Ask Pam van Hylckama Vlieg:

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

Corinne Duyvis

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I was in the same situation. All agents I approached were cool with it and got back to me very quickly. The agent I went with managed to increase my advance by 50%, and improved on the rights bought & royalty percentages as well. So yes, even without competition from other publishers, agents can do a lot for you!
 

BMajor

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Pam - you are truly a godsend. :Hail: Thank you for your precious time in answering all of our questions!

I've only begun on ideas for a trilogy but I'm already having trouble navigating NA hell (since I can't find as much support for it as I'd hoped.) Basically, I'm dealing with a Dystopian setting that has my MC arrested, sent to a prison city, dealing with gangs, and a huge society secret. *Nutshell* She also gets married, deals with bullying, love, yadda yadda. I'm finding this is quite a mix, but it encompasses much of the growing up aspect that I'm hoping to get across.

I had her pegged as early 20s, but knowing that NA isn't as defined a genre as I'd hoped it would be, would this constitute as YA? My hope is NA.. just to clarify. I really don't want her dropping to 17.. THANKS!
 

Tromboli

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I'm working on a post for my MG blog about jumping from YA to MG. It's a compilation of advice from different sources (mostly authors). I'd love your input. What do you think is the biggest difference between YA and MG? Any advice for authors who want to make the switch?
 

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I'm working on a post for my MG blog about jumping from YA to MG. It's a compilation of advice from different sources (mostly authors). I'd love your input. What do you think is the biggest difference between YA and MG? Any advice for authors who want to make the switch?

I think YA and MG go together naturally. The biggest difference for me is the coming of age. In YA you come of age and no longer need your parents/parental figures. For MG you come of age in a different way, still needing that support system for a few more years.
 

Aggy B.

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What's the protocol for sending a query more than once?

FREX: I've seen folks who have made big revisions to the MS so they write a new query and send it off to all the agents they tried previously.

But I see agents saying "I remember every query so don't send me another query on a project I already turned down."

And what if the MS is heavily revised but the query letter is the same? (So sample pages would be different/better, but the query is pretty much unchanged.)
 

Pamvhv

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Pam - you are truly a godsend. :Hail: Thank you for your precious time in answering all of our questions!

I've only begun on ideas for a trilogy but I'm already having trouble navigating NA hell (since I can't find as much support for it as I'd hoped.) Basically, I'm dealing with a Dystopian setting that has my MC arrested, sent to a prison city, dealing with gangs, and a huge society secret. *Nutshell* She also gets married, deals with bullying, love, yadda yadda. I'm finding this is quite a mix, but it encompasses much of the growing up aspect that I'm hoping to get across.

I had her pegged as early 20s, but knowing that NA isn't as defined a genre as I'd hoped it would be, would this constitute as YA? My hope is NA.. just to clarify. I really don't want her dropping to 17.. THANKS!

I don't think NA is viable for other genres yet. So I'd sub it as adult dystopian since she isn't YA age.
 

Pamvhv

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What's the protocol for sending a query more than once?

FREX: I've seen folks who have made big revisions to the MS so they write a new query and send it off to all the agents they tried previously.

But I see agents saying "I remember every query so don't send me another query on a project I already turned down."

And what if the MS is heavily revised but the query letter is the same? (So sample pages would be different/better, but the query is pretty much unchanged.)

I say that and I do remember every query. Photographic memory ;). The protocol is to say it has been revised significantly so this is a requery.
 

kkbe

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Hi, Pam. This is really generous of you, thank you.

I'm writing a novel right now, 12 y/o kid is the narrator but the novel is adult suspense. That's what I'd call it because it's suspenseful and it ain't for kids. . . is there a better description, though? I don't want to sound like a doofus. (Granted, my concern might be moot at this point. :))

Q2, relative to the same novel: The novel's written in first person, present tense for the most part. The kid's voice is unique, I'm taking liberties with sentence construction, grammar, blah blah. When I write my query I'd planned to inject some of that voice to reflect the kid's character and tone of the novel but now I'm second-guessing myself, thinking the thing might come across as gimicky or contrived. The alternative is to present the query from the POV of the antagonist, a horrible man but hey, he speaks well. Any thoughts?

Which brings me to a more general question relative to POVs in queries: Do you expect the query to reflect the mc's POV? Would you be put off at all if a writer presented her query via a secondary character's POV? Or would the *story* trump any concerns you might have? God willing, an agent would ask for pages and see relatively quickly who the mc is. But I don't want to mislead an agent in any way.

Thank you very much, Pam.

-kk
 

Pamvhv

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Hi, Pam. This is really generous of you, thank you.

I'm writing a novel right now, 12 y/o kid is the narrator but the novel is adult suspense. That's what I'd call it because it's suspenseful and it ain't for kids. . . is there a better description, though? I don't want to sound like a doofus. (Granted, my concern might be moot at this point. :))

Q2, relative to the same novel: The novel's written in first person, present tense for the most part. The kid's voice is unique, I'm taking liberties with sentence construction, grammar, blah blah. When I write my query I'd planned to inject some of that voice to reflect the kid's character and tone of the novel but now I'm second-guessing myself, thinking the thing might come across as gimicky or contrived. The alternative is to present the query from the POV of the antagonist, a horrible man but hey, he speaks well. Any thoughts?

Which brings me to a more general question relative to POVs in queries: Do you expect the query to reflect the mc's POV? Would you be put off at all if a writer presented her query via a secondary character's POV? Or would the *story* trump any concerns you might have? God willing, an agent would ask for pages and see relatively quickly who the mc is. But I don't want to mislead an agent in any way.

Thank you very much, Pam.

-kk

I liked ROOM, and DAMNED they both had young narrators and are adult novels.

I also want to hear from you not your characters. We're going to be the one working together.
 

kkbe

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Thank you for your prompt response, Pam.

I read ROOM. So, calling my novel Adult Fiction/Suspense might work?

As for voice in one's query, I understand completely that an agent wants to hear from the writer. But I always thought that the best queries multitask. Not only do they present the gist of a novel, but they showcase the writer's skill at putting words and sentences together in an interesting and compelling way and yeah, reflect the tone of the novel and give a real sense of the mc. In QLH, there seems to be a general consensus that "voice" is really important in a query. I have a query out right now that I struggled with, based entirely on those assumptions.

Specifics plucked from the novel, the character's voice, stuff like that are what make one novel unique amidst the hundred others wallowing in the slush. So I'm confused a bit because it sounds like you are advocating straight, to the point queries without . . . I don't know how to put it. Without regard to characterization, maybe? Nuance? Am I totally missing the boat here?

Again, thank you very much, Pam.

-kk
 
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Pamvhv

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Thank you for your prompt response, Pam.

I read ROOM. So, calling my novel Adult Fiction/Suspense might work?

As for voice in one's query, I understand completely that an agent wants to hear from the writer. But I always thought that the best queries multitask. Not only do they present the gist of a novel, but they showcase the writer's skill at putting words and sentences together in an interesting and compelling way and yeah, reflect the tone of the novel and give a real sense of the mc. In QLH, there seems to be a general consensus that "voice" is really important in a query. I have a query out right now that I struggled with, based entirely on those assumptions.

Specifics plucked from the novel, the character's voice, stuff like that are what make one novel unique amidst the hundred others wallowing in the slush. So I'm confused a bit because it sounds like you are advocating straight, to the point queries without . . . I don't know how to put it. Without regard to characterization, maybe? Nuance? Am I totally missing the boat here?

Again, thank you very much, Pam.

-kk

The Hook - logline
The Book - A paragraph or two about your book
The Cook - a bit about you

That's it. One page, try not to make the agent scroll ;)
 

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Okay, so this thread pretty much confirms my suspicions that my boss is the coolest ever.

Writers, you're in good hands here. Pam is da bomb. ;)
 

GeekTells

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Thanks for your generous time, Pam.

I'm unsure of how to properly phrase this question, but I'm going with this: how is the market for character-driven SciFi?

Thanks in advance!
 

EarlyBird

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Here's the scenario. Author A queries you with a novel you really like and think could sell like gangbusters, but the author doesn't have another novel in them for quite some time (if ever). Author B queries you with a novel you love, but thinks it would only be a moderate success, but the other has other quality pieces in the pipes.

What matters most to you when you are making your decision: How much you connect with a piece? The novel's sell factor? Or The author's production rate?
Piggyback question to the above: Is it advisable to mention a writer has/is working on other novels when querying a MS? If so, how does one do that?

I'm revising my MS and will be requerying, per agent's suggestion, and would like to let her know I've got a few other MS in the works.

Thank you for all your input here!
 

Pamvhv

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Thanks for your generous time, Pam.

I'm unsure of how to properly phrase this question, but I'm going with this: how is the market for character-driven SciFi?

Thanks in advance!

I think there's a great market for well written sci-fi right now that is character driven!
 

Pamvhv

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Piggyback question to the above: Is it advisable to mention a writer has/is working on other novels when querying a MS? If so, how does one do that?

I'm revising my MS and will be requerying, per agent's suggestion, and would like to let her know I've got a few other MS in the works.

Thank you for all your input here!

I suppose you can mention it but it is putting the cart before the horse a bit. She/he will ask about that when rep is offered. It doesn't hurt to let them know early though :).
 

Krazykat

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Hi Pam. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer questions here.

I don't mean to rehash the same issue, but I thought kkbe had a very valid questionespecially considering how much most of us agonize over query letters! And I wanted to comment on this because I think some folks here might find this a bit confusing.

The Hook - logline
The Book - A paragraph or two about your book
The Cook - a bit about you

That's it. One page, try not to make the agent scroll ;)

'The hook, the book, and the cook' is the query-writing formula I was taught over twenty years ago. In the past year I've spent countless hours researching queries and reading query critiques online, both on sites like Query Shark, and here in AW in 'Query Letter Hell', where I've also tried my hand at helping others with their queries.

The consensus seems to be that the modern query has evolved away from the old formula, and you might say a complex 'culture' has developed in QLH with regards to what makes a good query letter. For example, there is a big emphasis put on voice, and using a 'logline' as a hook is generally frowned upon. I imagine that the 'squirrels' here in QLHas those who offer their critiques are jokingly calledare often more demanding than many agents, but the process has certainly helped many people write successful queries.

Naturally you can't speak for all agents, and I've seen plenty of queries that Janet Reid and others have liked that broke many of the rules, both old and new. (Taking five paragraphs to summarize the book, for instance.) And some agents do stress that they look for a strong voice in a query, or that they enjoy seeing unusual, creative queries (as long as they're done well!).

But based on your answers to kkbe's questions, I can't help but wonder . . . From your point of view, would you perhaps say that we're all trying a little too hard, and you'd be happy to see simple 'old fashioned' queries? That is, brief business-like queries that make no attempt to reflect the style or 'voice' of the book itself?
 

ap123

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Hi Pam. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer questions here.

I don't mean to rehash the same issue, but I thought kkbe had a very valid questionespecially considering how much most of us agonize over query letters! And I wanted to comment on this because I think some folks here might find this a bit confusing.



'The hook, the book, and the cook' is the query-writing formula I was taught over twenty years ago. In the past year I've spent countless hours researching queries and reading query critiques online, both on sites like Query Shark, and here in AW in 'Query Letter Hell', where I've also tried my hand at helping others with their queries.

The consensus seems to be that the modern query has evolved away from the old formula, and you might say a complex 'culture' has developed in QLH with regards to what makes a good query letter. For example, there is a big emphasis put on voice, and using a 'logline' as a hook is generally frowned upon. I imagine that the 'squirrels' here in QLHas those who offer their critiques are jokingly calledare often more demanding than many agents, but the process has certainly helped many people write successful queries.

Naturally you can't speak for all agents, and I've seen plenty of queries that Janet Reid and others have liked that broke many of the rules, both old and new. (Taking five paragraphs to summarize the book, for instance.) And some agents do stress that they look for a strong voice in a query, or that they enjoy seeing unusual, creative queries (as long as they're done well!).

But based on your answers to kkbe's questions, I can't help but wonder . . . From your point of view, would you perhaps say that we're all trying a little too hard, and you'd be happy to see simple 'old fashioned' queries? That is, brief business-like queries that make no attempt to reflect the style or 'voice' of the book itself?

Following this with great interest. I also originally learned the hook, book, cook style of querying (though I learned the query should reflect the style of the book being queried).
 

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I to am very interested in the answers to KrazyKat's question.

:popcorn:
 

Pamvhv

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Hi Pam. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer questions here.

I don't mean to rehash the same issue, but I thought kkbe had a very valid questionespecially considering how much most of us agonize over query letters! And I wanted to comment on this because I think some folks here might find this a bit confusing.



'The hook, the book, and the cook' is the query-writing formula I was taught over twenty years ago. In the past year I've spent countless hours researching queries and reading query critiques online, both on sites like Query Shark, and here in AW in 'Query Letter Hell', where I've also tried my hand at helping others with their queries.

The consensus seems to be that the modern query has evolved away from the old formula, and you might say a complex 'culture' has developed in QLH with regards to what makes a good query letter. For example, there is a big emphasis put on voice, and using a 'logline' as a hook is generally frowned upon. I imagine that the 'squirrels' here in QLHas those who offer their critiques are jokingly calledare often more demanding than many agents, but the process has certainly helped many people write successful queries.

Naturally you can't speak for all agents, and I've seen plenty of queries that Janet Reid and others have liked that broke many of the rules, both old and new. (Taking five paragraphs to summarize the book, for instance.) And some agents do stress that they look for a strong voice in a query, or that they enjoy seeing unusual, creative queries (as long as they're done well!).

But based on your answers to kkbe's questions, I can't help but wonder . . . From your point of view, would you perhaps say that we're all trying a little too hard, and you'd be happy to see simple 'old fashioned' queries? That is, brief business-like queries that make no attempt to reflect the style or 'voice' of the book itself?

Every client I've signed from the slush has broken all the rules in one way or another. The very basic thing an agent wants to see is clear concise genre, hook, and what makes your book different. You want them to request pages.

As far as I know writing in your character's voice is a no-no for everyone.

Every query class I've given or sat in on still preaches the simple formula.

I do think there's a lot of stress for them and it isn't needed.

If you send out a query batch of ten and get no requests and your genre isn't a dead genre then redo the query. :)