Thursday, October 04, 2007

Q&A Thursday

Hey Everyone, I'M BACK!!!! I took a little break from the Q&A's so I thought I would swing back by today to see if ya'll have come up with any great new questions that you're dying to get off your chest.

You know the rules- The first 5 questions in, win! I'm open for anything : queries, pitches, conferences, favorite new reads, or even . . . who is undoubtedly going to win the UGA vs UT football game this weekend. . . Ok, well at least you might be interested in the first few topics, whatever you got, send em' my way!

Have a great Thursday everyone, just think, Friday's right around the corner!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a dark fantasy I'm working on and I can't decide for the life of me if it's YA or adult. I was wondering what you felt were the determining factors between the two genres, because really, it seems as if some books that have young protagonists could go either way. So it's more than just the age of the heroine. Is it sensuality level? The specific growth arc--whether the heroine deals with coming of age issues or broader, more general issues?



Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 11:19:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question about etiquette when dealing with an agency. When guidelines are listed such as, will get back to you in x weeks, and it has been 2x, and you check back and told it's still under consideration... how do you know when to check back another time without being a nag? The particulars I'm talking about have been far more than 5 months... It's just always so hard to know the balance and understand whether a) it's not been read at all or b) it's been read and there has been no decision made because of factor y. Is once a month okay? too much? Any insight would sincerely be appreciated.

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 11:30:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi -- I wrote a YA novel set in the 1950s USA. Is this considered "historical fiction"? What years are considered "historical"? Is that how it should be pitched to agents/editors? Or should I just skip that part of the context in a pitch line and say it's a YA? Thanks!

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 11:52:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I have a question on how long it usually takes an agent to send out a client's manuscript. I signed with an agent over six months ago, and sent her my revised ms. a little over four months ago and she has not sent it out on submission yet. Is this the norm?


Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...


Not having read your story I can't particularly comment on the age genre of your book. I can definitively tell you that you need to figure it out. If you can't tell then you need to go out and read more YA and adult fantasy to figure it out.

Right now a lot of young adult YA does have a huge cross-over appeal to adult readers, but they still these titles remain YA books at the heart.

The age of the protagonist is a large clue-in, but it all stems back to who the major themes you are addressing are geared towards. Also, here is a general trend that we have noticed (and yes there are exceptions to everything), if the novel is an adult fantasy but has a young protagonist, it is typically more of a plot driven story, as opposed to being character driven.

Bottom line, head to your local bookstore and research to see where yours would fit amongst the titles already out there.

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

11:30am Anonymous –

This is a tricky question that could swing one way or the other depending on the agent in question, and even perhaps their mood when your inquiry hits them.

Here is a general rule of thumb (IMHO) - I would follow up once after X +graceperiod of time has passed. See what happens. If the agent in question writes back, and says, “sorry its still here”, its a good sign that their schedules are just packed and they can't yet fit you in quite yet. **Remember, if they were your agent you would want to make sure that they took care of your problems before that of an unrepresented author.**

I would potentially do one more follow up 6 weeks later if you still had no news. If you haven't heard from them in that period of time, well it probably just wasn't meant to be. Perhaps they are too busy, perhaps they aren't 100% sold on your project, who knows what the delay is. I wouldn't entirely write them off, as you never know if in another month their desk would clear, your ms would land right on top and they would fall in love. However, at this point if they still haven't given you any concrete promise of things to potentially come, I would stop losing sleep over it and start seriously looking at other agents on your list.

Also do some homework. Chat with other authors that have queried X Agency before. See what their experiences have been; has the agent been habitually slow on responding to queries, has the agent been quick to announce where the submission is in their queue, has the agent been honest that they are just backlogged but still excited about submission? Use others experiences to gauge your own actions.

Remember, very few agents request exclusives. Continue shopping your project to your other hopeful agents during this entire process. During the agent search we understand how eager you are to move forward and unless otherwise noted aren't expecting you to stop your career to wait for us.

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:27:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Elaine! I have read tons of both YA and adult fantasies, trying to figure this out. (Mine falls somewhere between A Great and Terrible Beauty and Kushiel's Dart-- without the more sexual elements). But I really like your point about the character driven vs. plot driven. That's a great distinction to explore.


Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

DML - This isn't historical fiction. Pitch it as YA - thats where it will be shelved. I imagine that the historical themes will jump out pretty quick during your pitch and make the stories themse blantantly obvious to the reader.

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:33:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elaine. I just asked about the usual time frame for agents to send out their clients' manuscripts. I had one more question, if I may. If you had been interested in a story but the author had accepted representation with another agent but it's not working out, would you reconsider the author's story again? Or would that be an automatic no?

Thanks so much!

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Anonymous 12:07-

I know you all groan and moan when I repeat this but this is something I can't comment on without knowing the specifics.

I can tell you that over the summer we are much more hesitant and slow sending out projects. Between the months of May and August it’s nearly impossible to get reads in from editors. There are a billion other things that could also be factoring into your agent's decision to hold out.

The best piece of advice I have is TALK TO YOUR AGENT. A solid agent/client relationship is all about communication. Don't hesitate to ask them in a gentle way "is there a reason for this delay" - If it is a reputable agent, with a solid track record of sales, I would be confident that they have their reasons.

I can also guarantee that you'll strengthen your professional relationship if you both understand how the other one works. Just think, if you ask this question now, in the future your agent will know that for your piece of mind they need to at least keep you informed about what’s going on with your ms (even if that is nothing at all for the moment).

By asking and getting the answer out in the open a picture will become much cleared to you, either your agent is more brilliant than even you could ever imagine, (or perhaps busier than you could ever imagine), or perhaps in all truthfulness, they really weren't the agent you thought they were. If this is the case its better to find this information out now as opposed to after they shop your project and exhaust your options for other potential better-suited agents down the road.

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Anonymous 12:44,

This would depend on how seriously I looked at the project the first time around. If you pulled the manuscript from all the other parties and I never read it, I would probably be interested in another chance for a look. However, if I read the project fast when you had informed me that you had another offer coming in and passed, saying it wasn't for me, then it still probably wouldn't be for me.

If you are unsure, I would just re-query and in the query be honest about what has gone on over the past year with your manuscript. Honesty is always the best route.
I think this would definitely be the best route to go. It never hurts to try, right?

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Thanks everyone for another great round of questions. And since no one asked, GO DAWGS! Beat the VOLS!!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:54:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Elaine!

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 1:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Isabelle Santiago said...

These were great questions. I think I really got a lot out of today's Q&A. Thanks everyone, and Thanks Elaine for always being generous in helping us understand the business! :D

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 3:54:00 PM EDT  

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