Ask Daphne! Time trials!

August 11th, 2008 • Kate

We’ve got Olympic fever over here at kt literary, even though my favorite summer sport (gymnastics, of course) does not involve shoes. No worries, though. We found these giant Olympic shoes featuring the Beijing mascots. And so, in keeping with my very rare sports fever — time trials! (Otherwise known as the Ask Daphne speed round.) On your marks, get set, go!
MJReader asks:

I have a finished manuscript and I want to find an agent. You said in your chat that any agent that charges fees up front is bogus. But what if it says they only charge for photocopying/postage if the book sells?

No worries. As long as your agent is only charging you after a sale — and if, in the case of photocopying and/or postage, she sends you itemized listings of those expenses, then you can feel confident your agent isn’t a cheat. If possible, ask for a limit on these expenses — this is something to lay out in your agent agreement. Next!
Long question, short answer for Elena, who asks:

Technically, if you post a paragraph of your writing on the internet, it’s considered published, right? I’ve read not to do that, since publishing your work on the internet will turn off publishers because you’ve already given away your “first rights”. I posted some dialogue from my work-in-progress on my blog, but left out the narrative, so it’s just a bare-bones edition of what my characters say in a scene. But, technically, the dialogue does appear in the draft in the exact same words. Once my book is ready for publishing, is this going to hurt me? If I deleted the blog posts that have specific mention of my writing, would this rectify the matter, or have I still given away my first rights? Would I have to re-write the scenes in this case, or is posting a small portion of your writing okay?

Elena, there’s published and then there’s “published”. I think I’m stealing someone else’s line here, but just because Blogger says your post is “published” doesn’t make it so. I’d be wary of posting your entire manuscript, but a short scene here and there or a snippet of dialogue isn’t going to turn off anyone I know. It’s a good way to work towards being a professional blogger — to show a little of your process in writing.
In a comment from a previous post, Elmie asks:

Do I interpret it correctly that there is still hope for self-published authors to seek a literary agent for as long as the first five chapters or first fifty pages are submitted and not in its book form? Should I tell them that my book has been self-published through a company and is retailed on line? Thank you so very much in advance for your kind help!

Absolutely! If those first five chapters or what have you sing, and you’ve submitted them in the proper format depends on our stated guidelines, we may excuse the self-publishing route. But unless you can report sales of thousands of copies, we’re not likely to count self-publishing success as anything other than small-time.
And finally, rounding out our extra-large podium of winners, Emily writes:

I know you’re absolutely, positively never supposed to start a story with your main character (or any character) waking up. But I was wondering about the second chapter. It’s not just a waking up scene- it shows some important family relations- but I was wondering if that’s way too soon to the beginning of the book? Is that a major rejection-worthy error?

If you’re worried about it, I’d consider changing it. How else can you introduce those important family relations? Over dinner, perhaps? A waking up scene isn’t one of my pet peeves, but I know a lot of agents and editors do dislike them — It’s a crutch, more than anything, towards introducing your character. if you can do so without that scene, I think you’d be better off — if not, make sure it’s the BEST waking up scene you can write.
Ok then, I’m getting back to my Olympic tv coverage query-reading. Go team!

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One Response to “Ask Daphne! Time trials!”

  1. Emily Says:

    Thanks so much for answering my question!