I don’t think I need to go there.

In a moment of weakness I replied to the author suggesting that a review of my website might give a better indication of what I was enthusiastic about. The author replied, of course, to suggest that maybe I should consider expanding my horizons. The author said he had never read paranormal romance, which is what I said I liked, but would not refuse to read it.

And there’s the rub. You are not asking me to “read” your book, you are asking me to consider “representing” your book. Those are two very, very different things. You might consider reading a paranormal romance if I suggested you read it, but if you are a mystery writer, would you want to write a paranormal romance just because I thought you should expand your horizons?

Jessica

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Great Prologue Debate

How do you feel about prologues? I've read arguments for and against them, but I've not seen the issue from an agent's POV. I am leaning towards one for a novel I am starting, but if they are a current no-no in the publishing world, then I don't want to sabotage myself immediately. You may have addressed this question already, but I couldn't find prologues listed on the "Labels" section of the blog.

Well, I can tell you from conversations with colleagues that many agents hate them. Frankly, I never had much of an opinion about the prologue until I started talking to other agents about them and reading some of them more carefully.

The truth is that many writers use a prologue as a convenient way to introduce backstory without doing the work it takes to weave it into the book. Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to write a scene than to slowly unravel the information through the main plotline. I think prologues can often be predictable and lazy. Lazy for the reason I already stated; predictable because I see the same prologue over and over. Thriller writers, for example, love a prologue that introduces the killer making a kill. I’ve seen it a million times.

I don’t think there’s a hard-and-fast rule for or against prologues. I think you just need to make sure it’s as important to the story as every chapter you’re writing and not something you’re doing because it’s easier than the alternative.

Jessica

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Publishing Is a Career

how realistic is it to expect that after publishing i can leave the publishing world for a few years, ie. have no connection at all to what i have written, as if it never happened, and then to return after 3-4 years and continue writing? would you accept that and still take my second book?

I will admit, this question annoyed me just a little. Not that it was asked; I always appreciate any question being asked, because if someone is brave enough to ask, fifty others are thinking of it. No, I’m annoyed because it hints at the belief that I think many have, that writing a book and getting published is a lark, something you do because you had a little spare time, and that it’s easy.

I don’t get why you’d write a book and then disappear. I also don’t get why you wouldn’t want to do anything to support the publication of the book, because it sounds to me like you aren’t interested in doing anything. Not a website, not a book signing, nothing. While my answer doesn’t even please me, the truth is that it is possible. If you write a really great book and someone wants it, there’s no rule that says you need to stick around and “own” that book.

That being said, I don’t think I’d want to represent someone who pitches their book to me in this way. But of course, if the book is magical, amazing, and wows the pants off me, I guess I wouldn’t be able to turn it down, either.

As for returning to continue writing at a later date, how well you can do that is going to depend entirely on how well your first book did, because even though you don’t want any connection to it, if you plan on using the same name, you’re connected. If you really want no connection, I guess you never have to admit you wrote it.

To sum up, it’s possible, tricky but possible. And it doesn’t sit well with me.

Jessica

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Subjective

I was Tweeting with an author recently when she said “I’m always surprised at how subjective this business is.”

And my very first thought was “Aren’t you glad it is.” This was one of those lightbulb moments for me. We always discuss how subjective this business is and that even though something works for me it might not work for another agent. We even use those words, or something similar, to soften the blow of our rejection letters.

We know it’s subjective, but suddenly through the words of this author I realized how truly wonderful that is.

Subjective means that all opinions can make a difference. It means that because I love one book, even if no other agent does, I can take the time to try my hardest to bring that book to the market. It means variety. Subjective is what brings us romantic comedy, dark thrillers, urban fantasy, and science fiction.

The next time you get frustrated by how subjective everything is, take a moment to be grateful for subjectivity. It’s because we’re subjective that we get variety and it’s because publishing is subjective that there’s always another agent around the corner who might have a different opinion, and another editor to submit to.

Jessica

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Publishing Tale

I can’t believe I almost forgot to tell this story!

Two years ago, two and a half actually, we had an intern named Holly. Holly was (is, actually) smart, ambitious and loves publishing. We really enjoyed having Holly around. Even better for us, and hopefully for Holly, she was here at a perfect time. Near the end of Holly’s internship our assistant announced she was leaving for another job. Since Holly was here, graduating, and looking for a job, it seemed only natural to offer it to her. Unfortunately, at the time we couldn’t bring Holly in full-time and, frankly, I’m not sure she wanted to be an agent. While she enjoyed (I hope) working for BookEnds, she really had dreams of working in Manhattan as an editor for one of the bigger houses.

So we made a deal. Holly would take the job part-time while looking for a gig in Manhattan. We would work together, honestly and fairly. She knew we were looking for someone to take on the assistant role and we knew she was looking for something more permanent. And then I heard of an opening at St. Martin’s, so I sent out an email to the editor. I told the editor of Holly’s brilliance and passed along her resume. In just a few short weeks Holly had the job.

Like many interns and assistants, Holly made sure to load up on books before leaving, taking along books by one of her favorite BookEnds clients, Angie Fox. When Holly started her job she told her boss about Angie’s work. The boss read The Accidental Demon Slayer and fell in love. She called and talked about Angie and I promised that when Angie had something new I would keep her in mind. And I did.

Just this summer I finalized a deal between Angie Fox and St. Martin’s for Angie’s fabulous new series (and yes, I’m purposely keeping you in suspense). Even more exciting, we’ve actually done another deal with Holly for another client. I feel like a proud mama watching her little chick leave the nest.

Jessica

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Queries from Published Authors

I’ve read where at least some agents accept queries on proposal for an unfinished manuscript when the author’s previous books are printed in the traditional print-run process. I did not see this addressed on your website and would appreciate knowing if this is something your agency ever considers.

Typically, if an author has been previously published from one of the bigger houses it is quite possible to sell the next work on proposal, without a full manuscript. In those cases the author will not need to finish the book before querying an agent. A proposal should be enough.

Now, that being said, of course there are exceptions to the “rule.” This will depend on the agent and agency. Everyone is different. It will also depend on the genre you were published under and the genre you are now writing in. For example, if you were previously published in category romance and now want to write women’s fiction, it is quite possible you’ll need to finish the manuscript before seeking publication.

To answer your question specifically, when querying BookEnds, if you are previously published, a proposal should be enough.

Jessica

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Using an Agent for Magazines

If I am represented by a good agency and am pitching to a top magazine or newspaper, should I mention the fact that I have an agent who deals with NY Times best-selling authors in my bio?

Will it seem strange that I am mentioning that I have an agent but that I, not them, am doing the pitching?


I never worked in the acquisitions department of a magazine, so I can’t say with complete certainty how a magazine editor thinks or works. Maybe one of my readers would know. That being said, I don’t think it could hurt to say your agent is currently shopping your book.

If you are shopping a nonfiction book and you are an expert, I would definitely mention it. It’s something that will give you more credibility as the author of the article and the book.

As for whether it’s strange that your agent is pitching for you: Not strange at all. Few literary agents pitch to magazines.

Jessica

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Publishing Blues

"'Jersey Shore' star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi's new book A SHORE THING, about a girl looking for love on the boardwalk (one full of big hair, dark tans, and fights galore), was sold to Jeremie Ruby-Strauss at Gallery, with Lauren McKenna editing, for publication in January 2011, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group (world)."

All I can say is Uff da.

--Jessica

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