Thursday, December 8, 2011


OK, time for the next AskAgent! Questions are open from NOON TO 4PM EST.

Have at it!


  1. Weird question, but how difficult is it to donate percentages of books sold to a charity? I've seen them before, where a dollar or whatever from every book sold goes to say, cancer research or something.

    When in the publishing process would that get figured out?

  2. Can I—or rather should I—list any blogs that I regularly write for, or have been asked to guest blog for (especially if it is a really well-known one with a pretty big following) in my query?

    As a former elementary school teacher, I don't think the daily letters I wrote to my kindergarten class, or the grants I co-wrote count as writing experience for my genre. :D

    Thanks for doing another #askagent, Meredith!

  3. What are the font and format preferences for most agents, with regards to full and partial manuscript submissions, assuming none are stated? If a MS is not submitted in the preferred font and format, would an agent be more likely to request a re-submission or just reject it outright? Thank you for all of your advice and insight!

  4. How quickly do requested materials need to be sent to an agent? I know everyone says the manuscript has to be finished before you even think about querying, but several people I know have received requests for material, then spent a month (or several) revising before sending in their work. Is that bad etiquette on the author's part?

  5. Is it generally a red flag for a first-time author to query a trilogy/series?


  6. Looking forward to asking on the next post.

  7. @1000thMonkey Well, I'm not too familiar with this sort of thing, having never had a deal with charity or percentage donations built in.

    Honestly, and particularly for debut authors, donating a percentage to charity would come out of the author cut, with perhaps some advertising of the charity aspect, but no money given up, by the publisher.

    Again, though, that's not from experience.

  8. @Marquita

    Yes! Definitely include hyperlinks to your blog in your query (if you write on that blog at least once a week and have always done so.)

    If you've guest blogged somewhere, link to the post directly.

  9. @WordDancer

    In terms of font and format of submissions, simple is always best.

    99.9999999% of agents want black Times New Roman or Calibri font, double spaced, with contact information, title, and word count on page 1 of the manuscript (and I only refrain from saying 100% because I know there's some kook out there that wants wingding font).

    If someone submits to me in, say, Comic Sans or Courier (NOOO!!) I will groan, roll my eyes, and read the damn thing anyway. It's silly to write in those fonts but, hell. It's readable.

    I think most agents will agree--we're in the business of reading good stories, not reading Times New Roman. But holy hell. Start me on the right foot and use a normal font.

    If a book came in with multiple fonts, a weird file format, and color or something, I might send it back. Submitting like that says to me that the author has done less than 0 research and will be a pain to work with.

  10. @Mara

    If you're querying, I assume that you think the book should go to print the next day. It's PERFECT. (It won't be, but that's ok.) It should be written, edited, read by beta readers, re-edited, and copy/line edited. Ready. And, of course COMPLETE.

    So, if I request your book and never hear back, two things will happen:
    1. I probably will forget that I requested it, since I'm requesting 10 other things that day.
    2. When I do remember "Hey...where was that one thing..." I'll feel grrrr because 1. you queried when you didn't mean it; you faked me out or 2. you signed with someone else and didn't have the courtesy to let me know. I won't know which...but those are the most common scenarios and I'll feel negatively.

    There are cases, though, where you've queried multiple agents (totally fine) and someone wrote you a nice fat editorial letter that you're working on right as my slow a$$ requests, too.

    So you might think "Oh, can't sub to her until I'm finished!" But then I'm in NYC thinking "Damn. She 1. faked me out or 2. signed elsewhere." And I'm in a bad mood!

    What you should do, if you're caught in this scenario, is email me back and let me know what's going on. You're revising, here's the gist of what's changing, and what should you do.

    I might come back and say "oh sounds good, let me know when you're finished" or "Oh, no, I think it's fine as is, send me the original." OR I might say "Send me the Frankenstein manuscript." Just tack on the original for whatever you haven't revised and explain anything that needs it.

    But either way, you've got to let me know what's up or I'll get all cranky.

    And if you've just queried an unfinished book, shame on you.

  11. @CNHolmberg

    No, it's not necessarily a turn-off to see a debut querying a series or trilogy. It depends on the presentation.

    Anytime you're sending a literary agent a query (this is different for film, etc.) you are querying ONE book. One. The first, say, in your series. I will offer or not sign you on the basis of that book alone. In our phone call before we seal the deal, we will definitely talk about what else you're writing, because I'm in this for the career. You can bring all the rest up then.

    Of course, it's fine to mention "series potential" in your query.

  12. @ Meredith

    Oh yeah, I totally assumed it came out of the author's cut :)

  13. Thank you for the response! It's always good to understand things from an agent's point of view. I would never query an "unfinished" manuscript, but sometimes it's hard to know when something is "perfect," especially when every beta reader has a different opinion. Just because I love it as-is doesn't mean everyone else will.

    Thanks for hosting this every week. I enjoy reading other people's questions, and seeing your answers!

  14. I'm really sorry I missed this. Hope to catch the next Q&A.