Thursday, November 09, 2006

Q&A Day!

Okay, ladies and germs, it's The Knight Agency Q&A day, and as a result, I'm here to answer all your publishing/agent/writing-type questions. Well, not all, but you know how this works: first five questions posted get an answer. So have at it and I'll poke my head in from time to time to check up on you and see what's burning a hole in your brains.



Blogger dehanna said...


As an author exploring trad publication, I've often wondered, what has the potential of "working better" in gaining an agents or publishers attention--the emailed or the mailed query?

Being I do understand how email may be more convenient and, of course, cost effective I'm in the belief that when using the email format, the author often loses the ability to send sample pages to otherwise strengthen a weak query.

Your opinion...

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 1:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Moira said...

I've had a few friendly chats with an agent from an agency, but never pitched in conversation because my material was WIP. However, now that I'm nearing the end, should I mention I've enjoyed talking with her in my query even though the query will go to Manuscript Co-ordinator?

Thanks so much.

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 1:25:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nephele Tempest said...

My advice is to tailor your approach to the agency or publisher you're querying. For instance, at The Knight Agency, we have very specific guidelines and only accept e-mailed queries. We ask you not to send any sample pages at this stage, as we simply cannot read the quantity of material we would receive if everyone included that sort of thing. Other agencies prefer snail mail and won't respond to e-mailed queries. If they don't list a preference, then go with what you're most comfortable with, by all means.

As for strengthening a weak query, my advice is to rewrite the query itself if you're concerned. If your work is in first person, try writing the synopsis paragraph of your query using that person's voice. Another thought is to mix up the order of your query letter, starting right off with a quick synopsis if you have an action-packed or suspenseful story, and then go on to introduce yourself.

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 1:28:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nephele Tempest said...


By all means, mention to this agent that you're getting ready to pitch his or her agency. For instance, you could say that you understand queries are directed to person X, but ask if it would be acceptable to mention in your query letter that you had been speaking with the agent, or to express a preference for dealing with that agent over other choices at the agency. Agents are used to this type of thing and are generally happy to be specified in this way. And he or she might also give you brownie points for not trying to pitch them before your work was ready to be considered.

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 1:32:00 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

How did you enjoy World Fantasy Con? How many conventions do you go to yearly?

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 3:37:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nephele Tempest said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 3:53:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nephele Tempest said...

Hi Jeff-

World Fantasy Con was fun. It's great getting to different types of conferences/conventions and chatting with writers from different genres. I met with some editors, chatted with some old friends and new, and got to see a bit of Austin, so it was all good.

As for the number of conventions/conferences I attend each year, it depends on where I'm asked to speak, and on what's in the neighborhood. For instance, I got to World Con in Anaheim this year because it was driving distance, which made it hard to pass up, but I don't think I'll be jetting off to Japan for it next year.

This year I traveled quite a bit. I attended four regional conferences for Romance Writers of America, plus the national conference, World SF Con, World Fantasy Con, and Comic-Con. I also took a couple of trips to New York, which I do every year, to see editors. Next year I'll definitely be at both the RWA national conference in Dallas, and Comic-Con in San Diego, and I'm scheduled to speak at a RWA chapter meeting in New Orleans, an agent day in Orange County for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and A Writer's Weekend in Seattle. Beyond that, it will depend on my schedule and what pops up.

Two more questions, folks!

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 3:55:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am currently writing women's fiction. I don't feel extremely comfortable putting in sex scenes (I can just picture the look on my grandmother's face as she sits down to read the work of her precious grandchild...).

Will this hurt my chances of getting published? Can I still have the "sexual tension" without the sex or do I need to switch to YA as my genre?--I enjoy writing in both genres...

Thank you for your help!

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 4:25:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nephele Tempest said...

Women's fiction comes with all different levels of detail when it comes to sex. You don't have to show sex scenes in order to write in this genre; plenty of authors are quite successful leaving their characters at the closed bedroom door. No need to switch genres.

(And as a bit of an aside, some YA novels include sex scenes as well. Just depends on the story and how the material is handled.)

Happy writing!

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 5:28:00 PM EST  
Blogger Zany Mom said...

What should a writer do when the current version of her manuscript is sitting in some slush pile of Major Publishing House courtesy of a friend who is friends with one of the biggies at said publishing house, but not in your genre. And it's been over 9 months.

Should the writer assume that said manuscript is buried and dead (and now is in line for a complete overhaul, anyhow) and start querying anew (well, after the rewrite)? Does one need to mention the current fate of this particular ms?

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 6:55:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kimber Li said...

zany mom, is that an exclusive submission? I haven't had that happen to me yet, but if it's been sitting there for nine months on exclusive I can certainly understand your angst!

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 7:18:00 PM EST  
Blogger Zany Mom said...

Since I didn't speak directly to the 'publisher' who said she'd look at it courtesy of my 'friend' (really a manager who said she was friends with the publisher). She and I neither work at that establishment any more.

Anyway, the friend told me that her publisher friend said it wasn't her genre (I believe she did non-fiction) but would read it and pass it to the appropriate person.

That's all I know. It was kind of a favor: "You write this article for me on X topic and I'll take your novel to my friend the publisher for you."

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 7:35:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nephele Tempest said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, November 10, 2006 at 2:50:00 AM EST  
Blogger Nephele Tempest said...

At this point, you're going through too many friends of friends. If the initial editor doesn't publish the genre you write, that person is pretty much a dead end, regardless who they're friends with, and unless that editor is your very best friend, I doubt he or she is passing your manuscript along to a more appropriate editor. It's not that they don't want to be helpful, but editors have huge piles of manuscripts to read and edit, and they are always behind. I would assume that particular avenue is closed and move on. And for future reference, you're best off taking care of your own submissions, simply because it's much easier to track what happens to your manuscript. Contacts are great, but they can cause these types of difficulties.

Good luck!

Friday, November 10, 2006 at 2:51:00 AM EST  
Blogger Zany Mom said...

Thanks, Nephele! That's what I thought. I'll revise the ms and start querying anew with it.

Friday, November 10, 2006 at 7:44:00 AM EST  
Blogger Kimber Li said...

Oh, yeah, I"d never stop querying other agents or editers unless I decided, for whatever reason, it would be a good idea to honor one's request for an exclusive. I've done that once so far on a partial and was so glad the agent was fast! With a tiny bit more experience, I'll be more hesitant next time and set a time limit on the exclusivity.

Friday, November 10, 2006 at 7:51:00 AM EST  

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