Saturday, September 24, 2005

Question and Answer on Romance Divas!

Hi, Gang:
Just wanted to let everyone know that I've been answering questions all week as a guest over on Romance Divas. The questions have drawn to a close, but I'm still making my way through the answers, so I hope you'll pop on over!

It's about time to open a new Q&A here on the blog. We've been busy preparing for something BIG here at the agency (not blog-related) and a huge announcement about our big TKA news will be forthcoming shortly, and it's kept me tied up. BUT, I'm looking forward to announcing a new contest shortly, and also launching a new question and answer here! :)

In fact, just to whet your appetite for the next Q&A, I'll open this thread for ten questions. I will answer the first ten questions posted on this thread (after that, I'll close it down for now!)

So lay 'em on me, gang! And meanwhile check out the Romance Divas message board with my current Q&A!
Deidre

24 Comments:

Blogger Gina Black said...

Hey Deidre!

Here's my question...

When you're reading a submission, what thoughts/questions go through your mind? I understand that first it has to grab you, but then do you start thinking of what editor it would grab, and where it would fall in the marketplace? Do you read it all the way through before asking yourself questions?

If it doesn't grab you, how far will you read before putting it down?

Gina
American Title II Finalist

Saturday, September 24, 2005 at 10:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Go Gina! Go Gina! :)

When I'm reading a submission, the first thing that goes through my mind is just to see if it draws me in. I sit back, soak it in for a few pages, and see if I'm really drawn in. Apart from that--and related, of course--is whether the writing is solid. If I love what I'm reading, that kind where my heart rate increases, I might immediately begin to think about the marketplace. I might even be doing that as soon as page ten if the material is strong enough!!

If I don't love it or if the material is simply average, I do know that pretty quickly. I wish I had time to give everything a deep reading, but if I did, then nobody would ever hear back from me. So I guess you could say I'm a bit ruthless when it comes to stopping reading. Now, don't everyone panic. If the writing is solid, and there's something there--some promise that has attracted me--I *will* continue reading. But if it's not there, then there's just no real purpose in continuing onward.

Congrats on finaling in American Title 2! WOO HOO!

Saturday, September 24, 2005 at 11:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kristen Painter said...

How do you feel about an older heroine/younger hero scenario? It's a 10 year age difference, if that makes any difference, and a paranormal. Do you think there is a market for this?

Thanks!

Saturday, September 24, 2005 at 11:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger TJBrown said...

How important is the author's career goals to your decision to represent someone? I know that the book you are looking at is important, but do you take into consideration the authors background and what they hope to accomplish in the future?
Thanks!
teri

Saturday, September 24, 2005 at 11:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelly said...

Deidre-

As always, thanks for answering questions :)

I'm seeing more and more authors who are starting out by getting published in the electronic markets and then are branching out into the print market, either through their own determination or by getting scouted out by an editor. Do you think that editors are viewing the electronic market as a proving ground for newer authors? Kind of an if so, are there certain electronic publishers who look better on a writer's resume?

Cheers!
Kelly

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 1:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Rachel Vincent said...

I've read that you don't mind an author querying you again on a new book, after a rejection on a previous project. On such a requery, do you want to be reminded of the first query, or should we just assume you either remember, or don't want to?

Did that make sense?

Rachel

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 1:04:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Shalanna Collins said...

My real question must not be asked, for it has to do with whether anyone has looked at my submissions yet and how long it might be that I must continue to suffer atop the e-mailbox like Snoopy waiting for the postman, vulture-like. *GRIN* So I shall pose the second-tier question, assuming we're supposed to be asking about the business and not what the V. Big Announcement Shrouded In Secrecy might be. Feel free to deep-six if it's too off-the-wall.

I've read (on other agent blogs--not on yours) that sometimes agents will check out an author's weblog or website before even reading her/his submission. The rumor goes on to claim that some even evaluate photos on the site to see how marketable and "talkshow-worthy" the author might be. The claimant further alleges that if the weblog has rants about publishing and the path to publication, or if the photos show a real arf-arf (THEIR word, not mine), that can affect the decision about representing the author. I say this is patently absurd, and don't see how agents could have time to do that. I also like to think that most agents and editors are inveterate readers and that it's all about the work. But hey, what do I know? I was also the one who thought that the WRITING counted, when it's really not that important these days (because readers read differently--they're not reading for cadenced prose, but for the events of the tale, I am told.) This could be one of those Sekrit Squirrel Secrets of publishing, so feel free to just not answer. But if you could poke a hole in that balloon, it'd make me feel better.

I *can* see that agents might like to avoid the way-out-there people (whose blogs give them away as being a few fries short of a Happy Meal) and the people who maintain those websites listing all their rejection letters followed by _ad hominem_ attacks on the ones who turned them down. But in general, it seems to me that if an author already has a following as an Internet Presence, that is a plus, because he/she knows something about marketing and publicity. (I suppose I could have those pictures on my site retouched.)

Not that *I'm* not talkshow-worthy, mind. I've already been on several radio talk shows (okay, I called in, and Click and Clack put me on the air!) I'm an amateur radio operator. I can hold my own in conversation. And makeup can do wonders these days. Still, I would like to think that it's all about the work itself. That's what makes sense.

So . . . is this just a crazy claim that some of these bloggers are making? I mean, it might be nice to fall back on the old "I wasn't pretty enough" rather than "My book didn't appeal to them because THEY HATED IT." Writers are always looking for some salve for the battered ego, and they don't usually get it by glancing in the looking glass.

There are so many books being published now that it IS tough to figure out how to get attention for the book. My take on it is that if your author is worthy of 15 minutes of fame for her crazy website, that's probably a Good Thing. Disabuse me of this notion, if it's bad. I hate being wrong (although it has happened a couple of times--hated it!)

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 2:00:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jenny Barnhart said...

Deidre,
I was wondering how the market views e-pubbed material in terms of availability and how it effects the rights of the author to retain that material. From my understanding, the rights of the ms revert back to the author after a said amount of years if it's been out of publication. How then do the e-pubbed authors ever get the rights of their ms back. Wouldn't it technically always be available?

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 9:08:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Dawn G said...

I understand the market is fairly limited for category manuscripts and so a lot of agents won't take on an unpublished category author. I've always wondered if I'm wasting my time (and the agent's) by querying a category manuscript with agents prior to querying Harlequin/ Silhouette. So my question here is:

When is the best time for a category writer to find an agent? Before or after selling the first category manuscript? If the author also writes in another genre, should she concentrate on querying that manuscript to agents and limit the category manuscript to H/S?

Thanks!
Dawn

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 12:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ellen Fisher said...

I have a question that's tangential to Jenny's (and BTW, Jenny, every ebook contract I've seen specifies a date on which the contract terminates). If an author regains the rights to a book (whether traditionally pubbed or e-pubbed), are agents and editors typically interested in taking a look at it? Is it ever worth an agent's while to try to sell a book that's previously been published (unless the author is Janet Evanovich, obviously:-). What if the book has been rewritten or expanded? Or is this one of those "it depends" things?

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 1:03:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link to the Romance Divas has an error.

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 2:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kristen Painter said...

Romance Divas had a little server problem but it's all better now.

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 3:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Shalanna Collins said...

Last night, clicking the link, I got an error page that said there were too many queries on the romance blog and that it was in debug mode . . . it seemed pretty upset, so I left it alone. *grin* Will try it again.

I still have had no success contacting moonhart (who asked me on an older thread to contact her--she was another blog contest winner!) at her verizon net addy . . . so if you're out there, talk to me, moonhart! I get a "bounce" message that says it's not a known address. ??? I am at comcast, which is a dot net address. That might work better if you just email me. Hope our submissions knock 'em out of their seats!

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 8:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jana J. Hanson said...

This isn't an agent-client/query question; I wondered about how/when/why you decided to be an agent.

It just sounds like such an amazing job and I was just curious if one day, you woke up and said, "I want to be an agent!"

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 8:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Gina Black said...

Deidre,

Thanks so much for the congrats! It's a thrilling ride and I'm just at the beginning. :) BTW--this is the Restoration set historical I told you about.

Thanks for the answer to my question. Reality checks are always a good thing.

Gina

Monday, September 26, 2005 at 1:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

Shalanna,

If I'm thinking about the same agent blog you are, then I believe that particular post was meant to reference that if the agent noted that a promising non-fiction proposal happened to be penned by a particularly good-looking writer, it could only contribute favorably to his/her platform and to the book's potential (Cf. Ann Coulter). So much buzz about a non-fiction book takes place on the outside of the covers. But it is just one possible aspect of a platform. Non-fiction tends to be handled very differently, because platform (i.e. expertise, etc.) is so important, where fiction is more about the writer's ability to tell a good story.

And it doesn't necessarily follow that an ugly writer would damage the deal potentials, especially in fiction, where most authors are lucky to get more than tiny, thumbnailed grainy pictures on the inside of the back cover. :-)

Monday, September 26, 2005 at 5:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Shalanna Collins said...

Hi, Diana! We're probably thinking of the same "anonymous agent" blog(s). Thank you for answering. I thought it was pretty silly, but wouldn't put that kind of idea past the modern marketing department.

The discussion went further than to say that ugly writers need not apply, though. (GRIN) The direction was that "if your blog says anything less than complimentary about anything you experience during the path to publication, or if you seem whiny, delete it now, because if they see that, they'll be wary of you." I do whine on my LiveJournal. It's supposed to come across as funny/Cynthia Heimel-style stuff. Not everyone "gets" that. Some of it really is whining, of course. Most online diaries that I find interesting are full of whining and catty remarks (without being actually mean-spirited, I mean) and insights that are part sarcastic Saturday Night Live stuff. So mine can be that way. I imagine that my LiveJournal would upset that Mystery Agent01 and his/her adherents. On the other hand, it seems terribly unlikely that an agent would have time to get online and look up your weblog/journal and read enough of it to see if you're "a jerk" or whatever. That's what I was talking about. To me, all that matters is the work. I'm also told that if you seem "cranky" or "nasty" on any mailing list or website, people will say, "I'll never read any of her books because she's nasty and I hate her." While I sympathize with the feeling of not liking a person *personally*, I think it's dumb to extend that to say that you'd never read So-and-So's books because she said that wearing fur is morally wrong or that she supports/doesn't support the war. Again, it's all about the work. A person is more than the sum of her stated political/personal opinions.

But then I'm not the "normal" type of person. As a hippie who was born outside of her era (grin), I look deeper than most people, it seems. Maybe I should take into consideration the probability that "most readers" might be just this petty (if I may be snarky right back to them). After all, Robin Hobb has taken tons of heat for saying she doesn't think fanfiction is good and she doesn't want it done with her characters . . . and people say they won't read her books written under that name or her "real" name (whatever "real" is). So it's perhaps a valid concern. Yes? No?

On the other hand, Jane Fonda seems to have done all right, despite her early political activism that led to many veterans hating her up to this moment--they aren't the ONLY people in the world. Aerobicized women didn't care about Hanoi, just about abs.

(People tell me to use only POSITIVE examples. Okay, here's one: I am so charming when I leave comments that people think I am nice in person, but bwa-ha-ha, I'm snarky! That kind of thing.)

Monday, September 26, 2005 at 5:59:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalanna - what ARE you talking about?

Monday, September 26, 2005 at 9:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Shalanna Collins said...

In brief: will it mean that you're not picked up by an agency or by a publishing house if they "research" you and find you have a 'net presence that they don't think is good? That's the question. I can't believe that pros could have time to Google up your website or do anything other than read the work, so that's why I'm asking. (In the comments on several posts on another agent's blog, this topic came up and was argued as though it were a given that agents checked your weblog/website. You could always delete that site or change it, of course.)

(Y'all are allowing anonymous posts? That other agent's blog blocks anonymous posts. Merely an observation.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 at 1:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Kristen asked:

[quote]How do you feel about an older heroine/younger hero scenario? It's a 10 year age difference, if that makes any difference, and a paranormal. Do you think there is a market for this?[/quote]

At least to me, this would be a tough sell. There'd have to be some very important reason for an age difference like that. In real life, it's not a huge thing these days, but with romance editors, I feel like it would be. The only way I'd see it working is if the age difference were a big part of the story.

Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 4:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

tjbrown posted:

How important is the author's career goals to your decision to represent someone? I know that the book you are looking at is important, but do you take into consideration the authors background and what they hope to accomplish in the future?
Thanks!

Yes, background--if relevant to the story--does play into my decision occasionally. Of course, as is so often the case I'd have to say that it all depends on the story or the situation, however.

As for career goals, yes, I like to know where the author ultimately wants to go so I can determine if I'd be the right agent to take them there. For instance, if someone wanted to write something that simply didn't interest me, then it obviously means I may well be the wrong agent for their overall career.

Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 4:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Kelly asked:

Deidre-

As always, thanks for answering questions :)

I'm seeing more and more authors who are starting out by getting published in the electronic markets and then are branching out into the print market, either through their own determination or by getting scouted out by an editor. Do you think that editors are viewing the electronic market as a proving ground for newer authors? Kind of an if so, are there certain electronic publishers who look better on a writer's resume?


Kelly, it's interesting, but I JUST answered this question over on www.romancedivas.com today. You should visit the ASK DEIDRE forum b/c I definitely gave a thorough answer on this one!

Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 4:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Rachel asked:

I've read that you don't mind an author querying you again on a new book, after a rejection on a previous project. On such a requery, do you want to be reminded of the first query, or should we just assume you either remember, or don't want to?

Did that make sense?


Hi, Rachel:
I don't think you should remind an agent of a rejection on a query--only on a submission, and in that case, if they made positive comments or if you had some extra communication. It's sort of like telling a person you want to date, "Hi! Remember me? You didn't like me the first time we went out... I'm hoping maybe this time you will." Maybe not quite like that, but you get the point. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 4:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Shalanna Collins said...

Someone was asking what the heck I was talking about when I asked whether agents really go read your blog. Here's where I came up with that notion, just in case anyone's interested in seeing the place where it was kind of mentioned: at misssnark.blogspot.com/2005/10/google-me-this.html

She doesn't go as far as the other anonymous-agent blogger did in implying that you would be in trouble if people thought your blog was whiny, but she does say she reads them. I stand corrected, I suppose . . . or I cower corrected, considering the stiletto heels.

As I said, *I* don't see what I journal about as whiny, but as analytical musings. I am a seeker. That doesn't mean others don't see it differently.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005 at 1:16:00 PM EDT  

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