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

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Jennifer_Laughran

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Do you have any suggestions for coping with large quantities of email? I don't mean spam or lists; I mean several hundred emails from real people that need responses, a day.

I do use templates/form responses, but even so some days I'm drowning. I've been blocking off time a couple times a day to deal with email, and only doing email then, but I'm not sure that's effective.

Oh, sigh. I don't -- I cope with it by using form responses constantly, and staying on my email like 18 hours a day so I see things as they come in -- but there are still things I miss, and I am sure it is not good for me.

If you figure it out, let me know!
 

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This is similar to a previous question, but different enough that I do need to ask it - thanks for your patience!

Say that a reputable editor requests a manuscript. This doesn't guarantee a sale, so the hopeful author goes on querying agents and garnering rejections while waiting on the editor. Good so far.
In the event that Rep. Ed. did make an offer on the ms., could Hope. Auth. contact an agent who had previously sent a form rejection?
If yes, would it be honest or stupid for Hope. Auth. to admit that the ms had previously been form-rejected by that agent?

I guess you could, but I wonder, why would you?

Even if you had a great offer, I personally would only take you on if I liked the work. If they already rejected it, that presumably means they don't like it, or don't like it enough anyway. And most agents know what they have read and rejected -- we have to have pretty good memories.

So why not just move on and pick somebody who either has expressed some interest in the past, or somebody new?
 

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I have a proposal being reviewed by an agent and another agent has asked to see my outline and first few chapters. Is it ethical to send information to two agents at once?

Yes, certainly.

Unless agent #1 has specifically asked for an exclusive, and you have granted it, in which case you ought to have given him a time limit (a couple weeks, a month, whatever) -- when that exclusive period is up, it is up for grabs to whoever else wants to see it.

If there is no agreed-upon exclusive, you SHOULD show it to many agents at once -- that is how you get an agent!
 
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Jennifer_Laughran

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I was wondering if you could explain the process for a book to be accepted for publication. I know the agent submits it to an editor,but what happens next? if the editor loves it can they make an offer outright, or must they get approval from whomever? And what does approval entail and generally how long of a process is it?

The answer totally depends.

Depends on the type of ms, the style of publisher, the personality and position of the editor, the perceived "hotness" of the project, whether there are holes in upcoming lists that need to be filled quickly, etc etc.

BASICALLY:

Agent "pitches" project to editor. I usually do this via email or in person. I am not a phone-type person. Other agents always call. Basically, we are describing the project and saying, do you want to take a look?

Editor says "sure, sounds awesome!" or "nah, too much like something else we have, sorry."

If "sure", agent sends editor ms, usually via email.

Editor reads ms. This could take 24 hours or less (I have had offers that quickly) -- or it could take six months (I've had offers that slowly) -- or anything in between. This is totally about how urgent the editor thinks it is and how busy they are. If they feel like there is going to be competition and they really want it, they will usually jump quickly. Usually I expect to start hearing from people within a month, that seems about normal to me.

Some editors have to get permission from every single person - publicity, marketing, sales, the big bosses, the janitor practically. All of those people have to read the book (or at least a hunk of it) and approve buying it. These meetings are called "acquisitions meetings" and they take place every week, every other week, or once a month (depending on the publisher.)

Some editors don't have an acquisitions process, they have to just convince their boss (or in some cases they ARE the boss). So the process from "I love it!" to "Here's my offer" can take a day, a week, or a month.

And the rate of success at these meetings is totally variable too. If your project is strong but it looks weak compared to other things that are up for discussion, they might well pass. If the editor loves it but she can't convince her boss that it will make money, they will pass. etc etc.

Everyone's path is different. If anyone tells you 'this is how it is supposed to happen', they are bullshitting you -- the only things you can be sure of in publishing is that you can be sure of nothing, and everything takes WAY longer than you think it should. Take a yoga class.
 

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scary MG books

Hi, again, Jennifer,

You are so appreciated for your continued presence here. Reading the posts is very helpful and brings up issues I wouldn't think of on my own.

My question has to do with the frightening aspect of some MG books I'm reading lately. I just finished Coraline, and now I'm on The Graveyard Book.

I don't know what age these were intended for specifically, but Coraline is written in such simple language, I can only assume it's geared toward fairly young children.

Is this a new trend, or am I just happening upon specific books that aren't the norm?

I'm asking because I've posted the first chapter of my current WIP over on childrens, and I was concerned that it might be too heavy for MG. But after reading these examples, mine seems mild.

Are there more books like these, or is this becoming what's popular now?

If you can't answer these questions, don't worry about it, but it does have me wondering where we're going next.

Again, thanks for all your time and consideration in answering our questions.
 

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Hi Jennifer,

One more quick question -- google is failing me. I received an offer of representation a few days ago (hooray!). I notified the other agents considering my materials. But do I notify the agents with outstanding queries?

Thanks so much for all your help here!
-Kirsten
 

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Hi Jennifer,

A group of local newpapers is conisdering serializing parts of my book. Is this a good idea?

Currently, it is only available via an ebook publisher. On the positive side, I have sold about 125 books.

By the way, does your agency represent international action/adventure memoirs? Or do you have any suggestions who might specialize in this genre?
 

RoccoMom

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The answer totally depends.

Depends on the type of ms, the style of publisher, the personality and position of the editor, the perceived "hotness" of the project, whether there are holes in upcoming lists that need to be filled quickly, etc etc.

BASICALLY:

Agent "pitches" project to editor. I usually do this via email or in person. I am not a phone-type person. Other agents always call. Basically, we are describing the project and saying, do you want to take a look?

Editor says "sure, sounds awesome!" or "nah, too much like something else we have, sorry."

If "sure", agent sends editor ms, usually via email.

Editor reads ms. This could take 24 hours or less (I have had offers that quickly) -- or it could take six months (I've had offers that slowly) -- or anything in between. This is totally about how urgent the editor thinks it is and how busy they are. If they feel like there is going to be competition and they really want it, they will usually jump quickly. Usually I expect to start hearing from people within a month, that seems about normal to me.

Some editors have to get permission from every single person - publicity, marketing, sales, the big bosses, the janitor practically. All of those people have to read the book (or at least a hunk of it) and approve buying it. These meetings are called "acquisitions meetings" and they take place every week, every other week, or once a month (depending on the publisher.)

Some editors don't have an acquisitions process, they have to just convince their boss (or in some cases they ARE the boss). So the process from "I love it!" to "Here's my offer" can take a day, a week, or a month.

And the rate of success at these meetings is totally variable too. If your project is strong but it looks weak compared to other things that are up for discussion, they might well pass. If the editor loves it but she can't convince her boss that it will make money, they will pass. etc etc.

Everyone's path is different. If anyone tells you 'this is how it is supposed to happen', they are bullshitting you -- the only things you can be sure of in publishing is that you can be sure of nothing, and everything takes WAY longer than you think it should. Take a yoga class.

Very interesting and enlightening. Thanks!
Now I'll head off to Yoga 101.
 

justinai

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Hi Jennifer~

So here's my question...I recently made it to the semifinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest where my full MS recieved a Publisher's Weekly review. Is this something worth mentioning? Should I quote the review in my query? Or are agents pretty much either a) less than impressed or b) completely unaware of the contest?

Thanks.
 

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Next question -- is it bad to be published elsewhere (say, Asia) first BEFORE the usa, if you're an american? will it hurt me or help me or neither?
 

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My question has to do with the frightening aspect of some MG books I'm reading lately. I just finished Coraline, and now I'm on The Graveyard Book.

I don't know what age these were intended for specifically, but Coraline is written in such simple language, I can only assume it's geared toward fairly young children.

Is this a new trend, or am I just happening upon specific books that aren't the norm?

This is neither a new trend, nor a strange one.

Coraline is not nearly as frightening as, oh, GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES.

There have always been scary books for kids. There always will be.
 

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I received an offer of representation a few days ago (hooray!). I notified the other agents considering my materials. But do I notify the agents with outstanding queries?

I think don't bother if they are just query letters -- but for sure let people with partials/fulls know!
 

Jennifer_Laughran

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A group of local newpapers is conisdering serializing parts of my book. Is this a good idea?

Currently, it is only available via an ebook publisher. On the positive side, I have sold about 125 books.

By the way, does your agency represent international action/adventure memoirs? Or do you have any suggestions who might specialize in this genre?

1) Couldn't hurt you -- since the book is already published, even if only in ebook form, I don't guess it matters what you do with the serial rights. And it might help sales of your ebook.

Neither one of these will do you any favors if you are looking to have the book published "traditionally" though -- most agents and editors will look askance at either one of these credits.

2) We are a children's-only agency. I suggest you check out other threads on this very forum, or agentquery.com, who can give you much more info on adult agents than I ever could.
 

Jennifer_Laughran

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So here's my question...I recently made it to the semifinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest where my full MS recieved a Publisher's Weekly review. Is this something worth mentioning? Should I quote the review in my query? Or are agents pretty much either a) less than impressed or b) completely unaware of the contest?

Personally, I am rather unaware and pretty much unimpressed . Sorry.

Then again, I have plenty of clients who had literally nothing at all to their credit - no books published, no contests won, no nothin'. No credits somehow sound better to me than a chintzy-sounding credit. I mean, it wouldn't HURT you with me to name it -- but it wouldn't HELP you, either.

But it could be that I am totally off-base - maybe other agents know everything about this contest and love it! I am by no means an authority on what agents as a whole are thinking.
 

Jennifer_Laughran

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Next question -- is it bad to be published elsewhere (say, Asia) first BEFORE the usa, if you're an american? will it hurt me or help me or neither?

I think that having something brand-new that nobody has ever published (or looked at!) before is the ideal. Somehow otherwise the impression can be that it is "used goods".

However it could be that you are published in, say, Singapore, and the sales are really great, and that gives American publishers the idea that you might do well here also -- that is good.

In other words -- Neither, or, I'd have to take it on a case-by-case basis.
 

justinai

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Thanks for the honest feedback. It's great having you pop in here on AW. You rock!
 

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I think that having something brand-new that nobody has ever published (or looked at!) before is the ideal. Somehow otherwise the impression can be that it is "used goods".

I'm curious. How does this apply in regards to a successfully published e-book series being lifted up into conventional print? Is there any path, or is any previous work such as this considered only as part of a track record for approaching with new material?

Kerry
 

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Additional Query Questions

Hello Jennifer,

First of all, thank you very much for swiftly replying to my first post on query letters - I have taken your feedback into account and modified my query letter.
I now have two refined versions of a query letter, but am unsure of which one to send out. Thus, my question is this: could you find time in your busy schedule to look over both query letters? I don't need them to be proofread, or edited, I'm just trying to get an agent's perspective on the matter.
Please forgive me if asking such a thing of you is improper or crude. If you are interested, I can email you both query letters for my YA fantasy thriller.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
 

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I'm curious. How does this apply in regards to a successfully published e-book series being lifted up into conventional print? Is there any path, or is any previous work such as this considered only as part of a track record for approaching with new material?

As I said somewhere in this thread, I am sure, I think it would be very difficult for an ebook series from an ebook publisher (unless VERY VERY VERY successful) to transition into a traditonal published book from a traditional publisher. There might be exceptions, but I don't know any, and if there are, they the exceptions that prove the rule.

Yes on part two.

But again, this is not my area of expertise and I don't feel comfortable going much further into advice territory down the ebook road, cause I don't want to steer you wrong.
 

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could you find time in your busy schedule to look over both query letters? I don't need them to be proofread, or edited, I'm just trying to get an agent's perspective on the matter.
Please forgive me if asking such a thing of you is improper or crude. If you are interested, I can email you both query letters for my YA fantasy thriller.

There are appropriate places to post query letters both on this forum and on others (this forum is great for YA & Adult feedback, the "verla kay blue boards" are more kid-centric and terrific for kids/YA feedback). There are also workshops you can take, and agents who give query crits at conferences.

I, for one, have no desire to spend any more of my spare time reading query letters. It is not fun for me and I already spend enough of my evening and weekend life doing it. If you'd like me to read it, you can always query me with it... but I am not going to do a compare/contrast, a crit, or a book report on the subject. :)
 

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Hi, Jennifer.
My query made it from the slush pile to the "please send x" stage at a big agency and they have asked for an outline. Most of the guidance I've found is for an outline used to write the book. I've seen advice that a fiction outline should be 1-2 sentences/chapter, but does an agent want it be written in the same style/prose as the ms or should it be a terse, mechanical description of the plot and characters' development? Any other advice you have on what an agent might be looking for in an outline?

Also, I realize an agent weeds out manuscripts by requesting the first 50 pages before requesting a full, but this adds an extra cycle for the ones where you do want to see the full. I'm wondering what makes the trade off in time worth it for the agent.
Thank you for your time and help.
 
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Thanks so much for your responses Jennifer. I have one more -- what is the average time I can expect to hear back on a full manuscript request? I have four fulls and 2 partials out right now... and I check my email more times than I can count per day hoping to get some news. They will read it, eventually, right?
 

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Hi, Jennifer.
My query made it from the slush pile to the "please send x" stage at a big agency and they have asked for an outline. Most of the guidance I've found is for an outline used to write the book. I've seen advice that a fiction outline should be 1-2 sentences/chapter, but does an agent want it be written in the same style/prose as the ms or should it be a terse, mechanical description of the plot and characters' development? Any other advice you have on what an agent might be looking for in an outline?

Also, I realize an agent weeds out manuscripts by requesting the first 50 pages before requesting a full, but this adds an extra cycle for the ones where you do want to see the full. I'm wondering what makes the trade off in time worth it for the agent.
Thank you for your time and help.

I have never heard of asking for an outline for fiction. That is so beyond weird to me, I can't even tell you. Sorry, I have no idea what they might want, or why they might want it -- I am useless to you. Perhaps on ask-other-writers threads people might have more guidance for you!

As for part two, depends on the agent. I never ask for 50 pages. I ask that you send 10 pages with your query. If I like them, I request the full. I cannot imagine doing it any other way, because I would never want to judge an author's work based only on a query letter. But, what the hell, everyone is different, right?
 

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Thanks so much for your responses Jennifer. I have one more -- what is the average time I can expect to hear back on a full manuscript request? I have four fulls and 2 partials out right now... and I check my email more times than I can count per day hoping to get some news. They will read it, eventually, right?

On fulls, at least three months (unless their own guidelines say something different). After three months, it is acceptable to status query.
 

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I have never heard of asking for an outline for fiction. That is so beyond weird to me, I can't even tell you.

Jennifer,

I'm confused. Are you saying that you never heard of a fiction writer outlining his work? Yesterday, I heard a CSpan interview with John Grisholm. He said he has never written a fiction book without first completing an extremely detailed outline.
 
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