Friday, December 14, 2012

Workshop 16 Question and Answer Day

It's  Day Two of Operation Ink and Agents are sneaking around and checking the naughty and nice list! Jack Frost messed things up yesterday and froze up my computer. But, Santa helped out and we are back in business today! Gotta question for an agent?  Don't be shy! Did you ask a question yesterday? Check out the answers today!!

Hey guys! I'm sorry:(. I don't know what happened to our agents today. Maybe they will make their way around tonight. 

I will announce winners tomorrow. 

UPDATE AGAIN! Agent Terrie Wolf enailed and said shes running late in the publishing world but is very close to being here! right here on Ink in the Book!!

UPDATE: Hey everyone! I'm hoping more agents stop in after while, maybe this evening. I guess they all were swamped with business today. If you've posted a question, check back tonight, okay? There are still prizes!reThanks guys and dolls:)

Update #1 is at the bottom, in red.

Update #2 is in green

Door Prize#1
Ramdom dot Org picked T. J!!!!! Please send me your address! You've received an delectable gift basket of chocolate! email me at ink in the book (gmail dot com) 

Door Prize #2 
Random dot Org picked Misha Gericke!!!!! Please send me address! You've won a gift basket of gourmet hot chocolate! 


It's here, guys! Today's workshop is finally here! Can you believe it! I hope you have lots of questions to ask because our agents are standing by to try their best and answer your inquiries! They will be popping in all day to check out your questions and to cheer you fabulous writers on to better writing!

Inquiring minds want to know, right? So now is your chance.

During the day, I will be updating the blog with awesome AGENT and EDITOR INSIDER news.

Oh, and you might want to know I'll be handing out gifts and door prizes and small tokens of appreciation to those who follow my blog, are participating in the workshop, or simply read Ink in the Book quietly in the shadows:)

Our newest agent to participate is....wait. I think I may play a little game! Once our secret agent has commented on a question, I'll let the cat out of the bag! Oh secret Santa, where are you???

For those wondering about the Agent gifts, it's not right to tell a person what their gift is BEFORE they open it, so I'm not telling WHAT the gifts are just yet. But I totally promise you, you will LOVE these gifts. There's a system already set in place- Random dot Org - for those visiting today, so as the system kicks in and winners are chosen, I'll be updating the gifts and who won them throughout the day. Be sure and check back often! If not, everything will be posted still tomorrow, so you can check back then to see if you received a gift.

Feel free to leave a question. Some beautiful and talented Agent is waiting to answer.
And agents, please feel free to comment on any question.

Merry Christmas, beautiful guys and dolls!

UPDATE #1
So, we are talking about sagging middles and how to fix them. First thing is this: how's the opposition in your novel?  Is the bad guy bad enough? Is he or she believable? Remember, I asked about impending death in the last session. So let's think about death of the MC for a minute.

Does the antagonist have the ability to physically kill your you MC? Make sure the scenes with impending death are written vividly and with excitement.

Does the bad guy have the ability and power to take down your MC, as in a corrupt boss, policeman or colleague who hates her? Be sly and sneaky or just pure evil with these intentions. Make the readers want to turn the page and find out how the evil plan is working.

Does the villain want to emotionally crush you MC?  Write concise, emotionally charged scenes where your MC is on the verge of a break down. And make us cry. And ultimately care about him.

More late, gator!
No gifts yet. Where are you agents? It's coffee time!
free digital photos
Update #2
Agent Terrie Wolf just emailed and said she would be visiting after her class at school! Be patient and hold on tight because there are FIVE agents visiting today to answer your questions!

65 comments:

  1. Why are there no posts here? Im confused. I thought this was the most useful and valuable post/day ever. Well, anyway, my question is on word count. Is 130,000 too much for Adult thriller especially if it has immigrant elements? Just wondering.

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    1. Personally speaking, it was a strange day in Agent Land. Then again, every day is a little strange in the publishing world. I think "never a dull moment" applies.
      To answer your question, I would hope to see your adult thriller coming in a little shorter - like not longer than 100-K, max.

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    2. Thank you, Terrie. It's great to have access to ppl who know the business.

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  2. Oh never mind. Just realized Thursday just started. I -am-confused. I wrote into the wee hours of the morning without realizing what the time or day was. To tell the truth, Im a little proud of that.

    Good luck, all, with the gifts. Thank you, agents and yo wonderful folks. And have a great holiday season.

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  3. Question: How are stories set in countries other than the US received? I have several MS's set in my homeland, Australia, and I'm concerned they won't be considered because agents just won't "get" them.

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    1. I'd like to know the answer to this too. My novel is set in a city in Hungary many Americans never heard of.

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    2. I'm sure it just adds to the interest of a story, just like reading a fantasy about a made-up world. I personally love reading about places I've never been.

      I hope it's not an issue for anyone, because the sequel to my novel takes place in Europe, as well, in some remote areas.

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    3. Katie, I think that Laura is right. For me, I like to read YA in different countries. It makes the story more interesting, because you're learning about an entire different place, just like in fantasy.

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    4. Thanks for answering my question guys :-)

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    5. I, for one, absolutely love the intrigue of a story set elsewhere. However, it has to ring true and you have to set it up for me so that I just don't have a reason to walk away. Too much of the time I see works that are an American in xxx-land or a person from their country who just doesn't give me reason to read on.

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    6. With regard to a place I've never heard of, bring it on!

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    7. I love stories that take place in different countries! It's a wonderful way to get to experience other countries. And I think as long as the plot and characters are strong, then it would grab an audiences attention.

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    8. I agree. That's exactly the kind of fiction I'm looking for. However, the story needs to be unique and strong. The characters need to have layers. If all the elements are laid out well, you have nothing to worry about!

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  4. I wish I'd a question to ask, but I can't really think of anything. So I'm going to lurk about today ... well, tomorrow as it's evening now ... but you all get what I mean. ^_^

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  5. Question: I'd like to write a story which falls in the 'Tween' market (14 yr. old w/ very, very light romance), but have heard that this is an impossible genre to query for. Would the story/MC really have to be forced into MG or YA to have a chance?

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  6. Question: How do agents respond to MS without a HEA ending for Urban Fantasy?

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    1. T.J. from the little I've seen while looking for agents and participating in contests, UF typically does NOT have a HEA, the romance element is often left up in the air and unresolved, particularly if it is a series.
      Not sure if this'll help at all, but here's a link to a list of general genre definitions from the viewpoint of ONE agent: http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2010/10/big-ol-genre-glossary.html

      Hope that helps!

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    2. Thanks, Ellie for the link! This info will help answer a lot of genre questions:)

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  7. This question isn't for the MS I'm using for this workshop but for a WIP: I'm writing a legal thriller with multiple POVs, and each POV has her/his own chapter, but the chapters are extremely short, as in 500-700 words each. Are short chapters an issue in adult books?

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  8. I have a high fantasy story where the protagonist is in her early twenties, a la Sharon Shinn or early Mercedes Lackey. What has me confused is the emergence of the 'new' N/A category. My protagonist is the right age, and is going through 'finding her way' but it I'm not sure I should be pitching / entering it in contests as a N/A story or as an 'adult' high fantasy. Any thoughts?

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    1. I've that same trouble with my current fantasy story (only my MC is 17).
      For now, I'm choosing adult because I'm more comfortable pitching it as such.

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  9. My question is about non-fiction. What is a good word count? i.e. inspiration

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    1. This depends solely on the work you're creating. For example, few of us will take the time to read a 400,000 word memoir. But, I represent one of those. It's been pared down to just around 80,000 - which is still a little long but leaves room for the editor to decided which way to move with it.

      The best response: read, read and read more. Learn what others who've written this type of work have done. Know your genre inside out. Analysis is your key because you literally have to sell me before I can sell an editor.

      There's no right or wrong answer to the word count. If it's an inspirational exercise book, that's a lot different than an inspirational devotional book.

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  10. I've heard a lot about starting with action, but then have been told this doesn't work since the reader doesn't know the character yet and is not vested in whatever is taking place within the first chapter. My question is, how much do you read before giving up? A sentence? Two sentences? Some agents let you include the first five pages of your manuscript with your query, have you found that it can take five pages to get vested or is it less?

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    1. Prerna,

      I think it depends on the genre. For YA we like it to start with the problem (action). This draws the YA age group in, during the problem you introduce the character, give the reader a feel of his/her personalitly. For me, in other genres besides YA, I still want the problem to start within the first chapter.This keeps me going. However, I guess it depends on the agent also. I hope this has helped!

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    2. I've been under the impression that it's not action you need to start with-- since like you said Prerna, it makes it hard for the readers to ground themselves in the story since they aren't yet connected to the MC-- but conflict, which doesn't necessarily mean an action scene?

      am I way off here? great question.

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    3. Hi Prerna,

      Cristina got it spot on. A huge action scene with a bunch of characters that we don't know yet will not necessarily capture the reader's attention. However, I think it's like stoking a growing fire. You lay out a minor conflict at the beginning of the manuscript, establish the character and her/his voice. Gather the reader's attention with that voice, but make sure you do this while laying out the setting of a minor conflict first. Then as we go forward, the conflict also piles up and grows larger and larger. By then we are heavily invested in knowing the outcome. One main thing, steer away from the mundane. Many times, I've seen writers begin books with mundane dialogues between two people, or actions that are so normal, it makes you wonder why they are in there in the first place. Establish a mood with the first 10 pages.

      Eg: Two high school students having a normal conversation and heading to their lockers to collect their books, while pointing out the most popular kids in high school- this has been so overdone, and why is it so important to be used as a hook?

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  11. Good questions-- not only was my antagonist not bad enough, he was blah-- same with my protagonist. Needless to say, heavy rewrites are in the works!

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  12. Great questions asked - many of them ones I would ask. What defines MG and YA? Is a wholesome story (no sexual content) of a 13-year-old coming of age considered MG or YA? And what is a good word count? It's coming in at 65,000.

    Thanks!

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  13. How dependent is Urban Fantasy on there being a strong romantic element? The first novel I wrote is part of an ongoing series, but at the end of the first novel, there is only an inkling of a romance to come in the future. A strong foundation is built for them to grow on, but they still have issues to work through. It's more of a procedural crime thriller in a lot of ways, but with supernatural main characters.

    I've had quite a bit of agent interest, but most who read the full seem disappointed that there's not more on the romance side in the first novel. Is that abnormal in UF? I thought it was more a requirement of Paranormal. Should I be querying it as a different genre to avoid that confusion?

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    1. I don't know for sure, but from what I've read there is generally a strong romantic element in UF. It depends on the agent how much they think should be in there. It might be worth it to see if a) if there's an agent who focuses more of SF/F who takes UF who might be okay with the romantic element not being as present and b) if you should pitch it as a contemporary fantasy. But that last part is highly dependent on the story, so be sure it works for your piece. Hopefully someone in the business will weigh in as well.

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    2. Personally, I think this is subjective. A well-rounded romance is definitely appreciated. But it does not HAVE TO be the central plot. Check out this great article for a better idea:

      http://tracycooperposey.com/articles/articles-for-readers/what-is-urban-fantasy-anyway-urban-fantasy-in-the-romance-field-defined/

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  14. I have submitted my manuscript a lot and have struggled with the same issue of action verses connecting with the MC. I have opted for a little of both but continue to get back the feedback of..."I don't feel connected to your character enough" What does that mean. Or is it just a polite way of declining?

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    1. I think it could be a problem of voice. The voice of the character should loud and unique, and touch some sort or chord with the reader. At the same time, the characters need to be well-balanced. Dig deep, try forcing your characters into situations you normally would never dream of doing so. Why don't you get other writer friends to critique your work? That's the best way to find out the kinks.

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  15. Is it acceptable, after receiving a "No" from an agent, to later send a different work to another agent at the same agency?

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    1. From what I've learned, the answer is yes. Although they don't like it if you inundate them constantly. Usually give several months between querying the same agency. Agents do talk to each other.

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    2. Hi dalesittonrogers,

      You can certainly resubmit to another agent. It might be best to mention in your query you had already submitted to a different agent. Many times though agents at the agency will share materials if they think a different agent would be a better fit.

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    3. If it is a DIFFERENT work, I'd say go ahead without any qualms. I would never, however, submit the *same* work to a different agent at an agency which has already given you a 'no'. A 'no' is from the entire agency for that piece of work, no matter which agent you subbed to. Or at least that's my understanding.

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  16. My questions might be pretty weird, and I'm sorry if they are.

    I've been querying lots of agents (say... 25) and of them, all of them declined and only 3 were "Dear Author" letters and one with my name but written by the assistant.

    None of them gave me feedback except to say my story wasn't a fit.

    Does it mean that the new automated query decline is now "Dear [Insert Author Name]" with a form body, or are those letters really personalized?

    And if so, is this a good thing? If not, what am I doing wrong?

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    1. Not an agent, but have been in the query trenches for awhile. Of the last 50 queries, three were personalized with feedback. Many agents are swamped (think 1000+ queries per week) and don't have a lot of time to give feedback. It isn't anything personal :)

      One thing to do is have your query critiqued again. I had to tweak mine seven times before getting the first full MS request.

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    2. I agree with T.J I queried around 30 different agents and I'd say most sent me form rejections, and even the partial requests often came back fairly standard. I only got one "try doing this and this and resub" email. Just keep tweaking that query and on the rare occasion someone does give you something take it as what it is and keep working on improving, until someone finally grabs hold and says they love it. :-)

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    3. Dear Misha,

      You're question isn't weird. Unfortunately, on any given week, the amount of queries agents get can spike from anywhere between 100-500. To respond to all of them personally, along with doing the other things on our lengthening to-do lists can be quite impossible. So it's normal for us to rely on standard letters during the vetting process.

      However, if the manuscript does catch our initial interest, we try to do our best to give the author some pointers on how he or she can improve his/her work.

      One thing you can do to make your sure manuscript or query is polished enough: Join a physical or virtual writer's group and have them both critiqued. Perhaps the manuscript might benefit from being polished or being re-hauled a little?

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  17. I write YA dark contemporary. Do you think this will ever be a "thing"? :)

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    1. I certainly hope so. Teens deal with dark, heavy, and sometimes violent things, and they aren't always vampires and zombies. Sometimes it's even worse because they lack the coping skills and maturity to deal with the issues. :) great question!!

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    2. Of course! I guess it depends on how 'dark' the subject matter is, though. :)

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  18. If I've been tweeting with an agent & we're on a familiar, first-name basis, should I be formal or informal in a query? First or last name? Jump into
    the pitch or have a conversational paragraph?

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    1. It's always best to be professional in a query letter, even if you and the agent are on first name basis. Unless the agent is a long time friend, or something.

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  19. I have a question :)
    In the query letter, in the author's bio, what are agents wanting to know? Do they care that I can crochet? Or my dog's name is Blackjack? I know we are supposed to list publishing credits, and degrees, but what if we don't have any?

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    1. Hi atleighbennett,

      You could mention some hobbies interests...things that would help the agent get to know you.

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    2. Hi atleighbennett,

      If you have publishing credits, mention them and be specific about which mags/journals/pub houses published your work. If you don't have any pub credits, THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. This is more of a pre-requisitie for non-fiction authors. However, being active on social media is somewhat important. So do mention the website/blog/and other social media websites you're active in. Along with a few of your hobbies (you can put a humorous spin in this whole thing and def mention your dog's name and that you crochet, if you want)...but dedicate a line or two at most about this.

      Here is a rough estimate: two lines with how long you've been writing for, whether you've written for any websites or publications, Two lines about your social media information, and two lines about any quirky/normal habits/hobbies/interests that you have should do the trick. If you can condense this information further, go ahead!

      NOTE: If you don't have any publishing credits, just be to the point and mention that you've been writing for a long time, and this is your first endeavor at getting published. (To the point.)

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  20. Like to comment above about the protagonist and MC. :)

    My question would be: Where exactly do books about 20 year olds fit into the publishing stream? There are Teen books, and there are YA books, and there are Adult books, but what about the people in their twenties? Most Adult books center around MC in their thirties.

    Thanks for hosting!

    Alexandra~

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    1. New Adult (NA)! Best genre ever! (I'm bias ha ha!) It's fairly new but it's rapidly growing in popularity.

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    2. Yep! Definitely New Adult...and this genre is picking up steam!

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    3. :) New Adult! (targeted age group 18-25). Rising genre for sure!

      Check out this article. It's very informative!
      http://jezebel.com/5960942/new-adult-fiction-is-now-an-official-literary-genre-because-marketers-want-you-to-buy-things

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  21. Uh . .. on killing off your MC. Mine dies of natural causes. Nothing violent . . . but I think there is sufficient sorrow.

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  22. re the query process: I'd rather receive an automated response, or the statement upon application (or at the website): "if you do not hear from us within____weeks you may consider this a pass." At least there's closure. Hopefully that doesn't take too much effort on the agent's part, as I know most are swamped with queries.

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  23. On the comment about stories set in other countries, I have a bit of a conversation with Gina Panettieri from Talcott (I attended last weekends Boot-Camp).

    My story is set in 10th century Southern Europe, in the time of the Croatian Royal Dynasty and deals with Slavic Pagan Gods and mythology. Added to that I am from Australia so write UK English not USA English.

    Gina said that rather than being a detraction, the unique setting and mythology actually attracted her to the story. She wanted to know more about the 'exotic' scene as she put it.

    And while I have had the odd agent suggest to me to change my language to USA English & my mythology and country to more known settings, she suggested that was more personal taste and in general, exotic = interest as long as the 'world' is brought out well.

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  24. And now for a question.
    There is an agent who seems to fit my genre and tastes but I have not submitted to them because their submission criteria states:
    'please send your 1-page cover letter including query, short bio, marketing strategy and target market to (email address)'

    Without sounding stupid, no matter what I do I cannot fit all of the above into one page without writing a 'shopping-list' style letter which I will not do.

    In such cases, does the author decide this is not the agency for him/her or does the author use some word-count liberty and send it anyway?

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  25. Ink: Love the new background.

    Agents: How do I find agents to query? I've done at least fifteen hours of research and come up with a list of 50 email addresses for fantasy agents, but I've read of people querying 150 people before landing an agent. How did they find them all?

    Note: I'm searching for someone who will represent an adult comedic Urban Fantasy.

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