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Thread: Ask Kathleen Ortiz! Ask the Agent Summer Spree!

  1. #126
    My horn can pierce the sky!
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    Hi Kathleen!

    Suppose an author spent hours and hours perfecting their query, then after copy and pasting it into the submission form on your agency's website, realized they might have forgotten to include the book's title.

    Would this be an insta-rejection, or does the query still have a chance?

    Thanks for all of your helpfull advice!


  2. #127
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    You passed -- and then it earned gazillions

    Hey, Kathleen!

    Thanks for coming by.

    I'm curious, do agents ever have non-buyer's remorse over passing on projects that went on to great success? We've all seen those stories about how many rejections were racked up by authors who are now earning their agents and publishers huge fortunes.

    I know you love to see writers prosper, but what else? Anyone ever say, "Her query letter was garbage! But who knew?" Or what?

  3. #128
    blue rain, na'vi dances, color code True's Avatar
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    Nice to meet you, Kathleen! Thanks for helping us out!

    I have a question about pen names. I've searched this thread and found only one other question about them, but it didn't really help. Anyway, what do you think about using a pen name before you start querying? In other words, if on the internet you're only known by your pen name, would it be a problem when it comes time to query and then publish your book? I would use my real name when querying agents, but if I decided to not use the name I'm known by on the internet when it's time for the book to be published, could that cause any problems? Or would I just have to explain this to the people who only know me by my pen name? And do you consider it being dishonest if you refrain from using your real name (of course, without the intention of misguiding people)?

    Thanks again!
    There's nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know. -- Ambrose Bierce

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  4. #129
    Don't kill the bar, Dude. Epiphany's Avatar
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    Hi Kathleen!

    How important do you find maintaining stylistics and genre when it comes to author platform in the world of YA? Like, if your fluffy romantic comedy client who just came out with a first person/past YA novel decided to write a dark third person/present scifi YA novel for their second book, would you be concerned, or submit to editors nonetheless? (assuming you love both books)


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  5. #130
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I can't imagine it would make you "less desirable" if you wanted an agent for just your fiction work; however, a lot of agents don't look highly upon someone who has self-published especially if they have low numbers.

    This is different from training manuals and ebooks that were published for corporate use, of course.

    Just make sure that when the time comes to discuss your writing career with an agent (when they call to offer representation), you are open and honest about this so they at least know you also write non-fiction on the side. You don't want to blind side them.

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by MyFirstMystery View Post
    Hi Kathleen,

    I'm a business consultant and I often self-publish and sell my nonfiction business writing independently. (eBooks, training manuals, etc)

    I am also writing a mystery novel, which is unrelated to my "day job" as a business consultant.

    When I seek out an agent, will it be a problem if I seek representation for my fiction work only? I'm not interested in getting an agent for my non-fiction work at this time, but I'm not sure if requesting that kind of limitation would make me less desireable as a client.

    Thanks!

    MyFirstMystery
    Seattle, WA
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
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  6. #131
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi,

    You can definitely still look for an agent for the next one; however they'll want to know who published your previous book and how many copies it sold - because that's what a future publisher will want to know.

    You also want to check your current publisher's contract to ensure they don't have the first option to any other books you write. Because in that case, you can't go to another publisher without their rejecting your work.

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by jeseymour View Post
    My first novel is coming out this fall through a small press. Can I still look for an agent for my next one? Will agents want to see how the first one does before taking a look at the next one? (These are part of a series.) How about if the book is not part of a series, completely different characters, would that be different? Thanks for any suggestions.
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
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  7. #132
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hello!

    I did two sessions: YA and Memoir.

    In the YA session, I saw quite a unique mix of genres: contemporary, sci-fi, mystery, and historical.

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    You said on Twitter that none of your Backspace pitches were YA paranormal, so I was wondering what you saw the most of instead.
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
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  8. #133
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi,

    You look for an agent. If you go to publishing houses, get rejected, and then go to an agent and get representation, the agent won't be able to go to the imprints who rejected your project.

    By the sound of your question, I think you need to hold off on querying until you fully understand the publication process. Browse these boards, check out some agent blogs *cough, mine, cough* and definitely ensure you have a strong grasp on how the process works.

    ~K


    Quote Originally Posted by ElizaFaith13 View Post
    Hiya kortizzle!

    I just finished my book and I'm confused about something. Do I query an agent and send in my manuscript to publishing houses? Or is it one or the other?
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
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  9. #134
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi,

    To be honest, I skipped the part that's slashed out below. I feel that if I answer a question based on a pitch, then everyone will start pitching their projects to me on here and that's not the point of this thread.

    However, based on what you said regarding the following that is NOT slashed out, this is my response.

    It sounds like a cozy mystery. Cozy mysteries can be defined as a story that has a bloodless crime and nothing graphic in terms of violence, sex or language. We actually have a client who's quite famous for her cozy mysteries: MC Beaton - Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth mysteries.

    From what you say about the children, it sounds borderline because you're right - cozy readers are uncomfortable with children's deaths. I would play it safe and NOT pitch it as cozy, because you don't want to mislead the agent.

    It's a tough question and I think you'll get a different answer depending on who you ask.

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by HistorySleuth View Post
    Hi Kathleen,

    I didn't realize it until recently, but I think I'm writing a cozy. That is my question, cozy or not cozy? So here is this first:

    When three small coffins slide out from the bank of the Wiscoy Creek during a dredging operation, it was the last thing Dave Robertson of the Lamont Weekly Times expected to be reporting on. Pinned to the tattered clothing hanging off the skeletons were pieces of old Wiscoy Dairy milk cartons, each displaying a photo of a missing child. He zoomed in with his camera to discover a familiar face from his childhood---Sally, one of the many foster children his parents had cared for over the years―--one his father said had been "placed elsewhere." Could Dave report on the biggest story of his career knowing his father could be a murderer?

    So I think it's a cozy because my reporter is my amateur sleuth, I have no sex (just some flirting with a female CSI), two other murders occur off scene, it's set in the country, and the only cussing really is the MC's dad who says things like, "For Christ's sake!"

    HOWEVER the subject of the cold case is children who were murdered 15 years ago by a mentally abuse local foster person. So no violence (except for the murders which aren't given in detail.) I read, however, cozy readers don't like anything dealing with children in that context. So is it a cozy or not? Just so when I'm ready to pitch I know if I should pitch it as one or not.

    Thank you in advance!
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
    I Tweet

  10. #135
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Cool! Sounds like there's some diverse ideas out there

  11. #136
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi!

    First off, can I just say I LOVE the little Chainsaw Dude next to one of your project titles? HILARIOUS!!!!

    As for pitching novels, you HAVE to choose a niche/audience. Have to. Agents have to pitch it to editors that way so they know who the intended audience is. So yea, there is such a thing as YA fantasy, YA paranormal, YA paranormal romance, YA historical, etc.

    When you start getting into YA historical-thriller-fantasy-with-paranormal-twists-in-space-and-aliens-oh-yea-there's-a-cowboy-so-it's-also-western, you run into problems.

    You must be able to identify the audience. It's not that you're cornering yourself, it's more so showing you know your market and your audience.

    As for your query, sometimes (and I hate to say this) it's not how the query is written. Maybe the topic itself just isn't for the agent? Maybe the story has been done before? Maybe it's just not grabbing the agent's attention?

    There are literally a hundred reasons for an agent not to request a partial or full, so please don't think it's simply the way your query is written.

    FYI - I didn't read the query you linked me to because I feel as though the moment I do that, everyone will start posting their queries here and I just wouldn't be able to get to all the questions. So my comments are based on not reading that link.

    ~K
    Quote Originally Posted by Mharvey View Post
    Hello Kathleen,

    First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions here. I've learned so much about the market from such threads.

    My question to you, especially being that you specialize in novels for young adult/children: is it a mistake to pitch a novel in a specialized genre of a specialized genre? In another words, does "YA Fantasy" or "YA Historical Fiction" really exist? Does labeling your novel in that way instantly regulate you to a niche agent/audience?

    I've been hitting a roadblock trying to pitch a "YA Fantasy," and I really don't understand why. I've endured the scathing scourges of Query Letter Hell on these forums with *many* drafts, and finally posted a version of a letter that most people found very intriguing. After months and literally 30+ drafts, I can say it's the best letter I'm capable of writing for the novel, yet no agent seems to wanna go near it with a 10 foot pole. I've queried about 25 with this Query Letter Hell Approved Draft, and got 21 outright rejections and 4 ignores. I need to figure out how to make this pitch more sexy, and if being YA Fantasy is already starting with an arm tied behind my back, I gotta fix that... because I *need* both arms badly.

    In case you are really bored, this is the letter I'm using. It's probably not your cup of tea (definitely not YANF), but any general advice would be welcome. Feel free not to read it, however, as even I think posting it in this thread is a wee bit shameless. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=177646

    Thanks again.

    Best,
    Matt
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
    I Tweet

  12. #137
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Oh, you're lucky! LoL. There are some places that I feel are not the time/place to pitch and BEA is one of them. It's a trade show - not a writer's conference. But good for you!

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by Kmarshall View Post
    Not a problem Kathleen. I was busy too. Great show though. Met a couple of agents and pitched on the floor! One good one interested in 50 pages. Swoon.
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
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  13. #138
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi!

    If said author did it to said agent who happens to be answering this question, then said agent wouldn't have a problem with it If the pitch caught said agent's attention, said agent would totally request a partial still.

    However, if it's not said agent, then said agent can't promise others would do the same. But can assume that if pitch is good, another agent would be lenient enough to request based on a good pitch rather than the fact a title was omitted ;-)

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by CheyElizabeth View Post
    Hi Kathleen!

    Suppose an author spent hours and hours perfecting their query, then after copy and pasting it into the submission form on your agency's website, realized they might have forgotten to include the book's title.

    Would this be an insta-rejection, or does the query still have a chance?

    Thanks for all of your helpfull advice!
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
    I Tweet

  14. #139
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi!

    I'm not sure; however from those whom I've spoken to, they don't have remorse over passing on projects.

    In order for a book to be successful, you have to have the right team - right agent, right editor, right publishing house. If you don't have a team who loves your work enough to work with it day-by-day to make it the BEST POSSIBLE work, then it's never going to get the justice it deserves.

    Ergo, why sign something you aren't in love with? And if by passing on it, it goes to someone else who works wonders with it then yea, we're happy for them. Because we know we didn't have that passion for that work to get it to that point.

    ~K
    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Plum View Post
    Hey, Kathleen!

    Thanks for coming by.

    I'm curious, do agents ever have non-buyer's remorse over passing on projects that went on to great success? We've all seen those stories about how many rejections were racked up by authors who are now earning their agents and publishers huge fortunes.

    I know you love to see writers prosper, but what else? Anyone ever say, "Her query letter was garbage! But who knew?" Or what?
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
    I Tweet

  15. #140
    practical experience, FTW MMcP's Avatar
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    Hi Kathleen! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions!

    Ok, here goes. Is it really the kiss of death to mention a series in a query letter? I read somewhere that 90% of queries mention series, and while I assume (hope?) this is an overstatement, I can't help but think that this must be an agent pet peeve. But on the flip side, I know of authors who pitched and sold their books as a three-book series (or more). I completely understand that any book in a series needs to stand alone in terms of plot and conflict/resolution, but I'm just not sure about the specific situation where an author has conceived a multi-volume arc. Any insight is much appreciated. Thanks!!

  16. #141
    practical experience, FTW
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    You're absolutely right about when to pitch and when not to. I made sure I asked first to give the person the right to say no. AND I also held back when I knew it wasn't appropriate This one though, it was either go for it or lose the opportunity. I've been a sales, marketing, and promotion professional for twenty one years now. Most of it has been dealing with company presidents, CEO's, CFO's, diplomats, and the occasional U.S. Ambassador. Admittedly, the large share of those were smaller companies, but I did work with some larger ones. The long and the short of it, for the purposes of this discussion, is that I have a good deal of experience here and really know when to go for it and when not to Before that, I was on the U.S. Figure Skating team--lots of PR there, plus press events, meets and greets and protocol stuff. Yesterday, I pitched to the owner of a MAJOR company. He said he put me in touch with the person who does their Intellectual Property Development. So we'll see what happens there--maybe something, maybe nothing. I'll see him again two weeks at a conference, and then after for a working group.

    I've done up a full marketing promotion for the book, complete with market analysis, demographics, launch strategy--hey, I'm a marketing guy. I'll need to update it, but it's pretty snazzy! Shoot, I should have sent it with my query
    Last edited by Kmarshall; 06-05-2010 at 06:48 PM.

  17. #142
    Researching History's Mysteries HistorySleuth's Avatar
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    Thanks KOrtizzle! I'll try pitching it straight.
    Sorry about the pitch by the way. Bad form. I wasn't thinking. I'll keep that in mind to explain it differently without that in the future in a thread of this type.
    Blog Twitter @HistorySleuth1
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  18. #143
    careful...you'll end up in my novel RuthD's Avatar
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    Etiquette Question

    Thanks so much for doing this, Kathleen!

    The situation: I pitched to an agent at a conference and she asked for a partial. The next day, I took a workshop which gave me new insights and made me realize more revision was needed. Long story short: 7 weeks later I'm still mired in revisions, and haven't sent anything yet. Another agent said there is no rush to submit after a conference--even if 6 months or a year goes by she will still look at it. (But she may have been talking about queries, not requested work.)

    My question: Have I made a huge faux pas in not contacting the agent and explaining the delay? I thought I wouldn't bother her until the ms was ready, but it's taking longer than anticipated. Do you think I should email now & explain, or just plod on through my revisions and then submit?

  19. #144
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Question about re-submitting

    This is probably a "dumb newbie" question that's already been answered a million times, but I can't find it:

    Say you have queried a bunch of agents, and gotten the standard "Dear author: We are sooo sorry for using a form letter ..." form letters; and then six months or a year later, you have made major revisions to your manuscript and/or to your query letter.

    Is it ethical to re-submit to the same agent(s), and if so, do you mention that you had submitted previously, or do you just do it de novo? Is anybody actually going to remember one query out of thousands, 6 or 12 months later? Would it make a difference if the working title of the manuscript has changed?

    TIA, a.s.

  20. #145
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    ... Hi Kathleen.

    Out of curiosity, I was wondering how agents get paid. Do agents get to keep the entire 15% commission on books they sell for their clients or do they have to split some of that commission with the agency they work for? And since they do get commissions, do agencies take that into account when paying salaries? And lastly, do agents get paid when money they make off royalties and advances comes in or is that money portioned out throughout the year?

    Thanks very much!
    And like others have said, very cool of your being here :-)

  21. #146
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin NewThought's Avatar
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    Hi Kathleen! Glad to see you here.

    Just curious: I've read somewhere recently that authors should not wait until they have finished writing their manuscript before finding an agent. That, well, they could end up 'wasting time' on an idea without valuable agent feedback during the process. The most that should be written, according to this person, is four chapters and a query letter before heading off and contacting potential agents.

    What do you think?

    Please note: I'm still writing my book. Also, I've never been published before.

    Would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for any and all assistance in advance, Kathleen.

    -NT
    Last edited by NewThought; 06-08-2010 at 12:48 AM.

  22. #147
    In love with love WetWilly69's Avatar
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    Hi Kathleen!

    I’ve completed my YA book at 98,000 words but can’t figure out the genre. It’s a multi-racial romance paranormal, set in a post-apocalyptic future, about a drug-dealing, old soul who is in love with an evil dark witch. All my beta’s think I should be querying it as erotica because of the hot smex scenes.

    So my question is, is there such a thing as YA Erotica? Because my characters are both 17.

    Thanks!

    PS - I hope you had fun on vacation
    Last edited by WetWilly69; 06-08-2010 at 12:15 AM.

  23. #148
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Dear Willy,

    The answer you seek lies within this link.

    Thanks for visiting me at AW!

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by WetWilly69 View Post
    Hi Kathleen!

    Iíve completed my YA book at 98,000 words but canít figure out the genre. Itís a multi-racial romance paranormal, set in a post-apocalyptic future, about a drug-dealing, old soul who is in love with an evil dark witch. All my betaís think I should be querying it as erotica because of the hot smex scenes.

    So my question is, is there such a thing as YA Erotica? Because my characters are both 17.

    Thanks!

    PS - I hope you had fun on vacation
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
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  24. #149
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi!

    When you first query, don't mention other projects; however, if you're offered representation, chat it up with the agent. Let them know you have interests in other genres.

    Assuming it's well written with a strong plot, then sure, why not?

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by Epiphany View Post
    Hi Kathleen!

    How important do you find maintaining stylistics and genre when it comes to author platform in the world of YA? Like, if your fluffy romantic comedy client who just came out with a first person/past YA novel decided to write a dark third person/present scifi YA novel for their second book, would you be concerned, or submit to editors nonetheless? (assuming you love both books)
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
    I Tweet

  25. #150
    Ask the Agent KOrtizzle's Avatar
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    Hi!

    It's not the kiss if death if you use the right wording.

    Let's say the query is for a Zombie Western On Mars. Which of the following sounds good?

    Example A: "I currently have ZWOM's books two and three completed and ready to send upon request."

    Example B: "In ZWOM 2, the Zombies travel to Pluto; the title is ZWOP. In ZWOM 3, the Zomies travel to Venus; the title is ZWOV."

    Example C: "ZWOM is a stand alone novel, with series potential."


    I hope you picked C

    It's ok to say there's "series potential" but we also really need to know that it's a stand alone book. It's the same thing we tell editors. But first and foremost the book must stand alone.

    ~K

    Quote Originally Posted by MMcP View Post
    Hi Kathleen! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions!

    Ok, here goes. Is it really the kiss of death to mention a series in a query letter? I read somewhere that 90% of queries mention series, and while I assume (hope?) this is an overstatement, I can't help but think that this must be an agent pet peeve. But on the flip side, I know of authors who pitched and sold their books as a three-book series (or more). I completely understand that any book in a series needs to stand alone in terms of plot and conflict/resolution, but I'm just not sure about the specific situation where an author has conceived a multi-volume arc. Any insight is much appreciated. Thanks!!
    Kathleen Ortiz
    Agent / Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates
    I blog and hold a lot of contests
    I Tweet

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