Thursday, November 10, 2011

We're Back!! #Ask Agent 9

After a bye-week for the Backspace Conference (which was awesome, by the way!), we're back for #AskAgent!!

What's on your mind?

Questions are open from noon to 3 EST.


  1. If you've been rejected months ago by one agent at an agency that's just taken on a new agent, can you query the new agent now or should you wait for six months or so? The new agent didn't get a chance to have it passed on and the manuscript might be exactly what he or she is looking for.

  2. I query a project and get a rejection.
    How long should I wait to query another project to the same agent/agency?


  3. What is the difference between YA fantasy and adult fantasy, especially since many of the latter have young protagonists?

  4. I have a small press (mostly e-books, some prints) pressuring me to sign with them by Friday. I want to wait until I have an agent, and currently have 3 fulls and 1 partial out to agents. The small press made their offer two weeks ago. What should I do? Do I pass on the publication offer?

  5. My sister and I write mainly young adult and middle-grade. We are young and ambitious and as of yesterday have a list of about 12-15 projects (mostly series) that we plan to complete within the next 10 years. By the end of this year alone we will have finished writing four novels. How do we go about portraying our enthusiasm and strong work ethic in a way that won't annoy and agent. We really just want to work hard for a single agency. Is it true we shouldn't mention the fact that we have other works in our queries?

  6. Would a family saga be considered women's fiction if the main character and most of the other characters start out as children and teens? I was querying said project as YA, but then someone on another forum thought, based on the query and mini-synopsis, that it sounded a lot more like women's fiction since it's mostly about growth and development instead of action- or conflict-driven. Or would this be better-classified as general fiction that happens to have a majority of young characters, and a potential agent or publisher would decide how to market it?

  7. When an author is seeking representation, what is the most important question(s) he or she should ask the agent before signing with them?


  8. I am not a US resident but I write fiction in English, is this something I should mention in a query? And do US-based agents only represent US-based authors?

    Thank you :)

  9. Sorry for trying to sneak in under the deadline from another time zone! Question: If a requested submission (full or partial) is not in an agent's preferred font or format, (assuming that preference is unknown), is there a possibility that said manuscript will be rejected unread? And, once and for all, what are the standard preferences for most agents? Thank you so much for this and for all other advice and counsel!

  10. In honor of my steadfast support of submission guidelines, I'm only answering questions that fell between the hours of noon and 3 EST, which is our weekly timeframe (on Thursday) for #AskAgent

  11. @WriterPerson

    The most common misconception about YA is that the age of the protagonist makes the book YA.

    YA is characterized by the intenisty of the book: the feeling of experiencing firsts: first love, first hate/anger/revenge, etc. It should bring you to the inevitablity, the immediacy of those feelings.

    Classic adult fantasies do typically feature 16-18-year-old protagonists, but my feeling is that they provide a lense on the world rather than inviting the reader to experience what they're specifically feeling about, say, walking into Mordor.

    If you're unclear about where your book falls, you should read some of the YA fantasies being put out today--and the adult ones.

  12. @Ms Snip

    My instinct? Yes! Resist.

    Here's why: you have no advocate.

    You're working with a publisher who wants to make as much money on your book as they can. You, by the way, want the same thing.

    I suspect that an agent would have A LOT to say about their contract--and not to say that small presses are any worse than the big ones. They all want the rights, and rightly so. But it's not always in the author's best interest.

    Not to mention that pubbing here, with small sales numbers, will SERIOUSLY impede your chances of graduating to any other publisher, small or large.

    An agent is always going to have a perspective on how best to develop your career.

    People tend to view each book as its own game (unless it's a series). The truth is that everything that happens in your career as a writer affects everything else. Best you have someone who understands what the implications are on your side.

  13. @KitaHana

    What you should do is write.

    Write everything that feels important to you--one project will feel the most important, and that's the one that you'll finish.

    Step next is to get a critique group. Other writers in your genre who can help you work out the kinks.

    Once that project is edited and ready, query with *only* that project. Sell an agent on one project and, when he or she offers representation, tell them about what's next then. But not in the query.

  14. 'In honor of my steadfast support of submission guidelines, I'm only answering questions that fell between the hours of noon and 3 EST, which is our weekly timeframe (on Thursday) for #AskAgent'

    If you're going to be doing that, why post it on the blog before then? Not everyone in the rest of the world is online to ask in those specific times for that specific timezone. What harm does it do to answer questions from before that time considering they were submitted before the deadline? I'm sorry but that is simply not cool. It's like saying I'll help you if you stalk my site/twitter and bend over backwards to meet my time framing criteria. That is a good way to put authors off querying ou at all.

  15. archerdevil--Meredith clearly posts the time frame for questions every week on these #askagent posts.

  16. Archerdevil, Meredith's Ask Agent blog series is a weekly occurrence and a tremendous favor and incredibly valuable opportunity to all of us writers.

    When someone is doing you a huge favor, you do bend over backwards to accommodate them. But Meredith isn't asking anyone to bend over backwards, she wrote clearly stated easy to follow rules. So really, just wait for next week.

    Writing what you just did, is like letting the door swing shut in a friends face who's helping you move heavy objects out of your house, then yelling at them to be more careful of your things.

    That was bad behavior and you should apologize.

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  18. Thank you so much for the help :D Much appreciated.

  19. @carrieann

    I think you should classify this as broadly as possible for the query. If it's more commercial in terms of the plot and tone, call it commercial fiction. If it tends more introspective and philosophical, go ahead and call it literary fiction.

    An agent can help target the category.

  20. @Sparks

    Agents here represent clients from all over!

    Since you're writing in English, I say just write your query as traditionally recommended.

    You don't have to add anything about where you're writing from unless it's relevant to the subject matter, and then you should write your nationality into your bio at the end of the query. Otherwise, just let the book speak for itself and you can talk about where you're from in the getting-to-know-you offer-of-representation call!

  21. @Charlee

    In my opinion, the most important question to ask is how that agent works (and the agent should be getting this information about your process, too).

    Are you a writer that wants to check in once a week, even if there's not much to report? That's OK. But if your agent is a "no news is good news" type, you'll run into problems.

    Are you a caller, and the agent prefers email?

    So the most important thing is to get a sense of how that agent likes to communicate and how often.

  22. Thank you, Meredith.
    #AskAgent is very helpful :)