Apparently I don’t hold up well under peer pressure….
It’s August, I am about to head out for vacation, and I’m excited to come back in September and finish 2014 with a bang.
So you asked for it: Can you handle the truth?
What am I talking about?
I always hear from writers that they want to know what an agent is really thinking when they click to send a form rejection.
If you fall into that category, this is your chance.
When I’m back from vacation, I will respond to the queries I receive in complete honesty. I will either request your manuscript or I will pass and tell you exactly why.
No form rejection.
Now, this isn’t a critique. Please don’t expect that. I would never again see the light of day.
This is just an honest response to your query, but if you’ve been getting a lot of form rejections, this might tell you why. (hopefully it’ll be at least a little helpful?)
You may see something as simple as “Not bad, but just not for me.” or “I don’t represent legal thrillers.” or “Mermaids creep me out.” OR you may see something like “I don’t understand your plot” or “I stopped reading when you mentioned that the mailman was a vampire space zombie who has come to deliver a message of PAIN. Because come on…seriously?”
So, if you want the truth, query me for the next week (so right now until 11:59 pm EST on Saturday 8/30) and follow the directions very carefully.
- Queries must be submitted to Query(at)newleafliterary(dot)com.
- All queries entered must have this in the subject line: QUERY SUZIE - I can handle the truth
- If it does not have this in the subject line, it will be considered a regular query only.
- Queries must be in the body of the email. NO attachments!
- Queries should include the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email below your query.
- One query per writer please. (Don’t think you can trick me with different email addresses either)
I will make an announcement when I have responded to all the queries. I’ll be aiming to have them all answered by Sunday 9/7.
- Yes, if you’ve already been rejected by me (or someone else at New Leaf) you may resubmit your query. But revise your query first. Don’t say “You already rejected me…” Treat it like you’ve never queried her before.
- Your queries will NOT be posted on this or any other blog. I will reply to you via your e-mail, only. (Make sure your email doesn’t require me to fill out some form to prove I’m not a spammer—I’m not going to go that above and beyond to get back to you).
- You must treat this as an actual query process, which means you need to have a complete manuscript. If I do request your manuscript, I don’t want to find out there isn’t one!
Okay, ready go!
I'm working on a MG Fantasy shaping up to be 85k words. Based on word-count research, I think most ppl will say it's too long. There's a big reveal half way through where I could split into 2 books, the first ending with a cliffhanger. But, this obviously leaves Book 1 unable to be a standalone. What is your take on this type of situation? Is a cliffhanger something a publisher would go for? I should add, that beyond this 1 (possibly 2 books), there's also series potential. Thank you!— Anonymous
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly is long for a MG fantasy, but it’s so good that it’s ok.
So just make your book impossible to turn down :)
I'm a little confused on what's truly marketable , because it seems that most times agents are simply asking for THEIR own personal preferences and exclude other material. For example, I've seen enthusiastic contemp requests and huge put-downs on sci-fi or genres deemed as "dead." I've heard that editors won't touch dystopia. A lot of what's accepted or rejected just seem based on personal reading tastes or "fatigue." Would you agree that this somewhat forces the market in a certain direction?— Anonymous
I can see why you feel this way.
Yes a lot of agents and editors who go on personal reading tastes. BUT we wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t have marketable taste.
For instance if as an agent if my personal taste didn’t match what was marketable, I would not be able to make enough money to keep agenting.
Editors at publishing houses also have to have marketable tastes—they pitch books they want to acquire to their boss and/or the marketing and sales department and they have to fill out a Profit and Loss statement which justifies how marketable (in dollars) a book is likely to be before making an offer.
Now sometimes you do find personal tastes excluding certain books. For instance, mermaids creep me out. I usually say not to send me a mermaid book. The chances are that I’m going to get hung up on how they’re talking underwater or something silly and not enjoy the story. But the good news for mermaid writers—there are a lot of other agents out there. Many of whom do not find mermaid romance super creepy.
Things that are “dead” or genres that are “fatigued” is largely based on actual book buyers, not editors and agents. I know you’re hearing it from us and we’re hearing it from editors, but editors are hearing it from their sales team, who is hearing it from the accounts (bookstores), and bookstores are seeing it from the readers who come in and don’t buy that genre.
So, I personally really enjoy paranormal romance. (even I’m a little sick of angels, but I love a great vampire story! or werewolves! or the fey!) In fact, I just finished Night Broken by Patricia Briggs and I would love to read a cool twist on a Buffy meets Supernatural type story for teens. As a reader.
As an agent, I know that as much as I might like that, right now, I can’t sell it.
Would it be "settling" to accept an offer of representation from an agent whose sales do not reflect a high success rate, nor deals in the genre of the book in question or the genres you hope to write in the future? If you think you believe in the book and that it would have a better chance of success with someone else-- even someone you haven't queried yet-- would it be ridiculous to decline the offer even without another offer on the table?— Anonymous
No. Not settling. Thankfully for me, lovely and talented authors like Lisa Desrochers and Kristin Halbrook both signed with me before I had any sales yet. The key is to do your research and make sure an agent with no sales works at an agency with sales.
And feel free to talk to current clients of the agent and get a feel for whether the agent would be the right fit.
Agents, like authors, all have to start somewhere.
I have an opposite question from the Anon writer who had multiple agents. As writers we have to believe in our projects. We write a second or third novel. Improve our craft. Read volumes. But how long (generally) should one keep plugging their 1st story before they switch to querying their second or third project? (Thank you).— Anonymous
This really depends. I can’t answer it for you. Keep working on and querying book 1 and in the mean time, write and revise and revise book 2 and at some point, if you’re feeling like book 2 is the way to go, close out the queries for book 1 and start researching to query book 2. Then start working on book 3, etc.
What kind of qualifications do you look for in editors? I would like to be an author some point down the line, but until then I need to make some money. I am really quite good with language and grammar, and I thought it might be a good way to stay immersed in something I like (literature) while making money.— bluestockingbookworm
We don’t hire editors—that’s a publishing house.
Also I wouldn’t say that you want to be an author but are interested in making money—at least not as the reason you want to be an editor. While a lot of people in this industry also write, none of us expect to get rich in publishing, and we all want to work with people who are interested in the industry for the long haul.
I was the Anon who asked about sending out multiple Queries for two different stories. (Like casting out two fishing lines at once). Your answer gave me perfect advice. Thank you. I hadn't asked the Q as a challenge--more like, it sounded wrong, but why. You answered it. So, I will sit patiently in my boat with one line waiting for something to bite. Thanks again.— Anonymous
oh good :) I’m glad I wasn’t too antagonistic :)
are your internships typically for college credit only?— Anonymous
No. Most of our interns actually have graduated.