Ask Daphne! Twitter Lightning Round

April 28th, 2010 • Kate

blue-shoesSometimes, when I’m low on ideas for blog posts, I turn to you, my readers. And as always, you don’t disappoint. Here’s a few questions posed on Twitter:

LorelieBrown I know why I need an agent, but how do I succinctly explain to my spouse why I need one?

So that you can concentrate on the creative aspects of being a writer, and can trust someone dedicated to your interests to handle the business. To me, that’s easily worth 15%. Plus, with an agent, many more doors are open that would not be so to an unagented author.

JenniA8677 Should you ever reference knowing a client of an agents personally in a query letter?

Yes, if it is an actual relationship. That is, can I confirm with my author that you know each other? That you’ve spoken about your novel? Stalkers need not apply. 🙂 If so, please do feel free to mention their name prominently in your query letter. I’ve also had my authors contact me on behalf of their writer friends, which helps me prove right away that this is a real contact, and not just someone you met once in passing at a Springsteen concert in the 80s. (For instance.)

LSMurphy Could you blog about what happens after a writer gets an offer of publication? How does the agent/author relationship work then?

First, we do a little dance of celebration. It’s a fancy dance. Then, most likely, there are still terms to negotiate before we officially accept. In some cases, there may still be other copies of the manuscript being read, so I have to let the other editors reading the novel know we have an offer, and ask them to get back to me by a set date. If multiple offers come in, we go to auction. If we end up with only one offer, I still do my best to negotiate the most favorable terms for my client. Eventually, that includes going through the contract line by line. I also handle all incoming money, making sure it is what’s due, asking for checks when they’re late, etc. While my client is working with his or her editor, I also act a liaison as necessary, helping each side better understand the other, and as an advocate of my client, stand up for them in discussions about cover design, due dates, flap copy, marketing, publicity, etc.

Eventually, there’s a second book or a new deal, and I again help negotiate the best terms. Rinse and repeat.

JustWriteCat What causes you to keep reading a partial, or to stop reading it? Or when you’re considering offering rep, what else do you consider in addition to manuscript?

Mostly it’s about caring about the characters and being invested in what happens to them. I’m already intrigued by your story idea, or I wouldn’t have asked for the partial in the first place. Once I’m reading it, I ask myself if I’m enjoying what I’m reading, if it’s well written, if it’s something new and unusual, if it feels real (even in a fantasy world — does it feel authentic?).

If I like the partial and want to read more, and ask for a full manuscript, that’s when I might poke around on the author’s blog or website, check out their Twitter feed, see what comes up on a Google search for them. But it’s mostly about the text. If you’re a complete internet cipher, impossible to google, and the novel is outstanding? Nothing’s going to stop me from wanting to take you on as a client.

honeysock How do multi-book deals come about? Does the author usually have several ready to go, and the pub says “oh yeah!”?

Not necessarily “several,” but I usually hope that my clients are working on something else while I’m submitting novel #1, for instance, so when an editor is interested I can say, “By the way, the next book they’re working on sounds fantastic as well! It’s about…” Sometimes, an editor can only do a single book deal. Sometimes, a client has written something that screams for a sequel or two. We look at each project on a case-by-case basis.

Thanks for the blog prompts, readers! If you have more questions, pop them in the comments and I’ll get to them!

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7 Responses to “Ask Daphne! Twitter Lightning Round”

  1. Sandy Shin Says:

    All these are questions I've also been wondering; thank you for answering them!

  2. write-brained Says:

    GREAT Q and A! Thanks!

  3. Joe Iriarte Says:

    I am friends with a very successful author who writes in a different genre than I do, so JenniA's question is one I've had as well.

    I worry that if I say something like, "By the way, I'm good friends with L. and she's given me great writing advice over the years, and she speaks extremely highly of you," I will make the agent wonder why L. hasn't passed my manuscript along herself if we're really friends–making the agent wonder if either I'm lying or I'm telling the truth, but L. doesn't think enough of my manuscript to pass it on.

    On the other hand, I'm ambivalent about asking my friend to contact her agent for me or put in a word for me, because I don't want to be that guy, I guess–you know, how everyone in the publishing business has people constantly asking them to help them cut the line?

    So you're saying just dropping the name *doesn't* set off the "he's lying" bells, because the agent knows she can always double-check if it's true?

  4. Janet B Says:

    Kate, Did you ever tell us what you thought about the two queries posted March 27 as About My Query XXXXVIII and XXXXIX? My daughter and I disagreed about which one would appeal more to you, so I am hoping you will post your opinion and help me win a little bet! JB

  5. Catherine Says:

    Very helpful – thank you for responding to our questions!

  6. Natsalot Says:

    Apologies for my random question but I love the blue shoes you've used in this post… where are they from? They're so pretty. Thanks in advance.

  7. DaphneUn Says:

    I wish I knew! I often just do searches for cool images, and I believe that's how I found these.