Ask me!

We here at DGLM have proscribed times we blog. I took Mondays back when there were options, and sometimes this works out for me (three day weekends). Other times, by the time I get to a place I feel remotely caught up, the last thing my brain wants to do is be creative. I don’t know how you writers all do it day in and day out.
So here we go again: rather than come up with some vaguely interesting post about (fill in the blank), I’m opening this puppy up to questions again. Ask me anything you want. If you get a question in between now and 9:00 tomorrow morning, I’ll answer to the best of my abilities.
Go ahead: do your worst.

28 Responses to Ask me!

  1. Diana West says:

    Is there any room in the YA market today for realistic fiction that isn’t about something tragic? It seems like everything out there is about a dystopian society, futuristic fantasy world, or “real,” but awful, centered around a rape or bulimia or AIDS or something. Would any agency even consider a manuscript about teenage friends who face some difficulties, sure, but help each other through it all?

  2. Silver James says:

    Are there any upcoming trends that you see? What are editors looking for that might be considered a trend?

    (You are a brave man to do this, Jim. 😀 )

  3. YA Writer says:

    Thanks for opening this up for questions – my question is about POV.

    Do you think marketplace considerations allow for the inclusion of adult POV in a YA manuscript?

    Thanks again!

  4. Mark Henry says:

    What are your thoughts on book trailers? They seem to be particularly prevalent in regards to young adult book promotion. Are they worth the time, effort and expense?

  5. Mark Henry says:

    Also…please note I didn’t use a single expletive in that entire paragraph. I deserve a cookie.

  6. AK says:

    Hello & thanks for taking questions.

    I’m confused on how to query agents after self-publishing novels.

    I have self-published novels and would like to sign with an agent to represent more recently completed manuscripts, not the self-published ones.

    Do I mention self – published novels in the query? Do sales matter? What level of sales matter? Once I self publish novels, unless I sell millions of copies, do I kiss traditional publishing goodbye? As an agent is it hard to approach publishers if the author has self published ebooks for sale?

    This is a mystery to me.


  7. Jim says:

    Diana, if you have realistic YA fiction, do think of me! I think there are lots of us who are looking. I think you see a lot of “issues” novels because there’s inherent drama, and if something is TOO slice of life, it runs the risk of not being terribly exciting. But real stories that have hooks and are engaging? Yeah–bring ’em on.

    And in fact, Silver, I think that answers your question as well. Across the board, I hear people wanting high-concept, realistic stories. On the complete flip side, I think high fantasy is having a really strong moment across age ranges and readerships.

    YAwriter, an adult POV in a YA novel is exceedingly tricky. I want to just say that no, that won’t work. But I can’t leave out the possibility that SOMEone can make it work in a way that will still allow the readership to find it palatable. I can only say that I can’t think of times I’ve seen it done that have worked.

    And Mark, I just don’t know with book trailers. If the publishers are paying, then sure, they’re totally worth the expense. But if the author is bearing the brunt of it, then I think it’s only worth it if the cost is really low because you’re going up against so many other videos for attention and the fact is, they don’t get THAT many hits.

    • Diana West says:

      Thank you, Jim! It’s a huge relief to know there’s still a market for fiction that doesn’t involve life-threatening circumstances or a future totalitarian state (or both). Thanks for taking questions today — it’s appreciated.

  8. Tamara says:

    What book or books made you fall so in love with it that you just knew you wanted to be involved somehow?

  9. Hi! Thanks for taking questions! I’ve heard of agents being approached by publishers who need a writer-for-hire for specific projects, such as branded books. Would you ever work with an experienced writer to connect him or her with these types of assignments? I don’t mean a current client of the agency, but someone new.


  10. Who’s the best Words with Friends player at DGLM? Honestly now…

  11. YA Writer says:

    I have one more question. I hope that isn’t cheating. If it is, feel free to disregard.

    This one is of the purely out of curiousity variety:

    In regards to requested materials (full or partial), I assume you never offer representation without reading all the way to the end. But conversely, I was curious how many pages you typically give something before you decide to “give up” and pass on a project.

    Thanks again!

  12. Brian Taylor says:

    In your expert opinion, when is it appropriate to re-query an agent? Let’s assume the author did a major re-write and several months have passed. Many authors query too early (before their manuscript and query are ready) and are confused as to what to do afterward (when it becomes clear that they made a mistake). Hopefully you can shed some light on the subject.

    Has the e-book boom affected the volume of queries that you’ve seen over the past six months?

    I love the free questions so much that I took two. You’re the best Jim!

  13. Catherine Whitney says:

    I’m a sucker for advice columns, but I think you’re onto something here. How about a weekly open question blog, rotated among the gang?

  14. Alli says:

    Oh, this is great! Thank you! I have a question regarding requests for full manuscripts from editors at publishing houses.

    For example, I met some editors at a pitch session and they requested my full ms, and another editor from a different time read the full of one ms, passed on it (wasn’t the type of story they normally represent) but requested more work from a different genre I write. All manuscripts requested are currently under consideration.

    As I’ve garnered some full requests and had more work requested, does this stand out in a query letter to agents or do they freak out and think I’ve shopped it to every publishing house in the world? I haven’t, it’s just been fortunate circumstances. 😉

    I’m very interested to know and would love if you have a suggestion for phrasing this correctly.

    Thanks for doing this, Jim!

  15. So what I took away from the news this week was that Gloria Allred and Donald Trump need to just get it on and get it out of the way. Meanwhile, Canada and the Miss Universe Pageant did the right thing.

    But this got me wondering – in the world of YA Publishing, would an author’s gender variance (or, separately, their sexuality) play a role in that author’s marketability in selling a manuscript to a publishing house? (Let’s assume the author is neither writing about gender variance or sexuality.)

    I know, I know. That’s a bit heavy for a Monday. But hey – you asked. 😉

    • Tiffany says:

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  16. Eric Steinberg says:

    How far do you generally get into a manuscript before you know if it’s going to a pass, R&R or you’re going to sign the author?

    Thanks for the Q&A Jim, figured I’d get one in before the buzzer.

  17. Redleg says:


    What is the best way to go about replacing the flywheel in my starter block? My engine’s been failing to turn over and I think it’s either that or the solenoid.

  18. Jim says:

    AK, if you’ve self-published and been very successful, then it certainly helps to mention in a query. If your sales have been mediocre to middling, I don’t think it’s worth bringing up. I wouldn’t say it hurts you, but it certainly doesn’t help you. So stick to selling the book itself rather than your track record.

    Tamara, I always have trouble with the question of what books I would have loved to be involved with. I want to just say everything good and everything successful. But to be more specific…off the top of my head right now, I think Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower stands out as a book that I really tumbled for when I read it that would also have been a really great fit for my current list.

    Heather, if I was approached by someone looking to hire a writer for a project (whether as ghost, co-writer, work-for-hire, etc.), I’d approach my own list first and toss it out to the other agents here. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to look for clients specifically for those kinds of projects.

    Oh, Livia…while I have beaten everyone here at Words with Friends, I think the best player (it pains me so to admit this) is probably Lauren.

    Eric and YA Writer have basically the same question: how much do I read before giving up… It depends. Of course, I read to the end before I sign anything on. It sounds clichéd, but I do know within a page whether or not I think I’m going to reject something, though I try not to make the call (except in rare cases) until about 25 pages in. Things HAVE won me back over after an initial sense that I will pass. Which is why I do try to keep going beyond when I feel I should stop.

    Brian, it’s tricky when to re-query an agent. If the agent has seen your actual manuscript, I think you can tell them you’ve done a major rewrite and ask if you can resubmit. If you’ve completely reworked your query, then maybe give it one more shot. But just one. We do remember things (not always), but enough to know if we’re seeing the same project over and over. As for the affect of e-publishing on our query load, if there is one, it hasn’t been noticeable.

    Catherine, I think we can get some other folks to open up to questions. Lord knows, some folks here will love the opportunity to not come up with a blog idea for a week!

    Alli, if you have requests from meeting people at conferences or have existing relationships with editors, it certainly doesn’t hurt to mention. Explain the connection though to avoid seeming as though you’ve shopped your work to the world already.

    Stephen, not that heavy a question at all. I don’t think an author’s gender or sexual identity (whatever it may be) would have a substantial impact on them getting published in the YA world.

    And lastly, Redleg, I don’t know what a flywheel, starter block, or solenoid is, so my recommendation is…buy a bike?

  19. Anna says:

    Hi Jim. Thanks for doing this. My question is I queried a manuscript but was rejected with it. I want to query manuscript #2 but is it okay to query the same agents that said no to my prior story? They’re all great agents and i’d love to work with any one of them. But do you think they remember me and the fact they rejected me once (or twice) already?

  20. Tricia says:

    Thanks for doing this!

    My husband and I have to completed novels, one MG and YA. The catch is there are no human characters in either. The MG is told from a cat’s perspective and the YA is told from a dragon’s. My question is: does the fact that these are written not for a PB audience automatically mean we are not going to find someone interested in representing them?

  21. Kaitlyne says:

    So as the result of an experiment gone bad, zombies have taken over the world (we all knew it would happen!). If you could choose one literary figure to help you survive the oncoming horde, who would you choose and why?

  22. Jim, how do you see fiction based on Greek mythology doing in the marketplace? Has it been done too much or too little?

  23. gumboots says:

    This writing has inspired me to carry on writing on my own blog

  24. I’d need to examine with you here. Which isn’t something I usually do! I take pleasure in reading a put up that may make folks think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!

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