Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Title Formulas

i read the section on "titles" and you mentioned there is a "formula" for suspense, thrillers and the like. what is the formula?

I don't think there's a formula like in algebra, plug in this and you'll get this, but if you look at a shelf full of thrillers or suspense titles, I think you'll soon begin to see a pattern of titles like: Bad Blood, The Cold Room, Still Missing, Edge, Skin, Torn Apart....

In other words, simple, chilling, and kind of scary. There's nothing too descriptive in a thriller or suspense title (typically).

When you choose a title, choose one that represents the tone or voice of your book. In other words, does your title itself convey a mood, or tell a bit of a story to the reader?


Jessica

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Monday, January 30, 2012

When the Manuscript Differs from the Query

I just started a second wave of querying, after a year of revising both the book and, even more so, the query (thank you so much for your blog’s direction on this, you were truly my best resource). This morning, I received my first agent response on the revised query: A request for the full manuscript! As soon as I sent off the full, I realized that a character I had renamed in my manuscript revisions was referenced by the old name in the query. Total bonehead mistake, I know. My question is, do I email the agent and let her know so that she is not confused?

First off, congratulations! A request for a full is cause for celebration. Great news. And lucky for you, there's a very simple answer to your question--the agent won't even notice. Don't worry about it.

Now celebrate.

Jessica

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giving a Project Multiple Reads

I really have great admiration for critique partners and writers' groups. I honestly don't know how you do it. While I don't mind reading a client's work multiple times, I find that the more I read something the less perspective I have.

In other words, the first time I read a book I'm really able to come up with some great concrete tips and advice, some real revisions. The second time I read the same book I'm pickier. I'm looking for things I missed and of course to see if the changes the author made actually work, and after that I start to really lose perspective. I start to look for things that aren't there and I even question my own editorial advice. Are the things I'm pointing out really necessary changes, will an editor really not buy a book because of this, or am I just being hypersensitive at this point?

This is why, for me anyway, I always advise authors to submit to your agent and editor only when you feel you absolutely need to. I don't mind reading a book when you're only done with half if you need my perspective at that point, but I'd prefer you not use me as a critique partner, sending each chapter as you finish it or sending those first three chapters 15 different times just to see if you're getting closer. I want to be your freshest set of eyes, and yes, that might mean a whole heck of a lot of work for you, but hopefully when I give you those tips they'll be solid and full of great advice rather than wishy-washy.

And, before any of my clients panic thinking they shouldn't have sent those initial three chapters or partial or first 50% because you knew you were struggling or questioned the work and needed my advice, you're all fine. ;)


Jessica

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Jessica,

After struggling with epilepsy since childhood, twenty five year old [redacted] hit rock bottom and decided to go forward with a major brain surgery that changed her life forever.


I think for this to be more powerful it would be helpful to know a few more details. What exactly was rock bottom? What happened that would make you want to undergo such a major surgery.


Independent to the point of stubbornness, [redacted]'s biggest challenge was admitting that she needed help. Over the course of a year, she learned to depend on her family, letting them hold her hand, spoon feed her in the hospital when she was too weak to move, a gauze turban covering her exposed brain, help her begin to walk again and finally figure out what it means to lead a genuinely full life.

I'm not sure this has the pull you intend it to. Unfortunately, a lot of people regularly experience major medical trauma and are forced to rely on others for help. What makes this different? What makes your experience stand out from all others?

[redacted] ’s memoir chronicles her painful journey from frustration, to fear, to ultimate acceptance. LIVING IN A BRAINSTORM is expected to be 100,000 words in journal entry format.

Memoir, like fiction, needs to be completed before querying. A memoir is written like fiction in the sense that you need to create "characters" that come to life for the reader. I'm concerned that the journal format will read like a journal and not a story, which is what a memoir should be. That being said, I know others might not have that same concern.


[redacted] ’s writing has been featured in publications by the Epilepsy Foundations of both Minnesota and Colorado. Through her blog, [redacted], she has been sought out for her help and advice by people with epilepsy and their families as well as non-epileptics who need someone in their corner as they face their own limitations.

This is good. If you're getting a large number of blog readers you should mention that as well.


Sincerely,

Overall I'm not completely wild about this query. It doesn't have that oomph for me that makes it stand out from the many other memoir submissions I get from people who have faced serious medical trauma. What about your story makes it different from someone else who has gone through something similar? Sometimes that can be your voice and writing, but I don't get that here.


Jessica

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not Right for My List

As an aspiring author, I will frequently hear "Not right for my list," or "the characters weren't compelling to me." What do you as an agent do if an author you've signed writes a second book that doesn't resonate with you? How do you pitch that book to publishers?


I think the important thing to remember is that these phrases you're hearing are form letter phrases. It's the wording agents have honed over the years because it's vague enough not to open ourselves to back-and-forth communication and yet truthful because there's something about this book that isn't right for our list. Maybe it was your voice, maybe it was the genre, maybe it was simply the story.

When an agent signs an author, usually there's a meeting of minds (doesn't that sound grand). In other words, usually the agent feels passionate enough about the author's voice and the general direction of the author's writing to want this author on her list and everything else this author might bring to the table. This is why it's so important that you sign with an agent who sees clients as a long-term endeavor and not just a book-by-book project.

I think the fear that authors have that an agent will love the first book but nothing after that is overblown. Sure it can happen, and I'm sure many have horror stories of it happening, but for the most part I think once an agent feels passion for an author's work, they feel passion about that author in general.


Jessica

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Responses to Rejections

I'm pretty sure we've covered this before, but it's come up again so I don't feel it hurts discussing it again.

Should you respond to rejection letters, and, if so, what is the appropriate response?

I don't think there's any reason to ever respond to a rejection letter, and some agents will even tell you not to, ever, for any reason. That being said, for me personally, it never hurts to hear a polite "thank you" now and then. Most agents use form rejections of some sort or another, and for that reason I see no reason to send a response. In fact, one of the reasons form rejections are used is to help prevent responses to every email we receive.

If, however, you receive real feedback from an agent that actually sparks something in you or helps you "see the light," for lack of better phrasing, I think it's definitely nice for an agent to hear that her advice was helpful, and something simple is all you need.


Jessica

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Seeking New Representation

After you have fired your agent (for not following through, etc), how do you address your previous representation in your query? If your work has not been submitted to publishers because agent not-following-through never even got you a first set of revision notes?

Do you say you're seeking new representation? Does that send up a red flag or make you stand out in the crowd?

Or, do you just query like you're any other writer and pray?



I think it's worth mentioning that you were previously represented, but parted ways before the project was ever submitted. Why? I think mentioning previous representation shows agents that there has been some interest in your project, that a colleague already showed interest in it, and it makes you stand out from every other query because you're rare and different. And let's face it, the goal of a query is definitely to stand out from the crowd. Explaining that it's before the project went on submission shows them that you aren't trying to shop around something that has already been shopped.


Jessica

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.


Dear Query Shark,

Well. It is certainly interesting to know who else you’re querying, but now I feel like you haven’t done enough research to know that I’m not her.


I am contacting you because I believe I cannot get enough help for my query, I will probably learn how to write better and someone might even fall over laughing at my mistakes while reading your blog. And now for the real query…

I feel sorry for you now.


Collin Wyle is seduced and carried into the depths of hell by a beautiful woman. Her horrific shriek awakens him in his bed in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat, his skin burning from the heat. Collin has been having what he calls ‘intense’ dreams for months now, with little help from doctors, pills and alcohol.

When he dreams of an acquaintance who is battling for her own life and her children from their abusive father, he decides to take matters into his own hands. The following day he sees the local news discussing the facts… from his dream. He then realizes, these are not dreams, but real life events. He has influence in the lives of others, the ability to help them or harm them. But at what cost?


This is a thriller. Tell me what is going to thrill me. The real gut of this story is Collin’s ability to receive premonitions in his sleep and then use them to help or harm others. But that is the very last sentence of the query, which makes me worry that you spend the majority of your manuscript on backstory and descriptions of dreams before finally getting to the point. I need to know what this is about before I’m nearly finished reading it. Then, so that I’m not left thinking, “So?” I need to know why this is a problem for Collin and what he does about it. Are there other threads? Friendships or romances, etc?


Sinners & Saints is a paranormal thriller about 85000 words.

The author has an active, vivid imagination. He has found that interacting with many different personalities helps create life-like characters.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,





Lauren

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Approaching Agents with a Publishing Offer

The agency representing me abruptly closed its doors, two months before my debut novel releases (yeah, bad timing huh).

Then a few days ago I got a three book contract offer, and I have no agent. I was wondering how to word a "query" to a handful of agents I want to approach to represent my novels, along with the 3-book deal.

Might I just send a simple email explaining? Or do I send a query of the book that landed the 3-book offer?


I would put something like, "publishing contract offered, need representation" in your subject heading to grab the agents' attention and then I would start a simple email explaining, and finish the email with your query so that agents have all the information they need to know if this is a project that might be right for them.

Good luck and congratulations!

Jessica

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Meeting an Agent at a Conference

This question came through on a blog post I did about preparing a nonfiction manuscript:

I have a meeting with a publisher at a conference at the end of the month. I will be presenting them several chapters and a proposal. Do you have any recommendations on how I should present it to them (bound, in a folder, loose, etc.)?

Please do NOT present a written proposal. I definitely recommend having your material with you, especially electronically, on the off chance an agent does want to see it while she's traveling, but I do not recommend showing up at a conference, proposal in hand, thinking you're simply going to hand it over to an agent. A pitch appointment is not an opportunity to hand-deliver your material. A pitch appointment is about verbally pitching your book and getting to know the agent and a little more about the industry. It's also the agent's chance to get to know you and to see if you're the kind of person she would like to work with. Honestly, I've had pitch appointments in which I've passed on material only because I found the author so abrasive I knew it wasn't someone I wanted to work with.

When you do prepare your proposal, never bind it. A folder is fine, but typically, if the agent is still accepting paper submissions, it's loose.

Jessica

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Categorizing Your Book

My book is set twenty years in the future, but it's more of a YA paranormal romance. Does a storyline set in the future make it automatically science fiction? I'm just not sure how to word my query: A paranormal romance with a futuristic twist is what I have right now.


Almost every book could have separate categories, because truthfully, almost every book has elements of different genres in it. Who is the core audience for your book? It sounds like your book is truly YA with SF elements. I suppose you could say the same for Hunger Games, which, as a dystopian, would technically be called SF, but because the voice and the true audience is YA, it's YA.

If your book is a paranormal romance with a futuristic twist, it's a paranormal romance and that's where it would be shelved and that's the audience you would sell to.

The question you need to ask yourself is where in the bookstore would it be shelved, which genre? That's what you would call your book.

Jessica

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Jessica Faust,

The day Claire has prayed for the last ten years has somehow become an inescapable nightmare. Her best friend Alice woke up from her coma but Claire's guilt did not lessen. Jackson returned home with Alice and Claire is still just as heartbroken. More than that, she's terrified of what happens next. Claire failed to realize what their return would really mean - her reprieve is over.


I'm definitely intrigued by this because I sense that there's something about the overall story that sounds interesting. I love the idea of praying for what might be considered a miracle and when it happens realizing the nightmare hasn't ended. That being said, I don't think this paragraph, or this query, is particularly well written, and for that reason I have major reservations about wanting to read more.

I have no idea what you mean by "Jackson returned home with Alice and Claire...." Who is Jackson? Returned home from where? The hospital? Still heartbroken from what? And "just as" heartbroken as Claire, Alice or as he was earlier? None of this makes any sense here and I'm getting no sense of the story. I like the idea that Claire's guilt did not lessen, but lessen over what? I'm missing huge chunks of the story here.
I have no idea where these people are returning from or what sort of reprieve Claire had. Basically, I have far more questions than answers.


The happiness Claire has longed for is overshadowed by her fear. Alice's accident was not the only consequence of their last night together. Now, Claire has something more important than their friendship to lose - a daughter she would do anything to protect.

This feels a tad stronger, and only a tad. That doesn't mean I would recommend keeping it. I still don't understand the setup or how they got where they are or where this daughter comes in.


Claire knows in her heart that Jackson belongs with Alice. Resisting him will be easy. This time, Claire is older, smarter and she has a very good reason to stay as far away from Jackson Montgomery as possible. Besides, her love for him was replaced with hate the second he abandoned her. Or at least that's what she thinks until she takes one look into his eyes.

So in the opening I would have assumed this was women's fiction, but now I realize it's a romance, and that throws me.


Reawakened is a 70,000 word contemporary romance novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Overall I think you're going to have a hard time getting any traction with this query. It tells bits of what a story could be, but doesn't really tell me anything about your story. Most important, it doesn't give me the confidence that you could actually write an entire book.



Jessica

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Publishing House Procedure

I need some insider info. My (wonderful) agent hasn't really given me any details about the situation so I hope you might be able to.

Last year we went on submission. We came close once with a revise and resubmit but ultimately the editor didn't make an offer. One of the editors from the first round was very slow and when my agent called to follow up, he told her I was doing an R&R. The editor asked to see the revision.

A few weeks after she got the ms, she called me and asked for some changes. They were very minor and I ended the call feeling very good about her and the work she wanted me to do. So we sent the newly revised ms back to her and then we got a note a few weeks later that she loves it. Another note a few days later said she finished it and was sending it to her editorial director.

My question is: what does this mean? Do editors usually send it to their editorial directors before they can make an offer? Is she sending it to the editorial director because she has doubts about it or because she's excited about it? How does a decision about an offer actually get made?



This is fabulous news. There's nothing else to say. Nearly everyone at a publishing house needs to get what are often called "second reads" before even considering an offer. These second reads mean they go to their colleagues to get their opinion. Unlike most agencies, no decision is made at a publishing house without the consensus of a number of people. Who these people are will depend on the house, the genre, the editor, the book, etc. Often an editor will bring the book up at what's called an editorial meeting to get the opinion of a number of editors. In this case she presents the book one week, often using your agent's pitch letter as her guide, and listens to the feedback of others at next week's meeting. Sometimes the decision makers include not just editors, but the marketing and sales team as well, and sometimes the only second read you'll need is from the head of the genre's department or the editorial director, or maybe just the editor's immediate boss.

In this case it sounds like she's hoping to get the go-ahead from the editorial director to make the offer. If the editorial director agrees that it's something they would like to add to their list, they'll discuss where the book would fit on the list and what kind of offer they will be making.

Congratulations and good luck. This is exciting news.

By the way, it sounds like you have a great agent, someone who's really active and involved, so don't be afraid to ask her these questions. That's just part of what you pay her for.


Jessica

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Monday, January 09, 2012

So, You've Got an Offer . . .

So, you've got an offer . . . but what if you've already been rejected by agents all over town?

I was going to leave this as a comment on your post "You Have an Offer" but decided to email you instead...

What if you've been rejected (or just not heard back from... no answer means no) by pretty much every agent on your list and THEN get an offer from a publisher? It feels kind of silly to email all the agents who've just told you no thanks and say "I know you didn't want this, but hey! Certain Publisher does, can someone represent me please?"

I'm facing this situation myself at the moment. I spent all last year querying a sci-fi with romantic elements, Atrophy. I got some great rejections, agents who said "I can't take this because it falls right between sci-fi and romance, so don't know what to do with it, but write something else and send me that!"

After I'd pretty much exhausted my list of potential agents, I was given the email address of an editor at HarperVoyager Australia from one of their authors I know and sent a query. The editor got straight back to me and said she wanted to see the first 10 chaps. A few weeks after that, the editor emailed again to say she was enjoying it immensly, there was so many things about it that were great and wanted to see the entire manuscript, plus was going to get another editor to read it as well.

Now, I know this isn't an offer and there's still every chance they could say "thanks, but no." Excpet taking into account how enthusiastic she seemed about it, I've got to consider what I'll do if they offer a contract. Some other published authors have advised me to forget about an agent since I got rejected by so many. If HV offer a contract I should just get a lawyer familiar with this sort of thing and go it without an agent. I now have several books published with Noble Romance Publishing and doing that without an agent it one thing, they're a small press, the contract was pretty straight forward and I was confident having a lawyer look over it and then going ahead on my own. But obviously HarperVoyager are a whole different ball game and honostly, I know that to make the kind of career I want, I need an agent.

So, on the chance HV do offer me a contract, what does an author do who has already been rejected by agents all over town do?

Would really appreciate an answer to this question that has really been stressing me out.



Well, what's interesting is it sounds like you have great feedback from agents who just didn't know where they could take the book, or they didn't feel they had the contacts, or could do you justice because they felt the risk was too big, and, sometimes, agents don't want to get an author's hopes up when they know something is a long shot. What I'd suggest is wait until you have the offer, and when you do, let the editor know that you'd prefer to work with an agent so will need two weeks before you can get back to her. Then I would immediately follow up with those agents you felt you got a good response from. Those agents who sounded very interested in you and your work and, if they asked to see other things, clearly your voice. Let them know you have an offer on that book and ask if they would consider offering representation.

Sure, you could definitely hire a lawyer (make sure it's a literary lawyer, someone who understands the publishing contract), but if you already have agents who are enthusiastic about your voice, this is a good opportunity to start building a relationship. When you interview those agents, really talk to them about their vision for your career, not just their strategy for selling this particular book, although that should be part of the conversation as well.

I hope this helps. It sounds like you've gotten some good news lately so congratulations!

Jessica

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Lauren: What I'm Looking For

Whew! 2011 was a busy year. From June to December alone, I received around 2,500 queries, and from those I requested about 140 proposals and 30 full manuscripts. I saw works geared to adult audiences all the way down to toddlers. I read romance from super-spicy erotic to Disneyesque, biography, Westerns, historical fiction, family sagas, mystery, women's fiction, memoir, fantasy, steampunk, nonfiction, thrillers, true-crime, literary fiction, chick-lit, up-market commercial fiction, horror, science-fiction, poetry, short stories, essays, and even an idea for a puzzle book. I was floored by literary prowess, confused by ridiculousness, and generally entertained nonstop. I have the perfect job.

This year, I'm narrowing the scope of my tastes and focusing more specifically on genres to which I am best suited. In 2012, I'm looking for:

romance—all genres
literary fiction
commercial fiction, especially up-market
urban fantasy with romantic elements
middle-grade—all subgenres
young adult—all subgenres
mystery, with a strong focus on cozies
women's fiction on the literary side
smart chick lit, a la The Devil Wears Prada


In nonfiction, I'm looking for authors who have a large following, are well-established professionals, and have big platforms, unless the work is a memoir. I'm looking for the following topics in nonfiction:

parenting
relationships
business
popular science
popular culture
popular psychology
memoirs of highly extraordinary people and experiences

I am specifically not accepting submissions of epic fantasy, science-fiction, poetry, short stories, essay collections, biography, thrillers, Westerns, or true-crime.

Here's to a prosperous and eventful 2012!

Lauren

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.


Dear Ms. Editor

I would like you to consider working with me on the following manuscript.


We have agents here, not editors. And nobody here has the last name Editor. This makes me think you haven’t done your research. Also, and this is just my personal opinion, but something about your first sentence makes me feel a bit condescended to, as though you’re commanding me to do something in a nice way. “Please consider . . .” might be more effective.


Landing in New York in 1910, Martin Crain fell in love with the American Dream and reached out for it with both hands. Determination, hard work and his own inate loyalty, made him rise from chauffeur to the personal assistant of a wealthy industrialist.

Misspellings and errors in grammar and punctuation in a query are a pet peeve of mine. In a 100,000-word manuscript, errors are more forgivable, but you only had to write half a page and you’ve misspelled something any email program or word processor would highlight. Now you look lazy.


We meet his employer,whom Martin calls "the Mister"; the Mister's great love - Miss Ellie, his wife, his brother; Martin's son, Mo and Mo's cousin - DoeDoe (through whose eyes and memories the story is told).

If DoeDoe (whoever he or she is) is the narrator, why don’t we know more about him or her? What gives this person the authority to tell the story?

We’re halfway through the query and I know all the characters’ names, which mean nothing to me, but have no idea what they do (or even what the narrator’s gender is) or what conflict is presented.


This story follows Martins life, and those of his family in the Irish neighborhoods of mid-Manhattan, and through the homes and lives of his wealthy employers.

This might be interesting. But I’m thinking, “And?” Are there comparisons between the extreme poverty and social stigmas the Irish suffered in 1910 and the comfort of the wealthy? Because it sounds like there might be, and this is fascinating to me. But you haven’t given me a chance to see it.


When tragedy struck and Martin's grip on his dream slipped, his loyalty never faltered.

Aha! I see a glimmer of conflict. I can tell it is there, but you haven’t told me what it is. What tragedy struck Martin and his grip on his dream? Indeed, what is his dream? The American Dream is relative—it could mean a picket fence and a golden retriever, or it could mean ownership of a filthy deli in Hell’s Kitchen.


Through betrayal, deaths, murder, persecution, failures and personal misery, Martin was never known to speak a word of blame for his beloved "Mister".

Why would he blame Mister? This is the problem here. I get a vague sense of what this book is about, but in order to want to read more, I need specificity. What happened and how was it rectified, if it was?


They say 'no good deed goes unpunished', but perhaps in the end, Martin's devotion would be rewarded?

Well, is it or isn’t it? And in what way? Because my opinion of the story hinges upon knowing what happens, I do not like having the ending dangled in front of me like a carrot. I feel like you’re saying to me, “If you really want to know the answer and can’t stand the suspense, you’ll request my proposal.” And that feels sneaky and tricky. If you had confidence in your own plotting and the ending of your own story, you would have been too willing to tell me all about it. And I honestly wanted to hear it.


Thank you for taking time to read this.
Sincerely,


I like this closing. Simple and respectful.

I would reject this because even though I like stories that show the polarity of American socioeconomics, and I like stories about turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City, I can’t tell from your query what the meat of the story is.


Lauren

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Editor/Agent Etiquette

At a conference several months ago I pitched my suspense novel to both an agent and an editor with a NY publisher, both of whom requested the full manuscript. Recently I received an email from the editor suggesting changes to my book and asking me to resubmit it. What is the proper etiquette in a case like this? Should I let the agent know the editor suggested changes and that I'll be revising the ms? Should I let the editor know that when I resubmit the work it could be through an agent? Or don't I need to do anything at this stage?

The proper etiquette is really to put the book first. The only thing you owe the agent and editor is courtesy. Go ahead with the revisions for the editor as long as you feel good about them, but don't bother informing the agent until you're finished with them. If you finish the edits and feel they've made a significant difference, then I would contact the agent to let her know of the changes and see if she's interested in either looking at the book again (if she's already passed) or seeing the revised version. I would not bother telling the editor that you "might have an agent" because honestly, the odds say that there's a very slight chance you will. In other words, just because one agent asked to see the material doesn't mean she's going to offer representation.

The other thing I would do is query widely. Make sure you aren't putting all your hopes and dreams into one agent and one editor.

Jessica

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Monday, January 02, 2012

Happy New Year!

If, like me, you were lucky to be able to take some time off over the holidays, welcome back. Like most agents and editors in publishing, we're returning refreshed, relaxed, and, most important, hungry for great new projects.

Personally, I'm really looking forward to 2012 and all that it will bring. Let's face it, 2011 was an interesting year in publishing. We saw a whole lot of change, most of it really exciting for everyone. Ebooks exploded and with that the doors opened for authors to self-publish and forge their own paths if they wished. It also changed things for publishers and agents, who needed and need to find ways to continue assisting and growing authors. I think it's fair to say we're all still exploring where we fit in this new world, and that means authors, agents, and editors. There are new options and each one has its challenges and its rewards. I'm a believer, however, that each of us needs to take the path that works for us individually and that no decision is set in stone. That we can change our path at any point and try something new. That's the great thing about this new world.

I am somewhat sad to say that I'm going to continue taking queries on referral only at this point. My wonderful clients have been keeping me very busy, and to give them the attention they need and deserve I want to limit my query inbox. Lauren, Kim, and Jessica are still open for queries and hungry for something new. Check the Submissions page to see what they're looking for these days. I'll also try to encourage them to do blog posts. And, one thing to note, while closed to queries last year I actually signed three new clients.

We had an incredibly successful 2011, one of our best years ever, so it's impossible to go into 2012 with anything but enthusiasm. I can't wait to see what the year brings for BookEnds and to hear what it brings for all of you.


Jessica

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