Ask Ginger Clark! Guest agent arriving July 5th

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

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KTC

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Hi Ginger,

I think it's great that you're taking the time to answer questions here. Thank you!

I have one.

Last year I participated in a workshop where 2 agents critiqued the first few pages of works in progress. They received the pages ahead of time and during the course of the workshop they critiqued them blind in front of the workshop attendees. Basically, they were saying whether or not they would take on the manuscripts submitted...pointing out their reasons for either doing so or not doing so. They both gave enthusiastic thumbs up for my excerpt, saying they would definitely read further.

My question...finally...I now have the manuscript completed. I would like to submit it to one or both of these agents. Should I just submit it blind with a professional query letter, or would it be okay to say, "Hey, remember this..." and let them know that they already read the first few pages of my manuscript for this workshop? (I feel like I may already have my foot in the door...but I don't want to step on theirs.)
 

Ginger Clark

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popmuze said:
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?

They claim to have offers of representation when they don't. Or that they were referred by someone when they were not, or that the MS I am reviewing isn't actually exclusive when I think it is. Very few authors do this, but it bugs when they do. I guess I should have said, "Just be professional and forthright."
 

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KTC said:
Hi Ginger,

I think it's great that you're taking the time to answer questions here. Thank you!

I have one.

Last year I participated in a workshop where 2 agents critiqued the first few pages of works in progress. They received the pages ahead of time and during the course of the workshop they critiqued them blind in front of the workshop attendees. Basically, they were saying whether or not they would take on the manuscripts submitted...pointing out their reasons for either doing so or not doing so. They both gave enthusiastic thumbs up for my excerpt, saying they would definitely read further.

My question...finally...I now have the manuscript completed. I would like to submit it to one or both of these agents. Should I just submit it blind with a professional query letter, or would it be okay to say, "Hey, remember this..." and let them know that they already read the first few pages of my manuscript for this workshop? (I feel like I may already have my foot in the door...but I don't want to step on theirs.)

Absolutely remind them that you have met them and that they responded positively to a sample last year. You won't be stepping on any feet, or toes.
 

apfuchs

Dear Ms. Clark,

First, hello.

Second, thanks for answering that question regarding self-published books.

I look forward to seeing what else you will share with us in this forum.

Thanks again.
 

Branwyn

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I just found out about your appearance here, welcome!

I was wondering if you handle paranormal suspense, with a bit of romance sprinkled in, for that special flavor?

My MC is a 'Ghost Whisperer'.;)

Thanks!!!!
 

argenianpoet

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what if I have a blurb...?

Dear Ginger Clark:

Thank you for answering all of our questions! First, how important is it for an author to use third person limited, considering a lot of people think it is the better way to write a novel? I have written in third person omniscient for years and people say that head-hopping is bad news, but the more novels I pick up and read the more that I find third person omniscient is a popular method of writing a book. What is your take on this?

Secondly, what is your take on show and tell, and could you give me a definition of both to clear up some confusion in my head? How important is this to a novel and should there always be more show than tell?


Third, what is the acceptable length of fantasy fiction for a first time novelist?

Fourth, if I have a blurb from an author who has published three books (a post on his website) will that make you take me more seriously, enough to actually look at my material? Explain how this could benefit a first time novelist.


Thank you very much!
 
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scfirenice

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Ms. Clark,

What is the query letter format that most attracts you? (What/when, hook first, etc.)

Is there a particular query letter writing site you recommend. (besides AW, of course. : )

In your opinion, what are the most essential elements of a query?

Thank you
 

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Ginger Clark said:
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.

Wow! Mere seconds after reading this I followed Ginger's advice -- and immediately got an e-mail from Agent A not only saying it was okay to send my manuscript to Agent B but also asking me to e-mail her another copy of the manuscript so she could get to it sooner :)

Thanks Ginger! (Talk about fast results!)
 

Irysangel

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Hi Ginger,

Any genres you're tired of seeing at the moment? Anything you can't get enough of?

thanks!
 

davidhburton

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Hi Ginger!

Thanks so much for dropping by and answering our questions! I have one:

I have two different projects (one adult and middle-grade fantasy series). They are completley unrelated. When I am querying agents, should I mention only one project or both?

Thanks!
David
 

Ginger Clark

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Branwyn said:
I just found out about your appearance here, welcome!

I was wondering if you handle paranormal suspense, with a bit of romance sprinkled in, for that special flavor?

My MC is a 'Ghost Whisperer'.;)

Thanks!!!!

I do, and psychics are not yet overdone (I think we are seeing saturation point on vampires, potentially soon).

And please, everyone--call me Ginger.
 

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davidhburton said:
Hi Ginger!

Thanks so much for dropping by and answering our questions! I have one:

I have two different projects (one adult and middle-grade fantasy series). They are completley unrelated. When I am querying agents, should I mention only one project or both?

Thanks!
David

I would say yes, and market the one you feel is stronger and more likely to sell.
 

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argenianpoet said:
Dear Ginger Clark:

Thank you for answering all of our questions! First, how important is it for an author to use third person limited, considering a lot of people think it is the better way to write a novel? I have written in third person omniscient for years and people say that head-hopping is bad news, but the more novels I pick up and read the more that I find third person omniscient is a popular method of writing a book. What is your take on this?

Secondly, what is your take on show and tell, and could you give me a definition of both to clear up some confusion in my head? How important is this to a novel and should there always be more show than tell?


Third, what is the acceptable length of fantasy fiction for a first time novelist?

Fourth, if I have a blurb from an author who has published three books (a post on his website) will that make you take me more seriously, enough to actually look at my material? Explain how this could benefit a first time novelist.


Thank you very much!

1. I honestly don't think much about third person limited versus third person omniscient versus first person--except when it is done badly. Like, the book is 95% third person limited until the end when suddenly we are in some other character's head for ten pages because it's plot convenient.

2. Show is always better than tell. I'd rather you demonstrate through dialogue and action that your main character is witty and charming, rather than just telling me, because as a reader I won't believe you.

3. 100K. Maybe up to 120K, but no more than that.

4. First off, get permission from said published author to use his quote. And that would make your marketable to agents because someone with whom I am probably familiar has read and liked your work. It is akin to a colleague here reading a submission, liking it but deciding it wasn't right for their list, and passing it to me.
 

KTC

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Dear Ginger!

Thanks so much for answering my question. I feel more confident approaching these agents now. Thank you.
 

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scfirenice said:
Ms. Clark,

What is the query letter format that most attracts you? (What/when, hook first, etc.)

Is there a particular query letter writing site you recommend. (besides AW, of course. : )

In your opinion, what are the most essential elements of a query?

Thank you

1 page. No more than two paragraphs on plot. Tell me about what authors write stuff similiar to yours, and how it differs (I know that's contradictory somewhat). Format it as a business letter. Use normal font--Times New Roman 12 point, Courier 12, Arial 12, what have you. Don't use ornate fonts. And don't put the letter in 8 point font so you can fit it on one page--I notice that because even though I already wearing glasses, suddenly I'm squinting to read your letter. Include your writing credits, if any.

I don't know about sites, I'm sorry.

Essential elements--tell me immediately what kind of book it is (ie. cyberpunk) and who the audience is (fans of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling).
 

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Irysangel said:
Hi Ginger,

Any genres you're tired of seeing at the moment? Anything you can't get enough of?

thanks!

Good question. I think I mentioned at some point up thread that I think we are reaching the saturation point on paranormal romance/supense/etc. involving vampires. I think space opera is a tough sell nowadays. I think Arthurian stuff is a tough sell as well, and has been for a while. The more quiet books in YA and middle grade don't sell--I'm personally looking for more contemporary stuff, and more SF.

I would love to see more YA paranormal chicklit (yes, that's a real genre), more urban fantasy, more stuff involving not overdone paranormal creatures (psychics, zombies, succubi, etc.). More middle grade fiction, in general.

I think graphic novels are right now growing, but I don't represent them. I'm just saying that librarians have been asking for more for years and are finally getting them.
 

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Quick questions please

Greetings Ginger Clark,
Quick questions: I fired my agent who made two submissions to a fine publishing house in NYC. I would like to have both mss returned to me. Is it proper to phone the VP/ CO-Publisher at the publishing house that has my mss and request them returned to me? T

Second, I am being courted by two very fine agents. That being said, I really appreciate the professionalism / connections / successes of one while the other would make a fine editor of my literary work.
I like both.

Do I go with my instinct or think of the relationship as strickly business?
Neither have offered representation however both have express great interest in my body of literary work.
I want someone in it for the long haul not a quick money deal.
Thank you so much!
Take care.
 
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Hi Ginger

Thank you for coming here and allowing us to glimpse into your area of expertise.

I am a firm believer in "Nothing new under the sun." On occassion, there is a new twist on something old. Is the new wrinkle still attached to something old?

Secondly, is it nearly impossible to sell a well used story even if it is cooked with a new spice?

Thank you for your reply.
Allen
 

popmuze

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Ginger,
Always a pleasure to hear from you. When you are sending out rejections for requested full or partial manuscripts, what would cause you to write a lengthy paragraph praising much of the work but ultimately turning it down without indicating that you'd be open to see a rewrite?
 

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Bait and switch?

Ms. Clark, would you please comment on the following (real) scenario:

--At an initial meeting with author, the agent outlines a quick schedule for getting manuscript to publishers and explains the need for author bio., information on prior speaking schedule, availability for speaking engagements, and promotional platforms (organizational memberships, affiliation groups, that sort of thing), and recommends some revisions to page 1 of the manuscript. (The agent had had long opportunity to read the entire manuscript before the meeting and seemingly claimed to have read it.)

--After agreement has been signed by the author, on the basis of those kinds of oral representations, the agent tells the author that the manuscript must be substantially revised "or it won't sell," and refers the author to a $100-per-hour editor elsewhere in the country to do the work.

The author, whose carefully polished nonfiction manuscript has received rave endorsements from prominent and influential individuals with pertinent expertise and who is not comfortable with having the book rewritten into something the author did not intend (refocusing its point in the process and turning it into just another in a particular sub-genre) has asked to terminate the agreement forthwith, explaining that had the agent said at the pre-signing meeting what is being said now, the author would not have signed agreement with that agent.

Was the agent out of line? (My interpretation is that the agent was disingenuous, at best, if not actively deceptive, and perhaps expecting a kickback or referral fee from the editor.) Is the author right to request and expect termination of the representation agreement as a result?

Thanks.

--Ken
 
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Ginger Clark

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ResearchGuy said:
Ms. Clark, would you please comment on the following (real) scenario:

--At an initial meeting with author, the agent outlines a quick schedule for getting manuscript to publishers and explains the need for author bio., information on prior speaking schedule, availability for speaking engagements, and promotional platforms (organizational memberships, affiliation groups, that sort of thing), and recommends some revisions to page 1 of the manuscript. (The agent had had long opportunity to read the entire manuscript before the meeting and seemingly claimed to have read it.)

--After agreement has been signed by the author, on the basis of those kinds of oral representations, the agent tells the author that the manuscript must be substantially revised "or it won't sell," and refers the author to a $100-per-hour editor elsewhere in the country to do the work.

The author, whose carefully polished nonfiction manuscript has received rave endorsements from prominent and influential individuals with pertinent expertise and who is not comfortable with having the book rewritten into something the author did not intend (refocusing its point in the process and turning it into just another in a particular sub-genre) has asked to terminate the agreement forthwith, explaining that had the agent said at the pre-signing meeting what is being said now, the author would not have signed agreement with that agent.

Was the agent out of line? (My interpretation is that the agent was disingenuous, at best, if not actively deceptive, and perhaps expecting a kickback or referral fee from the editor.) Is the author right to request and expect termination of the representation agreement as a result?

Thanks.

--Ken

Good lord, YES, the agent was out of line. You should get out of this agreement as soon as you can. I would never refer a client to a freelance editor except under very specific situations and this is not one of them. It sounds like this agent didn't read your book, and that's the first of his mistakes.
 

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Daughter of Faulkner said:
Greetings Ginger Clark,
Quick questions: I fired my agent who made two submissions to a fine publishing house in NYC. I would like to have both mss returned to me. Is it proper to phone the VP/ CO-Publisher at the publishing house that has my mss and request them returned to me? T

Second, I am being courted by two very fine agents. That being said, I really appreciate the professionalism / connections / successes of one while the other would make a fine editor of my literary work.
I like both.

Do I go with my instinct or think of the relationship as strickly business?
Neither have offered representation however both have express great interest in my body of literary work.
I want someone in it for the long haul not a quick money deal.
Thank you so much!
Take care.

1. No, it is not appropriate for you to call a publisher asking for your MS back.

2. I'm sorry--I am confused. You said you were being courted by two agents, and then said neither has offered representation. So I'm confused as to which is the case. However, thinking of an agent as business partner rather than a personal friend is what I always recommend to authors.
 

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allenparker said:
Thank you for coming here and allowing us to glimpse into your area of expertise.

I am a firm believer in "Nothing new under the sun." On occassion, there is a new twist on something old. Is the new wrinkle still attached to something old?

Secondly, is it nearly impossible to sell a well used story even if it is cooked with a new spice?

Thank you for your reply.
Allen

1. Uh, not sure what you are trying to ask here. Could you clarify what you are referring to?
2. Again, are you talking about a novel or a short story? And what do you mean by well used story? if you are lifting the plot of the LOTR, then no, that won't sell. If you are doing an interesting new take on high fantasy, that might sell. I'm just not sure I understand your questions.
 

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popmuze said:
Ginger,
Always a pleasure to hear from you. When you are sending out rejections for requested full or partial manuscripts, what would cause you to write a lengthy paragraph praising much of the work but ultimately turning it down without indicating that you'd be open to see a rewrite?

If I gave specifics as to why I liked a work, I would be doing it because it was a near miss for me--something I liked a lot, but didn't love enough to represent.

As for not inviting a resubmission--my own personal preference, right now, is that on near misses, I have stopped asking to see a rewrite for several reasons which I do not want to get into right now.
 

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Ginger Clark said:
Good lord, YES, the agent was out of line. You should get out of this agreement as soon as you can. I would never refer a client to a freelance editor except under very specific situations and this is not one of them. It sounds like this agent didn't read your book, and that's the first of his mistakes.
Thank you. I am not the author, but have been the author's enthusiastic friend and advocate since I met her and read her manuscript.

--Ken
 
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