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Thread: Ask Lucienne Diver! Guest agent arriving week of January 15th

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  1. #1
    Ooo! Shiny new cover! Absolute Sage Cathy C's Avatar
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    Ask Lucienne Diver! Guest agent arriving week of January 15th

    Here's your chance, folks! Lucienne Diver of Spectrum Literary Agency will be here the week of January 15th to answer all your questions about . . . well, agenting things!

    Here's a little more about her, from her own mouth:

    Lucienne Diver is a long time book addict who went to work for Spectrum Literary Agency nearly fourteen years ago to feed her habit. She now represents over forty authors of commercial fiction, primarily in the areas of romance, fantasy, mystery and suspense. Clients include Marjorie M. Liu, Susan Krinard, Rachel Caine, Carol Berg and Lynn Flewelling. Her alphabet soup of memberships includes AAR, RWA, MWA and SFWA. Further information is available on the website: www.spectrumliteraryagency.com.

    So, get those engines revving and come up with some awesome questions to ask Ms. Diver!
    Want FREE reads? Click here!

    Smiles!
    Cathy Clamp
    USA Today bestselling author
    ILLICIT, coming 7/16!
    My Website
    Follow me: Twitter
    Now on Facebook! Come friend me!



    "An entertaining (and occasionally very dark) mystery." -- Locus

    "[Shapeshifter] fans are about to hit the jackpot as Clamp returns to re-energize this amazing series. Searching for layered plotlines and complex characters? Look no further, as Clamp truly delivers!" -- RT BookReviews

    "Cathy Clamp is a visionary author, creating new worlds that are both strong and vividly drawn. Adventure and excitement at its best." -- Yasmine Galenorn, New York Times Bestselling Author

    "A struggling community under attack, compelling action, characters struggling with dark secrets ... FORBIDDEN hit all my favorite notes, and I love the rich world of the Sazi!" - Rachel Caine, New York Times Bestselling Author

  2. #2
    Li'l Rug Bug clara bow's Avatar
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    thanks so much! (sniff--she rejected me twice--2 queries--within a month, but i look forward to her wisdom).

  3. #3
    Will write for chocolate FloVoyager's Avatar
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    Cool.

  4. #4
    wishes you happiness JennaGlatzer's Avatar
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    Hi Lucienne, and thanks so much for joining us!

    I'm wondering about fiction writers who cross over to nonfiction and vice versa. Am I right in assuming that writing credits in one wouldn't make a whole lot of difference when trying to sell the other? (That is, if I'd written nonfiction books, it wouldn't be of much help in selling a novel?) And as a part 2 of that question, do booksellers pay attention to that when ordering an author's new book in a new genre? (Do they take into account sales of the author's self-help book when the author's debut novel comes out?)

    Thanks!
    I am no longer here. If you'd like to visit me, please find me at www.jennaglatzer.com or on Facebook. Thanks!

  5. #5
    She of Many Names Irysangel's Avatar
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    Hi Lucienne!

    You represent a variety of books from romance to SF to everything in between. Is there a particular sub-genre or plot device that you have a weakness for? Something in particular you can't stand?

    Thanks!
    The Girl's Guide to (Man)Hunting - Available May 1, 2012. Amazon | B&N |Goodreads

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  6. #6
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    Thank you for dropping by Lucienne

    I would like to know your view on whether to include the five first pages of the work in a query letter as advised in some quarters.

  7. #7
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    Response for Waylander

    It's best to stick with whatever an agency or publisher's guidelines list so that you're not counted out for lack of research. However, if the guidelines give you the option of including material, I strongly recommend it. Often the difference between merely okay and =wow= is in the voice, which is very difficult to get across in a query letter.

    Quote Originally Posted by waylander
    Thank you for dropping by Lucienne

    I would like to know your view on whether to include the five first pages of the work in a query letter as advised in some quarters.

  8. #8
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    Response for Irysangel

    My husband calls me a "mystery slut." I love a mystery, love forensics, love suspense – in all genres. The fantasy novels I represent tend to have conspiracy and skullduggery. My romances tend to have a bit of a mystery or an intriguing paranormal element. My sf often reads like thrillers. I also love quirky, but it can be very difficult to pull off and stay believable. What I can't stand: logic gaps. If I can't suspend my disbelief, I can't fall in love with the narrative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Irysangel
    Hi Lucienne!

    You represent a variety of books from romance to SF to everything in between. Is there a particular sub-genre or plot device that you have a weakness for? Something in particular you can't stand?

    Thanks!

  9. #9
    It's a dorky day! writerterri's Avatar
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    Hello Lucienne!

    I don't have anything to put in my credentials. What else do you look for in an unpublished house wife of three, when it comes to querying?

    Thanks in advance,

    Terri (writes in children's genre)
    I'm not middle aged. I'm middle seasoned. TL Wies

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    Awesome new stuff just posted! TerriberriOriginals.etsy.com


    Now that the hard stuff is out of the way, the easy stuff should be all up hill. TL Wies

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  10. #10
    figuring it all out
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    Wonderful writing, great characters and a fantastic storyline, the same things I look for in all queries, regardless of credentials. Credits might help you get read sooner or with more attention, but it's the work that has to speak for itself every time.

    Quote Originally Posted by writerterri
    Hello Lucienne!

    I don't have anything to put in my credentials. What else do you look for in an unpublished house wife of three, when it comes to querying?

    Thanks in advance,

    Terri (writes in children's genre)

  11. #11
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    It's always helpful to an agent or editor to know your credentials, but you're right, credits from non-fiction don't necessarily cross to fiction -- unless, of course, you're a world-renowned archaeologist writing Clive Cussler type suspense or the country's top heart surgeon writing medical thrillers. A platform or background that gives your work credibility can work in your favor, especially if this will translate to promotional opportunities beyond what a debut novelist can generally expect. Bookstores always seem to look at how an author's last work did, but I'm not sure how much stock they'll put in that from one genre to another.

    Quote Originally Posted by JennaGlatzer
    Hi Lucienne, and thanks so much for joining us!

    I'm wondering about fiction writers who cross over to nonfiction and vice versa. Am I right in assuming that writing credits in one wouldn't make a whole lot of difference when trying to sell the other? (That is, if I'd written nonfiction books, it wouldn't be of much help in selling a novel?) And as a part 2 of that question, do booksellers pay attention to that when ordering an author's new book in a new genre? (Do they take into account sales of the author's self-help book when the author's debut novel comes out?)

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Hi Ms. Diver,

    Thanks so much for coming.

    I wondered, is there anything you're really tired of seeing? Any type of character or plot point you're just not interested in anymore?

    Conversely, what are you particularly interested in seeing? I know it's a bit like Irysangel's question, but I'm more curious as to where you see the genre heading in the next couple of years, or what books nobody's writing but you wish someone would (Nadia Cornier posts these sometimes on her blog, as do the ladies at BookEnds. I wondered if you had thoughts in that direction as well.)

    Thanks again!
    http://www.staciakane.com

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  13. #13
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    Response for December Quinn

    Unless you can give me a really new twist, I'm kinda jaded about marriages of convenience and inherited house stories. That said, I can think of some published examples of these storylines that I've loved, but the point is that they've been done and it takes a lot to make them fresh and convincing.

    As far as what I'd like to see…. I feel like I've found a couple of those "books I wish someone would write" recently – PROM DATES FROM HELL by Rosemary Clement Moore (debut, March 2007), which is Veronica Mars meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, BOBBIE FAYE'S VERY (very very very) BAD DAY by Toni McGee Causey (debut, May 2007), which is a non-stop suspense and laugh riot featuring a Cajun trailer-trash beauty queen having the worst day ever, a dark and wonderful new fantasy series by paranormal romance bestseller Marjorie M. Liu forthcoming in 2008. I could go on and on. The short answer, though, is that I won't know the next thing I'll just have to have until I see it. I wasn't really doing mainstream literary/commercial fiction until I read Charles R. Davis' moving ANGEL'S REST. As far as trends, it's better to lead than to follow. Like fads, it's difficult to predict what the next big thing will be. My Magic Eight Ball says "wait and see," but I think it's just taunting me <g>.

    Quote Originally Posted by DecemberQuinn
    Hi Ms. Diver,

    Thanks so much for coming.

    I wondered, is there anything you're really tired of seeing? Any type of character or plot point you're just not interested in anymore?

    Conversely, what are you particularly interested in seeing? I know it's a bit like Irysangel's question, but I'm more curious as to where you see the genre heading in the next couple of years, or what books nobody's writing but you wish someone would (Nadia Cornier posts these sometimes on her blog, as do the ladies at BookEnds. I wondered if you had thoughts in that direction as well.)

    Thanks again!

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW KCH's Avatar
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    Hi Lucienne.

    Can you give us an idea of the factors that you, or agents in general, leverage during negotiations to entice publishers to allocate larger budgets for promotion? Aside from an author expressing willingness to use existing platform and/or be proactive with the standard marketing stuff, are there things that might influence the disposition to be generous?

    Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise.
    KCH

  15. #15
    Ooo! Shiny new cover! Absolute Sage Cathy C's Avatar
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    Hi, Lucienne!

    One question that comes up here a lot has to do with subsidy POD/self-published titles. Are you willing to represent a novel that has already been offered for sale to the public with an ISBN, but has had less than 1,000 total sales? If so, under what conditions? If not, is there anything the author can do to turn a self-published/subsidy novel into something you WOULD represent (major edits, changing the title, changing the character's names, etc.?)

    Thanks!
    Want FREE reads? Click here!

    Smiles!
    Cathy Clamp
    USA Today bestselling author
    ILLICIT, coming 7/16!
    My Website
    Follow me: Twitter
    Now on Facebook! Come friend me!



    "An entertaining (and occasionally very dark) mystery." -- Locus

    "[Shapeshifter] fans are about to hit the jackpot as Clamp returns to re-energize this amazing series. Searching for layered plotlines and complex characters? Look no further, as Clamp truly delivers!" -- RT BookReviews

    "Cathy Clamp is a visionary author, creating new worlds that are both strong and vividly drawn. Adventure and excitement at its best." -- Yasmine Galenorn, New York Times Bestselling Author

    "A struggling community under attack, compelling action, characters struggling with dark secrets ... FORBIDDEN hit all my favorite notes, and I love the rich world of the Sazi!" - Rachel Caine, New York Times Bestselling Author

  16. #16
    Li'l Rug Bug clara bow's Avatar
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    Thanks for spending time here with us, Ms. Diver!

    Any favorite lines or great turns of phrases that have stuck with you from books you've sold? In addition to learning about what type of plots/characters excite you, I'm interested in what style of writing (i.e., craft) excites you.

  17. #17
    Not harboring illegal parrot awatkins's Avatar
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    Welcome, Ms. Diver! Thank you for your time.

    Here are a few questions:

    1. Do you have established guidelines on manuscript format?

    2. What are your thoughts about enclosing sample pages with query letters? Are you for or against the practice?

    3. Are you open to cross-genre books within your field? If so, how do you go about choosing which publishers to approach?

  18. #18
    Five by Five katiemac's Avatar
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    Hi Lucienne, thank you for joining us!

    I've seen a few discussions lately that deal with the query letter and a character's sexuality. For example, if a main character is gay but his sexuality has little bearing on the plot, would you rather see this information for the first time in the query letter or in the sample pages? I've seen similiar concerns regarding a character's race.

  19. #19
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    1- There's a good article up at http://www.speculations.com/format.html on manuscript formatting. I pretty much agree except that there's a symbol for em-dashes that you can use instead of double dashes. Basically: unbound standard sized paper with one-inch margins, 12 point font unless you're talking Times New Roman, which is tiny, the title/your name and a page number on the top of each sheet.

    2- Condensation of previous post: if the guidelines of the company you're submitting to allow this, I'm all for it.

    3- A lot of what I do is cross-genre. The publisher I approach depends on the material and the editor. For a supernatural mystery, for example, I might approach mystery editors at one house and fantasy editors at another, depending on tastes, needs and the balance of fantasy vs. mystery elements.

    Quote Originally Posted by awatkins
    Welcome, Ms. Diver! Thank you for your time.

    Here are a few questions:

    1. Do you have established guidelines on manuscript format?

    2. What are your thoughts about enclosing sample pages with query letters? Are you for or against the practice?

    3. Are you open to cross-genre books within your field? If so, how do you go about choosing which publishers to approach?

  20. #20
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    Response to Clara Bow

    I mentioned ANGEL'S REST in a previous post. What got me there was the voice. The book begins: "People said he was crazy. He'd come down from Angel's Rest a couple times a week and folks cleared the sidewalks when he passed. Hollis lived alone in a tar-papered plywood shack halfway up the mountain next to the reservoir. Most of the town was scared of him. I was too, even before Daddy died and rumors started floating all over town." Oooh, intrigue.

    Then there's Raymond Chandler, who could turn a phrase like nobody's business. His similes…ah, his similes. When Raymond Chandler told you what something was like, you =understood=.

    Robert A. Heinlein's THE CAT WHO WALKED THROUGH WALLS has some of the best dialogue of all times, including some wonderful lines about writing I've never forgotten (but looked up anyway to be sure I wouldn't misquote). When the protagonists' new wife asks him why he writes, he says "because it hurts less to write than it does not to write." When she still doesn't understand, the dialogue continues:

    "I didn't either, when I took that first fatal step—a short story, it was, and I honestly thought I could quit anytime. Nevermind, dear. In another ten years you will understand. Just pay no attention to me when I whimper. Doesn't mean anything – just the monkey on my back."

    "Richard, would psychoanalysis help?"

    "Can't risk it. I once knew a writer who tried that route. Cured him of writing all right. But did not cure him of the need to write. The last I saw of him he was crouching in a corner, trembling. That was his good phase. But the mere sight of a wordprocessor would throw him into a fit."

    Quote Originally Posted by clara bow
    Thanks for spending time here with us, Ms. Diver!

    Any favorite lines or great turns of phrases that have stuck with you from books you've sold? In addition to learning about what type of plots/characters excite you, I'm interested in what style of writing (i.e., craft) excites you.

  21. #21
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    P.S. to response

    P.S. It's probably clear, but just in case -- I didn't sell the Heinlein or Chandler, of course. Just love them both.

    Quote Originally Posted by clara bow
    Thanks for spending time here with us, Ms. Diver!

    Any favorite lines or great turns of phrases that have stuck with you from books you've sold? In addition to learning about what type of plots/characters excite you, I'm interested in what style of writing (i.e., craft) excites you.

  22. #22
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    Subsidy and self-publishing

    Christopher Paolini's bestselling novel Eragon was originally self-published. So, yes, I'm willing to look at novels that have been self-published and I know that others are as well. To me the biggest obstacle to this format is overcoming expectations. Generally when a publishing professional sees a bound book that hasn't been printed by a major house, their expectation is that the author tried and failed at conventional routes previously. This may not be the case, but it is a bias you may have to overcome. Also, a bound book seems much more immutable than a manuscript and psychologically, the reader may expect it to be closer to print-ready than an unbound script. All of that said, the most important things are the writing and storylines themselves. If a reader falls in love with the material, the format won't matter a whit.

    As far as subsidy et. al., I strongly urge anyone considering this path to check out the publishers on the www.anotherealm.com/prededitors site before committing to anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cathy C
    Hi, Lucienne!

    One question that comes up here a lot has to do with subsidy POD/self-published titles. Are you willing to represent a novel that has already been offered for sale to the public with an ISBN, but has had less than 1,000 total sales? If so, under what conditions? If not, is there anything the author can do to turn a self-published/subsidy novel into something you WOULD represent (major edits, changing the title, changing the character's names, etc.?)

    Thanks!

  23. #23
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    Promotion budget

    If you're able to get multiple bidders on a project, you've definitely got the clout to make promotional plans part of the negotiation, though probably not the contract unless maybe you've spent weeks in the #1 slot on the Times list. Basically, everyone wants to see books do well. Sometimes this means spending a lot of money, though more usually it means spending a limited budget wisely with targeted marketing, reaching the largest pool of the most likely audience for your books. There are some things that are relatively expensive (an ad in the New York Times Book Review Section, for example) that don’t make as much difference with many types of books as you'd think. Then there are some relatively inexpensive options, like web promotion, that may make a huge difference. The important thing isn't the money so much as how it's spent.

    Quote Originally Posted by KCH
    Hi Lucienne.

    Can you give us an idea of the factors that you, or agents in general, leverage during negotiations to entice publishers to allocate larger budgets for promotion? Aside from an author expressing willingness to use existing platform and/or be proactive with the standard marketing stuff, are there things that might influence the disposition to be generous?

    Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise.
    KCH

  24. #24
    haz own threads Little Red Barn's Avatar
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    Ms Diver,
    Thank you for coming to AW and welcome.
    Right now my problem involves a memoir. Three agents have asked for it and another requested yesterday.
    I want my proposal strong because one of the agents is letting me resubmit. Another is kindly waiting as I asked.
    I can not find books out there and am having trouble with this part of the proposal, as my walk barefoot in the snow, go hungry memoir is history happening. In other words it's not been written. There are a few but none really relate or come close.
    This is so important because I have to bring it to the table with comparatives... The rest of proposal is fine.
    Any advice is appreciated.



    hugs kimmi

  25. #25
    figuring it all out
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    I don't actually represent non-fiction, so I may not be the best person to answer your question, but my feeling has always been that when you contact an agent, what you're doing is hiring an expert in your field to represent your work. If the agents you're contacting don't know about the market comparisons, they're probably not right for you. In other words, I'm not sure you have to knock yourself out coming up with them or making them exact. Write a kick-butt memoir and once you've gotten yourself an agent, he or she should be able to help you with this. Kristin Nelson, who has a great blog at http://pubrants.blogspot.com/ would probably be able to address this better than I would, since I believe she represents memoirs.

    Quote Originally Posted by kimmi 57
    Ms Diver,
    Thank you for coming to AW and welcome.
    Right now my problem involves a memoir. Three agents have asked for it and another requested yesterday.
    I want my proposal strong because one of the agents is letting me resubmit. Another is kindly waiting as I asked.
    I can not find books out there and am having trouble with this part of the proposal, as my walk barefoot in the snow, go hungry memoir is history happening. In other words it's not been written. There are a few but none really relate or come close.
    This is so important because I have to bring it to the table with comparatives... The rest of proposal is fine.
    Any advice is appreciated.



    hugs kimmi

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