Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Secret Agent Inaugural Post!

Update: This post is now closed. Agent 24-7 will be back soon to answer more questions. Thanks to everyone who participated in our very first post! Remember to look in the comments section to see the questions and answers.
Today, we are thrilled to reveal a brand-spanking new blog feature! We know you have HUNDREDS of burning questions about publishing -- from what genres are hot right now to how to write a "can't say no" query letter. Well, the Knight agents are on the case!

Here's how it works: Submit your questions in the comments section throughout the day. One of our top-notch secret agents will take a brief break from her covert assignment, no doubt entangled in negotiations with some high-powered editrix, to answer two randomly selected questions after 3pm ET. The answers will be given in the comments section. You can check out who our agents are by visiting the TKA company website. But not so fast! Of course, we can't tell you who's the top secret agent of the day. Then what would be the point of the "secret" in Secret Agent? You'll just have to guess...but we'll NEVER tell.
Agent 24-7 has kindly agreed to check in from her undisclosed location and take our inaugural "Secret Agent" post by the horns. So ask away while you can...
Remember to check back after 3pm ET to see 24-7's answers!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a great idea for a diet book that's completely topical.. seriously up to the minute. Do I go straight to publishing houses OR do I try for an agent first? I think time is of the essence. If it was fiction I'd go to the agent fist but w/this non-fiction in the news diet plan I'm unsure.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 8:34:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or agent first.. I would never really want to go to an agent fist. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 8:35:00 AM EST  
Blogger MommyTime said...

Does an agent want to see a completed ms. or a pitch/proposal with a sample for non-fiction? How would this be different for a children's book (not YA, but picture book w/story).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 9:18:00 AM EST  
Blogger Crystal Jordan said...

Ooh! Ooh! I have one! :-)

Since editors often change titles when they buy a story, how much should an author worry about coming up with a catchy working title?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 11:20:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What amount of marketing should a writer prepare to handle in today's market? And would a writer with an established marketing platform on the Web have an advantage over one who is less tech savvy?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 12:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Marwa Ayad said...

Dear Secret Agent (and I LOVE the idea!):

I've just started writing a chick lit/fantasy novel, and now I think it could perhaps be the first book in a series. So, should I query agents when at least the first book in the series is done, or more, or when exactly? Thanks so much!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 12:46:00 PM EST  
Blogger J.R. Johansson said...

Great Idea!

Last week I started querying on my YA with a Sci-Fi twist and I'm getting a heck of a response. Currently there are 3 agents with a full and 3 with a partial.

Here is my question, for agencies that don't stipulate how much time they usually take for a partial/full... is there an industry standard amount of time to wait before checking back with them? I know I'm not anywhere near that point, but I would like to be educated, should it come to that point. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 1:02:00 PM EST  
Blogger The Screaming Guppy said...

We all know that making a manuscript as perfect as possible is important. But sometimes, as writer editing my own work, it feels like it's impossible to find all the typos.

If a manuscript has good writing, an original story and interesting characters, will the presence of typos make you automatically reject it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 1:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Agent 24-7 said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. I'm psyched to be a part of this revived blog feature. My partner-in-crime Jia did an awesome job setting everything up and so all I have to do is have the pleasure of dishing the dirt -

Rebecca: Think of an agent as the NYC Times Square ball, or nails on the chalkboard, or that flashing light on top of the ambulance fast approaching in your rearview. A big part of our gig is grabbing an editor's attention, and fast. This is accomplished via years of back work - knocking on their doors, ringing up their phone, and gabbing over afternoon cheese and crackers. Editors respond to agents quickly because over the years they've come to realize that when Agent 24-7 says something is good and timely she means it.

Good luck getting straight to the publisher on your own any faster. To me, this would be "topical suicide". If this topic is of a "timely nature", chances are by the time you would get them to even open your email Doomsday of 2012 might be here and gone. And that's assuming you get them to ever even open that email. Let's not forget that most (and note I didn't say ALL) major publishers require or prefer submissions, regardless of if they are fiction or non fiction, to come straight from an agent as opposed to an author.

The only way you are going to get fast attention to a diet book on your own is if you have an amazing platform - if you are Oprah's great Dr. Oz, strike what I said, you'll probably have pretty good luck on your own. Otherwise, while it may seem self-defeating having to go through the sometimes timely process of acquiring an agent, in the end it should pay off with faster attention from your dream publisher.

Crystal: The title conundrum. You need to spend enough time on it, but not too much - hows that for concise? Seriously though - you want a title that will grab someone's attention in the most immediate sense. The title doesn't have to really have much staying power beyond the early stage though. Do not marry a title. You might find the relationship to be heart-breakingly short lived. There is no way of predicting what titles are already in the publishing works.
Sometimes you might have a one-of-a-kind gem only to find out that its two letters or an apostrophe different than a book in a different genre that is releasing two months before yours. Or you may love it, your agent may love it, and your editor will hate it. You never know when something will have a connotation that they just can't get over. Or it may be perfectly fitting right up to the point where you start to think about the sequel and it doesn't fit in the "series' theme". Or the buyers may feel its too similar to something else already out there. Or something that was published five years ago. There are a million factors that could play in here. Most of them, unpredictable. Titles change at least 50% of the time from when the book was pitched to when you find it on the shelf. In many instances the titles don't even survive long enough to make it onto the contract. Books always have a name when they're being pitched but a large percentage of the time by the time the contract for the work comes our way it says "Untitled X".

Bottom line. Find a title that will "stick" long enough to get a reader (i.e. Agent/Editor) to dive into the story and get so lost in your writing that they
forget everything in the external world, including the fact that the book even has a title.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 3:13:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question!

Say a writer submitted a MS to an editor and the editor made an offer (which the writer very carefully avoided agreeing to, in the hope that she could get an agent to negotiate the deal).

How should that writer then go about seeking representation from an agent? Should she call? Email? What is the etiquette?


Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 6:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I'm mildly concerned because all the YA I've been finding is in first person POV. Is that the fashion right now, and am I shooting myself in the foot by writing in third limited with two points of view?

Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 1:38:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I am now scouring your agency site to figure out to whom I should submit.

Since I'd don't think Dr. Oz will let me mount a flashing light on his head you've convinced me your agency should be my first try.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 11:36:00 AM EST  

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