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Sam Best
11-13-2011, 11:28 PM
I'm about to start a second round of queries and was wondering if the NaNoWriMo event causes a huge spike in agent submissions, and would therefore make November/December a terrible time to try and catch an agent's eye. Any thoughts on this?

WriteStarfish
11-13-2011, 11:40 PM
I just got a partial request from a major agency, so agents are still doing business now. I think, as someone mentioned on another thread, great writing will stand out- be that from a "regular" author or a NaNo author. Perhaps, waiting times might be a bit longer, but then again other times of years such as around conferences can also prolong wait times. Good luck with querying!

Drachen Jager
11-13-2011, 11:49 PM
There's always something on the calendar if you want to make an excuse not to submit. NaNo, Convention season, selling season, then it's NaNo again!

Cyia
11-14-2011, 12:32 AM
Yes, there's a spike in submissions after NaNoWriMo (usually at the first part of December), but it's a spike in unedited and mostly unpublishable attempts. If yours doesn't fall into that category, then all those duds will make yours seem even better. ;)

Sam Best
11-14-2011, 12:35 AM
Makes sense when you all put it that way. Thanks for the input!

taylormillgirl
11-14-2011, 01:19 AM
Yes, there's a spike in submissions after NaNoWriMo (usually at the first part of December), but it's a spike in unedited and mostly unpublishable attempts. If yours doesn't fall into that category, then all those duds will make yours seem even better. ;)

Ditto that! I'd once seen an agent refer to December as NaQueRejMo: National Query Rejection Month. Your polished letter will probably be a welcome relief.

C0g
11-14-2011, 06:54 AM
I was wondering about this myself. I never considered that the glut of NaNoWriMo runoff would actually make a well-written query and sample stand out.

Lineykins
11-14-2011, 07:02 AM
Plus we're only half way through Nov, so Nano's still have a couple of weeks to go.

:-)

MysteryRiter
11-14-2011, 07:03 AM
Ditto that! I'd once seen an agent refer to December as NaQueRejMo: National Query Rejection Month. Your polished letter will probably be a welcome relief.

So true. :D

SarahHobson
01-09-2012, 11:44 PM
I finished editing my first book about this time last year, and was getting ready to write my first query when I was told by a friend about NaNo (I'd never known about it before). She warned me not to submit anything for at least three months, so even if agents thought it was a NaNo book, it was at least polished enough for them to consider. This brought on some sort of complex, and I didn't submit anything then and still haven't. Instead, I began the second book in the series thinking I'd work on the query during the spring/summer...

Old Hack
01-10-2012, 12:12 AM
Just make sure your book is squeaky-clean and shiny-bright and then start to submit it no matter what time of year it is.

And don't start a sequel until you've sold the first book. Because if you don't sell that first book you'll never sell the sequel.

Filigree
01-10-2012, 02:17 AM
Er, Old Hack, I adore you and your avvie, but I take gentle exception to your latter statement.

For some markets, especially e-pub romance and its sub genres, authors should be at least considering the sequel as soon as they start querying the first book. Certainly as soon as they get an agent. Because one of the questions agents ask is "What else have you got?" If a writer queried the first book as the start of a series, the agent will want to know about the next book.

In SF&F, Jim Butcher outlined a dozen or more Dresden novels before he got his first and second agents. I believe Naomi Novik sold the first three books of the 'Temeraire' series at the same time. I know that fellow AW member Kevin Hearne sold the first three books of his 'Iron Druid' series at once. Newer writers are cautioned against 'wasting time' with unsold series novels. I'd counter that the effort is never wasted, and keeps one prepared.

But you're dead-right about polishing the hell out of what you query.

Old Hack
01-10-2012, 11:28 AM
Filligree, I love you too. Your avatars are exquisite.

Sure, there are some writers who sold series right out of the gate. But it's a very risky tactic and one I wouldn't recommend even though you have found a few people it's worked for.

How about this? By all means outline your series so that if an agent asks you can talk about it with some authority: but when it comes to writing the books, write new ones (possibly the first in other series). That would give you much more appeal in the eyes of an agent or editor.

HuntfortheWildborn
01-10-2012, 11:34 AM
Isn't the generic advice to start working on something else whilst going through the querying process with another? In that case, is there a difference whether the something else you are working on is the next book in the story, or another book entirely? To some people there might be a difference, me, I can't see one. If I'm not ready to let the characters go yet then I'm not ready to let the characters go yet.

Old Hack
01-10-2012, 11:40 AM
The problem with working on a sequel to a book you've not yet sold is that if you fail to sell the first book in the series, you're extremely unlikely to sell a sequel to it. You're usually better off writing a completely new book and only start work on the sequel once the first book in the series has found a publisher.

jclarkdawe
01-10-2012, 05:47 PM
Not that Old Hack should be doubted, but I'd say the same thing he is.

In QLH, I see a lot of queries for book one in a series. It's obviously a series and I can see where book two is going to go. But there's a major problem.

Book one just isn't that good. Sure, it's better than 90% of the stuff out there, there's nothing really wrong with it, but it has one major problem. It isn't as good as the 1% that actually gets a commercial publisher. Because my life is too short, I don't tell them that (some people think I'm mean, but I actually hold back quite a bit) and help them turn their query into something that attracts a mild level of interest.

Meanwhile they're working on the next book in their series, or even better, the third one. And the only career path the writer is seeing is their series. Which has an albatross of a first book that just ain't that good.

So they finally find some small publisher for this first book. If they are very lucky. Publisher does a print run of 10k and 7k sell. Guess how many book two of the series are going to be printed? They've already committed themselves to a downhil spiral, and a short career.

Or more likely, book one ends up being self-published, because there's no way the author is going to give up their magical world. Now they may get lucky if they self-publish, and their book might be good enough to gain some traction. But more likely, they're going to have even a shorter career.

All Old Hack is saying, and I'd say the same thing, is after investing a lot more time and energy then anyone in their right mind would do in your first book, don't tie your next book, with all that time and energy, to it until you know the damn thing is actually worth the time and energy. Because for most writers, that first book in a series is dead on arrival. Writing is not like skydiving, where you have to get it right the first time. There's a learning curve involved, and you don't need to commit to a piece of work, no matter how good, that isn't good enough.

And if you want to see an example where the second book in a series worked, read the following books: Read PACIFIC VORTEX by Clive Cussler, released in 1983. This is the first novel in the series. Next read THE MEDITERRANEAN CAPER, by the same author, which was his first published one, released in 1973. Notice the difference in quality. And then if you want to read Cussler's breakout novel, read RAISE THE TITANIC, released in 1976.

But the only reason PACIFIC VORTEX was published was Cussler hit a slump and his publisher wanted anything to sell. There's nothing wrong with PACIFIC VORTEX, and it's better than 90% of the books out there, but the publishing world was right to reject it the first time through. And as you go through the books, you'll notice that THE MEDITERRANEAN CAPER is completely stand alone. It didn't need the PACIFIC VORTEX at all.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

JSSchley
01-10-2012, 06:43 PM
There's a big difference, in my opinion, to knowing you're in a genre that usually sells in series and having series potential in mind for your project vs. writing and querying a book that can't stand alone.

One means you're savvy to the industry and the conventions of the genre you write in. The other means you're taking risks with your time and effort that may not be rewarded.

Jamesaritchie
01-10-2012, 08:41 PM
Er, Old Hack, I adore you and your avvie, but I take gentle exception to your latter statement.

For some markets, especially e-pub romance and its sub genres, authors should be at least considering the sequel as soon as they start querying the first book. Certainly as soon as they get an agent. Because one of the questions agents ask is "What else have you got?" If a writer queried the first book as the start of a series, the agent will want to know about the next book.

In SF&F, Jim Butcher outlined a dozen or more Dresden novels before he got his first and second agents. I believe Naomi Novik sold the first three books of the 'Temeraire' series at the same time. I know that fellow AW member Kevin Hearne sold the first three books of his 'Iron Druid' series at once. Newer writers are cautioned against 'wasting time' with unsold series novels. I'd counter that the effort is never wasted, and keeps one prepared.

But you're dead-right about polishing the hell out of what you query.

Thinking about a sequel is good thing. Writing it almost never is. Yes, an agent or editor does want to know what else you have, but the fact remains that if your first novel doesn't sell, those sequels mean nothing except that you've wasted months or years.

Even outlining can be a good thing. I have nothing at all against outlining several sequels, just is case the first novel sells. This way you can tell an agent or editor that you've ready to go.

But don't start actually writing the sequels until that first book sells. Doing so is a huge gamble that really can delay your writing career by years.

Instead, work on a novel that can be the first in a different series.

Looking at one or two writers who were struck by lightning is not a good way to go.

Filigree
01-10-2012, 10:50 PM
I agree, James. I'm not advocating everybody run out and write all seventeen novels in their epic series. That speaks of a personal obsession bordering on the level of Henry Darger.

But newer writers could at least think about their series, if they've pitched one. And always keep a couple of unrelated mms going, just in case they need to switch gears. I'm not looking at 'a few cases'. In certain genres, editors and agents are actively pushing for series fiction from capable writers. It's up to those writers to prove their initial novel is strong enough to merit continuance.

Back to the original topic. As someone who has never joined NaNo, I've looked at lots of agent blogs and tweets post-NaNo, over several years. I've seen some complaints about the surge in bad queries for unpolished novels, but I can't recall anyone claiming those queries detract from the rare good stuff.

Using NaNo's aftermath as a reason to query or not query makes as little sense as using any other calendar event.

hughhowey
01-11-2012, 12:31 AM
The problem with working on a sequel to a book you've not yet sold is that if you fail to sell the first book in the series, you're extremely unlikely to sell a sequel to it. You're usually better off writing a completely new book and only start work on the sequel once the first book in the series has found a publisher.

This is great advice rarely taken.

We had a conversation today in the bookstore about this. I'm trying to convince a young writer (NaNo participant) to branch out and start something new. She keeps writing the same characters in a long series, when the first manuscript isn't getting any stronger. Today, I came up with a loose (as in: based on almost nothing) theory for why this seems to happen.

All writers are former readers. New writers are leaving a world of one mindset and entering another, and they bring certain habits and predilections with them. One of these is the joy of finding a series and set of characters one loves and gobbling up book after book. They want to return to this world they've discovered (and as new writers have created) rather than risking the chance on something new.

Since they are in charge, they choose to pull the next book for their mind's shelf. And how much easier to explore a world you've already laboriously created rather than the chore of fashioning a brand new one!

I don't know how much truth there is to this, but it seems logical to me that the habits one has as a reader can carry over to becoming a writer, and this isn't always a good thing. Which is a long-winded and unnecessary way of saying I agree with the advice above. Branch out!