STATUS: The pre-Bologna must-finish-all-stuff-before-I-leave-town rush has begun.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? MERCY by Duffy
I thought I would have a bit more time to blog tonight so my apologies for not tackling a ton of questions this round.
Compared to the first three months of last year, have you received more or less query letters in the first three months of 2010? What are the most common genres? What do you rarely see?
Yes, our query inbox has definitely grown from last year. This time in 2009, we were probably seeing 80 to 100 queries a day. Now it’s more like 100-150. I have no explanation for it. Perhaps we are on more people’s radar?
Most common genres? Young adult, romance, women’s fiction.
What I would like to see more of? Well written query letters. Grin. You knew I was going to say that. I’d say that easily 50% of stuff we get is for nonfiction or something else we don’t represent.
I’d love to see more queries for literary fiction with a commercial bent, middle grade, and more sf&f. I’d like to build in these areas (and yes we are still beefing our list in the above stuff as well.)
If a writer has gained success in one genre (over twenty novels that have made money, helped build a large fan base, and five contracts for five more books) and he/she wants to switch genres after the contractual obligations have been met because he/she always wanted to write mainstream, is this writer starting from scratch again? But more than that, would this writer be taking a huge chance by walking away from a good thing and trying to pursue another?
I’m a little leery about answering this question. There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Also, this is a conversation you really should be having with your current agent. Now having said that, I will try and answer—although my gut tells me that you already know the answers to your questions and perhaps you are simply looking for encouragement or validation as you walk this new path.
Of course the author would be taking a chance by walking away and starting something else. You already know that is the answer. My question is this: does it have to be one or the other? As in do you have to walk away or can you scale back the number of books in that genre in order to give yourself time to work on something mainstream?
Are you no longer passionate about the genre you are established in? If that is the case, then it may not be worth pursuing more books because your heart isn’t in it. What is your financial picture and can you afford to take a risk? Will fans of your current established genre be open to a move in a new direction? Can you live with that fact if the fans aren’t willing to follow you?
If you want to be safe, I’d keep a foot in your current genre and then test the waters with a new work that is more mainstream. If your heart isn’t in staying in the old genre than you just have to jump in and try it.
There are many stories where this has been successful for the author and I can probably highlight as many stories of where it hasn’t.
How much of your time do you spend reading query letters versus time spent blogging? I’m just wondering because there are several agents who blog every day and I often wonder where they find the time.
I actually don’t spend a lot of time reading queries. First off, we’ve hired a wonderful assistant named Anita. Her job is to read all queries that come in as we can get up to 150 a day. She sets aside the ones that Sara and I need to review. Given that, I try and check my query email inbox once a week. It usually takes me 15 minutes to read the queries there and decide if I want to ask for sample pages or not.
As for blogging, I give myself 20 to 30 minutes a day to write my one entry. That’s it.
How do you know if or when to resend something to an agent? Are you only supposed to resend a query when they ask you, or can you even when they don’t, if you’ve made extensive revisions?
Constance, I think if you extensively rework a query letter so it’s basically new, I’d resend it. My suggestion? Change the title to something new. Sometimes titles stand out and it will sound familiar. In terms of time span, if you submitted queries and have received mainly rejection responses, I’d revise significantly, wait about 3 weeks, then resend. What can an agent do? Track you down and chastise you for resubmitting? Grin. Be bold. Now if you are rejected numerous times by same agent. Move on. Lots of other agent fishes in the sea.
Oh, boy, I should triple check before I press send. Here’s the real question:
Would you consider SOMEONE published if they have worked as a writer for a book packager?
Yes. Especially if the book packager is a well-known company with a strong record.