Monday, January 23, 2012

#AskAgent

Questions are open from Noon EST until 3pm EST. Ask away in the comments!

23 comments:

  1. Hi Meredith.

    Author blogs. Hate them or love them? What are you looking for when you visit one?

    Thanks.

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  2. In a query, should you write something to the effect of "I am opening to making changes", or is that understood?

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  3. Meredith - How important are a fiction author's platform numbers to an agent? What numbers are relevant, if any?

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  5. I just wanted to point out that you guys might want to come back and ask these between noon and 3 EST like it says in the post....

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  6. How do you deal with authors who are asking for representation from outside the US? I understand how this would put a crimp on in-person PR etc, but are there other issues with contracts and copyright laws? And how much would that count against me (I live in Sweden)?

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  7. Amy -- good catch. That's what I get for being English (ie, no clue about US timezones) and half-asleep.

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  9. If the time to hear back from an agent on a query has waaaaay gone past, and his agency website says all queries are responded to and writers should check in/drop note/resend if the time passes without word, how should the resend be titled? Same as before (ex: Query for TITLE OF STORY HERE), or should the subject line make it clear that it's a resend, so it won't languish in the back of the pile, especially if the agent is just REALLY slammed with queries and running REALLY behind (seems a title hinting it's a check in might help show it's not a spamming duplicate, just in case).

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  10. Thanks again, Meredith.
    Where in the genre market would characters with "super powers" congregate? It seems to fall in with the Paranormal crowd but that is often thought of as the vampire/werewolf/witch only group. Obviously this can either hinder or help a query.

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  11. I have a novel that I think toes the line between magical realism and contemporary. There's one act of magic that starts it off, a catalyst of sorts, but it's not the focus. How should I word this in a query? I've thought contemporary YA with a thread of fantasy, but I know agents don't really love the mixing-of-genres in queries.

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  12. First of all, thank you Amy for pointing out the timeframe. Please adhere!

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  13. @British Neil :)

    Love author blogs! I think everyone should have one. Check out this series of posts for how to do it right: One, Two, Three.
    You Want To "Blog" Not "Ruin Your Career"

    Author Blogs

    What Really Doesn't Go On Ze Blog

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  14. @Deb

    It should be totally understood that you, as an author, are willing to make changes at any stage (revisions for the agent, revisions for the editor).

    You can also feel free to say so when/if someone asks for a revision that you feel fundamentally changes your book. You don't *have* to take revision, but you must be open to it.

    Otherwise, go self-publish.

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  15. @M.E. Anders

    Platform makes up about 10% of my calculus when considering a novel (as opposed to 80% for a nonfiction project).

    The main deciding factor, if you're a debut, is whether the book is awesome and fits the market. If you're not a debut, it's sales numbers of past titles (yep, self-pubbed books count).

    For the platform, number of followers on your blog, Twitter, or professional Facebook will be compelling, mostly to illustrate to the publisher that you are involved in and understand the social media landscape--they they don't have to teach you.

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  16. @Malin

    I don't think about nationality as being a problem at all. There isn't really a lot of in-person PR anymore in any case, and it wouldn't change anything on the contracts.

    There can be extra taxes you have to pay on proceeds from the deal in the US, but that's really the only consideration.

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  17. @Crow

    since it seems like you've done your homework on the agency policies, I think should resend the query with "Resending" in the subject line and a one-sentence "This is a follow up on my query of __________, which is also pasted below" and then paste whatever they ask for in terms of pages.

    Don't use this as an excuse to send any more materials than they ask for in their submission guidelines.

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  18. @TimJason

    Characters with superpowers might find a home in the Urban Fantasy category. It really depends on the super power.

    It sounds like you should do some research on what's coming out of these genres now to compare. UF and Paranormal can have a fine line between them.

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  19. @Chelsey

    First of all, agents love genre-blending. It just has to make sense. (So I would probably not give much credence to a sci-fi historical romance, for instance. It just doesn't make sense.)

    Mixing contemporary and fantasy is fine. I think most people would call it Urban Fantasy or even just straight fantasy or "speculative." Depends on the amount of fantasy in the book. It sounds like yours is speculative, although you've got research to do before you go tossing that into queries on my word, who hasn't seen the project.

    As I always say, though, if in doubt, leave it out. Your query should be mostly you telling my what the book is about, what choices the Main Character faces, not what category the book falls into.

    It's totally fine to just call your novel a novel and let the plot tell me where I think it falls. Your book should be able to stand up on its own.

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  20. I always feel my angsty writer nerves untense a little after these Ask Agents. Thanks, Ms. Barnes!

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  21. @Crow, That makes it all worth while!!!

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