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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ceb7369

How do I grab you from the start?

Ginger,
I can't thank you enough for allowing us to bend the ear of an agent. I am wondering the appropriateness of this as the start of a query letter. I come from writing screenplay queries, so the fiction query format is new to me, but sp agents prefer to start off with the synopsis like this:

Dear _________,

I have a YA fantasy novel about a young girl named Experience who longs for nothing more than to go unnoticed. When she realizes that she’s the only one in her adoptive family that can do magic, Experience becomes obsessed with repressing her freakish magical qualities. But soon a strange, fenced-in field of barren desert beckons to her. Beyond the barbed wire Experience finds a mirage only she can reach – the entrance to Anacapia. When she discovers her true home in the land of Anacapia, she comes face to face with her real parents, her hateful twin sister and the breathtaking enchantress who ordered her death. Things come to a head when she must brave the interior of Incendia, the Palace of Water and Fire, in order to prove her innocence to her true world before they can put her to death.

Is this an appropriate way to query a lit. agent, or is a paragraph of introduction expected first? Also, do lit. agents want to hear about screenplay competition placements in the query letters or are they only interested in lit. awards?

Thanks again for your help,

Christine

http://www.thebarbedwirefields.com/
 
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bobeggleton

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"Rarity from the Hollow" -- ebook question

"Rarity from the Hollow" was published three weeks ago by www.fatcatpress.com. It's a science fiction ebook novel. Last week, a satirical essay about its self-promotion was published by Wingspan Quarterly (www.wingspanquartterly.com).

I don't have an agent. Would the fact that its for sale online help or hurt pursuit of one? Should I wait until the sequel ("Lacy Dawn Adventures") is finished and then look for an agent, or market "Rarity" to agents who may be able to get it into print?

Thanks,

Robert Eggleton
 

Marc Latham

Dear Ginger,

I travelled the world on a low budget during my twenties, going to all the populated continents Kerouac style. I kept a diary during this time, and although it is not your specialist area, I was wondering if you know if there is a market for hobo-world traveller books now?

Thanks a lot for spending your time with us, Marc.
 

joanclr

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Hi Ginger,

Do you represent children's picture books at all?

Thank you!
Joan
 

IHeartWriting

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Please read the thread before posting a question

I’m sure that a moderator (or someone else) will jump all over me for this one, but I believe that when someone like Ms. Clark comes and lends their valuable time and expertise, they should not be taken advantage of.

PLEASE read an entire thread before asking a question of an expert. Your question may already have been answered.


MCSHANNON asked:

You're taking the time to answer all our questions is like a dream come true. I have two version of a query. One is the standard one-page version that, to me, simply can't reveal the narrator's voice; the second is almost two pages in the form of a series of personal challenges to the reader (i.e. agent) that echoes what the protagonist goes through. The book is a combination of of absurdist, humor, and serious themes interwoven in a coming-of-age genre. I've been sending out both versions, but am I making a mistake with the second? Thanks for your time...I know how precious it is for you.

This question has been answered by Ms. Clark in Post 40

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.

And in Post 64

Yes. Gimmicks DO NOT work with me on query letters. I find them distracting and irritating. Other agents might like them. I do not. Again, please, just be professional.
 

Dollywagon

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My question is also related to the PB market, Ginger, but I appreciate it's not your specialist field.

At what point do you think it is worth, if ever, trying to get an agent for this type of work?
I do understand that the PB market is saturated with submissions and also the costs of publishing such books are high.
But, for those of us who take this work seriously, it is getting extremely difficult to get our work seen. The UK is particularly difficult in this area at the moment, and it's getting harder all the time.
Few publishers will except unsol mss or queries, yet we have very few agents that handle PB work.

Any information or guidance you can give would be encouraging- even if it's a negative stance, because at the minute I'm wading through sludge.

And many thanks for answering our questions, they have been very, very, helpful!
 

Ginger Clark

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JohnSilver said:
Hi Ginger,

Thanks for helping us all out!

Up until this point I have only been querying agents.

My dream agent is currently looking at my MS.

If I queried publishers and got a request for a full, would this be enough to mention to the agent? Or is this simply not impressive enough?

If your dream agent is looking at the MS exclusively, then you could ask her nicely if she'd agree to let a publisher see it, if she's had it a long time. Otherwise, there is no need to tell her.
 

Ginger Clark

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bobeggleton said:
"Rarity from the Hollow" was published three weeks ago by www.fatcatpress.com. It's a science fiction ebook novel. Last week, a satirical essay about its self-promotion was published by Wingspan Quarterly (www.wingspanquartterly.com).

I don't have an agent. Would the fact that its for sale online help or hurt pursuit of one? Should I wait until the sequel ("Lacy Dawn Adventures") is finished and then look for an agent, or market "Rarity" to agents who may be able to get it into print?

Thanks,

Robert Eggleton

It doesn't help or hurt. You can try marketing RARITY with agents.
 

Ginger Clark

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Marc Latham said:
Dear Ginger,

I travelled the world on a low budget during my twenties, going to all the populated continents Kerouac style. I kept a diary during this time, and although it is not your specialist area, I was wondering if you know if there is a market for hobo-world traveller books now?

Thanks a lot for spending your time with us, Marc.

The travel-memoir market is quite tough. But it's there. Try thinking of it as a memoir more.
 

Ginger Clark

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joanclr said:
Hi Ginger,

Do you represent children's picture books at all?

Thank you!
Joan

No, I don't. Some agents here at CB do. I am not one of them.
 

Ginger Clark

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IHeartWriting said:
I’m sure that a moderator (or someone else) will jump all over me for this one, but I believe that when someone like Ms. Clark comes and lends their valuable time and expertise, they should not be taken advantage of.

PLEASE read an entire thread before asking a question of an expert. Your question may already have been answered.


MCSHANNON asked:

You're taking the time to answer all our questions is like a dream come true. I have two version of a query. One is the standard one-page version that, to me, simply can't reveal the narrator's voice; the second is almost two pages in the form of a series of personal challenges to the reader (i.e. agent) that echoes what the protagonist goes through. The book is a combination of of absurdist, humor, and serious themes interwoven in a coming-of-age genre. I've been sending out both versions, but am I making a mistake with the second? Thanks for your time...I know how precious it is for you.

This question has been answered by Ms. Clark in Post 40

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.

And in Post 64

Yes. Gimmicks DO NOT work with me on query letters. I find them distracting and irritating. Other agents might like them. I do not. Again, please, just be professional.

Thank you, Iheartwriting!
 

Ginger Clark

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TWK said:
Hi, Ginger:

I have a formatting question.

In a manuscript, is it better to start every new chapter at the top of a page, or should the writer just space down about three lines and start there? (With a header, of course.) I've heard that spacing down three gives an illusion of quickly turning pages.

Thanks.

It really does not matter. I'm not paying attention to formatting, unless you do something egregious--single spaced, tiny fonts, hard to read fonts, etc.
 

Ginger Clark

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Shell said:
Hi Ginger,

Is it possible for a person who did not live their former life as an editor to "break into" the world of literary agency? Separate from my aspirations as a writer, I was hoping to switch day jobs and see about working my way up the ladder to be a literary agent.

My challenge is that I can't afford to actually give up the current day job without a comparable reasonable salary. I'm willing to do grunt work to get my feet wet, but I don't know what kind of grunt work an agent has nor if it is something that I can do off hours and from home.

My plan was to contact a local agent for an informational interview over coffee to see if they needed help with some job that would help me understand the agent side of the world.

Can you tell me if I'm offbase or even in another ballpark to think that breaking into this field is possible?

Thanks!

Publishing does not pay well, particuarly entry level. You would have to start out as an assistant to a literary agent. You will be doing a lot of secretarial work, in addition to reading slush and manuscripts. When I was an assistant, it was a full time, plus weekend reading, job. Unless you have lots of contacts already in the business, you have to start out at the bottom to learn how to be a literary agent.
 

Ginger Clark

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waylander said:
May I add my voice to those thanking you for answering questions here.

I wonder if you could offer me any advice in the following situation?
A long-established US agent with a good track record in fantasy, who is a lone operator, asked to see the full manuscript of my novel on a non-exclusive basis back in February. I sent it and she acknowledged receipt at the beginning of March saying she would need 'at least 6-8 weeks' to review it. Having heard nothing after 13 weeks, I sent a short and polite status query by e-mail. She did not reply. I have continued to send out queries to other agents. 18 weeks have now passed and I would appreciate your advice on what I should do. I do have a phone number for her, but calling seems like the absolute last resort.

She has it non-exclusively? I would not bother her any more, and concentrate on sending out queries. Do not call her.
 

Ginger Clark

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argenianpoet said:
When agents ask for a query letter do they mean exactly that, or do they want you to send a one page synopsis with the query, or the first five double-spaced pages of the manuscript? The reason I ask is because I have heard people say it was both ways and I am confused as to which way is right. I would not want to send more and offend an agent, but is a one page query really enough? Some really good books have poor query letters and some really bad books have a great queries. What is your take on this, and would you throw a submission away if the writer added a little more than what was posted in the guidelines, (say a one page synopsis, and first five pages of the manuscript)?

A query letter is what I mean when I say query letter. If your query letter is poor, you need to work on it.
 

ASterling

Congrats/Question

First off, Jenna - we don't know each other, but congratulations! How exciting!

Second, for Ginger - Ginger, you represent a friend of mine, and I am so thrilled that you have done so well for him (Eliot Fintushel). I love Eliot's work so much and he deserves all the success possible.

I wanted to ask a question about fantasy in response to some of the information you posted about book lengths. Isn't 100k more like the length of a book published in a typical 3-book fantasy series (usually paperback)? What about bigger, more substantial fantasy books?

Also, I notice much change in what is currently in release right now. I see a lot of vampire books, for example (Dear Vampire Books are Dead: I don't think so!). Is this a "summer" phenomenon in terms of lists and types of books, with bigger fantasies scheduled for the fall? I know I have some friends with books scheduled for September/October that would fit more into the traditional, larger fantasy category. Or should the horror writers become more excited?
 

Ginger Clark

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ASterling said:
First off, Jenna - we don't know each other, but congratulations! How exciting!

Second, for Ginger - Ginger, you represent a friend of mine, and I am so thrilled that you have done so well for him (Eliot Fintushel). I love Eliot's work so much and he deserves all the success possible.

I wanted to ask a question about fantasy in response to some of the information you posted about book lengths. Isn't 100k more like the length of a book published in a typical 3-book fantasy series (usually paperback)? What about bigger, more substantial fantasy books?

Also, I notice much change in what is currently in release right now. I see a lot of vampire books, for example (Dear Vampire Books are Dead: I don't think so!). Is this a "summer" phenomenon in terms of lists and types of books, with bigger fantasies scheduled for the fall? I know I have some friends with books scheduled for September/October that would fit more into the traditional, larger fantasy category. Or should the horror writers become more excited?

Eliot is brilliant and I love being his agent. A sweetheart, too.

100K is both the ideal length for a fantasy trilogy, and what a new writer should be shooting for when trying to sell their first fantasy novel. Bigger, more substantial fantasy books are a harder sell because they cost the publisher more money to print.

Those vampire books that are coming out now were bought a year or more ago. What books I am selling are for late 2007/early 2008 publication, and I am hearing from editors that vampires seem to be a bit overbought.
 

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Hi Ginger, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us!

I have a question about calculating word count. I've read that the proper way to calculate word count is the One Page=250 Words. I've also seen that agents want the actual word count that comes from the computer's word count system. Which one is prefered? Would it be better to go with the computer's system when it gets me closer to 100,000 words, whereas the the One Page=250 words puts me at about 110,000 words?

Thank you for your time! :)
 

Ginger Clark

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Bette Davis said:
Hi Ginger, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us!

I have a question about calculating word count. I've read that the proper way to calculate word count is the One Page=250 Words. I've also seen that agents want the actual word count that comes from the computer's word count system. Which one is prefered? Would it be better to go with the computer's system when it gets me closer to 100,000 words, whereas the the One Page=250 words puts me at about 110,000 words?

Thank you for your time! :)

I almost always prefer to know word count, and I think using your computer's Word Count feature is probably the most accurate. I think in our age of multidinous fonts, thinking of 1 page = 250 words is a tad obsolete.
 

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This couldn’t come at a better time for me.

Dear Ms. Clark,

I have recently finished tweaking my MS and I'm in the phase of putting together my query letter and synopsis.

First, what is the most effective length for a synopsis? What should I focus on, the opening or does the whole thing need to grab the reader’s attention.

Second – I haven’t been published as of yet and I'm worried about my lack of credentials. How should I go about this? See, I started out going for the top-rung by writing a novel first. Since then I have been sharpening my skills with short stories, then going back and fixing the MS. While I have written over 10 short stories, they are all out at this time to various magazines and I am awaiting responses. Should I wait to see if any get picked up? Or, should I just gloss over my background?

Third – I'm finding that there are very few Agents who represent the Horror Genre. With that in mind, should I submit queries to those who represent Thrillers or Suspense as well?

Thank you for your time.

Oh, and while I’m at it, I think I'd kick myself if I didn't take this opportunity to ask: Is Laura Blake Peterson the best person to query there regarding a Horror/Thriller MS? I only ask, because she is on my first list to query out to, and I would hate to get it kicked back because I sent it to the wrong individual.
 
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Ginger Clark

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Hi, everyone. I'm signing off now. Thank you so much for having me. It was fun. Good luck!

Ginger
 

JennaGlatzer

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Sorry, Outlaw, bad timing. Hang onto your questions and I'll see if we can get someone else to answer them.

Thank you so much for being with us, Ginger! We appreciate your time and thoughtful responses. May your clients all land on the bestseller lists. :)
 
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