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Ask Pam van Hylckama Vlieg:

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

Tromboli

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Dystopian is hard to sell in YA right now, I know that. But what about MG? I'm working on a MG urban fantasy set in a dystopian city (but it's not very central to the plot). Just wondering if that will hurt me when it comes to querying.
 

Pamvhv

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Dystopian is hard to sell in YA right now, I know that. But what about MG? I'm working on a MG urban fantasy set in a dystopian city (but it's not very central to the plot). Just wondering if that will hurt me when it comes to querying.

I don't really know if that will trend in MG. They're so closely related anymore. MGers are reading The Hunger Games for example. If you've written a great book it doesn't matter what genre it's in. Even if you've heard the genre is a dead one.
 

GingerGunlock

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I don't really know if that will trend in MG. They're so closely related anymore. MGers are reading The Hunger Games for example. If you've written a great book it doesn't matter what genre it's in. Even if you've heard the genre is a dead one.

Bold mine.

This is a concern I've been wrestling with, as I've been working through (and okay, wrestling with as well) my current works in progress, which are a werewolf trilogy. I've got other projects, but my werewolf books keep drawing me back.

The words "dead genre" fill me with such despair and disappointment, and not just because it's my own concern. I feel like it's prematurely closing a door, I guess.
 

Pamvhv

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Bold mine.

This is a concern I've been wrestling with, as I've been working through (and okay, wrestling with as well) my current works in progress, which are a werewolf trilogy. I've got other projects, but my werewolf books keep drawing me back.

The words "dead genre" fill me with such despair and disappointment, and not just because it's my own concern. I feel like it's prematurely closing a door, I guess.

Maybe by the time you're done the door will be open again :).
 

MostlyBecca

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Also, if you send out 10 queries and get 8 or more rejections at query level, rewrite the query. Then send 10 more and see how that goes.
I always hear that a 10% response rate to queries is decent and 20% is really good. Is this not true?
 

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I was wondering if you have ever rejected over a crappy title? I'm banging my head against my desk right now.
 

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I was wondering if you have ever rejected over a crappy title? I'm banging my head against my desk right now.
Just go to Amazon search engine, virtually every title you can think of is there already anyway. Might give you some ideas.
 
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How long a wait?

Hi Pam --

I sent a query to an agent I took a class from at a conference, and she almost immediately asked for the manuscript. But I didn't hear anything from her saying she'd gotten it, and haven't heard anything since. Because I knew her (and I thought she was very polite in asking for it) I haven't sent to anyone else (it hasn't been very long). So I'm wondering how long does it take you to read a manuscript you've asked for, and how long should I wait before sending to others?

Thanks, and thanks for all the help around here!
 

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Unless you agreed to let her have your work on an exclusive basis, send it out to other agents right now.

Once she's had it for three months give her a gentle nudge, and ask how she's doing.
 

Pamvhv

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Hi Pam --

I sent a query to an agent I took a class from at a conference, and she almost immediately asked for the manuscript. But I didn't hear anything from her saying she'd gotten it, and haven't heard anything since. Because I knew her (and I thought she was very polite in asking for it) I haven't sent to anyone else (it hasn't been very long). So I'm wondering how long does it take you to read a manuscript you've asked for, and how long should I wait before sending to others?

Thanks, and thanks for all the help around here!

You should most definitely do your query rounds now :).
 

whiporee

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Pam and Old Hack --

Thanks for the input. Since I'm here, I'll ask one more.

My book has a science fiction element to it -- it deals with parts of the space program -- but that's more a backdrop for the relationship between my protagonists. But it's hard to describe the book without mentioning the space elements. That said, a lot of agents say they don't want to receive science fiction. I don't think of my book as science fiction at all (not that there's anything wrong with that :) ), but should I avoid those agents who say they don't want those kinds of submissions?

Thanks again -- Matt
 

TaintedBoo

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Dogs Die.
This made me chuckle :D

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for us!

Are you seeing a comeback for any genres that have been considered dead in recent years?
 

katci13

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If the first sentence in the sample pages is of someone running through the woods, is that an automatic reject?

My story opens up with my MC running from the antagonist through the woods. They meet face to face a page later and the woods are an important part of the story, so it makes sense for me to start it that way. But I've recently seen a couple of agents say that it could be viewed as lazy on my part. But he's not running for no reason. Any thoughts?

Thanks for your help!
 

Debbie V

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I've heard a rumor that agents/editors are now thinking of picture books as for ages 2-4 or so rather than for ages 4-8. The indication is that parents are pushing their kids into chapter books by first grade, so picture books will have to skew younger. Have you been hearing this also? Does this effect the standard word targets and other factors in consideration for authors working on picture books? Does it impact the board book market?

Thank you for the insight into this and everything you've commented on so far.
 

Pamvhv

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Pam and Old Hack --

Thanks for the input. Since I'm here, I'll ask one more.

My book has a science fiction element to it -- it deals with parts of the space program -- but that's more a backdrop for the relationship between my protagonists. But it's hard to describe the book without mentioning the space elements. That said, a lot of agents say they don't want to receive science fiction. I don't think of my book as science fiction at all (not that there's anything wrong with that :) ), but should I avoid those agents who say they don't want those kinds of submissions?

Thanks again -- Matt

Plenty of agents love other things and scifi. Query them.
 

Pamvhv

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If the first sentence in the sample pages is of someone running through the woods, is that an automatic reject?

My story opens up with my MC running from the antagonist through the woods. They meet face to face a page later and the woods are an important part of the story, so it makes sense for me to start it that way. But I've recently seen a couple of agents say that it could be viewed as lazy on my part. But he's not running for no reason. Any thoughts?

Thanks for your help!

I don't know really. I personally wouldn't like to see someone running with no context.
 

Pamvhv

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I've heard a rumor that agents/editors are now thinking of picture books as for ages 2-4 or so rather than for ages 4-8. The indication is that parents are pushing their kids into chapter books by first grade, so picture books will have to skew younger. Have you been hearing this also? Does this effect the standard word targets and other factors in consideration for authors working on picture books? Does it impact the board book market?

Thank you for the insight into this and everything you've commented on so far.

I think people are always talking about the picture book market and to be honest it hasn't changed in a million years. You'll be fine if you have a great marketable book.
 

triceretops

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Pam, do you see New Adult becoming popular in spec genres, like SF, fantasy or even horror? I know that its gaining legs at the present, but it seems to be in college or contemporary settings, with more sexual exploration. Or if you do see story lines featuring 19 to 26 year-olds in genre fiction, do you just consider that adult reading?

Tri
 

Pamvhv

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Pam, do you see New Adult becoming popular in spec genres, like SF, fantasy or even horror? I know that its gaining legs at the present, but it seems to be in college or contemporary settings, with more sexual exploration. Or if you do see story lines featuring 19 to 26 year-olds in genre fiction, do you just consider that adult reading?

Tri

I sure hope so! But we'll have to wait and see.