Thursday, May 24, 2007

Q & A Thursday!

Howdy Ho! I hope everyone is having a delightful Thursday morning. Get your questions ready because today I'm manning the decks.
Give me all you got, I'm totally game today - interested in market trends? query etiquette? pitching pointers? You name it, I'm your woman.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Q&A Thursdays, here's how it works. The first five people who post a question in the comments get an answer from moi. Easy as that. Think you can handle it? I'm ready and waiting, so STEP RIGHT UP!


Blogger Kimber Li said...

I'm curious as to trends in Romance sub-genres. I interract with readers a lot on my blogs.

Readers love certain sub-genres, but when they go to buy new they run into frustration for three reasons.

1) All the books look pretty much the same. Similar plots. Similar main characters. Similar covers.

2) They're all Highly Sensual or Erotic. This just about kills the sub-genre for readers who prefer Sweet or Sensual romances. These readers feel cut loose. There's nothing or very little in their favorite sub-genre for them. Graphic sex scenes are not for everyone. For example, graphic descriptions of body parts remind me too much of childbirth and I'm seriously grossed out. This can't be the effect the authors are hoping for! Meanwhile, the sub-genre is losing a whole group of readers who would otherwise be devoted.

3) Bait-and-Switch. This is what if feels like to the readers who buy a book expecting one thing and getting another. Advertisements, cover art, reviews. I know they're created with the point of selling, but if they confuse it backfires.

Frustrated readers walk away and stop buying new. Worse yet, they might even say things about the sub-genre which will discourage others from buying new.

Is anyone in the publishing industry noticing this? Will anything be done about it?

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 10:09:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw on an ealier post where Kerensa will be working with you. Will she eventually take over the submission department to allow you to agent full-time?

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 10:34:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you requested a full (after reading the three chapter partial), how long should I wait for a response?

At what time could I write a polite email inquiring on its status?

And if I wrote said polite email, would it hack you off so that you'd just write "reject" on the ms to get it off your desk (and the unpublished author off your back!)

(Anonymous #2)

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 10:45:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

When (if ever) can you resubmit to an agent? (You have changed the entire partial which you submitted and was declined)?

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 11:35:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Kimber An - Wow. That’s quite a question. I'm not really sure even how to tackle this answer.

Sub-genres are what "trends" are all about. Romance is always "in" its just which type of romance is more in than the others. Of course the publishers take notice to what the readers seem to want more of and the vice-versa of what is on the shelves that simply isn't selling.

I guess I really don't get what you are asking here - As to your frustrations.

#1 - All Books look the same, sound the same etc. There is a definite type of reader out there that knows exactly what they want. Publishers do there dandiest to make sure they find new stories that fit a certain mold and deliver the tried and true results that have always been successful in the past. These books are geared to the reader who really just wants to get lost in a good story and know exactly what they are going to get in the end. The publisher makes every attempt to make sure the reader knows what they are getting via cover trends etc so that the "bait and switch" that you mention later doesn't happen leaving the reader disappointed.

#2 This is something that is coming into play more and more. Even if a book isn't labeled a quote "erotic" story, there are still graphic love scenes, descriptions of lovers and activities. This is the "new" romance. People want more, more, more, and while yes there are certain readers who aren't down with the change, the majority are. This new romance is selling more copies than ever before. With the majority of readers gobbling it up authors are just going to continue to push the envelope. This is not going to go away any time soon. For those that aren't interested and feel like they are losing their sub-genre, unfortunately I think I'm just going to have to say you are going to need to skim over some scenes that don't interest you. That or refer to something like RT reviews that label the level of sensuality in stories that are "sex heavy".

#3 I don't think it’s ever any publishers goal to trick a reader into buying a book. Everyone wants to target their readership/audience in the most efficient manner to guarantee the growth of their career. The best thing that I can say to that is check out reviews ahead of time to get a true sense of a reader's perspective on the book.

I don't know if that is what you were looking for, but its the best I can do -

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 12:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Anonymous - Thats very attentive of you! Kerensa is coming onto our team at a time when so many exciting changes are occuring. Right now we are still toying with the best way to utilize her awesome talent, but down the road yes, Kerensa is going to help me in a number of broad areas taking certain tasks off of my plate as i step into others more.

However, I personally really enjoy all of my jobs at TKA Agenting, Submissions, Sub-Rights, so to say that I'm not going to be doing those things down the road would be misleading. Only time will tell.

At TKA the submissions department is truly a department. Every member of the agenting team has a hands on approach to reviewing the material that comes through the door. We all work very much together to figure out which agent would be best suited to work with different submissions.

Who are you????? :)

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 12:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Anonymous #2 - Hmm. This question is another case by case basis. We don't really request a whole lot of fulls. If we have requested the full it means that it is probably pretty high on our priority list.

Most agencies offer some sort of guideline on what their normal timelines are. At TKA it can be anywhere from 1 week to 6 months. It all really depends on what else is going on at that time. In the 6 month instance perhaps we really LOVE the story but we just don't have room on our list right at that time. This is why we don't generally ask for things on exclusives also, we don't expect you to put your career on hold for us. The average time I would say is @3 months. That is what it takes to get an initial read and then second opinions from others in the office.

After 3 months a polite inquiry is welcome. I.E. an email (NEVER a phone call).

If someone dropped me an email it would never turn me against them. Have no worries. We really aren't that heartless :) I appreciate the little reminders (personally). They tell me to get my butt in gear!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 12:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

You can ALWAYS resubmit to agents. MANY of our BEST clients were rejected the first time around and only found a spot at our agency after some hard work and persistancy.

Look for key words in the rejection. If I say I would love to see something else from you down the road, I mean it. I don't always put that in there. In these cases ecspecially, I usually love the writing, voice, story, but there is just something thats missing or not quite there.

Plus the market changes, our tastes shift, maybe we are looking for something to fill a hole on our lists that we weren't 6 months ago, these are all other reasons why resubmitting to an agent is perfectly acceptable.

Hope that helps!

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 1:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

I've got room for one more . . . BRING IT ON!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 1:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Liane Gentry Skye said...

I was told at RT that middle grade fiction is turning "hot". I know TKA is having a lot of success with YA. How do you feel about subs for younger readers?


Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 1:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Liane - FAB Question. Middle Grade or Tween Lit. I'm on it like White on Rice. It is VERY hot. As the YA market has exploded and dwelved into all of these really deep complex issues plaquing teens it is setting the way for MG to follow in its footsteps.

I think that the MG market is exploding for two completely opposite reasons.

First i think that as the subject matter in YA has gotten deeper, it is encouraging the MG market to raise the bar a bit as well.

Beyond that, at the other end, since some YA is SO intense, there needs to be a more defined MG genre that doesn't yet go into some of these hefty issues.

So yes TKA is handling middle grade literature. I think its hot. I want it. Bring it to me!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 1:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Great Questions today everyone! See ya next time!

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 1:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Keri Ford said...

Elaine- sorry, I was Annon.#1. Didn't realize google had signed me out until after I posted.

Figured if I erased and reposted some other lucky devils would slide in a take up the remaining spots!

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 2:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kimber Li said...

Elaine, thank you for answering my questions! I'm not frustrated, except on behalf of my readers. Do the sales figures reflect those of Used Bookstores? I ask this because most of these readers are afraid to buy new. They *would* buy new, if there was something for them to buy. Unfortunately, I only have a handful of new releases I can recommend to them.

I receive about a hundred visitors to my blog every day. This inclines me to believe that this group of frustrated readers is much larger than many realize.

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 5:12:00 PM EDT  

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