STATUS: How can you not feel joyous with 70 degree weather in March? Chutney and I skipped home from the office.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? RUNAWAY TRAIN by Soul Asylum
Just diving right into the questions today.
Shelley Watters asked:
1. As far as re-querying an agent – if a writer queries an agent for a story and is rejected, how long should they wait before submitting a new project (not the rejected one but an entirely new project) to that agent? It seems that agents differ on their answers to this question.
Of course we all differ on what the answer would be. That’s why publishing is so maddening to writers. For me, I’d say wait 4 weeks, then query with new project. But here’s the kicker. DO NOT mention that you have queried the agency before. Act like this is the first query ever that you are sending us. We get 150 queries a day. Chances are very good we won’t remember your name (unless you have a really unique name that is!) Writers for some reason feel obligated to tell us their whole prior history of our rejecting their queries. Don’t be seduced!
2. I understand that a writer/agent relationship is not simply for one book, but hopefully for the entire career of the writer. I write across genres (from children’s picture books to young adult novels to adult novels). I have been submitting my picture books to agents that specialize in picture books. If I manage to get an agent for the picture books but they do not represent YA novels, does that mean I have to start the querying process all over again?
I have to say I’d be a little surprised if an agent who reps picture books doesn’t also rep other children’s projects. Let’s say imagine they don’t and you have an agent for your picture book but also want him/her to shop a YA. I’d talk with the agent first and ascertain comfort level to do that. I know a lot of agents who specialize in children’s but will also rep an adult project by a current client and can do so quite successfully.
I have several YA and MG authors. If any of them had a picture book, I would shop it for them although in general I don’t want to take on clients for just picture books. It’s a really tough thing to sell.
Is there a specific market for YA nonfiction?
Yes there is but it’s significantly smaller than the market for fiction.
I personally have a memoir (250 pgs) that I would love to target for High School Family Studies. It’s sort of like “Tuesday’s with Morrie” & “The Last Lecture” but as if written by Erma Bombeck -and no one dies until 46 years later – and it chronicles a happy family life after the traumatic event that shaped them… and no one did drugs, or got too depressed or… but boy is there conflict and drama. 🙂
And of course memoir would be THE toughest thing to sell in a YA market but it has been done. In fact, I took some time to look up a few titles that I had seen recently for teens but couldn’t remember the exact titles. A quick search on Amazon and BN didn’t yield much. That shows what you are up against. I ended up not being able to find the titles I was thinking about as I couldn’t remember the either author’s name–just the subject matter of each memoir.
I’m curious to how you would handle an author who writes mainstream romance novels and multicultural romance novels under separate pseudonyms.
I’m not sure I understand the question. Authors use multiple pseudonyms often. There’s nothing special about “handling” it. An agent would just need to make sure that option clauses were restricted for the two genres so the author doesn’t get in trouble with the publishers over it. Also, agent would have to modify the no compete clause in both contracts to accommodate as well.
Are you open to queries from Asian countries as well?
Heidi Wesman Kneale asked:
We all know it’s a hooky voice that gets an agent/editor’s attention, but it’s a satisfactory story that cinches the deal. Say you get pitched by a hopeful writer who has a great voice, but their story plot fizzles. “Not interested in this story, but would like to see other works,” you might say
So they send you another pitch, and then another pitch, and then another pitch, but you must turn them down because the stories are dull, lackluster and very flat. At what point would you say, “You’ve got a great voice, but you can’t write a satisfactory story arc?” Or would you not say that at all, hoping that some day they will write a cracking good tale?
I can only say how I would handle it. For me, I’d give the writer two chances and if they couldn’t nail a great story with that lovely voice, I’d be moving on. There are too many other great writers out there who have mastered this.
In Hollywood, the time of year a movie is released typically speaks volumes of a studio’s expectations of success, keeping tentpole movies in the May – July bracket and the less ambitious projects in January – March. Is the same true for publishing? Does the month/season a book is released say anything about how the publisher expects a book to perform? And are certain genres more commonly released during certain parts of the year?
The answer is yes—publishing mimics those months/seasons as well. Traditionally, it’s the hardest to launch a debut author in the fall—specifically in the months of October, November, and December as that is the time that the publishers release their big box authors for the holiday season. Competition is fierce for the customer’s attention and buying dollars.
Now having said that, Simone Elkeles was launched in December for what was her fourth book PERFECT CHEMISTRY and that gamble paid off handsomely. Walker knew that teens would be buying this novel on their own with holiday money or gift cards and so risked releasing that title during the “big release” season. Also keep in mind that the children’s world operates a little differently than adult divisions which is why Jamie’s HOTEL was released in January. Much easier to get review attention and the big push in that month. Fewer books to compete against.