45 Responses to Bring It On

  1. Stephen says:

    How many dimples are on a Titleist Pro V1 golfball?

  2. Anna says:

    Hi. i have a question about the agent and editor relationship. i know the agent send the editor a query letter. does the author get to see that? why or why not?

    also, i noticed alot of my favorite authors thank a different agent in the ackowlegment section of their books. is that normal that an author switches agents for every book?

    thanks!
    Anna

  3. How do you tell someone clearly and professionally that their writing is awful & cannot be fixed by editing?

  4. Tamara says:

    I know this is a little like gratuituously googling onself, but it’s always interesting to hear someone take publishing’s pulse – how’s it going? How are the swings in the economy (e.g., the whole debt ceiling thing) affecting publishing? And also it’s interesting in a slow-motion-car-crash sort of way to hear how the different genres are doing and what publishers are looking for. Tall order?

    Thanks!

  5. C. says:

    Is the online flood of information on how to write a good query letter making it harder to sift through the crap? I mean – a really bad writer who’s mastered the fine art of writing a phenomenal query letter is still at really bad writer, after all.

  6. Anna says:

    Do you take on category romance?

  7. oh, this is actually the real question:

    Suppose I query and you accept & request a partial.

    Then, you say, “No, not for me.” And that’s it.

    It is professional for me to ask “why” if the “not for me” is just not enough? I guess I’m looking for “my professional eye detects that you just don’t have any story” or “your story is probably OK but your development is weak,” or “your development is OK but your story doesn’t grab me” or even “it’s so close, but it needs a complete retuning.”

    And, is it professional to ask “may I resubmit after I rework the piece?”

    (Oops. Two questions in one. Well, they’re related.)

  8. Jennifer Humeniuk says:

    Approximately how long does it take for an agent to make a successful sale? I’m sure it varies considerably, but is there any normal time range? I know that once an author is working with an agent, the submission process is discussed, especially with more business-savvy authors. Do agents always notify the author when their work is being sent out, and to whom, or do they primarily notify the author only when an offer is on the table?

    Thanks!

  9. Jim says:

    “How many dimples are on a Titleist Pro V1 golfball?”

    192. Don’t believe me? Count ’em. :)

    “i know the agent send the editor a query letter. does the author get to see that? why or why not?”

    There’s typically a letter of some sort that accompanies every submission, yes. I think different agents feel differently about whether or not to share them. I don’t love sending them because I feel like authors don’t always love to see their work reduced to a paragraph or two, and if we get caught going back and forth on the best phrasing, the letter can lose some steam. I’m not totally opposed, though, so…it depends?

    “i noticed alot of my favorite authors thank a different agent in the ackowlegment section of their books. is that normal that an author switches agents for every book?”

    God, I hope not! Finding the right agent is important, and you want to make sure the fit is good, so sometimes you’ll end up changing. That happens. But changing constantly seems like a bad sign to me. I’m always looking to work with clients for the long term, not just a book here and there.

    “How do you tell someone clearly and professionally that their writing is awful & cannot be fixed by editing?”

    I don’t. It’s not my place to tell someone that. I can say that I don’t believe I can sell their work, but I can’t tell someone their writing is “bad,” because it’s too subjective for that. I would never suggest someone stop writing, but I might suggest that what they’re doing doesn’t seem commercially viable. Which could be because I hate what they’re doing but could also be that they’re doing something great but I just don’t know who would buy it.

    “How are the swings in the economy (e.g., the whole debt ceiling thing) affecting publishing? And also it’s interesting in a slow-motion-car-crash sort of way to hear how the different genres are doing and what publishers are looking for. Tall order?”

    Too soon to say how the debt ceiling debacle will affect anything, but especially publishing which is notoriously behind the curve in these sorts of situations. In short, I’ll just say that there are definitely doom and gloomers out there worrying that publishing is in the toilet, but it doesn’t sound much different from what people were saying 12 years ago when I entered the business. Maybe I’m just stupidly optimistic, but I think the business is changing, not dying. For as long as people want to read, there will be a need for a publishing industry in some form. As far as what genres are working…honestly, I just want to find anything fresh. I don’t know that there’s any one category I’m MOST excited to see right now. Just anything exciting and new.

    “Is the online flood of information on how to write a good query letter making it harder to sift through the crap? I mean – a really bad writer who’s mastered the fine art of writing a phenomenal query letter is still at really bad writer, after all.”

    Ha! I love this. And actually, I do think it’s a little tougher to sort the good from the bad than it used to be because the bad used to be worse and therefore more quickly identified. All in all, though, I think if you can write a phenomenal query letter, chances are you haven’t written a terrible book. It doesn’t mean it will necessarily be my cup of tea, but it will likely not be an affront to my sensibilities!

    One more, and then I’ll do another set because this is getting LONG!

    “Do you take on category romance?”

    Only for clients who also do stand-alone titles. I wouldn’t sign someone up JUST for category romance because it’s not an area of expertise, but if someone writing single titles also does a Blaze or a Nocturne, then I’m happy to give it a go.

  10. Marie says:

    I’ve heard both sides of the argument, but many young writers I know are unsure of the necessity of a literary agent, especially with the publishing world in the shape it is now; besides legalities, how likely is an author to surivive on her own, without the aid of an agent? After all, most publishing houses won’t even look at an unsolicited manuscript, right?

  11. Kim says:

    How DO publishers determine market, what they think they can sell? Is it driven by booksellers? Focus groups? Tarot cards, specially-designed magic 8 balls?

  12. Melissa says:

    Do you personally enjoy reading romance and women’s fiction?

  13. Tamara says:

    Thank you, Jim!

  14. Melissa says:

    Does D&G give prizes to the agent with the most blog comments?

  15. Will Overby says:

    Do you and most of the agents you know share editors’ rejections with the client?

  16. Jim says:

    Second round of answers!

    “It is professional for me to ask “why” if the “not for me” is just not enough? I guess I’m looking for “my professional eye detects that you just don’t have any story” or “your story is probably OK but your development is weak,” or “your development is OK but your story doesn’t grab me” or even “it’s so close, but it needs a complete retuning.” And, is it professional to ask “may I resubmit after I rework the piece?”

    I’d say that it isn’t worth asking why we decided to pass on something. I know everyone hates hearing this, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t have time to give detailed feedback to every submission, so our policy is actually not to offer editorial feedback. We might be able to offer an indication of what turned us off in very general terms, but it would be better to sit out the “why,” and go ahead and ask us later on if we’re willing to reconsider if you’ve done substantial work on the manuscript.

    “Approximately how long does it take for an agent to make a successful sale? I’m sure it varies considerably, but is there any normal time range? I know that once an author is working with an agent, the submission process is discussed, especially with more business-savvy authors. Do agents always notify the author when their work is being sent out, and to whom, or do they primarily notify the author only when an offer is on the table?”

    Oof. This is a tough one. I would say there isn’t a length of time that can be pinpointed. Really, it varies a lot. I have sold a book in under 24 hours, and I have done a deal for something three years after I submitted it. Both are unusual circumstances. Usually we have a lot of information within the first month or two, but it can be an incredibly wide spread.

    As far as notifying an author, I think everyone should know when their project is sent out, but whether we share who it has gone to, that really depends on whether the author cares or not. I leave most information off the table but tell my clients to ask anything they want to and let them know that I’ll share information as they need to know it or whenever they ask for it.

  17. Jim says:

    Third round! Note: these are coming faster than anticipated! :)

    “I’ve heard both sides of the argument, but many young writers I know are unsure of the necessity of a literary agent, especially with the publishing world in the shape it is now; besides legalities, how likely is an author to surivive on her own, without the aid of an agent? After all, most publishing houses won’t even look at an unsolicited manuscript, right?”

    Oh, I mean…you’re not expecting an unbiased answer here, are you? Of course I think authors should use agents and that your chances of success increase dramatically if you have one. But, I mean…it’s literally my job. There are those folks who publish on their own or who have a regional market or use university presses and can handle the business side on their own, but yes, I fully believe that your greatest chances of success come with the support of an agent on your side. Espcially if that agent is me.

    “How DO publishers determine market, what they think they can sell? Is it driven by booksellers? Focus groups? Tarot cards, specially-designed magic 8 balls?”

    For publishers, it depends on what the sales force thinks they can sell, how comparable books have sold, what booksellers are looking for, and a hefty dose of shot in the dark guessing. For agents, it’s usually witchcraft and blood sacrifice.

    “Do you personally enjoy reading romance and women’s fiction?”

    Absolutely. I grew up in a house full of women who left their Harlequin novels strewn about everywhere, and I was always happy to dive in. Still am. My interests are broad, but I’ll always have a soft spot for romance novels and those books that get strangely labeled “women’s fiction.”

    “Does D&G give prizes to the agent with the most blog comments?”

    Oh my God, I WISH!!! No, but I’m a whore for comments and tend to judge my self-worth based on how many I can get. I’m also a competitive bastard and want to have the most comments even if no one else sees it as a competition.

    “Do you and most of the agents you know share editors’ rejections with the client?”

    Yep! I mean…if something sells, I won’t share them with the author because why should they care at that point? But in general, yes, agents are willing to share rejection letters across the board.

  18. NAP says:

    What is your view of anthropomorphic animal stories in the middle grade market?

    -NAP

  19. Giora says:

    That’s a question for the fourth round, and it’s specific.
    More than a few novels set in China were published in recent years, but it’s still a very small category. Some published authors, like Lisa See are doing very well, while others just okay.
    As an agent, do you find it more difficult to sell a novel set in China or in other countries (England doesn’t count), assuming that the novel is decent? Do you see the markt for novels set in China growing? Thanks.

  20. You pick up the paranormal romance you had on hold at the library just before a flight to LA, only to realize that 1) the cover (and what follows) is more NSFW than you’d anticipated and 2) you’re sitting between your mother’s old friend on your right, and a very inquisitive second grader on your left. Do you a) read proudly on, b) browse skymall the entire flight, or c) none of the above?

  21. Marlana says:

    I’m cheating by making this a two-part question, but since they’re related, I’d thought I’d shoot them out to you. Name your top three reasons for passing on a manuscript? and… Your top three reasons for offering representation?

  22. So who’s going to win Project Runway this season? I’m really digging Anthony, the birdseed dress guy. And Anya, the girl from Trinidad.

    But…let’s be honest. MONDO FOREVER!

  23. Lydia says:

    When an agent has kindly given you excellent revision suggestions after stating that they loved your character, premise, etc and you submit those back; how long should you wait before giving up the ghost on them ever getting back with you?

  24. Sarah Schmitt says:

    Given the choice of a YA Paranormal and a YA Thriller with a “pre-dystopian” slant, which do you think agents would rather have? I know paranormal is really big and with the Hunger Games, the window of dystopians may be extended, but is there one agents would prefer over the other?

  25. Emy Shin says:

    It’s so fun and enlightening reading the questions and your answers to them.

    Agents (and other writers) frequently advise writers not to write to trend. However, what do you think about the opposite of this? If the manuscript follows a currently rising trend, one that editors might have already filled their list with once the writer’s ready to query — should she continue on? Or should she write a different manuscript that avoids the trend completely (even though she might love the 1st one more)?

  26. C. says:

    I have an agent problem. Having sent queries out during the past month, I have received surprisingly good feedback, with several requests for partials and fulls. The first offer turned up in my inbox yesterday, which was very exciting, of course.

    The agent is well-known in terms of representing and selling my genre and seems to make many sales and to have good relationships with editors. (I have done my research.) So far so good. She’s also sternly professional, as well as open, straight-forward and communicative, all qualities I really value in an agent.

    However, and this is a big however – I seem to be a bit of an elitist snob. I have always pictured my agent to be someone like… you know, Betsy Lerner, the Early Years. Someone on top of her game in all aspects of agenting. Someone who will put all other agents to shame with her awesomeness!

    And the woman who wants to represent me is… not like that. My main peeves are the following: her website is completely unprofessional, to the extent that it looks like it was made by her computer science major nephew. Furthermore, her blog is (really) full of typos and grammatical errors.

    So my question is this: how can she (and others like her, because there are quite a few) be successful in spite of maintaining a website that is the equivalent of having an office in a moldy basement in the suburbs of Bumblef*ck, and a command of the English language that completely contradicts her self-professed sticklerdom?

    AND if I get into bed with her, will I still respect her tomorrow?

  27. Mardi says:

    Let’s say you have a client who’s got a couple of non-fiction books out there, published well because you’re such an awesome agent. But then she has this undeniable desire to write a (hopefully) kick-ass thriller series. What’s your advice?

  28. C. says:

    (Oh, and speaking of unprofessional – I just clicked on your profile, and simply must tell you how hot your beard is! Okay, back on topic.)

  29. T says:

    My question isn’t about who’s your favorite Backstreet boy or your favorite character on Supernatural. You said we could ask anything so my question is about my latest WIP. My MC thinks her parents have been replaced—an ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers’-type situation. The girl starts to uncover clues to support her theory and thinks she’s found the truth; only to find out it’s something much worse. It has a Twilight Zone type of ending. Would you be interested in a project like that?

  30. Jim says:

    Okay, so I can’t figure out how to sign into my profile from home, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that this is me and not some impostor feeding you the wrong answers.

    C and Marlana, your questions will take more time–answers coming when I’m back in the office.

    Other folks, the floor’s still open (will I regret saying this?).

    “What is your view of anthropomorphic animal stories in the middle grade market?”

    Certainly it’s been done and been done well. I personally find anthropomorphized animals to be kind of freaky (I don’t even like Charlotte’s Web), so it probably wouldn’t be for ME, but there are tons of folks out there who would consider.

    “As an agent, do you find it more difficult to sell a novel set in China or in other countries (England doesn’t count), assuming that the novel is decent? Do you see the markt for novels set in China growing?”

    I think this depends on what kind of novel you’re talking about. Literary fiction set in China works, for sure. If you’re trying to do category romance or a cozy mystery, it gets tougher. But nothing is impossible. I say write the book you want to write. If it’s a brilliant novel, the setting isn’t going to make or break it.

    “So who’s going to win Project Runway this season? I’m really digging Anthony, the birdseed dress guy. And Anya, the girl from Trinidad.”

    Now we’re talking! I’m completely with you on both of them. I’d give the edge to Anthony Ryan and predict a sudden crash and burn episode for Anya when her newfound sewing skills get her into serious hot water. But I wouldn’t rule out a surprisingly strong showing from Viktor either.

    “When an agent has kindly given you excellent revision suggestions after stating that they loved your character, premise, etc and you submit those back; how long should you wait before giving up the ghost on them ever getting back with you?”

    If someone asked for revisions and you sent them and don’t hear back in six or eight weeks, follow up. There’s a solid chance they’ve misplaced the materials or they didn’t make it to them because of some email snafu. In my experience, no agent asks for revisions unless they seriously want to see them.

    “Given the choice of a YA Paranormal and a YA Thriller with a “pre-dystopian” slant, which do you think agents would rather have? I know paranormal is really big and with the Hunger Games, the window of dystopians may be extended, but is there one agents would prefer over the other?”

    You’re going to hate me for this answer, but I don’t know that I’m sure what the difference is. Frankly, all of these categories are sort of in the same wheelhouse, so I don’t know that you need to kill yourself trying to pick one over the other.

    “Agents (and other writers) frequently advise writers not to write to trend. However, what do you think about the opposite of this? If the manuscript follows a currently rising trend, one that editors might have already filled their list with once the writer’s ready to query — should she continue on? Or should she write a different manuscript that avoids the trend completely (even though she might love the 1st one more)?”

    We DO always say that! But if you wrote a book and it happens to be in a cresting trend, still go with it. That you didn’t write it because of the trend will likely show through. I think what we’re always trying to say here is: Don’t fake it. People who are all, “ZOMG, I must write a dystopian because everybody’s selling them RIGHT NOW,” tend to fail because their books end up being efforts to get published, not efforts to write great books.

    “Let’s say you have a client who’s got a couple of non-fiction books out there, published well because you’re such an awesome agent. But then she has this undeniable desire to write a (hopefully) kick-ass thriller series. What’s your advice?”

    My advice would have to do entirely with the idea for the thriller, the writer’s style, and what they’ve come up with so far. I’m not against people trying new things if I think they’re doing them well. So VERY generally, my advice would be to give it a shot. Especially if you’re that passionate about it.

    “You said we could ask anything so my question is about my latest WIP. My MC thinks her parents have been replaced—an ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers’-type situation. The girl starts to uncover clues to support her theory and thinks she’s found the truth; only to find out it’s something much worse. It has a Twilight Zone type of ending. Would you be interested in a project like that?”

    Well, I said you could ASK anything, not necessarily PITCH anything. I’d need to know more. As ever, feel free to query me.

  31. Jim says:

    Oh jeez! I skipped right over Livia! My client!

    “You pick up the paranormal romance you had on hold at the library just before a flight to LA, only to realize that 1) the cover (and what follows) is more NSFW than you’d anticipated and 2) you’re sitting between your mother’s old friend on your right, and a very inquisitive second grader on your left. Do you a) read proudly on, b) browse skymall the entire flight, or c) none of the above?”

    I’d say there’s a 99% chance I would read proudly on. I’m sure I get weird looks for some of the stuff I read on the train sometimes (though I assume everyone giving me the side-eye as I read the Tyra Banks novel were just jealous), but I tend not to care. And let’s be honest. Me next to a second grader? I’d be buried deep in that book in case the kid tried to talk to me. “Shhhh! Reading.”

  32. Darcy Burke says:

    The other week you wrote about wallbangers. What about DNFs? (Did not finish.) Do you ever not finish books? What about skipping ahead, looking for the part where it has to get better? (Because sooo many people told you you HAD to read it.)

    P.S. Competitive bastards rule!

  33. marion says:

    If an agent requests a one month exclusive, but then doesn’t respond after the one month is up, is it okay to follow up with the agent?

  34. Lege says:

    How far behind is John on his queries?

    • John says:

      Hey Lege, John here. I’m a little behind, but my goal is to clear out my in-box before Labor Day. Meanwhile, feel free to resubmit your query if you’d like.

  35. I have a WIP that is WF that I plan to query soon. However, I have a completed novella – literary fiction stream of consciousness that is only 20K becuase I wanted to submit to Glimmer Train. I would also like to submit to agents who accept novellas.

    Is it appropriate to mention (1) that I can lengthen the novella by another 10K, or (2) that I have more mainstream work?

    I am of the mind that agents do not have any interest in knowing what else I have written, but for the fact I will be sending them out on/or about the same time.

    This is a real treat. Thanks :)

  36. Hazel Keats says:

    Is a young adult novel set in the future automatically considered science fiction even though it is more of a paranormal romance? I mean what comes first, what dominates? I don’t want to mislead anyone so I’ve been saying a YA paranormal romance with a futuristic setting.

  37. Since the announcement was made about DGLM’s foray into e-publishing, I wonder if you’ve had a chance to sample the waters yourself. Has this new service enabled you to dust off some great project that had previously been shelved for whatever reason?
    I like the idea of authors having options and other avenues and plan b’s with an agency. It doesn’t mean the guidance is any less valuable. Besides, I would suck at choosing my own ebook cover.

  38. Brian T. says:

    What has happened to the horror genre? I personally find it sad *wipes away tear* that the entire genre has been enveloped by all of the others. Why do most people hate on vampires nowadays too? Not all vampires are brooding Twilight teens.

    Any good horror recommendations?

    How about your favorite horror book of all time?

  39. Hillsy says:

    Damn….so many questions…..

    errrr….Querying advice on this front seems very muddled so I’d like this point ironed out:

    When querying a complex plot with a showpiece, twist ending (something like ‘the Usual Suspects’ or ‘Cold Fire’ by Dean Koontz springs immediately to mind) how far down through the plot should you go before drawing a line under it (so there’s space for World-building, Character and other parts of the M.I.C.E quotient)?

    I’ve had feedback saying “Never keep anything in reserve”, right through to “just enough to hook the agent”, from “Focus on the plot and drop the rest” to “Always compromise plot first” – Basically, I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

    Cheers and thanks for answering questions like this – really, really helpful

  40. Jim says:

    “The other week you wrote about wallbangers. What about DNFs? (Did not finish.) Do you ever not finish books? What about skipping ahead, looking for the part where it has to get better?”

    Oh man. I probably start twice as many books as I finish. I used to be the sort of person who had to finish every book he started, but agenting trained that out of me. My personal reading time is limited since I have to read so much for work, so I often abandon books about 25 pages in if I’m unimpressed. But it’s rare for me to pass page 100 and THEN give up.

    “If an agent requests a one month exclusive, but then doesn’t respond after the one month is up, is it okay to follow up with the agent?”

    Of course! And in the meantime, there’s nothing preventing you from querying other folks, so you should go for it.

    “I have a WIP that is WF that I plan to query soon. However, I have a completed novella – literary fiction stream of consciousness that is only 20K becuase I wanted to submit to Glimmer Train. I would also like to submit to agents who accept novellas. Is it appropriate to mention (1) that I can lengthen the novella by another 10K, or (2) that I have more mainstream work?”

    Tough. I think this depends on your goals for the novella. Do you just want to submit it to Glimmer Train? If so, I don’t know that it’s worth bringing up in the query process. If you’re looking for it to be published as a book…that’s tough. The novella market is necessarily a booming one. My general opinion is that in general it’s best to query for one project at a time, and if an agent expresses interest, you can tell them what else you have in the works.

    “Is a young adult novel set in the future automatically considered science fiction even though it is more of a paranormal romance? I mean what comes first, what dominates? I don’t want to mislead anyone so I’ve been saying a YA paranormal romance with a futuristic setting.”

    Genres are pretty fluid things. What we most want to know is where it would be shelved in a bookstore. So if you went to B&N, would it be shelved in Teen Paranormal? It sounds like it. So your description of it as a YA paranormal romance is fine. The rest of the query will clarify that it has a futuristic setting.

    “Since the announcement was made about DGLM’s foray into e-publishing, I wonder if you’ve had a chance to sample the waters yourself. Has this new service enabled you to dust off some great project that had previously been shelved for whatever reason?”

    I haven’t yet, but it’s all still very new. It’s an exciting option for works that may be particularly well-suited to the online market, and I’m sure there will be a time when I personally get to dive in. For the moment, I’m in the passenger’s seat, intently watching where things are going.

    “What has happened to the horror genre? I personally find it sad *wipes away tear* that the entire genre has been enveloped by all of the others. Why do most people hate on vampires nowadays too? Not all vampires are brooding Twilight teens. Any good horror recommendations? How about your favorite horror book of all time?”

    I think you answered your first question with your second sentence! Horror has filtered into so many other categories that it hasn’t had a ton of room to really rebound on its own. I think this will change, but I’ve been predicting a horror renaissance for about five years now, and I’m still waiting. In terms of new horror, I’m eagerly awaiting the final installment in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain trilogy. Favorites of all time? I’m a sucker for a subdued horror novel and an author who can control the audience’s fear without resorting to slapstick violence. I’d have to go with Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

    “When querying a complex plot with a showpiece, twist ending (something like ‘the Usual Suspects’ or ‘Cold Fire’ by Dean Koontz springs immediately to mind) how far down through the plot should you go before drawing a line under it (so there’s space for World-building, Character and other parts of the M.I.C.E quotient)?”

    Man, that’s a hard one. You want to make clear that there’s a twist ending without making it sound like a gimmick. I don’t think you have to reveal the whole shebang, but if there’s a way to indicate that there’s the plot the reader is being presented but also and unknown factor shaping the book that is revealed in the end… Some sort of “all is not what it seems,” but more interesting than that. But more important than the ending is the plot that gets us there, so your main focus should be on the book leading up to the twist because if that on its own isn’t great, we’ll never know how it ends anyway.

  41. Anna says:

    thanks for the great answers jim. one last question. in researching agents, i came across one who doesn’t have a big client base but seems really nice. i queried her the other day and she responded today with a request for a full. but then – amazing – a agent from a big house emailed me and asked for a full too! i realize i’m putting the cart before horse, but if they both ask to represent me, is it better to always go with a big house? my friends say maybe it’s a good thing or maybe it’s bad, cause then i might be a little fish in big pond so they tell me to go with smaller agent to big bigger fish. but are smaller agents taken as seriously?

  42. Jim says:

    “I’m cheating by making this a two-part question, but since they’re related, I’d thought I’d shoot them out to you. Name your top three reasons for passing on a manuscript? and… Your top three reasons for offering representation?”

    Three reasons to pass:
    1-I’m bored. If there isn’t some deeply compelling element in the beginning (whether great characters, story, writing, etc.), then I’m not going to keep going.

    2-Sloppiness. Names get changed, sentences don’t complete, words are misspelled. I can forgive errors…to a point. But if someone doesn’t take the time to read their manuscript to make sure it’s clean, I’m not going to keep reading.

    3-I don’t love it. I know this cropped up in the “what do you hate about agents” post–some people said they don’t want to hear if we love their books or not, just if we can sell them. Here’s the thing: there are so many people and projects pulling agents in a million directions that if you don’t have your agent’s unequivocal support and passion, you won’t be getting the best service. And I have no shortage of projects that I can sign on. If I’m not waiting for the ones that I love to come along, then why would I even have this job?

    Three reasons I sign something on (this is much easier):
    1-I do love it.
    2-I believe I can sell it.
    3-Mmm…no, it’s really just those two.

    “in researching agents, i came across one who doesn’t have a big client base but seems really nice. i queried her the other day and she responded today with a request for a full. but then – amazing – a agent from a big house emailed me and asked for a full too! i realize i’m putting the cart before horse, but if they both ask to represent me, is it better to always go with a big house? my friends say maybe it’s a good thing or maybe it’s bad, cause then i might be a little fish in big pond so they tell me to go with smaller agent to big bigger fish. but are smaller agents taken as seriously?”

    I honestly believe that it’s often better to be a big fish in a small pond, especially at the beginning of your career. Not always, but often. In deciding between two, you would want to really do your research–does the smaller agent have a successful list? Do they have a support structure of an agency behind them, or are they on their own? What do other authors think about working with them (because we know you all talk!)? On the flip side, how many agents does the more established agent have? What do THEIR authors think about them? I think the natural instinct is to go big, and that’s not necessarily wrong. In fact, it could very often be right. But just as often, you might end up getting lost on that list, so new/young/small agents deserve a chance. We all started somewhere!

    And that leads into the last (and longest) question. Hit it, C:

    “I have an agent problem. Having sent queries out during the past month, I have received surprisingly good feedback, with several requests for partials and fulls. The first offer turned up in my inbox yesterday, which was very exciting, of course.

    The agent is well-known in terms of representing and selling my genre and seems to make many sales and to have good relationships with editors. (I have done my research.) So far so good. She’s also sternly professional, as well as open, straight-forward and communicative, all qualities I really value in an agent.

    However, and this is a big however – I seem to be a bit of an elitist snob. I have always pictured my agent to be someone like… you know, Betsy Lerner, the Early Years. Someone on top of her game in all aspects of agenting. Someone who will put all other agents to shame with her awesomeness!

    And the woman who wants to represent me is… not like that. My main peeves are the following: her website is completely unprofessional, to the extent that it looks like it was made by her computer science major nephew. Furthermore, her blog is (really) full of typos and grammatical errors.

    So my question is this: how can she (and others like her, because there are quite a few) be successful in spite of maintaining a website that is the equivalent of having an office in a moldy basement in the suburbs of Bumblef*ck, and a command of the English language that completely contradicts her self-professed sticklerdom?

    AND if I get into bed with her, will I still respect her tomorrow?”

    This is tough. For the most part, my advice is to go with her. Especially if you don’t have another offer. If she has a good reputation, is communicative and professional, and loves your book, then GO TEAM!

    That said, if you’re always going to doubt her because she has a crap website and her blog isn’t cleanly written, that could complicate matters. If you get other offers, that’s something to consider. You don’t want to always be second guessing your agent. That would be exhausting for both parties.

    But to come back around to where I started, blogging is super-informal, so maybe you shouldn’t worry too much about it being a touch sloppy? I’m now convinced that my answers for the past day are riddled with terrible grammar and spelling because I didn’t proof anything before I replied. As for the website, there really are a ton of bad ones out there, but I don’t think that needs to be a huge deciding factor for you. Bottom line: find an agent you trust and believe in who, in turn, trusts and believes in you.

    QUESTIONS CLOSED. Whee! Thanks all, that was fun…and a little more involved than anticipated!

  43. Peighton says:

    My mother is writing a book and she is almost finished editing it, its actually really good. how would she find a literary agent?

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