Open Thread!

August 3rd, 2010 • Kate

open-threadWe’re heading into the dog days of summer, as agents, editors, and all manner of publishing people take summer vacations before that Back-to-School feeling hits. So in the sense of the open community of a beach party, I’d like to open up the comments, sans topic, and ask you what’s going on. What are you doing? What are you working on? What are you worrying about? What are you waiting to hear about?

And, as always, what do you want to ask me?

I love answering questions on Twitter sometimes, but they come and go so quickly, I worry that many of my readers or followers might not catch them. So if you ever wanted to ask me a question, now’s your chance!

I’ll start with one for you — what are you reading right now? I just started The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Photography Essentials.

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31 Responses to “Open Thread!”

  1. Trina Says:

    Currently reading…well, I have 4 emergency books in my bag, but just started reading for the second time, 'Super What' by Jax Abbot and plan to read Catching Fire this weekend with Mocking Jay coming out soon.

    If you've finished writing/editing a book and you think/know it's going to be part of a series, do you mention that in the query? Or is that being presumptuous?

  2. Erin Says:

    August is leave-New-York-month for sure! We're going to the New York Renaissance Faire for opening day this Saturday. (I'll be the only one in costume of our friends. As always. Shall I get you anything? :P) Then there's a weekend of visiting extended family in Philadelphia, then another visiting friends in Baltimore.

    I also have to tackle my very big to-be-read pile. To-be-read shelf, really. I should maybe get cracking on that…

  3. Nicole Marie Schreib Says:

    I've really been enjoying your blog, so thank you for all of the great information!

    I just started reading The Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkoski and just finished Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (which was fabulous!). Plus I'm working on my middle grade historical novel while taking on a new part-time preschool teaching job and caring for my two boys (ages 5 and 2). Our family is also trying to fit in as much beach time as we can during our short Oregon summer! Life is good, but hectic.

    Thanks for asking! 🙂

  4. Jade Says:

    I was wondering if you have any thoughts on whether or not a YA writer can have a successful career selling paranormal and contemporary? Is it just one of those things that comes down to the writing? Would you normally try to establish a following in one genre before you try and branch out in another?

    Other than that, I'm over winter. Bring on summer!

  5. Catherine Says:

    Reading an ARC of Personal Demons. So far, love it.

    Working on – revision of my manuscript, by way of phone sessions with an idependent editor (Lisa Rector-Maass). She's fantastic. One agent passed, but offered to read again and gave me specific feedback. So, I'm very eager to do my best with the revision work and resubmit.

    Worrying about – my husband and I are considering opening a bakery (we had one in Ann Arbor, but closed it when we moved to Vancouver, WA about a year ago). So many things to consider..economic times, the right retail spot, and so on. That's keeping us up nights.

    Questions – hey, what determines if a novel is published as paperback or hardcover? I've always wondered that…and maybe, just maybe that will be the kind of thing I should know soon. Here's hoping!

    Catherine

  6. Trish Says:

    Reading: The Eternal Ones. Just started. No opinion, yet.

    Working on: Travis

    Worrying about: Travis

  7. jude Says:

    Like lots of people, I read more than one book at a time.

    Really into The Paris Review's Women Writers at Work–I am going to go on P.L. Travers binge because of it.

    Working my way through John Gardner's On Moral Fiction, much slower going for me than his other two craft books.

    Just started Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also slow going, but the author himself was a really interesting guy.

  8. Meredith Says:

    Oooh, fun! Thanks!

    Reading — Catching Fire. For the first time. I'm late to the party.

    Working on — 1) A rewrite of my MS; 2) a YA novel based on one of the entries I made during the 1000 words contest.

    Worrying about — Why is my nine-month-old losing weight?

    Question — What are your thoughts on historical YA? Yay? Nay? Not your thing?

  9. Suzanne Casamento Says:

    I just started Sara Zarr's Sweethearts this afternoon. I loved Story of a Girl and I'm excited to read more of her work.

    I'm researching life in small midwest towns during the 60's. Got a great novel idea from a far out resource and I'm eager to start writing it.

    As usual, I'm worrying about money.

  10. Karen Says:

    I'm reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. Jude–stick with The Dragon Tattoo, it's totally worth it. I almost gave up on it, but I'm so glad I didn't.

    I'm working on my YA paranormal, doing final edits so I can have it ready to query by mid September.

    I'm not really worried about anything right now, but as today is my birthday, I'm pretty excited for the weekend!

    My question: I was thinking of mentioning in my query that my novel is more of a contemporary with a paranormal twist. If you received a query with this in the bio, would you think it unneccesary?

  11. BookSnob Says:

    Hey Daphne, I'm reading City of Ember by Jean DuPrau and Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. I'm looking into different careers in the literary business, and being an agent looks interesting. Any tips/advice for the college bound? Actually, any tips or advice would be most appreciated.

  12. Sophie Jo Says:

    Hey Daphne:

    Do you know of ANY agents that are seeking college-aged protagonists (like 21)?

    I slowly dying here caught between adult and YA haha.

  13. Jduff Says:

    I love your blog and thanks for the opportunity to ask questions. 🙂

    I'm reading WTF by Peter Lerangis and The Heist Society by Ally Carter.

    I'm working on a YA paranormal with a different twist on vamps, weres, witches, and wizards. I agree with one of your query posts about paranormal, so I decided to write my own with a twist. It's a very upbeat story and I'm having a ton of fun writing it.

    I'm waiting to hear about new books and movies coming out. I love them both. 🙂

    My question for you is: Do you recommend aspiring writers to query every agent they can find that works with their genre or do you recommend finding a few that the writer feels they would work well with and only querying them? I know you could increase your odds of obtaining representation with more queries, but it seems to me that you would also be more likely to not end up with an offer from an agent you truly want to work with.

  14. Michelle Says:

    Daphne,

    I'm reading Orson Scott Card's Ender series.

    After sending a partial, I got a further request, not for a full, but for another fifty pages, synopsis, and author bio. My question is, what do you include in an author bio when this is your first novel and you haven't published any short stories or other work? Do I mention college degrees or jobs that are unrelated to writing? Are they trying to get a feel for me since they liked the partial or do they only want writing credits?

  15. CFD Trade Says:

    Just finished Dan Brown's Lost Symbol.

  16. Anne B. Says:

    Working on the final revision of my YA contemporary manuscript which should be complete in September, when I'll start querying.

    Looking forward to a week in Martha's Vineyard in-between and have begun piling up the books for beach reading. Of course, the stack is larger than I can possibly get through in a week, but I'm leaving myself lots of options.

  17. Kate Says:

    Checking into the thread with some answers, but keep those questions coming!

    Trina asks, "If you’ve finished writing/editing a book and you think/know it’s going to be part of a series, do you mention that in the query? Or is that being presumptuous?"

    I would leave it out of the query, but bring it up if an agent is interested in seeing more. But know you have to sell the first book before you can sell a series.

    Erin asks "Shall I get you anything?" (at opening weekend of the NY Renaissance Faire).

    No, but have an orange smoothie for me, and don't miss the human chess match! It was always my favorite part, and getting to fight in it was the highlight of my ren faire experience.

    Jade asks, "I was wondering if you have any thoughts on whether or not a YA writer can have a successful career selling paranormal and contemporary? Is it just one of those things that comes down to the writing? Would you normally try to establish a following in one genre before you try and branch out in another?"

    You can do both, certainly, but the best way to set your self up for a strong career is to be successful at one or the other first. It helps your publisher and agent to sell you if you have a style, even if you later modify that style to include a different genre.

    Catherine asks, "hey, what determines if a novel is published as paperback or hardcover? I’ve always wondered that…and maybe, just maybe that will be the kind of thing I should know soon. Here’s hoping!"

    Partly, it's the editor who buys the book, and which imprint of a house they work for. An editor at Puffin may more likely acquire a book for a paperback original publication than one at Knopf. But it varies.

    Meredith asks, "What are your thoughts on historical YA? Yay? Nay? Not your thing?"

    Yay if done right, and not completely anachronistic. I think I gravitate more towards fantasy in made up worlds that seem historical because I don't get caught up disbelieving the heroine would act like that. That said, I LOVE Karen Cushman's novels!

    Karen writes, "I was thinking of mentioning in my query that my novel is more of a contemporary with a paranormal twist. If you received a query with this in the bio, would you think it unnecessary?"

    Once you add a paranormal twist, no offense, but your contemporary novel is no longer a contemporary, it's a paranormal. If that's your book, embrace it! Don't try to hide it in semantics.

    BookSnob asks, "I’m looking into different careers in the literary business, and being an agent looks interesting. Any tips/advice for the college bound?"

    Read everything you can get your hands on, even if it doesn't seem like it would interest you, and practice being able to differentiate between liking a book, and appreciating what the author intended. Take criticism classes. Also take business and marketing classes, because we do that too! Don't get stuck in the English department — expand your horizons!

    Sophie Jo asks, "Do you know of ANY agents that are seeking college-aged protagonists (like 21)?"

    Not specifically, no, but just keep trying. Be sure to target both YA and adult agents, and if you keep striking out, consider if you can't age up or down your protagonist.

    JDuff writes, "Do you recommend aspiring writers to query every agent they can find that works with their genre or do you recommend finding a few that the writer feels they would work well with and only querying them? I know you could increase your odds of obtaining representation with more queries, but it seems to me that you would also be more likely to not end up with an offer from an agent you truly want to work with."

    I think you can absolutely create that list of every agent that works in your genre, but no, you shouldn't query every agent at once. Send targeted queries to five to ten agents at a time, and know why you're sending to each of them, personalizing each query as you send it. Once you start getting back responses, send to the next agent on your list, personalizing that letter. Keep reading their blogs and Twitter streams, too!

    Michelle writes, "After sending a partial, I got a further request, not for a full, but for another fifty pages, synopsis, and author bio. My question is, what do you include in an author bio when this is your first novel and you haven’t published any short stories or other work? Do I mention college degrees or jobs that are unrelated to writing? Are they trying to get a feel for me since they liked the partial or do they only want writing credits?"

    If you don't have any writing credits, don't fake it. Talk about classes, workshops, and degrees, but otherwise, stick with a short and sweet bio. Read other author's bios on their early published books for ideas.

    Woot!

    Keep those questions coming, and I'll keep answering. At least until I come up with a blog post idea for tomorrow!

  18. Rissa Watkins Says:

    I am working on getting the kid ready to go back to school next week. I have big plans of writing during quiet days once again.

    I am worried about some medical results. Sister was diagnosed with a rare disease that also may be hereditary. I get tested next week, then maybe my son depending on my results – which is killing me to think about. But, the good news is most people have no idea if they have it, so we will be way ahead of the game knowing now.

    I am reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Kiss by Ted Dekker & Erin Healy and re-reading Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris.

  19. Scott Says:

    I'm reading 'The Complete Sherlock Holmes' as well as rereading the entire Harry Potter series.

    I just finished the rough of a cozy (mystery).

    I'm somehow surviving the unbearable heat of Mother Nature's arrival into menopause.

  20. Olivia Says:

    Reading Hyperspace my Michio Kaku (yes, I read physics books for fun), and just finished My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding.

    I'm at the beach this week, so I'm not working on much of anything, and I'm waiting to hear back from some agents on my novel.

  21. Lisa Aldin Says:

    I'm currently reading Honey, Baby, Sweetheart.

    Currently working on a YA Contemporary, which is in the "sitting stages" before another big edit. In the meantime, working on some more edits on a YA Paranormal. And I'm itching to start writing a YA Post-Apocalyptic Thing.

    Busy reading and writing! Also – we're building a deck. Which means MORE reading since I'll have a nice place to sit outside when the weather cools for fall. Yeah!

  22. Karen Says:

    I have another question…if that's okay:-). Do agents check out blogs of authors who query them? I read somewhere to include my blog address on my query, is this something that you're seeing a lot of? If so, do you check out the blog once you've requested a partial or full or are concidering an offer of representation?

  23. Tami Says:

    I recently devoured Linger by Maggie Stiefvater.

    No beach time for me, but have been spening a lot of time in the water wakeboarding on Lake Mead.

    My present work in progress is a YA historical fantasy novel, which leads to my question: I realize that I am somewhat breaking the rules with this book, telling the story in alternating viewpoints and time periods. How difficult do you think it will be to find representation for a book that cannot be defined is any one of these set categories: quirky,historical, paranormal, historical and fantasy. Since my novel traverses

  24. Tami Says:

    …sorry, three year old interference. … Since my novel traverses all of these categories, which was should I latch onto as a classification?

    As far as worries go, mine is meager. I'm working on finding the right preschool for above mentioned three year old.

    Thank you so much for taking your time to do this.

  25. Jess Says:

    I'm rereading Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson, and am waiting for Under Heaven (Guy Gavriel Kay) and Kraken (China Mieville) to come in at the library.

    Worrying about my husband's career. Potential changes afoot that would be wonderful for us, trying not to get my hopes up.

    Working on my new novel, a young adult magical realism in the vein of Wintergirls. Waiting to hear back from agents on CT before I dive into another round of revisions on it, so enjoying the different direction of this project.

    And my question is, what's your turnaround on partials? (KIDDING.) I second Karen's question above, actually.

  26. B.Lois Says:

    I'm reading The Last Oracle by James Rollins – love his books. On the night stand is Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine, #8 in the Morganville Vampire series. It was published so recently, it'll be an agonizing wait for the next one!

    I've had a golden opportunity to be a mom & writer and worry all the time that finances will force me to get an outside job, cutting into both writing and mom time.

    I'm ready to query my recent novel and starting a new one.

    Daphne, I know in a fairly recent post you said to let an agent know if they'd asked to read a full or partial in the past. For my last novel, an agent asked for the full, liked the premise, but turned it down because of execution. I've learned a lot since then, and feel I've addressed that problem. If I query her with my new novel and mention she's read my previous work, will she remember me and think "oh yeah, that's the writer with the crappy execution"?

  27. Jill Elizabeth Says:

    In the middle of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, which has completely opened my eyes to YA contemporary. (was more of a dystopian girl before this book).

    Kind of good timing for me that we have hit the month the publishing world "shuts down" as I am in the middle of first draft for my current WIP, with no plans to query anytime soon.

    I'm actually looking to summer's end–I grew up in New England so definitely an autumn-loving girl.

    No new questions at the moment, although I will second B.Lois' above–ie, have you ever requested a full, rejected it, and then been pleasantly surprised by the writer's next project? Or do you find that more often you continue to be disappointed by their work?

  28. Kate Says:

    Just chiming in with a few more answers to your questions!

    Karen asks, "Do agents check out blogs of authors who query them? I read somewhere to include my blog address on my query, is this something that you’re seeing a lot of? If so, do you check out the blog once you’ve requested a partial or full or are concidering an offer of representation?"

    I usually only check out an author's blog or website if I've read and enjoyed the full manuscript, and am thinking about offering representation. Otherwise, no. But you should definitely include your blog address in your query — other agents may not be like me, and may check blogs out earlier in the process!

    Tami writes, "My present work in progress is a YA historical fantasy novel, which leads to my question: I realize that I am somewhat breaking the rules with this book, telling the story in alternating viewpoints and time periods. How difficult do you think it will be to find representation for a book that cannot be defined is any one of these set categories: quirky, historical, paranormal, historical and fantasy. Since my novel traverses all of these categories, which was should I latch onto as a classification?"

    I think you answered your own question! You first refer to your book as a YA historical fantasy — I'd stick with that, and tell about the other elements while telling the story of your novel in the query.

    Jess asks jokingly, "what’s your turnaround on partials?" But I'll answer seriously — I aim for two months, but am sometimes slower on partials than I would like. I don't mind being poked if I've had a partial longer than two months, though!

    B.Lois writes, "Daphne, I know in a fairly recent post you said to let an agent know if they’d asked to read a full or partial in the past. For my last novel, an agent asked for the full, liked the premise, but turned it down because of execution. I’ve learned a lot since then, and feel I’ve addressed that problem. If I query her with my new novel and mention she’s read my previous work, will she remember me and think “oh yeah, that’s the writer with the crappy execution”?"

    Hey, if you make it to the stage of her remembering you AT ALL, you've done a good thing! But seriously, while I can't tell what goes on in other agents' heads, I can tell you that if I requested a full, ultimately turned it down, and then heard from the author again, the most I'm likely to remember about the previous novel is some sparse details — but if you're really worried and want to show the agent how you've grown as a writer, mention some of the paths you've taken to improve your writing in the meantime. And good luck!

    Jill Elizabeth has a follow-up, "have you ever requested a full, rejected it, and then been pleasantly surprised by the writer’s next project? Or do you find that more often you continue to be disappointed by their work?"

    I love being surprised! I can't speak to specific experience of being happily surprised by a writer's next project after turning down their first — although I did sign a client (Kiki Hamilton) with the second novel she shared with me — I liked the first, but thought it needed work at the time, and while she was revising, she sent her second novel, which I loved, signed, and sold! THE FAERIE RING comes out in Summer 2011 from Tor Teen!

  29. Lara Ruth Says:

    Reading: "Lunch in Paris". Just finished David Nicholls' "One Day". Oh my. Loved it.

    Writing: Querying, revising, and starting my first ever work of fiction. Exciting yet terrifying change in direction.

    Question: Now that we're in August, assume it's safe to say to shelf the querying project until post Labor Day? I know you're closed to queries during that window. Is it more likely that if an agent's open, your query will fall into the black hole? Or better to get yourself in line for others who've gone ahead and queried away throughout August?

  30. Kate Says:

    Lara, to answer your question — I'm not closed to queries, although I know many agents are. However, if an agent is open (or otherwise hasn't said they're closed) there's no need to wait. Some may, like myself, be even more on top of queries than at other times of the year, and you may get a response even more quickly.

    If you want that, that is.

  31. Jenn Says:

    Doing: on break at work 🙂

    Working on: my first novel and hoping to send queries by Thanksgiving

    Worrying about: attending my first writer's conference next month

    Waiting to hear about: whether or not you will respond to my query…I refreshed my page and saw that you are now closed for submission for query critiques and I'm not sure if I sent mine in time!

    Question: With multiple POV do you think it's best to go deep into each character's thoughts or keep it third person?

    Reading: Catching up on Daphne, Pubrants and a couple of other blogs I haven't visited for a couple of weeks.