Ask Ginger Clark! Guest agent arriving July 5th

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Status
Not open for further replies.

JennaGlatzer

wishes you happiness
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 9, 2005
Messages
9,703
Reaction score
3,455
Website
www.jennaglatzer.com
Hi folks,

So sorry the first thread I started for Ginger got eaten. Please, if you posted a question, repost it here.

Ginger Clark is a literary agent from Curtis Brown, Ltd. (formerly from Writers House). She's particularly interested in science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance.

Visit her PublishersMarketplace page here: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/GClark/

And there's an old-ish (2004) interview with her here: http://www.gawker.com/topic/the-5x5-interview-ginger-clark-assistant-literary-agent-019876.php

She'll be joining us later this week to answer writers' questions (thanks to Cathy Clamp for arranging this!), so if you have a question, please post it here.

Thanks, Ginger!
 

MidnightMuse

Midnight Reading
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 23, 2006
Messages
8,424
Reaction score
2,554
Location
In the toidy.
Hi, Ms Clark - thank you so much for coming by. I've recently switched focus from good old fashioned science fiction to a definite humor-bent science fiction. The theme is still decidedly science fiction, though. Would I look for agents handling science fiction to query something like this to, or stick with agents who look for humor?

Thank you in advance :)
 

Tilly

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
746
Reaction score
160
Location
UK
:welcome:

I have a few questions :)

1. How did you become an agent?

2. What are the most common reasons you reject a manuscript?

3. How many new clients, on average, do you take on a year?

4. If there was one piece of advice you could give to new authors (as in, hammer into our heads), what would it be?
 
Last edited:

scfirenice

professional multitasker
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2005
Messages
3,937
Reaction score
388
Location
Between a rock and a hard place.
Welcome and thanks in advance. Here goes:
What is the appropriate way to approach your agent with another project? Mine is busy trying to sell my first book which is also a series of three so far, more to come. I also have 2 NF proposals ready to go and am working on another novel. I don't want to bury her in stuff though, so what is right here? Should I query her? Ask her on the phone? Or just keep my lips shut and let her work? Thanks. : )
 

rchastain

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 19, 2005
Messages
53
Reaction score
3
Dear Ms. Clark,

I'm curious about the way an agent goes about marketing a manuscript. How do you decide which editors--and how many--to send a particular manuscript? Do you submit to multiple editors at the same imprint and are publishers quick to get back to you or do they take their sweet time? If the first batch of submissions generates no offers, do you ask your author for changes to improve salability? How many submssions--or much time--do you consider more or less average for books that do sell? I keep reading grim statistics about the number of agented manuscripts that never sell--that only 20% of first novels find a publisher. At what point do you give up and stop submitting?

Thank you for your time and attention. It's great to hear from an expert.

RC
 
Last edited:

writerterri

It's a dorky day!
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 28, 2005
Messages
6,706
Reaction score
3,997
Location
Good'ol Southern California *quakes*
Hello!

How come I can't act as my own agent and get a ms on the desk of the editors at the big houses? How does an agent get it to the big publishers?

Terri
 

BardSkye

Barbershoppin' Harmony Whore
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 2, 2006
Messages
2,522
Reaction score
1,009
Age
66
Location
Calgary, Canada
Good day, Ms. Clark and thank you for taking the time to be here for us. I have two questions.

First, regarding those who have self-published. If the original novel has been almost completely changed, could it then be offered with a chance of success, or has the author basically used up his first rights and is best to just shelve it and move on?

Second. I'm running a contest for local youth and part of the prize is inclusion in a trade paperback anthology. One writer sent in what I think is the prologue of a novel he's working on. It's very good, but if it's published as a short story, will that affect his chances of being able to sell the complete novel to a publisher?
 

JennaGlatzer

wishes you happiness
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 9, 2005
Messages
9,703
Reaction score
3,455
Website
www.jennaglatzer.com
Dear Ginger,

Can you tell us a bit about book auctions? Do you know when you're submitting a manuscript if it's going to go to auction, or do you wait and see what the interest is first? How is it determined who gets to make the first bid (and presumably get "topping" priviledges)? Are there different types of auctions?

Thank you so much for your time.
 

Spidercat

Registered
Joined
Aug 22, 2005
Messages
45
Reaction score
1
Hello Ginger

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

Six months ago, I received a response to my query from an agent who wanted to see my whole manuscript. I eagerly sent it to her and have been waiting patiently for a response -- her website tells me her response time is anywhere from three to five months.

Today I received a request from another agent asking to see my entire manuscript. Although I made it clear in my initial query letters that I was submitting to multiple agents, I'm a little curious about etiquette in this manner. Should I allow the first agent some additional time or simply send the manuscript to the second one right now?

Thanks

Michael
 

dantem42

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 12, 2005
Messages
344
Reaction score
25
Location
Philippines
writerterri said:
How come I can't act as my own agent and get a ms on the desk of the editors at the big houses? How does an agent get it to the big publishers?

Terri

Terri, I'm not an agent, but my agent has commented on this to me, so I will pass it along.

In olden days (maybe 20 or 30 years ago), you could submit to most of the major imprints. Nowadays, most of them don't maintain a large enough editorial staff to cull through thousands of queries and manuscripts. Keep in mind that there are many more agents than there are imprints, so an imprint might receive several thousand queries a week if not for the agent system. My own agent probably receives five hundred queries per week, and about ninety-nine percent of these don't make the cut of requesting a manuscript. And he picks up very few of these manuscripts for actual representation.

Nowadays, overworked editors at imprints rely on agents to cull through the dreck and find the one out of a hundred or more manuscripts that have potential for publication. Even within the agent community, the editor may be selective about the agents he/she works with: maybe fifty or a hundred out of the several thousand agents out there, ones who have a sixth sense about what that editor is looking for, ones that have a track record of finding stuff that makes money, and so on.

The system is strengthened by the fact that many editors move on to become agents, so the system is kind of symbiotic. For a top-flight agent, there is much more money to be made than working as a salaried editorial employee for an imprint.
 

BardSkye

Barbershoppin' Harmony Whore
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 2, 2006
Messages
2,522
Reaction score
1,009
Age
66
Location
Calgary, Canada
And another question from me... If you decide to take on an author for, let's say, fantasy, then his second book turns out to be something you don't represent ordinarily, say a non-fiction on Chinese art in the third century, would you try to place it or suggest he approach someone else? (I'm assuming for the sake of the question that both manuscripts are top-notch.)

Thanks
 

popmuze

Last of a Dying Breed
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 31, 2005
Messages
2,591
Reaction score
179
Location
Nowhere, man
Ginger,
I'm interested in your true feelings about authors following up on their work by email. Let's say you requested a full manuscript after reading a query. Now, let's say you've had it for anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks. Does it secretly (or not so secretly) tick you off if an author sends you an email wondering what your time frame might be in responding to the book? Does such an inquiry ever actually remind you to take a look at said manuscript after losing it in the stacks? Also, does having a manuscript for an excessive length of time (whatever that might be) mean anything special?
In my experience, no sooner do I write such a follow up email than I wind up getting a rejection a day or so later. Coincidence?
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
MidnightMuse said:
Hi, Ms Clark - thank you so much for coming by. I've recently switched focus from good old fashioned science fiction to a definite humor-bent science fiction. The theme is still decidedly science fiction, though. Would I look for agents handling science fiction to query something like this to, or stick with agents who look for humor?

Thank you in advance :)

Hi, Midnight Muse. I'm happy to be here, and thank you for having me. Cathy Clamp, who extended the invite, is a truly fabulous person.

I actually have a funny fantasy MS out now on submission (dark, too) and my first round of submissions is going to SF and fantasy editors. If no one bites, we'll try more humor focused editors. So I would query both, pitching it differently to each.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
Tilly said:
:welcome:

I have a few questions :)

1. How did you become an agent?
I wanted to change jobs (I was working as an editorial assistant at Tor) and my first offer was at Writers House. After six months I was pretty sure I didn't want to go back to the editorial side. I did six years at WH as an assistant, while also building a list including about 15 clients. Back in November 2005, I moved here to Curtis Brown, where I have my own list. I don't assist anyone! Yay!
2. What are the most common reasons you reject a manuscript?
It's sad to say this, but most people just cannot write well. That's it. Basic grammer, sentence structure, a clean style--that is beyond most people, it seems.
3. How many new clients, on average, do you take on a year?
Right now, I'm unusual because I'm trying to build my list. I've taken on 5 since I came to CB, and want to take on more.

4. If there was one piece of advice you could give to new authors (as in, hammer into our heads), what would it be?
Be professional as possible when dealing with prospective agents. Proofread your query letters; be polite and courteous in dealing with me if I ask for more of your work; and don't lie.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
scfirenice said:
Welcome and thanks in advance. Here goes:
What is the appropriate way to approach your agent with another project? Mine is busy trying to sell my first book which is also a series of three so far, more to come. I also have 2 NF proposals ready to go and am working on another novel. I don't want to bury her in stuff though, so what is right here? Should I query her? Ask her on the phone? Or just keep my lips shut and let her work? Thanks. : )

I don't know your agent, so I don't know how she would react, but if one of my clients said she had a couple of NF proposals as well as another novel, I'd like to know about it. I'm not saying I'd want to act on them immediately, but I'd want to know what else they had cooking.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
rchastain said:
Dear Ms. Clark,

I'm curious about the way an agent goes about marketing a manuscript. How do you decide which editors--and how many--to send a particular manuscript? Do you submit to multiple editors at the same imprint and are publishers quick to get back to you or do they take their sweet time? If the first batch of submissions generates no offers, do you ask your author for changes to improve salability? How many submssions--or much time--do you consider more or less average for books that do sell? I keep reading grim statistics about the number of agented manuscripts that never sell--that only 20% of first novels find a publisher. At what point do you give up and stop submitting?

Thank you for your time and attention. It's great to hear from an expert.

RC

Lots of good questions. I send stuff to editors I think are right for the book, because I know their list from talkign with them and having lunch. I do not submit to multiple editors at the same imprint--that's not done. Response times depend on the editor and the project length, or if it's something hot right now or not. Sometimes I will set a date for people to get back to me.

If I'm getting the same thing said by editors in their rejection letters (i.e, the book is too long, the main character isn't vivid enough, etc.) I will ask the client how they feel about doing another draft before sending it back out.

I'm not going to give statistics, I'm not good at estimating, sorry.

I give up on a book when I've tried every single editor and publisher, at both big houses and smaller houses and tiny presses, and had all passes. Then I will see if the author has another book they'd like me to try and sell.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
writerterri said:
How come I can't act as my own agent and get a ms on the desk of the editors at the big houses? How does an agent get it to the big publishers?

Terri

Somebody answered this well already, but I would like to add a few things.
1. Most editors at the big houses don't accept unsolicted MS because most big houses don't accept unsolicted manuscripts.
2. I know many editors at many publishers and what they want.
3. If you think that the only thing an agent can do for you is submit your work and get your MS on the desk of editors, you are mistaken. I cannot think of the last time an unagented author was given a fair contract by a large publisher.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
Good day, Ms. Clark and thank you for taking the time to be here for us. I have two questions.

First, regarding those who have self-published. If the original novel has been almost completely changed, could it then be offered with a chance of success, or has the author basically used up his first rights and is best to just shelve it and move on?
1. It depends on the book, but I would say yes, you could offer it to agents. But do be honest about its forebearers.
Second. I'm running a contest for local youth and part of the prize is inclusion in a trade paperback anthology. One writer sent in what I think is the prologue of a novel he's working on. It's very good, but if it's published as a short story, will that affect his chances of being able to sell the complete novel to a publisher
2. No, short stories are frequently the beginning of a novel for many writers. Just tell him that if he does end up selling the book, he should be honest with his publisher so that the copyright page can record where portions first appears. (For instance, THE WONDER SPOT features a seciton that was included in an anthology published several years before the novel came out.)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

moth

little by little
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
1,542
Reaction score
823
Location
the western sky
I don't have a question, but I wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to be here. Reading your responses to others' questions here so far is both illuminating and reassuring. So again, thank you! :)
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
JennaGlatzer said:
Dear Ginger,

Can you tell us a bit about book auctions? Do you know when you're submitting a manuscript if it's going to go to auction, or do you wait and see what the interest is first? How is it determined who gets to make the first bid (and presumably get "topping" priviledges)? Are there different types of auctions?

Thank you so much for your time.

Jenna, these are all really good but truly complicated questions that I'd rather not get into. However, I do sometimes think books will go to auction that actually do end up going to auction--adn I often think books will go to auction that actually don't. The market is fickle.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
Spidercat said:
Hello Ginger

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

Six months ago, I received a response to my query from an agent who wanted to see my whole manuscript. I eagerly sent it to her and have been waiting patiently for a response -- her website tells me her response time is anywhere from three to five months.

Today I received a request from another agent asking to see my entire manuscript. Although I made it clear in my initial query letters that I was submitting to multiple agents, I'm a little curious about etiquette in this manner. Should I allow the first agent some additional time or simply send the manuscript to the second one right now?

Thanks

Michael

Drop Agent A a line (via email or mail--don't call) letting her know you've had interest and ask if you can send the book to Agent B. Do not misrepresent yourself and say you had an offer of representation. Normally I don't advocate nudging agents, but six months is a long time for her to have it exclusively. You have definitely been patient.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
BardSkye said:
And another question from me... If you decide to take on an author for, let's say, fantasy, then his second book turns out to be something you don't represent ordinarily, say a non-fiction on Chinese art in the third century, would you try to place it or suggest he approach someone else? (I'm assuming for the sake of the question that both manuscripts are top-notch.)

Thanks

I would try to educate myself on the field he wants to work in and still represent him. However, I would want to have a long talk with said client about jumping genres early in one's career and how that can be frustrating. Ultimately, though, I don't like having clients look elsewhere for representation.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
popmuze said:
Ginger,
I'm interested in your true feelings about authors following up on their work by email. Let's say you requested a full manuscript after reading a query. Now, let's say you've had it for anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks. Does it secretly (or not so secretly) tick you off if an author sends you an email wondering what your time frame might be in responding to the book? Does such an inquiry ever actually remind you to take a look at said manuscript after losing it in the stacks? Also, does having a manuscript for an excessive length of time (whatever that might be) mean anything special?
In my experience, no sooner do I write such a follow up email than I wind up getting a rejection a day or so later. Coincidence?

Do I have this book exclusively? If I do, I don't mind a nudge after 8 weeks. But that is my personal preference. I am trying to keep my response time down on both queries and requested MS and partials, so 8 weeks is right now a long time for me.

If I don't have it exclusively, I'm probably reading other stuff ahead of it that is more time sensitive (books by clients, referred submissions, etc.). So getting a nudge does annoy me a tad. Mostly it's because I'm always facing a reading pile--I am never entirely caught up. And a nudge reminds me of that fact.
 

Ginger Clark

Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
moth said:
I don't have a question, but I wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to be here. Reading your responses to others' questions here so far is both illuminating and reassuring. So again, thank you! :)

My pleasure, and thank you for having me. I hope what I say isn't too harsh or depressing.

Also, that interview Jenna posted from two years ago...I just want to make it clear I do NOT find Roger Clinton attractive. Entertaining, yes. But I do NOT lust after him.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

popmuze

Last of a Dying Breed
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 31, 2005
Messages
2,591
Reaction score
179
Location
Nowhere, man
Ginger,
Thanks for answering my question. I will therefore refrain from following up with the various parties who have my manuscript (non-exclusively).
But something on one of your answers intrigued me. As advice to authors you say, "Don't lie."
In your experience, what do writers generally lie about?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Happy Thanksgiving

Autumn image for Thanksgiving